Teneo !!!

Aaron’s blog on Networking, and Enterprise Technology

Category Archives: Reviews

Liferay 6+ and Blog Portlet Ideas

So, I’m in the process to looking at other vendor’s for my Blog.  I really like WordPress for a number of reasons, but I want my website to be fully integrated with my blog.  I don’t want to have 2 seperate websites.

Liferay is my choice (mostly because I love java, it’s very expandable, and I want to implement Liferay at my company for our intranet portal.)

However, there are a few things the Blog Portlet is lacking.  The largest among those, is “Anonymous Comments”.  See, not everyone wants to “Create an account”, for just one comment.  If I were building a community, that would be different, but I’m not.  The purpose of a blog is not one-way communications.  If that were true, then we would just create static web pages.  We need two-way communications, and the harder we make it for our visitors, the less likely we will have them.

The first thing that we should implement for Liferay Blog, would be to “easily allow” guest comments.  Right now, we have to modify an embedded text file called “blogs.xml” and add it to our ext-environment.  Next, we can add captcha to guest comments, which will prevent bots from spamming our blogs.  Liferay already implements Captcha, so it should not be too difficult.

Those two things will get everything started.  Now, to get Liferay Blog “up-to-standards” with the other vendors, the next milestone would be comment workflow.  This is to allow the moderating of comments, i.e. to not publish comments until an approval is made.  Again, not too difficult, as Liferay already uses workflow.

For example, with WordPress, you can add comment moderation, which sends out an email when a comment is waiting to be approved.  You can also add, “approve comment, if you have previously approved comments from the same person”.  So, if Liferay sees a comment from someone that you have previously approved, then auto-approve it.

So, to sum up:

  1. Add 3 fields to anonymous comments
    1. Name
    2. Email Address
    3. Website
  2. Easily configure to allow Anonymous comments in the config pane of the blog portlet
  3. Option to add “Captcha” or “Re-Captcha” for comment authentication
  4. Comment moderation (i.e. Workflow)

Diagramming with OmniGraffle Pro 5: Useless Subgraphs

The subgraph function of OmniGraffle 5 Pro is shown here

The concept is brilliant but the implementation is useless.  Here is my use case:

I have generated LOTS of diagrams that become so large, it is cumbersome to navigate or view.  Zoom in, zoom out, pan, zoom in again……In the past, I’ve gotten around that by making different pages, and setting actions on certain objects to “go to” a different page.  Like drilling down.  For example, I choose an object that abstracts a detail.  I place that detail on another page, and choose the abstracted object action to “jump to” that page.  This goes for both Visio as well as OmniGraffle.

The subgraph function would be a way to “drill-down” in the same document and abstract it quickly and easily.  Giving a high-level overview, but expanding/drilling-down when asked.

Well, some caveats to using subgraphs:

1).  It does not keep alignment with other neighboring objects.  When collapsed, it aligns to the upper-right corner of the original object group it created.  Perfect if you are making an abstract diagram (doubtful)

2).  When aligning correctly of a collapsed subgraph (fixing caveat #1), when you expand, you overlap neighboring objects.  It’s a double-edged sword.  A catch 22.  A lose-lose situation.  <insert favorite negative idiom here/>

3).  There is no easy way to expand/collapse a subgraph without pulling up a context menu.  A keyboard shortcut key could be handy here.  I got around it by placing the following action on the subgraph.  Works great, when you are in ‘edit’ mode.  But when using the new Presentation Mode of OmniGraffle Pro 5, it fails miserably.  I think it’s because “Presentation Mode” is not built to understand AppleScript, and therefore, cannot read the properties.

if collapsed of self = false then
   set collapsed of self to true
   set collapsed of self to false

My thoughts?  This “feature” is more a nuiscance than a convenience.  This was probably the decision of a Development Manager that put this in to fill the road-map, and chose to “add to it” in future releases.

I was stoked to hear about this feature, and utter disappointment followed.  Back to my “go to” jumps.

Review: Cisco Firewall Video Mentor

I have just finished reviewing the Cisco Firewall Video Mentor training from the well-known publisher, Cisco Press. I was quite pleased with it overall. David Hucaby (CCIE# 4594) does a great job walking you through each of the labs and content.

This video covers both the ASA firewall concepts, as well as the FWSM concepts on a Cisco 6500.

