Bank of Ireland online banking finally fixed…

Not that it was broke or anything. However they have removed the drop down box on the pin number screen. About bloody time too, it was pretty shoddy when it came to security.

I also note that they are giving 10% (EAR) Interest on current account balances upto 1500 euro. That’s pretty good.


So I noticed on an IRC channel today a bit of buzz around PHP4 going EOL. Bye bye php4, with that announcement in mind, we’re going to discontinue PHP4 support at the end of the year also. In the mean time we’ll simply encourage our customers to make sure their applications work in PHP5. At this stage in the game there should be little or no applications that are still maintained that won’t work in PHP5.

The news was also posted on

Vodafone E220 3G usb

I got one of these a while ago and I had no joy getting it working. I was at the time running Ubuntu LTS, but I’ve since upgraded to Edgy and I’ll move to feisty at some point.

To get this working there are a few short steps to take:

sudo rmmod usb-storage
sudo rmmod usb-serial

then run:


In my case I get the following:

Bus 001 Device 005: ID 12d1:1003

modprobe usbserial vendor=0x12d1 product=0x1003

Once you’ve got this far things should be heating up.

run the following commands:
mknod /dev/ttyUSB0 c 188 0
mknod /dev/ttyUSB1 c 188 1
mknod /dev/ttyUSB2 c 188 2

This creates the devices that you need to use with wvdial

The wvdial.conf that works for vodafone Ireland, for me anyway, is as follows:

[Dialer hsdpa]
Phone = *99***1#
Username = vodafone
Password = vodafone
Stupid Mode = 1
Dial Command = ATDT
Modem = /dev/ttyUSB0
Baud = 460800
Init2 = ATZ
Init3 = ATE0V1&D2&C1S0=0+IFC=2,2
ISDN = 0
Modem Type = Analog Modem
Init5 =AT+CGDCONT=1,"IP","";

So there we have it. This is 100% working on Ubuntu Edgy with Vodafone Irelands Huawei E220 with a 2.6.17-11 kernel.

Crazy weather???

Holy hell! The weather the last 2 days has been mad, completely looney. Last night when I lef the pub at 11:30 (got out during the 30 minute drinking up window, incase any law enforcement types read this) and proceeded to head home. Sure next thing I know its a blizzard!! My bag of chips was getting snow in it 🙁 – crazy. And again today there is snow, sleet, rain, crazy high winds. All in all, very unsettled. Reminds me a bit of The Day after tomorrow.

Promise Raid cards?

Yes the saga continues, only 4 years later. A few years ago we dabbled with promise cards. A) they were cost effective, B) they apparently had a good feature set and C) Our vendor at the time recommended them.  Long story short, they sucked. We used the TX2300 I think then. Over the past while we’ve been using another vendor that is local to us instead of just using Dell and HP so we can diversify. They were raving about the new Ex series of cards so we got an Ex8350 card off them and put it into a quad core server with plenty of ram etc.

Initial findings:

Redhat EL 4U4 supports the card. Yaay. However the kernel on the install cd didn’t. Promise had no driver for U4. We contact redhat, follow instructions, nothing. Redhat come back at 09:06 the following morning with a new driver disk that is untested, but hey it worked! Horray. Installed RHEL 4, upgraded to latest redhat kernel and all looked great.

The card performed quite well during initial testing. Compile times were up on other systems and uncompressing tar.gz files etc was very quick. I wasn’t sure if this was the quad core or the raid card/disk performance but I gave the raid card the benefit of the doubt.

Things started to get a bit hairy after 2 weeks or so. The server was our latest shared hosting box, which is a beast in comparison to some of the older machines with 4 cores on the cpu. It started showing high load averages even when it wasn’t particularly busy. A closer look and see a huge amount of IO wait. I think nothing off it but keep an eye on the server. Last friday it had a serious brain fart, a simple untar job of a 200mb file brought the load to over 200 and poor Niall had to look after it.

Another week has passed and it has another brain fart, this time input/output errors for almost all binaries on the file system. Now this brings back vivid memories of our first ever shared server from years ago with the card in it that I mention above. So Promise cards suck. Redhat support is second to none. Infact Redhat are bloody brilliant, never has a vendor been so usefull or quick to help me out on an issue before.

