Cisco Choice Choices

As I mentioned before in a post not so long ago, I was accepted into Cisco’s  Choice Program for an internship this summer in San Jose, CA. In this program I actually get to choose what department I want to work for during the summer. In order for them to place me into a department, I was asked to pick my top 3 departments:

1. ETG – Emerging Technology Group
Creates solutions in new and adjacent markets built around advanced video, voice, and data communications.

2. CDO Ops
Enhance productivity and operating efficiency in the CDO organization, improve hardware and software quality across Cisco products and systems

3. NMTG – Network Management Technology Group
Implements network management solutions capability for Cisco products and supporting key Cisco markets.

I am hoping for Emerging Technology as it sounds like they work with a diverse range of technologies and are always on the bleeding edge of development and technology.

Geiger Counter

I recently acquired a Victoreen CDV-700 Geiger Couter from a local surplus store. The unit appeared to be in good condition, however, upon testing it I found that while it does detect radiation sources, its meter is not registering anything.

Victoreen CDV-700 Geiger Counter

I tested the meter and found that the gauge itself is actually working and that the problem was somewhere in the circuit board. Luckily the good folks at Victoreen Instruments were kind enough to include the following diagram inside the box:

Victoreen CDV-700 Circuit Diagram

I will have to test the components to find if there is a short or a bad part and then see if it is fixable. On the other hand, it was manufactured in the early 70’s, so it may be hard to find replacement parts if anything is in fact bad.

Web File Listings

I finally made my web file listings integrate with my web site theme. Normally web file directories look pretty very ugly and this certainly was an improvement. Apache has built-in support for header and footer files to be wrapped around the file listing. You can even wrap PHP or other scripting languages around it if you configure Apache properly. I chose to use PHP as it can easily pull in template changes from the main site.

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Wordpress 2.5

Wordpress Logo

Wordpress has been gearing up for their much anticipated 2.5 release. As such I though it only fitting that I upgrade to one of the latest test releases. I installed 2.5 RC 2 and have been nothing but impressed so far. The admin interface is the largest visual overhaul. It is much more streamlined and now offers many new features.

My favorite new addition is the new media management interface. This makes it almost trivial to upload and manage images and other content. This will certainly be useful in the future. Another great aspect to the media manager is the gallery feature, which allows the rapid creation of photo galleries on a given article.

Looking foward to the final release, but at this point the RC 2 seems very stable.

Cisco 7970G + Asterisk

The Cisco 7970G IP Phone is by far one of the nicest VoIP Phones i have ever used. However, getting it to work outside the standard Cisco Call Manager environment with Asterisk can be a challenge. After weeks of testing various configurations and tweaking settings on both the phone and Asterisk, i was able to finally get a working configuration that works for both local network connections and NAT as well.

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Zenoss Update

Zenoss Logo

Zenoss recently released the latest update to its popular monitoring and management platform. Version 2.1.3 is mainly a maintenance release but fixes numerous bugs that affected the UI and underlying modeling. The upgrade on Dark Horse Networks’ Zenoss install worked flawlessly thanks to their simple RPM distribution.

Complete release notes for 2.1.3 can be found here: Release Notes

TACACS+

So I finally took the plunge and decided to implement TACACS+ at Dark Horse Networks as well as for my personal network. TACACS+ stands for “Terminal Access Controller Access-Control System” and can be used to authenticate users to Unix systems and more importantly Cisco equipment. This will remove the need to have user accounts on each individual device and provide central unified authentication.

In addition to authentication of users it also allows for authorizing a given user to different levels of access. For example: Alice may only have access to view the current configuration of a router, while Bob has access to change the configuration.

Finally, TACACS provides accounting. This allows central logging of all commands a user executes for auditing purposes. That way if “someone” happens to destroy your configuration on a device, you know who to hunt down.

Just to note… In case you are wondering what the difference is between TACACS and TACACS+, TACACS+ is a completely new protocol and is not compatible with the older TACACS protocol. TACACS+ was created by Cisco Systems. The specific implementation I will be using is usually referred to as “tac_plus” and is also the name of the daemon.

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