Recent outage and snow flake servers!

This is a Wombat not a snow flake!

My server hasn’t been working too well over the last 24 hours due to it becoming a bit of a snow flake, that and the fact the the plumber always has leaky pipes! Not to mention that I was running a rather old version of Debian.

What’s a snow flake server you may ask? It’s what all system admins should avoid! It’s a server that does all sorts of things (often rather well) and as such is a precious little snow flake! The problem with this is that the server will not, or is not, easy to manage or update or improve due to lack of documentation, configuration issues, and / or as was my issue- software and hardware conflicts.

There are a number of ways to manage machine production and developer working environments. These include approaches such as blue green servers, machine imaging with products like puppet and Ansible. As well as a VM approach with products like Vagrant or a software container product like  Docker.

Whats also interesting is that with good old fashioned tools like password less key managed ssh access, and shell scripting you can control a lot of the process that the above products like to take claim for.

I’m going to think quite a bit about this snowflake problem some more in the coming weeks. I shall probably write more about how I, as someone with a “production server” and a number of other needs keeps all the ducks on the wall.  The end result is that I hope I can create a machine from scratch in a very short space of time. Or at least learn a few things.

Stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

Ridley Scott movies, AI and humanity!

Interesting things happen at the men’s shed!

So I’ll start with a spoiler alert. If you haven’t seen the Ridley Scott  movies “Prometheus” or  “Alien: Covenant” you may like to stop reading now!

One of the things that I liked about Prometheus was that Ridley Scott starts to look at the concept of “Bad robot” and by the time we get to “Alien: Covenant” we are talking about a megalomaniacal monster who, because he has access to so much knowledge and power compared to these lesser humans, makes the decision that we are not worthy – of existence!

This of course evolves into a plot that will have you sitting on the edge of your seat right to the moment you leave the theatre. Your brain will still be doing back flicks many hours or days later. The technical ramifications of the plot twists are brilliant.

These movies got me thinking about AI and robotics and Arther C Clarke’s “Three Laws of Robotics“. I have always thought that these laws have influenced a lot of science fiction writing, in that the Robot is usually a force of good. When I think of my own existence as an IT person and someone rather fond of cables & chips… and software. The concept of an AI gone wrong upsets me. This is because we are human and we are all flawed on some level but we also have hope. But the cynic in me asks  “So how the heck could we create an AI and not get it wrong?”

As a byproduct of watching these movies, I went searching for more information about humanity and AI. Whereupon I came across this interesting interview between two of the the biggest supporters / brains in the business of the development of AI… “Marvin Minskey & Ray Kurzweil“.

The late Mr Minskey is arguably the grandaddy of AI. He’s interesting  – but also I feel he could be considered some what of  an intellectual snob. I would not want him programming an AI.

But you might say – Robots, Artificial intelligence. That could never happen! Well lets just look at the facts shall we! The common knowledge game of Jeopardy  back in 2011 yep a computer beat 2 of the best humans in the world at this game.

There is of course our diminished skill with regards the game of  Chess, and the even more complex game of Go , The Physical presence of an AI may be expressed in a robotic format such as this…

We might also take into consideration related developments in robotics (not jus the type that walk) including improvements in things like Brain surgery  . I shudder to think what the military are up to, but this is something we need to think about.

Additional issues are that the AI will presumably design the next generation of AI! It’s a very deep rabit hole.

If someone ever does get round to creating an AI we would need a management and review process. In addition to programmers who can create something with the wisdom and compassion of Buddha and  the patience of a Saint.

We need to think about this, talk about this, a lot. Not to mention act carefully!

Install howmanypeoplearearound on mac os X

howmanypeoplearearound  “calculates the number of people in the vicinity using the approximate number of smartphones as a proxy”

To do this on Mac os X first make sure that you have “brew” installed.

See the simple instructions / site hear
https://brew.sh/

Your also going to need tshark the cli version of wireshark installed

brew install tshark

Also I found using python3 important as I was having dependency problems with the standard python install

Download and install python3 from hear

https://www.python.org/downloads/mac-osx/

Then

sudo pip3 install howmanypeoplearearound

now you can observe howmanypeoplearearound !

Typical usage

sudo howmanypeoplearearound -s 300 -o scan_big2.json -a en1

(Listens to network traffic for 5 minutes writes to the file scan_big2.json in json format using interface en1 (wireless card use ifconfig -a to check that yours is named in the same manner)

 

Things I like V 0.1 People

Cats are also important!

So although this blog is mainly about technical things I thought it might be nice to share things that I find interesting, exciting, frivolous, or just plain amazing.

So without further ado and no particular rhyme or reason I present you with this list!

