14.6kW Solar Array

So this past summer we decided to take the leap and build a large solar array in our backyard. Nearly 5 months later (after engineer planning, trenching, racking, electrical work, inspections, and new meters) we are now producing more power than we are using.

Inverters: SMA 7000tl-US (x2)

Panels: CSUN305-72P (x48)

Estimate Annual Generation capacity: 22,713 kWh per year

To see how we are currently doing:

Clodfelter Solar Farm on pvoutput.org

https://emoncms.org/vis/multigraph?mid=12110&embed=1

Juniper Networks – changing to a more reliable network

I had recently attended a Juniper course at Dynamic World Wide Training Consultants. While at this training I felt even more confident that our switch to Juniper was the right choice. There are several reasons why we are making this change from Cisco, but rest assured that cost was not the primary deciding factor (although a very tempting one).

Cisco on the other hand has been running in another direction, selling their name but missing their mark on quality products unless your willing to buy their new G2, ASA, or higher end routers. I could go on, but compared to Juniper I would say Cisco’s education and certification program needs a serious overhaul.

1. A solid Education Program:
Juniper not only has full control of their certification program, but they also have a solid curriculum, that takes you from just knowing how to say TCP/IP to the advanced wonders of dynamic routing and high availability. Did I mention they will basically give away vouchers this year for those who attend training or even take pre certification tests. Also be sure to ask for Juniper Training Credits when you purchase your hardware, this is just one way you will know Juniper cares about your business.

2. A solid reputation with Internet Service providers:
Why is this important, well Cisco and Juniper have been around for a while, they just entered the market from two different directions. Cisco entered in the consumer market and later competed in the service provider market. Juniper started in the Service provider market learning from many of the issues that Network Admins had with Cisco, they built-in most of their products a standard Operating system called Junos. Juniper also includes high availability options, and the internal software with separate routing engines and forwarding planes makes this possible.

3. A lot of features – in a little box:
Did I mention their OS is based on Free BSD, which is somewhat like Unix or Linux. This allows Juniper to include a number of modules and features which if for some reason you need to restart a daemon you can rest assured that you probably won’t affect the rest of your traffic. With this in mind when you boot a Juniper be prepared for the 5 to 7 minutes for it to boot much like an appliance. Also you will want to safely shut down your Juniper like you would a Linux server, not a simple flip of a power button.

4. Standards based Networking:
While many of us would probably like to stay with a single vendor for all our networking needs, you probably have multiple vendors with their own way of doing things on your network. Many of the cool things Juniper does, they do so in such a way as to maintain standards. While there are a few features that Juniper has pioneered, you always have the option to keep your network standards based by default.

5. Support:
While I don’t have experience with this so far, I’ll be sure to report on any findings. I have found Junipers website very helpful, and Juniper’s TAC team is made available for all current support customers from day one.

6. Cost:
Ok, I will break down the cost for you just this once. With Cisco just over $120k may get you 6 G2 routers with the works and 3 years of SmartNet. Juniper did much better and threw in some training for free, for the same cost of the 6 G2 routers(I will post the models later), Juniper was able to provide 4 J-Series routers, 16- SRX Series routers/firewalls, 3 years support, training and certification, and professional services. The professional services actually costs as much as the equipment, but even then it was a much better deal.

So with all this in mind, when you hear Juniper around the corner, I would highly recommend you continue your research and take a few classes. I promise you this one thing. You will not only grow into it quickly, but will wonder how you would have done it without Juniper.

Kindle 3 Crash Update

Well I will have to say Amazon.com does have very good customer support, and they did get my replacement kindle the next day. Also transfering my Books, and Collections was easy, and I only needed my computer to update my Amazon account.

Mailed back the broken Kindle, and they should get it back within the week. So far the new kindle is working fine. At this point I think it might have had something to do with the built in PDF reader and how it handled the document I was reading. I’ll keep an eye out for it, but for now I’ll limit what documents I read for now until a new update confirms and fixes the issue.

