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 πŸ™ – 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.Β  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.

Blacknight support ASP.NET AJAX extensions

We’re proud to announce that we now support the new ASP.NET Ajax extensions. We’ve had Robert from Microsoft testing it out to make sure it all looks well. And it does! He had a lot of fun trying it out and playing with a hosted environment which I don’t think he had seen or used before.

Anyway all new Windows sign-ups will have this support. I’ll be rolling it out on the other servers to cater for existing customers in the coming week. Just after I do a load of patching of php 4 on both our linux and windows platforms πŸ™

We have a test site setup where Robert put up his test application that utilises this new extension to .NET and it looks pretty damn cool.

Blacknight are hiring again!

Blacknight (my employer, my company) are hiring again. We need another programmer/developer to add to our increasing systems engineering team. We have several tasty projects that are on-going with a few more coming up.

Job Details:

  • Location is Carlow, Ireland
  • Salary is between 28k and 34k euro depending on experience
  • Health care cover optional
  • Pension is also optional

Requirements for the applicant:

  • He/She should have at least 2 years experience in a commerical environment with php, xml, use of API’s.
  • Having knowledge of javascript, ajax, ruby on rails, perl, c and bash/shell scripting would be a big plus
  • Having some UI skills would also be a big plus
  • The applicatant must be a team player, he will report directly to our senior developer.

Please send cvs in pdf format to management [ at ]

I’m getting a new Nokia N91

So I decided to upgrade earlier in the month so I’m just awaiting delivery of my new Nokia N91. It has 4GB of onboard memory for storing music, files etc.

Audio stuff:

It’ll play pretty much any of the following audio types, pretty exhaustive list wh00t! MP3, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, Real, WAV, WMA, M4A, AMR-WB, True Tones, AMR-NB. It can also record audio in several formats so it can be used in meetings etc, pretty damn handy.
One of the things I like about it is that it has dedicated buttons for controlling music. A lot of other mobiles share this function with other normal keys which can be a bit limiting at times.

It also has an FM radio with a feature called visual radio – this appears to be where there is a visual channel along with audio where supported by the radio station that gives you updates on whats on now, whats on next etc. Looks semi interesting.

Video and Display:

Regarding video, it’ll play back the following formatsΒ  3GPP H.263, MPEG4, RealVideo which is pretty good also. The display is 176 x 208 with 262k colours. Pretty snazzy, looks a fair bit better than my current Nokia 6680.
The camera is 2Mega Pixel which is good for a phone. Considering it isn’t too many years since cameras were using this and my current phone takes ok photos with its 1.3Mega Pixel camera.


  • 3G – that’ll be turned off thanks, however it could be handy at times where I’ve no other options.
  • WLAN – hahahahaha. I mean… wow great. πŸ™‚
  • USB 2.0
  • Bluetooth

I won’t comment on the brower etc until I actually get a hold of it. I’m looking forward to it though, as it has all sorts of funky features that I want to explore and perhaps make use of.

I will post a review of it in a few weeks once I’ve gotten used to it and broke it in a bit.

Are Eircom service engineers at the bottom of the food chain?

It would appear so. I spotted 2 vans in the new units accross the road from us this afternoon. I thought nothing of this as it’s perfectly normal afterall. However the idiots cut our fax line. To make matters worse, our DSL is on the same line. 6 months ago we’d be completely blind now in the office with no way to operate our NOC.

Would it be possible to install brains into the engineers before they get a van? At least that way they might actually be able to do their jobs.

Eircom, you are a disgrace.


So 35 minutes on hold and I’m told “There is a short on the line, we’ll get someone to look at that for you” – yes please, you stupid idiots!


So eircom send us out an engineer. Great!!! – Not so great, the guy comes into our office whips the cover off their box with our lines and turns around to me and goes “It’s dead alright” – christ, they pay you to tell me something I already know? Please. Anyway he goes out to the manhole accross the road where the aforementioned engineers were “fiddling” and comes back to say the “line is fine out there” – At this stage I’m in “Not letting him leave till its finished mode” as they have a habbit of running off and not coming back for days. Anyway with some more conversation with him I convince the guy to check the line again, he does and next thing “oh it was on the wrong pair”. I ring the fax line number and it rings! IT’S ALIVE!!! Great.

Life imatates Art?

Michele just pmd me a link on MSN randomly. So I click on it, woah! its the coolest thing since sliced bread! As the poster says it probably wasn’t done intentionally, but it is certainly hella cool.

I’m going to SkyCon, Are you?

So it turns out that we are sponsoring SkyCon this year. It’s looking fair promising and because a lot of people I know of from IRC, forums and just general Internet banter I took a closer look at it and decided that I’d do a talk for them. The least I could do, what with us getting all the PR on the run up to it and we’ll have a stand for the 3 days of the conference.

My talk is going to be based on some of the improvements that the OSS community has enabled us to do without spending wads and wads of cash on commercial products and also allowed us to cater for our needs more easily as we can modify/beat the program, programs into shape. I’m pretty excited and nervous about the whole thing as a) I’ve not done a lot of public speaking b) I’m a geek and not very much into humans, more so machines and c) I don’t want some demented kernel hacker asking me questions I can’t fricken answer πŸ™‚

So are you going to SkyCon? If not, why the hell not? You do _realise_ that all the cool kids will be there? πŸ™‚

Ah a year has passed and what is next?

Yep, a year has gone by. AS39122 was approved by ripe on 16th of the December 2005. On the same day our /20 was approved and the works were put into motion to seperate ourselves from our competitors and to reduce the overall running costs of the network while still being able to offer better service to our customers and allowing us to broaden our product range.

So in late Jan 06 we got all the equipment we needed to build our own network. We initially did a lot of testing with no customers on net. We then added a few customers to see how all the effort, time and planning would pay off. We’d only one provider for the first month, we were waiting for 8 weeks for Colt, who in the end couldn’t deliver within the rather generous timeframe we gave them of 8 weeks. We Joined INEX mid feb and we started peering with the various ISPs there. That was fun. I got to learn BGP the hardway, throw yourself in the deepend. I was always interested in the ins and outs of routing etc. It was a great fun learning all about bgp, as numbers, as macros, route maps, ibgp, ebgp, LIRs, PA and PI address space, ripe policies etc etc, I could go on for hours πŸ™‚ – needless to say we were set and ready to take on the market. At that stage we were about 10th in Ireland for hosting.

Groovy I say. We’re now number 2 in Ireland (or will be shortly, depending on what stats you read) and that only took us a year to achieve. We’ve over taken all our competitors, grown our colo and dedicated customer base to 300+ and we’ve got big plans for 2007.

I wanted to mention something about the upgrade we’re doing next week. it’s a very simple upgrade but the benifits are 10 fold. We’re removing some old switches from the network that are probably on their last legs and are causing a bottle neck in our network currently. All we have to do is repatch around 100 servers that were on the old infrastructure, this includes some of our shared servers which we plan to move later in the year to their own home alltogether. After the upgrade next Thursday evening we’ll have a fully meshed network, this means that we’ll have one of the most resiliant networks in Ireland today!

Anyway to close, as the title asks “What is next?” – well thats top secret right now :-), but if you would like virtual private servers, virtual dedicated servers or just a box to play with or test IPv6 as a college experiment or project then watch this space. As part of our expanding and improving product base we’ve got some very interesting new products with improved new features.

Oh and one final note. We’re the only Irish hosting company with native IPv6 support from customer, through our core and to the internet. We’ve substantial IPv6 transit and peering arrangements with several large ISPs; we are ready for the next generation of hosting services.