It’s NOT the network!

Recently we had an issue at our office where mail was not properly routing to the different regional Exchange servers and mail was not being sent or received as queues were just building. The routing is done over the Internet through Virtual Private Network (VPN) connections.

I was asked to take a look at the network to determine if it was a network issue. I first asked a few questions just to determine the topology and how I can determine what might be happening, but not before I asked if there were any changes to any of the network or system elements – Firewall, Routers, Switches, OS or Application. I was told there were no changes, so I pulled out my trusty network protocol analyser – Network Instruments Observer ® – and hooked it up to a mirror port to the one going to the Exchange server.

After several hours of looking at the traffic, I could find no evidence of network issues. While there were TCP retransmissions, there were not enough to say that the network itself was causing the issue. In fact, what was evident was application layer errors (as opposed to errors at the transport layer and lower). So we started to look at the Exchange configuration; however, no changes were made to the configuration, or so they said.

Microsoft was later called in, who, after some troubleshooting, said that it was the network and had our IT guys making changes to MTU sizes and other things. For a while I started to doubt myself and my abilities to troubleshoot the network.

Try as they may, Microsoft could not resolve the issue. Somewhere during the process, they then disabled Smart Defense on the Checkpoint ® firewall and voila, everything started to work. So it wasn’t the network. It turned out that Smart Defense auto-update feature downloaded an update that caused the entire issue.

So what did we learn from all this.

  1. Automatic update is a bad idea for mission critical systems.
  2. Always check properly to determine if there were any changes to the system. A proper change management process is important.
  3. Always check every component. It is not always the network.

You always find that users complain that the network is slow or has problems when there is problem with mail, printing and especially the Internet. The most important skill to have for the IT industry, especially the service industry, is troubleshooting skills.

I find it easier to troubleshoot using the OSI Layers starting from the physical layer and moving to the application layer, ruling out each one as you go. But that is of course if you really have no idea of what the problem with be, so depending on the problem, it could be best to start from the top down.

Jury Service and Religion

Well I am on Jury Service and I will say that the experience is not as bad as I expected. First I must say that I have not been selected for the jury as yet; I was not one of the lucky ones. But the the initial part was intriguing and I am all for new experiences.

So anyway, there was one thing that came up during the selection, and that was an application for exemption from Jury Service. This particular individual’s application was that their religion does not allow for their participation as a juror. Now I have heard about this before about Jehovah’s Witnesses, but I was not sure if this particular individual was one. The argument is that they are not supposed to cast judgment, only God is to do that.

Now I question this thinking. Yes God will cast judgment and yada yada, but do we trust all judgment to him (or her). Is this really rational thinking, not that religion was rational to begin with, but really? If God is to do all judgment, then why bother with anything like policing or an entire judicial system? I mean, what is the purpose of it all if we aren’t supposed to do anything to the criminals. It would be interesting to see a world run by people with the belief system, but then there shouldn’t be crime if everyone believed the same thing, wouldn’t it?

Still, at the risk of pissing off some people, I still thing the thinking is skewed, but then they shouldn’t be judging me right?

Civic duty once again

“A jury consists of twelve persons chosen to decide who has the better lawyer.”

Robert Frost

I come home today after a hard day’s work and what do I find, a “Summons to Jurors” – Jury Duty. So now I have to report for jury duty from December 3rd, the peak of the Christmas season. Shit!

The real jokey thing about this is that I only got my Vacation approved today for two weeks… from the 3rd December.

Now I am all for doing my civic duty, but I really could have done without this at this time of the year. Also I wanted to do some other Cisco Certification exams before the end of the year. Unfortunately, I doubt that those certification exams would count for anything to get me off of service.

I only hope that I am not sequestered for this thing.

Think you can hide?

SecurityDude has an interesting blog about how easy it is to get background information on people in the US. If you live in the US, it is interesting what information they can get on you.

  • Find out where you live?
  • Get satellite pictures of your home?
  • Determine the value of your home and how much you pay in property taxes?
  • Get a list of all of the places you have lived in the last 20+ years?
  • Find out your age, and the name/age of your spouse?
  • Obtain a list of your criminal convictions in every state?

Wow! No wonder there are so many paranoid people in the US. I have to say it kinda makes you happy to live in Trinidad and Tobago. So I guess it can be a good thing to be living in a backward country like this. Yes, it means I can’t find out whether that new employee is really a sick fuck, but it also means that others can’t find out whether I am a sick fuck.

Bloody Murder

The headline of today’s Trinidad Express reads “Tortured”. It seems like the murders are getting more gruesome by the day, if it isn’t one then its another or another. It’s not only that the respect for human life is gone, but also the respect for the law. The criminals know that they can do their evil acts and get away with it.

So what do we do now. The fact is, the police service is impotent, and the government does not believe that crime is an issue to be dealt with. In fact, the PNM did not see this fit to address during the elections, far less that after winning the thing. The mere fact that they brought back Martin Joseph is testament to that.

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

Edmund Burke

But I will admit that crime is not just a governmental issue… it is a societal one and we really need to look at ourselves and wonder what can we do. It is frightening I know, because I myself have seen someone robbed, and while I could not have done anything at the time (since I really didn’t know what was happening), I could have pursued, but I will admit I was afraid, and also no one else was looking like they were going to help anyway. But we need to get over this fear and fight the evil that stalks the land… for the sake of the nation and for our families.

