Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Nice to hear of someone trying it...

This is a Guest post from Ilise Samolyk following up on some of the work her sister has been doing. Pretty cool to hear about a larger institution implementing energy efficiency measures. Now if we could only get a few more to do it!
I believe our energy concerns didn't just go away because gas prices are down.  The current price at the pump hasn't changed anything, eventually prices will go back up.   I'm hopeful that our focus on alternative energy sources and conservation won't fade away with the lower gas prices.  I know that the tough economy has kept many of us focused on conservation measures.
Many of my friends are switching to compact florescent lights (CFL) and taking other conservation measures.  Some have gone as far as measuring the energy draw on various devices and using that information to determine where to install timers or simply unplug the device.  We've installed CFL's and unplugged our extra computers.   Every little bit helps and at least one family has cut their energy bill by $100 a month. 
It's also encouraging to see institutions apply these measures.  In fact my sister, Dr. Jill Landesberg-Boyle put simple conservation measures at FKCC, which is now yielding a savings of $100K a year.  She started the effort through a communication to all employees asking for their help in conservation measures, turn out the lights, turn off computers, etc..   The maintenance team incorporated an energy check into their rounds, timers were incorporated on public TV's, and lighting sensors were installed.  
Some conservation measures require more up front investment, even switching from incandescent light to florescent light can be expensive.  If you want to upgrade your appliances' that is a larger investment.  The same holds true for institutions, so Dr. Jill Landesberg-Boyle actively sought to upgrade to more energy efficient options as the opportunity and budget allowed.  This included upgrading to more efficient lighting and new energy efficient equipment.  Landscape improvements incorporated shade planning and new building plans were required to be energy efficient.
Any money saved is found money, we all could use that!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

VPN Headaches...

Started a new job, had to get the VPN setup before one of the 2010 snow storms hit. No problem. Brought the CD with the Cisco client (latest) and the PCF file for work. My router didn't have VPN (my bad, didn't need it when I last updated DD-WRT) so I pulled the latest VPN build for DD-WRT and made sure things were enabled. The Cisco VPN client installed fine and the import went flawlessly.

Then the problems began. I couldn't authenticate. Each step of the process would be a nightmare, taking up to 2 minutes to get from step to step - when it should go instantly. Then Authentication would fail with this wonderfully helpful message:
Secure VPN Connection terminated by Perr. Reason 433: (Reason Not Specified
by Peer)
Since half of my company was now having this problem, we started chasing it down. Only people who installed from the CD had the problem. The PCFs in use were identical in content.

My coworker started tracing what the Client did. Interestingly, Cisco's VPN client reads and writes each of the profiles in your \VPN Client\Profiles directory every action. No, that's not an error. Each time you start up, establish a connection, etc. the client reads and writes each PCF file.

When I imported the PCF from the CD it pulled onto my WinXP box as a read only file. The delay I was experiencing was the Client timing out its request for an exclusive lock on the PCF file. I made the file writable and everything worked as expected.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Cygwin & Bind tools: Don't forget /etc/resolv.conf!

I recently started a new job and was installing all my Windows tools (yup, back in Windows!). Installed Cygwin and added a few tools, specifically I had gotten used to using host & dig during my stint doing linux administration, so I added in the Bind distribution for Cygwin. When I tried to use host or dig I got an error: ;; communications error: connection reset

After some researching I found that although bind works in cygwin the /etc/resolv.conf is not created. You have to do that manually. I created the file (see example below) and the commands now work fine. Figuring out your nameservers is up to you for now.

This was on Windows Server 2003 SP2 using CYGWIN_NT-5.2 forsrayd 1.7.1(0.218/5/3).

My resolv.conf (valid ips removed):
nameserver x.x.x.x
nameserver x.x.x.x