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Think IPM

Friday, December 31, 2010

Resetting my Flat Black Rock.

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If you have had an iPhone for a while, this one is probably pretty obvious but for some reason I didn’t think of it immediately when I needed it.

Here’s the back story:

The 6th worst snow storm in NY history and I’m out taking some pictures with my iPhone and without fail, drop it into the snow.  Luckily, I have a nice clear case which I purchased after letting beach sand get to it over the summer (view the awesome scratch).  Quickly pick it up and everything looks fine.  Phone is working, nothing TOO wet, no harm, no foul.  Fast forward to later in the evening after leaving the phone connected to the charger for a while and I discover it is completely dead.  No response from the screen or buttons.  Just a black screen.  Switch outlets, switch chargers, nothing.

This is where the beauty of the iPhone is also the source of my frustration.  The simple elegant design just transforms into a dead piece of metal if it ever becomes unresponsive.  There are no obvious screws to remove, batteries to replace, factory reset buttons to press with a crudely bent paper clip.  Nothing much on the hardware side that a DIYer like myself can really get into.  It’s just a flat black rock at that point.  So frustrating.

Of course, Google comes to the rescue and reminds me that I can hold down the POWER and HOME button for about 15 seconds and the phone magically reboots and preforms diagnostics on itself.  Fortunately, that did the trick and ended my moment of panic.

Sand: 1 Snow: 1 Wind: 0 Fire: 0

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Citrix PNAgent for the BlackBerry.

If you are running the Citrix Receiver on a Blackberry, try adding one of you applications to the Favorites list in the Receiver:

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If your administrator has allowed it, it will add it to your Blackberry Favorites screen (see bottom three apps below)!

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I think that’s pretty cool! Kind of reminds me of the old school Citrix Program Neighborhood Agent.

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2010 – A Look Back

imageSo the end of the year is coming up quick so I figured I would start on the obligatory year-end review.  A chance to look back at the year that is now almost over and reflect and make some observations.  I guess.. 

From a work perspective, this year has felt like a much busier year than in recent years.  From a statistical point of view, it seems that I didn’t find as much time to publish as many posts as I did in 2009.  This year will end up at about 110 posts for the year with 147 posts going up last year.  Honestly though, I am not sure if it was the lack of time or the consistent type of work I had.  It felt like I had many more opportunities to work on diverse types of projects in 2009 in contrast to 2010 as this year seemed to be a more consistent blend of product and solutions.  With the past diversification came more posts possibly.  This year however felt like the year of VDI for me.  XenDesktop projects seemed to dominate the majority of my billable time.  Citrix XenDesktops with Provisioning servers all running on VMware vSphere 4 hypervisors.  That seemed to be the de facto standard solution for almost all of my clients this year.  There definitely were some VMware View implementations sprinkled in there but they were few and far between. 

On the hypervisor front, it was ALL VMware though.  No sign of Citrix XenServer anywhere and only a handful of half serious inquiries entertaining the idea of putting Microsoft’s Hyper-V into test environments.  I thought there would have been more interest in XenServer or Hyper-V as clients built out infrastructures for VDI but VMware was the only platform I touched this year for clients.  While there was definitely an uptick of Windows 2008 R2 servers going into production, they were all VMware virtual machines and not the hypervisor hosts I thought they might be.

EMC World 2010 in Boston was the big conference I attended this year but I got a healthy dose of EMC at clients year round.  Between RecoverPoint and SRM or vSphere and CX4s, the synergy between EMC and VMware seemed really apparent to me and stronger than ever. 

As I am preparing for 2011, I am hoping to dive back into the Data Center solutions and the virtualization infrastructure involved in that.  I am hoping to grow my storage skills a bunch more and round out my expertise to better help clients figure out this private cloud everyone is marketing to them.  I am confident I will continue to do VDI implementations for my clients but keeping the users and desktop applications an arm’s length away is probably my preference for now (like I wrote before though, a little diversification is necessary for growth so I’m still counting on some XD and View projects in 2011).  Winking smile 

Whichever way 2011 shakes out for me, I’d like to take a quick moment to thank everyone for reading and supporting the blog (especially those without AD-Blockers! Just kidding Google!). 

Here’s to a prosperous New Year ahead of us all.

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Monday, December 27, 2010

New RSA Soft Token for the iPhone is out.