The spree has begun

So the new ministers are out on a week-long retreat to the Salybia Beach Resort and Spa before they take up their official duties so that they can “hit the ground running”. Not only did they book the entire resort for the week, but also the two other residences at the sides. You can be sure that this is not petty money being spent for this “retreat”. The TnT Mirror has that the cost is about $800,000 TT – I’m pretty sure that it is more than than. I certainly don’t think they are eating cheese and bread up there, more like steak and lobster.

So who is the biggest earner in this, none other than the PNM’s Roger Boynes, part owner of the the Salybia Beach Resort (his the brother Ronald is also an owner). Well the PNM needs to repay their financiers somehow.

The Prime Minister says that the ‘Retreat first of many‘. You can bet not only that, but spending our money as well. They have many other financiers to repay, and with the many other “projects” that they have planned, I expect some serious bobol to take place.

10 Career Killers to Avoid

Network World has an interesting article by Thomas Hoffman that I thought would be good to share. It’s called 10 career killers to avoid.

To quickly summarise, here is the quick list:

  1. Failing to have a life plan.
  2. Not keeping your skills current.
  3. Failing to deliver results.
  4. Confusing efficiency with effectiveness.
  5. Believing that you are irreplaceable.
  6. Knowing all the answers.
  7. Surrounding yourself with “brown-nosers.”
  8. Forgetting to give credit to others.
  9. Failing to self-promote.
  10. Losing perspective.

I know I am guilty of numbers 2, 9 and 10, so I guess that I have some work to do.

Check out the list at the link above and get a clue.

The new cabinet

Prime Minister Patrick Manning has installed his new cabinet this week – “Woman Power” one newspaper article calls it. Now I don’t mind women in cabinet, once they actually have the skills to perform the duties that are required. Let’s look at two of them – Finance Minister Karen Nunez-Tesheira and Attorney-General Brigid Annisette-George.

Nunez-Tesheira is an Attorney-at-law and admits she has little or no experience in the field of finance, “save the work she did in the handling funds as vice-principal of the Hugh Wooding Law School.” She says that she is ready for the challenge, as she puts it:

“It’s challenging. I love a challenge and I look forward to doing my best. It’s a new territory for me but I look forward to learning and more learning.”

Further she says:

“I was glad it was not law, I did want to move away from that…I feel honoured”

Good to know that running the country’s finances is going to be a learning process for you Nunez-Tesheira, as well as a good start for that job change you were looking for. I strongly believe that on-the-job training is an important part in everyone’s education, BUT NOT WHEN RUNNING THE COUNTRY! Oh geez and ages! What is wrong with these fucking people. And what was Manning’s comment:

“Well, when I became Minister of Finance, I had no experience.”

Way to instill confidence in the people dey Patos. As for the Attorney-General, well she told reporters that she had had a private practice specialising in civil and matrimonial law, conveyancing and probate. “She admitted that it would be challenging, but she was prepared to do her best.

It is good that we have new cabinet members who are looking for a “challenge”. Let’s hope that they are up for it.

As for the other members; well there are some old faces but most notably, two of the most fucked up choices –  Colm Imbert, Minister of Works and Transport and Martin Joseph, Minister of National Security. These are two of the worst Ministers ever to come into the country and they put them back. They move Rowley from the Housing ministry (who I did like as Housing Minister), but they kept these two cunts! Lord help us. Now we know that the traffic will get only worse and that crime will rule supreme. I would like to have seen Rowley as Minister of Security. That would have shaken up some things there.

People say that the PNM has no vision, to which I disagree. The PNM has some vision, just not enough. Plus they have some visions that are just wrong (anybody say aluminum smelter and water taxis?). They have the Vision 2020, but has anyone bought into that. They talk about developed country status by 2020, but being a developed country is a journey, not a destination. It is an evolutionary development that you will reach eventually after setting policies and building the society. There is nothing wrong with being Third World, and the truth is that we are not that badly off from a lot of the other third world countries.

I believe that the people of our country really needs to start educating themselves (and I don’t mean just going to school, I mean really making an effort!). It is only when we build ourselves as a nation, then we can truly start to develop.

The Secret Blog of Patrick Manning and Basdeo Panday

Check out the secret blog of Patrick Manning and Basdeo Panday at the links below. Seriously funny shit!

The Secret Blog of Patrick Manning — Inside the mind of Trinidad & Tobago’s Prime Minister

The Extra Secret Blog of Basdeo Panday

The results are in!

Well the elections are finally over and the results are in.

  • PNM – 26
  • UNC – 15
  • COP – 0

Not the results I would have hoped for, but now we have to live with it. I would have hoped for the COP to win at least one seat. Winston Dookeran in is speech last night said that:

“Clearly, from the disappointing results we have seen, the country is not ready for the change which we offered. We still believe our change will one day become a reality for our people.”

He is right. It was the belief that there are many more educated people out there, but educated does not necessarily imply intelligent.

So now we have five more years of the PNM. Five more long years of mad spending, mismanagement, inefficiency and arrogance of a party that will force something down our throats regardless of whether we want it or not (anyone for an aluminum smelter?).

One thing that I am sure of, is that I am never voting for a Panday led UNC ever! He speech last night left me disgusted. The pure hate and venom that he spat out just shows what type of person he is. He can never again be leader of this country. Fuck, I don’t even want him to be leader of the Opposition.

I don’t know when the people of this country will wake up and realise that we need good governance.