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4
Mar

Google Voice

A year ago I converted our landline over to Vonage. It was about the same price as our existing landline from a CLEC, but brought with it more features and a pretty cool advantage of sticking it to the man… or at least that what the Vonage commercials let you believe.

Fast forward to this month. I’ve dumped Vonage, mainly because they couldn’t fix a simple problem of routing a call to my in-laws’ house across town who also had Vonage. We also have cellphones with unlimited voice and texting, so the landline wasn’t really necessary anymore. I did want to keep our home number, so I hit the Google and found a great resource on how to “port” my home landline number to Google Voice. There are a ton of resources from others online who have done it – so I won’t copy their hard work. I’ll just let you know I used an AT&T GoPhone for $25 to get my number away from Vonage.

Once the number was in AT&T Wireless’ database – it was ripe for porting to Google Voice. Another $20 to port it. So now I’m 1.2 months worth of Vonage to get my number to a cloud service.

Exactly 24 hours after I paid my 20 bucks, Google emails me and let’s me know they have it. Two days later, Vonage send me a goodbye email. I still changed my method of payment over to my empty Paypal debit card so they couldn’t charge me beyond my last month.

Now comes the tricky part. Fooling your family and friends.

By default, Google Voice will screen your calls. This means that anyone that calls you will get the Google Voice attendant asking “After the beep, please state your name… BEEEEP” then the caller is put on hold while GV rings you and announces the call. It’s quite an ordeal if your grandma calls you and has no clue what this chick is asking and why?

Update your contacts in GMail and/or Google Voice. Make sure the numbers are correct and group your friends into a friends group, family into a family group, etc. Then you can set up group based rules. Like family rings right through – no screening. Friends ring my cell during the day and only Google Talk at night.

Oh, and if you need to make outbound calls from your home number – use the Google Voice app on your cell, calls inside the US are 100% free and it only uses data. You can even call from your browser if you have a decent headset or use your laptop as a speaker phone. I pay about $4/mo to Skype to let me call from my tablet, computer, or cell to landline phones – Google Voice is going to save me the $4 now.

Total savings: $4/mo Skype, $39/mo Vonage Unlimited… so $516/year… which pays for one of my extra iPhone lines outright.

If I ever need to light up my home landline again, I’ll just get one of these.

8
Nov

Network Path Not Found

We’re spinning up Windows 2008 R2 Standard servers from templates in our vCloud environment and begin to notice a problem. We can’t join them to a working domain.

Network Path Not Found is the error we got when we attempted to join the domain.

After some troubleshooting, we think it might be DNS issues… but everything works. After further investigation we notice that the service TCP/IP NetBIOS Helper is set to Automatic – but is not running. Attempts to start it, fail.

Nothing around the net is helpful – so we start tearing apart a working server. The one registery key related to the TCP/IP NetBIOS Helper is different.

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\NetBT

Start Value should be set to 2 instead our broken server was set to 4.

This also solved the event log entry:

Service Control Manager (7001 – None): The TCP/IP NetBIOS Helper service depends on the NetBT service which failed to start because of the following error: The service cannot be started either because it is disabled or because it has no enabled devices associated with it.

4
Nov

Encrypted Fusion Drives on Older Mac Hardware

A few months ago, I removed my MacBook Pro’s optical drive and replaced it with an inexpensive disk caddy from Amazon and a 120GB Intel SSD disk from BestBuy all told for about $110.

After removing the optical drive and placing the SSD into the caddy, I wanted to do a clean install so the Mac was running on the SSD – so I downloaded OS 10.8 and placed it on a thumb drive (yes, I purchased it and just let the App Store download it again). I made sure the TimeMachine backup was up-to-date and that I could restore from it before I went any further.

Most of my information was based on this blog post by Andres Petralli, so credit is due almost 100% to Andres – thanks!

Insert your OS X thumb drive into an available USB port and restart your Mac.

Hold down the Option key to force your Mac into Recovery mode.

Choose the OS X thumb drive – it’ll look like an Orange USB Drive

Once you’re booted up into recovery mode, launch Disk Utility.

Delete all of your partitions on both disks and leave them empty.

Exit out of Disk Utility, navigate the menu of the Recovery Partition – select Utilities -> Terminal

Enter the command:

diskutil list

You should get some output that will display your physical disks. Almost always, your two physical disks will show up with /dev/disk0 and /dev/disk1 – compare the sizes to be sure you’re working with the right ones.

Enter the command:

diskutil coreStorage create NameYourPartition disk0 disk1

You can name your LVG (Logical Volume Group) anything you wish – I named mine FusionDrive to keep it simple while I followed Andres’ instructions.

