Archive for February, 2006

What, no Injunction?

 Well campers, I can admit when I am wrong.  Rather than share my own words with you today, I give you the words of the honorable Judge Spencer.

 I can discern from reading the pleadings and preparing for this hearing that a legal decision, a court imposed solution, will be imperfect. The legal squabbling will continue, RIM’s business will continue, in plain words the case should have been settled. But it hasn’t. So I have to deal with that reality.

I must admit I was somewhat surprised at RIM’s argument, which seems to me to be inconsistent on the one hand, that if the court was to impose an injunction, that it would have a catastrophic effect and the very foundation of western civilization would be shaken by wireless e-mail or the absence of it.

And then, on the other hand, from some of the stuff that I’ve read, it’s a minor convenience they have got a workaround. Nobody will even know that a stone was cast into the sea. I’m going to take the matter under advisement, and I will issue a decision as soon as reasonably possible. I’m thinking that probably the damages order may come out quicker than the decision on injunction. That requires a little bit more thought. And if, I say if because I have not decided, if an injunction is ordered by the court, I want to make very sure that these exclusions and exemptions are appropriate. That the government and its needs are met.

And so I thank you all for your time and attention this morning. We will be in adjournment.

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On the eve of “Black” (berry) Friday

Tomorrow is the day.  U.S. District Court judge James Spencer holds in his hands the fate of more than 3 million U.S. Blackberry users.  If you love you Blackberry, then you probably would want someone elses finger on the trigger.  Judge Spencer is so eager to clear this case from his docket, he would not even listen to the DOJ’s request for another hearing this week.  The judge also doesn’t want to wait for final decisions from the USPTO.  I guess he feels that the only opinion that matters is his own.

Yes, RIM has a workaround planned.  For my company, that means we get to spend our valuable IT time and resources updating software on over 400 handhelds (not to mention the server) during the next 30 days.  I sure am glad that one man in Virginia can direct the strategic direction of our IT department.

It still beats the costs of changing platforms.  First – there is no better platform available right now.  Any change would mean new hardware, software, training, or some combination there of.  Look at the hardware alone.  A Treo 650 (if purchased with a service plan) costs $300.  Multiply that times 400 users – well … you get the idea.

My official prediction is that the injunction will be filed (and it will not exempt existing RIM customers).  I expect there will be a 30 day grace period for existing customers to either upgrade to RIM’s multi-mode software or change to another platform.  So sleep well tonight.  Snuggle up to your blackberry and keep it warm – maybe even play one last game of Brickbreaker.  This may be the last night you have together.

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ICS Firewall & Cisco VPN Client (TCP or UDP Transport)

If you are not a techie, then you are about to hear the trombone “teacher” voice from the old Peanuts cartoons. I hope this information is helpful. My IT team spent quite a bit of time tracking this one down. So here is information on what we were doing, the problem we had, and the answer to the problem.

What we were doing:

A wireless deployment (plain and simple). We use IBM Thinkpads, and we needed to accomplish some client software updates to complete the project. A custom perl script was written that updated to the latest wireless drivers, installed the latest version of IBM Access Connections, and then pushed down an access connections profile for the wireless network.

The problem:

The script worked well after a minimal amount of tweaking. I started to notice some problems with my Cisco VPN connectivity (post script execution). The behavior exhibited was failed connection attempts to the gateway (and even the backup gateway) that would fail to connect. You would never get prompted to login. At first we thought it might be the NIC driver uninstall and reinstall playing havoc with the VPN bindings. That was eventually ruled out. We eventually discovered that if you set the transport mechanism to UDP (instead of TCP) the connection would work.

So after lots of digging we came upon the Windows Internet Connection Sharing Firewall. Even if ICS was not being used – just having the ICS firewall on would block the Cisco VPN client from making a TCP connection.

The Answer:

The reason this popped up right now was because I, as an administrator, was getting an updated VPN profile pushed to me during the login script. The updated profile was moving me from UDP to TCP. That is why it appeared that the problem was post wireless script execution. There are several solutions or options if you are having this problem:

1. Leave the ICS firewall on and only use the Cisco VPN client via UDP transport.
2. Disable the ICS firewall and use the Cisco VPN client via UDP or TCP transport.
3. Update your Cisco VPN client to a newer version. The version I was using when I had the problem was 4.0.3d. By updating to the latest version (4.8.0 at the time this is being written), the problem went away. The latest client allows you to keep ICS firewall on and connect via TCP or UDP.

