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Monday, January 31, 2011

Dropbox 2011 Quest! :) Free GBs of additional Space.

imageSo you have been using Dropbox with all of it’s groovy enhancements, but are quickly running into a space crunch.  Obviously, you could pony up some cash for some additional space above and beyond the free 2GBs they give you OR you could leverage some of the opportunities that Dropbox has made available to add additional free storage.
The first place you want to visit is : https://www.dropbox.com/free ; You can get an additional 640 MBs just by connecting your Facebook and Twitter accounts and shooting out some tweets.  Nothing too complicated and worth the 2 minutes it takes.
For those with more than a couple of minutes to spare and up for a neat challenge, Dropbox has created a very clever digital scavenger hunt (DropQuest 2011).  Throughout the quest, you pick up MBs here and there until completing the challenge with an extra GB in your account.  If you have the time, it’s actually a really neat challenge with a variety of puzzles and obstacles to get past.  Very similar to many of the viral marketing campaigns you may have run across in the past.
Of course, if you are not the puzzle type, you can find a complete walkthrough of the quest here.
*UPDATE* : I goofed and posted this a bit late.  Looks like they shut down the Quest.  Next time, I’ll be faster on the posting! –Sorry
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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Is SQL 2008 a supported configuration for that Citrix Product?

That’s a pretty common question these days.  With all of the products in my tech solutions, everything seems to have a SQL backend set up to house the actual data or at a minimum, the configurations.  Lots of times, it is confusing to know which databases are supported with what products.  And while the solutions consist of many different products, they often share a back end SQL server.  Chris Hahn ran across a Citrix KB article (114501) that links to a nice PDF chart that provides the answers to the question above (and all the other versions of SQL as well).  Much easier than digging though the various Admin Guides to figure out the situation.

SQL Matrix

Nice Job Citrix Support.

Source: http://support.citrix.com/article/ctx114501

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

VAAI in vSphere 4.1 COULD break your RecoverPoint consistency groups!

imageJeff Miller sent over this warning for environments leveraging vSphere 4.1 and RecoverPoint.  Here is all the technical gooeyness.
If you are not running FLARE R30 Q410 type 2 patch, keep on reading. (This issue is corrected in 509)

We recently had a problem where our Exchange Consistency groups in RecoverPoint were all stuck at initializing 0% for several days.  This seemed to occur out of the blue after running for over a year. I tried to force a re-sweep, I tried to rebuild the consistency groups, however it was still stuck at 0% initialized. After some urgent calls to EMC support, they advised me to disable VAAI in VMware (All ESX Host servers). vSphere 4.1 enables VAAI by default.

At the time the environment consisted of the following components and versions :
(vSphere 4.1 , Flare Code R30, RecoverPoint 3.3 SP1 & Clariion Splitters)

To disable VAAI commands:
1. In the vSphere client inventory panel, select the host.
2. Click the Configuration tab and from the Software menu, select Advanced Settings.
3. To disable Hardware-Assisted Locking, click VMFS3, and set the value of VMFS3.HardwareAcceleratedLocking to 0.
4. To disable Full Copy, click DataMover, and set the value of DataMover.AcceleratedMove to 0.
5. To disable BlockZeroing, click DataMover, and set the value of DataMover.AcceleratedInit to 0.
6. To save the changes, click OK.
7. Repeat across all Host ESX servers in your RecoverPoint environment.

Refer to the EMC Primus Article emc255099 for more information on VAAI.
Obviously, the other option is to upgrade your FLARE Code.
-Jeff, thanks for the tip!

Scott Lowe also posted some information regarding this issue:

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Public Cloud : Turn your engineers into helpless users.

SNAGHTML108b07fSounds like a good April Fools joke but it’s only January. Sad smile  I think outsourcing parts of an environment to the cloud might have this effect on some companies.  I’ve recently moved my mailbox to Microsoft’s BPOS environment and as I wrote, I’ve been very enthusiastic about it.  In a small environment where upgrading, maintaining and releasing new features can become a time consuming event that often get prioritized to the background, a managed service like this works out great.  Instantly after moving to the cloud, I was running with the latest Exchange server fully integrated with Instant Messaging, SharePoint and Conferencing.  For some shops, that can be a real win.

Trouble arises when trouble actually arises! Winking smile While features and upgrades might have been prioritized down the list, outages and issues shoot straight to the top of that same priority list.  Unfortunately, when the servers are sitting in a far away datacenter that you have no actual access to, troubleshooting can become a frustrating exercise.  In a multitenant environment like the BPOS cloud, an issue affecting a couple of users on a server of hundreds or thousands might not be a top Microsoft priority even if one of those users happen to be YOUR boss.  To me, that is one of the disconnects.  Had that server been in MY datacenter, I could drop whatever I needed and begin to troubleshoot the issue threatening to affect my career but in a public cloud environment, I’m relegated to sending pleading emails to tech support.  Hopefully I can use enough bolding and italics to stress the importance of the situation to them.  I can now fully empathize with those poor users.

While I think everyone should be virtualizing and consolidating within their datacenter (building their own private cloud), I’m not sure public cloud offerings will be as well received as virtualization is.

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Dropbox extensions to make your life easier

I just recently read a post from a favorite blog of mine by Vladan about some right click enhancements he uses with Dropbox.  Inspired, I thought I would add one of my favorite DropBox tricks to the conversation.

One of the ‘limitations’ of Dropbox is it’s inability to natively share a folder outside of the default Dropbox location.  To get around this, I use junctions to share folders without explicitly placing the sources into the Dropbox location. 

For Windows systems, the easiest way I’ve found to create a junction via GUI is through this set of shell extensions.  After installing the freeware, you can just pick a folder, right click and choose 'Pick Link Source'.


