Sunday, February 26, 2006

Nice Weekend


Very cool Friday night - caught up with a few people I haven't seen in ages.
Saturday spent sleeping and recovering, and then went to a party at a friends house.
Was mostly older people (early 30's).
Plenty of chefs, some TVNZ people, artists, musicians etc.
Theres something about that social group that appeals, but sometimes they can be a little too "wanky" for my taste.

It looks like InternetNZ has approved the creation of the 2LD.
Nothing released on their website, or the DNC's, but reading through the meeting minutes reveals it was approved some months ago.
More 2LDs of course yield more revenue for the Registrars and more choice for consumers.
On the other hand they tend to lead to duplication of domain names, and an increase in 'squatting' as companies try to obtain every iteration of their company name.

Speaking of domain names, I've been working on a side project, on and off for the last few months.
Most ISPs I have seen tend to have a slightly disorganised approach to Domain Hosting and DNS updates.
Typically their billing system, and email provisioning system is not linked to their NS servers directly (sensible!)
What the leads to however, is problems with:

Customers being billed for hosting after the domain name is transferred away
Mail servers still being setup to deliver mail for the domain locally
Customers not being billed for a hosted domain
ISP still being charged by a Registrar (if they are not one themselves) but the custy has changed the authoriative servers, and is no longer being billed by the ISP.

So - what I think is needed is a simple tool to receive inputs from two places:
ISP Billing/Provisioning System
NS - List of domains they think they are authorative for

The tool would then query the .nz root servers to see who the 'actual' host of the domain is, and output a list of domains that need to be de-provisioned, billed, or otherwise checked up on.
I'm trying to think of better ways to do it without querying the root servers constantly (local DNS server with no cache ?) and am building in a few safeguards around the number of queries/s etc.
Once I have things a bit more polished, I'm planning to approach the NZSRS people and ask about acceptable load on their servers, or if they can think of a cleaner way to do it.


Tuesday, February 21, 2006

I feel naughty

Everyone now and then I like to dob someone in for something.
Nothing too serious - just to exercise my civic muscle.

There is a foodcourt down the road from my house that is seriously dodgy! I've managed to force myself to eat there once, and only when I was really desperately hungry.

Last week I had a hankering for some asian food and thought I would give it another go.
While waiting for my order I saw a cockroach, crawl across a table with vegetables on it and scurry under the fridge.
This didn't seem to upset any of the staff.

I sent a nice polite email to the good folks at the Auckland City Council, and didn't really expect much to happen.
To my surprise, I got an email back tonight saying they would be sending someone round to investigate, and would let me know how it turns out.



Slightly better day at work today

This week did not start off well!
Some staffing issues, and a few run-ins with other departments left me feeling a bit "meh".

Was interested to see Telecom/Xtra's new Broadband offerings:

The two main problems I can see once these are translated to UBS are:

- The need for increased capacity between TCNZ and the ISP.
- The weird contention ratio(s) they impose on the data through their network

This will once again create headaches for ISPs as customers complain they are not receiving the plan speeds.
Testing that I have seen indicates that the true maximum throughput (even using HTTP from a server right on the edge of the ISPs network) on a 2Mbs plan, is around 1.5-1.7Mbps under ideal conditions.
As the plan speeds increase this will undoubtedly lead to more customer complaints.

The way in which the users traffic is currently delivered (ATM NNI's) sucks!
It costs the ISP so much more to be delivered this way, than say Ethernet, and forces them to use some pretty expensive equipment to terminate the connections.

Once you reach a critical mass of say 3-4 STM-1's, then you can look at an STM-4 which will improve things somewhat.
If you have individual STM-1's TCNZ allocates each user to an individual ATM connection based on some pretty f*cked up logic.
This leads to you have spare capacity on one ATM while your others are maxed out.
Load balancing them is reliant on TCNZ.
With an STM-4 at least you can load balance connections yourself across your routers, and get some measure of sanity.