Summary

This is what makes IT fun. Searching for a needle in a haystack. Well, our team found this needle. Now it is your turn. We all learn from each other, and my biggest irritation is finding an Internet posting of a problem without a resolution. If you take the time to ask the question – be kind enough to share the solution. And if you have a tough situation like this one – by all means document it up for the next guy.

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Valentines Day

Happy Valentine’s Day – another commercial holiday. Yes I know this is supposed to be a day for couples in love, and I am all for that. But why do we need a specific day devoted to it, and why do people spend so much on candy, cards, and flowers? True love comes from the heart. So love the one you’re with – whether it is Valentines Day or any other day of the year.

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Chillin in “H” town

Hanging with my friends this weekend in Houston. Fun to see what has changed and what is the same since I last lived here.

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It’s a Beautiful day in the Blackberry Neighborhood

Yes folks – our friends at Research In Motion have finally released just a wee bit of information on their “workaround” software.  If you don’t know about this, there has been a long running lawsuit between RIM and NTP.  That case is headed for a hearing on February 24th in front of a Virginia judge (and the judge seems to love NTP).  So if the injunction is entered, RIM must implement this workaround in order to keep U.S. Blackberry’s functional.  Read all about the new Multi-Mode Edition.

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Props to Undees for the Bikecast

I’m very proud of my good friend Ian for taking me up on the suggestion of a special video edition of his podcast – live from his bicycle.  Check it out.

I will probably be putting in a guest appearance on his show in the near future.  We have worked out the technical details that will allow me to participate via Skype.  Now all we need is a topic.  So coming soon – to a podcast near you.

In Other news …

I love VMWare, and our good friends have now made the GSX version free.  Stroll on over to their website and check it out.  Down with MS Virtual Server !!

And in stupid Digg.com news, the following link entitled “How to Spoof an Email” gave me a good laugh tonight.  Ummm … isn’t this just a simple example of how the SMTP protocol works?  It is a simple set of commands that have been in use for …. well …. years.  Come on people.  Let’s not get excited about telnet (please).

And with that – I bid you good night.

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From the Train

On my way home for the day, and I thought I would try a post from the road on my Treo.

I love ny iPod – listening to Tom and Molly on the CNET Buzz Out Loud podcast. If you are into technology – you should check out their program.

Well I think my predictions about the Kama Sutra worm proved accurate today. No major Internet explosion as far as I saw. I love to be right!

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Groundhog Day Predictions

First, let me wish each and every one of you a Happy Groundhog Day!  I think this day deserves greater attention that it receives, so I make it a point to wish people a Happy Groundhog Day (it’s fun to watch people’s reaction – they tend to look at you like you are nuts).

My local Dallas prediction.  It won’t be long before we have train crossing style gates in downtown Dallas where the DART trains run.  Last night was the second time in about a month that a vehicle and a train collided.  Take a lesson from Houston – install flashing lights or horns or something.

My Kama Sutra worm prediction.  Yes folks – that is the name it has been given.  And if you were to believe the mainstream media – tomorrow, February 3rd will be the end of the world as we know it.  Not sure where these people get their facts, but I predict it will be almost a complete nonevent.  No email slow downs, no damaged or deleted files, not even much more Internet traffic.  Even the people at SANS are indicating that the worm can’t damage files on the opposite end of a mapped network drive.  We will know for sure in less than 24 hours.  Keep those AV defs up-to-date.  Happy surfing.

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Wednesday, February 1, 2006

On this date in 1861, the state of Texas seceded from the Union as part of the American Civil War.  On the same date in 2003, the space shuttle Columbia and her crew were lost.  In just 142 years we went from fighting amongst ourselves to chasing our dreams into the heavenly stars above.  How fortunate we should feel to live in a country that has chosen to unite with the world – dedicated to space exploration and scientific discovery.  Maybe, decades from now, that spirit of unity and cooperation will usher in an era when war is a thing of the past.

Today I choose to remember the Columbia crew who gave their lives in pursuit of a dream:

Rick Husband
Kalpana Chawla
Laurel Clark
Ilan Ramon
David Brown
William McCool
Michae Anderson

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