Monday, July 28, 2008

Lotus Notes/Domino superior availability

This past weekend we had an issue with one of our primary systems which hosts 2 primary Domino mail servers. The system went down completely taking down all hosted Domino partitions with it. Since we have clustered Domino servers this was a non-issue. The cluster nodes for these primary Domino servers are on a totally separate system. Specifically a separate machine, disk, and location. Since the Notes client is cluster aware it failed over to the cluster nodes automatically. The most a user has to do is close their mail file (not restart Notes) and re-open it.

This is something Outlook and Exchange cannot natively do. Outlook is in no way cluster aware so there is no automatic failover. It relies on DNS to point it to the Exchange server. Exchange has 2 clustering methods neither of which is as good as Domino. You can use Windows clustering with Exchange which requires shared disk. If your disk goes or the storage group gets corrupted then this type of clustering does no good. Exchange 2007 has continuous cluster replication now which is simply transaction log shipping. This cluster replication is supported only on the same LAN meaning local. If the local LAN or building power goes down, so does the cluster.

With either method the DNS needs to be updated or a server needs to assume the previous server IP address in order for Outlook to work. This takes time and is not immediate.

This is why there is a whole third party industry built around keeping Exchange available. This third party industry and associated extra cost doesn’t exist for Domino. Domino provides the best of breed service out of the box.

Before the flames start about how Notes sucks this post is specific to clustering. Lotus Domino is far superior when it comes to availability options. Outlook may be prettier but it doesn’t do much good when you can’t send and receive e-mail.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Flight Log - PPG: Dream Flight

Tonight was one of those glass smooth evenings we haven’t had too many of this year. I arrived at the Polo field around 6pm to a light SW wind and setup for an easy forward launch. Another pilot was already airborne and two more showed up as I was getting ready to launch.

I circled the Polo field for a bit then headed for some high level cruising. Then it was off to the sod farm. After a couple passes I did some foot drags. This was the first time I have done actual foot drags. I have skimmed the ground down low before but this was the first time doing actual foot drags. It was fairly easy with the silk smooth air.

I then went back to the Polo field. I climbed up high and did some spirals down with engine at idle. This is a good practice to judge gliding and landing with an engine out. I did a few of these. It’s also fun when you can throttle up and do it again.

I put 1.2 hours on the motor and came in for a smooth landing right by my car. There was a storm front heading our way so I wanted to get down before anything hit. It was definitely the calm before the storm. The storm ended up going south.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The 30 minute Major Server Upgrade

I upgraded our Domino administration server to Domino 8.0.1 last night. This is the first production server to be upgraded to the R8 code. It took all of 30 minutes to accomplish. The title says Major Upgrade which it is in terms of features but not in terms of administrator time or down time.

I followed the IBM technote on upgrading from R7 to R8 except I didn’t see the need to run fixup, updall and compact on every single database on the server. Since this can be done while the server is online for non system databases I figured it could be done after the upgrade. Compact is run weekly and Updall run nightly anyway. So, I put together the batch files below. One to run prior to the upgrade and one for after. They take care of running the recommended utilities against the system databases. It took a while to compact statrep since it is 1 GB in size. I’ve been attending too many of Andy’s statistics presentations.

Since our Domino directory already had the 8.0.1 design applied a couple months ago I didn’t run the designer task for names.nsf. When you start the R8 server for the first time it will automatically upgrade events4 and ddm databases. So the only design update I ran outside of the server was for AdminP.

*** A warning about templates ***
If your users replicate their personal address books to the server for access by assistants or BES, delete pernames.ntf. If you don’t and replicate templates, all your users will get the R8 personal address book if they inherit from the standard template. This happened to me so a lot of people (not everyone) got a taste of the R8 PNAB. It works for the most part in an R7 client and people liked the look of it. Unfortunately we are converting it back now. Obviously you should remove any other standard templates you use and don’t want the databases upgraded just yet. I wish IBM would treat the pernames.ntf like the mail template. Make a separate pernames7.ntf, pernames8.ntf, etc...

Upgrade Scripts

Pre-Upgrade.bat
@echo off

c:
cd \Lotus\domino
nfixup names.nsf -f -v -l
nfixup admin4.nsf -f -v -l
nfixup events4.nsf -f -v -l
nfixup statrep.nsf -f -v -l
nfixup catalog.nsf -f -v -l
nfixup ddm.nsf -f -v -l

ncompact names.nsf -c -i
ncompact admin4.nsf -c -i
ncompact events4.nsf -c -i
ncompact statrep.nsf -c -i
ncompact catalog.nsf -c -i
ncompact ddm.nsf -c -i

echo Pre-upgrade process complete.

