Monday, October 23, 2017

Welcome Back to Fairbanks

You leave town for a bit and look what happens. Winter arrives. This was the temperature on Saturday morning. One of the regulars at coffee mentioned that it was -12°F at his place a few miles west of Fairbanks. Of course, it didn't stay this cold all day and by late afternoon it was up to 20°F again.

This week I need to get the trailer straightened out as in storage, cover, batteries removed, dehumidifying containers, cupboards emptied, etc. The original plan was to store the trailer next to the garage but due to the delays in getting it repaired, it will probably winter over at the RV storage lot. Not my preference but I don't want to try getting it into our driveway with the snow. As it was, I needed 4WD to get it out of the driveway at the end of August. The other task for this week is getting the truck set up to plow snow again. This means removing the fifth wheel hitch and reinstalling the wooden frame to hold the bags of gravel in place near the tailgate. I should probably remove the generators and add some Stabil to the gas left in the generators. I already added it to the gasoline left in the gas cans, the lawn mower, and the snow blower. I may even rearrange things in the garage sufficiently to park the truck in the garage again. We'll see how it goes this week.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

San Francisco - Day 5

This morning was a cool 50°F but I didn't need to be to the conference hotel until 9. I picked up a cream cheese & tomato bagel on the way. It's a great combination. This was the view from the meeting room looking towards the bay and it may be the best view I've had this whole week. My 7th story room looks out into an alley at a brick wall. Today (Thursday) is also the last day of the meeting. I head home tomorrow morning.

Here is a picture of the group that is meeting for most of the day. The group is made up of network engineers from either research universities or regional networks. In some cases, it's the same individual.

This picture would be a good Apple advertisement as the room is about 80% Mac, two Microsoft tablets and most of the remaining PCs are running some Linux variant. I believe out of the thirty six participants, two are running Windows. It would also be a great example of why STEM education initiatives are so important. Out of the 36 participants, only 3 are women.

Just in case anyone is interested, here is the preliminary list of topics...

Discussion Topics and Notes
  • Next Generation I2 Infrastructure
    • Equipment
    • End-to-end
    • Flexible Edge
  • How can I2 improve cloud connectivity
    • What does the community need
  • SDN for real, not just as a plaything.
    • Intentionally provocative language for the title. Most of what I see in terms of SDN is point solutions (often around the Science DMZ) that seem more oriented towards solving the problem of not having SDN. That’s fine at small scale, and it adds spice to the job, but is it really scalable? What does real SDN in a production, campus network look like? Probably not what has been done to date.
  • Automation
    • Ansible and Salt
    • Docker, Docker Swarm, Kubernetes
  • IPv6
    • State of IPv6 implementation on campuses across US - SLAAC vs DHCPv6
    • Device registration portal with IPv6 support - does such a thing exist?
    • Challenges in tying IPv4 and IPv6 addresses to a user without .1x
    • Experiences with NAT64 or some variant
  • IPv4 - Buying more space vs. NAT?
  • Data Center Networking:
    • Virtualization of the networking
    • NSX? Contrail? ACI?
    • Extending to the Cloud
  • Wireless
    • 5ghz only SSID?
    • Device Registration & Fingerprinting
    • Service Assurance
  • On-campus speed test/self network diagnostic tool solution
  • On-campus CDN installs
  • Security topics
    • DNS RPZ feeds
    • Border/Edge Firewalls
    • IDS/IPS in-band/out-of-band
    • NAC & Client Posture Assessment
  • Traffic flow and pcap monitoring tools
  • R&E Connectivity
  • Cooperative grant funding projects and ideas

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

San Francisco - Uh, the Next Day

With the BlogPad Pro iPad app, you have to give a new post a title before you can add any other content. I was here before 7am for a breakfast meeting. The AV person setting up the projector for this one meeting scheduled for the room made a comment along the lines of “I hope someone puts up da** PowerPoint”. Shortly thereafter, one of the participants connected his laptop with a picture of Hoover Dam and the Three Gorges Dam. That’s the nature of this group.

One of the real topics discussed was the “why” of SDN (Software Defined Networking). After all, most of the time the data being shipped was IP based. We speculated that the problem to be solved was to be to bypass the campus security device i.e. firewall. It would also bypass all of the L3 devices along the path. This was the original justification as this used to be the bottleneck. Not the case anymore.

