Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.


Send Big Files

Filed under: Red Herrings,The Day Job — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Frustrated with email limitations on big attachments?

Lately, I seem to be offering up solutions for email problems. I guess, email is on my mind lately. Don’t get me wrong, I love email. I frankly think it’s one of the most incredible things about the internet and quite possibly the greatest invention since sliced bread. Seriously. Think about it. Email connects us almost instantly with virtually anyone else in the world who has an email address. No time spent waiting for postal carriers to get a letter from where we are to where they are which might take days or weeks. Just near instantaneous communication.
Of course, there are some limitations. Obviously, I can’t send someone physical objects directly via email. I suppose, though, that when 3D printer technology catches up to our imaginations, we could send the digital files for some object and then you could print it locally, but that’s far, far in the future. Also? Most email systems have pretty strict limits on how big a file you can even send. Most top out around 25 megabytes, but some are really strict and are capped at as little as 5 megabytes. So, what can you do to keep those limits from killing your ability to share your big, beautiful Photoshop files? Where there’s a will, there’s a way!
In this case, the way is Send by Firefox. Yes, by the people who make the Firefox web browser, but, no, you don’t have to have Firefox to use it. You can watch a small video of how it works here, but really, it’s just a matter of uploading a file and following the instructions. They do recommend that you keep files under 1 gigabyte, but if you’re sending files that big, you’re really better off talking to your IT Department about setting up an FTP server for you. (Don’t worry, they’ll know what that means.)
In any case, this should be a simple solution for you under most circumstances.
And, that’s about the best you can hope for on a Friday!
Enjoy your weekend and I’ll see you back here next week!

This post originally appeared at Use Your Words!


A Vulgar Tongue

Filed under: Art,Fun — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:04 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Language is the key to culture, real or imagined.

Regular readers of my blog will know that I am a dyed-in-the-wool geek. I mean, totally hardcore. I started playing Dungeons and Dragons in the Seventh Grade and did, on and off, through college. I still, to this day, have a significant bookshelf of roleplaying games, including some D&D books. These days, I don’t have time to play, and the books are mostly there for theoretical inspiration, if I can ever get writing again. But, way back in the dark ages, before the internet, I had a subscription to Dragon Magazine, which was the official D&D magazine. It was there that I was first exposed to invented languages. Later, as I read more and after the internet became a thing, I discovered a community of like-minded wierdos who created languages, too. “Conlangs”, we called them, short for “constructed languages”. Some of the most famous are Klingon, Dothraki, and Tolkien’s famous Sindarin, more popularly known as “Elvish”, but there are hundreds, if not thousands, of them now.
Most of the results of my peculiar hobby, or “secret vice”, as Tolkein called it, are safely tucked away where no one will ever see them. Though, I did setup a page of resources and links over at my fantastic fiction site, Fantasist.net. I had some tools there that got so popular, they were crashing my webhost’s servers, so I had to take them down. I’d always meant to get back to porting them to a new, more stable and less resource-intensive programming language, but I never did. Now, though, there are so many people sharing things like this, and better than the stuff I made, that I don’t really feel bad about it. And, new tools for creating languages from the ether are springing up all the time.

Recently, someone shared a tool on the newsgroup I’m part of for conlanging, CONLANG-L, that raised quite a ruckus. It was originally shared by Boing Boing, and I saw it there, too. It’s a web-based language generation tool called Vulgar. The page I’ve linked to there is the “free demo”, but that will gin up a pretty decent start for a language, especially if, like me, you’re not a linguist. There are a surprising number of options, if you want to take advantage of them, and even more if you’re willing to cough up $19.95 for the downloadable version. That downloadable version still runs in your web browser, by the way, so there’s not any compatibility issues between Windows, Macintosh or Linux. Now, of course, this isn’t going to get you a fantastic artificial language, but, if you’re a starving fantasy author who wants to whip up something that sounds reasonably okay with a very little effort, this isn’t a terrible start. For me, it’s fun, but probably not more than an amusing toy to play with on a quiet Friday morning.
And, based on the frenzied reactions on that conlang email list, my sharing it and saying that it’s not bad, will irritate some folks. Which is a different kind of fun.