Kindle 3 Crash

My new Kindle 3 crashed today, did not even have a case on it at the time. Contacted Amazon Kindle Support, which at least was easy enough. First they had me make sure it was fully charged (only used it for 2 days so if it was the battery that would have killed the whole 1 month charge feature). Finally the second time I called they pretty much took me at my word, and are sending a new kindle overnight. Don’t have the new one yet, but hopefully I get lucky and no freezing.

I happend to be reading a PDF document at the time of the crash, so not sure if this could have caused the issue. A new firmware update is on the way, so hopefully this issue will be addressed.

Getting MS stuff to work on Ubuntu

This week my personal goal is to find ways to make Microsoft stuff work in Ubuntu. So here are a few projects I have noted and will try to post my progress.

Why is this compatibility so important?

For one, most people use Microsoft Windows, and in order to get more people to use Linux as an OS you have to find workarounds and ways to make the transition smoother, and to allow these new users of Linux to continue to work with their non-linux peers.

Second, if you are a developer you would like to know how to check your code and see what it looks like for your target audience, in this case I would recommend installing Virtual Box with a windows VM.

Some packages and projects that make this transition easier:

wine – This allows you to run some windows programs in windows

likewise open – allows you to join a windows domain with ease and if you want GPOs then look into likewise enterprise.

moonlight – open source port of Silverlight

The Mono Project – allows cross-platform compatibility of .Net framework

VLC Player – allows you to play multiple video audio file formats

Check out the https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Medibuntu

After completing the commands at the above link to enable the mediabuntu then install

sudo apt-get install gecko-mediaplayer

Final as a last resort use Virtual Box and create a windows VM on your ubuntu machine, you can even use seemless mode to make it look like the widows apps are on your ubuntu desktop.

IT Help Desk Software – SysAid

SysAid is more than a Help Desk software, it has Change Management, Project Management, IT Asset Management. It has a strong community base, and support many languages. We have been using this system for just over a year, and have been overwhelmed with all the features. You can use the free edition in a small environment, but large environments will find the unlimited edition not very expensive at all for all the customization and support you receive.

So check it out for your self, http://www.ilient.com/

Deduplication on NetApp

I found that there are always multiple realities to deal with when looking at new technologies. There are the excited implementors, who make it sound good. There are the sales people who say what you want to hear, and thier are the Technical Reports that tell you what it really does. I’m just picking on NetApp in this post, but this is true with any new technology, so while you might learn a lot of good stuff from your sales friends make sure to ask for links to the white papers or TRs in NetApps case.

Deduplication is a great benefit for storage admins out there today, it helps us to reclaim some of that expensive and ultimately wasted space that may be on our storage environments. The largest impact I’ve seen in in virtual environments with multiple VM’s with the same OS. The can bring savings of up to 50% or more. On the other hand CIFS shares you may only see savings of maybe 10%. There are some limitations and planning that should go into this. One being performance hit during the dedupe operation on some applications, the other being size limitations of your volume. So in cases where you want to more performance or space and still dedupe you may need to look into a different NetApp Model, newer version of DataOnTap, or even a PAM card. If these all do not meet your needs or cost to much then we may have to pass on the dedupe for that volume.

Below are just some highlights I found useful, but please read the TR from NetApp as this may change over time.

Benefits:

  • Saving space on your storage network as much as 50%
  • Three easy ways to dedupe, schedule, auto, and manual
  • Deduplication does wonders for large virtual VMDK files, and just large files in general on NFS shares
  • With NFS the savings is passed onto vSphere just remember to refresh the volume datastore stats

Limitations:

  • Limited Volume size based on Data OnTap version and NetApp model.
  • Snapshots taken before deduplication are locked, and take up aditional space, this is not true for Snaps taken after a dedupe job.
  • Some types of files just do not dedupe that well especially the really small ones, and images.
  • See the TR referaced below for more information

Reference:

http://media.netapp.com/documents/tr-3505.pdf