Quick AppVolumes 2.11 Security Hardening!

Today companys are growing more and more security aware and paying more attention to the fine details, there is a growing demand for hardening applications. On that journey i had noticed that AppVolumes web console uses HTTP and HTTPs for authentication. So if you choose you can log into AppVolumes manager on HTTP. There is no little check box or setting to change to remove this option. But i did find a great KB article for that:

https://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=2095972

This article explains how to turn off port 80 for the AppVolumes Manager.

The article below is linked inside this KB on how to move your clients from using 80 to 443.

https://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=2091589

And the last one that is also referenced is how to replace the default SSL cert and generate a CSR.

https://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/search.do?cmd=displayKC&docType=kc&docTypeID=DT_KB_1_1&externalId=2095969

This was more or less just a quick blog post to let people know there is a solution out there for this.

Posted in VDI, Virtulization | Tagged ,

My thoughts on Surface Pro 4

After been given some time with the Surface, I have got a chance to know it a bit. First off I would like to say thank you to those of you that convinced me that I should migrate to the Surface world. This thing is great. It’s a perfect format for what most people need. Do you need a big 15 laptop monitor, no not really! One thing I miss from a 15 in laptop is the 10 key. But I can manage and I am sure I will learn to deal with out it just fine.

I managed to go out and get myself a i7 Surface with 16GB of Ram, and 256GB SSD, with type cover and a Docking station. The reason I get the extra ram was to run VM’s from it. I figured it would be a missed option if I could not just spin up a Test VM in workstation. For this option I did buy a WD external 1TB hard drive to store the VM’s on.mypassport_ultra_fd_5 There was no reason to spend the astronomical amount they want for the 1TB internal SSD. The External spinning disk works great for this. This way it gives me some flexibility to do what I want with it. The goal of buying a surface for me was twofold. The big one was to replace a 15in Laptop, and an IPad Air. And the next was to act as a desktop for my house. I wanted to replace an older desktop that I had and give me some mobility. I already have a 1TB OneDrive account (Not so unlimited anymore) so I can use that to store some docs, but I also have a Synology NAS at the house.

Personal dislikes:

I guess the first and biggest dislikes I have is the Pen needs to have a locater beacon in it. Kind of like what Tile did with their product they need to do the same thing to the Pen. I seem to leave mine everywhere, not because I mean to, but because it falls off. The magnet concept is a good idea but did anyone test this. Mine seems to fall off during transit, in my backpack, when I bump the Surface, even if you seem to stare at it pretending you can use the force to knock off the Pen it just falls off.

The second biggest one is the fan and heat. I went with the i7 version and I have to say that this thing is anything but quiet. It seems like every time it comes on the fan is running, and seems to have some warmth to the back of the Surface. I don’t mind so much if the fan would come on from time to time but it seems to run non-stop. I have not put much research into it to see if there is a bug issue, but it’s really annoying to say the least.

The third one is the Docking station “Thing”. It’s a nice option and I was glad to get one. I was looking forward to taking it home and hooking up my dual 29in monitors to it and hooking up my surface and be all happy. Well that did not work out so well. I hooked up the doc station and nothing happened, and then after a pause all 3 screens went black. I am thinking “Well I broke it”, but after a few minutes the surface display came back on and I could set up the other two monitors and move them around. I was happy for the time being. It was kind of nice but clunky to get working just right. I unhook the surface go work the next day and come back home and hook it up again and black screens, you don’t even see the Windows Hello working to sign you in, and you just hear the sound. After about 2 to 3 minutes all 3 screens come to life. And it is like that every time you plug it into the dock. I have not tried just one external screen yet, but plan on it now that I thought of it. I want to replace my dual screens with one Ultra-wide anyways so if one screen works well I am good with that.

Benefits:

Flexibility and mobility are the two biggest things I have seen. The surface is so much lighter and portable than my 15 Laptop. Not to mention the battery seems to last.

The Pen, okay the first day the pen was a novelty. I mean for any of you that have has ever had the torture of reading my handwriting you would understand. I really am one of the people that missed my calling and went into IT instead of the medical field. So writing in onenote without my decoder ring is kind of an issue. It was fun and was a great idea for people with neat handwriting, But not for me. Day two is when I figured there were other uses for the Pen. I was trying to explain something to someone and I had no real paper to draw a diagram on, and use the surface to draw on. And that is where I found my use for the pen. When you are making note for projects or network diagrams you can just draw them into OneNote with the pen and you will always have them. Now the pen had moved from a novelty to a useful tool. I was hooked at this point.

