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Monday, June 21, 2010

Keeping up with Tech Field Days using Yahoo Pipes!

If you don’t know about the GestaltIT Tech Field Days, they are great! I was privileged to attend the first 2 (Tech Field Day San Jose & Tech Field Day Boston) and can’t say enough great things about them.  Due to their overwhelming success, Stephen Foskett (Organizer) has planned even more of them!  In the true community spirit of the Field Days, different sets of bloggers will be attending the various events.  All of them will be blogging and posting their thoughts on what they see and learn.  It was becoming a challenge to track down and read all the various blog posts related to the TFD’s and will no doubt become harder in the future.  Enter Web 2.0! :) Yahoo Pipes and Google Reader have made keeping up with the Tech Field Day crew(s) pretty darn easy!

Step 1 was to create a folder in Google Reader and create a public RSS feed for it.  As new Bloggers attend the various TFDs, I subscribe to their RSS feeds and place them in this Google Reader Group.Google Reader Feed

Step 2 was to create a pipe to parse through the massive TFD Google Reader Group feed and pick out Tech Field Day related posts.

1) Pull in the Google Reader Group Feed.
2) Look at ONLY the last 30 days of Posts from it.
3) Filter IN anything with a Category, Description or Title with GestaltIT or Tech Field Day in it.
4) Remove duplicates of course.
5) Remove some more duplicates.
6) Sort the new feed by Date (Newest first)
7) Grab only the last 50 posts (Which typically covers them all).

Yahoo Pipes!

The resulting feed is pushed through FeedBurner for some additional cleanup and the final product can be subscribed to HERE.

Step 3 – Enjoy the opinions, views, pictures and comments of your favorite GestaltIT Tech Field Day independent bloggers. :)

Additionally, I also import this cleaned up RSS feed into a page for the Facebook Crowd. Check it out at http://www.facebook.com/GestaltIT

TFD San Jose TFD Boston

So in a nutshell, You can Join the Facebook Group here : http://www.facebook.com/GestaltIT or Subscribe via RSS here : http://feeds.feedburner.com/GestaltitTFD?format=xml

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Friday, June 18, 2010

A Slightly Smarter Microsoft Support Knowledgebase

Black Hole Router Issues

Ran across an interesting change in Microsoft’s Knowledgebase (new for me at least!).  The knowledgebase will now attempt to detect if the particular KB article applies to the Operating System you are searching from. ;)   Kind of a neat idea for the casual consumer of the KB articles I guess.  BUT if it could auto detect if the article’s content would actually resolve the user’s issue; then they would REALLY have something! :)

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Advanced Web Interface Customizations [BriForum Slide Deck]

If you are a regular reader, you know that my colleague Sam Jacobs was recently invited to speak at BriForum.  Now that the presentation is over, he has been nice enough to share the slide deck and source code with us on VMwareInfo.  Check out the slide deck and source code below.  All the sessions for BriForum were recorded and once we have the video of the session, I’ll be sure to post that as well.  (I’m also hoping Sam can provide us with a nice post on BriForum as well! Hint Hint! :))

You can find Sam’s slide deck and source code here.
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Monday, June 14, 2010

Speed up those Citrix XenApp Servers!

imageAaron Silber came across an interesting KB article that had some very impressive stats hidden in it!  This particular KB article reinforces a pretty standard Microsoft Windows  practice of removing unnecessary items from the session startup process.  Removing items such as the Java Runtime Update Engine, ICABar and Citrix Online plug-in from users’ startup can yield gains of 10 to 15 percent more users on your XenApp Servers! These tests and benchmarks were done by Citrix Labs and affirm the fact that some extra housekeeping and attention to detail during your server builds can really add up.
The KB Article mentions using msconfig to track down these unnecessary processes.  I’d recommend taking a look at Windows Sysinternal’s AutoRuns for a more complete picture of the processes running on your servers.
For the complete details, check out the rest of the article, it can be found here:  http://support.citrix.com/article/CTX124800
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Friday, June 11, 2010

Released : vDR 1.2 (VMware Data Recovery Appliance)

imageVMware has released a minor upgrade to their Data Recovery Appliance (vDR).  Even though it is just a .point release, they managed to sneak some new features in there along with the usual fixes and patches!  For me, the most important one is the ability to now scale up to ten appliances per vCenter server.  Each appliance can back up about 100 VMs which now means you to scale to about 1000 Virtual Machines with backup.  With the new multi appliance support, you can now quickly (and with Auto Login) switch between appliances within the vCenter plug-in.