Either way, go, try it and have fun. And enjoy your weekend!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words


Review: Nagios

Filed under: Career Archive,Fun Work,Geek Work,Linux,MicroSoft,Novell,Ooo, shiny...,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:27 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before.

Some time ago, I was having problems with traffic on my network. Something, somewhere was apparently causing some issues with bandwidth on our Internet connection. Or, at least, that’s what our ISP kept telling us. It was, I think, the excuse they were using to avoid dealing with an e-mail problem.
Regardless, I had to find a tool to monitor our network traffic. I ended up using Wireshark for that, but along the way, I discovered a number of OpenSource monitoring tools for various purposes. The one that impressed me the most was Nagios.

Nagios is, according to the opening paragraph on their website, “an Open Source host, service and network monitoring program.” While I never did configure anything to monitor the network, per se, I did configure this to watch both local servers and third-party web and mail servers.
First of all, it’s important to know that Nagios runs on Linux. So, to install the software, you first have to have an available Linux server on which to install it. I’m using an old workstation that I installed the latest version of Fedora, the free version of RedHat. Getting the initial install done wasn’t very hard at all. In fact, there were RPMs available, so all I had to do was use RedHat’s package manager to get the base install loaded on the machine.

After the initial software load, I mainly followed the Quick Install instructions that they link to on the first page. Then, since I was mainly monitoring Windows servers and workstations, I found the cleverly titled help page, “Monitoring Windows Machines“, and followed that. This page ran me through the basics of installing the NSClient++ on a Windows machine and configuring Nagios to connect to and monitor that client. One thing that I had to find out the hard way was that the entries for the monitored systems have to be duplicated for each host. In other words, there is no way to just list all the Windows systems you want to monitor. You have to created entries describing each host individually. That’s not a big deal, honestly, since you can open the configuration files in a text editor and just copy, paste and edit the required entries.
I did have a few false starts here, until I figured out the correct syntax and the fact that every host has to be part of a previously defined group. But, other than that little glitch, configuration was fairly simple.

It took a little more digging, but I later found instructions for passively monitoring services running on servers without a client. I now use my private installation of Nagios to monitor our company webserver, both POP3 and SMTP on our hosted e-mail server, as well as my two Windows 2003 servers. I can even check on the Microsoft SQL database, thanks to information I got from this post on the OSdir mailarchive. And, did I mention that all this software was free? Yeah, the documentation wasn’t the best and it took me a little while to figure out the install and config, but it was far easier than the other monitoring software I played with and I can let anyone who has the username and password check these stats from their own workstation via a web browser. How cool is that? Oh, and did I mention that this can be used to monitor Linux/Unix systems, Windows systems and even Netware systems? Nagios pretty well covers it all!
(Oh, and as a side note, if you’re messing around with the configuration and want to reset the statistics, just stop the service and delete /usr/local/nagios/var/status.dat, then restart the service. All your counts will zero and all the checks will start fresh.)
In short, if you’re looking for a low-cost but versatile monitoring system and aren’t afraid to read the documentation, I highly recommend investigating Nagios.


Blog Browser?

Filed under: Art,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,Fun Work,News and Current Events,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:24 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Okay, this is kind of self-referential, but…

According to this article on AustralianIT, the fine people who make the Opera web browser, are making a blog browser. Sort of an interesting idea, I thought, considering how popular blogs are getting these days.
But, when I read the details it turns out that what they’re doing is incorporating Really Simple Syndication, or RSS, into their web browser so that users can have new items from blog RSS feeds that they subscribe to come in as individual messages in Opera’s mail client, which is packaged with the browser. Which is still not a bad idea. Interesting article, anyway.

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