Archive for December, 2008

WorkBay chairs

December 12th, 2008

I’m not sure where exactly the fine line is drawn between productivity and antisocial behavior but this is a nifty idea.  For the office of course.  Not for home use on family members (ie. wives)  🙂  Reminds me of those chairs Will Smith used in the movie Men In Black.  Thanks for the heads up @davikes.

VMware ESX Essentials in the Virtual Data Center

December 11th, 2008

I just finished reading VMware ESX Essentials in the Virtual Data Center by David Marshall, Stephen S. Beaver, and Jason W. McCarty (ISBN: 978-1420070279).  If memory serves me correctly, one of the authors billed this book as “The 101 things you need to know about VMware ESX”.  I think that is a fairly accurate description.  Translation:  This is not your 800 page Advanced Technical Design Guide deep dive, however, it’s going to give you most, if not all, of the essentials using no-nonsense straight talk.  From an audience perspective, I felt it is a beginner to intermediate level book which talks in moderate detail about each of the integral components of VMware Virtual Infrastructure.  Some sections go into more advanced discussion, but not so much to the point that the book will lose the reader’s interest or accelerate beyond the intermediate level which I think is important.

It was a good read and I enjoyed it thoroughly.  Some chapters were difficult to take a break from reading.  It’s one of the few books available that cover ESX 3.5 which is the current version.  One of the sections I liked is at the very beginning where they discuss the history of virtualization.  I picked up quite a bit of background information from this chapter and learned where the roots of virtualization are.  It’s hard to believe virtualization as a concept has been in existence for nearly half a century.  Another chapter I picked up quite a bit of background knowledge on is the Automating and Extensibility where they talk about the VI SDK, VI Perl Toolkit, VI Toolkit for Windows (Powershell), CIM, etc.  I’m not much of a developer and frankly these had been areas I have avoided looking into out of lack of interest.  Again, the detail level didn’t convert me into a successful developer or scripter, but it lays down a nice foundation or primer on which to build knowledge.  VMware Virtual Infrastructure beginners will enjoy the back sections of the book where several 3rd party complimentary tools are discussed as well as the appendices which contain useful charts of information such as TCP/UDP port usage, Windows to Linux command conversion chart, plus log file location and discussion.  Technically speaking, the content of the book was dead accurate.  I had only a few sections marked up with wording changes I would have made to alleviate confusion plus a bulleted list that had been copied and pasted twice.  I’ve checked with the authors to see if they are set up for taking comments and making an errata resource available.

I wouldn’t be completely honest with the pool of talented authors whom I know and respect if I did not mention that at 237 pages, I felt this book was a bit on the pricey side as I paid the full $59.95 plus tax at the VMworld 2008 bookstore.  You can find it at Amazon.com for a good discount and free shipping.

For those that are attending the 12/19/08 Minneapolis area VMware Users Group meeting (VMUG), I’ll be raffling off two copies of this book which were generously donated by the authors.

WordPress 2.7 has been released

December 11th, 2008

It’s finally here.  Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t been waiting on pins and needles for this release.  I’m happy with the WordPress 2.6.5 version I’m on now but maybe once I see the new features in 2.7 I’ll get more excited about it.  At any rate, I’ll be proceeding with much caution.  Probably not for at least a few weeks.  Much like a Microsoft Windows service pack, I’ll let other early adopters find out the joys first, then I’ll stand on the shoulders of their learning and success and avoid the pitfalls myself.  My concerns are with the dozen or more plugins/widgets I use in addition to my blog theme.  If you have any experience or hear any sort of news good/bad/ugly, please share the knowledge.  Comments always welcome here (as long as they are not spam).

VMware revamps HCL publications

December 11th, 2008

The timing of VMware’s latest update is uncanny.  I had just written the other day about the VMware HCL and product documentation.  Yesterday, VMware launched a new Hardware Compatibility Guide portal making it easier than ever to find out out if your system, peripheral, storage, thin client, etc. hardware is compatible with VMware Virtual Infrastructure or VMware View.  The portal replaces the VI HCL document library previously maintained here and in fact, all of the HCL documentation has been removed from that page and replaced with a link to the new portal.

Leary of varying query based search engine usefulness, I tried the portal out for myself this morning by searching on “dl585“.  I was pleasantly surprised by the results.  Instead of indexing the HCL by VMware product platform (as was the case with the previous .pdf documentation library where there was a separate HCL document for each major generation of VI), the portal returns a list of results indexed by my hardware query displaying all versions of ESX that the dl585 hardware is compatible with.  In my opinion, this is much more efficient.

