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The Week in Review

Last week I told matociquala

I had one of those weeks where I was busy-busy all the time, but on looking back I'm wondering just exactly what it was I did. There were a lot of meetings. There were a lot of meetings that ate up a lot of time. There were a lot of meetings that ate up a lot of time and didn't accomplish nearly as much as they should have.


It could apply equally well to this week. This was my schedule for the week


Not captured in Outlook are the impromptu meetings, time spent preparing for meetings, travelling to and from meetings, and — with more than a few — lamenting the meeting afterwards. I am consistently amazed that we get anything done at all.

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The good news (in terms of I don't have to kill anybody over this) is that the power outage at HPHS Thursday evening was caused when a transformer blew. Bad that a transformer failed, causing another two hour outage, but good in that all of the promises made by the project managers on Tuesday were not for naught.

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Thursday was eventful for other reasons, also good and bad...

On the good side of the ledger, I had a pair of a ha moments about why traces of infection activity by PCs infected with SDbot weren't showing up in the firewall logs, and how to get more of them to turn up. The short version is that the firewall wasn't logging infection traffic (even though the routers were sending it there) because its own routing table told it to pitch all of that traffic back to the routers. The clue was that some traffic was getting logged — infection traffic aimed at our defunct-but-still-configured DMZ subnet. I realized that I could get more hits if I made the target larger. So, I modified the DMZ subnet so that instead of being 1024 IP addresses in size, it was over 1,000,000 addresses in size. Now my problem is that the firewall is seeing so much traffic that it's maxing out my log files at their 2GB limit! What this means, though, is that I now have a way of identifying infected PCs without having to go out with a sniffer and manually sample traffic on every subnet. Hallelujah!

On the bad side we received a letter from the Feds informing us that we were "non compliant" with E-Rate program rules, and that until we convinced them that we were in compliance there would be no money. This is bad in a good kind of way, in that at least now we know what we're in trouble for, we now have some names and phone numbers of people to talk to at this previously nameless, faceless organization, and we have a fairly well defined task to complete in order to get back in the SLD's good graces: present them with our compliance plan, and a narrative describing how we have implemented this plan. I spent Friday afternoon drafting the plan document — which was largely an act of writing down all of the procedural changes we have made since the fall of 2003.

If things really break in our favor this week, we'll get their blessings on our plan and narrative. We'll still have the 2003 audit findings hanging over our heads (read: we will still owe the Feds a pile of money), but this will remove the hold on receiving current year funds. If the hold is cleared this week, we're told that we'll be in the funding wave released on May 12th.

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I spent a good chunk of time Saturday morning fighting with the MySQL database on one of my servers. The install went fine, the daemon is running, the startup and shutdown scripts work perfectly. But the security darn near drove me batty. MySQL comes, out of the box, really, really secure. So secure that you can't connect to it with the remote admin tool to setup your users and databases. The MySQL manual is woefully inadequate in this area, and the O'Reilly book isn't a whole lot better. Though, it did give a clue toward the ultimate solution. I used the command-line MySQL tool to compose a query to insert a record into the user table that then enabled me to connect remotely. Once that was done, the rest was it's normal easy self. This time I took notes, so that next time I setup up an MySQL server I won't have to go through this. You can see the app that is currently running on this database here.

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