If you have RSA in your environment, here is some cool news.  The new iPhone version of the RSA soft token can now accept standard .SDTID files as an email attachment to import a user’s token seed.  Users can add the token by double-clicking on the file on their iPhone/iPad (it opens a submenu with the option to “open in RSA SecurID”).  The Soft Token software needs to be installed first before the submenu will appear on the iOS device.  This should help speed deployment of user tokens whereas prior to the upgrade, a conversion tool and process had to be used to create special ‘Mobile’ tokens.  One email with the SDTID file as an attachment can now seed laptop, PC and mobile devices.  Users can visit the App Store for the upgraded Soft Token.

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Thanks for the heads up Marcos and Eric!

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Mobile Version of VMwareInfo.com

Just in time for Christmas, Blogger (where I host VMwareInfo.com) has released their Mobile Templates.  They are in Beta now and pretty bare bones but they get the job done.  Slimmed down interface and a faster loading website is plenty good for me.  You will miss out on the comments and search but hopefully I can sort that out in the coming months.  Check out the screenshots from the Blackberry Torch and iPhone4.  Interestingly enough, Blogger didn’t recognize the Windows 7 phone as a Mobile Device.

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At least for now, you can get quick access to some light reading while on the run.  Winking smile

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Quick Tip : Windows Uptime

Here is a quick tip from Moshe Silber for Windows 7/2008 machines. 

You know sometimes you’re trying to find the uptime of a Windows machine and it’s a pain to find. If you launch Task Manager and go to performance, you can find it there.

Additionally, for those who don’t know, a super fast way to pull up the task manager on all flavors of Windows is CTRL-SHIFT-ESC.  Go ahead and try it now! It’s THAT easy.

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This is also my last post before Christmas so Merry Christmas everyone!

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Microsoft Security Essentials 2.0 released.

I love Microsoft Security Essentials.  I love the integration, ease of updating, protection and the price! For an application as utilitarian as virus scanning, free is a great deal.

Aaron Silber made my day today when he sent over a note with a link to Windows Security Essentials 2.0! Get it free here.

Microsoft claims the updated anti-malware engine makes the software faster and smarter at detecting security hazards. The software now also ties in with the Windows Firewall, giving you the option of turning the firewall on or off.   The new version integrates with Internet Explorer to detect Web-based threats and can watch out for malware coming in through a network, though only for those running Windows Vista or Windows 7.

Businesses with up to 10 users can also install the product for free.  Larger business need to invest in the Enterprise ForeFront.

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Citrix Receiver 4.2.1 for iPad ; Lost settings after upgrading.

imageThe new Citrix Receiver 4.2.1 was released last week.  The new client has a lot of new features including iOS 4.2 support, On Screen Track pad, Access Gateway 5 support and promises faster session support.  Sounds great but there is a catch.  If your users have already configured the receiver for the environment, upgrading the client will remove the profile settings forcing them to reenter all information in the receiver for access.  Definitely something you will want to users to know about before they start pressing the upgrade button in the App Store.  Not necessarily an unknown bug since this is noted at the bottom of the What’s New.

Note: This update requires reentering connection information. (Make note of your settings before upgrading).

I’m sure TONS of users will read that and heed its warning. Winking smile 

After upgrading, the UI will also look different to users so if they are still having problems after upgrading their Receiver to the new version, you can always revert them back to the old version. 


To do so, Marcos Velez sent over the following steps:

  1. Make sure you still have the previous version (Citrix 1.1.ipa) on your local drive.   
  2. If you can’t find it, look for it in the Recycle Bin, or Trash.
  3. Now, delete the new/current version from iTunes (right click on it and choose Delete)
  4. Delete the new/current version from your iPad (press on its icon for three seconds and then click on the red x)
  5. Once you have deleted the new version from both iTunes and your iPad, drag and drop the old version application file onto iTunes.
  6. Sync your device
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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

How to Hide (or Show!) Applications and Folders in Web Interface 5.x

imageWritten by Sam Jacobs:

Summary
This post explains how to hide or show applications and folders in Web Interface 5.x.

Background
It is sometimes useful to hide content, folders, or published applications from Web Interface. The advantage of hiding a folder is that you only have to place an application into the hidden folder and it is automatically hidden. It also allows you to hide the application without disabling it.

