I’m good at my job. Hand me a virtual infrastructure build on VMware, Hyper-V or even Xen, active directory, any version of Windows, most Linux distributions, PHP, MySQL, NginX, Postfix, Currier, Exchange, Azure, Office365, GSUite and all that and I’ll give you a system that’s efficient, stable and cost effective. I can even dabble in .net, php, vbs, powershell, bash, SQL and at a stretch, c and mongodb.

So I’m quite confident in what I’m doing normally.

But January has been a complete Fuster Cluck of problems that have either taken me far too long to figure out or are still waiting on my ever growing to do pile of things I need to get around to fixing or finishing.

This kind of thing happens.  Integrating technologies doesn’t exactly come with an instruction manual.  Sometimes it is a suck it and see situation.  So, here’s a few of the things that haven’t gone right in January.

  •  During a meeting last week, I decided it would be brilliant if I could share my Microsoft To do notes to other people in a project that I’m working on. I love Microsoft To do. It’s just so easy to keep track of what I need to be doing and the priorities of different tasks.  I would have appreciated the power it would have provided if I could find out what others on this project are doing as well.  So, I configured SCCM to connect to Azure then to the Microsoft Education store, I provisioned the To do app and after some messing about, I got it installed on a test machine.  It ran perfectly under my test account. Next I installed it on someone elses PC.  It finally installed but it’s not available because it requires Exchange online to be enabled. We’re a Google house here so To do is simply not going to work.  I wouldn’t mind so much but to even get this far I had to:
    • Create an Azure active directory app in Azure.
    • Figure out where the private key was located in the Azure UI. Turns out I was in a slightly different place than I should have been.  That’s the stupid thing about the Azure UI, you can’t necessarily get to the keys for an application from the properties of that application.
    • Then I encountered the problem of how to assign devices to Azure active directory accounts.  This is required for the Microsoft Education Store to allow apps to be installed.
    • Then finally, most of the documentation said that when you look under Online Licenses in SCCM, you should see the available store apps. What they don’t say is that you will need to manually provision any apps that don’t get provisioned by default.
  • I was very happily surprised by PFSense.  The UI is nearly 100% accessible. I’m delighted because a few years ago it wasn’t that straight forward for a screen reader user to navigate.  But getting this running wasn’t all that easy.  I wrote a blog post about Configuring PFSense last week. But in summary:
    • Routing broke.
    • After a rebuild of the config, it worked again. NO idea why.
    • Key generation and association for OpenVPN didn’t work as expected.  But I got that working eventually.
    • Got load balancing working. Yay!
    • My Irish Broadband router then decided it was going to see the wrong IP address for the PFSense virtual machine. I’ve flushed that device several times and each time it gets it wrong.   It’s seeing an old device.  NO idea why.  The device is only running at 15% usage and 28% power but it’s user interface is running very slow. That’s a problem for another day.
  • .net problems have terrorised me for nearly two months now. Here’s the problem:
    • I inherited a large application from a company who are no longer supporting it effectively.  This application broke as a result of a change that was made outside our control on the infrastructure  that is hosting this service.
    • I worked with this bad company for about a month. But it was clear to everyone that I was coming up with better ideas to fix this than the people who were actually meant to be developing it. so, in frustration, I tok over the code in december.
    • The part of the code that broke as a result of the infrastructure change is now fixed.  But the fix depends heavily on .net 6.2.  The system was written in .net 4.5 so upgrading it shoudl be straight forward. But no.  I was struck again.  The code that I’ve written uses newer versions of the libraries that are already in use in .net4.5.  Updating those libraries breaks the main application.
    • I could go on and on about this but it’s very complicated.  I’ve sat at my desk until 3:30am in the morning trying to get my head around this but I’m not getting very far.  I have 27 conflicts left.  Each time I encounter a conflict, I need to explicitly reference the correct library and version.  HOwever, in the event that conflict is communicating with a clas in the main application, directing the code at that class and therefore including it for compilation may or may not add dozens of other conflicts.  If I’m lucky, it will just compile.  Generally it does, but when it doesn’t, it can set me back days.  Each time I find a conflict, I have to open the old version of the code and verify the library / namespace that it was previously using.

Yep. It’s all a complete Fuster cluck.

I’m tired. I’m not getting enough sleep because I’m not good at switching off while I have things that need to be fixed or finished.  But then I’m finding it’s very hard to get motivated because i have had such a long string of problems and I’m constantly tired.

Don’t worry. I’ll break through this cycle. Things will start falling into place.  I’ll keep working away at it.  This isn’t the first or the last time several systems have caused me problems all at the same time.

A note about Microsoft To do.  If you haven’t tried it, give it a go.  I think you’ll like it.  If you find yourself needing that kind of thing.