oh yeah? What number am I thinking?

In our last episode, you may have heard that it had been 50 days since I quit smoking, kicked the habit, butted out my last butt.

Well, today I bring you fabulous news.  I have been officially smoke-free for SIXTY-NINE days.

You might be tempted to say, “whoa”, as in Keanu Reeves’ grandiloquence in the Matrix trilogy, but you might also pay homage to one if his ill-begotten first round movie choices in Bill ‘n’ Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

I give you, my friends, WILD STALLIONS!

Day 1 and 50 Days later

Today brings a double-whammy in the “Life of Joe” category.  After languishing in the realm of Post-Secondary-Degree-land, I’ve finally bitten the bullet and enrolled in a Post-Post-Secondary-Degree program.

In other words, I’m getting my Master’s.  I’m a freshly minted student in the Executive Master’s in Technology Management Program at the School of Engineering at Penn, also known as EMTM.  I’ll end up with an MSE, but since the program is co-sponsored by The Wharton School, there’s a decidedly business slant to the curriculum.

Case in point, my first two classes as said fresh-mint-student: Decision Models and Statistics.

I spend the last half of today going through Math Boot Camp.  I have to say, the Prof. was terrific, extremely engaging and personable, and surprisingly attuned to his audience of “haven’t done college match since…well…college” students.

I have to say, I came away with a better understanding of Derivatives and Integrals than I did with two semesters of Undergraduate Calculus!  Take that, Math Department!

So that’s the Day 1.  What’s with the Day 50 you ask?

Well, today also marks the 50th day since I decided to quit smoking; the 50th SMOKE-FREE Day!

And the crowd goes wild!

TV Power Consumption testing

I just got this link from my Crutchfield.com newsletter (Crutchfield being one of my favorite electronics retailers because they have exhaustive stats and specs for all the electronics they sell).

In a nutshell, on average, LCD flat panel TVs use less power than Plasma flat panels of roughly the same size.

Check it out.


Happy New Year, all!

Upgrading to VirtualCenter 2.5

Joe throttles VMWare...er...Scott

Just got through a rough few hours upgrading to the latest version of the VMWare Virtual Center server product (that was just released yesterday!). I know, right? I’m a glutton for punishment.

Anyway, just wanted to throw some notes up there in case there was anyone else out there who could benefit from the experience I just had.

We have two VCenter servers, both connecting to the same SQL 2005 Database server. With that setup in mind, here’s where I ran into trouble.

Started the upgrade to the first VirtualCenter server, with a full install of all the components including the VMWare Update Manager and the Converter Enterprise Edition.

The database connectivity step failed right away because the SQL Login I was using didn’t have “db_owner” privileges in the MSDB database. This is documented as a necessary permission for SQL Server in the VMWare Installation Guide, but I discovered the requirement in a roundabout way by looking at a SQL Profiler trace of the traffic being sent to the DB from the installer program.

I didn’t realize it needed that permission from a previous installation because we had initially installed VCenter using a local MSDE database.

NOTE: According to the documentation, the MSDB database permission is only needed during installation/upgrade, and can be removed after setup completes.

The next wackiness I encountered was installing the VMWare Update Manager component. It kept failing on install with a cryptic error message. I ran through the setup a few times and realized that the VMUM product has a TCP port conflict with the VirtualCenter Web Access components! We ordinarily don’t install the WebAccess components, but the “suite” installer program apparently automatically installs the Web Access business, silently.

So, Add/Remove programs, and modify the VirtualCenter Server setup to remove the Web Access components, and I was able to successfully install the VMUM components.

After my experience with the first upgrade, I foolishly thought upgrading the next server would be a breeze! The previous dot-revision upgrades for VC 2.0 were completely painless, so I had high expectations.

Little did I know that because of the SQL jobs that are created by the installation process (can anyone confirm that those jobs are part of the database install in 2.0?), there would be a naming collision and it would cause the database upgrade to fail.

Quickly reading through the DB upgrade log (found in c:\documents and settings\<username>\Local Settings\Temp) revealed the problem.

Luckily, we have two SQL 2005 databases in production (and remember, I had backed up the VC 2.0 databases before performing the upgrades). Restored to the second SQL 2005 database server, re-ran the installation routines (skipping the VMUM install!), and everything ran without a hitch.

Anyone else having some troubles upgrading? Next steps for the environment are to plan the ESX Server upgrades to v3.5! Hopefully those won’t be as painful.

They let Dogs have drivers’ licenses in New Jersey?

Saw this outside of Wegman’s in Cherry Hill over the weekend. Boyfriend and I couldn’t stop laughing.


VMworld 2007 – Day 4 and wrap-up


It’s like a rock concert in here! – Joe, talking about the Keynote
Ladies and Gentlemen. Put your hands together for the “Sultan of Networking”, the “King of Ping”, John “Full Duplex” Chambers! – Scott

The above quote made me laugh hysterically. Thanks Scott for setting the expectations for the keynote address for Day 3. VMware also premiered the winners of the “Become Virtually Famous” video contest, which I’ve embedded above. It’s totally awesome.

So, at the final day of VMworld, and the previous three days were top-notch. Thursday’s schedule was pretty light.