From there, you can just right click in your DropBox folder and drop the junction in.  Immediately, Dropbox will begin to sync those source files to your other computers.  Couldn’t be easier! Smile


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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Installing vCenter 4.1 in a Windows 2000 Domain

I finally found some time to begin installing vCenter 4.1 into my new ESXi lab and ran into an error I thought I would share.  The error below (Error 28038. Setup cannot create vCenter Server Directory Services instance.) occurred due to the fact that despite installing on a Windows 2008 R2 server, my Active Directory was still in 2000 mode.  I’ve put off upgrading the domain until I had my new vSphere environment up and running. Smile   A little chicken and egg scenario for me.  Luckily, VMware KB Article 1025668 came to the rescue!
A quick trip to Microsoft’s knowledge base to download a patch from a link delivered via email (yes, it felt a bit like a scavenger hunt); a quick reboot and I was back on track installing vCenter.
I also had to do a little housekeeping before reinstalling by deleting the %WinDir%\ADAM directory.  Reverting the snapshot would have down the job as well.
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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Building the ESXi Boot Drive.

With my new lab being built out for VMware vSphere 4.1, I took the opportunity to make the jump over to ESXi from ESX.  The unconfirmed rumor is that ESX will be phased out in favor of the ESXi version of the software.  Seemed like a great opportunity to try it out.  For the new lab, I didn’t even bother purchasing local storage.  For the ESXi implementation, I decided to go with an internal USB Thumb Drive installation.  I used some junky USB drives I had in my bag (2GB) but will most likely replace with a higher end one.


For the installation to the Thumb drive, I decided to use a quick VMware Workstation image to get the install onto the thumb drive.  I could have definitely had used a CD-ROM but my server did not have one.  Plus I wanted to take some SCREEN SHOTS! Smile So here is the whole process.


Create a quick VM.  I didn’t even bother adding a hard drive to this particular one since I would be installing ESXi to the flash drive.  Once created, Mount the VMware ESXi ISO and boot the machine.  Once the machine was booted to the VMware VMvisor Boot Menu, I plugged in the Flash drive and verified that it connected through to the VM.









Once completed, I popped it into my ESX server and booted it right up!  Nice!


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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Citrix XenDesktop DDC Installation Error

If you are installing a Citrix XenDesktop Desktop Delivery Controller and receive an error while trying to install, check to verify that you have the ability to install IIS on the server.

Even if you have used the –nosites parameter with Setup.exe to prevent the installation of Web Interface components, the installer still tries to install IIS but will omit the Web Interface installation and configuration.  Once complete, you can pare the installation back down by uninstalling the IIS services but for the proper execution of the installation, you will need rights to install IIS.

Internet Information Services (IIS) cannot be installed because your administrator has enabled a "Prevent IIS installation" group policy.  You will not be able to install components that depend on IIS.

An easy way to verify if you have access is to go to ADD/Remove and try to install the IIS components.  Group Policies on the machine like above can also stop the proper installation of the Desktop Delivery Controller.

SEO error: Internet Information Services (IIS) cannot be installed because your administrator has enabled a "Prevent IIS installation" group policy.  You will not be able to install components that depend on IIS.

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Saturday, January 8, 2011

Off-Topic : Breathe some new life into your PC or Laptop with a Memory Upgrade

This post is not DIRECTLY for the Virtualization Aficionados who read my blog but more for my Facebook friends and family and maybe theirs too.

I’ve already written before about helping out friends and family remotely and saving them some money with free antivirus programs, so this one is about breaking down the mystery of memory upgrades.  All of us have run into laptops and PCs that have owners that complain how horribly slow they are and wonder if there is anything some techie can do to speed them up.  Most times, there are some simple things to do within Windows but the biggest bang for the buck is usually upgrading the memory.  If the machine in question has a couple of years on it, it could definitely only be rocking a ½ GB of RAM (Sometimes LESS!).  Bumping that up to 1 or 2 GBs can really change the user experience for them.  For the non techies out there though, purchasing memory can be intimidating.  There are TONs of different types and most of them WON’T WORK in the machine they are holding. ;)  My favorite website for this type of stuff is Crucial.com.  They make some great memory and make it super easy for non techies to purchase the right memory on their own. 

Check out how easy it is:

Go to the Website (<-- Check the Side Bar) and click Memory Upgrades.  Use the 3 steps below to choose your Manufacturer, Product Line and Model (i.e. Dell, Inspiron, E1705).  The dropdowns on the website have just about EVERY configuration imaginable under the sun.


Once you hit find, the correct memory compatible with the Desktop/Laptop will be displayed on the webpage.  There is also SLOT information letting you know the MAXIMUM amount of chips you can buy and install into the machine.  The only real decision at that point is how much you want to spend.   For many older machines, substantial performance gains can be had for as little as 20 to 40 bucks.  WAY less expensive than a trip to your local Geek Squad outfit.


Once you’ve made your decision and purchased the memory, installation is usually a snap.  Or if you are VERY non techie, seek out a friend to help. Winking smile

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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

rant: The Path of Least Resistance

My first post of 2011 is related to something that is frankly, far from Twenty-Eleven cutting edge. It was a pretty UNIQUE error I ran into at a client after trying to run an application in a VDI session.image

Granted, this was an industry specific piece of *mumble* software and not a widely used one that most would be familiar with but still surprising.  The fact that the software cannot will not run in a virtualized environment (be it a server virtual machine or VDI) seems short sighted at best and lazy at worst.  I can only assume that this restriction was put in place as a lame attempt to ensure proper licensing for the software.  This particular software has absolutely no consumer use what-so-ever though and it’s my opinion that companies tend to do their best to stay within licensing requirements.  Although making IT’s job harder than it needs to be is a good way to motivate people to actively find more accommodating competing software.

And of course, VMware should have a lowercase w!!

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