My workspace and hardware zen

Everyone has their own relax or zen area where they like to spend time getting away from reality and de-stressing. One of mine just happens to be the same place where I get a lot of work done – my main gaming platform and home office area! Since we moved into our new flat, I found that there wasn’t much space to set up my PC. Last weekend I whipped out the old jigsaw and sliced a couple of inches off the side of my PC desk in order to get it to fit into this corner.

I then decided to neaten up and organise everything a bit to enhance my working conditions when I do work from home. I made a “ghetto” iPhone dock out of the packaging the phone came in, using the plastic dish the phone is cradled in. I cut out a small area at the bottom for the iPhone connector to fit in, then routed the cabling into the box itself, which sits diagonally in the lid of the box, flipped upside down. The cable then comes out the back and plugs in to the power socket behind my desk. This keeps the cabling nice and neat and I just plonk the phone down into the dock when I get home for a charge. I don’t need a USB connection to the PC as I have SSH enabled via a jailbreak – I therefore use Wifi access and WinSCP or SCP from Putty to transfer files between PC and phone.

Behind this is my touch sensitive desk lamp, in front of the dock is my work IP phone which connects up to our VOIP server. Then we have my main PC which consists of the following: Asus P45 P5Q motherboard, E8400 3.0GHz Core2Duo CPU overclocked to 3.6GHz in Summer and 4.0GHz in Winter. 4GB OCZ DDR800 RAM running at DDR1000 speeds and an ATI HD 4870 graphics card which has a custom flashed bios which overvolts the GPU and applies a generous overclock. I used to have a nice quiet watercooling loop in the PC, but sold it recently and went back to air cooling. I plan on doing another Watercooling build soon and will hopefully post the process and worklog here when I do. The other peripherals consist of a Dell 24″ LCD (1920×1200), G15 Keyboard and Logitech MX518 mouse.

I use this PC for just about everything – all my PC gaming, Web browsing, a little bit of programming and Virtualisation (On top of Windows 7 Professional it is running VMWare Server 2.0) with a variety of guest VMs that I use for testing and practising various Windows and Linux server technologies.

Other hardware I have lying around is an old Dell Poweredge 2U server which I run VMWare ESX 3.5 and a Dell Optiplex machine running uBuntu 8.04, with VMWare Server 2.0 for linux and a guest VM operating system running on top of that which runs uBuntu Server 9.04 and this very website.

Anyway here are a few photos of my nice clean new workspace.

Update, life and VMWare

So lately I have been quite busy. Here are some of the major events that have happened over the last six months.

1. Got married. We did all the planning in just under one month. As you can imagine there was a ton of stress involved! You wouldn’t believe the amount of documentation/admin work that is created when you get married.

2. Started a new job. I now have  a more challenging and stimulating job where I am learning much more than what I was at the last company. Minus the cushy Audi A3 2.0 TDI though.

I seem to have settled in to my new company quite well. Its been six months since I started.  The staff are friendly, we often have social get togethers after work, and I got to take my first long holiday (two weeks) since moving to the UK. I have been learning a lot and also taking more and more interest in VMWare. Incidently, my first encounter with VMWare was the free “Server” version back in 2007. I first got to play with ESX near the end of last year and since starting my new job I now have far more exposure – I work on Virtual Center all day managing VMs and our various ESX hosts and the clusters they form. I have also built myself my own little ESX lab at home complete with it’s own NAS/iSCSI datastore. All I need now is a second ESX host to build myself a HA/DRS cluster.

The other part of the VMWare story that has been keeping me busy is studying. Although I would ideally like to be concentrating on doing my VCP (VMWare Certified Professional) for vSphere, I have recently completed a VTSP (VMWare Technical Sales Professional) accreditation for my company. See the shiny new logo below. Next on the agenda is to complete the vSphere VCP course though! My company has agreed to send me for the mandatory class room training course, so hopefully this will be under way soon.

3. Moved house. After sharing a stunning two bedroom house in Wimbledon with a best friend and his fiancé, we all decided to go our separate ways earlier this year after my wife and I got married. It was quite a mission packing up and moving to a new area and even more of a mission to settle in to the new area and get all the new utility bills in place. The plus side is that we now have our own place to ourselves. I just need to break free from the public transport system. I can’t stand not having a company car any more and absolutely hate travelling on the bus to work when it is too cold to cycle in to work!

Creating a Panoramic photo – Pamukkale, Turkey

Here is my first attempt at a panoramic photo stitch. I took a series of five photos overlooking the area known as Pamukkale in Turkey recently. After converting them from RAW files to JPGs, I downloaded and installed “Hugin”. It is an opensource panoramic photo stitcher. You simply specify the series of images, click align, and then click “Create panorama”. After saving the output and cropping the final file down a bit here is what I ended up with.

Pamukkale Panoramic view
Pamukkale Panoramic view

Removing a Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES) user

This quick how-to explains the easy task of how to remove a user from Blackberry Enterprise Server.

  • First of all login to or open the BES server console. If the BES MMC console is already open close it (quit) then launch it again. If the MMC is not open, open it, then close it and open it again. (Use the “Blackberry Manager” icon on the desktop or in the start menu to do this). You can also run “C:\Program Files\Research In Motion\BlackBerry Enterprise Server\BBMgr\Server\bbmgrw32.exe” if BES has been installed in its default location.
  • On the left hand side menu, expand “Servers” then expand “YourBESservername”. You should see a list of users on the right.
  • Find the user you are removing, highlight and right-click their name and then select “Delete user” When asked if you would also like to remove their data, select “yes”.
  • The user should now be removed from Exchange Blackberry services.


Problems using vmotion to move VMs between ESX hosts with different CPUs

When VMs are used on new ESX servers the CPU mask maybe left over from the ESX server that they were previously used on. This can cause problems when VMotioning to new ESX servers that have slightly different CPU/s. To get around this issue, we need to reset the CPU mask as part of the process when moving any VMs over to a different host / cluster.

The following explains how to reset the CPU Identification Mask to avoid this issue:

1) Shutdown the problem VM
2) From the VMWare Infrastructure client, go to “Edit Settings” (From the summary tab) on the VM in question.
3) Select the “Options” tab
4) Select “CPUID Mask” under the “Advanced” section
5) Click the “Advanced” button
6) Click “Reset All to Default” button
7) Click “OK” on all forms to apply the change.

You should now *hopefully* be able to VMotion this Virtual Machine across seeing as though the CPUID Mask has been reset to defaults – I would imagine that this gets reconfigured depending on what CPU the VM finds when it starts up again.

Drop any comments or additional information in the comments section below.