  • 10am – 11am | Technology Preview: Storage vMotion
  • 11:30am – 12:30pm | Tips for Troubleshooting VMware ESX 3.x Faults
  • 12:45pm – 2:00pm | Solutions Exchange

Again, to translate:

  • 10am – 11am | How to move your servers from one SAN to another without downtime…in the future!
  • 11:30am – 12:30pm | What to do if ESX Server crashes…besides panic.
  • 12:45pm – 2:00pm | Vendors, giveaways, and marketing materials…oh my!

Originally, I wasn’t really planning on going to the Solutions Exchange. But, Mike went buck-wild and gave his business card and information to all the vendors the day before, and you know what? He won a 4GB iPhone for his trouble! I was a little jealous, so I felt like I had to at least give it a try to see if there was anything I could win. And also, after seeing the dozen or so t-shirts that Mike ended up with, I wanted a few of them for myself. I am a sucker for a geeky vendor t-shirt.

I didn’t end up winning anything, but I did discover at least one vendor who has a product that is interesting. 3par has a storage solution that seems to be the next thing. They have a product that arranged 40 disks in a single enclosure, 10 across and 4 deep, rather than 10 or 16 disks in a single enclosure, only one deep, as typical for the SAN Storage enclosures that I’m used to.

They’re support model is similar to NetApp, in that the device “phones home” and automatically initiates a service call if there is a hardware failure. Also, their “Thin Provisioning” model allows you to over-subscribe your storage, so that you can allocate two 1TB LUNs, and if they are only actually using 0.5TB, you can accommodate that with only 1TB of physical storage. They are on my radar now for our solution.

One thing I made sure to mention to them, though, was what to do with “end-of-life” equipment. One of my pain-points with our storage arrays now is that we have these cabinets of disks that we aren’t sure what to do with now that they’re “obsolete”. (Special thanks to Mike for bringing this product/vendor to my attention!)

I should mention that yesterday’s presentation by The Green Grid was particular satisfying. They have a well-thought-out plan for how to gain better Data Center efficiencies. A couple of their short-term goals include getting more members as part of the Green Grid, but also coming up with a common language when talking about Green DataCenters. For example, I might talk about kVA/square-foot while another colleague/institution might speak to BTU/rack-unit. They want us all on the same page of the dictionary, which makes a lot of sense.

Once all that geekery was done, Scott, Mike, Boyfriend and I had some dinner at In-n-Out, down on Fisherman’s Wharf, and then meandered up to Ghiardelli Square and had some of their delicious chocolate. In word, delectable!

VMworld 2007 was totally awesome, and I’m really grateful to be given the opportunity to participate and learn. Extra special thanks to all the presenters, and to Scott and Mike for making it that much more enjoyable!

VMworld 2007 – Day 3


I was expecting more hippies, with long hair, and piercings and hip clothes and stuff. – Joe
Not from Corporate IT, dude. – Scott
Oh, yeah. – Joe

It’s strange. I think of VMware as so cutting edge that I just assume that their adopters are really going to be edgy, too. But I noticed that there is so little variation in the people here; white men, in their 30s to 40s, button-downs and polos, with khakis everywhere. The occasional woman (I’ve been sitting in the main hall for about 15 minutes now and I counted only three women walking through the door). It’s making me contemplative.

The quote above, too, is telling. There is a cost-barrier-to-entry for VMware; I think it’s about $5000 for every 2-cpu license; not typically in the ballpark for the hipster startups.

But enough of the sociological survey (at least for now…I’ve got some ideas brewing).

Today’s VMworld schedule is similar to yesterday’s.

  • 8am – 9:30am | General Session (aka Keynote address)
  • 10am – 11am | VMTN Community Experts LIVE (Panel)
  • 11:30am – 12:30pm | Virtualizing Exchange 2007 – The Final Frontier? (presented by Dell)
  • 12:45pm – 1:45pm | The Green Grid’s Recommended Best Practices for Data Center Energy Efficiency
  • 2pm – 3pm | ESX Server 3 – Patch Management
  • 3:30pm – 4:30pm | The Complete Clustering How-to with VMware Infrastructure and Microsoft Cluster Server
  • 5pm – 6pm | Tips and Tricks – Disaster Recovery in a Box

Again, translated from Geek-to-English for my non-VMware-savvy readers:

  • 8am – 9:30am | Some CEO is gonna be talkin’, but then there’s a panel on Energy Efficiency (w00t!)
  • 10am – 11am | Panel of people who spend a lot of their time online answering questions from other people who spend a lot of their time online (including me)
  • 11:30am – 12:30pm | How you can get Exchange 2007 support from Microsoft, even though they can’t officially support it in virtualization
  • 12:45pm – 1:45pm | The awesomest presentation of the whole show.
  • 2pm – 3pm | Keep your servers safe from harm
  • 3:30pm – 4:30pm | Keep your servers available 24×7
  • 5pm – 6pm | What to do if the floor falls out from under you.

As you might be able to tell, I’m totally excited for the Energy Efficiency panel as well as the Green Grid’s presentation on Data Center efficiencies.

I forgot to mention that IBM’s presentation on Going Green yesterday was actually really cool, and gave me some ideas on what we can do back in Philly. Oh, and I think I need to get a title-change to be “Greengineer”, along with my “Chief Blogging Officer” colleague, Scott.

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