Enter the command:

diskutil coreStorage list

Now you’ll see your LVG, that is currently built on two physical volumes and presenting a Logical Volume Family to the computer. Notice the < and > on the tree structure. The physical disks are “feeding” the logical volume family. Also notice the long alphanumeric strings after each item – these are called UUIDs or universally unique identifications – they allow a computer to maintain unique ids on hardware or objects that could be similar in every other way.

Now we have a single empty volume to work with and create a partition to be formatted and be used by the computer.

Now run the command:

diskutil coreStorage createVolume [copy and paste the Logical Volume Family UUID here without the brackets] jhfs+ MacintoshFD [enter the number of gigabytes you want to use, subtract 10GB for a recovery partition]g

Example: My LVG has a total size of 869.0 GB and the LVF UUID is 928D4C88-86FD-46DF-B487-3B0E0467349E
Example command:

diskutil coreStorage createVolume 928D4C88-86FD-46DF-B487-3B0E0467349E jhfs+ MacintoshFD 859g

You’ve now created an HFS+ Journaled volume called MacintoshFD that is 859GB large.

One last step while you’re here – let’s encrypt this beast so our data remains secure.

Run the command:

diskutil cs encryptVolume [UUID of the Logical Volume of MacintoshFS]

You’ll be prompted for a password and confirmation – but after that, the encryption will begin and happen in the background. Rebooting, shutting down, installing the OS, whatever – it’ll just chug along in the background until it’s done.

Now, go and install your OS X and retrieve your data from your backup.

 

Some related reading:

http://www.petralli.net/2012/10/analyzing-apples-fusion-drive-in-an-attempt-to-retrofit-an-existing-macs-with-an-ssd-and-a-traditional-hard-disk/

http://blog.fosketts.net/2011/08/04/mac-osx-lion-corestorage-volume-manager/

https://developer.apple.com/library/mac/#documentation/Darwin/Reference/ManPages/man8/diskutil.8.html

17
Sep

In the groove

Getting back into the groove at a new job, new list of tasks, new home schedule, and for once – a true training schedule to get me back on the road to good (better?) health.

I’ve signed a five page NDA that is scares me to type anything more work related than the words “work related” so my posts will typically be generic if they discuss VMware or my new employer TDS Hosted and Managed Services (TDS HMS). And anything I typically share – will always be available somewhere else already published and approved the marketing… okay with that out of the way, here we go.

Visi, Team, Vital Support Systems, and OneNeck are all owned by TDS. With a big toolbox of resources and a roster of some of the smartest and battle hardened folks in the business – I’m honored to be onboard with the crew leading up their new cloud IaaS product ReliaCloud. And for those who ask, no that is not me in the NOC photo this time. I honestly tried to find the photo but wasn’t successful. Internet Wayback Machine to the rescue… which goes to prove don’t let marketing photograph you – you’ll never get it off the internet. :)

And with that, I’m wrapping up a lunch hour post and hope to add more meaningful entries in the near future.

24
May

VMware View 5.1 Deployed

I took this week after classes finished to tear down our View 4.6 cloud that was hosted on vsphere 4.1 ESX servers and redeploy it properly with a dedicated vCenter server, upgrade the vmware environment to 5.0 U1 and then roll out a new View 5.1 environment.

A few quick observations for those planning upgrades. Read the installation, administration, and upgrade manuals completely and make notes of all the changes or ancillary upgrades you may need to do.

I ran into a couple of hiccups but nothing too painful.

The security server wouldn’t link with the connection server until we opened up the extra ports in our DMZ firewall and had IPsec encapsulation enabled. Yes, it’s clearly documented – it just needed to be read. Oh and the installer says you can use the IP or FQDN of the connection server while installing the security server – don’t use IPs. Use the FQDN and make sure that your security servers can resolve the FQDN of the connection server.

Make sure you have a good public cert if you’ll be letting anyone outside your organization connect. If not, bone up on running a certificate authority in your network. You should already be deploying internal certs to your servers and workstations.

I’m digging the new features like host caching (2GB of server ram dedicated to caching storage… Zoom!) and finally an OS X client that does PCoIP and doesn’t require Microsoft’s RDP client.

I just finished deploying new thinclient images with View 5.1 clients and the new root CA. The wildcard cert we purchased in February from GeoTrust was great… Except the HP thinclients didn’t have GeoTrust’s root cert so the entire view environment was Untrusted and the clients just failed to connect.

Tomorrow I start deploying Win 7 desktops…

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