On the other hand, you may wish to only show certain applications, folders, or sub-folders. You may also choose to show only a subset of applications in a sub-folder.

Requirements
A working WI 5.x Web Interface site.

Procedure
Download and unzip the attached file FilteredResources.zip. It contains modified global.asax(.cs) files for Web Interface versions 5.0, 5.3 and 5.4. Make sure to use the correct one, otherwise compilation errors will occur. Instructions for manually modifying other WI 5.x versions are also included. To verify the version of Web Interface installed, you may either check under Add/Remove Programs (or Programs and Features) for the Citrix Web Interface component, or search the WebInterface.conf file for the Version= key.

Add the following lines to the C:\Inetpub\wwwroot\Citrix/xenApp/conf/WebInterface.conf file:

FilteredApps=app1,app2,\folderA\app3

(the last entry above would be used to show ONLY app3 in folderA (all others would be hidden)

FilteredFolders=\folder1,\folder2\sub-folderA (don't forget the initial slash)

(again, the last entry above would be used to show ONLY sub-folderA in folder2(all other apps/folders would be hidden)

FilteredAction= Hide (the default) or Show

Save the file and test.

Known Limitations
Do not specify a folder whose name is the beginning of another folder. For example, do not hide or show the folder \appfolder, if there exists another folder called \appFolder1.

Disclaimer
This code is provided “AS IS” with no representations, warranties or conditions of any kind. Please test this code before using on a production Web Interface site. While I will try my best to correct any issues that may be found, I cannot guarantee that I will have the time to do so.

Sam

 

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

View all active sessions in XenDesktop

If you have a lot of different Desktop Groups, it can be a challenge to see all of the active sessions in your Farm.  Unlike the XenApp console, you can’t just simply click the higher level folder and see all users active in your farm.  Typically, you would have to select each desktop group and view the users in it separately.  Not good at all as the number of groups increase.

Another way to quickly view all the active sessions is to use the Advanced Search.  Click Advanced Search, Find Sessions By User and leave the name blank.  This will return a list of all active sessions across Desktop Groups.

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Citrix Provisioning/XenDesktop Bingo!

Where is the synergy?  A Citrix VDI solution consisting of XenDesktop VMs being provisioned by Citrix Provisioning Services.  Citrix has provided me with a Provisioning Services console and a Desktop Delivery Console and no easy way to see the complete solution.

I recently rolled out a new vDisk to a bunch of XenDesktop VMs and realized just what a pain in the ass these two interfaces present to the administrator as the environment grows.

From the Provisioning server console, I can assign new vDisks to the machines and see if they are running or not.  If a machine is running, it will need a bounce to begin using the new vDisk.  But wait, are anyone using them?  I can’t tell from here; Off to the Desktop Delivery Console with my list of machines that need rebooting.

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From the Desktop Delivery Console, I can see that the machine is up and if it is in use or not.  If it is IDLE, I can bounce it and have it reboot cleanly with the new vDisk assignment.

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Kind of annoying to me to have to go back and forth between consoles for a single vendor solution.  I wish there was an add-on for at least one of the two parts that would give me a more complete picture. (Something like below would be a great start. Smile )

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Don’t be so eager to use ALL the products you own.

VMware vSphere with Citrix XenDesktop leveraging Citrix Provisioning Services.  It’s a familiar solution in my world these days and it works well.  I’ve grown accustomed to the convenience of provisioning out a vDisk to a bunch of Virtual Machines and plowing through business requests for pools of PCs to host business applications.   Making changes to the vDisk and then blasting it out to all the VMs in one fell swoop had me spoiled [and blinded me to some extent].  As user and business requests began to dictate different unique private images, I continued to stream them out using the familiar format as private vDisks. 

It dawned on me that when using private images, it doesn’t really make sense to use provisioning services for them.  I’d rather just keep it simple.  Leverage vCenter’s template facilities to clone out a desktop and then drop the XenDesktop agent on it.  No Provisioning services for this one.  I can crank out the VM just as fast and updating things like VMware Tools just became a whole lot easier.  Not to mention no other streaming issues to worry about.

There seems to be a lot of different components available to use to build solutions for our clients and users and I have to remember to Keep it Simple.

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Friday, December 3, 2010

Monitor Uptime/Downtime of your Website/Blog for Free!

