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Two victories today — a minor personal one and a major professional one.

We have six schools that are undergoing construction and/or renovation this summer. All of them need new phones, PCs, and network equipment. My group has something like a million dollars worth of equipment to install before August 24th. We've been sweating over the Purchase Orders for this equipment — the process of getting a PO req turned into a PO can take weeks, and is frequently subject to the capricious whims of the people who have to approve it along the way. With each passing day, the window to install all this gear gets smaller and smaller.

I found out early this morning from one of my vendors that the POs for his parts of the equipment were emailed to him late yesterday. I quickly confirmed with my other major vendor that he too has his POs.

Whew. We are officially NOT SCREWED.

This means that equipment will start showing up later this week. It'll be turning up right on time for the construction people to start turning over the network rooms at the various schools to us. Our rent-a-help will start a week from Monday. It's going to be an "all hands" circus from now until the end of the month, but that's a much better problem to have than to be sitting on your hand's going "where's my PO?"

###

Back in the fall I replaced my in-laws' aging Windows NT 4 server with a box running Linux and Samba. Hedwig has done a fine job as a household file server. But, I couldn't get it to send email.

A little investigation revealed that their ISP (Cox cable) blocks outbound SMTP traffic — a good idea will all of the Spammers and email-sending viruses out there. You have to go through one of their relay servers to get to the outside world.

Hedwig's mail server software (sendmail) can be configured to do this, but you have to twiddle this macro file and regen sendmail's config file. ...Which, because I just did a 'plain Jane' install of Slackware Linux, I didn't have the requisite tools to do. Back in ye olde days, you could just hand-edit the sendmail.cf file, but presently they don't want you to do this. I can understand why — some sections of the config are Baroque enough to make your eyes bleed, and a lot of people were royally bitching up their configs, rendering them either totally insecure, or just broken. The fix: reinstall sendmail from scratch so that I could stick the proper directive into the macro file used in composing sendmail's config.

At which point I just shelved the whole thing. Until today.

This afternoon I dug up my build notes from installing sendmail on one of the Linux machines at work and 'cookbooked' my way through the process. I dropped in the line to tell Hedwig to relay all its external mail to "smtp.east.cox.net" and *SHAZAM* I can now send email to the outside world.

Hedwig will now proceed to bug my in-laws to load the weekly backup tape every Sunday night, and tell on them (to me) if they don't. It'll also email me weekly with disk stats, memory stats, and all that other groovy info that you need to tell whether a box is healthy or not.

All in all, a good day.

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