The new touchpad and keys on the type cover are nice. The touchpad is smooth to operate, and the keys feel great. One downfall is if you have the Type cover propped up there is the odd thud sound when you type on it. And it’s a little bouncy, but that I can deal with. I would say that buying an external mouse was a good idea when using it for long periods. I decided to go with a Logitech MX Anywhere 2. mx-anywhere-2I had such a great life with the original, that I thought why not upgrade to the newest version and give it a whirl.

I guess the overall Surface itself. So far the design is great, the feel is great. It’s been a great tool to add and will be looking forward to the next version and see how this market grows.

Posted in Random Crap, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , ,

Building a new Media Server with Plex

After moving into a new house this last May I have been on a major upgrade path, mainly because I went from dual satellite links at 10mb down and 1mb down, with a 25GB cap on each link to now having 45MB. ulhotnmced87tf1qeruzThis allows more internet activity at my house now that I have 45mb and no data cap. I made the decision to upgrade my old media server. This allows us to stream our movies to any device anywhere. So when the kids go somewhere they can watch our videos on their tablets or phones. The old server was a custom made rig to say the least. I made two identical boxes, each with 11 one TB drives in them, one box was the master and the other was the slave, set to mirror off an ESATA cable between the two of them. This was originally loaded with Windows Vista media center, and later upgraded to Windows 7 media center. I had spent days converting DVD’s to WMV files, and did not want to lose this so redundancy was a must on this original build. Over the years this has worked amazingly well, with minor hard drive failures here and there, but nothing major. Beings it’s been in production for 7+ years I figured it’s time for an upgrade.

A few months ago I started the project of ripping DVD’s and Blu-Rays again. This time I was ripping them to MKV files. I did this because most media today can play MKV in its raw format and not need to do any conversion or transcoding. I started loading these on portable drives and set up a temporary Plex server on an old PC. I loaded Ubuntu 14 due to the PC was only a Core Duo pc and I knew that windows 7 would chew up most of the CPU on that machine and UbuntuUbuntu_GDM_logo_alternative is a lot less CPU intensive of a OS. Not to mention that the box only has 3Gb of RAM.  I wanted to give Plex a fair shot at a usable replacement for media center. I mapped the portable drives and started streaming media. (How to map external drives to Plex) I decided to let it run for a couple of weeks and plex-logo-dark-small-77202045f47146129647bee8b1cac77cchecking in on it from time to time. It seemed like an awesome replacement. At one time I had 4 live streams running at the same time on a Core Duo machine. That is pretty good I have to say. Even one of the streams was a 1080p and the other 3 were 720.

Now it’s the build phase. First step, find or build a storage device. I have been looking at different options for this for some time. It came across a friend that was running an Intel NUC as a Plex server with a Synology as his storage. To me that just seemed a little too costly. After all I was looking at building a 20tb+ media library. I ran across an ASRock X99 Fatal1ty X99X Killer(L1)motherboard that could support 12 hard drives. And I thought about creating a 12 drive hot swap super Plex server.81vtfkOB8HL._SL1500_ One issue I had was a case. I found one with Rosewill. They
make a 12 drive 4u hot swap rack mount chassis. After doing all the math of the cost of building my own and just topbuying a Synology I decided to go that route. The cost on both builds with a media server was about the same. So why not go the proven method.
I purchased a Synology DS1815+ and 6 Western Digital 4 TB red drives. This is my start. After about 2 weeks I ordered thetop remaining 2 drives and 1 cold spare. This will give me just under 24tb of media storage in SH2 or Synology RAID 6 and have one drive as a cold spare. The ability to have two drives fail is nice but beings rebuild times are so high I wanted to keep an extra drive close by as my security blanket.

On building the server that is still a work in process. I am still working on the best solution for this. Beings conversions on my side of the server are minimal, and should create minimal tax on the CPU there is not much of a need of a high end CPU. But I want to plan for future proofing as much as possible. I know an i7 is a must but the big deal I have is do I go with an Intel NUC that gives you a dual core i7 and a single NIC. Shuttle PC has a dual ds81_04NIC version of the NUC just it only supports a Gen4 i7 but it can be a Quad core Gen4 i7. Right now I may go this direction mainly to get the Quad core part so I can support more HD video streams.  There is always is many different ways to solve this, just really depends on your needs. Right now I would like to go with a  Quad Core i7, 8GB of Ram and 256GB SSD running Windows 10 and the Database backed up to the Synology. Just have to make up my mind on the platform.