Post-Upgrade.bat
@echo off

c:
cd \Lotus\domino
ndesign -f admin4.nsf

nfixup names.nsf -f -v -l
nfixup admin4.nsf -f -v -l

ncompact names.nsf -c -i
ncompact admin4.nsf -c -i

nupdall names.nsf -RX
nupdall admin4.nsf -RX

echo Post-upgrade process complete.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Fly-In Report: Kankakee Ultralight 2008

I attended the Kankakee Ultralight Fly-In this past weekend. It was held at The Ultralight Place which is on the west side of the KIKK airport. This location is home to a bunch of PPC’s but during this fly-in many other types of ultralights descend on the field including us PPGers. Our group attending has been getting larger each year.

This year the weather didn’t do us any favors. We are already limited by wind and thermals in the mid day but the wind never really let up all weekend. There were also a few storms throughout the weekend. I arrived on Thursday ahead of some storms. I scoped out a spot for the weekend and setup my tent. I visited with other pilots while waiting for the storms to pass and hoping for a slice of time good enough to fly before sundown. Well, the storms and wind didn’t accommodate me that night. Two other pilots managed some air time just before a storm came through.

Friday morning looked like it might be a blowout but the wind eventually cooperated and mellowed. The sun was coming up but was behind clouds so the thermals remained at bay for longer than usual. I got all my equipment out to the field and setup to do a forward launch. Another pilot was setup next to me and launched first. He ended up slipping on his run and falling to the ground. His prop, netting, frame and later discovered his wing suffered damage. Since he was in front of me and off to my right I figured I would try to maneuver around him on my launch. The combination of this maneuvering and my anxiousness to get in the air didn’t bode well for me. My wing went to the right as I was trying to maneuver to the left. It pulled me right, I went to my knees and managed to only tap the ground with the frame. This was enough to ding the prop where a previous repair had been made. That prop needed repair and I left my spare prop at home. No flying for me that morning.

Mike offered me his motor later but I haven’t flown other motors before so wasn’t comfortable strapping his on. I have a high hook in motor and his is a low hook in motor. That is a big difference for me but the gesture was appreciated.

Since the weather forecast wasn’t looking very good and I only live an hour away I decided to pack up. I headed back home and watched the weather. I started the repairs on my prop and it was nice spending Friday evening in my own bed. Storms rolled through Friday evening and it rained most of the morning on Saturday. The afternoon cleared up and looked good so I headed back to Kankakee with my spare prop ready to go. A lot more people were there since Saturday is the main day of the fly-in. I missed the pig roast for lunch but there were left overs for dinner. They have a wonderful chef at this event who cooks breakfast, lunch, and dinner during the fly-in.

There were many terms used to describe the Saturday evening air; salty, soupy, a lot of texture, character, active. It was active with a reported 4 on the bump scale early on. Even Jeff G. who flys in anything said he didn’t like the air. After kitting a while I decided to go for a flight right at sunset. It was an easy forward launch and the sky definitely had character. Down low it was turbulent but not rough. It was more of a smooth knocking around versus hard lift and sink. Up high were strong winds causing us to be para-parked. The sunset provided a nice view to look at while going nowhere. Turning to the east I had to be ahead of the wing mentally so as not to get blown over the main runway. I ended up with about a 10 minute flight which was enough for me in those conditions.

Everyone thought Sunday morning would be perfect. No storms and forecast light winds. I woke up at 5 am to the sound of leaves rustling already. That didn’t sound good. I looked at the wind sock and it was dancing around in the early morning wind. Some pilots launched and there were reports that the conditions were worse that the previous evening. Only one pilot stayed up for 20 minutes. The rest were down within about 10 minutes. I elected to stay on the ground and take pictures and video of the fun. The remainder of the morning was spent visiting, packing up, and talking about upcoming fly-in plans.

Even though the weather didn’t cooperate this weekend it was still a good time visiting with people that have similar interests. Below are links to photos I took at the event.

Kankakee Photos

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Kankakee Ultralight Fly-In

The 3rd annual Ultralight Fly-In is taking place in Kankakee, IL at the Greater Kankakee (KIKK) airport July 11th through July 13th. All kinds of ultralights will be descending on the Kankakee area at The Ultralight Place which is on the west side of the airport.

This will be my first year attending and am planning on arriving on the 10th and staying through the weekend with my PPG. This is turning into a major fly-in for PPG’s. Last year was the first time a bunch of PPG pilots attended this fly-in and this year looks like even more (including myself) will be there. There is even word at least one international pilot will be there.

If you want to check out some ways that flying is still affordable or join us in the air come on out to the airport. Here are some videos from last years fly-in... Dave and Lance.