Server Upgrade (sic)

The OLD Xserves we were using were starting to be difficult to upgrade. We tried to upgrade the OS, no go. Tried to upgrade services, no go. Mostly because the hardware was no longer supported, which caused the upgrades to state that hardware wasn’t supported. Even minor upgrades were becoming major headaches. SO we upgraded, from 10.6 to 10.12 Sierra. LOL. Not the end all but so far it has paid off. Also the hardware had to be upgraded, xserves, ALL of them, gotta go. Now we are using MacMinis, must admit is is quieter.

The effects kinda snow balled. Hard drives format weren’t readable, services needed to be upgraded, some things don’t work. Trying to find workarounds is the biggest pain. Jabber/Messages is a big one, however now there is something called MQTT. We are trying.

On a positive note our Raspberry Pico W’s have started to arrive. Weather station conversion finished and posting data. We are working on another one that’ll be mobile.

Server Upgrade

After running non-stop since 2007, we are finally replacing our Apple Xserver, which has acted as our in house web and develop server. We were getting to the point that we just could upgrade/update it, and application were suffering. So we finally started the move. First we tried other computers we had laying around, MacMini DualCore i5 running Lion Server, failure. Even tried using a MacMini i7 running Catalina, also a failure. So we have upgraded to an i7 running Monterey, moving away from the Apple Server totally (since they forced us) and trying new systems. Hopefully we will be able to start it up in a week or so.. Crossing fingers..

Apple Server Repair

It has been a while since I got to play with our Snow Leopard server. We were trying to upgrade the jabber server, and ended up totally trashing it. Attempted to use Time Machine Restore, but that failed.

Ended up booting on an Mountain Lion thumb drive purchased from Apple. Was then able to do a recovery from a Time Machine Backup and restart server back to it existing condition. No data lost. SWEET.

We are trying to integrate our Windows boxes into the Jabber network. We are able to get Windows 10 and Windows 98 working. Not the greatest, but it works. Now just want to see if I can get a DOS 6.22 box sending messages. Any ideas?

Moving Backwards

Back in the early 90’s I programed in Microsoft QuickBasic, and after that I started using Visual Basic, then finally I’ve been using LiveCode.

Just for laughs I started building a machine able to run DOS 6.55 and Windows 3.1, brings back memories. After a couple of months assembling the needed parts I finally got the tiny HP T5000 running. It was like an old friend.

It took some time to reacquaint myself with the OLD and how I setup the computers back in the day. I was impressed, my code and batch files were commented and easy to follow. The things we did with serial communication and NO Networking. The newer programs had limited networking, but nothing we find on today systems.

There were full collections of QuickBasic libraries, with manuals, ranging from “windows” and dBase III, speech and even code to create background functions. Those were the days, one person could provide a whole company with software that wasn’t filled by off the shelf programs. All customized for their needs.

Lately I’ve been also revisiting PowerShell and the power of Active Directory, having adding both a Windows Server configured as a Domain Controller and a few Windows 10 machines as Clients. Trying to get both the old and new to communicate has been, frustrating.

Was thinking about using Jabber, or XMPP, to issue small commands to a server/controller/monitor. But as with all projects of this nature, it seems I busted my server by installer a newer version, that wasn’t supported by the hardware I have. Oh well, time to rethink and reproach what I am trying to do.

Synology NAS DS419Slim

Provide information and insights into new NAS. (TO DO)

DS419Slim

After a few months using the drive, I can now report on its overall operation.

One, don’t let the photos on Amazon fool you, this is a MINI NAS which uses laptop drives, not the normal desktop drives. Which was surprising when it arrived. Plus the description said it came with drives, but didn’t. Amazon likes to embellish its descriptions and mix all the “like”/”similar” drives. So don’t bother reading them, get your reviews elsewhere.

After the second order with drives arrived, install and setup was easy. Left the drives formatting/partitioning overnight. It comes with internet access to manage, configure and monitor.. HOWEVER, it isn’t free, SURPRISE. Locally accessing, does work and is free.