I then ventured over to the VMware View tab and searched on “chip pc” and was presented with a good sized list of Chip PC thin clients compatible with VMware View.  Another search on “chip” produced the same query results, however a search on “chippc” produced no results.  The query engine could use some polishing to showcase a more Google-like web 2.0 friendliness (Did you mean chip pc?)

Adding to a documentation junkie’s pleasure (that would be me), the portal also allows us to download the full version of the compatibility guides in .pdf format from the right side menu of the portal web page.  If that’s your thing, you still have the option to maintain your own offline .pdf repository.  This is one of the habits I do follow and I hope that VMware continues to notify us via RSS feed when an HCL has been updated, providing me with a direct link to the .pdf in the RSS feed so I can easily right click and “save as” into my offline document repository.

VMware configuration maximums

December 9th, 2008

Configuration Maximums for Virtual Infrastructure 3 is by far one of my favorite VMware documents.  This is a useful document for the VMware evangelist and any VMware VI administrator to have tacked up on the wall of their office for use as a quick reference.  It’s also handy for identifying platform comparison points of discussion or decision.

The document answers most of the “How many…”, “How much…” type questions about the VMware Virtual Infrastructure capabilities (ESX hypervisor, VirtualCenter, guest VMs, etc.)  more than once I’ve used this document as the basis for interactive VMware trivia sessions at our local VMware User Group meetings.  This is one of the documents that will most often be updated as new releases of VMware VI are released so it’s a good one to keep tabs on.

The VI3 documentation page keeps us informed as to what date the document was last updated.  In addition, one of the RSS feeds I am subscribed to is VMware, Inc. This feed lets me know the moment any of the VI documents are updated (at which time I then download the updated document for my own document repository I maintain).  Hardware Compatibility List (HCL) documents seem to update almost weekly which is a good indicator that VMware Engineers are hard at work in their labs certifying compatible hardware thereby expanding the list of hardware we may run our VI on.

The virtualization hypervisors (I never thought about it but is this the correct plural for hypervisor?) and management tools are evolving rapidly.  VMware, by far the most innovative of all companies in the virtualization arena, must have teams of technical writers keeping product documentation up to date.  For me personally, accurate product documentation is of the utmost importance and I hope VMware stays on top of it.  Vendor documentation is the gospel for the products and it defines what’s supported and what is not.  Keep yourself informed by reading the vendor documentation once in a while.  Even if you’re not into reading, at least know where the documentation is located for reference purposes.  I promise you the VMware configuration maximums is an interesting/fun read.

ps.  For those paying close attention, the scheduled server maintenance has been completed this evening.  I am now going out to shovel the snow in the driveway for the 3rd time in 24 hours.

Maintenance tonight

December 9th, 2008

The blog, web, and Team Fortress 2 servers will be down briefly tonight for a little maintenance on the virtualized gateway router.  Duration should be about half an hour at the most.  I apologize in advance for any inconvenience.

Speaking of maintenance, I doubled my hosting bandwidth over the weekend from 5Mbps down/512Kbps up to 10Mbps down/1Mbps up.  I performed a little bandwidth speed testing last night and initially I wasn’t overly pleased the results.  Depending on the remote host I tested speed against, I wasn’t seeing the numbers I should be on the download side.  Eventually I did find a remote host that proved I had a 10Mbps down pipe (I don’t have bursting AFAIK).  On the up side (which is what really counts for hosting performance and you readers), I wasn’t able to find any remote hosts that showed I had upstream bandwidth beyond 512Kbps.  I’ll be performing more tests and I will contact my service provider if I am not completely satisfied.  For what I’m paying for business class broadband, I insist that I be consistently getting the 80% of the promised speeds which I believe is the SLA with my provider.

Trust me, I could go really hysterical with regards to my provider but you readers deserve better so I’ll keep it bottled up for now.  Thank your lucky stars for whatever provider you have because chances are they are much better than what I have to work with.

Toodles.

Update: Bandwidth is looking good.  Explanation in comments below.

12-9-2008 9-45-07 PM

Microsoft clothing line launched

December 9th, 2008

In case you don’t have enough technology shirts or you are not projecting your geekness as much as humanly possible onto others, Microsoft is here to save the day with the launching of their new clothing line Softwear.  In a nutshell, mid-80’s style t-shirts reflecting Microsoft technology accomplishments reminiscent of the era in addition to other icons from the same era.  Thankfully, for fashion’s sake, there wasn’t a whole lot going on in 1985 compared to today so there are only a few selections to choose from (including the classic Bill Gates police mugshot).  I’m not sure where exactly Microsoft is going with this but if it garners any success, expect more of it.