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Help to save the rainforests in the Amazon with your networking knowledge. UK volunteers wanted.


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jebus197

Hi this may be one of the more unusual requests ever posted on Neowin. I hope some people here will find it an interesting enough challenge to want to help.

 

I am currently working for a project which serves a remote biological research station in the Amazon rainforests in Brazil. I won't mention the name or location of the project publically, as they do not wish the details of their project to be made public at this juncture, although I will fill anyone in who can show a demonstrable ability and willingness to help. (If you have genuine industry networking/engineering experience this would be a huge bonus.)

 

In essence they have a problem. They are located in a fairly remote region in Amazonia in Brazil and currently they access the internet via a connection to a wireless ISP. Things are not entirely drastic, as the nearest small town is approximately 2 km away and this town is served by a wireless ISP. (An ex logging town I believe.) At present they are connected to this ISP over a number of wireless repeaters/relays, with no clear line of sight to the signal. To overcome this they have some of their repeaters on hilltops on top of towers that they have built, to enable them to pick up the signal. This seems to work OK, but the end result after a 2 km journey is a fairly weak signal, frequent drop outs and maybe only 2-4 Mbs to divide up over several clients at the end point where the research station is located.

I am not quite clear on all of the details yet myself, as I have only just volunteered to join the project. I am not being paid for my efforts and the project is a charity. However from what I can gather sometimes connections to the internet can be unreliable and slow. I suspect this is because once the signal reaches them at busy times they may have anything up to 6 or more clients connected to the internet all trying to access it at the same time. So with maybe only 2-4 Mbs to go around, if one or two of them decide to play a HD YouTube video, life can quickly begin to suck for everyone else. They have a teaching facility there with classrooms, both for locals and for international students, so multimedia and the internet are a fairly intrinsic part of what they are trying to do there. 

They want me to fix this problem for them. They also have a very flakey file server setup there (Sharepoint) that for reasons they haven't gone into yet they say has been a disaster and that they are extremely anxious to ditch, preferably in favour of a cloud based solution of some description. It was put in place by their last tech guy, who only volunteered for a short time before baling and leaving them high and dry, with a half cocked and not very functional solution.

 

Basically I will come clean. I am a keen amateur and am passionate about technology. I am also passionate about doing my bit to save the environment. I stumbled over this project after looking for something constructive to do and having been involved in and having been passionate about both these topics all my life, I felt I could almost certainly help.

However I am concerned (a little) not so much that I have bitten off much more than I can chew, but that as I have never worked in such an ambitious capacity before, that I want to make sure I can provide them with the best, most flexible and most applicable solution possible.

 

So with that in mind I have opted to seek as much help and advice as possible. We do have a budget for improving the speed/reliability of our network. I won't go into details about what that budget is on the boards here, or even in PM, as I don't wish to attract the wrong kind of person. There is no money to be made from this project (only prestige) and indeed if you did wish to participate, you might even find that you would have to meet some of your own costs yourself. We can certainly discuss budgets and the practicalities of the project if we can meet in person and gain each other's trust.

But this is nonetheless a unique opportunity for anyone wishing to enhance their CV. Just imagine how spectacular for a prospective employer it would be, to say you worked for a  project in the Amazon, whose objective was to help design research methodologies to help save the forests from destruction?

 

Currently one possible limitation they face is that their hardware is fairly basic, and appears to comprise of a variety of 'off the shelf' store bought products. There is sufficient scope within the budget to probably significantly improve on the quality of some of this equipment. So one question I have that might be worth asking is, what might there to be gained from doing this? Specifically I mean, what would be the difference in upgrading their equipment to something of a more industrial quality? Would there be any major benefits in doing so?

Another quick solution I thought of right off the top of my head was that in order to effectively double (or perhaps even triple their bandwidth, if say their ISP was only willing/able to provide them with 2-4 Mbs per account at the point of access, would be to simply pay for two or more connections and arrange them as in this video: 



This would bring the project in well under budget and might be a quick and effective way of increasing their bandwidth, without requiring them to drastically upgrade their entire network.

Right now all of this is very speculative, as we have not yet settled on a particular solution. But I would nonetheless like to ask if there is anyone else out there (particularly in the UK - and especially in the North of England, or borders of Scotland - although not strictly vital) with good, demonstrable knowledge of this subject who might be willing to help? You would in effect be helping to save the world through your efforts - and your efforts would receive full acknowledgement. Physical fitness, or a willingness to put effort into becoming physically fit would be an advantage, as the project might involve working through some very difficult and rough (and sometimes potentially slightly dangerous) jungle terrain. If you have an inherent fear of tarantulas, anacondas, or flesh eating insects - or of perhaps hundreds of potentially deadly jungle diseases, this job might not be for you. The jungle is a beautiful place, however for most of the time you're there, it may seem as though it's out to try to kill you. (Lol). If none of this worries you and you still wish to help and you have good relevant experience, you might be the ideal kind of person we are looking for.