There are two pieces of software that can be installed on Synology Cloud Station Backup and Synology Cloud Station Drive. Station Backup does a backup as is per configured on each station. Station Drive syncs file as they are opened and closed. Users complained of slower computers, but was kind of expected.

You log into the NAS with each users account and can recover files easily. I don’t expect users to be able to do this.

Reducing number of domains.

Over the years we have acquired a few domain names we thought we’d end up using someday. Some have gone up and value others have not.

So we’ve decided to start cutting down on the number of domain names we have and better combine those we want to keep.

LittleSoftwareBarn.Com is our ‘see us, see what we’ve done’ site.

LittleSoftwareBarn.Net is our locally hosted domain and allows us to interact directly with our internet of thing using local systems.

Other sites that were purchased thinking they would fit a future need, are being let go.

Sites we see as investments, in the name, are being kept.

We will be keeping http://travelingmickey.com it seems very popular, lots of visitors.

And N4N.us we will keep, because we like the WordPress blogging system.

Relocation – Almost complete

After 33 years working for the same company in MIami, my wife and I decided it was time for a change. Giving up the city life and moving full time to our vacation home in the hills of Tennessee.

Moving from a metro area where static ip numbers were easy and cheap to come by to an area where they are almost nonexistant. The ISP here has a odd configuration, making it difficult if not impossible to put a server online. For years I’ve used no-ip.org DSN to access remote cameras, odd thing was you couldn’t access them locally with using a totally different setup. It worked, but now that we are here full time, I am unwilling to jump through all the hoops. A solution must be found.

So far I can get all my network hardware, switches, RAIDS, servers, everything to work fine locally. But I need to find a way to access the network from the outside, using an ever changing IP number.

How do I set my domain/web site dns records? Tried using the domain name I use with no-ip, but GoDaddy requires a ip number.

The local isp will provide a ip number to business class customers for $99 a month. Supposedly with faster speeds!

Will continue to try new ideas, and keep the world informed of the results.


Well, it has been over two weeks. With almost nightly internet ‘outages’, where connection to internet is lost requiring a hard restart of the modem. Guess it could be modem, but still haven’t found a way to get servers on line. SO, as a last resort I’ve decided to get a Business line, same lame 6m down and 1m upload speed, but it comes with a static IP number and I can buy more in blocks of 5 at $20 a month. Not bad. HOWEVER.. After calling last night to confirm a morning visit between 9am and 12 noon. No one ever arrived. And at about 1pm, it start pouring. So, it is unlikely anyone will come to day to finish the upgrade to Business as scheduled. Perhaps tomorrow! – Modem died again last night.

Oh, and upgrading to Business Class is only $60 a month, not the $99 I originally reported. Lets see if it really works out to that amount when we receive the first/second bill..


Things are finally working as they should, but it wasn’t easy.

First the “normal” routers provided by my ISP did’t route network traffic correctly. All my computers could get to internet, but they couldn’t see my local web server, but people out of state COULD.

I attempted to setup a local DNS server, it didn’t help.  I toyed with local and wan IP numbers. This would REVERSE the issue, I could see the server, but people outside couldn’t.

Finally, I got a support guy that understood his job. He provided me with a  ‘non-standard’ modem. We were able to setup my account to log in and get correct settings, my 1 IP was really at least 3, each having its own purpose. I had to move my server to a computer with 2 nic ports, and assign one with an external and one with an internal IP.  I figured this would cause a LOOP since they both plugged into the router, it did not. However I did move the internal NIC port to my managed switch, and left the external port directly plugged into router.

I am not 100% sure of my total MONTHLY cost yet. But both my upload and download speeds are faster. The servers and network devices can all be managed as expected now, and the modem doesn’t require nightly reboots.  – Oh, this only took over 2 months!


After a few months with the new Business Class account we are happy with results overall. When we do have issues we call, we get service the next day. For almost two weeks we had daily slow downs to less than 2 mbs (ouch). We would contact support (though online chat) and get support on the spot. After two ‘calls’ we received a visit from a tech, who did something down the road that seemed to improve our service. No where near our ‘city speeds’ but good enough.

Now to enjoy country living!

