Dispatches From The Geeks

News and Announcements from the MCS Systems Group

Systems Gets Social

In an attempt to ensure you’re inundated with communication from as many sources as possible, you can now follow us on your favorite social network, provided your favorite social network is one of either Twitter, Facebook, or Yammer.Twitter users, you can follow mcssys to be notified of blog posts plus random tweets.Facebook users, you can become a fan of “MCS Systems” to see blog updates as notes.Yammer users can follow me to get blog updates.Of course, you can use your favorite RSS reader as well.

Written by Craig Stacey

April 11, 2009 at 7:18 am

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Cool Calendar Trick

Would you like to have the weather forecast on your calendar?  If it speaks ICS (like iCal, Zimbra, Google, Lightning, etc.), you can.Visit Weather Underground and punch in the zip code for your location.  On the resultant page, right-click the ICAL icon, copy the link to your clipboard.Then, in your favorite Calendar, subscribe to it!  In iCal, for instance, click Calendar, Subscribe, and paste in the URL.  In Zimbra, you can click new Calendar, click both checkboxes, then paste in the URL.It’s handy for planning.

Written by Craig Stacey

April 11, 2009 at 3:47 am

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Mail server outage, 3/14/2009, 09:00 – 13:00

Here’s the official announcement from the CIS Zimbra team:

All:Saturday, March 14, we will be upgrading the Zimbra service:* the Zimbra application will be upgraded from 5.0.11 to 5.0.14* OS patching and maintenance will be doneThe maintenance window for this procedure will begin at 9am on thatSaturday morning.  We anticipate completing the upgrade process by 1pmthe same day.During this period, the Zimbra server will be unreachable.  You will notbe able to check your mail, calendar, or anything else that is stored onthe server.  Incoming mail will be held and delivered when the upgradeis complete; no mail will be lost.Upon completion, we’ll send an “all clear” message with any pertinentdetails.If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your ZimbraDomain Admin, or your IT support staff.Regards,- CIS Zimbra Admins

Thanks!

Written by Craig Stacey

March 13, 2009 at 3:26 am

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ANL Holiday Calendar available

If you’d like a calendar of when the lab is closed, you have a few options.

This calendar only has holiday information for 2009, but will be updated as ANL publishes its holiday schedule every year.  The calendar includes “lab closing” days between 12/25 and 12/31 as well.

Written by Craig Stacey

March 12, 2009 at 10:07 pm

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Mail Server Downtime, 3/14/2009, 09:00 – 13:00

The Zimbra server upgrade scheduled for last weekend will now go ahead this Saturday at 9AM.  The outage will last from 9AM until 1PM.  An upside is a brand new release of the Zimbra server came out, so we’ll now be moving to Zimbra version 5.0.14.Thank you!

Written by Craig Stacey

March 11, 2009 at 10:44 pm

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Sending mail to a large group of people.

Some of you may have seen the news this week of a “reply-all storm” that took out the State Department’s e-mail system. It’s a real problem that can hit any organization, and there are easy ways to avoid it. Here are some really simple tips to make sure you’re not the one who brings down an e-mail server.First of all, when sending out an e-mail to a large group of people, never put their e-mail addresses in the To: or Cc: lines. If you put everyone’s address on one of those headers, everyone who gets that mail will also see all those addresses. That’s the first step in setting up a reply-all storm! Not only that, but you’ve also exposed e-mail addresses to everyone, whether the recipients wanted their addresses exposed to the world or not.For internal mail, this may not be such a big deal, but when mailing externally, there are implications that you may want to consider. Some people don’t want their e-mail address spread around. Some people only publicly expose certain addresses, and use others for comunication with people they know won’t spam them. But if you expose those addresses, their work is undone. When a coporate entity does this, it makes the news. Ask Seagate, AT&T, or Nissan.But putting aside privacy concerns, you run the risk of setting off a reply storm that can bring entire networks to their knees. So, how do you prevent this? If it’s a one-off mailing to this particular group of people, go ahead and use individual addresses, but put them in the Bcc: field, and stick your own address in the To: field. Nobody else on the mailing will see anyone else’s address, and a Reply-all will only go to you. This is not foolproof, as some spam prevention software may think this mail is spam, however any spam program worth its salt will be far more likely to tag a mail with 100 people on the To: line than one mail addressed to yourself.If it’s going to be the type of thing where you’ll be mailing more than once, and especially if you actually want the recipients to converse, go ahead and set up a mailing list for it! In MCS it’s as simple as filling out a web form at http://mcs.anl.gov/faq. Once you’ve got it set up, people’s e-mail addresses are protected, for one. Even better, if there is a flurry of activity, the mailing list server is designed to take it. (Well, usually it is. I make no guarantees for Microsoft Exchange servers.)Lastly, if you find yourself on a mailing list that you want off of, don’t send mail to that list complaining about it. More often than not, you’ll start a reply storm that isn’t productive (see the Microsoft story above). Look for instructions in the e-mail on how to remove yourself. Worst case, you can reply to the person who sent you the mail singly.Hope you find this useful!

Written by Craig Stacey

January 12, 2009 at 11:58 am

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Blog moved

As part of the effort to retire the old web servers, the Systems blog has moved to its new home on press.mcs.anl.gov.  You can still get to it via http://www.mcs.anl.gov/systems/blog but the new URL is http://press.mcs.anl.gov/systems.If you use RSS, you’ll want to update your feed to point to the new blog.

Written by Craig Stacey

November 22, 2008 at 5:18 am

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Wiki Outage: 10/14/2008 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Hey, folks, we’re planning to upgrading the wiki servers on Tuesday.  Please see this attached note from Ken.  As always, if this presents a problem, please let us know and we’ll reschedule.

All,We’re going to move the MCS core wiki services to new hardware andoperating system next Tuesday, 10/14, at 5:00pm.  This will bring us upto date with the latest version of Mediawiki (1.13.2) and increase thestability and security of each site.  The list of vhosts affected bythis move is the following:wiki.mcs.anl.govwiki.alcf.anl.govbionet.mcs.anl.govcgat-wiki.mcs.anl.govigsb-core.mcs.anl.govwiki.bgl.mcs.anl.govwiki.lcrc.anl.govreu.cogkit.orgwater.cogkit.orgI estimate 2-3 hours for the work to complete, with wiki.mcs.anl.gov andwiki.alcf.anl.gov having the longest downtime due to the number of wikisper site.If anyone has any objections to a wiki being down at this time, pleaselet us know so we can schedule a separate upgrade.Thanks,Ken

Thanks!

Written by Craig Stacey

October 11, 2008 at 3:02 am

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New Mailing List (and mailing list server)

Hey, folks!We’re in the process of rolling out the new mailing list server, and to give it a good test run, I’ve set up a new list.In the spirit of the mac-users@mcs.anl.gov mailing list (which is used for trading tips, tricks, and general discussion on Macs), I’ve created an iPhone-users list.  Since not every Mac user is an iPhone user, and vice-versa, this seemed a reasonable thing to do.If you’d like to subscribe, visit:https://lists.mcs.anl.gov/mailman/listinfo/iphone-usersor send an e-mail to iphone-users-request@lists.mcs.anl.gov with “subscribe” as the subject.More details on the new mailing list server coming this week, including docs on how to use it.Enjoy!

Written by Craig Stacey

August 26, 2008 at 5:21 am

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Zimbra Update Complete

The Zimbra upgrade portion of today’s work is complete.  The network reorganization is mostly done, expect an all-clear later.Expect a brief Zimbra outage tomorrow morning while the disk server gets a firmware upgrade.

Written by Craig Stacey

August 24, 2008 at 1:00 am

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