If you're not based in the UK, you can still help by lending your advice here.

If so could you please simply post a response here saying I wish to help, so that the topic stays current and has a chance of getting noticed by other members.

I would also like to request if maybe the mods might be willing to pin my appeal for a week or two so that anyone who wishes to become involved can spot the topic and let me know?

It's not often geeks (of which I am certainly one) get to be real life superheroes. This I think is one of those very rare occasions. :)
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The Evil Overlord

The ubiquiti is the way you should go, if a replacement is needed/warranted.  Bridgewave is expensive, but you are paying for the name (much like you pay cisco for their name on their appliances).

A little hurtful, Their Pre Belkin home networking was cheaper and more reliable than Netgear :p
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sc302

Wasn't referring to cisco/linksys ;)

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jebus197

OK this is the latest response from my boss (remember I'm just a volunteer however). He says his nearest high speed source is approximately 40 KM away. But I think that is with a cabled solution.A line of sight solution with a Ubiquiti type solution would of course be shorter. But the topology of the region provides challenges of its own.

 

 

Here is what he says:

 

Sorry, I forgot to respond to this in my last email. Yes, by all means talk to Ubiquiti. I won't talk to them here because a) my phone doesn't work properly and b) in Brazil, most of these reps for foreign companies know very little about the products they are supposed to be selling. The topography is such that I don't think we could get line of sight with only one intermediary relay - I think we'll need 2. The ISP source is at 200 m asl, we are at 700m and there is an intervening range of hills of 800m. As I said in my last message, I think this is the most promising line of inquiry

 

 

 

I don't know what he means by 200 m asl?

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sc302

ubiquiti as the company is email only.  They will put you in touch with a vendor but you may have to follow up with them a bunch of times. 

 

not sure what asl is. 

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GotBored

OK this is the latest response from my boss (remember I'm just a volunteer however). He says his nearest high speed source is approximately 40 KM away. But I think that is with a cabled solution.A line of sight solution with a Ubiquiti type solution would of course be shorter. But the topology of the region provides challenges of its own.

 

 

Here is what he says:

 

 

I don't know what he means by 200 m asl?

 

 

200m Above Sea Level.

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jebus197

I thought that's what it might be. I'm still in the market for keen volunteers and experts with any experience, particularly of real world testing of the Airfiber solution.

There's no one up for an adventure in the jungle? I tried contacting Ubiquit for technical advice, but they just pointed me to a bunch of resellers. many of whom don't seem to have much of a clue about the products they are selling.

 

Also does anyone know of some charitable foundations/Philanthropist or bodies that might be able to help?

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jebus197

OK my 'boss' (given that he isn't really my boss as I'm doing this on a voluntary basis) has decided he wants to focus on resolving several of the problems/errors he has encountered for some time with his server 2012 set up.

 

Here is what he has said about these errors along with his error log. The question he has asked me is what's causing these errors and is there anything he can do to resolve them?

 

OK, here are the Error messages I picked up now : they all refer to errors that occurred today. Several are repeated several times, especially the 4004 and 4015 messages on the DNS server.

Regularly, some services stop or don't start: they are :
ltdsvc, AppHostSvc, AdobeARMservice,W3SVC, and Trusted Installer

 

 

Please ignore the random pdf 'padding file' I have included and just concentrate on the 'error.txt'. Neowin uploader won't allow files under a certain size to be uploaded.

Iracambi.zip

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sc302

You have a lot of issues going on there. 

 

Possibly issue with replication between sites (having a slow connection would be an issue here).....The dc's should be looking to themselves as primary dns server, then going to eachother as the secondary dns server.  May have to look further into replication issues. 

 

If you do not have services that utilize ipv6 or can route for ipv6, turn off ipv6. 

 

They may need to update drivers or run some fixes to fix other issues

 

http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_7-performance/event-says-when-my-system-froze-that-the-dgivecp/8b3bf484-ffa7-4821-8f14-f1c767ee4a15

 

 

most of the issues seem to be network/replication related.   There may be possible hardware related issues as well. 

 

A dump of the eventlogs would be helpful vs that text document that tells me nothing other than you have issues.  It really is only giving me about 1% of what I need to see to be able to think about giving you a proper solution.  At this point all that I have given you is best educated guess.

