Monthly Archives: March 2012

New Phone

This wasn’t going to be that big of a deal.  Kristin and I just made a pact to step into the current decade and get data plans on our phones – and get phones worthy of data plans.  Blackberry’s circa  2007 just didn’t do enough with the data plan to make it worthwhile.

It bears noting that we were able to move to unlimited data (2GB highspeed, 50MB capped roaming) and 1000 anytime minutes (up from 750) for $10 a month.  You have to love T-Mobile for their pricing if not their coverage, which is definitely a disadvantage.

In any case, Kristin gave me a new phone (permission to purchase one) for my b-day.  Requirements?  T-Mobile.  Qwerty. 3G (for reasons mentioned later, beyond the data rate).  Not an iPhone  because they have no 3G on T-Mo and they are flippin’ expensive, plus we are not already in the Apple ecosystem and have no desire to join it.  Android but only an ICS (Android 4.x) or soon to be ICS because the mess that is Android 2.x + carrier customization makes me want to gag and I don’t want to have to root my phone to make it usable. Windows Mobile, very dependable interface/performance, not a lot of handset options though.   Blackberry, best QWERTY in the business but fading from relevance and the newer handsets (needed for T-Mo 3G) are also pretty darn expensive.

Well, the Android options were too expensive and I deemed the H.M.S. Blacktanic an unwise investment.  That left me with WinMo (some would say I was going that way all along… maybe, I do miss my Zune but I think it was a justified move) and there happened to be one phone that met my requirements, the Dell Venue Pro.  I’d love to link that to the Dell site which was live last week, but it has since disappeared which probably has something to do with the phone being cancelled on March 8th.  Sigh.  I still bought one from Amazon though.

Thoughts on the phone to follow soon!


Building the VT Class Server

Based on my previous experience in teaching my Virtualization (VT) class, I knew that I needed to have something portable to host the various VT environments on.  This is what I have assembled for this years class, after testing it as a pure Hyper-V server it is clear that it is very capable.


AMD 1090t, Six Cores @ 3.4 Ghz (200 Mhz mild OC)


MSI 880G ATX Motherboard

This has worked out really well as the onboard video means that I don’t have to worry about a video card and the NIC was automatically discovered by both Server 2008 R2 SP1 and ESXi 5.  This along with the 1090t set me back “only” $170.


16GB (4x4GB) Kingston Hyper-X DDR3 1333 ($60)

Hard Drives:

1x Samsung 470 128GB SSD ($115 used), 1x OCZ Petrol (Indillix based) 128GB SSD ($110 AMIR), 1x Hitcahi 250GB 7200 RPM Drive (old), 1x Seagate 7200RPM drive (older), 1x 16GB USB3 Drive (For ISO files under Hyper-V only, connected to an add in 1x PCIe USB3 card, $16)

The hard drives were really the crucial piece.  Under ESXi 5 and prior to the SSD drive investment creating VMs was a fine experience when done one at a time, but when ten groups of students tried to do it the system just crawled along due to the lack of disk IO.  It took nearly two hours just the students to activate Hyper-V and reboot the VMs a couple times.

Just this weekend, under stress testing, I was able to create ten Server 2008 R2 SP1 VMs under Hyper-V simultaneously and it only took 10 minutes!   That’s a huge improvement!

Case/Power Supply/DVD Drive:

Cooler Master Elite 310, Cooler Master GX 450W/Samsung DVD-RW.  $30, $25, & $18 respectively.

So, for about $550 I’ve built a PC that can act as a server for my class and that I also have access to 24/7.  It draws about 200W under load and spends its “spare time” running the BOINC Client and helping to save the world from various maladies.  I am pretty happy how it turned out, I think it is fairly balanced from a CPU/RAM/Disk standpoint.





It was a great time!

It was a cold time!

Fourteen of us huddled together around out PCs in a ~50F garage and rocked out Team Fortress 2 (plenty of anger here), Day of Defeat (friendly fire is on, folks!), Counter-Strike (gets older and older, thank goodness a new one is coming out next year) and Serious Sam: BFE (in which 10 players cannot be stopped.)


We raised $77 for Childs Play Charity through the raffle:

Dan with the "empty" bottle of Rum, Sean with the RAM as always, Nat with HS, Drew with Portal 2 and Brian w/both Blizzard Trials, Mitch not pictured won the Golden Ticket

There was an impromptu costume contest, which Brian won by virtue of the face paint:

"Don't Ask"

 Let’s hope there is another NATLAN this fall or next spring 🙂  I am already looking forward to it…


Linked Clones: Lab Manager vs vCloud Director v1.5

One of the big “features” added to vCloud Director that allows it “parity” when compared to the outgoing Lab Manager is the re-introduction of Linked Clones.  These Copy-On-Write (CoW) disks provide for VMs that are actually little more than differencing disks from a base disk.  Using Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) solutions, this is common to preserve disk space for all of your XP/W7 desktops you are spawning and allows you to better utilized small, expensive SSD drives.

Well, in LM and vCD, it is supposed to save space too. One beef I have with the current implementation in vCD is that it is actually worse when compared to LM.  The root of the issue, you see, is that in Lab Manager you could cleanly create a VM from a template, this would stay thin provisioned and it would act just like a classic VM, no linked clones and no CoW.  Well, in vCD you always get a linked clone no matter how you provision the VM if your Org has fast provisioning enabled.  This is also true for consolidations, where in LM you get a clean VM as result and in vCD you continue to get a linked clone, chain length of one.

In the long run, this is going to negatively impact disk space utilization.  As you are forced to always write to the differencing disk with Linked Clones, LM actually offered a nifty hybrid approach that allowed for overwriting the base disk when the VM was freshly provisioned or freshly consolidated.  This is a step backwards that I hope VMware will address.


I found a big Prime Number!

“Dear Primefinder,

Congratulations! Our records indicate that a computer registered by you has found a unique prime number. This computer is running BOINC, is attached to the PrimeGrid project, and is assigned to the Proth Prime Search. What makes this prime unique is that it’s large enough to enter the Top 5000 List in Chris Caldwell’s The Largest Known Primes Database.

Since you have auto-reporting selected, the following prime was submitted on your behalf:

Added 105269 : 4695*2^781278+1 (235192 digits)

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me and we will surely resolve any problem.

Once again, congratulations on your find. Thank you for participating in PrimeGrid.

John Blazek of PrimeGrid”

Very exciting! 😀