Are you down with DIIOP? Yeah, you know me…..

I upgraded a client’s Domino server last night.  Today we discovered that they use Axiom Groupware Integration for a service they receive from Rearden Commerce.  It is a service that allows them to book flights, rental cars and hotels at a discount and have those items be pushed automatically to user’s calendars over the Internet.  It is a pretty nice service from what I saw of it.  Here is the website with more info:

Here is information on the Axiom component:

So ever since the upgrade was completed, none of the appointments were being created automatically like they were supposed to be.  We looked into the logs on the Tomcat webserver that Rearden uses to submit the appointments to Domino and found this error:

2009-07-22 17:42:57,171 ERROR [groupware] [http-8080-2] – createAppointment  error NotesException: Could not get IOR from Domino Server: http://ServerName:63148/diiop_ior.txt

That Tomcat server receives the request from Rearden over the Internet, then uses a DIIOP connection to the Domino server to create the calendar entry.  As part of our normal upgrade process, we had hardened security on the Domino server and we had disabled Anonymous HTTP access to the server.  It looks like this requires that to be allowed.  We turned anonymous HTTP access back on, restarted HTTP, and everything was working again.  Looks like we will have to see if there is a way for this to work without the need for anonymous HTTP access.  But at least for now they can update their schedules.

Another problem solved!

High Availability in the Arctic

 I returned last week from a trip to Barrow, Alaska, the Northern-most settlement in North America.  Many people read my daily posts (, and have been asking me exactly what I installed while I was there.  So in this post I will go into more detail about the software I setup. 

My primary purpose for trip was to install a high-availability server cluster running Avance from Stratus Technologies  I installed the solution in July when the weather is in the 40s, and the sun shines around the clock.  The platform I installed is so dependable that no one should need to visit the site again for a long time.  And hopefully no one has to go back in the winter, when the weather can be 50 below and the sun doesn’t come up for months. 

To guarantee the uptime we needed, we chose the Avance software in order to have a cost-effective high availability virtual cluster.  The solution is so fault tolerant, an entire physical server can fail, and the virtual machines that were running on the failed server will start right back up on the surviving node.  It truly separates the running virtual machines from the hardware.  Avance monitors the health of the system, all the way down to the status of fans and hard drives.  If anything on a node fails, it will automatically migrate the virtual machines off of it and send out a notification.

Avance Arctic Configuration
Avance Arctic Configuration

 The Avance software is loaded on two physical servers.  That creates a single logical platform to run virtual servers across.  Data is continuously replicated between the two nodes.  Because of the replication, it doesn’t require a SAN.  That not only saves money, but it also reduces Continue reading “High Availability in the Arctic”

Mobile LAN Trip Report

 We are back from our West Virginia rafting trip.  Normally that wouldn’t warrant a post on a blog about technology.  However, what we did on the way there and the way back makes it relevant.  You can read the details of our plan in this post:  In short, we connected our van to the Internet, provided minute by minute picture updates to a public website, and setup video conferencing between our vehicles.  Here is how it went down:

Mobile Internet Access

We setup a laptop in the van with a Verizon aircard and then used Windows to share that connection via wireless between the users in the van.  We also had an AT&T aircard, and a couple of people tethered to their phones.  We have been using aircards for years, but not this extensively, not over this terrain, and not as a mobile shared connection. 

Mission control in the van.

As expected, our only issue was data service.  We had service from both Verizon and AT&T and both services had major outages on our trip from Cincinnati, OH to Fayetteville, WV.  We knew we would have occasional drops, but we didn’t expect Continue reading “Mobile LAN Trip Report”

Another trip, another crazy project

Tomorrow our company departs for our annual rafting trip in West Virginia.  Rafting down the New River is a blast, but the road trip there and back is rather mundane.  So to spice things up, we have decided to have some fun along the way.  We have decided to turn our caravan into a mobile network.  We are planning on using the Verizon data network as our primary link, and the AT&T data network as a backup.  We will use a laptop to share those connections among the passengers via wireless 802.11x.  Our caravan consists of a 12 passenger van, and a smaller “chase” vehicle.  We should be able to share our wireless network between vehicles.  That means we should be able to video conference between vehicles as we drive down the road.  We haven’t quite figured that part out, but we will do that while on the road. 
A network on the go.
A network on the go.