IP Power 9258

Have a need, fill a need.

After losing contact with one of our remote servers, we decided we needed a way to do a hard reboot. We call it ‘cycle the power’. Turn the power off, wait 30 seconds and then power the unit back on. We have had great luck with servers running months even years without issue. Unless they are overloaded or overheated.

Checking eBay for over the counter power controllers, we found the IP Power 9258. Got our first one for less than $70, but most cost between $80 to $120. After looking at programming options and being a MAC Shop we figured it was doable. In less the a week we completed IPPOWER.app. Very small, very simple controller for the IP Power.

First you’ll need the IP Power’s IP¬†number. Using an old PC we first configured ours DHCP, using the included IPEdit. (Read their instructions, which aren’t very well translated to english). We then used LanScan to find the device by its Mac Address.

After you have the IP Power’s IP number, just startup IPPower app, it will ask for the IP Number, administration name and password. The defaults are admin, 12345678.

You can now control the IP Power using keys 1 – 4, clicking on button 1 – 4 or sending “/Applications/IPPower.app/Contents/MacOS/IPPower 4” (4 being the outlet to cycle the power on).

We have also setup iChat to support cycling the power. See the attached AppleScript. Configure iChat to execute the script on message received. The script will look for “outlet1” – “outlet4” as a message. And cycle the power with prompting.

For Apple Mac: ippowerminicontroller

CloudAtCost – VPN

After a friend that works with IBM suggested I try vpn, and a company called CloudAtCost, I figured I’d give it a try.

Ended up buying three packages with CloudAtCost. One cost less than $13, 1 node, 2 ip numbers, 1 cpu and 512 megs of ram.  So figured for the cost I’d try a bigger option, but made a mistake when purchasing, and ended up with 2 developer packages, both at less than $28..

configured one node to be a vpn server. Using OpenVPN was able to create a vpn server and client, that worked pretty well. So tried to manage many web site clients though this system.

Soon i couldn’t access any of our clients sites from my home where I work remotely. Took two weeks to resolve the issue.

Our ISP blacklisted my home static IP.

After removing all VPN software, getting a new router and modem, sending at least 3 tickets to ISP over a weeks time. They finally replied, oh, you were blacklisted.. I wasn’t happy, but wasn’t too mad, since the problem was resolved.. And it wasn’t on our network (my job), so. New equipment that was getting old was replaced. Just wish ISP would have informed/resolve their issue faster.

UPDATE: After a couple months of using CloudAtCost, we ended up having a password issue. We requested help, many times, never received any answers! .. So basically the system is useless. Do not recommend this service!

PyConnect – Power Failures

Wow, been a busy month, almost non-stop.

However I am now able to catch up with projects I wanna do. One was fix an issue with PyConnect.

PyConnect is a great system to connect Plex Server to the families three AppleTV boxes. Long and short it changes the Trailers channel into your Plex Server Channel. And it is easy enough for everyone to use.

However when the power goes out (normal here during rainy season), the kids would have to wait till I get home and re-run the script. The script would asked for admin password. Not something I am willing to hand over to the kids yet.

So after some googling this is what I came up with:

set sshPasswd to “supergeek1”

try

tell application “Terminal”

quit

end tell

on error

end try

tell application “Terminal”

activate

my execCmd(“cd /Applications/PlexConnect-Master”, 1)

my execCmd(“set timeout 30”, 1)

my execCmd(“expect -c ‘spawn sudo ./PlexConnect.py; expect \”*?assword:*\”; send \”&sshPassword&\”; interact’;”, 1)

end tell

on execCmd(cmd, pause)

tell application “System Events”

tell application process “Terminal”

set frontmost totrue

keystroke cmd

keystroke return

end tell

end tell

delay pause

           end execCmd

This was written in Applescript, saved as an Application bundle, and added to the startup items. Noticed if I didn’t quit terminal first, all the system would do is make a few clicking noises and pyconnect wouldn’t start.

It also has the added bonus of not displaying the password, and you still get the terminal activity window to monitor usage.

Not bad for an afternoon’s playing.

Enjoy

~David