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Here’s an interesting service Aaron Silber sent over to me.  It’s a great cloud service to monitor your Websites.  The first site you monitor is free.  I  tried it out and was really pleased with the results (and price!) . ;)

You basically sign up for the monitoring service on PingDom and point it to a website under your control.  From there, you can set the frequency that it will monitor the site and the notification methods you would like to use.  I run a couple websites from the basement and occasionally due to power surges/brownouts,  the VMs reboot causing some downtime.  PingDom alerts me almost immediately!  It is very cool and slick. 

First I receive a quick email alert notifying me that the site is down :
Pingdom Alert DOWN:
Family WebSite (www.xxxx.com) is down since 11/17/2010 05:00:36PM.

I also installed the handy iPhone application which will give me a push notification right on the phone. Finally, the PingDom website gave me additional detail on the outage.

Once the site was back up and running, PingDom gave me an ALL Clear message.  Nice!

Definitely worth checking out and setting up if you are even remotely responsible for a website and it’s uptime.

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Discovering the Terminal Server Aware Flag via MiTeC’s EXE Explorer

My colleague Jacques Bensimon sent over a great description on the  Terminal Server Aware flag and it’s impact on the use of Microsoft’s Terminal Server shadow keys (HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Terminal Server\Install\Software) which we use extensively for user profile manipulation.

I’ve noticed more and more applications that seem to ignore the Terminal Server “shadow keys” and I thought I’d clue you into what’s going on and how to determine whether a given app will or will not “honor” the shadow keys when it looks for a missing HKCU\Software\... registry entry. Actually, I’ll save myself a lot of preliminary explanation by providing the following link to an AutoHotkey forum article I posted a while back when the author, without fully appreciating the consequences, set the so-called “Terminal Server Aware” flag in AutoHotkey and all “compiled” AutoHotkey programs: (he was nice enough to quickly fix it after I posted my concerns – the post by the way can serve as a nice refresher on what Install Mode and Execute Mode actually mean).  The quick summary is that an executable that has this flag in its header is no longer subject to the normal “Execute Mode” behavior that looks for missing HKCU\Software\... entries in the shadow keys and redirects INI file requests from the system’s Windows directory (%SystemRoot%) to the user’s private Windows directory (%HomeDrive%%HomePath%Windows).

Now that you’re back from reading the article ;), I’ll add my suspicion that, in line with my recent comments about imbecile fledgling programmers now being empowered to write application software with dumbed down versions of Visual Studio, many programmers probably check the “Terminal Server Aware” box when compiling their apps in the mistaken belief that this in and of itself somehow makes their application TS-compatible (when in fact it is supposed to be a signal to Windows that the app has been explicitly written in a such a way as not to need the help of the system to provide default HKCU settings via the Shadow Keys and that it doesn’t use INI files in the Windows directory).  Anyway, you might be interested to know that, for example, Word and Excel 2007 do *not* have the TS-aware flag set (so shadow key trickery should still work with those apps) whereas PowerPoint and Outlook 2007 *do* have the flag set and therefore will completely ignore shadow key entries.

How do you figure out if an application has the Terminal Server Aware flag set?  There is a tool called “MiTeC EXE Explorer” that gives all kinds of info about executables (not just EXEs but also DLLs etc).  When you open an EXE in this program (see screenshot of PowerPoint 2007 below), click on the “Header” tab in the top section, then in the “Optional” tab in the bottom section, and look for the “DLL characteristics” hex value: if it’s greater than or equal to 0x8000, then the TS-aware flag is ON (0x8000 is the TS-aware flag bit) – in the screenshot you see that PowerPoint 2007 has the flag value 0x8040, so it does have that flag as I mentioned earlier.  When you come across an app like that, you’ll have to find some other way to distribute user settings than the shadow keys (profile, GPP, script, etc – actually, in the case of Office 2007, there is another mechanism available that’s “beyond the scope” of this note – Hint: see HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office\12.0\User Settings).

Later,

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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Off-Topic : $1 Tee Shirts at ConchTees.com

SNAGHTML2d8f6066My buddy Alan sent over a quick message to remind me that he’s clearing out his T-Shirt inventory for a buck!

Happy Thanksgiving! Or at least I hope you had a happy Turkey Day yesterday. I just want to let you know that the "I'm with Dev/Null" t-shirts are on sale for $1 starting Black Friday through Cyber Monday. =) Your readers might like that!

