Friday, January 21, 2011

A Communistic Approach to Technology

This post is to explain one of my warped views of the world that will probably get me in trouble. I have long believed that a communistic approach to technology development would be far superior to our current capitalistic model. Here’s what I mean.

Capitalism bases advancement on profits. Capitalists will use an inferior technology so long as it makes money and won’t advance to the next level of technology until they have made all the money they can on the current level. Granted competition is supposed to spur this development but as you can see by the current state of technology that doesn’t always work. If it did, Microsoft would not have released a new smartphone lacking copy and paste, as an example.

Communism was a failure as a form of government because people were involved but in principle it seems rather sound. The best for all. Greed often gets in the way and power hungry people mess this up but communism isn’t worried about making profit. Instead, they want, in principle, the best for everyone. As such we would not have iOS vs. Android, we would have the best of both worlds in the one and only smartphone OS. Instead of Verizon using CDMA and AT&T using GSM we would have one provider that was both the largest and the fastest using the latest communication protocol regardless of profitability.

Now lest you think I’m a turncoat or a pinko I’m not endorsing communism as a way of life but the core principle, without the perversion of humanity, seems to me to be a superior methodology for developing technology and technology services. Instead of competitive overhead, you would have AMD and Intel sharing ideas to provide the best for all, not just the best for one firm so they can make a pile of cash.

I don’t see Microsoft and Apple getting together anytime soon to being their new approach to business based on my blog post but I do believe that such an approach would benefit us all. Need I remind you of the VHS vs. Betamax story and how the consumer got the short end of the stick as capitalistic forces pushed us down the VHS road despite it being inferior? Blue Ray anyone?

If anyone from any major technology companies would like to discuss these radical ideas to better technology in our generation, please feel free to contact me.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

OneNote comes to the iPhone

One of the cool things about technology is when it makes our life easy. More often than not, numerous things seem to make technology more of a hurdle then a helpful time saver. I have often proposed a communistic approach to technology to ensure the best for everyone as opposed to needless competition based solely on profit goals that slow down development but that is another discussion for another blog post.

Today however, the stars aligned and things really started to gel. As you know last year, I took the plunge and joined the dark side in getting an iPhone. While the iPhone provides numerous integration and data synchronization tools to help keep my life in order one thing that is obviously missing are Microsoft Office tools. One tool I use all the time is OneNote. OneNote automatically stores its files in the cloud using Windows Live SkyDrive allowing it to automatically update from wherever I open it. It is very productive when you can open OneNote in the office and make some changes and then open the same program at home and see those changes and then make more knowing the next day they will automatically show up at the office. This is why God made the cloud.

I have searched many times looking for OneNote on the iPhone and today it appeared. Microsoft has released OneNote for the iPhone that functions just like the desktop client. It opens the files from the cloud allowing you to make notes and update notes via the iPhone.

It is free for the time being in the App store however, I can see Microsoft starting to charge for this soon enough. If you use OneNote, this is a must-have app. I also hope this shows Microsoft’s commitment to bringing the power and benefits of the Office desktop suite of clients to more mobile platforms like the iPhone.

  1. Sorry Android users, nothing for you yet. 
  2. There is a bug when you login to your Windows Live account. You may get a 400 error. That’s ok, just keep trying and you will eventually get logged in. Once logged in it works great. They are working on the bug but it is easy to overcome.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

SonicWall Firmware Alert!

We use a SonicWall NSA E-Series appliance as our primary firewall. Due to some issues with the E-Series and our SonicPoint N radios we had to upgrade to an out-of-band firmware in order to resolve some problems with our radios dropping their connections to the clients. The firmware we were running was

We didn’t have any problems with this firmware until this past Sunday when we attempted to upgrade our DNS servers to Windows Server 2008 R2. After 5 days of working on this we narrowed our problem down to our SonicWall. It took this long because the bug in the firmware was not only causing the firewall to drop the larger DNS packets of Server 2008 R2 (EDNS and non EDNS) but also causing the appliance to fail to log that it was dropping said packets. Many articles we found online said the problem could be with the firewall and the larger UDP packets but the logging issues made confirming this with our firewall difficult. In addition our dig tests showed we were EDNS compatible as the tests were passing but not the actual DNS lookups.

SonicWall admitted it was there problem but was unable to provide a reason or answer as to why the firmware or what in the firmware was creating this problem. As such, if you are running contact support to upgrade to Once we upgraded our problem instantly went away.

If you are in this predicament I hope this post and the other ones about this issue can save you at least 5 days of effort.  The other info is here.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

DNS trouble with Server 2008 R2

We are having an odd DNS problem and I’ve been receiving a lot of good help from many wonderful folks on Twitter. However, we are trying to solve this in 140 characters and that is proving difficult so here is the whole story. If this fails the next step is to contact the friendly folks at Microsoft for only $500.

We run Active Directory Integrated DNS on Windows Server 2003. We have a single DNS server that works fine but we are migrated from our physical Server 2003 box to our virtual farm. Our virtual servers are running Server 2008 R2. The plan was, and hopefully still is, to add a Server 2008 R2 Domain Controller with DNS, allow it to replicate the DNS via Active Directory, and then point all the clients to the new DNS server. After sufficient time for that to take place then we would remove our old 2003 DNS server and just be running on the new 2008 R2 server.

I ran dcpomo on the 2008 R2 server, which added DNS, and the replication started. Everything went just as numerous articles said it would. The problem is that the new DNS server will not reliably resolve external domain names. It works fine internally but now when going upstream to our external DNS server, which is provided by our local fiber internet service.

When you run an nslookup on the new 2008 R2 DNS server you get a time-out the first try. You can then run it a second time at which point it works and will continue to work until you try a different domain. So if you nslookup the first response will be a time-out. The second and each subsequent time it will work fine until you switch and try Then that one will work but if you go back and try again it will time-out the first time.

The AD integration part is working as both the old 2003 DNS server and the new 2008 R2 DNS server are keeping each other up-to-date however for reasons we haven’t uncovered yet the 2008 R2 server is not resolving external names.

We have confirmed that our firewall is EDNS and DNSSEC compatible and passes the larger UDP packets. We have also tried disabling EDNS on the server but it has no effect. Whether on or off the time-out still occurs.

Seems we are missing something obvious but what?