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Disclaimer: The entries you find in these pages are based on my individual opinions and thoughts. Some of the entries may be just plain wrong, and others harmful. Should you choose to act on, or try, anything you find on this site, you assume any and all risks associated with your actions. So there.


Low Tech Solutions Rule

March 7, 2007

Ok, so the name of this blog is Why? Because often us IT guys take the long way around to solve a problem, when it could be more easily solved (and cheaply) by other means. After all, why use a small word when a diminutive one will do?

Case in point: a client had need of a more reliable internet connection for managing their own website. Their internal LAN connection has a horribly slow firewall that restarts all the time, but the IT department won't rid themselves of it because it does, after all, protect the Windows PCs. But marketing uses Macs, and so can get away with a separate connection not behind the firewall. The only problem is that the internal Lotus Notes mail server must be gotten to on the LAN.

No problem, Macs can effortlessly support multiple simultaneous connections on different (or the same) network interfaces. Enter a second internet connection on an Airport network. So now the Mac users are connected to both the wired LAN, and a much faster wireless internet connection via an Airport base station.

Of course, every solution introduces another problem, and, in this case, their backup became the new problem. We use Retrospect, and it seems to have a problem when two networks are available-- often not "seeing" the backup clients which are clearly available. The solution was for the users to turn off their wireless network before leaving at night. Of course, this meant they had to remember to turn off their Airport.

Enter Radio Shack. I bought a simple "coffee timer" for $10 at Radio Shack, and plugged the Airport base station into it. I set it to turn off at 7pm (before the backups begin), and on at 7am (before anyone arrives). Problem solved for $10. In retrospect it seems so obvious, but consider that I had spent 30 minutes writing an Applescript to turn off/on their individual connections before realizing that there was a much easier way.