Back to … here.

I’ve been with Yakidoo for a little over a week, and it is great to be back in charge of a datacentre… albeit a smaller one.  One thing that I think surprised me though was, after all my time as a Microsoft Virtual Evangelist, I was so happy to be back in a VMware environment. 

Don’t get me wrong, I still like Hyper-V.  None of what I said over the course of the last four years is inaccurate – Microsoft’s virtualization and private cloud solutions are top notch.  However so are VMware’s.  My argument against vSphere was never the functionality, it was the cost.  As Yakidoo is a VMware Partner, that is not a factor here… and I am having a lot of fun implementing (and playing with) so many of the features that I have lectured about, but have not used in production because they are new features since I last ran a VMware environment (probably vSphere 4.0).

I will say though that everything I have said about virtual networking holds true… Microsoft’s stack is a lot easier, especially for smaller and less complicated environments.  The vSphere networking infrastructure is very robust… but I still don’t think most smaller companies will ever need them.

In the meantime, my hosts are in place, and I am virtualizing to my heart’s content!

Another Easily Averted Tragedy…

This morning we all woke up to the terrible and shocking news that a shooting instructor (I refuse to call him a Range Master) was shot and killed by a nine year old girl with an Uzi sub-machine gun (SMG).  It is a tragedy on two fronts – of course it is a tragedy for the family and friends of the deceased, for whom I pray.  However as my friend Greg Starks rightly points out, it is also a tragedy for the little girl.

…All the adults involved chose to enter the situation.  The girl – for her this was like being taken to the park to learn to ride a bike… in her mind, was something cool she was doing with Mommy and Daddy… now how F`d up is her life?… just trying not to lose focus from the tragedy of the girl, given that all the adults had the ability and opportunity to make different choices.  Making her a poster child will only propagate how many times people watch her take a human life.

I pray for the nine year old girl, who will carry this tragedy with her for her entire life.  I will not name her, nor will I name the parents (who should, in my opinion, go to jail for manslaughter) because it could then be linked back to the girl.

So who is to blame for this tragedy?  Some will say the parents, and I agree; some will say the range owners, and I agree with them too.  Others will say it is the Second Amendment… and it is hard to disagree that in the larger picture the ‘Right to bear arms’ is apart of it… but above all else I think it is the American glorification of firearms and their use that is really to blame.  After all, guns are legal (albeit regulated a lot more tightly) in Canada.  Heck, in Israel everyone has a firearm as soon as they go into the army, and there is zero gun crime and almost no accidental shootings.  What makes those cultures different from the US?  We don’t glorify them.

Name a Canadian hero or legend who carried a gun.  Maybe you can… if you give it some thought.  Probably not though.  Name an Israeli hero or legend who carried a gun?  There are plenty of course – all of Israel’s heroes are/were soldiers.

Name an American hero who carried a gun? Wyatt Earp; Jesse James; Billy the Kid.  It took me three seconds to come up with three names.  Sure, some of the American heroes will be law men… but they also glorify the villains.

The American Bill of Rights (in which the Second Amendment is codified) were written in 1789.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Back then there were no handguns, and a rifle (musket) would fire one shot, then take nearly a minute to reload.  Effective range?  Depending on the model probably as far as 50 meters.  In contrast, an Uzi (designed in 1948 but manufactured by Israeli Military Industries since 1954) fires 600 rounds per minute with an effective range of 2200 meters, from a magazine that holds anywhere from 10 to 50 9mm rounds. 

Because of an ingenious piece of material (that is, I was told by my Range Master in Basic Training, made of a secret material) there is hardly any recoil to an Uzi.  This makes it so easy to fire that ‘even a child could do it.’  Our Range Master was of course joking about this, showing that any simple soldier could fire the weapon.  Unfortunately there are people in the USA who took this literally, and thought that a nine year old child could and should be allowed to fire it.

Someone paid with their life.  The poor child will be scarred forever.  And gun enthusiasts and members of the NRA all over America are going to dismiss this as an unfortunate incident caused by poor training.  I weep for the USA.

DNS Gotchas in vSphere

As I once again immerse myself in a VMware environment as System Administrator, I am getting to do all sorts of fun stuff that I haven’t done in a while.  However there is one gotcha that I encountered that I know, I knew, and have even taught on countless occasions.

