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9
Dec

Reduction in the legal spam.

The majority of the legal spam that I’ve been recieving has been from major marketing mailing list managers. Unsubscribing from each company’s email campaign is a futile game of whack-a-mole. So I directed my efforts on the source of the email. Here are the steps I’ve used to get a perma-block on my email address for now and future email campaigns. I’ll be glad to add more if you know of any, hit me up in the comments.

 

Constant Contact:

Instructions:

Send an email to: Support@constantcontact.com

Subject: Permanent block

Body of the message: Please prevent any of your current and future customers from sending me emails through your service.

Submit and wait for a confirmation. I had a response in about six hours with a positive acknowledgement.

 

Mailchimp:                        

Visit: https://mailchimp.com/contact/abuse/

Instructions: fill in your full name and email address. For the required section labeled headers, simply enter “no headers”

Reason for report: Please prevent any of your current and future customers from sending me emails through your service.

Submit and wait for a confirmation. Mailchimp support responded in about an hour with a positive acknowledgment.

24
Aug

Hewlett Packard HyperConverged HC380 Fun

I’m 1600 miles away implementing a multi node cluster of these HC380s and have run into a few bugs. One is an absolute deal breaker and needed to share this in hopes it helps others in the same process.

During implementation, you are asked to choose a username and password for the VirtualStore appliances that make up the storage back end of this solution. There are a few characters that are not accepted like colons, semicolons, etc.

One of the characters that they did not call out is the ampersand (&) – DO NOT use this character when deploying the HC380 environment. Your deployment will begin and then fail during the VSA deployment and configuration. The end result is a smoldering pile of HP software that requires a manual “reset” process on each and every node that will take about 45 minutes to run on each.

Pre-Implementation Tips:

  1. Verify you’re running the latest version – don’t assume the fresh hardware arriving has the latest version.
  2. Download all of the images available before arriving onsite… just in case you need them. The management VM is 20GB large and installed on each node, better to have that before you need it.
  3. Bring some longer Ethernet cable if you don’t want to be standing behind the HPC node balancing your laptop in one hand and deploying or resetting the environment with the other.

Don’t disregard implementation support costs. If you’re not ready to lean hard on your HP reps – purchase implementation support. HP production support may ask you to pay up for help implementing their solution even if the problem is 100% their software.

7
Jan

VMware Tools Downgrade

I ran into a situation where I needed to test upgrading VMware tools using an alternative method other than directly through vCenter or auto update. To do this testing I had to roll back the most recent version of VMware Tools on a VM to an older one. Uninstall latest, reboot, install older, reboot. No sweat, right?

Well this wouldn’t be much of a blog entry if that’s all there was…every time I rebooted after installing the older version – vCenter continued to report the tools version was up to date and everything was A-Ok. What was strange is even running the command line to verify the versions returned the latest version – and I know I used the older tools installer.

C:\Program Files\VMware\VMware Tools\VMwareToolboxCmd.exe -v

After uninstalling the newest version, I used the VMware KBase article for manually uninstalling VMware Tools to verify everything was gone – and it was – until I hit the last step: Delete the %ProgramFiles%\VMware\VMware Tools folder.

I found a single text file called Manifest.txt which contained the current versions of everything that was installed with the latest VMware Tools. I deleted this file and ran the old VMware Tools installer and successfully reported back an “Out Of Date” Tools installation.

Tip: You can grab any version of VMware Tools from VMware’s Packages site here: https://packages.vmware.com/tools/esx/index.html

21
Oct

STARTTLS and OS X Mail

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 11.29.50 AMA change recently in OS X’s Mail application has caused an unusual problem of not sending mail on the regular SMTP or IMAP ports. I’m not sure if its El Capitan that initiated this change because I do not send mail often from my desktop mail client.

After a message stuck in my outbox, I fired up my firewall live log display and could see my computer hitting TCP port 587 a few times. This port is blocked on my firewall because I’ve never needed it open.

Normal humans don’t run a firewall at home that is this locked down – normally any outbound traffic is open – but this works for me.

I did some research and apparently TCP 587 is a known email port – for SMTP using STARTTLS, which I didn’t think Mail used (or it didn’t until recently) to send mail. Everything in Mail’s preferences mentions TCP 993 (IMAPS or IMAP using SSL encryption).

FastMail has a very good article on what this port is used for and why its being used. Essentially it’s a TLS encrypted SMTP connection that offers a better way of validating the destination – which could possibly coincide with Apple’s use of a “token” to authenticate iCloud users. So after opening up TCP 587, Mail was able to send my email message on its merry way.

 

 

6
May

Cloning and deploying ESXi

I’ve got a pile of MicroSD cards, a few racks worth of blades in different locations, and a hankering to deploy VMware in a stateful manner by simply plugging these SD cards in and booting up the blades or deploy blades with SD cards and perform remote installs with as little effort as possible.

 

First challenge is to reduce the amount of effort in prepping or installing the base hypervisor on the SD cards.

I can clone them quickly using an SD card reader from a base image – however ESXi has to be prepared for cloning (Windows engineers will recognize this as a Sysprep).

  1. Install ESXi on a blade as you normally would.
  2. Boot ESXi and make sure it boots up without issues. You could join it to vCenter and push any applicable patches or VIBs your blade will need (Nexus 1k VEM, EMC PowerPath, etc).
  3. Log into the console and select the last option “Reset System Configuration” , press F-11 to confirm, press Enter to restart the host.
  4. Once ESXi reboots, shutdown the blade and grab the SD Card, that’ll be your master image.
  5. You can now clone this SD card or better yet, create a master template image file so you can push it multiple times. Each copy will generate its own UUID and Service Console MAC address so there will be no conflicts.

One thing to note – your password is now BLANK, so when you deploy – make sure you get a strong password on it. I’ll be using host profiles so that’ll be taken care of during the prep for production.

 

My second option is to create a custom install ISO. I’m looking to have this ISO boot to a menu or prompt that will allow the installing engineer enter in the host name, IP address, and whatnot – then install and customize the ESXi install automatically and reboot.

Still investigating that.

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