Tomorrow, there is an all day meeting where a group of network engineers get together to discuss various topics. As you may expect from a group such as this, there is no pre-announced agenda. Sort of done on the fly. Most of the group went out this evening to a restaurant near the hotel. Even though the restaurant promised that they would be willing to split the check into smaller chunks, that's not what they did. The end of the table I was on had folks from North Dakota, North Carolina, Texas, Michigan and Guam. Quite the diverse group. (BTW, that's not who is in the picture)

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

San Francisco - Day 3

Ready for the day. Coffee, iPad w/keyboard. Today’s focus seems to primarily be security with the first couple of talks on DDOS mitigation. Then SDN (Software Defined Networks), a topic that I found fascinating but not much of an opportunity to try it out. Now, it looks like it may be ready for actual limited pseudo-production deployment.

It’s kind of interesting to see all of the new faces here at the meeting. It means that the organization is healthy and growing. I don’t know what the actual attendance is but I’m seeing a lot of “First Time Attendee” tags on the name badges.

This is a lunch meeting of the Performance Working Group. Maybe a couple dozen people. Some of the tools that the group had been relying on are no longer being supported so things are changing even though the net result rarely changes. Over the years, we’ve had workshops in Alaska from several of these working groups but generally there wasn’t a lot of interest within the university community. IPv4 multicast once, IPv6 twice, and Performance once. 

One of the topics was the deployment of small devices running PerfSonar (the name used for the toolset by the Performance Working Group). Different campuses have used small x86 PC’s and Raspberry Pi’s. The main advantage of the x86 devices was 1Gb/s interface versus 100 Mb/s. I used to run PerfSonar nodes in Fairbanks and Barrow. The Fairbanks installation was limited by the lack of 1Gb/s port for the server. Probably no longer an issue but I have the server turned off. The Barrow server is turned off right now since I’m not up there often enough to keep the node updated. It was useful for local network testing and verifying the throughput on the satellite link. Testing does impact user throughput so it was not done on a regular basis.

This was followed by an afternoon of talks, a vendor reception, and a connectors meeting. By 7 I was pretty exhausted and passed on several dinner invites and headed for the hotel. This 24 hour diner is right on the corner next to the hotel and has decent food. I stopped for a quick snack on the way.

Monday, October 16, 2017

San Francisco - Day 2

At most of the Internet2 meetings, there is usually some sort of performance component. Partly to highlight one of the traditional features of a high performance network. Specifically, no traffic delays. In this case, they were demonstrating a masters class from the SFJAZZ with the instructors and students in three locations.

In this case, the three locations were pretty close together geographically though the music was less tolerant to delays compared to other demonstrations. The two instructors were on the stage in San Francisco, the student was at Stanford, and his musical accompaniment was down the road in San Francisco at the SFJAZZ theatre. They were using LOLA a low-latency audio/video encoder which has a latency of about 5 ms. To this you would add in the round trip time over the network. For modest distances, this would be tolerable for the individual performers to hear each other. In the past, music was selected that would tolerate modest delays such as modern classical.

After the performance, there was a reception then I walked back to my hotel. On the way, I stopped at the newish Apple Store Union Square. I was a bit underwhelmed as it seems to be less than I expected. Two floors of high tables with their products available to play with. Plus there were quite a few places for potential customers to just use the wi-fi. Maybe while they wait for appointments.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

San Francisco - Day 1

On Sunday morning, I went through Chinatown with the thought that I could get some dim sum. I found what looked like a decent place but during the 20 minutes that I was there, only one cart came by with one item. I left and continued on to the Hyatt Regency. On the way, I stopped for a Vietnamese sandwich at a to-go place. It had a lot of fresh veggies and a pate. Nice, spicy and tasty.

We met at 11am to set up for the workshop which started at 1pm. Here is one of the presenters from Syracuse talking about IPv6 Security. His challenge was to pare down his 1½ day presentation to fit in under an hour.

Here is most of our intrepid group. One I've known for years from Hawaii and the other originally from Louisiana but now hails from Texas I've known for maybe ten years. This picture was taken after the workshop was completed so everyone is feeling much more relaxed.

On to another topic. Last week after passing the amateur radio Technician test with a perfect score, I decided to go ahead and take at least the General exam. I signed up for an online course and they plot your progress through the course material. During the past week and sitting in the Seattle airport, I had been going through the material. You only need a 75% score to pass, I think that I'm ready for the next test. Now I'm thinking that I'll study for the Extra class exam as well and take both of them at the next opportunity. Which, in Fairbanks. it looks like that'll be early in December.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

From This --- To This

Friday brought a combination of snow and rain along with fog. This is on the gravel road along the north side of the campus. By this time (mid afternoon), the snow had mostly melted.