You can download the new version here : VMware vDR download page

I happen to really like vDR.  Most of my clients already own it through their licensing (It is included with Advanced Edition and above) and I think it is shaping into a very reliable backup product for the Virtual Environment. 

If you haven’t tried it out yet, here are some links to get you going :

PS. ‘ Your backup strategy is only as good as your last restore!’   Be sure to test it every once in a while! :)

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Monday, June 7, 2010

vExpert 2010 – Cool!

The results have been posted and I have been lucky enough again to be named part of the VMware vExpert crowd for 2010! If you frequent twitter at all, you will have no doubt seen many of the vExperts postings and congratulatory words floating by.  The list is an impressive one!  VCDXs, Book Authors, Community Leaders, Industry voices, Developers and Bloggers.  Fellow vExpert Rich Brambley @ VM/ETC eloquently points out that unlike the VCDX, the vExpert award is not a technical certification.  It is not a measure of how much you may or may not know, but rather it’s a recognition of your willingness and passion to discover, share and teach to the community at large.  Of course, these opportunities can come from a wide avenue of venues and for me, it’s been this blog.  I’ve enjoyed and continue to enjoy posting and sharing on it.  It is quite encouraging and very satisfying to know that others find it useful in the process.

Thanks to John Troyer and those at VMware who are part of the vExpert program.  I look forward to further deepening my roots in this great community of virtualization evangelists!


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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

15 Minute SRM survey – Free Book and 10 bucks to UNICEF.

imageIn an effort to get the word out, Mike Laverick requested some of his fellow vExperts running blogs to pop a quick post letting everyone know of an SRM survey.  In a nutshell, if you have implemented Site Recovery Manager, VMware wants to hear from you!  In return, Mike will allow you to download his new PDF book “Administering VMware Site Recovery Manager 4.0″ and VMware will donate $10 to UNICEF (up to $10,000).  You have until June 10th, 2010 to take advantage of this generous offer. 

The original link is here and the survey can be found here.

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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Released : Citrix Provisioning Services 5.6

Citrix Provisioning Services Last week, Citrix released a new version of their Provisioning Services product.  You can download the latest version here.  Lots of new and updated wizards in this version (Imaging Wizard, Enhanced Config Wizard, AutoAdd Wizard), Support for SQL server database Mirroring, optimized load balancing algorithm, Jumbo Packet support and other fixes and tweaks. 

The prior versions already had offline database support for local network fault tolerance and now with support for the SQL server database mirroring, DR solutions will be easier to architect.

Aaron Silber did notice an interesting blurb in the release notes concerning ARP Cache timeouts for Vista/W2K8 servers that you may want to take note of :

TR-8435: Occasionally server stops responding to booting target device requests for 2-3 minutes.


The default lifespan of ARP cache entries was lowered from 10min in Windows Server 2003 to a random value between 15 and 45sec in Vista/W2K8. As a result, the PVS bootstraps are twenty times more likely to experience a timeout during a Vista/W2K8 boot. The workaround is to increase the ARP cache entry lifespan for PVS-bound NICs:


1 Open a command shell window. At the command prompt, enter the following command:

netsh interface ipv4 show interfaces


2. To set the ARP cache entry lifespan to 600 seconds, enter the following command:

netsh interface ipv4 set interface <PVS interface number> basereachable=600000


3. To verify the new setting, enter the following command:

netsh interface ipv4 show interface <PVS interface number>


The “Base Reachable Time” should be set to 600,000 ms, and the “Reachable Time” – to a value between 300,000 and 900,000 ms.

Source: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/949589

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