Work Journal For Week of March 13, 2000

Last Update: Sunday, March 19, 2000 08:15 PM


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Monday already! Called a contact at a staffing agency that I have a good business relationship with. Asked him what he sees in the IT job market at present. He says that he sees just as much as I do in the weekend paper ( next to nothing ). I emailed a buddy with these results as he is job hunting, and he and a headhunter he deals with had the same conversation. The strange thing is that the Alberta economy is strong, gas and oil prices are high, tech companies stocks are on the rise, but little hiring is being done. If you are a manger, project leader, Unix administrator or a programmer there are jobs, but the rest of the IT field is rather sparse for openings. Looks like I had best try and see if I can get my current contract extended if I want to have an income after March 31. I fired off a short email to my supervisor who works in Edmonton, while I am in Calgary. Asked if she wants to extend my contract beyond March 31. Hopefully I will have good news later in the week.

TRIVIA: if prior INTEL speeds were referred to as 166MHz, 266MHZ, and so on, then why is the new speed called 667MHz instead of 666MHz? Because INTEL didn't want to offend anyone as the number '666' has references to devil worship and other underworld cult factions.



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Interesting morning, up bright and early so I can drive to the advertising services building. Freezing rain and snow during the night so I needed extra time to scrape ice off the windshield. I made my way slowly to work only to find that my cohort at the tower is off sick so I must go downtown to the tower as we have to have one body there to monitor the queue. I hope he is back at work tomorrow as I have plans to leave work early so I can attend the monthly meeting of the Southern Alberta Netware Users Group. I hopefully can learn a few things at this meeting plus possibly do a bit of networking.

Was up early enough to do a bit more reading up on the Linux Router Project before heading off to work. I started to put an old 486 together last night which I am going to configure as a router. The last time I looked at the Linux Router Project web page I had trouble finding information geared for a Linux novice like me. This has not changed but I started looking through the old FAQ files and found some of the missing pieces I need, like how to take the disk image file and copy it onto a floppy. I should try and document all my steps and post it as I am sure I am not the only Linux novice looking to setup a router for their home LAN.

I happened upon Freesco again today and read through the manual for it at lunch. Looks to be a much better documented install that LPR so I am giving it a try first. 

Following the Freesco manual I run into a problem right away. the instructions say the command rawrite.exe freesco.23a will create my boot disk. No go, have to run rawrite.exe then follow the command line prompts. Very simple but it took a minute or two before I thought to try just running rawrite.exe.

Router is configured but I have had limited inconsistent success working with it. Have had on and off success pinging addresses out on the net and the only web site I could pull up was More tomorrow if I have time.



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Drove into work hoping my co-worker will be in so I can go to the Southern Alberta NetWare Users Group meeting today at 3. No sign of him yet at 8:45 and no messages. I am hoping he shows for the afternoon.

My co-worker never made it to work, so I cleaned off my desk as best I could and asked one of the guys who works a different queue if he can watch my queue for the last hour and a half of the day. He agreed so I went to the user group meeting. It was interesting, a lady who runs her own consulting company did a presentation on Netware 5 Small Business Suite. She did a good job of it, though I disagree with her on one or two points on how to set things up, but then we all have personal preferences in how we like to see systems setup. Then there was a bit of a round table where people brought up problems they are having with there servers which covered lots of subject matter.

Small world, one of the people at the meeting I had met when I lived in Winnipeg and was working at my Novell certification. He is still working for the same company, but has been relocated to Calgary.

The treasurer for the user group runs a small consulting company and is looking for some people, so I gave him a copy of my resume.

Now to get back to my Linux router project. My workstation can ping the IP address for the router connection to my LAN, but not the IP address for the NIC which connects to the Internet. On the router I can ping the address connected to the internet, and can also ping an internet address i.e But I cannot ping the Ip address for the NIC on the inside of my LAN. Something must not be configured on the router correctly. So much for this being a quick and easy install. Time to read up on how this router configuration works so I can fix it. If everything went real smooth I would not learn a thing. So far I have had to learn commands to see what IP is doing on the router and need to dig into the configuration files next to see what is stopping IP from working properly.



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Seems that I jumped the gun a bit on packing up a users PC yesterday. As the shit slowly hits the fan I find out that the PC should not be moved to Edmonton till May. None of the information I had on the move said this, but if I had read between the lines I may have saved myself some trouble. Oh well, I am only human, and thus I make mistakes, chalk up another mistake on my score card. I am not at the office tower today so I cannot go to shipping and grab the PC. I have made a call to a co-worker to get him to try and grab the PC before the shippers get it. The way things are going, I am willing to bet the PC will end up in Edmonton then getting shipped back to me.

Must be my lucky day, my co-worker got a hold of the PC in shipping and has put it under my desk. Lots of email on this matter being generated, even one with the fellow who originated the order to remove the PC accepting some of the blame. Also seems to be getting blown out of proportion as clearly some of the parties involved are not reading and understanding what has happened but are just reacting to it. I refuse to get drawn any deeper into the matter, I have phoned or emailed those directly involved and am dismissing the rest. I am willing to bet that next week when my supervisor is in town to talk contract extension with me that this little escapade will come-up.