 

 

I would want to see application, system, dfs replication, dns server, directory service, and file replication event logs.  I would also like to see a dcdiag and, if 2003, a netdiag (if not 2003 the netdiag command is no longer supported).

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jebus197

You have a lot of issues going on there. 

 

Possibly issue with replication between sites (having a slow connection would be an issue here).....The dc's should be looking to themselves as primary dns server, then going to eachother as the secondary dns server.  May have to look further into replication issues. 

 

If you do not have services that utilize ipv6 or can route for ipv6, turn off ipv6. 

 

They may need to update drivers or run some fixes to fix other issues

 

http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_7-performance/event-says-when-my-system-froze-that-the-dgivecp/8b3bf484-ffa7-4821-8f14-f1c767ee4a15

 

 

most of the issues seem to be network/replication related.   There may be possible hardware related issues as well. 

 guy

A dump of the eventlogs would be helpful vs that text document that tells me nothing other than you have issues.  It really is only giving me about 1% of what I need to see to be able to think about giving you a proper solution.  At this point all that I have given you is best educated guess.

 

 

I would want to see application, system, dfs replication, dns server, directory service, and file replication event logs.  I would also like to see a dcdiag and, if 2003, a netdiag (if not 2003 the netdiag command is no longer supported).

 

OK I'm happy to do all of that, but as I said I'm just an amateur, I have never worked as a system admin before. I'm helping this guy because I genuinely want to do something to help this project.I have messed about extensively with computers and simple little Linux file servers for about 17 years, but have hardly any experience of Windows server set-ups.

So in short, can you possibly give me a comprehensive list of instructions I can give this guy, like where and how to obtain the error logs you requested, what commands to run (on command prompt presumably?) and basically break it down for him in a step by step way so that he can get all the info you have requested, given that he knows even less than me?

I know this is asking a lot, but I do think it's a genuinely good cause. They do help educate the kids of the local farmers there and the guy himself is very passionate about preserving the forest for future generations.

Thanks so much in advance for any help you can offer.

Could some of these errors have anything to do with signal drop outs given that he is experiencing a lot of bottlenecks (and probably signal drop outs) as per the network diagram I provided previously?

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sc302

absolutely they have something to do with the drops.

 

the command I gave dcdiag and netdiag are ran at the command prompt

 

the eventviewer logs can be had by opening up event viewer....if you don't know how to do that type in eventvwr.msc in a run prompt or a search prompt.  right click each of the logs and choose to save...save them and zip them up. 

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jebus197

OK as requested. Sorry it took so long. The guy is very busy, but I finally got him to give me full remote server access so I could do all this stuff myself.

 

Netdiag doesn't run as it's a Server 2012 R2 install I believe. To me I can't see much other than a bunch of DNS errors and some active directory issues that are probably related to these DNS errors. My instinct is this is due to network drops, hardware/network configuration (probably not so hot microwave transceivers) and the general topography of his local. Given that you might confirm this to be the case, are we back to square one with him needing to consider the AirFiber solution, or equivalent in order to get a more stable network?

 

The Airfiber solution is proving a hard sell, as I can't get any real world testing data from anywhere to persuade him of this. He's interested, but not without seeing some meaningful data first.

 

http://www.filedropper.com/admin_1

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sc302

basic connectivity tests failing, dns failures...yes get a better pipe. 

 

If I knew someone that had an airfiber install I would help you with that.

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jebus197

So is there anyone out there who has had experience with Airfiber, or equivalent?

Thanks for your help BTW. Yes these are just standard error 404 connectivity issues when the connection gets dropped. I think his server install is sound.

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+theblazingangel

<snip> To me I can't see much other than a bunch of DNS errors and some active directory issues that are probably related to these DNS errors. My instinct is this is due to network drops, hardware/network configuration (probably not so hot microwave transceivers) and the general topography of his local. Given that you might confirm this to be the case, are we back to square one with him needing to consider the AirFiber solution, or equivalent in order to get a more stable network?

The Airfiber solution is proving a hard sell, as I can't get any real world testing data from anywhere to persuade him of this. He's interested, but not without seeing some meaningful data first.

<snip>

 

I think that you're jumping the gun a little here; I believe you have yet to determine (or at least I don't believe you've told us) what equipment is actually in use currently for this relay (what microwave transmitters) - is it cheap equipment, is it omni-directional with insufficient range, or are these directional with sufficient range but poorly aligned? There's no point in shelling out money for new ones to boost LAN/relay bandwidth if the existing equipment can already provide it, if only aligned correctly. Before pursuing replacements, find out the make and model of this existing equipment.

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jebus197

OK sensible suggestion.

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