Mar 31

Today: 31-Mar-2010: Big infrastructure day

Category: today

Today was one of the longest days I’ve had for a while, it started at 7am and finished a little after 6pm. I should work less.

At 7am I rocked up to USQ’s ICT building (E block), one of the oldest buildings of the University. At one stage people would have taught in this building but these days it has been converted into office space and at one stage a server room but even that is being turned into office space (much to the annoyance of it’s future residents).

I visited with ICT’s senior security officer, Luke, to work on configuring the load balancers to make work better than it is presently. It still isn’t perfect but we’re a while ahead. Now when you go to it doesn’t redirect around to (well not immediately anyway) but serves up the page which is nice. Eventually it’ll behave like this normally but until we get there this is what we’ve got. The next step is easy enough now we’ve got this set up. We’ve also now got the library blog ( using /blog instead of /wordpress, shifted it to a new server (now hidden by the load balancer as well) and also performed an upgrade to ensure it was on the latest version of WordPress. We ran into an issue with firewalls on one of the servers making life difficult but one of our sick admins, Jayish, saved the day and fixed up the issue with the server. Jayish from home also granted more RAM to our library wiki box that we’re using for engineering problem solving and updated the internal and external DNS for the library load balancers. We got everything sorted just after 8am or so which was good.

Next trick of the day was to update the library wiki to remove the dependence on the LDAP server. Foswiki, the software that runs the wiki, took the approach of trying to sync the entire LDAP directory seemingly on every request. I think I’ve configured it correctly but I’m not entirely sure. To be honest whilst this is the first time I’ve seen this style of doing things (e.g. trying to suck in the entire LDAP directory), in my experience with JAuthTools I’ve had it suggested to me a few different times that the LDAP integration should work that way. It doesn’t particularly scale well and in our situation we’ve got our directory but we can’t limit it down to the particular courses because of the indexing that is in our LDAP directory. At some point we might get the indexing to work but even then its going to put an unreasonable load on the LDAP servers to handle the searches as well. David, one of the other fellows in Library Systems, did a lot of the hard work to create the new htpasswd file with all of the entries for each of the users we have in the system and handled the email notification. Fortunately everything appears to have gone well which is good – and no significant complaint emails or phone calls. Yay!

The middle of the day progressed towards meetings and emails. I had a meeting with my boss and his boss for a short while to confirm some stuff, spent a bit of time with the social club for their morning tea and had a chat with our resident Mac system administrator from ICT about our Mac. Some how this bit of non-productiveness sucks more time than it should, which is unfortunate. I ended up having lunch, a tad late but I took longer than usual. After 1pm was a meeting with ADFI about the media repository. More work that I’m going to need to do to get everything connected up and running which should be fun in some respects. I had a quick wander around Y block whilst I was there and had a chat with David, Matt and Jonathon. I had a chat with them about the changes I made to DiReCt the other day and Jonathon pointed out that I didn’t need to file a technical issue, I could have a chat with one of the USQ functional support staff, Warwick, to get it updated. So I wandered down stairs and had a chat with Warwick and we got it sorted. This will hopefully mean that students from the UAE (predominantly what distinguishes the students with issues) and others on weird ISPs or limited work accounts (I don’t think even USQ would let you in if it wasn’t on campus already) won’t be seeing the weird timeout or connection error messages that they have been seeing. One more thing resolved for the day. Whilst I was on the second floor I went for a wander to haras Jason, one of the sound guys but he was busy – or at least pretending to be anyway, it is rather easy when you’ve got signs up.

That pushed me into the mid afternoon and a few more meetings to round my day out because you can never have enough meetings. I finished off by demonstrating JIRA to my boss in an attempt to get him to use it more. Might even pan out. I rebuilt a dashboard for him with custom filters and all sorts of mildly relevant information. We will see what happens.

I finalised the day by cleaning up on some documentation, actually clearing off some of the paper on my desk (or at least sorting it into nice piles) and updating my infrastructure todo white board to note the changes I made this morning (things on the list still include resguide environment refresh, moving the podcast system and some extra dev environments). Might write some more documentation tomorrow, for something new.

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