Can Web Hosting be “Australian Made”?

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This morning as I made my way up the escalators from Wynard station in the city something caught my eye that had kind of been on my mind this last week. It was the very well recognised Australian Made logo, only it was tattooed on a young girls arm. As proud an Aussie as I am, and admittedly not the tattoo type of person, and as cool as it did look it was hard to avoid the cliched “she’ll regret that one day” thoughts. The tattoo experience got me thinking though, can web hosting be Australian Made? and what is the real difference between Australian hosting and overseas hosting? As an Australian based provider we obviously only use Australian labour, that’s a big part of what we do. Our offices…

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Silicon Beach Australia

By | Company News, Technical | One Comment

As a hosting provider, we quite often seem to the be the starting place for many budding online entrepreneurs adventures. We’ve heard the story of the website that’s going to be getting a million hits in the first month so many times that we seem to have become completely immune to it. It just never seems to happen that way. Now days we automatically quite passively suggest that the client start off with something small and we’ll upgrade them when the time comes. Fortunately saving money is something that most entrepreneurs are more in tune with and most of the time we get to deploy an appropriate amount of hardware in the early days. It’s not all false starts though, we’ve been lucky enough to work with many companies that…

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VPS – Virtual Private Servers now available

By | Company News, Technical | No Comments

After dabbling with a variety of different virtualisation technologies over the last 2 years we’ve launched a Virtual Private Server (or VPS) offering based on VMware ESX server. We’ve chosen ESX server for a number of reasons not to mention the ability to perform a sufficient level of monitoring on the host system and have the virtual machines behave in just about every respect the same as a traditional dedicated server would. A VPS can offer a more affordable step between shared web hosting and dedicated servers but it also creates a more flexible hosting environment. Additional resources can be added to a server with as little effort as a reboot, and they can be added rapidly (hours vs days) in the event that increased performance is needed at short…

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Nagios plugins: a two minute hate

By | Technical | One Comment

If you asked one of your friends how their parents were doing (assuming that their parents were nominally alive, and that you had an appropriate degree of friendship that permitted such social intercourse), and they replied “I’m not sure, I haven’t seen them in a while”, is it reasonable for you to reply with a statement of your condolences, on the assumption that they’re dead? No, of course not. That would be foolish. Whilst it is possible that the reason why your friend hasn’t seen them in a while is because they’re dead, and it’s possible that they’ve died without your friend being aware of it, there is no practical reason to believe that your friend’s parents are, in fact, deceased. The number and probability of the non-death-related reasons why…

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New co-location suite in Global Switch

By | Company News, Technical | No Comments

On the back of a very strong 2008 for Anchor and despite the doom and gloom that has been flooding the media we’ve taken the plunge and decided to double our rack capacity in Global Switch’s Sydney facility. We’ve picked up capacity for about 29 standard (600mm wide) racks but have decided to do a fitout with the larger 750mm x 1070 mm APC server racks. The large racks should make server installation and cable management that bit easier, as well as helping with cooling. One of the nice fringe benefits of the APC racks is the oh so simple mounting of the managed power rails (which we use on all or co-location). Saves having to fiddle with custom mounting brackets. We’re hoping this new space will see us through…

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Deep Bug Hunting

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As practically anyone who has spent more than a couple of hours of their life using computer can attest, software is not the most reliable of human creations. Most software is very, very buggy, to the point that small errors and irritations happen so often that most people’s instinctual reaction is either to ignore them, or just apply an almost-instinctual workaround. The cause of most bugs that aren’t ignorable are solidly at the “trivial” end of the scale, too — a config problem, usually, or at worst a fairly trivial logic bug, where the symptoms and logging information point quite clearly to the source of the problem. However, every once in a while, something really vicious comes along, and it’s those bugs that make people really, really glad that they’ve…

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sock.receive()

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Well, I’m impressed. My socks arrived, and just in time for my trip overseas, where I fully expect to deal with lots of snow. Delivery took one week, though one might even argue they’re a bit too serious about expediency. One pair arrived yesterday in its own box, followed by three more individual packages today. I see they’ve embraced a package-based model for their postal architecture. Not a bad move, but you have to consider the risks, like out-of-order arrival (not a big problem for socks), lossage (high retransmission cost), jitter (particularly important for sockscription customers), etc. Latency rocks, though!

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Keeping your kernel output safe

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Keeping logs of the operation of your system(s) is really important; when something goes wrong in the middle of the night, a good log can give you all the information you need to diagnose and fix the problem before it happens again. One area of your system that’s quite crucial to keep, but which is often forgotten, is your kernel’s dmesg output. This is all of the messages that come direct from the kernel, from “filesystem mounted” to “Aiee! Penguins on the SCSI bus!” or “lp0: on fire”. While the former isn’t so important to keep for posterity, when the kernel crashes, you really do want to capture that output, but you can’t use your system’s normal logging because when the kernel dies, it usually takes userland processes like syslogd…

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Linux Conf Au 2009 Hobart – Day 1

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What a feeling to be back amongst the sights, sounds and ah yes the smells of Linux Conf Au once more. It doesn’t seem so long ago that I was in Melbourne enjoying the fruits of the last conference. So what does this year have to offer? I am fortunate enough to primarily enjoy presentations that also most benefit my role as a Systems Administrator. There are plenty of great presentations though on other topics such as mobile/embedded devices and multimedia. The quality is high but I don’t tend to enjoy these as much. The first day (for me at least) offered a few ups and a few downs. “Is Parallel Programming Hard, And If So, Why?” by Paul McKenney was more of a philosophical look into the reasoning around…

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….So you think you have a spam problem?

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Earlier today we started seeing multiple monitoring alerts from our network monitoring station suggesting that two mail servers which we manage were under considerable amounts of system load. This became so bad that email began to be delayed and in some occasions clients attempting to connect via pop and imap were timing out… meaning that mail was unable to be retrieved … This is strange behavior and something that is really only going to occur when the system is under considerable amounts of load. Subsequently, after completing an amount of investigation it appeared that the vast majority of the mail was destined for one specific domain, and addressed to some really suspect emails addresses which were never likely to exist such as: 559611098.73168680243309@domainname.com – It seemed as though that email…

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