VMware does not do Dynamic DNS.  That is, it does not automatically create a DNS entry for your hostnames (and other fun stuff like VMkernel and HA Management).. which is fine, as long as you have an eidetic memory and never assign those IP addresses to anything else… and you are the only person who will ever configure anything on your network.

If those are not the case, you have to document them… and you need to manually create addresses in DNS.  Since most of us probably use Microsoft DNS for internal use, all we have to do is pop open the DNS Management console and create the appropriate A Records.

What happens if I don’t?

Simple… nothing, now.  As you are looking at your systems and it is fresh in your mind you won’t have any problems.  However later on, when you have long forgotten that you configured a new host, or applied a host profile to a new server, things will go wrong, and you won’t know why.  Did I mention, by the way, that VMK and HA Management ports don’t reply to Ping, so once you have double-assigned the same IP address to something else, troubleshooting will not be enjoyable.

A lot of ports such as these are not actually used by DNS ever, so left alone they wouldn’t be an issue… until you assign the address to another device.  creating a dummy record in DNS will save you the headaches later on.

Another benefit of doing this, by the way, is that although the same ports will still not respond to a Ping, a Ping -a <address> will return a hostname!

DHCP on Server Core

I am loving being back in charge of a proper IT Infrastructure, and of course every admin is going to want to put his own touches on their servers.  One of the things I did in my first week was create a couple of new domain controllers running Windows Server Core.  Of course, when you create a domain controller the process will automatically install the DNS Server, but I also like to have DHCP running on some of my DCs.  In Server Core, at least in Server 2008 R2, there are a couple of quirks.

I should mention that a lot of this has changed in Server 2012, but until I upgrade our licenses I had to go back through my memory to remember how to do it in 2008 R2.  Here’s what I did.

  1. The first thing you have to do is install the role.  There are two ways to do it – I use DISM – dism.exe /online /enable-feature /FeatureName:DHCPServerCore.
  2. Next you have to enable the feature, and set it to start automatically.  use this command: sc config dhcpserver start= auto. Note the space after the =… I don’t question these things, but it doesn’t work without it.
  3. Now you simply start the service: net start dhcpserver.

Once this is done you have to authorize the server in Active Directory, and create a scope.  There is no way I would do this in the command line when I have the Remote Server Administration Toolkit installed on my laptop… but if you want to do so then here it is:

  1. netsh dhcp add server %computername% <ip address>
  2. netsh dhcp server <server ip address> add scope 10.200.15.0 255.255.255.0 ScopeName
  3. netsh dhcp server <server ip address> scope 10.200.15.0 add iprange 10.200.15.1 10.200.15.255

This has authorized the server, created a scope, and created an IP range in the new scope.

To add a Default Gateway and DNS Server to the scope (two very common options) you would do the following:

  1. netsh dhcp server <server ip address> scope 10.200.15.0 set optionvalue 003 IPADDRESS 10.200.1.1
  2. netsh dhcp server <server ip address> scope 10.200.15.0 set optionvalue006 IPADRESS 10.200.5.1

In the event you want to add an exclusion range, simply do the following:

netsh dhcp server <server ip address> scope 10.200.15.0 add excluderange 10.200.15.0 10.200.15.100.

And finally, we have to activate the scope.  Run the following:

netsh dhcp server <server ip address> scope 10.200.15.0 set state 1.

That’s it… of course a lot of this will be different in Server 2012, especially with PowerShell.  However if you are still running <slightly> older servers, this will do you well!

Should I return the Surface Pro 3?

I have been having an issue with the device… it’s a networking issue that is absolutely not normal behaviour.  The Microsoft Store replaced it for me once, but I am still having the issues. I requested a call-back from Surface Support this week; I was assured by the site that I would receive a call within 34 minutes.  However 30 minutes later (after counting down the whole while) they changed the status to ‘Sorry, our support desk is closed, so call-backs are not available.  Please try again during normal business hours.’  Crap.

