Category Archives: Uncategorized

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!

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.

An Open Letter to Those Who Posted on my Facebook Wall Berating Israel

It is amazing that people who are otherwise intelligent can be so gullible and ignorant.  In 2005 Israel left Gaza completely.  Not only did the IDF withdraw, they pulled out all settlers (often at gunpoint, kicking and screaming).  They left behind factories, farms, and the world community committed a boatload of money for them to build more.  In fact, they had the opportunity to make a Palestinian state that would have been a model for the other occupied territories.

What they did, instead of building anything productive:

  • They elected Hamas (an internationally recognized terrorist organization) as their government;
  • Rather than build or maintain infrastructure, they dug tunnels… at a ridiculous cost of BILLIONS of dollars.  They dug tunnels under the border with the expressed intention of attacking Israeli civilians.
  • They armed themselves to the teeth.  They bought billions of dollars of weapons – rockets that can reach Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, guns, bombs, etc… not just some, but ridiculous amounts of them.
  • They placed those weapons as close as they could to civilians… rented apartments intentionally adjacent to childrens’ bedrooms, hospitals (the Al-Shifa hospital which was built by the Israeli government, complete with a bunker-protected operating theatre, is now a command headquarters for Hamas), and yes even UNITED NATIONS SCHOOLS.  This is done so that when Israel DOES retaliate (as they have been this month) there will be civilian deaths which Hamas can then show the world and convince ignorant people that the big bad Israelis are evil.

Israel targets the Hamas weapons and weeps when there are civilian casualties.  Hamas aims at civilians… they always have, and they have not changed.  Not only do they TARGET Israeli civilians, they place their own civilians in harm’s way INTENTIONALLY and at gunpoint so that there will be civilian deaths.

With all of that said, Israelis NEVER celebrate the death of innocent civilians… on either side.  Whoever told you that they did is full of crap. 

Israel and Israelis want peace, but we are also not stupid… Hamas doesn’t want peace… even the PLO (the government of the West Bank) are trying to distance themselves from the Hamas tactics… and they know that Hamas is screwing them.  Hamas has asked for several cease-fires, and have broken every one of them within an hour.

Fortunately there is a solution.  Everyone is telling me that there has to be a complicated negotiation in order to end the war.  No… here it is, the answer to a lasting peace between Gaza and Israel.  Are you ready for it?

STOP SHOOTING AT ISRAEL.

Of course it is a little more complicated than that… They would need to stop firing rockets into Israel (and tough shit that we keep shooting them down… We actually want to PROTECT our people… suck it up).  They would have to secure their borders and stop digging infrastructure aimed solely at attacking Israel.  Stop sending human bombs into Israel… in fact stop sending anyone who doesn’t want to be friends.

There it is.  By the way, I know you don’t like Jews.  Here’s the truth, as proven by… every conflict, as well as every other measure of your struggle against us: We are stronger than you, and we are smarter than you.  Live with it.  You don’t like us?  STAY IN YOUR OWN YARD AND BUILD YOUR OWN COUNTRY. 

Wait… you say that some of the Palestinians in Gaza DON’T hate Israel?  They WANT peace?  They want to come into Israel to work (as they have been doing since 1967)?  Guess what… THEY ARE WELCOME TO CONTINUE TO DO SO. 

We don’t hate Arabs, we don’t hate Muslims, and we don’t hate Palestinians.  WE LOATHE TERRORISTS.  We hate them with every fabric of our being.  I remember what I learned in Basic Training way back when – 1994, and it was in Ramallah which is no longer part of Israel.  WE ARE NOT LIKE THEM… WE TARGET THE GUILTY, AND NOT THE GUILTY BY ASSOCIATION.

So you live in the West, and you want to believe the propaganda? You know what… I can live with that.  You want to boycott Israel and Israeli products?  No problem… but please boycott all of them, including the vaccines.  You want to support Hamas?  Don’t do it on Facebook… fly over there (Sorry, you will have to fly into Ben Gurion International Airport and then take a bus to Gaza) and join them. 

But if you want to accuse Israel and Israelis of being monsters? War criminals? Murderers?  Do me a favour… do it to someone else.  If you want to do it on Facebook, then do it to someone else.  If you are willing to discuss it like rational human beings over coffee, I will gladly listen to what you say as long as you are willing to listen to what I say.  I guarantee you though… I am better informed on the subject than anyone who gets their information from CNN or the BBC.

Surface Pro 3: A VERY different experience

If you are a long time reader of this blog you may remember how thrilled I was when I bought the first Microsoft Surface Pro sold in Canada.  I wrote about it (including videos) that week (Microsoft Surface with Windows 8 Pro: It’s Here!) and quite a bit subsequently.  It was… well, it was a nice device, don’t get me wrong, but it was really a companion device to my laptop.  It simply didn’t have the oomph to replace my HP EliteBook (which I soon thereafter replaced myself with a Lenovo X1 Carbon).  I need more than 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage to be comfortable.

