Introducing virtualisation

Heres a very quick introduction to virtualisation for people that have never seen it before. I had developers in mind when i prepped it – it amazes me that some people still develop on their native OS.

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Security

When a company provides you with a shines new gadget they should really focus a little more on security, today I recieved a shines new cable modem from comhem – a net gear GC3100. First thing I wanted to do was configure up my ssh tunnels and dynamic dns; the getting started document didn't so much as even mention this box had an admin interface, which is pretty important. I was too lazy to download the manual so I took a guess. Sure enough when I navigated to 192.168.0.1 I had a password box pop up. I tried username admin – password password – and I was in, needless to say I changed the password immediately. Now it's true that's an internal address and you would have to be connected to the network to reconfigure it but still it's pretty bad. As comhem had gone to the trouble of changing the SSID and WPA2 details on this modem, you would think they would secure the admin password. Apparently not!

Macs are also pretty insecure out of the box as well. By default miniroot isn't password protected which means you can start up the machine without a password and get elevated privs – enough to make breaking into these systems easy.

On PCs people rarely encrypt their disks and secure the BIOS – which means you can bypass security literally in under 5 mins.

People miss the importance of security until things are too late.

 

SharePoint in different languages

Its a silly thing – but if your working with several languages ive found it better to install sharepoint in english and then apply language packs (in my case swedish) – because what you end with is a server that has content in Swedish, and central admin in english, but more important your logfiles are in english. This is really useful if your working in a big organisation with a global support model. Wading through the sharepoint logs isnt fun in any language, but doing it in a language you dont understand is just horrible.

A prior client of mine said they wanted their base install in english because microsoft updates their products in english first. Was an interesting point, and kind of re-enforces what i am saying here :)

DNS


As a favor effectively I offered to help out a small organization who were confused because suddenly they were getting two Internet bills instead of one.

They were getting charged by their ISP for their hosting and mail but .se started to charge them for their domain name. The .se control panel allows you to add a name server to your dns entry but nothing else.

For tech reasons it was decided they didn’t want to host with the company for their web presence but still wanted to keep their Mail there. Now in theory it should be simple.. To change the A record of the domain to point to another server – I’ve done it personally a million times.

Before the bill was paid to renew the mail service for this company I asked the hosting company if they provide an admin interface for dns. The first person I asked that exact question started a conversation with you obviously don’t understand dns, you don’t need to change this… This didn’t endear me to him and after 10 minutes of talking he reassessed his statement.

I explained everything in simple terms the fact we wanted to keep mail with them, we were using their name server but would later need to admin the records because the web site hosting provider would changed.

At that point I was told yes that would be no problem, so we paid the bill.

To this date they still haven’t provided an admin interface (hell if they gave me a username and password I would telnet into their DNS)

I do know what I am doing and had a frustrating time trying to communicate with them. I feel sorry for people who don’t! I had to draw pictures for my friend to show what we were trying to achieve and how dns works.

Geeking out with Virtualisation

Ok, i dont like being called a geek – if you look at the origins of the word they imply intellegence at the cost of social competency, and its only really the last few years where the work has become more socially exceptable – Wikipedia has a lot written about it here. Personally i dont like to be labelled that way. That said i do definately have moments of geekiness.

Today im pretty happy as over the last night ive cleared down my laptop – deleted a whole load of virtual machines and created new ones. Ive built 5 virtual machines (virtualisation is all about running computers inside computers). My set up is all 64 bit running on Windows Server 2008 – i have an AD server, an SQL server, a MOSS2007 server and a SP2010 server – they are all properly configured using best practices and their own personal accounts. I also set up all the network routing and an internal DNS, and have even installed visual studio 2010 on some of the machines. Its not bad for an evenings work (it was a long night). This is all about making a new start after leaving apoteket for me.

I may aslo split my blog site into two – having a tech and a non tech blog – this is primarily because i always hold back when i blog here as most of the people who read this blog are non technical.

PC vs Mac

Mac vs PC - Need i say more?

Since the 80’s there had been the PC vs Mac debate going on – with hardened fans on each side wishing to take up the cause and stand on their soapboxes. For a while in the past i developed mac software professionally.

I’ve been asked may times over the years which technology I think is better and the truth is they both have pros and cons and although I’ve stood on the fence on this for many years, though now in terms of hardware at least i am pro mac. Now mac isnt the cheapest solution out there; their laptops are comparable with high end dell laptops as is their performance – in fact im not sure if its still the case but at the time of its launch my macbook pro was the fastest laptop on the market.

I use macs for several reasons:

  1. They now have x86 processors – moving away from the motorola processors was an excellent move. It means i can now dual boot my mac in Windows 7 / Mac OS
  2. They are real pretty!
  3. Mac OS – Apple have always been more focused on the user experience and this is emphasised in their developer training.
  4. Tight integration with the iphone they make 95% of what you want to do really easy. I work with microsoft all day so when i get home i want things to be simple!

On the negative side of things it can be a real pain in the ass if you want to do something that mac doesnt support.  ive had troubles before sharing photo libraries between users on the same mac (unix permissions issues) and things like that. its stuff ive overcome but sometimes its taken some thinking. not everyone is as happy with a BSD command prompt as i am.

In terms of where the companies are at, apple has gone from strength to strength and is now ahead of microsoft in terms of profit – 2010 saw apple make 178 billion dollars and microsoft making 124 billion. Steve jobs was considered best CEO of the decade where as Steve Ballmer (microsoft) didnt even make the list. This is because microsoft has maintained a steady profitability whilst apple skyrocketed and increased profitability by somewhere in the region of 1000% (i dont have the actual figures to hand). apple seems to be refocusing and are to discontinue their XServer range (if they havent already). This left a few people upset, and rightly so; they are not a perfect company.

Microsoft are now trying to capture the mobile market with windows mobile 7 but have entered the game really late, and what ive seen of it so far frankly hasnt been that impressive. At launch i am told they didnt even have naitive exchange support (which ironically now the iphone does). Ive seen a lot of the new android phones, mobile 7 phones and own an iPhone 4 and a 3g… to my mind none of the new devices can compete with the iphone 4 just yet.

To my mind though Microsoft shouldnt be discounted as a company just yet. They have a very strong developer base, and excellent tools which i greatly prefer to their mac equivellents. In terms of business some of their enterprise level  solutions are pretty good (SharePoint grows from strength to strength, as does Dynamics AX). These products are fairly complex to build upon and configure. its crazy how much demand there is out there for sharepoint developers and architects. Based on these skills alone i get on average at least 2 calls a month from recruitment agencies asking if i will consider moving.

As ive mentioned before i can do mac -> facetime calls, and my dad uses macs a lot. I get called by Glen a mac Fanboi a lot and to a degree i suppose i am. I give them credit where its due, and it does make my life easier at home; this does not however mean i dont apprecieate or sometimes use both microsoft and unix technoligies where i think they are required.

i very rarely have my mac crash but then the operating system is bound to be more stable when you do not have to consider all the different hardware platforms windows has to support. Windows 7 is by far the best OS microsoft has put out to date!

So yeah. Mac all the way! :)

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