Our mobile network will provide minute by minute image updates to a public website.  We will also be tweeting, using the hash-tag of #lansol so you can follow us.  I will be updating my blog with more information about our network as we travel down the highway.  I will provide the link to the website once we depart.  We also plan on providing GPS updates about our location.  We depart about 1:30 EST, so check back then! 


Attack of the Arctic Mosquitoes

Today was our last day in Barrow.  Our final task was to go back to the research hut and improve the weather station mount.  The day before the weather was about 40 degrees with a sustained 20MPH wind.  Today it was almost 50 degrees and it was very calm, so we thought we were going to have it easy.  Unfortunately, that is perfect weather for mosquitoes.  The mosquitoes in Alaska aren’t your typical mosquitoes, either.  They are gigantic and swarm around you.  It is very unnerving.  To ward them off, we wore netting and raw deet.

Giant mosquito
Giant mosquito

Out on the tundra, there was a 5MPH wind.  If I stood in one place I created a wind block so the mosquitoes would gather in that draft behind me.  After about 20 seconds I could literally hear the bzzzzzzz of the gathering swarm of mosquitoes in the draft.  I was actually wishing for the return of the cold and wind from the day before so I didn’t have to deal with the mosquitoes.  Yuck!

After our work was done on the tundra and we showered to remove all of the deet, we took one last tour of the town before our flight.  We got to see the northern most football field in the US.  The field is Astroturf and is located Continue reading “Attack of the Arctic Mosquitoes”

Research Hut on the Arctic Tundra

 Today we spent the afternoon wiring up a research hut on the tundra.  “Hut” is kind of a misnomer.  It is actually a small construction trailer on skids that is put in place when there is snow.  The scientists use the building as a base camp during their daily research.  The building has electric for heat and light.  Bathroom facilities consist of a 5 gallon bucket and a bag that you take out with you at the end of the day. 
 Research Hut
Research Hut

Our goal for the day was to mount a weather station and multiple cameras on a hut.  In addition, we wanted all of these devices to collect data and feed it real-time back to the servers we installed earlier in the week at the BARC.  I will provide a more detailed explanation of the data communication systems that are in use in a later post.  The hut we went to was located Continue reading “Research Hut on the Arctic Tundra”

Town Festival and Arctic Rainbow

 We spent most of the day in the lab staging weather stations today.  That was fine with me because the temperature dropped about 10 degrees from yesterday, and the wind is blowing.  At lunch we stopped by the city park and checked out the 4th of July Festival.  The city park is pretty much a gravel lot.  There were food booths, face painting for kids, and some games.  We walked around for a few minutes but quickly got back in our truck to escape the chilling wind. 

Barrow City Park
Barrow City Park

We went out again after dinner and got to see an Arctic rainbow.  A fog moved in from the ocean, and the sun hitting that fog created the rainbow.

Arctic Rainbow
Arctic Rainbow

Satellite City in Barrow, Alaska

Today was another unusually warm and beautiful day in Barrow, Alaska.  Clear skies and lower 50s.  We, however, were locked in the server room all morning completing the setup of our servers.  After lunch we got to get out and see some more of the surrounding area.  We took a trip to see “Satellite City”, an area outside of town where all of the satellite dishes are located.  It is interesting how the dishes point at the horizon, instead of up in the sky.  In order for them to work properly, there can’t be anything in front of them.  Luckily finding empty space  isn’t much of an issue.  

Barrow Satellite City
Barrow Satellite City

There are absolutely no wires connecting Barrow to anyway else.  Power is generated just outside the city by a power plant that runs on a natural gas reserve.  All communications – data, voice, and video must be sent and received over satellite or long-range radio.  The BARC has 6Mbps of bandwidth being sent and received over an AT&T satellite, the equivalent of four T1s . Internet speed is Continue reading “Satellite City in Barrow, Alaska”

Witnessing a Seal Necropsy

While working in the Barrow Alaska Research Center (BARC) today, I was able to witness part of a seal necropsy.  The scientist that was performing the procedure was cataloging the animal for later study.  It is part of a study on communicable diseases in marine mammals.  In particular, she is studying sicknesses that can be passed from animal to human and vice-versa, similar to the swine or avian flu.

The procedure was pretty far along by the time we were invited in.  I will warn you if you have a weak stomach, do NOT view the pictures in this post.  There are some raw pictures, but it doesn’t come close to being there and smelling it.  Shortly after the necropsy, we went to the cafeteria for dinner.  I passed on the fish that was offered. Continue reading “Witnessing a Seal Necropsy”