The next day I opted for on-line chat (during normal business hours).  I waited for an hour plus (the expected wait time was 22 minutes).  Finally Kaylee came onto the chat; after I explained the problem to her she reset the chat… in other words, the problem was over her head so she decided to waste my time and let me go back into the queue… for another hour long wait.

I am pissed now, and am ready to take the device back to the Microsoft Store and get my money back so that I can go elsewhere and buy a device that doesn’t have these issues.

What do you think?

What’s in My … Messenger Bag?

As I have written previously I recently picked up a Microsoft Surface Pro 3, and despite a couple of minor annoyances it truly is a wonderful device.  Because I have not been traveling as much as I did over the past few years, I have taken the opportunity to downsize my carry-load. 

My sister called me a couple of weeks ago with the news that her new company device would be a Surface Pro 3, and asked me what accessories she should make sure she picks up.  We had a conversation about the keyboard, battery life, and so on.  Jennifer and I don’t speak all that often, and it was a nice excuse to talk.

Last week a friend and fellow MVP told me that his device was being delivered shortly.  He knew that I had downsized my carry load, and with that knowledge, and knowing that we have the same device, he hoped that I would take the opportunity to write a new article in my ‘What’s in Your Laptop Bag’ series. 

The first article I wrote on the subject does back to 2009, when I wrote ‘What’s In Your Laptop Bag?’  It is amazing the difference a few years made… as my priorities changed so did what I carried with me.  Back in 2009 I was carrying a full sized laptop in addition to a netbook, which at the time I thought was a good idea, and to an extent it was.  I had to carry two power supplies, mice, a power bar, external hard drives, a travel router, a headest, a digital camera… and a pack of lozenges.  Twenty-five pounds or so is the estimate I put down in that article; if truth be told it was probably a bit more than that.

A few years later – when I had a Surface Pro – I wrote the article ‘How Surface changed my thinking… and helped my shoulder.’  In it I discuss how I realized that downsizing my load could really do wonders for me… and it did.  Of course, when I went to Japan last year for nearly four months I upsized again, but only because I would be setting up a permanent system in my hotel room, and brought things like docking stations, speakers, and more.

I now find myself in August of 2014, nearly eighteen months later, and I am living a more sedentary life than I was.  As I am not traveling as much, my basic requirements are probably a lot more in line with what others need. 

We should actually start with what the bag actually is… In July of 2013 I wrote and article called ‘What IS your Laptop Bag?’  I am no longer in the business of shilling for other companies, so rather than use the branded freebies I had so many of I invested in a couple of proper cases… for the time being I am exclusively using a Briggs and Riley Messenger bag (black) that they refer to as a ‘Small Slim Vertical Brief’.  It is not exactly the one shown, but is quite similar.  It is made of a ballistic nylon fabric and has a lifetime guarantee. 

I downsized my bag for a couple of reasons, but the main one is simple… the smaller the bag, the less likely you are to pack useless crap (that will weigh you down).  As I sit as the pub with the contents of the bag emptied before me I would not go so far as to say there is nothing useless in there… but it’s still better than it was.

Device: Obviously (based on the opening of the article) I am carrying a Surface Pro 3.  I was a little worried when I bought it… the Surface Pro 2 fit perfectly, and I was worried that the larger form factor (12” instead of 10.6”) would not fit.  Fortunately it does – but barely.  Otherwise I would have to have changed out my bag, and I didn’t want to do that.

In case you are curious, yes I carry the keyboard and stylus with me, and no, it does not increase the weight noticeably when I carry the bag.

Additional Device: It’s not what you think… I said the Pro 3 was a great laptop replacement, and it is.  The additional device that I usually carry with me is a Kobo Glo e-book reader, including the magnetic case.  Of course I could read my e-books on the Surface Pro 3, but I see value in having both devices.

Cables: I carry a few different cables with me, primarily in the front pocket:

  • Micro USB cable to charge my Kobo, as well as my Nokia Lumia 920 when I am in the USA.
  • iPhone 5 cable to charge… well… yeah.
  • Mini USB cable, which is a legacy but I still carry it.  It is to connect the external USB screen that I use occasionally and which lives in the trunk of my car.
  • FitBit One Cable which charges that device.

Dongles: The downside of a smaller device is fewer ports built in, and an entire new industry – the industry of dongles – was created.

