Saturday, 25 July 2009

Google Horoscope makes me chuckle

My iGoogle horroscope today made me smile - right on the money:

Although you may have obligations that carry you out into the world today, you may be more willing to get involved if you are assured that you'll have time to yourself later on. You have been so busy recently that you need some downtime in order to sort out your feelings and to tune in with your intuition. Remember, being with other people is not always a distraction; it can be part of your process, too.

Had a very busy few weeks and months, and having been ill most of this past week, I can definitely do with some down time this weekend - I'll be home with the kids tonight so reckon a nice bottle of New Zealand Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and something nice to eat will do the trick. Just need to find something to keep them occupied for the day - looks like it'll be a trip to the seaside for the afternoon.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Double Rainbow

We had the pleasure of a double rainbow outside the office window this afternoon - some torrential rain and about two minutes of bright sunshine provided us with this view (although the photo doesn't really do it justice)...

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Cross Platform Backup Solutions

Well, things are going to be crazy busy again over the coming few days or so.

I am looking for some suggestions of Cross-Platform backup solutions. I'm looking to be backing up a mix of Linux and Windows OS's, including MS Exchange 2007, SQL Server 2005 and 2008, MySQL Databases and VMWare and Xen virtual machines (mostly Linux VMs).

Looked at Symantec NetBackup - too pricey by a mile - currently considering Zmanda, BackupExec and CA ArcServe. I would appreciate any suggestions or feedback on how anyone else has got on?


Friday, 5 June 2009

Squid, SquidGuard and OpenDNS



Use OpenDNS

While my kids are both very young at the moment, Josh will be starting at infant school in September, and from our recent parent's introductory tour of the school they will be providing a good grounding in IT Literacy, including Internet familiarity.

As my working life revolves around Computer System Administration, I have more infrastructure than most at home - I host my own email, I have a web server and SSH VPN server, I have three seperate networks etc. It also means I spend a fair amount of time testing and evaluating software and services at home myself and with my family.

My latest focus for my home networks has been to start looking at how I can give my children Internet access while protecting them from the destructive and criminal elements of the Internet but without getting in the way of them making use of what is a very rich source of knowledge and experience.

There are two approaches I am looking at. Firstly, I am implementing Squid and SquidGuard on my Linux firewall.

I have these both installed, and have been looking at getting a set of policies put together to manage it all - currently I am looking at web-based management interfaces for the combination of Squid and SquidGuard (I'm sure there are a few) but haven't made much headway as yet. Watch this space for more as I find time to play.

Secondly, to back it up (and because the site definitions are likely going to be maintained much more often) I have already configured OpenDNS for my home LAN. Initially this was with the intention of speeding up name resolution from home but the service, to my pleasant surprise, includes much more functionality than a simple DNS lookup service.

First impressions of the OpenDNS service are very good - and the added bonus features (such as DNS Aliases - for example I could link "email" with my webmail server, "news" with the BBC News web site etc) are already proving useful. I was not looking for this service to offer the same results as my Squid/SquidGuard combination, but that would seem to be the result. A complementary set of protections, and an extra layer of safety against viruses can be no bad thing.

As a no-cost solution I would recommend people look at this service - in my opinion it compares well against some of the paid-for "Net Nanny" style products out there on the shelves, and will complement almost any combination of security measures you implement to protect your Internet activities.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Zimbra FTW!

Having now used Yahoo's open source Zimbra email server to host my email for some time, I am finally getting around to writing some words about it.

As a no-cost solution, running on comodity hardware and an open source software stack supporting it, I would chose Zimbra over any of the hosted solutions I have come across for the 1-50 user business (or in my case family). The rich webmail client has replaced desktop email clients for me, and having access to the same mail client, with the same customisations and settings from any machine with net access is a great boost. More recently the full desktop client, which allows offline access to messages, is easily as feature rich and useable as solutions from Microsoft or IBM that I have had the opportunity to use in anger, as well as the various open source solutions out there - can anyone say "evolution --force-shutdown".

There are features that I miss - GPG and S/MIME signing and encrypting my emails, ctrl-click drag and drop to copy messages - but progress is good and you can always connect your favourite desktop email client.

One more promising bonus is the ZimbraME Beta product - this installs on your Mobile Phone and provides you access from anywhere to your mail, a great addon. I have the generic version running on my Three Skype S2 phone (although scrolling within messages doesn't work) and for a beta its great to check which parking space I have been allocated when I turn up at work first thing like a zombie!

With version 6 just around the corner, lets hope my high expectations continue to be met!