One big thing to consider is your Plex server needs. How big your repository will be and what are the max number of continuous 1080p streams you will have. For CPU recommendations look here.

Finally I came comfortable with a new platform for the Plex server. I decided to go with the Shuttle PC DS81. This was from what I could tell the best option for me. I decided to go with the Intel i7 4790 processor for the Quad Core 3.6GHz power behind the beast. I chose this processor based on benchmark tests. I tried to pick the best processor for the best price. And this one fit my needs the best. I also decided to use a Samsung mSata EVO 250GB SSD. I had never seen the mSata drive in person till this one. I was quite impressed on how small they are. Then topped it all off with 16GB of Crucial DDR3 PC3-12800 Unbuffered NON-ECC. After a bit of assembly, we were ready to start loading Windows 10.mSata I decided to go with Windows 10 for now because of easy of use. When you go to connect up your External drive to load the OS you need to change one setting. in order for it the recognize your mSata HD. If you open up the BIOS and go to advanced you will see a setting “Mini-PCIE/mSATA Select” Change that to mSata and it will now see your HD. Once I had 10 loaded I ran the driver disk included with the Shuttle PC to get the NIC drivers to load. Then we were off and updating. Eventually loaded the Plex server and now we can let the streaming begin. I did make a few changes to the Plex server
MakeItHurtnow that I have a ton resources behind it. I did change the Transcoder quality to “Make my CPU hurt” I figured why not, we might as well go all out on the testing of this.

After running this for a few hours last night I am so far quite pleased. I did manage to run 6 1080p Streams off it at once and only had a 35% CPU utilization. Hopefully this weekend I can load it down with my Max planned load of 12 Streams and see how it goes. I will keep this updated as the testing progresses.

Below are some of the Assembly Pictures of the Synology and the Shuttle PC.

Synology 1815+

Synology 1815+

Synology 1815+

Synology 1815+ Rear

Synology 1815+ Rear

Synology 1815+ Ram Slot

Synology 1815+ Ram Slot

Synology 1815+ Ram Inserted

Synology 1815+ Ram Inserted

Shuttle PC build

Shuttle PC DS81, Intel i7 4970, Samsung SSD mSata 850 250GB,  Crucial 16GB of RAM

Shuttle PC DS81, Intel i7 4970, Samsung SSD mSata 850 250GB, Crucial 16GB of RAM

Shuttle PC DS81

Shuttle PC DS81

Shuttle PC DS81Rear

Shuttle PC DS81Rear

Shuttle PC DS81 Inside

Shuttle PC DS81 Inside

Shuttle PC DS81Heatsink

Shuttle PC DS81Heatsink

Shuttle PC DS81 Heatsink Side

Shuttle PC DS81 Heatsink Side

Shuttle PC DS81SystemBoard

Shuttle PC DS81SystemBoard

Intel i7 4970 Installed

Intel i7 4970 Installed

Samsung 850 mSata 250GB SSD

Samsung 850 mSata 250GB SSD

Shuttle PC DS81 Assembled

Shuttle PC DS81 Assembled

Shuttle PC DS81 Assembled 2

Shuttle PC DS81 Assembled with additional HD cradle installed.

Posted in Media Server | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Adding External Hard Drive to Plex server on Ubuntu

As some of you have found that trying to map an External Hard Drive to your plex can be a plex-logo-dark-small-77202045f47146129647bee8b1cac77cpain. You think you have it and then you go into plex and you realize that you can choose your drive but it shows no content. This is due to a permissions issue with the “plex” user. The plex user needs to have permissions to the groups: plugdev, root, sudo, and your user. This will allow you to see what is in the folder inside the Plex app. So the first part of these instructions are meant to add the user to the groups, and the second part is to mount the drive and to have it remount when you have to reboot.

Open up Terminal

Type “sudo blkid” and type in your password. This will show the mounted devices. Keep note of the UUID of the device you want to add. Hint copy and paste it into a notepad.

Unmount drive with right click on the drive and choose Unmount or in the Terminal window type “sudo umount (DeviceID)”

Next steps you need to add permissions to the plex user. To do this you need to do the following.