This was taken on Market Street in San Francisco even though the writing on the streetcar suggests San Diego. I'm not sure what that is all about. It was 70°F this afternoon and not very smoky at all. The Lyft driver said that most of the smoke was in the east bay i.e. Oakland, Berkeley, etc. I walked down to the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero where the Internet2 Tech Exchange is being held from my boutique hotel on Sutter Street. Tomorrow, I'm working with the IPv6 Working Group to capture audio and video of an IPv6 Solutions Tutorial. The plan is to edit the video and put it up on the Internet.

On Sunday evening, a small group of us met in the atrium of the Hyatt to look for dinner somewhere. Very artsy restaurants around here. I'm not sure where we ended up but they had dungeness crab spaghetti. I have never heard of that combination before so I had to try it. A bit spicy with chili peppers and grilled corn in addition to the crab. A tasty combination. There were about eight of us including a couple of guys from Guam who had never been to San Francisco before. So there were a lot of suggestions on where they needed to visit. At dinner, we had guys from Hawaii, North Dakota, and Houston in addition to Guam. An enjoyable evening.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

That Time of Year

This morning, everything was covered by a couple of inches of the white stuff. By the time I left for coffee, it was 34°F and slushy. I was thinking about taking a picture somewhere but everyone knows what slushy, wet roads look like. I thought that it may be a good time to install some studs into at least the pusher and the steer tires. The front tire is pretty worn but there was enough rubber on the outside knobs to hold the stud. Not so much in the center. This is a picture of the rear tire and there is still room for about 30% more studs if I see a need.

The led bulbs came in from Amazon and they really light up the inside of the speedometer. I don't think it's ever been this easy to read. Maybe I only had one working bulb in the past. Not bad for only $5...

The boot repair proved to be less effective. Pretty wet inside of the boots after about 25 miles of errands on really wet roads. It may be time for some new riding boots.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Amateur Radio

In 2007, the morse code exam requirements were removed from the amateur radio tests. I had considered taking the tests a few years back when one of my son's Boy Scout friends mentioned that morse code was no longer required. Last week, I discovered that the exams are administered on the first Saturday of the month in Fairbanks and the tests are free. The test admins are members of the local amateur radio club and volunteer their time. It was a pretty straight forward test with only 35 questions. This was the entry level Technician class test. I'm planning to take the General class license test in December.

Bridget asked if this was the next hobby (such as the motorcycle, followed by the sidecar, the Ural, and the RV). But I don't think so. It is just something that I always wanted to do but never had the time. They mentioned that I should be in the database within a week or so...

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Slow Slide Towards Winter

Yesterday, someone mentioned that it's been a nice, slow slide towards winter. That is a great way to describe it. Last year, I posted that I replaced the roof clearance lights on the truck with LED versions. Well, I ended up replacing two of them as they "burned out". I thought LEDs lasted almost forever... Oh well, they were cheap from Amazon so I simply ordered another set of five. Now I have three extra.

On Monday, I went out to Fox for the monthly BMW get together and on the way home I noticed that I had no lights in the speedometer. I rarely need to actually see the speedometer any more due to familiarity with the Ural but being able to see it would be nice. The bulb was one of the original and didn't have any sort of number on it. Simply 12V 3W or 12 volts, 3 watts. The glass bulb is pretty small and the local Napa and Batteries & Bulb place didn't have anything that would fit. I found some LED replacements on Amazon. I guess I'll see how well they work...

Icy roads in Fairbanks is inevitable no matter how nice the weather is. Last year, I opted not to stud the tires since they were brand new and the rubber was softer. This year, I ordered 150 #1200 studs from They are the same price as Aerostitch but the shipping is less. This is the same size that I've been using for years and they seem to work pretty well on ice and packed snow. And I don't use as many studs per tire as the 2-wheel riders so I don't have the clear road problems that they report. (i.e. The studs reduce traction when there is no ice or snow)

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Up the Elliot Hwy to Globe Creek

On Friday afternoon, I went to Globe Creek Camp which is located on the Elliot Highway north of Fairbanks. It was 33°F and sleeting when going over Wickersham Dome but otherwise, a nice ride. I did opt to dig out the heated liner and gloves for the first time. I'm still using the old First Gear riding gear but have received a tracking number from Aerostich. I'm looking forward to getting the Roadcrafter Light back. This is the first snow of the year for me.

I did attach the GoPro to the sidecar and filmed a time-lapse. I couldn't figure out any good places to stop for a picture on the way out as the weather was overcast and foggy. The lens ended up getting covered with snow on the trip out so here is the footage from the return trip. I left when the temperature started to drop again. The Ural started easily and I even used the kick starter partly to make sure I reassembled it properly a few weeks back.