If you are still intrigued, I invite you to review Lab 7 for free at InformIT, where Mr. Hucaby actually shows you, in real-time, the fail-over process in action for the firewalls. You can review it here: http://www.informit.com/content/downloads/digital/firewall_007.mov

This training video shows how to start, configure, troubleshoot, and maintain beginning and advanced concepts to the Cisco ASA and Cisco FWSM devices.

My first impressions were excellent. I was pleasantly surprised how well they merged video, audio, and concepts into a 2D training session. I felt as though I was really in a classroom, just without the ability to ask questions, though, there really wasn’t much need, as he was very thorough. He uses diagrams and Powerpoint to teach concepts, and then moves to screen mode, to demonstrate actions in real-time (such as watching two firewalls failover to the other or building new routes)

Another fantastic advantage, is it’s multiplatform requirements. The last training CD’s I reviewed required Windows. Sure, it was done in Flash, but either required Windows to execute it, or the flash files were buried under so many folders, it was too cumbersome to use. The Video Mentor for Cisco Firewall works with Windows, Mac, and Linux. You just need a browser with Flash 7, a DVD drive, and an open mind!

The first Lab goes through the initial configuration. Don’t let this lab be daunting for the beginners. Mr. Hucaby does a fantastic job walking you through it. He even goes through “basic cisco command-line” concepts, so even the most basic beginner to Cisco concepts can learn. Outside of learning how to physically connect your machine to the console port, David talks you through everything else.

David walks you through all the different options with configuring interfaces, including security-level concepts, redundancy, and vlans. He also replicates a “down” condition, showing how the firewall processes a redundant connection in real-time.

The training goes over basic routing techniques, including understanding the standard Cisco routing table. The video also goes into detail and step-by-step instructions on how to setup SLA Monitoring in order to “watch” a route. If that route fails, a new failover route is created. Mr. Hucaby also shows how to receive routes via OSPF, and shows it in real-time. Debugging is also covered for the routing and tracking topics.

One of the most impressive pieces of this video, in my opinion, is the monitoring, in real-time, of a failover in process between two firewalls. Using debugging mode, you can actually watch what each firewall does during the process. David also discusses why and how the firewalls do it, during the process.

Do not let this video fool you. It’s not just for beginners. Mr. Hucaby does a great job transitioning from basic use, to advanced concepts, including using MPF (Modular Policy Framework), and firewall contexts. Another topic for the seasoned administrator, is the capturing of data traffic across the firewall, as well as testing your policies using the packet tracer.

Now, for the scoring. Keep in mind, that this meaningless scoring mechanism really offers no value whatsoever, since I’m just now coming up with the categories as I write. While it won’t give you a good comparison to other products like it, it should give you an idea of how I rate certain aspects.

Content: 9 out of 10. Really, the content of the video was excellent. Each topic flowed easily into the next, while still standing on its own, if you are skipping chapters. When the author “seems” to make a mistake, he explains why. You are, in effect, learning from someone else’s mistakes. Another form of learning.

Presentation: 9 out of 10. Each chapter has a 30-second introduction of the author as he explains what’s coming up. This gives you a real sense of “human” contact, rather than some narrating voice for 5 hours. Plus, having powerpoint animations DURING the video as the author types was very productive. It gives you eye-stimulation as well as content during the video. Great job.

Entertainment: 4 out of 10. I felt really bad giving this great video such a low score, but no training software is ever perfect. The author, while incredibly bright and knowledgeable, seemed nervous and fairly monotone during the introductions. I felt that the training could use a little light humor or off-the-cuff tangents at times. I feel entertainment is very important in training, and thought I should include this category.

Usability: 10 out of 10. This video was able to be used, out-of-the-box on my Windows XP, Windows Vista, Mac OS Tiger, and Linux Fedora Core 9, without doing anything. You double-click on the icon or program that comes up, and you are rockin. Can’t get any easier than that. You also have a main-menu system that you choose all the different chapters, and can view the current Lab’s PDF. Very easy to navigate. I couldn’t think of any way you can get any better.

Understanding: 8 out of 10. The content that David goes over is easy to understand for novices, yet, he does not seem like he’s talking down to the seasoned administrators. Unlike other training courses I’ve heard, he concentrates more on the topics, than on his level of knowledge. There were, however, times where I wished he would go into more detail when discussing common-practices.

Overall, the meaningless Teneo score is 80 out of 100, and that is only because of the low Entertainment score. This video is definitely on my high-list of recommendations. I was very pleased with the overall “production” and “content”. If you are a beginning firewall administrator, or a seasoned administrator that would like to “fill-in-the-gaps” as it were, this video is definitely for you!