IP IP Hurray

We all know that IPv6 will give us so many IPs we won’t have to use NAT or dynamic addressing, and we’ll still have enough IPs for every man, woman and child + dog until we colonize the entire solar system. But “lotsa IPs” is just one of the dozen possible benefits IPv6 brings to the table. Here’s a good two-part article called How Did IPv6 Come About, Anyway?


Anyone who has fiddled with IP VPN or Cisco MPLS knows it’s a bizarre beast. No PVCs, the network’s magically fully-meshed, and you need special routers.

So how do you back up an IP VPN connection? Traditionally, if you got a, say, a frame relay T1, most places settle for an ADSL, ISDN dial-on-demand, a 56K dialup line, a fractional T1 or even a second T1, depending on how much bandwidth and functionality you needed in a backup situation. But these things won’t work out in VPNe La-La Land.

It’s simple: to back up an IP VPN connection, you use a second IP VPN connection. If you have an IP VPN T1, for instance, you can run a second VPN T1 or go for a cheaper IP VPN ADSL link. Keep in mind the ADSL link will have a lower MTTR, and will be less reliable.

Depending on your service provider, you will probably have three kinds of diversity. For the cheapest way, just have both your primary and auxiliary connection go to the same provider edge router. For a bit more added protection, you can have the two connections go to two separate PE routers. If you’re the belt-and-suspenders type of person, you can go all out and have these two connections go to two separate PE routers housed in to separate COs.

MS vs. my company

Just some brainstorms.

  1. We don’t eat our own dogfood. We push embedded wireless devices and Voice over IP, and yet we stick our people with cheap 4-year old cellphones and use a plain ol’ PBX to route calls.
  2. We don’t have a progressive technology plan. Half the organization uses WindowsNT. The other half uses Windows 2000. Some enjoy local administrator rights to their PCs, others don’t even get CD-ROM drives in their computers. Some are standardized on Outlook XP and IE6, some have Outlook 98 and IE5, and the rest of the company waddles on with Netscape Communicator 4.7. Office versions range from Office 95 to XP.
  3. We don’t stay current. Users are actually discouraged from using Windows Update. Some users are still using NT4 SP3 and Netscape 4.7. This caused many PCs to bite the dust when the Blaster worm made its rounds.
  4. We don’t maximize the potential of the tools we already have. Take how MS uses Outlook. If you are looking for someone, a receptionist can personally pull up their shared Outlook calendar and peruse their schedule. If you leave voicemail for someone, he/she can listen to it from their computers as a WAV file. Employees can check email any PC in the world with just a web browser. It’s not magic, it’s Outlook Web Access – a product Bell we currently sell as part of our Hosted Exchange business solution! Except even we don’t use it (see #1).
  5. Perhaps before we ask for more, we give some more. Imagine if we offered free snacks and beverages to their employees. Expensive, you say? But if a $1 can of Coke makes an employee work longer, harder and happier on any given day, wouldn’t you say it’s worth it?
  6. We make it hard for people to stay in touch. Salespeople typically carry around a cellphone *and* a pager, and play phone tag with their office phone. In London, we cannot even forward out office phones to our cellphones. We don’t use PrimeLine or SimRing. Most people don’t have their mobile numbers published in the employee directory. We lack a form of realtime communication – workers are not encouraged to use SMS or instant messaging. This translates to long lead times and mistakes – you leave an email or voicemail, and hope that the guy heard you right and calls you back before the end of the week.
  7. We don’t shout out own name loud enough. A building’s lobby should have a big colourful Sympatico High Speed Internet access kiosk and an ExpressVu driven TV set. Salespeople should be given the latest Mobility gizmos to give our products free public exposure. We should be giving out free Sympatico dialup CDs and QuickChange calling cards. Managed routers and other networking equipment should be given big, bright Bell Managed Solutions branded stickers, not scribbled-on tiny white Avery labels.

When UIs attack

Here’s a good example of how NOT to design the login UI of a web app. The name of this app has been changed to protect the innocent. :devious:

The login screen tries to be radical by placing the Clear button on the left of the screen, and the OK button on the right. To spice things up, the buttons are labelled in English and French, together. So instead of “OK”, you get wordy buttons saying “OK – Envoyer”.

After logging in, you get a useless dialog about when your last successful login was. Whee. You must click a graphic that says “OK” to get past this screen. (No more “Envoyer” silliness here!)

You are now given a screen with three options, only one of actual use to you: Ordering. Once clicked, you see another link, “ABC Viewer” (also the only option available).

After logging in, it should load the app right away. Everything else is redundant. And the

Five inches short of a…

James Randi often remarks that just because someone has an impressive professional title, it doesn’t mean he can’t be a freakin’ moron. The fact that mutual fund managers, CEOs, veterinarians and otherwise intelligent people would buy penis-enlargement pills off an anonymous spam email with no encryption, and no contact information.

In a way, these people have what they wanted – to be considered as big dicks.