This past February I decided to sell that device and trade up to a Surface Pro 2.  I was absolutely thrilled with the new device (Surface Pro 2: Oh yeah!) because it really was a replacement laptop for me… okay, it wasn’t… but only because the screen size was just too small.  However because of the amount of travel that I do I decided that was a small price to pay for a lighter load – and anyways, most of the offices I worked in and hotel rooms I stayed in had another screen I could connect to.  The 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage really did make the difference, although I was hesitant… I decided that before I actually sold my Lenovo I would put it away for a fortnight, and see if I ever missed it.  I didn’t, and when I decided it was time to sell I never looked back.

Okay, I looked back a little… I had been considering this as an option for a while, and in May I went out and purchased an external USB screen (There was a sale on the AOC model and I broke down and bought it).  The fact is that while I am on writing assignments – I don’t mean blog articles, but full length courses – I simply need more  desktop real estate, and I was not working from my home office so it was simply a necessity.

A few weeks ago Microsoft released the Surface Pro 3.  They didn’t release all of the models – there will be one with 512GB of storage, and one with a Core i7 CPU among others – but they released the equivalent model to my own… which really is all that I would ever need, as I use other devices (either servers or high-end laptops) to create the courseware that I am writing about.  I decided to roll the dice and see what I could get for my Surface Pro 2 on the open market. 

Jackpot!! I won’t say that I got my full purchase price for it, but I did get enough for it that the new device would not cost me too much… actually it wouldn’t cost me anything because I had a voucher!  I ran to the Microsoft Store at Yorkdale Mall (Toronto) and asked the associate to bring me a shiny new Microsoft Surface Pro 3, complete with 8GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, a navy blue type cover, and an extra stylus.  For good measure I purchased the Complete Care warranty too… that has saved my bacon a few times in the past!

For the first time in a very long time I found myself without a computer configured as my own, so I rushed home and opened it up… and I recorded the process of opening it up, narrating all along (including through the dropping thunk).

There are a couple of things that I noticed pretty quickly.  The Surface Pro 2 stylus was essentially a dumb device.  Not so with the Pro 3, and it comes complete with a AAAA battery.  You discover immediately when configuring the machine that it is also a Bluetooth device, and is pretty easily configured.

Did I mention how incredibly light it is?  Wow… 1.76lbs (800 grams) makes it 10% lighter than the Surface Pro 2…  and only about 10% heavier than the Surface RT.  As for thin, at 9.1mm thick it is 33% slimmer than the Pro 2 and only .2mm thicker than the RT.  All that with a larger screen (12”) with a better display resolution (2160×1440 compared to the 1920×1080 of the Pro 2).

Opening and getting to know the Surface Pro 3

Once you have watched the videos you should know that there were a couple of things that went wrong later on… For some reason out of the box I was getting a message that there was no battery detected, and I could not even turn the device on if it wasn’t plugged in.  I suspected at first that had to do with the battery type cover I have heard about, but when I looked up a solution on-line it seems that people had the same problem with the Surface Pro 2… I don’t know what it is, but it’s something… fortunately it was fixed by a couple of firmware updates.

Speaking of firmware updates and patching the device, it would not let me do any further patching until I had plugged the device in and charged the battery to 100%.  All this to say that rather than being ready to go right away, I spent the evening at the Niblick Pub in Oakville (which is no hardship I assure you!), and only when I got back a few hours later could I truly set it up.

Once that was done I have had no further issues… on anything.  I am sitting at Starbucks as we speak with my external AOC screen connected, but the truth is that I don’t need it; I probably would if I was on a writing assignment, but while the 16” external screen is larger than the 12” screen on the Surface Pro 3, the resolution of the Pro 3 beats the AOC hands down.

Is it a true laptop replacement?  I got into a bit of a debate with a friend about that on Facebook – it probably is for the vast majority of users, but for people who truly need higher resources – the friend in question truly does need 16gb of RAM to run the array of virtual machines he walks around with – it doesn’t cut it.  For most of us I suspect the Pro 3 really can replace our other laptops.

I was a little concerned by the size… next to the 10.6” Pro 2 the Pro 3 looks positively huge, and I was worried it would not fit into my messenger bag – when I shed the Lenovo I stopped lugging my huge laptop bag and have been happy carrying my kit in my messenger bag (not this exact one, but similar) and saving the added weight.  I was glad to see that while it truly is the maximum size I could comfortably fit into the bag, it did indeed fit.

Will the romance last? I don’t know.  For the time being I am thrilled with the device – not simply the size and form factor and novelty of it, but the performance is what I need to do my work.  I have been running a single Windows 8 virtual machine in the background and I haven’t seen any degradation in performance whatsoever.  Now granted, I have been writing, surfing, checking e-mail, and editing videos… nothing to truly test the mettle of the machine.  However with the 4th generation Intel Core i5 I don’t anticipate I will be disappointed.

Is it for you?  I don’t know.  Is it for me? Absolutely… all 800 grams of it!

P.S. I stand corrected… in the video I claim it is just under or over $1200, when in fact the model I have sells for $1,349, and the Complete Care Warranty would have added an additional $149, but there was a bundle of the Complete Care, a Type Cover keyboard, and a sleeve.  I don’t remember the exact deal, but the long and the short is that I walked out of the store $1,600 plus tax ($1,807) poorer… and one great machine richer!