  • HDMI dongle
  • VGA dongle
  • Ethernet dongle

Logitech Wireless Presenter R400.  It’s not the newest, but it still works and is very comfortable in my hand.  If you spend any time presenting PowerPoint from your computer you will want one of these.  The newer ones all seem to be too light or two small.  I wish the R400 were Bluetooth instead of USB, but I’ll survive.

USB Keys: I currently have four of them in the bag – three for storage and when I need to transfer data, and one Windows to Go key (Windows To Go: This is going to be a game changer!).  If you wonder why I have four, I can’t answer… and in my defence, one of them is a bottle opener too :)

Mouse: The only problem that I had with the Microsoft Arc Mouse Touch was that it had a dongle, and took up the only USB port on the Surface.  Solution: Microsoft Arc Mouse Touch Surface Edition… Bluetooth connection, and it still folds flat for easy storage!

Ear buds: A couple of years ago I found myself in an airport without ear buds, and I picked (blind) a pair called a-JAYS Four.  I had never heard of the company and I am not quite sure why I picked them, but boy am I glad that I did.  They are comfortable, and more importantly the plug is flat (look at the picture and you’ll understand) so when I am on an airplane plugged in and stand up without paying attention I don’t wreck them.  They sound great too!

Pens: Yes, I carry pens… and use them all the time.  The nicer of the two is made of (or made to look like) a printed circuit board, and was a gift from my friends Rick and Isolina.

…and that’s it.  I have a few papers, I usually have some guest passes for Taekwondo to give out, and maybe a cigar… but there’s nothing else.  It makes for a much lighter load than I used to schlep… I remember dragging my Lenovo Carbon X1 behind me when I was in Japan… it was not that much bigger (14” instead of 12”) but because I had the bigger bag I always stuffed more into it than I needed, hence the shoulder pain.

But what’s missing?  You may have noticed (or not) that I did not list a power supply on the list… I don’t carry it with me.  I charge it overnight, but I have only run out of juice once in the last month.  Now it is worth mentioning that I am have been between contracts since I picked it up, and have been able to work at either Starbucks or the Niblick Pub for six to seven hours before having to go home.  I am starting a new contract next week, and if I end up using my own device then I will bring the power supply with me… or more likely the docking station which is coming out in the next couple of weeks (yes, I have pre-ordered one… first time ever).  I do have a power supply in the car, but it is still sealed in the box, and I might just return it because I never use it.  We’ll see!

What does it weigh? Honestly I don’t know… but probably around 6lbs… or roughly equivalent to the weight of the primary device I carried when I wrote the first ‘What’s in Your Laptop Bag’ article.  One thing is certain, I don’t worry about it hurting my shoulder as I used to, and I never worry about airlines making me gate-check it :)

Conclusion

The truth is that I need very little with this device… the dongles are important, and the USB keys, cables, mouse, and ear buds are really all I need.  Everything else that I might need in a hotel room – external speaker, VGA cable, and so on – can go in my suitcase when I travel.  What do you need?  I don’t know… but I hope this article will help you with the bare essentials!

I’m Afraid. You should be too.

This weekend throughout Canada there are demonstrations going on that are billed as being against the Israeli action in the Gaza Strip.  Some people are going so far as to call them anti-Israel.  While I find it distressful that there are demonstrations across one of the countries where I am a citizen that are specifically and vehemently against the other country where I am a citizen, that is not what frightens me.

We have all sorts of expressions like ‘call a spade a spade’ and so on… so why is it that nobody is willing to stand up and call these demonstrations what they are?  Simple… because it is not polite to call them anti-Semites.  When slogans of Heil Hitler and Death to Jews are called out it has nothing to do with the State of Israel.  You can call it what you want… I am calling it what it is.

In numerous North American cities (including Ottawa and Washington, D.C.) Jewish protesters were evacuated ‘for their own safety.’  I appreciate the police doing that  if they felt the lives of the protesters were at risk… what I would like to know is why weren’t the people who would do them physical harm (and in a couple of cases did) arrested?  Physical violence is a criminal offense.  Why isn’t it treated as such?

