Category: Technology

Technology content from Leo Nelson

China’s Global Satellite Internet Service

Over the weekend, China launched a satellite into low-earth orbit, the first step of a plan to provide global satellite internet to people who still don’t have reliable access. Nearly 3.8 billion people are unconnected to the internet, and women and rural poor are particularly affected.
The satellite, called Hongyun-1, took off at China’s national launching site Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on Saturday (Dec. 22). Hongyun-1, or “rainbow cloud,” is the first of 156 satellites of the same name developed by state-owned spacecraft maker China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC). A Long March 11 rocket, made by another state-owned firm, China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, carried the Hongyun-1.

China got on the bandwagon to provide global satellite internet

Wallor – Slim, Smart, RFID Wallet

Wallor is a slim wallet with smart capabilities. The wallet has worldwide GPS tracking, Bluetooth alert system and RFID protection.

Key Features:

  • Card Fit/Number of Cards: 10-12
  • Bill Fit/Number of Bills: 15+
  • Keys/Coins: Yes. Special pocket
  • Size: 4.6 x 3.5 x 0.25 inch (110 x 85 x 7 mm)
  • Material: Black Nappa Leather
  • RFID Protection: Yes
  • GPS Tracking: Cloud data tracking
  • Data Plan: Free

Related Links:

Wallor 2.0

4 Types of Work in IT

The Phoenix Project by George Spafford, Kevin Behr, Gene Kim is a good read about IT management. The authors narrate the challenges an organization goes through as it transitions into an agile, streamlined machine through the eyes of Bill, an IT manager, at Parts Unlimited. Some of the topics covered included:

  • Challenges adopting project management, change management and streamlining processes through the use of Kanban Boards
  • Compliance requirements with SOX and adopting frameworks such as COBIT
  • Transitioning away from the traditional waterfall development SDLC processes to an organization whose mindset is aligned with Agile and DevOps approaches

However, none of these organization transitions are possible until IT leadership understands where their employees’ time is consumed with IT work and this is where the book shines the most.

Brenton Johnson summarizes the four types of IT work well, however, my synopsis on these four buckets of IT work is:

Business Projects. These include business initiatives that encompass most development projects e.g. In higher education, these can include a new building, launching the new university website with a different CMS. Typically these projects reside and are managed by the Project Management Office, which tracks official projects in the organization.

Internal Projects: These include projects to develop internal applications that help IT Teams deliver services faster. Unfortunately, though exciting for IT team members to work on, many Internal Projects do not get the attention of the Project Management Office and thus are managed internally and independently with little oversite on scope, cost, and feature overruns. Since internal projects consume untold amounts of IT staff time and resources, these projects will often adversely affect progress on Business Projects.

Operational Changes: These include daily work performed by IT teams to plan, assess, build, test and deploy routine changes to keep the infrastructure running e.g. patching application, application upgrades, vendor software updates. Typically, this work directly supports finished Internal or Business Projects and can be referred to as Keeping Lights On (KLO) work.

Unplanned Work: These include tasks and work that is a direct result of a Business or Internal Project deliverable going down or a system issue affecting business operations. This type of work trumps all other categories and This type of work has the ability to put everything else on the backburner and impacts the go-live date for other categories of work.

Related Links:

The Phoenix Project: A Novel about IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win

Install dig on Windows

dig is a command line tool developed by BIND for querying DNS nameservers. Aside from DNS lookups, dig can help diagnose other DNS problems as well.

To install dig on Windows:

  1. Download the latest version of BIND from the ISC Download.
  2. Extract the downloaded files to a folder such as C:\Program Files\ISC BIND 9
  3. Run the BINDInstall.exe executable from C:\Program Files\ISC BIND 9
  4. Check the box beside Tools Only

5. Once BIND is installed, open System Properties. There are multiple methods to do this, however, one option is to right click on the Windows menu and select System Info

6. Click Advanced System Settings

7. Click Advanced

8. Click Environment Variables

9. Under System Variables, find Path and click Edit

10. Add C:\Program Files\ISC BIND 9\bin as a new variable and click OK

11. dig is now installed on your system

Reference Links:

dig Manual pages

Setup Pi-Hole in Azure

Pi-Hole is a network wide DNS sinkhole that can be setup on multiple software/hardware configurations. Originally, I was going down the path of setting up Pi-Hole on a Raspberry Pi 3, but decided to explore the Azure VM path based on some posts from others.

Below are the high level steps I followed to setup Pi-Hole on my home network.

1.Create a VM in Azure and keep track of the public IP. (I picked the Ubuntu 18.04 LTS version with 1 CPU and 1 GB of RAM.)

2. Create an inbound firewall rule to enable SSH traffic (i.e. TCP Port 22) from your home network

Home > Virtual machines > Connect to virtual machine > Networking

3. SSH to the VM and update the package database

sudo apt-get update

4. Install Pi-hole

curl -L | bash

5. Configure Pi-hole for your environment. Some suggested configuration options are below[2]

6. Create an inbound firewall rule to enable Web traffic (i.e. TCP Port 80, 443) from your home network

8. Confirm you can access the Admin page of Pi-Hole by going to <VM IP>

9. Create an inbound firewall rule to enable DNS traffic (i.e. TCP/UDP Port 53)

10. Update your home router’s DNS to point to the public IP of your VM by following instructions at How do I configure my devices to use Pi-hole as their DNS server?

11. Test that Pi-Hole is properly configured by visiting the Pi-Hole Ad Pages Test Page.

[1] Post Implementation Notes:

  • Under the VM, check Operations > Auto-shutdown to confirm the settings match the shutdown behavior of the VM you want
  • Under the VM, check Operations > Update Management to confirm the settings match the OS automatic update behavior you want

[2] Related Links:

The following blogs posts were extremely helpful with the steps required to setup Pi-Hole in Azure and modifying some Pi-Hole settings to work for most home needs.

Sky-Hole Revisited [Pi-Hole in a cloud VM for easy DNS-based ad-blocking]

A New PiHole in the Sky

Network-wide blocking of Ads, tracking cookies and popups