Cabin Air Filter

It’s been a week since I retrofitted my 2014 Ram 1500 for a cabin air filter. There has been a noticeable improvement in air quality, both in reduced dust, and general odor reduction. The overall install process is pretty easy. Use a good utility knife, preferably a fixed blade model, and have a few blades. As for where to get the retrofit kit, there are a number of sources, I bought mine from for $29 shipped.

Spring is HERE

Spring has officially started, not only the season, but the semester. For those in the Seattle area, the weather is still lacking in quality. Although, it was sunny this afternoon.

On the academic front, spring semester started last week. This term, I’m taking a couple fascinating courses, Managing ERP Systems, and Ethical Considerations in IT. These topics may sound dull, and to most people they probably area. But, ERP is an important consideration for any growing business that wants to integrate their processes. As for ethics, it’s important to keep in mind, just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should do it. Or, at the least, have a plan for addressing the negative impact of your decision.

How do these courses fit into my greater plan? The field of information security encompasses people, processes, and systems. In order to implement a secure and usable system, a security professional must be aware of what those systems are, their purpose, and the people that use them. Failing to understand those components, you could secure a system to the point it is no longer capable of being used. Alternatively, your attempts to monitor system activity could become so invasive, that the people using it are uncomfortable with the situation.

Back in School

Last fall I decided it was time to go back to school, and get a Masters in IT Management. The move was partially motivated by my desire to simply make more money. As well as to simply expand my knowledge base.

So, here are I am, already survived the first course. My first class was both difficult and not so difficult. I could rely on my extensive familiarity with the technical content, however, I had limited knowledge on the business side. In addition, it’s been a long time since I wrote so many papers, all of which had a specific format, citations, etc.

Along the way, I’ve picked up a few tools to make my life easier since the last time I was in school. The first being, cloud storage, I’m using OneDrive to store my documents, papers, etc. The second, a reference manager, in my case I went with Zotero.

Proxmox with Gluster

I finally completed a long due project at work. After virtualizing a large number of systems, and moving them under a single management interface, it was time for high availability. But, it had to be done one a budget. And, by budget, I mean, almost nothing.

For virtualization we already utilize Proxmox which is open source. It may not be as feature rich as some commercial products, but it is reliable. Naturally, since we’re already using open source virtualization, we might as well use open source storage. Since I was repurposing existing equipment, the decision came down to DRBD or Gluster.

But, which to go with? I tested out both on a mix of systems. Basically, I used whatever I could get my hands on. DRBD showed a lot of promise, and the integration with Proxmox was nice. Unfortunately, I ran into split brain problems several times. That left me with Gluster, which so far hasn’t suffered from that same fate. Though, to lessen the odds of that, we do run in a 3-way replica configuration.

So, how’s it all implemented? It’s a hyper-converged setup. The VM hosts double as storage hosts. Our typical server is a 2U box, as most are dual and quad socket systems. In addition, they all have dual power supplies. So, they have plenty of room for additional disks. We’re running multiple volumes spread across our nodes to limit the amount of healing during maintenance.

Of course, it’s only been in production a short period of time. So, time will tell. And, if it all goes side ways, I’m sure to rant about it. Until then, educate yourself on distributed storage.

New tires for the truck

I finally got new wheels and tires for my Chevy Colorado. Since it’s a work truck model, it came equipped with cheap 15×6 painted steel wheels. After 8 years, those wheels had seen better days. As did the TPMS sensors mounted on them.

But, that’s all changed. Got some new MB TKO wheels in 15×7. And, fitted them with some Falken Wildpeak AT3W tires. Amazingly enough, on pavement the Falkens are a smoother ride than my old BFGoodrich Long Trails. I suppose that’s due to the Falkens being made of a softer rubber compound. The real bonus though, I’ll finally have traction on something other than pavement.

Let’s Encrypt

Migrated my site over to being SSL-only. And, thanks to Let’s Encrypt which offers free domain validated SSL certificates, it didn’t cost me a thing.

Of course, rolling out SSL isn’t all I did. I also enabled HTTP/2, and the usual recommended configuration hardening. Why do this? It prevents man in the middle attacks. And, SSL is a requirement for HTTP/2, which virtually eliminates the performance penalty of using SSL.

But, don’t take my word for it. Check out the Let’s Encrypt website, and read up on HTTP/2. It’ll only cost you a bit of time, and you too might see the benefits.

Upgraded to Ubuntu 16.04

I just finished upgrading barnyard (web server) from 15.10 to 16.04. And it was a success. The entire upgrade process took about 5 minutes including download time. Hopefully my other Ubuntu systems go as smoothly.