The decade that will never die

  1. You’ve ever ended a sentence with the word “PSYCHE”.
  2. You watched the Pound Puppies.
  3. You can sing the rap to the “Fresh Prince of Bel Air”
  4. You wore biker shorts under your skirts and felt stylish. (always – spesh under school uniform)
  5. You yearned to be a member of the Babysitters Club and tried to start a club of your own.
  6. You owned those lil Strawberry Shortcake pals scented dolls.
  7. You know it, but cant remember that McDonalds burgers used to come in a styrofoam box (filet o fish was a blue box).
  8. Two words: M.C. Hammer (cant touch this)
  9. If you ever watched “Fraggle Rock”.
  10. You had plastic streamers on your handle bars. (as well as spokey dokeys in the wheels so they made that sound)
  11. You can sing the entire theme song to “Duck Tales”. (“dddd danger lerks behind you, theres a stranger out to find you, what you do is just grab on to some duck takes woohoo every time i grab on to some duck tales wooohhoo”)
  12. When it was actually worth getting up early on a Saturday to watch cartoons.
  13. You wore a ponytail on the side of your head.
  14. You saw the original “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” on the big screen.
  15. Hong Kong Fuey…number one super guy…
  16. You made your mum buy one of those clips that would hold your shirt in a knot on the side.
  17. Gay was happy, butch a kind of dogfood and camp meant a tent and the outdoors.
  18. You wore Jordache jean jacket and you were proud of it.
  19. L.A. Gear…
  20. You wanted to change your name to “JEM” and have flashing earrings.
  21. You remember reading “Are You There God? Its Me Margaret”.
  22. You know the profound meaning of “WAX ON, WAX OFF”
  23. You wanted to be a Goonie.
  24. You ever wore fluorescent clothing.
  25. You can remember what Micheal Jackson looked like before his nose fell off…
  26. You have ever pondered why Smurfette was the only female smurf.
  27. Blurple iceblocks!!!
  28. You remember the CRAZE, then the BANNING of slap bracelets.
  29. You still get the urge to say “NOT” after every sentence.
  30. You remember Hypercolor t-shirts.
  31. Barbie and the Rockers was your favourite band.
  32. You thought She-ra and He-Man should hook up.
  33. You thought your childhood friends would never leave because you exchanged friendship bracelets.
  34. You ever owned a pair of Jelly-Shoes.
  35. After you saw Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure you kept saying “I know you are,but what am I?”
  36. You remember “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”
  37. You remember going to the skating rink before there were in-line skates.
  38. You ever got seriously injured on a Slip and Slide.
  39. You have ever played with a Skip-It.
  40. You had or attended a birthday party at McDonalds.
  41. You’ve gone through this list occasionally saying “This wasn’t from the 80’s!”
  42. You remember Popples.
  43. “Dont worry, be happy”
  44. You wore like, EIGHT pairs of socks over tights with high top Reeboks.
  45. You wore socks scrunched down.
  46. There was only ever one movie playing at a time at the theatre not multiplexes
  47. You remember boom boxes vs cd players.
  48. You remember watching both “Gremlins” movies.
  49. You know what it meant to say “Care Bear Stare!!”
  50. You remember watching Rainbow Bright and My Little Pony Tales”
  51. You thought Doogie Howser was hot.
  52. You remember Alf, the lil furry brown alien from Melmac
  53. You remember New Kids on the Block when they were cool.
  54. You know what a wuzzle is, and think bumblelion is cute
  55. You know all the words to Bon Jovi – SHOT THRU THE HEART

And after watching the movie Eighties Ending you can just nod your head and say “yep”. 😎 Don’t be afraid of the guy in shades, oh no!

Bon mots

Hold the freedom fries: I think a few modern-day American politicians should pick up this book, “112 Gripes about the French”, a FAQ for American GIs in post-WW2 France. It was published by the US government, to massage over misunderstandings and ill feelings the stationed soldiers felt for France.

Incredibly well-written retorts to common complaints, the book also offers this timeless advice: “Beware the people who do not criticize. Beware the country where criticism is verboten. Beware the country where men obey like sheep.”

Contivity confusion

This morning, I took and passed the certification exam for Nortel Networks Certified Design Specialist for Contivity VPN Extranet Switches (NNCDS – Contivity). So now I know a lot more about the Contivity than most mortal men.

The Contivity is actually a pretty neat product – it’s a router, it’s a stateful firewall, but most of all, it’s a VPN demarcation point. Simply put, it allows a remote user to access their corporate LAN via the public Internet in a completely secure fashion. Cisco PIX and Netscreen devices can do the same thing, but Contivitys are fairly inexpensive, high-performing, and easy to configure.

What was hard to figure was the bloody exam. First off, the Global Knowledge book and course I took was scarcely adequate. Sample questions, which they claimed were based on actual exam questions, did not even remotely resemble the exam in format, topic or difficulty. The samples were simple “gimmies”, like “Does the Contivity 100 support user tunnels? True/False?” (False, btw).

The real questions were scenario-based. They went like this: You are required to implement a 5000 tunnel solution. They have users dialling in from home, as well as branch offices. Which Contivity with which options would you recommend?”

Topics, such as IPX encapsulation, and the featureset of the Advanced Routing License, were not even covered.

The exam itself was fairly poorly designed. A lot of the questions boiled down to semantics. I feel sorry for the ESL crowd, they would have a helluva time figuring out these vague, obtuse questions. Here’s a good example.

Question: HQ has two Model Zs. They want remote users and their business partners to connect to them. What should the remote offices do? (“Remote offices”? I guess they mean both the remote users and business partners.)

  1. Model X, end to end (end to end of what?)
  2. Model X only for SOHO (Too bad if you don’t know what SOHO stands for. Also: are you referring to the “remote users”? Or the business partners? Both? If so, why the distinction?)
  3. Model X only for the remote offices (Only?! Isn’t this question only about the remote offices to begin with???)

In contrast, the Cisco exams are usually difficult and sometimes tries to trick you, but not by straining your knowledge of the English language.

Justice, CRTC style

Aliant, the incumbent telco, and Groupe Telecom, the competing telco, bid for two school contracts in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Aliant offers a price lower than GT. GT complains to the CRTC, charging anti-competitive pricing. CRTC agrees, orders Aliant to increase its price above GT’s. Customer looks at GT’s now relatively lower price, and switches to GT. GT crows about fair pricing to customers.

Now Aliant owns all the wiring (after all, they built them). GT now complaining to CRTC that the wholesale rates Aliant is charging are too high. Wants Aliant to now lower their prices.

Says the Yankee Group: