RSS Feed
  1. George & The Cinema

    August 15, 2014 by Daniel

    This was so much fun, he’s asking lots about going again. Which makes me very happy.

     

    Planes 2 new poster (2)

    We went to see Planes Fire & Rescue, obviously he loved the first one so we knew he’d like it. Just wasn’t sure whether it would overwhelm him or not.


  2. Exim 4.83

    August 6, 2014 by Daniel

    We use Exim extensively at the University of Manchester, I suppose it’s historical reasons, a lot of distributions don’t include it as the default MTA any more.

    We’re now for the most part on a combination of redhat and exim, exim isn’t included in the usual repositories for redhat anymore and the ones that have it are quite out of date.

    For Exim 4.82 I proposed that we ought to have our own repository and start building Exim for ourselves since the versions we had were getting more and more out of date. So it’s much easier now to update our servers with more up to date versions of Exim.

    One of the trickier parts of the build was the dependency on opendmarc-tools which in turn requires some Perl modules: Zlib, Bzip2. It turns out that the version of perl-IO-Compress I’d put into the repository had some issues as some of the Perl modules have been moved around. I managed to find a newer version that fixed the depsolve problems I was having.

     

    LDAP

    One way we use exim is to send authenticated mail from users that are not using the main Exchange system. Exim 4.83 is a bit more strict about encrypted connections and one thing that broke was querying the LDAP servers to authenticate users.

    I had to put a line in like:

    ldap_require_cert = allow

    To get it working again.


  3. Camping Trip

    July 28, 2014 by Daniel

    Just got back from an Epic 9-night camping trip.

    We started off with Sling Dads camp in Staffordshire, then camped for the week in Hereford ending up in Oxfordshire for Natural Mamas Big Camp.

    We had a great time, it’s pretty tough camping with a toddler and a newborn actually, not enough pairs of hands, etc but it was really lovely.

    nmbcfamily

    10509681_327178977458741_3657265789139883217_n


  4. Trialling a Firespiral

    July 9, 2014 by Daniel

    We had a lovely weekend this past one, a day out in Manchester and then a bit of walking around the neighbourhood on Sunday.
    We were lucky enough to have been lent a couple of wraps to try out, lichen sand 100% cotton birch trees and an Indigo Cyano 50% linen seafoam, both by Firespiral.

    I think the colour of the Lichen Sand would be great for more formal occasions, but also for Summery days like we had at the weekend. It was very supportive more so than the Cyano was even however that one being Linen does need a bit more breaking in. It’s difficult to understand how it’s done but all Firespirals arrive much softer than others it seems, so you can get going straight away.

    It was a pretty warm day for Manchester but neither felt too hot especially the Lichen Sand, which seems to have been made for Summery days and we were carrying our newborn all day and the toddler quite a bit.

    I’m not much of a wrapper, but when I get the chance I love it, I’m getting the hang of the fwcc with our newborn (with help from Hold Close!), we’d skipped straight to back carries with our first but I found the Birch Trees Sage very easy to fwcc with.

    All in all it enabled us to have a full weekend around the city, we got the train in and had no trouble getting around and there’s just that special feeling you have of being close to your kids, responding to what they are interested in looking at and being able to react to it.

    IMG_1974

    IMG_1970

    IMG_1967

    IMG_1945

    IMG_1943

    IMG_1931

    IMG_1928

    IMG_1926


  5. Florence

    June 19, 2014 by Daniel

    On the 26th of May, our daughter Florence Emmeline was born at North Manchester General.
    It was a beautiful labour, starting on the Friday night going away, coming back again and finally we went into hospital on the Monday (after going in Sunday night and home again as things weren’t happening). Kate didn’t quite get the midwife led unit she wanted but was able to have a lovely room in the labour ward instead which was for all intents and purposes exactly the same (except the ‘equipment’ was less well hidden).
    We got in around 11 o’clock and Florence was born at 1.28pm in the pool.
    Kate’s labour was so different to her first with George, she wasn’t being monitored, she wasn’t on ‘the drip’ and needed no pain relief. She didn’t even use gas & air, just breathing techniques and a strong grip on my hand with some massage before she got into the pool.
    Kate said that the pool really helped her and I think she would recommend it to anyone.

    Florence had a great start and did much better with feeding in the first weeks than George did. But about a week in we found that she was still losing weight so we needed to start ‘topping her up’. So the routine of pumping and sterilising began after a quick trip to Mothercare to get some essential replacement valves for the breast pump. We were topping her up 1 Fl Oz every 3 hours. The suspect also that she has a slight tongue tie, but we weren’t convinced that was a major contributor to the problem, it was more just that we make kids that don’t put on weight to start with – at the next weigh in she was expected to put on between 40-80g, she put on 140g.

    Due to the top ups routine I took a third week off of work, having only planned the two ‘statutory’ weeks and leaving a bit of leave in reserve. But it was obvious Kate or I weren’t ready for me to return. I write this 4 days into my first week back. It’s been a stretch I think – another child certainly makes time management even more difficult – but I think things are going well. We are still figuring out how to juggle a toddler and a newborn, getting the evening routine done without issue is going to take some more practice. George seems to want only Mummy as he falls asleep at the moment which is frustrating as Kate is tied up with other things. George has only let me put him to sleep a handful of times since Christmas and I’m left feeling like I’m not doing enough otherwise or something wrong. It’s just getting the ‘handoff’ timed right so that’s Florence is settled and George hasn’t gotten too worked up.

    We’ve managed a trip out to the Zoo which was a lovely day and this week we went out for my birthday to Bowl. Both times were really fun.


  6. Now I Am 2

    March 20, 2014 by Daniel

    I can’t believe we’re here already (I know, I know, I’m probably going to say this every year). My boy is now two years old.
    He’s gone from this
    8589539097_b5e21349d9_c
    To this
    IMG_0368

    In a Year?! At his birthday last year he was juuuust about walking around.

    He left ‘babydom’ and hit full toddler around the end of Summer 2013. Now it’s March and he’s 2 we’re into proper sentences, he sleeps in his own room – for pretty much most of the night. We’re well into potty training – he’s mostly there but has the odd off day.
    We think that’s he’s very aware of the imminent arrival of a brother or sister. I’m sure he’s going to make a great brother. Recently both Kate and I have been a bit under the weather and he’s been very caring toward us, asking if we are OK.

    We’re going to the Zoo for the day and having a party with his friends and family on Saturday – it’s going to be a train theme – He adores Chuggington (although it’s fast being eclipsed by Pixar’s Cars or Planes depending on his mood).


  7. Big Boy Bed

    March 19, 2014 by Daniel

    Found this post from January which hadn’t been published…

    ea51abaa796e11e38f240a3c94fab696_6

    We’ve been sorting out George’s room and last night put together a bed we’ve got that is length adjustable (handy). We wanted to move him out of our bed so that when the new baby comes he won’t feel that the two things are linked.
    We did try putting him in a cot a couple of times a long while back but it never worked out. At the time it just felt unnecessary, he wouldn’t settle in it and it was difficult getting him to sleep in there in the first place.
    Now that I put him to sleep it makes things a little simpler, last night trying it for the first time he was quite excited so whilst I was trying to read to him he wasn’t paying much attention. More interested in playing with a turtle we have that projects stars onto the ceiling.
    Kate I think is conflicted about the whole thing. On the one hand I think she feels he’s ready for it and it’s something that she wants him to be OK with before the new baby arrives. She definitely missed cosleeping though.
    And George? I think he did really well actually. I was sure he’d be fine after he’d gone to sleep but I wasn’t sure what would happen in the second half of the night. We left the monitor on next to Kate to better hear him and I woke about 5.50 hearing him saying Mummy. He got out of bed and was on the landing looking at the nightlight I’d put there for this very purpose. He wanted to go to the toilet and after that he came in with us. By then we were pretty much all awake, I (try to) get up for work anyway at 6.30ish so that’s pretty much sleeping through!
    He was doing a fair bit of gymnastics whilst asleep and I think he ended up pointing the wrong way and not under a cover so his feet were a bit cold. But all in all, I think it went really well.
    Onto tonight!


  8. Baby 2 Scan 2

    January 10, 2014 by Daniel

    1604780_10152105307585138_25282326_n


  9. Baby Nisbet #2

    November 12, 2013 by Daniel

    Now for some lovely news. Kate and I are having another Baby.

    12scan
    We went for the 12 week scan yesterday afternoon. Our friend Jenny looked after George for the afternoon and he had a whale of a time by the sounds of it with her and her son. It was odd dropping him off really, kind of a sign how old he his already, that we’re at the point now where it feels ok to do that (we’ve still only done it less than a handful of times and it was the first time Jen had had him for so long).
    We did know that we wanted at least one more child, people at work have asked me already how I feel about a third – let’s wait for a bit on that one!
    1457579_10100970827995325_854200687_n
    We had been cautious this time around about telling people early. I don’t want to go into it much but it’s best to wait really I think. It was again an amazing experience seeing the baby though. I don’t remember George moving around as much $NEWNISBETNAME, it was incredible!

    It really does make it more real. It’s taken me a bit longer this time round I think, maybe George is a big distraction on that front and you don’t have time to think about things like that. It’ll be interesting to see George as a big brother, I’m sure he’ll handle it brilliantly – if the way he treats our cat is anything to go by!

    We’ll find out the sex in January, due date is late May.


