Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Paper Work

I think I have avoided using any sort of structured documentation for long enough. While it has been handy to not have to sit down for hours on end typing up monotonous reports, I can't ignore the need for it when faced with the masses of information coming in my direction. So here I am at almost 9pm typing up reports of the 5 site inspections I conducted. Mind you that this is off my own bat and I'm probably the only person who firmly believes in paper work and record keeping, must be my public service experience kicking in.

I was tempted to purchase a 2nd hand bike today, not the motored kind. It was an Avanti Vivacé Pro Road. It was chained loosely to a fence, I'm sure I could have simply slipped off its quick release seat and stolen it. There was a 'For Sale' sign with a mobile number and $850.00 on it. I was tempted to call him and offer $650 since I found out it was worth $1300 off the shop floor -- after calling mick and asked him to search the web for pricing.

I love climate control.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Preparing for tomorrow

I have about 6 sites to inspect for in-room broadband services tomorrow. Starting at 9:30am and finishing at 3pm, not including time spent travelling to and and from Noosa. I've allocated about 30min per site, I'm hoping that's enough. Don't really want to give away too much of my time, especially when the client isn't really a client yet... at least its keeping me busy (not that I need extra work to do so).

Had lunch at home with Nat and Mick. Went down to the Nambour macca's and got a couple of those Deli rolls. Why is it that they always wrap that sticker thing down the end you rip off, preventing you from doing so neatly, and why do they wrap it so tightly?

Think I might catch up on a few CDs that I've been meaning to get for quite sometime. Now that I can actually listen to them while driving it makes it a lot more worth while. Hooverphics and the Dandy Warhols would be on the top of my list at the moment.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Another drive to Brisbane

It's a simple ask. I have requested from Billion a means of allowing permanent remote admin of their routers to be a 'tweakable' feature. But of course it could mean some noob out there might allow his router to become open and exploitable. The lack of this one particular feature caused me to drive down to Brisbane just to update the firmware of such a router so its VPN functionality would be restored. The traffic was pathetic - grand final game on in the suburb that I need to go to (Milton) and being Friday everyone was escaping the big smoke for the clean beaches of the Sunshine coast, so the traffic was crap both ways.

The folks are about to sign a contract on another house which is just around the corner from me. Sounds nice, might check it out tomorrow if they let us. Living near ones parents couldn't be all that bad, its not like under the same roof let alone within view. It'll give me an excuse to go for a walk anyway.

It looks like its going to be a fairly intensive weekend. Carting gravel down the backyard to fill the grey water pit we dug out last weekend. I'll be planting some palms down there too, hopefully they'll enjoy the excess water. Got some lawn fertiliser for the tiny strip of new grass along out footpath; I'm hoping that if I keep it nice and green, the council will overlook the fact that I've stolen half of their footpath...

Saturday morning (this morning for that matter) will be spent car shopping. I'm really hoping to get a Land Rover Discovery TDi. It'll be awesome to be able to just go camping whenever and wherever.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Quick trip up the coast to Noosa

I remember when Noosa was fairly enjoyable and quite a small place to visit. I was 8 years old the last time I enjoyed the place. Now its merely another tourist trap. Can never find a car park in the place.

Went and did a site inspection at Coolum, nice 22 unit job that turned into a 47 unit 3 building deal. Pretty much a case of 'can it be done and how much' which I absolutely love as someone who is almost purely technical when conducting these inspections. I don't like to get involved in the sales/marketing tripe, I only get involved when what's being said or written is absolute garbage.

After that we had a look at another building in Noosa and then went into the Noosa Sheriton where we're hosting a seminar tomorrow at around 4pm. Neil and Kris will be doing a presentation about the whole in-room broadband thing and I'll be there to answer any technical questions people may have (there's always one genius in the crowd).

Spent the afternoon screwing around with the SMC VDSL switches that will be going into the Peninsular building. Hopefully Willow will be able to assist in that install too.

In the evening dad and I went and had a look at a '97 Mazda 626 Eclipse. Had 123,000k on it and it was the 2ltr hatch. I wasn't too impressed with it and the realestate agent owner who looked like he had money to burn wouldn't budge from $9k, I offered $8k. No use dealing with someone who thinks $9k is spare change and is wondering why your wasting time trying to save $1k.

The bank will only lend me $8k, not such a big deal as work will toss in the extra 3/4k if need be. That and I have a fair bit saved up.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

A day spent in Redcliffe

Woke up around 2am this morning to work out why the Colubris device wasn't letting me NAT to the internal devices. Mainly because I wanted quick responses from the US based support folk. Turns out that something is suss about the link I had the equipment running on, even tho it was a definite unrestricted outside network. All worked fine at the client site...

