Qwest Outage in Utah

Today there was a major Qwest backbone fiber cut by a backhoe just outside of Park
City, Utah. That fiber happened to be our main Internet
connection for the 80211.net data center. The fiber cut caused a complete network failure.  The outage started
around 9:00am, and repair of the 144-fiber trunk was finally completed
around 3:00pm. During that time a significant portion of the
80211.net network was down and without access.

We apologize for the outage, and will continue to explore ways to
implement even more redundancy in our neworks. If you were
impacted by this damage and unable to access the Internet, send us an
e-mail and we’ll add a day of credit to your account!

The power of MRTG …

The Multi Router Traffic Grapher (MRTG)
is an elegent piece of Open Source software. It is amazingly
simple, yet powerful … a great combination. I first became
aware of MRTG years ago when working on network management
software. The foundation for a lot of network management and
monitoring is the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP)
protocol. MRTG was designed to provide trend graphs of SNMP
variables that were being polled. Well, it actually started as a
tool to graph some specific variables – the Interface statistics of
data going in and out of a network Interface.

What is great about MRTG is that is was then extended to go beyond it’s
roots … and into a couple of different directions. The first
area that I really like is that I can add scripts to MRTG that return
values to be graphed … anything that I want. You can only graph
two variables per graph … but it can be any type of data.

I have now written a variety of MRTG scripts to scrape web interfaces
for a variety of devices and applications. For example, I wrote a
MRTG script to scrape the status screen of my ActionTec GT701 DSL
modem. With this ActionTec MRTG script I can now see up to date trend graphs of the traffic going through my DSL modem.

Another example is this NoCat MRTG script that I wrote for the NoCat
project – an Open Source network authentication application. It
also scrapes the web page generated by the NoCat Gateway
software. In both of these examples, I am able to extend the
functionlity of MRTG using Perl and wget …

Now I’m also using MRTG as a primitive OLAP tool … to graph the
results of queries to a MySQL database. In the backend systems
that run our wireless network – 80211.net
– I am writing records to a SQL table to track our sales of Internet
Access. I’ve now written a quick Perl script that does a query of
the database, finds all of the records of sales this month, and then
calculates the revenue that has been generated … and outputs it in
the correct format for MRTG. And so now, I have several graphs
that show our month-to-date sales so that I can see our progress each
day … and throughout the day. What is interesting is to be able
to see the trends of when people purchase Internet Access …

MRTG allows me to easily visualize any type of information … in a very simple and elegent way.

80211.net now accepting PayPal and credit cards!

Now you can purchase your Internet Access using PayPal, or your credit
card! As of last week, we have implemented a new payment system
that allows you the flexibility of paying for your 80211.net Internet
Access completely on-line. In the past, our 80211.net Internet
Access Coupons were available at all of our locations. Some
80211.net locations have made the choice to no longer carry the cash
coupons, but don’t worry … you will be able to continue to experience our cost effective service by paying on-line.

Access to the new payment system is through our login page, using the
same payment link that you used in the past. Now, once you have
entered your username and password, you have the option to click the
PayPal link to pay with a PayPal account, or credit card. You will be
automatically redirected to the secure PayPal web site to enter your
payment information.  We are
able to accept VISA, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, or
eCheck. Upon completion of the PayPal transaction, your account
will be updated and ready to use!

We hope this adds even more flexibility to our services, and let us know how we can continue to improve our services!

Linux and patents …

There are a number of articles coming out since the OSRM announement of potential patents and Linux. Today, I found the following article that got me thinking about political spin …

“I can assure you that IBM has no intention of using its patents against the
Linux kernel,” IBM’s senior vice president for technology and manufacturing,
Nick Donofrio, told delegates at LinuxWorld.

Well … of course! Note that Nick is very careful to say “against the
Linux kernel”
… which really doesn’t say very much. In my research, while at
SCO, I was looking at what is really contained in a “Linux
Distribution” and the amount of code that qualifies as “the Linux
kernel”. What most people do not understand is that the Linux
“kernel” only amounts to a maximum of 1%-3% of a distribution!

In the case of IBM, I’m sure that they have no issue with the “kernel”
… but I’m not so sure that they think the same about all of the
applications software, and the numerous layers of software that truly
enable Linux to be usable.

So Nick … what about the other 97%? Are you only saying that
you want the “kernel” to move unhindered? What about all of the
other software and components?

I have a feeling that this statement is going to remain very precise
and talk about the “kernel” … I agree with Bruce Perens … I want to
see it in writing. I also would love to see it use much broader
langauge to specify what IBMs intentions are.