  10. Email Server

    August 21, 2013 by Daniel

    People who read this may or may not know that my job is an Email Sysadmin. I’ve had my personal Email on GMail since they introduced it and I always though it was pretty neat. It worked great, pretty much always up and had all the cool features as well as being fast. And hey, it was Google, you could trust them – after all their motto was “Don’t Be Evil”.

    And then the Snowden/Prism stuff happened.

    It got me thinking, hey this is my job and my personal stuff. This is something I care about and I’m trusting it to people I don’t know. It’s not like I’m even paying them to do it, why would they have my interests at heart. In fact the only way they can afford to run the service for me is by it making it easier to target ads at me and how do you think they do that?

    So they only answer for me was to go back to how Email was originally intended to work. To run it for yourself, to check things yourself. Not part of some massive anonymous cloud system that exists across borders. – I fully understand why people don’t do these things for themselves, they are relatively fiddly and Gmail is **free!**

    But it’s about principle.
    So I went about trying to find a good place for my server to be. As I mentioned earlier, this is my job but I think it’s not a great idea to mix business with pleasure. Yes I could simply route my own mail to my Work mailbox. Job done. But if I ever left or it was frowned upon it would make things trickier so divest myself from it. So I thought about the people in small part of the Internet that I know about it. I used to work in one of Manchester’s largest Datacentres so I thought about those days and who I used to get on well with. Bytemark stood out. I always got on well with them, they always looked like the knew exactly what they were talking about and I thought, yeah I trust them. They have a great standing in the community and I know that if I wanted, I could go and touch the machine that my VPS was hosted on if I wanted (* not actually sure if this is true but I reckon I’ve a good chance).

    So onto the build of the mail server.

    Symbiosis
    Bytemark’s VPS’s offer a distro they’ve knocked up called Symbiosis. In the reading of the manual for this I though hey that seems really simple. It works great ‘out of the box’, but I can still get to the bits I want to fiddle with, beats using a CPanel for ultra configurability.
    Things can be as simple as firing up an SCP client, logging in and creating files to get mailboxes set up and configured. You can switch on spamscoring and virus checking just by creating the relevant config files (yes, just files, it’s already set up, just watching out for relevant files to enable it or not).
    MySQL, Apache, Exim, Dovecot and the rest of your favourite are all already there waiting for you. So you can get going with it really quickly. It’s all preconfigured to do backups and updates. It’s really not much work, which is good for a server you just want to leave going really.

    MX Records
    Let’s think through the DNS for a bit. It’s a good idea to have redundancy on this so if you can basically just duplicate what you’ve done with one mailserver on the other. I haven’t, because I’m cheap. But what you could do is team up with a friend you trust who wants to do it as well and just relay mail for each other. It should happen often if you set one with a higher priority MX. I’ve not actually done this myself ( a- hadn’t though of it til now b- not enough friends) what i’ve actually got at the moment is a fall back lower priority mx record of Google. Yeah, I know – what a hypocrite! But it’s probably temporary until I can make some friends plus it was already set up to work on my domain.

    Weaning off the Big G
    It was always going to be a little tricky to wean all the way off the big G because I had several mailboxes on my domain over at Google Apps that I wanted to leave there and still have mail delivered onto Gmail. All this principle and privacy is fine for me to worry about, but I’m not so sure if my wife feels the same way when it comes to putting up with SquirrelMail for a webmail interface (I’m pretty much IMAP only so I don’t care).
    So what I did was set up a forwarding rule on my VPS for those mailboxes and they get sent on to a subdomain of mine that I set up in my Google Apps account as a domain alias. It’s all completely transparent to the user (no complaints yet anyway), they get another layer of spam filtering and I get lovely log files I can trawl through if needs be (don’t get those hosted at Google!).

    Encryption
    Here’s a big conundrum. The now infamous ‘NSA Proof your email in 2 hours‘ blog post is mostly about making sure the filestore is encrypted. Symbiosis does a great job of doing all the secure TLS transmission of mail, a self signed X509 cert is there for you already (feel free to add your own if you like, I’ve not bothered for £££ reasons). So things in the interwebtubes are more often than not all nicely encrypted already so you don’t have to worry too much about the NSA tapping the wires. At the moment I figure, they’ve got to get to the physical box to read my filestore. I’m the only one with root access (not even Bytemark), so they’d need to bruteforce that to get in without my knowing.
    So it’s probably something I might look at again in future because I am super paranoid (**it’s not that I have something to hide, it’s that they could look without asking me). His instructions are all for postfix anyways and I like exim.
    For TLS encryption testing you can verify it with this tool.

    IPv6
    Another of my personal internet crusades is the take up of IPv6. It’s a chicken and egg problem and I really like that Bytemark are out in front on it. Your VPS comes with both 4 & 6 addresses, no extra work needed. You just makes sure you add a AAAA record for your MX to point at (Along with an ‘A’ record dur, we’re not quite ready for 6 only yet!). You can use Freenet6 to test your set up.