Day started with me getting a couple of coffee's from macca's and arriving at work at around 7:45am. Willow turned up at 8 as arranged and after a bit of me catching up with the usual 'first thing' tasks we loaded up her nifty Astra and were on our way at 8:30. Traffic wasn't bad, trip took around 45min.

Unloaded the gear and got straight into hacking up their cabinet to squeeze in 30 odd 3m leads to patch all the units to the two Linkys SRW224 switches, don't know what I would have done without help from Willow (she's doing work experience with me on her RDO's from the TAFE). Once that was complete I then proceeded to destroy their phone system and render their phones useless for a period of a couple of hours. Turned out that their main extension is somehow hooked into the DSL line, beats me how DSL and a PBX system can be combined. I then worked out how their intraoffice cabling worked and got the Cisco DSL router hooked up.

Sorted out some configuration errors with the SAB Server and everything was go.

We had lunch at the Coffee Club on Redcliffe Pde.

Willow and I then ran around like idiots testing for a connection from each unit and marking which point has the data on it. Manage to locate 5/6 units that didn't have any connection - left that for the cable monkey to deal with.

There's still a few little things that need to be tidied up but its all there and working for anyone who wants to walk in on Friday and use it. So if anyone is seeking a place to stay in Redcliffe, call into the La Vida on Anzac - 41 Anzac Ave, Redcliffe. QLD.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Electricity is a good thing

A site went down today because Energex was doing PLANNED work on the buildings. Pity the client didn't forewarn us of this pre-arranged power outage. So a mad rush later and the site is back up using the handy generator we keep handy for such occasions.

On a funnier note, Don had to borrow the GPA to quickly go see a prospective buyer of some bits on his old Range Rover. Can't wait to hear his comments. It takes people some time to get used to the right understear and left overstear, sticky rear brakes and dodgy electrics -- odometer doesn't work, fuel gauge works sometimes and the indicators can short out sometimes.

Now to start playing with the VDSL equipment...

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Day of productivity

Optus woes cured (as expected - a MTU issue), La Vida equipment and configuration is all set to go for Tuesday (bar a PoE adaptor for the Linksys AP) and we successfully hooked up a new client to our Metroplex wifi network. Now I can concentrate on vehicle shopping and catching up on documentation.

Some pictures of the La Vida equipment on the bench:

The SMC Tiger VDSL switch and splitter for the Peninsular installation:

Optus upgrade woes

Yesterday morning Optus completed a scheduled upgrade of a core router in Brisbane. This is where our Sunshine Coast Frame Relay link terminates. Essentially a MPLS service. The upgrade entailed replacing the router with a larger chassis for scalability and hence the layer 1 and 2 configs would have changed as a result -- the probable cause of our issues.

After this upgrade we discovered that any sort of traffic that utilised larger packet sizes stopped working. This included traffic too and fro our database services and the Brisbane based webservices and any kind of secure connection such as online banking and eBay (noo!).

We circumvented the database woes by rerouting outgoing packets from the database server via our Telstra Frame link, creating a circular route. This is because the connection between the two would be established but the reply traffic was too large and the connection would time out. So now replies go out via Telstra and it all works fine -- this saves us having to change source addressing etc.

We're now waiting on the Optus network monkies to do their thing. As much as we love Optus, it just proves that you can't sit with any single provider and having a backup link with another is very worth while.

Now I have to start planning for the new installation at Brisbane today and try and resolve configuration issues with Colubris CN3200 that's going into La Vida on Tuesday.

The Dockside Marinanet upgrade went fine yesterday. We now have our own DSL with static IPs and the MT Router is happily running with its new config and software.

Looked at a few cars last night. There's a Nissan Navara Dualcab 2.4l ute for $14,000, only has 76,000 on the clock too. Real men drive utes.

Monday, September 12, 2005

The day after the trip

I hate coming back from being away from the office. Its not like work back home stops while you're away, it simply piles up and waits for you to come back and do it. Of course by the time you come back everything is now urgent and instantly you find yourself a week behind for the rest of the year. At least a bunch of new toys arrived, those will keep me occupied for the next week.

I'm trying to get a bunch of trees cut down in my backyard. You think this would be a fairly straightforward exercise. Ring the tree people for a quote and they came on time without a problem. Say yes to quote and organise for them to come out and do the work, don't see them again. What is with people and not keeping schedules? I'll have to call them tomorrow.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Does the work ever stop?