Other than the political and other nonsense that has come up due to the PC fiasco I mentioned above, it has been a very quite day. I rode the bus downtown to the tower and checked my mail etc. Then found out they want me at advertising services, so I hopped on the train to the north east. The train stops a short 5 minute walk from the advertising services building which is very handy. No real work here either, did a few software installs and watched for new work in the queue of which there is none. Watching the queue is not even working very well as I have been getting SQL and other errors when I try to open calls, but due to the server errors I can't.

Oh! there goes the fire alarm, gota go. Followed everyone over to the cafeteria in Devry College till the fire crew told us we could head back to our offices. From what I am told this a nearly weekly thing. The smokers don't seem to mind too much as it offers them a chance to get outside for an extra smoke break.

Been in this building several times but, I just encountered for the first time it's air exchange system. A large fan just kicked in which sounds like a small turbine engine firing up. The fan does what I expect is a full air exchange in sections of the building. The area I am currently in prior to the fan engaging was warm, dry and the air a bit stale, which made my mouth all dry and me looking for a drink fairly often. After the fan ran the air was fresh ( still a kind of dry ), a little cooler ( only a few degrees ) and fresh.

It would be interesting to see a cost analysis of some of the things that get done around here. For instance some bills ( invoices ) are processed in Calgary and Edmonton, but the printing is done in Victoria British Columbia on a sub contractors printer. We also have a business alliance with GTE, and some of the printing goes from Calgary to some mainframe server on the east coast of the U.S. and then back to a local printer here in Calgary ( administration of this is a very long and drawn out process ). It's not that I disagree with any of these practices, but the cost of data lines, lost time due to the many hands things have to go through seems excessive at times.

Not sure if the prices are good or not but Programmer's Paradise sells software and hardware, looks like they may be more geared to selling to the corporation than individuals. Oh ya and they have Canadian outlet as well as international sales outlets. They have a warehouse in Mississauga, Ontario.



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Not a good start to the day, I would rather be outside enjoying the spring weather. As a way to blow off some steam I wrote a short and very demented email to friend which made me feel better and should generate a fair amount of laughter at the other end. On the other hand he may not be laughing but thinking that I have gone off to the dark side and am in need of therapy of some form.

One of the big engineering firms here in Calgary has gone to the point of advertising inside of buses that they are in need of people for a variety of positions. I cruised their web site today, found a position I can fill and faxed them a copy of my resume. I had decided to stay put where I am if they offered to keep me on, but the way they are holding me off at arms length in regards to talking about extending my stay with them is leaving a bad taste in my mouth. Part of it may have to do with the company taking full control of a British Columbia computer services company and rolling it out nationally. This news has had the full time people a little jumpy as to whether their positions will be outsourced. Could be my manager knows more about this than what the rest of us peons are being told.



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From some of my reading it seems that using DHCP to get and IP address lease from a cable modem service can lead to a few headaches. As a way to see if DHCP is the cause of my routing problems I have setup a static IP address connection to my ISP. Well going the static IP route has not solved anything.

I thought I recalled reading somewhere a while back that you should not use two identical NICs in a Linux router. Well this has been exactly what I have been doing. I came across information today confirming that you should use NICs from two different manufacturers in the router. So I have taken out the 3Com I had been using to connect to my internal network and installed an old no no-name NE2000 card. I configured it with the same setting I had used with the 3Com card. Now Freesco does not see any NICs at all. I then reverted back to my original boot disk, reran the setup. Setup stalled when trying to detect the internal modem which made me think that the NE2000 NIC did not save it's configuration properly. A quick boot to DOS to run the setup on the new NIC confirmed my suspicions. I reconfigured the NIC again, making sure this time that the configuration was written back to the card properly. The next run through the setup routine when without a hitch. I saved the new configuration and rebooted to load and test my newest router configuration. Linux now does not load. I then came upon information that two identical NICs can be used, who is right and who is wrong??

Thinking that this should in theory be easier than it is and went looking for another Linux router on a floppy setup. I found one @ which I was able to setup and get working in very short order. I downloaded the image file and used rawrite to copy the image on to a floppy. I then copied the DHCP file onto the floppy. The third and last thing was to edit the config file with the IP addresses for the inbound and outbound NIC with the correct information and edit one line to indicate that the outbound NIC would get it's IP address via DHCP. I booted the floppy, pinged all the appropriate addresses to make sure both NICs had IP bound to then then fired up IE on my test PC, and I was on the net. A quick change on my main PC to use the router as my gateway and it then could browse the web and send and receive email.



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So far I am very happy with my Linux router. Every thing internet related I use on a daily basis - Outlook & FrontPage, work as they should. I can now access the internet from any PC I choose which is the end result I am initially after. 

I am also noticing that ZoneAlarm never reports port scans , now that I have the router in place. I ran the shields-up test on my test PC behind my router and got a clean bill of heath security wise. My test PC is just a standard NT install. I have not done anything to it security wise. I guess this goes to show that NAT and IPmasking does a pretty good job of hiding things. 


Copyright 1999, 2000 John Doucette. All Rights Reserved


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