Normally around 14 bucks, this is a pretty good deal and shipping is standard USPS rates.

Happy Shopping Everyone.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Reclaim your time! … and don’t waste mine.

imageWith the holidays approaching, now is the time to start thinking about 2011 goals and 2010 gifts.  Why not combine the two and hand out Meeting Tokens this year! Smile You can’t give out certificates for the Human Fund EVERY Year!  All jokes aside, I’ve found a lot of value in implementing an Inbox Zero plan for managing my email communications.  If your inbox emails number in the thousands,  give yourself a present and check out http://inboxzero.com/articles/.

Some of the concepts that I really like are dropping all the folder structures for archiving mail.  Whenever you end up looking for something, you inevitably end up using a search feature so why not save yourself some aggravation and time and just file everything in ONE folder and let Search sort it out.  Simple concepts like that can really change the way you manage your email and get through it in a timely fashion.

BTW: I know this is probably really Off Topic but the token is such a great image that I HAD to put a post together for it! Winking smile
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Monday, November 22, 2010

Microsoft Windows Security Essentials – Free AntiVirus

I’ve written about Microsoft’s Security Essentials before but I recently noticed that they have began distributing it via Windows Update.  So if you are on a PC without any virus protection, Microsoft Security Essentials Free AntiVirus will be one of the optional software installs!  Very Neat.  Normally, the machines I work on have some sort of virus protection so I am not sure when this change happened on Update but I think it is great to help the not so techy users out there protect their computers at the right price.  Of course, if you DO HAVE virus protection on your box, you will not see this option.  Kudos to Microsoft!

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Once MS Security Essentials is installed, all virus updates and program updates will flow down from Windows Update.

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Need to restart the Explorer shell Gracefully?

Sometimes you need to restart Explorer to get things straightened out on your desktop.  Maybe the Notification Area is losing it or you want to refresh your Quick Launch.   Whatever the reason, in the past I have always pulled up Task Manager and killed the explorer process.  Simple and effective but maybe too harsh for all particular situations.  Jacques Bensimon let me in on a quick and proper way to shutdown the Explorer Shell gracefully.  Basically check out the image below and know that I CTRL-SHIFT-RIGHT Clicked to get the Exit Explorer option.  Explorer shuts down gracefully and you can restart it using Task Manager/ New Task. 

Explorer Shell Exiting

Nice Tip JB! Way to promote peace. Smile

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Enabling FAST Cache on your EMC Clariion with Flash Drives.

If you are looking to improve you Clariion performance, why not add some Solid State Drives (i.e. Flash Drives) to the mix.  For Virtualization, Provisioning, VDI or other high IO environments, SSDs might be the right tool at the right time for you to really squeeze out some more performance from your existing SANs.  Jeff Miller sent over some great screenshots detailing the process to turn on Fast Cache on the EMC after popping in the SSDs.  Jeff went with five 100GB Flash Drives configured as RAID1 mirrors using 1 as a hot spare.  Effectively giving his Clariion almost 200 GBs of additional FAST Cache.  If you want to see some interesting performance charts leveraging Fast Cache, check out Chad Sakac’s EMC World Boston slide deck.

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Flare code 30 is required for these steps so be sure to get that squared away first. Now onto the great instructions sent over by Jeff.  [Thanks Jeff!]

Once your Fast software arrives, take each cd containing a .ena file and copy from the cd into a folder on the computer that you will be using Unisphere Service Manager on.
My default location that I had to copy the software to was C:\EMC\repository\Downloads

Then from inside Unisphere click on Launch USM under Service Tasks

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EMC support told me to just select all 4 disks as RAID 1 and behind the scenes it will create 2 RAID 1 mirrors.

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This next screen may give you a scare, it did for me and I called support again. It should only disable SP cache for a few seconds/minutes as it rebuilds the memory map on the ram to include the SSD disks. For me it only took about 2 minutes in total and didn't appear to impact performance.

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Now you should see that it is enabled so it is off to assign a hot spare.

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Now go to the properties of the LUN that you want to enable fast cache on and check FAST cache.  The enable caching should also automatically check itself off.  Hit apply and sit back and let FAST cache do the work for you. Smile

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You can use Navi Analyzer to view FAST cache statistics to ensure that it is working properly.

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