In the terminal window use the following commands

“sudo gpasswd –a plex plugdev” after hitting enter you should get a message saying “Adding user plex to plugdev”

“sudo gpasswd –a plex root” after hitting enter you should get a message saying “Adding user plex to root”

“sudo gpasswd –a plex sudo” after hitting enter you should get a message saying “Adding user plex to sudo”

“sudo gpasswd –a plex (Your User Name)” after hitting enter you should get a message saying “Adding user plex to (Your User Name)”

“sudo gpasswd –a (Your User Name) plex” after hitting enter you should get a message saying “Adding user (Your User Name) to plex”

Now you need to create a directory in your home folder. This can be down either with the GUI or in the Terminal. Also one thing to keep in mind these Directories are case sensitive, they will have to match a later step so keep that in mind.

Gui

Right click inside the home director and choose new folder and name it what you want like “Media”.

Terminal

In the terminal “type mkdir” Media or whatever you want to call it.

Editing the fstab folder to make the folder auto mound on start up.

In the Terminal window type the following

“sudu gedit /etc/fstab”

This will open a new window and the fstab file. “DO NOT DELETE ANYTHING THAT IS ALREADY IN THERE” What we are going to do is to add to the bottom of it. Follow the directions and all should go well.

Type the following

# (Enter a comment on what you are going to be adding) Like “External Media USB drive for Plex”

UUID=(DEVICE ID) “Then hit the tab” (Mountpoint “/home/Username/Media”) “Tab” ntfs “Tab” 0 “Tab” 0

Example

UUID=6db8d964-8400-432d-bc3a-e15abd0acfb0               /home/chris/Media        ntfs        0              0

Now you need to save the file and reboot your machine. Once it is up and running again your External drive should be mounted to your machine and if you open up your home directory your “Media” folder should have a USB icon added to the folder icon. This is to show a drive is mapped to this folder. Now when you open up Plex you can add the “Media” folder to the database.

Posted in Home Automation, Media Server | Tagged ,

CCNA-DC 640-911 Exam Study Guide

It’s officially time for the official unofficial official study guide for the Official CCNA-DC 640-911 official Exam. 

(I just wanted to use Official 6 times in one sentence. )

Only a few months in the making and I have finally hit the finish line. This has be a decoder-ringmassive undertaking for someone that does not like the write, and most of the time I need a decoder ring for my own notes. I hope you find it useful.

With this I give you my version of a Study Guide for the CCNA-DC 640-911 Exam. This was created with the intention to be used as a guide not the sole purpose of studying. This guide follows the lines of the CCNA-DC 640-911 outline as best as I could. I wish you all well with your exam prep.

Cisco_CCNA-DC_640-911_Exam_Study_Guide

I also created a Subnet and Number Conversion Chart. This chart is great for helping you do number conversions and subnetting. It’s extremely easy to remember the pattern behind it to use it during the test. The 3 I would recommend remembering would be: Subnet Chart, Number Conversion Worksheet, and Number Conversion Chart. With those three you can do what you need to get done.

Subnet and Number Conversion Charts

With that I also created a set of Worksheets for you to practice your Number Conversions and Subnetting. I created these as a practice exercise for me. Figured why not just throw them in this also.

Number Conversion and Subnetting Fun

Last I created a set of flashcards. You can laugh if you want but the flash cards help me learn the info faster. I guess it gives me focused learning. Below is the PDF version and the Excel version. The excel version is split up into sheets based on the topic and also has a blank card template at the end. The PDF version is just them all thrown into one document.

PDF

CCNA-DC 640-911 Study Guide Flash Cards

Excel

CCNA-DC 640-911 Study Guide Flash Cards

ciscochampion200px

Posted in Compute, Networking, Study Guide, Virtulization | Tagged , , , ,

OneDrive Changes Coming Soon To a PC near you.

I guess after a little more than a year microsoft realized they may have made too bold of a statement with Unlimited OneDrive accounts. What is changing? Well in a announcement last night Microsoft was going to cut the Logo_OneDriveUnlimited OneDrive accounts down to 1TB of Data, claiming that most users only use 5.4Gb worth of data. They are also removing the 15GB picture roll option for phone users with the free account. So you will no longer be able to just backup your pictures to onedrive. The following changes will made:

  • 100 GB and 200 GB subscription plans are being discontinued and will be replaced with a 50 GB option for $1.99 per month. This will happen in early 2016.
  • The 15 GB of free OneDrive storage, which everyone with a Microsoft Account receives, will be reduced to just 5 GB for all current and new users. Those changes also roll out in early 2016.
  • The 15 GB Camera Roll bonus has been offered for sometime with Windows Phone devices and was even a marketing ploy when iPhone users did not have enough space to upgrade their phones to the latest iOS version. At the time, Apple recommended that users delete photos in order to free up space so Microsoft offered the free 15 GB Camera Roll to them instead.  This free 15 GB of space for photo storage will be discontinued in early 2016.
  • Office 365 subscribers will still receive 1TB of storage with their subscription instead of the previously offered unlimited option.

