Redundant Redundancy

Many thanks to Ian Carder for this blog entry!

Over the past year we have replaced all of our remaining Cabletron network equipment with Cisco gear. Being a K-12 School District, we have to be extremely frugal where we spend out money. Often, this comes in direct conflict with going the extra mile to make sure whatever system we’re deploying has some redundancy in the event of a failure.

Sometimes I can “sneak” redundancy in without having to pay a hefty price or fight for it. This involves simple things like RAID 1/5/10 on servers, dual power supplies, and dual supervisors in the Cisco core switches. We have been making heavy use of ether channel from MDFs to remote closets. That’s a cheap solution assuming you have the available ports and don’t feel like you have to over pay for Cisco branded GBICs. The other project we’re looking to wrap up is creating more that one route to each building in the district using at least a hub network topology. Sorry, no spokes yet! The benefit here is that if we lose a single building, not all traffic is cut off between buildings on either side of the problem building. Lucky for us, we’re all on one LAN, so no shared bandwidth to deal with. Just as with the ether channel situation, as long as you have the cabling between sites and available switch ports, it’s a cheap proposition. I also have a small cluster running Novell’s Cluster Services, but that was something I had to fight for. Beyond that, everything we have is single tier.

So I pose a couple of questions to the faithful readers; what critical services do you need to make redundant and what on the cheap tricks have you come up with to provide the redundancy?

Secular and Religous History in Turkey

Today I pull into Ephesus in Turkey. We actually dock in Izmir, but the majority of the history is in the place that was once known as Ephesus.

This will mark the first visit to one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World. The once-beautiful Temple of Artemis has been taken apart piecemeal until it now consists of a single column in a field.

Much more happily, the Library of Celsus has had its facade, along with a portion of its interior. I’m really looking forward to this portion of the trip.

Interestingly, Ephesus is also the home of what is said to be the last earthly home of the Virgin Mary. Amy’s family is pretty much exclusively Catholic, so we’ll be visiting that and getting some holy water.

Thanks again for reading, and I hope you’ve had enjoyed this week full of guest bloggers. Next week we’ll have more submissions from guest bloggers as well, and I’ll continue to update you as to my where-abouts. Take care, and have a good weekend!

Remote Desktop Shortcuts

Many thanks to Ryan Nedeff for this blog entry!

I love remote desktop, I really do. It’s lightweight, it’s rather secure, and it just plain works. It’s one of the few things that Microsoft really got right. The only problem with it is the issue of keyboard shortcuts.
I’m not a mouse guy. I hate taking my hands off the keyboard. Things like Alt+Tab to switch between programs keeps me from going insane. The only problem is, where does RDP draw the line between commands you are trying to send to the computer you are at, and the computer that you are connected to remotely? Simple, just use a different set of shortcuts.
Here’s a list of combinations that I’ve collected over time. Listed first is the normal shortcut, followed by the RDP equivalent.

Normal Shortcut RDP Shortcut Description
ALT+TAB ALT+PAGE UP Switches between programs from left to right.
ALT+SHIFT+TAB ALT+PAGE DOWN Switches between programs from right to left.
ALT+ESC ALT+INSERT Cycles through the programs in the order they were started.
CTRL+ESC ALT+HOME Displays the Start menu.
CTRL+ALT+DEL CTRL+ALT+END Displays the Task Manager or Windows Security dialog box
ALT+PRINT SCREEN CTRL+ALT+PLUS (+) symbol on the numeric keypad Places a snapshot of the entire Remote Desktop session window on the clipboard.
CTRL+PRINT SCREEN CTRL+ALT+MINUS (-) Symbol on the numeric keypad Places a snapshot of the active window in the remote session on the clipboard.

And, as an added bonus, you can move your RDP session window from Full Screen to Windowed mode with CTRL+ESC.