After such a hectic week up north on a supposed holiday (basically working for most of it), I thought I might take today off at least. Too much to ask obviously. Some disrespectful person on one of our networks got fested by some virus that spews out lots of small packets. Such traffic causes wireless networks to fail. This particular wireless network feeds a number of sites that operate 24/7. So we all had to deal with that one. I think I'll forcibly install packet shapers on all wireless links shortly.

Now to top it off there's a electrical storm over us at the moment that will probably cause at least a few clients trouble tonight. They'll respond by calling us tomorrow. *sigh*

I doubt I'll get many personal projects done in the next six months as the work just seems to keep building up.

On a lighter note I just finished watching that 'Hostage' movie with Bruce Willis. It was quite good, different enough to keep my interest and I have a soft spot for Bruce Willis movies in general.

Home once again

Probably the most eventful of my trips down the coast. Before leaving Mackay I went to the Mackay Marina as scheduled to meet the antenna guy to adjust the antenna. Since the meeting time was at 10am I had a half hour to kill as I had arrived at 9:30am, so I ordered myself breakfast and a coffee from the restaurant next door to the Marina office. It took a bit longer than I had expected to cook so I had to leave to assist the antenna guy. I told a nearby waitress that I would be back in about 10min. 10min later I arrive to see the owner eating my breakfast with a confused look on his face as he looked at me. Apparently the waitress didn't tell him that I would be back soon and so he ate my breakfast... 15min later I had my breakfast and another coffee for a discounted rate :)

Having had such a great start I managed to get to Rockhampton by around 2:30pm where a Magpie took it upon itself to fly into my front bumper. Poor little bugger, wasn't a whole lot I could do about that one - it was near the correctional center just north of the city. Must have been eating the stuff they give the crims.

After passing through Rocky I was starting to get jack of this driving stuff. There's only so much driving one can do in a week and I was up to my four thousandth kilometer. I then relised that I needed to swing past Gladstone to do the upgrade there *grumble*.

Arrived at Gympie at approximately 8:30pm and boosted my reserves at my arnty's place before heading off on the final stint to Nambour. So from 11am to 11pm on the road with a few breaks in between, screw that for a trip.

Hopefully I won't need to go back up for a while although it looks like I'll be doing it again in two months time anyway...

Friday, September 09, 2005

Heading Back

I bid my farewells to my friends and hosts in Townsville last night and left at 4am this morning.

Arrived at Abel Point marina (Airlie Beach) at 8am where I met with Barry for an hour to go over the weeks progress. Also had a look around there for more possible repeater points around the bay. This was after I upgraded the software on both the Abel Point and Laguna Quays hotspots.

After that I departed for Mackay and about a hour and a quarter later I'm doing a site surveys at Carlyle Gardens and the local Best Western. Staying at Nanna's and Grandad's place for the night.

Tomorrow I have to hang around till 11am for antenna guy to adjust antenna on Mackay Marina while I test it from the ground. Which means I won't be getting home until 9pm tomorrow night. Not looking forward to that trip, especially since I'll probably get pwned by school traffic at some point along the way and pass through peak hour as well.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Finally, A meeting with Mariners North apartments!

Met with the management today and had a quick tour of the building. Took the usual pictures of the PBX and structured cabling and where the phone points are in the rooms. Not a bad place however the rooms are showing signs of ware, but I understand they're in the process of renovating them.

Simple installation, plenty of space near the phone system and the units have phone points in the kitchen/common area and in the master bedroom.

Funny moment of the day:

Perp flying! How did it happen? Who knows, but it cracked us up.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Haven't been that far north for quite sometime

Today I made my most northern journey in over 10 years. The last time I went up there was for holidays to Mission Beach -- I remember white water rafting and mango daiquiris, thankfully not much more.

The drive up was quite good as there was not a lot of traffic around 7:30am. I was tempted to stop in at the Frosty Mango for a smoothly but I resisted the temptation as I was going to spend most of my time sitting on my ass anyway. It wasn't until yawning many times on the way back that I relised that I hadn't even had a coffee! I remedied that as soon as I got to Tim's place.

Cardwell is pretty much the same as it was when I was last there as an 8 year old kid. Except for the large marina/resort less than 5min south of the township. Typical reclaimed land deal, sticks out like a sore thumb and all the buildings are made to the same boring design. Anyway, my main purpose was to check out the Marina and Resort and make plans for an eventual installation. Not make small talk with the rather attractive resort receptionist who I discovered was a Cardwell native, never caught her name though.