Microsoft OneDrive Changes Blog Post (Seems to extremely Slow today)

Here is another great article.

One huge benefit of the Office 365 Subscription was the Unlimited OneDrive account. At this moment in time I was one of the few that may have abused it a bit, but again it was unlimited. No my OneDrive account was not the 75TB size. Not even half of that, but I was getting close to half. It was nice to have any file you ever needed in the cloud. I mean really how can one abuse the unlimited storage. You cant, people were using what they deemed necessary, that is kind of the point of UNLIMITED. This is kind of like a cell phone carrier taking your unlimited calling plan and changing it mid way through the month. Its their own fault for offering it up and there should be some sort of grandfather clause. I would be willing to settle a bit and Say you can grow no more past your current size. I would understand that.

And as you read this you think why would anyone need that much data. Then the question is why not? If you have PC’s and you don’t want to lose data on them you back them up. Then where do you store the backups. I pushed mine to OneDrive.  If you had a house with 2 Teen daughters that take a ton of photos a day. Where do you store those, mine went to OneDrive. And so on. I dumped whatever I could to OneDrive. This in turn allowed me and my family to access any file that we would ever need from anywhere or any device.

There were some limits to the unlimited OneDrive one of them being the most annoying was the 10GB file size limit. But there were some creative ways around it. One of the simplest ones was to run the file through WinRAR and cut it up into 9.8GB chunks and then upload the RAR files to OneDrive. And if you ever needed them you just download the series of RAR files and decompress the chain. This process works with about any file including video files.

Yes I am not a fan of the changes, and honestly I am quite upset on them dumping the SL20Unlimited OneDrive account. I mean that is one reason I wanted to keep my Office 365 subscription. Why push it back to 1TB. Most of us in the IT world could fill a 1TB drive pretty quick, why not change it to a 25TB or 10TB limit or something a little more reasonable.  Now the question what is one to do now? Well I guess step one is to start cleaning out the old backup files, and start preparing for the inevitable.

Okay sorry for my rant.

Posted in Random Crap | Tagged , , ,

Journey to creating a Study Guide

Early on this year I decided to put forth the effort to get the CCNA-DC certification. I purchased the CCNA Data Center DCICN 640-911 Official Cert Guide and began reading and taking notes. I started the process of reading through book when it struck me to look for any study guides out there. In reality I never found anything out there. I did find a Cisco CCNA Data Center study group. There is a wealth of information people have put together. I do have this exam is a huge undertaking to prep for. After finding the lack of a study guide I decided to make one myself.  This was something that I had never even dreamed of doing, or even could I ever imagine that I would do this. I immediately decided to start converting all my notes to a study guide. This added some time to my study process. But during the conversion process I think I gained a huge amount of knowledge that I had overlooked in my first pass through the book and the product guides. This exam outline is extremely broad and vast in its scale and the worst part it’s extremely vague. It is extremely hard to cover all its reaching. Even in the 640-911 guide I do not feel it covered the whole thing in total. I had to go check out the CCNA-RS books to find some other details, and even Read the CCNA Data Center DCICN 640-196 Official Cert Guide to get some more details on other parts. I know I missed some things on the study guide but I was under a goal to keep this under 60 pages, and kind of failed it’s now right at 65 pages. I really felt that is where I could steer the people reading it to the right direction of the areas where they need the most help and not try to recreate a book that was already out there by people way smarter than me.

One thing I never thought of was the sheer amount of work in creating a study guide it was going to take. Maybe it was just because it was a Cisco exam or maybe it was just because it’s a early certification. But wow there is an extreme amount of work into creating a Study Guide. I have to say that I have an even greater respect for those that put the effort into creating a Study guide. Even more respect for those who venture into writing a book.

I look forward to releasing my CCNA-DC 640-911 study guide here shortly as I finish up the editing. I guess I need to put an extra effort into making sure that I get all the grammar mistakes and make sure there no late night typing wonderings or dyslexic babble. I do have to say this is a project I will never forget and look forward to doing it again on the 640-916 exam. Hopefully this time it won’t take me so long to get the next one out. I have learned some great things in the process, and I hope someone finds my guide useful.

Stay Tuned for updates on this.

Posted in Study Guide | Tagged , ,