Things I like V 0.1 People!

Oliver sacks: Such an amazing thinker, His books are well worth reading.
http://www.oliversacks.com/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SgOTaXhbqPQ

C G Jung: Another great thinker who’s ideas influence me on a near daily basis.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O67a8_XXqK4&t=181s

Prof Alice Roberts: Prof Alice Roberts is I think the heir apparent to David Attenborough.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-rmQjz8F0s

William Gibson: Yep it’s a geek thing, but his recent books are also amazing – one of the few people who’s books I read more than once.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tj5xABJlOUU

Emily Graslie: What’s not to like about a young science communicator and YouTube educator, who among other things is not afraid to gut a wolf
https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=the+brain+scoop

The argument for System Administration 0.1

Ganesha is widely revered as the remover of obstacles

 

So from what I can work out your humble Sys Admin is a bit like a dentist! You know it’s good for you but no one likes pain, let alone paying for that pain.

But lets just hold it there for a minute can we? Lets just stop and think about this.

John Podesta recently had his email account hacked. Of that we have evidence, have a look at this.

https://wikileaks.org/podesta-emails/

There is some discussion that his account password was, or may have been “password”, or something simple and easy to hack. What ever his password was, it probably was not that difficult to hack see this information.

But guess what? If a System administrator had been looking after that email server properly this shouldn’t have happened.

So we now have a major question over the outcome of the political leadership of arguably the most powerful country on earth. Just so you know sysadmin appreciation day this year falls on  Friday, 28 July.

Think about that! Especially if you have a good Sys admin who is looking after you and your network, and your email, and stays up late re booting the server doing stuff you never have to worry about, often stuff you don’t even care about until – whoops! Where did the election go?

Some of my favourite things!

 

This is a list of my favourite open source tools that I often use. I’ll up date this on occasion as I add discover and explore new things.

Documentation and ticketing

DokuWiki

This is a great little product and it’s very quick and easy to implement.
From the web site (all true!)… “DokuWiki is a simple to use and highly versatile Open Source wiki software that doesn’t require a database. It is loved by users for its clean and readable syntax. The ease of maintenance, backup and integration makes it an administrator’s favourite.”
https://www.dokuwiki.org

Ostiket

Great product if you need to quickly set up a job tracking system. Runs under LAMP and is robust and easy to use. Also comes with support and hosting options if you need them.
http://osticket.com/

 

Mediawiki

Useful for bigger and more free style projects and also runs the wikipedia site. The grand daddy of Wiki’s!
https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/MediaWiki

 

Network related

Wireshark

Wireshark is one of the great open source projects that is an insanely great tool. Know exactly what is running on your network and dig down to forensic levels.
https://www.wireshark.org/

pfsense

I’ve written about pfsense before it’s a fantastic firewall routing system that can also be used to set up VPN’s and lots, lots more. Another project that you can purchase pro help for if you need it, or if management want to know that the thing is supported. It can run on just about anything and you an also get dedicated hardware if you want it. But you can put together a router from old parts and it will run just fine.
https://pfsense.org/

 

 

 

Not a bad start!


So, I got a nice email from the google AI? May be not… Anyway it was an invite to submit the site to https://testmysite.thinkwithgoogle.com/ and so I did. I’m happy with some of the initial results, one of which was the Mobile friendly test. Have a look at this!

So I’m very happy indeed, and a big thank you to the good people who developed the PARABOLA theme http://www.cryoutcreations.eu/

I still have some serious work to do on the site, and I’ll keep you all informed as things improve. But a nice start even if I do say so my self. Stay tuned.

 

Steve

My crazy photos!

One thing a few of you may notice about this site is the photography! I’m not the worlds greatest photographer by any means, but it is a hobby that I enjoy. Most technical writing is fairly boring so I’m going to use my crazy photos to lighten things up a bit I hope you like this!

And so without further ado I thought I’d include a few recent shots!

Whiskey writing the beach

The office on a good day

 

Michael Doolan, Witch’s apple
Castlemaine gallery 2017

 

Just an old ink blotter

Yes a Major update!

Well a few people – not many but a few – will have noticed that the blog has been updated! Nice funky WordPress implementation and https! And it works on Mobile!!!!. I also have about 10 years worth of old blog articles that are still available hear. https://gingercatsoftware.com/Blog.php
In addition to all of this I will also be reviewing all of those articles (over time) and re issuing / updating them via this WordPress format, as well of course as adding lots of new articles.

Thanks for visiting and enjoy the new look and feel. Hear are a couple of  additional articles I wrote at the end of last year.

Linux / Unix stuff

Notes on nginx config

Cheers

Steve