XGL and Beryl

Niall pointed me at a link earlier that was fairly dated, however what I was looking at was really cool. It was exactly what I saw over the weekend at SkyCon when Dave Wilson from heanet was getting setup for his talk. I’ve basically installed Beryl and a few other bits n bobs, include xserver-xgl and now I’ve got the most fantastic looking desktop and animations I’ve ever seen. It’s quite amazing as I never thought I’d see such beauty on Linux. I can’t really take many screen shots, as lots of the actions require alt and so does screen capture. If I’m bothered, I’ll bind screen capture to something else and see what I can do.

It is just fantastic though. Really, it is.

I followed the following url mostly to the letter.

Xen and LVM vrs UML and File system images

A couple of years ago we started looking at UML as a new technology we could make some products from. So we went about to find a system to build and automate the creation of them. I sat down and made up prices, specs and billing schedules so our sales people could market the new product. At the time it was really cool and we sold a load of them in the first couple of months. However the guy we had doing the work left shortly after. I didn’t have time to look after that stuff anymore so we let it fall by the way side.

Having taken on a heap of new staff in 2006 we found that we had time to spend testing new technologies. Xen was one of them. I’d played a bit and hadn’t thought much about it. However Niall was given the task of moving certain services off of our main web server for company related hosting. So we got in some nice HP servers and off he went at the task. We decided it made a _lot_ more sense to use raid on the under lying file system (resilient raid as apposed to raid 0 that we used on the UML service) and to use LVM to create the FS for the Xen virtual private servers. The speed difference is incredible. The old UML boxes were slow and cumbersome and the VPS on them were unresponsive a lot of the time.

I’ll do a more detailed post in the future with versions of bits n bobs that we used for the new hosts. We’ve migrated all UML customers from the old boxes (and old network) to the new boxes and our shiny new network (which is almost a year old!!)

Blacknights RBL mirror goes crazy

In Blacknight we believe in giving back to those whom we take from. In November we got access to the spamhaus zones. As a result we’ve given them another public mirror for them to add to their round robin dns setup. We initially saw very little traffic, I think the aggregate was in the 10s of thousands of queries per 5 minute period.

That was of course till spamhaus turned us on, which all of a sudden kicked in may I add 🙂 – it was uber cool to see the stats ramp us as they did. On Tuesday 16th of Jan 2007 we hit an all time high which was mostly due to the spamhaus zones we mirror. Approx 1.114m queries in a single 5 minute statistics reporting window. Wow. The crazy thing is that the hardware its on is nothing special. There is no load on the server at all despite it serving over 200k dns queries a minute.

Aggregate dns queries

The above is a 5 minute average from the graphs we generate on the mirror box. The green is positive hits on the traffic coming in vrs what is in the zones. The blue is total number of queries and the orange is a percentage of hits vrs total mail.

The next biggest hitter is surbl, or more accurately – its top hitting day was also the same day as above with 105K queries in a 5 minute window. 5 minute average

The legend for the above is the same as the aggregate one above. The main reason for this post is to highlight that we used to ship all of our own queries onto public mirrors for both spamhaus and surbl. We mirrored surbl for quite a while but it was on the DEG mesh and not on our own Mesh network. The above stats are from a box hosted on our own network. The box is shipping between 3Mbit/s and 4.5Mbit/s during peak times. That is a silly amount of DNS queries, but none the less it helps the performance of our own kit and also provides a valuable resource to our neighbouring networks and other companies in Ireland and the EU that use these mirrors.

We get queries from all over the place to these mirrors. I’ll get Niall to dig out some country stats tomorrow and I’ll post that to another blog post.


After much “putting it off” Jimmy organised a game of soccer tonight on the all weather pitches in Graigcullen. There were 11 of us plus one. The “plus one” was podges missus Tara whom watched from the side lines as we all huffed and puffed.

Felt pretty good to do all that running, right now my back is super stiff and I might be needing an ambulance to get me into work in the morning.

We’ve booked it for next Wednesday again, so we’ll see how things go after the second and third visit 🙂