Monday, November 9, 2009

Happy 5th birthday Mr. Fox

Firefox came to our world 5 years ago and how big of a difference did it make!

For me it wasn't easy but I was able to convert more then 75% of my users off IE and onto Firefox.
I was never able to make the Firefox adm work in my Active Directory environment so I had to find another way.
Chris Ilias wrote a Locking Mozilla Firefox Settings manual in his blog. The concept is changing the preferences to the template you need and then locking it into a new Mozilla configuration file.
While I wouldn't recommend this for a large environment, This is an easy to implement way that provide!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Speed Test

I wanted to test my Internet speed at the office. I asked Verizon to provide the data but since they have time and more then 3 month later I'm still waiting, I started playing with some online tools.
I picked speakeasy's speed test as my testing tool and found some puzzling results...

I used my PC to test different browsers (FireFox 3.5.4 & IE6) using different path (firewall as default gateway & ISA 2006 proxy server with GFI WebMonitor 2009).
I have 2 T1s coming from Verizon on a multilink router. I'm not going to start calculate what I should expect, why and how. If you're into this data use a Bandwidth calculator.

First let's see how IE6 did with Proxy enabled

This is theoretically the slowest path since it's not only routed through another server before hitting the firewall but it is also processed by WebMonitor.

Disabling the proxy settings and running the same test on IE6 resulted in the following

While the upload speed was significantly faster I was surprised by the download result. Just can't be!

I had to test FireFox and compare the results

And once more just to make sure I'm getting valid numbers

At this point I realized that this test is worthless. Other then the local factors like other users and services that download & upload, the measurement is flexible and depend on so many factors that I just can't trust it.

Monday, November 2, 2009

netsh save the day

During the weekend I was working with my development team on a new Oracle based app installation.
The part that interested me was a problem they had getting connections work with our remote backup location. This location has a 2nd Oracle server which we sync to the main production machine in our NY office.
The problem seem to be DNS related and not being able to resolve names from that machine we got stuck with the installation. The fact that it was a weekend installation made our frustration even deeper...

I had to find a way to use different DNS settings per interface, an easy task to do via windows explorer BUT I had to get the application to switch settings per request, only when required.
The requirement: The server should use the default domain DNS settings at all time and change it only while processing this one task (and then switch back).
The affected interface is my NIC2Oracle gigabyte card.
Obviously you can't do it manually out of the test\install environment.
I had to find a way to automate it and this is where netsh came to the rescue.
Using the following command you can set the DNS using cmd:
netsh interface ip set dns "NIC2Oracle" static xx.xx.xx.xx

The problem is that this command is still short because it doesn't set a primary and secondary DNS servers.
To achieve this you have to know that if you want to set a primary and secondary DNS address, add index=1 and index=2 respectively to the lines of netsh command.
Adding index=1 and index=2 at the end of the command above will set it as primary or secondary and allow the change I need using a simple batch. When the specific process is done, another batch with the reverse order can switch it back.
How simple...