The installation will be a slightly different one. Essentially it will entail getting a broadband feed to a point where its available and redeploying it via wireless to the Resort and Marina where it can then be fed out to the clients. We use a similar configuration at the Keppel Bay Marina just on a larger scale.

Its odd walking into these places as someone from 'Brisbane'. They treat you like your from some other world and that you are there to either dominate them or act dumb. Considering that that actual person I had organised to meet went out fishing and left me with some random without notifying me isn't a good impression of you 'northerners'.

Got stood up again by the meeting I rebooked yesterday, this time I called them before getting too far... Hopefully I'll have better luck tomorrow.

Some random happenings:
  • Llew called me from the TAFE back home after a example Web Statistics package
  • I dropped my digital camera on concrete, it survived
  • I ate fish burger for lunch, it was a good one

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Another day in Townsville

This morning I started my day with a suspect Macca's coffee -- they asked me if it tasted 'burnt' as they had to repair the machine earlier on. This didn't fill me full of confidence that today would be as good as I had hoped. From there I had a meeting with the Breakwater marina management about Marinanet which went quite well. Probably be doing the installation there in a month or two.

I was meant to meet with the Mariners North resort at 1pm, however upon arrival I discovered that the person I was meeting was sick. Now I have to resquedule my day tomorrow and try and fit it in for the afternoon when I get back from Cardwell. So I went back to playing BF2 with Tim for the rest of the day, and making appointments for tomorrow of course.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Magnetic Island installation

Its been ages since I last went to the island and it felt odd hopping off the ferry at Nelly Bay instead of Picnic bay. Fairly uneventful trip over, ocean was flat as a tack. It appears that tourism on the island has increased a great deal so instead of the occasional tourist and majority of locals there are probably a greater number of tourist now.

Turned out to be a fairly straight forward Marinanet installation. However there were a few issues with the internet side of things that were out of my control.

There was a pre-existing wifi link at the location and we agreed to share the internet supply that was fed by wireless. They supply internet to the backpackers lodge.

So having a wifi link already in place meant that a mast and equipment cabinet was there for me to use. I simply made up the antenna cable and plonked the antenna on the tip of the mast and then shoved the active equipment into the cabinet. Kept everything fairly neat and ended up with a cable run of no more than 2.5m -- double sided tape is quickly becoming my favorite 3M product. The mast needs better staying though, the addition of the waveguide created a greater sail and added top weight; they will organise that at a later date (hopefully before the cyclone season...).

Possible problems that could arise later are the more obvious issues involving the upstream provider -- the current connection is a Westnet business ADSL type which will soon be changing to a wireless link from the mainland with a fibre service behind it. Apart from that there are environmental issues that may need to be addressed. Such issues include the lack of ventilation of the equipment enclosure -- the WRAP became quite warm to the touch after no more than an hours use. This will either require a larger cabinet with vents or some kind of heat shield to insulate the cabinet from direct sun.

The usual pictures:

Saturday, September 03, 2005


The technology has been in existance for quite sometime but only now have I actually the means of using it. I grabbed a D-Link DBT-122 Bluetooth USB adaptor so I can sync it up with my laptop/desktop.

A few images from the phones camera:

Friday, September 02, 2005

Last dash to Townsville

Left Mackay at 4am and drove like mad, arriving at chestR's at 8:45. I made Chloe wake him up, she didn't know who I was.

The drive itself was okay; busy going through Home Hill and Ayr as it was their 'peak hour' and the farm tractors were clogging up the highway. I'm sure I developed an accent during my 15mins of passing through those towns.

I was thinking about swinging past either Laguna Quays or Abel Point on the way however that would have added a good hour and a half on the trip time. I can do that stuff remotely just before I leave back home anyway. Priority is getting to Townsville in time to get pissed.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Yet another long drive

With a 3:30am start and almost 900km later I have arrived at my final destination for the day. I successfully replaced the antenna at Keppel Bay Marina and upgraded both Keppel and Mackay. The old antenna at Keppel was a pain to remove, the brackets were rusted so I had to saw them off. Such hard work for someone who's more familiar to the light distributed by a fluro than a large burning orb.

Only one near miss on the highway, some dork panicked when a oncoming truck decided to overtake a caravan in front of him. There was plenty of space to avoid it but he stopped instead, thus creating a nasty obstacle in my path amplified by the fact that I was doing 110kph. Thankfully I tend to leave twice the usual gap and managed to pull up with 2m to spare.

Note to self: The Astra likes to wobble a shitload while under heavy breaking...

Now that I've had a beer, a nice stew for dinner and a few wines I'm going to bed so I can wake up at 5am tomorrow morning and drive the remaining 4hrs to Townsville.