Tag Archive for 'review'

HHR – The Rental – Alaska

After leaving the rather hostile Hostel we went and picked up our rental car which was an interesting experience as always.

Enterprise Rent-a-car

We were picked up by Enterprise, which honestly was one of the big reasons we chose Enterprise as it saved a us a cab fare and some transit time.  When we dropped the car off it was handy to have transportation as well, they took me to the central bus station so I was able to get on the route that headed to the airport with a minimum of fuss.   The drivers were personable and professional each way.

The car we were picked up in, which was supposed to be our car for the trip, was a Dodge Avenger.  I am not a huge fan of Chrysler/Dodge so I wasn’t too excited about it in general but was willing to give it a shot.  Turns out that it was a moot point as its tires were worn to the tread indicators and so we refused to drive that out into the Alaskan countryside where travel books advise taking two full size spares.

Saturdays are a crazy day to rent cars in Anchorage in the summer, I had tried to rent a car in Fairbanks so that we could have flown into Fairbanks and out of Anchorage and in April they were all rented already.  Point being, there wasn’t anything really cleaned up and ready to go – but there was an  Chevrolet HHR that had just been returned.  Brad W. had told me to avoid this car at all costs, but hey, we wanted to get going and it had to be better than an Avenger, right?

Edmunds is OK on the HHR and we found it to be OK too.

Pros:

  • A ~20 Gallon tank and 30+ MPG was exactly what you would want in Alaska where you can see signs posted that say “no gas stations next 85 miles.”
  • Passing power was sufficient at 55-60 MPH.
  • It does look pretty nice.
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System independently displayed each tires pressure and this is all viewable.  Due to past experience we are paranoid about wheels and tires on rental cars and this provided some great piece of mind.
  • Visibility was great out of the windshield when navigating rough terrain, etc.

Cons:

  • Cup holders that managed to be as bad as what the old ’99 Mustang had.  They were hard to use, adequate to get to and there were only three.  We are used to the Honda CR-V or Passat where we have about 10+.  Having room for empties so they aren’t just rolling around in the car is something we are just used to.
  • Stock stereo was weak despite its plethora of input options.
  • More stiffness in corners would have been great.  Taking many long, blind sweeping curves on Alaskan ridge lines at ~70MPH was a little nerve racking.
  • Passing power with the small engine at 65-70 MPH took a little longer than was comfortable.
  • Abysmal storage space.  We had to keep putting things in the back seat as there weren’t good places for books, cameras etc in the front seat.  Again, our larger personal cars have likely spoiled us.
  • Use the side mirrors as the view out the back is constrained.
  • You have to look down at the center console shifter to see what gear you are in.  Since you are frequently using Low gear etc. when descending mountains, this was striking as pretty ridiculous.

Conclusion:

Everything you want in a rental car (thrifty, easy to drive) with some traits that might make it an excellent commuter/secondary vehicle.  The HHR SS might be an interesting little ride with improved handling, performance and interior features with barely reduced fuel efficiency.

–Nat

VMware Lab Manager 4.01 Review

This isn’t going to interest most folks who are reading my blog.  I need to get this written out though, because some guy was looking for Lab Manager feedback and couldn’t find constructive criticism.  Here is mine, and I am sure Google will index it.

As of 4.01, VMware vCenter Lab Manager has its uses, but it has huge gaps:

1) Total lack of storage resource monitoring tools/information that would be useful. You can’t export storage usage, linked clone tree structures, etc. If you aren’t familiar with CoW disks, linked clone chains, etc. you soon will be and you’ll be wondering about this in a big way when you need to constantly buy huge chunks of SAN disk with little hard data.

2)No exisitng backup solutions. Want to back up your library entries? Enjoy manually exporting them and hitting them one by one. SAN replication IS NOT a backup mechanism, folks. Backup is to tape or similar.

3)Very little in the way of customization. We have users that constantly fill up LUNS and IP pools when they have open space in other LUNS and pools because they just use the defaults. We’d like to set the default to blank in many cases, but that isn’t available.

4)Redploying VM’s nets them a new IP. This is a huge issue at times if you have IP sensitive configurations, especially when dealing with fencing.

5)Active Directory is a mess with fenced VMs, etc. Not really Lab Managers fault, but that’s the state of things.

6)Scalability. Using host spanning networks you are limited to 512 distributed switch port groups that each fenced configuration uses. In large deployments, you are likely to collide with this, necessatating another vCenter/Lab Manager instance and fragmentation of resources.

7)Maitenance issues. Maitenance Mode even with host transport networks enabled is borked because of the little VM that Lab Manager locks to each host. This is fairly ridiculous and convulutes what should be a very straight forward process.

8)Get ready to work some enourmous LUN sizes vs what you are likely used to. We have 2TB FC Luns and the only one we extended to 4TB is having locking issues, etc. NFS is the way you need to go.

9)Enjoy adding another Server 2003 instance to your infrastructure, because 2008 isn’t supported as an host OS for the Lab Manager services.
  Oh yeah, all your important data is located in a little SQL express database on that server too. This is Enterprise software, right?

THE biggest issue I have with Lab Manager is the fact that Lab Manager accesses the ESX servers directly. Do us all a favor and use vCenter as an abstraction layer so we can actually see what the crap is going on and rely on a proven set of administration tools. Ideally Lab Manager would be a plugin and wouldn’t be harboring its own database, etc.

Bottom line is that you need to be sure you have the right needs for Lab Manager to be useful.

Original Thread:

http://communities.vmware.com/

–Nat