As a Jew I am afraid to walk in the street.  That must sound ridiculous to people who know me – I am a Second Degree Black Belt with a military background… not to mention that I am 6’3” tall and not small of stature by any measure.  So what should I be afraid of?  The answer is simple… it’s what I tell every student of mine: no matter how big and strong you are, there is always someone bigger and stronger.  And an individual doesn’t have a chance against an angry mob.  If I am to stay safe I have to either avoid the protests, but because there are attacks on institutions and on individuals now I would also have to hide the fact that I am Jewish when I walk in the street.

My children aren’t safe.  My parents aren’t safe.  Why not?  Because there is no law being enforced in Canada that prevents or punishes an attack on Jews and Jewish institutions, as long as it is done under the guise of being anti Israel.  My friends can only be safe as long as they hide the fact that they are Jewish.

A few weeks ago I wrote an article and published it on my blog, and then pulled it down an hour later.  I was told that especially now, as I am looking for a job, that I should keep my political feelings quiet, lest someone not hire me based on them.

Guess what? I’m done hiding.  I am Jewish and I am Israeli and I was Israeli Defense Forces, and I am proud of all of that.  Those three factors combined make it very clear what my stance is… and guess what?  I’m a centrist – not right wing, and certainly not a right wing fanatic.  I am certainly not a left wing dove who would pay any price for peace… I want a reasonable solution.

I may be afraid to be a Jew living in Canada, but I am done living a life of fear.  If someone won’t hire me because of who I am then I probably shouldn’t be working for them anyways.

Now here’s the thing… It’s not just Israelis and Jews who should be afraid… you should be too.  A German pastor named Martin Niemoller wrote the following:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

It is all well and good to be on the side of Hamas now because they are fighting Israel and not you… whoever you might be.  If everyone sides with them eventually there will be no more Israel and there will be no more Jews.  Do you think they will be satisfied?  If you do then you are fooling yourself.  Do you think Hamas doesn’t like Jews because they are Jewish?  They hate the Jews because we are not like them.  Once they are done with the Jews they will fight someone else… and don’t think that because you agreed with them in their struggle against Israel that they will cut you any slack.

So you then say that you don’t actually agree with Hamas, but you are against Israel because they are killing innocent Palestinians.  In the history of warfare no army has ever gone out of the way to prevent civilian casualties… but Hamas has done their best to thwart those efforts at every turn.  They put their people in harm’s way at gunpoint.  Someone I am getting close to said to me the other night ‘…the wrong people are dying.’  Yes, they are.  That is because the people who should be dying (Hamas militants) are very well protected in bunkers (including ones beneath hospitals) while they leave the innocent in the line of fire – where Israel specifically announced they would be bombing.

I am against innocent civilian deaths… I hate it.  I weep for every dead civilian on both sides.  I weep for the dead Israeli soldiers too, because they are my brothers.  However to blame Israel for these deaths is ignorant, and that is not propaganda.  When an Israeli soldier kills an innocent civilian intentionally he is brought up on very serious charges and will spend the rest of his life in prison.  There are some Israeli nut jobs who cheer when people die… but they are just that – fanatical nuts, and unfortunately it is those morons who get the attention of the media and are then shown as examples of why all Jews are monsters.

I am afraid because the majority of international media has a bias against Israel.  Is it all ideological?  No… simply put, anti-Israel headlines sells newspapers, and retractions don’t change the initial impression left.  Really, if you want to destroy the credibility of every anti-Semitic argument, you don’t have to go any further than ‘The Jews control the media!’  If that were true I wouldn’t have to be afraid… but we don’t control the media anymore than we control the banks (if you want proof against that one please refer to the balance of my accounts).

They are coming for me now and a lot of you agree with them, or are staying silent because they are not coming for you.  Maybe you agree with them because deep down you don’t like Jews but more likely because they have convinced you that Jews or maybe just Israel is evil.  I challenge you then to visit Israel and then make up your mind… Israelis are the warmest people you will ever meet, once you get through their protective shells.  Sit down and have a rational and reasonable conversation about the current war (or History) with a Jew or an Israeli and you will see sadness in their eyes.  They are coming for us now but you should be afraid because you are next.  I am afraid primarily for the simple fact that most of you don’t realize that I’m telling the truth.