However that still leaves one single link between you and TCNZ with no redundancy.

Still users will shout "Hooray" until they realise that 3.5Mbps really means 2.5Mpbs under ideal conditions in a lab somewhere - then the "Fair Go" threats will roll in!


Friday, February 17, 2006

Loooong Day

I used to think Mondays were bad!

Was up at around 6:30am to attend a conference thang, hosted by one of our vendors.

Twas .. meh, partly because no one from our company had bothered to read the agenda.
Turned out to be one long sales pitch for crap we have already done better inhouse.
Breakfast was promised and turned out to be pretty disappointing.

Luckily some kind of major outage at work saved us, and we were able to leave early!


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

First (Laptop) Post

Finally purchased a Laptop - something I should have done ages ago!
From Foodtown of all places, they seem to sell everything these days.
Bread, Milk, Laptop. It made sense at 3am.

I've begun learning Python:

Which is becoming addictively frustrating.
There is something about computer programming languages that seems to not want to stick in my brain.
Probably one of those left lobe right lobe thangs.


Monday, February 13, 2006

Customers Rant Gone Wrong?

I came across this thread on a forum I frequent:

One of the forum members received 'perceived' poor service from a helpdesk worker and posted about it.
The nature of the forum is such that many people in the industry read it, and at some stage the thread was forwarded onto the helpdesk worker concerned.
He emailed the admin of the site asking for the thread to be taken down, but unfortunately added the age-old "legal action" threat at the end of his email.

While it's natural for people to complain about the service they receive from various companies, and online forums are one place to do this - I would always be hesitant in naming a person on a forum (even by their first name) which I think is unnecessary.
Sure this helpdesk guy may have made a mistake in troubleshooting or diagnosing the issue, and yes maybe some serious re-training is needed.
The onus of that should be born by his manager and the department he works in, it should be up to them to identify the training needs of staff and develop them as necessary.

The poster of the thread should simply have contacted the company concerned and passed on his feedback, rather than making a big chest puffing thread about it.

In all I feel sorry for the guy that was named, and would be upset if one of my staff were ridiculed like that on a popular online forum.


Sunday, February 12, 2006

Epiphyte (2)

The movie Phone Booth:

Is so an ode to the Helpdesk Worker.

Man can't leave the phone booth (call centre cubicle)
Forced to listen to someone who he can't hang up on (customer)
Threatened (angry customer)
Shot at (angry customer who has been 5th in the queue for 22 minutes)



Busy ... few months.

I was never very good at routine, so no surprise at the lack of entries.
Work has been hectic. Actually Work (#2) has been hectic. My 9-5 office job has been meh as usual.

I came up with a weird and wacky idea mid-way through last year.
While I'm always hesitant to use the word "portal" (don't laugh) it is very portalish.

This is my second foray into the 'Business World' and the first did not go well.
As usual I had a crazy idea, incorporated a company with a suitable accomplice, and waited for fame, glory and world domination to roll our way.
Except (luckily, this time) shortly after commencing, I met a few real business people, who had been there and done "it" before.

We now have a mentor who is the CEO of a major financial services company, and who turns out to be Anthony Robbins like in his motivational skills.
Unfortunately for the lazy person in me, this has resulted in 2 months of late nights.
It's been basically come home from work, eat dinner, create content and review the web designers code until 1am (repeat 6-7 days a week)

This has of course resulted in a few late starts at my 9-5 job, and perhaps given the appearance that I "don't give a s***"
The problem is that I do still enjoy my role there, and can see it developing into something interesting in the next 6-12 months.

Balancing this stuff is hard.

But, on the good news front the project is nearing completion.
Late last month we showed a demo to the Marketing Department of a large Telco.
They've commited to purchasing advertising space on our site for 3 months, with an option for another 3 months depending on traffic generated in that time.
This makes it sooo much easier to sell to other advertisers with them as an example client.
We were expecting to give away advertising initially, so to have money coming in from Day One is a bit of a coup!