Still Migrating

My second day transferring my iPhoto library to iCloud Photo Library seems to be going very well. The “optimize storage” feature on the iOS devices is going to save users a ton of space.

Yesterday when I posted my last entry I had a 16GB iPad completely full (which was roughly 7GB of photos.) When I returned, all the photos had been uploaded to iCloud, and returned 5GB of space. No matter what I throw at this (and I have about 19GB of images in iCloud now) the devices sit around 2GB utilized for photo storage.

When photos further back in the catalog that are not currently on the device are accessed, they’re retrieved from the cloud in full resolution.

I’m only about 1/5th the way through my library. I’ve been doing it in chunks as I have time, because during the upload process I tend to fully saturate my 5Mb upstream home connection.

If you’ve not turned on iCloud Photo Library yet, even if you don’t intend to do as I’m doing and dump everything into it, you’re really missing out.

Migrating Photos

When I saw the new iCloud Photo Sync demo at WWDC, I was in love.

Photo storage and syncing has been a struggle of mine for a while. I’ve bounced between external drives (which makes accessibility when I’m not at home difficult) and using local storage (which wastes expensive MacBook SSD space) … but never been happy. I’ve switched between Lightroom and Aperture for my “professional” images (AKA those taken when my Nikon DSLR) and mostly used iPhoto for my iPhone captured images.

The other issue was 16GB iOS devices fill up quick these days. So to save space, I would regularly sync my devices back to iPhoto and then delete the photos from my phone, but again, this made accessing older photos difficult when on the go.

With the convergence of getting better and better iPhone cameras that rival my 8 year old Nikon D200, and getting tired of paying for Adobe software updates, I eventually merged everything into iPhoto.

Now, with iOS 8.1, the iCloud Photo Sync beta rollout has begun, but only on iOS devices and via the iCloud website. The previously announced Mac app is slated for early 2015. But I want all my stuff in Apple’s cloud now, accessible on every device.

I figured out how:

  • Make sure you have iCloud Photo Sync enabled on your iOS devices.
  • Open iPhoto, open Finder > AirDrop on your Mac.
  • Open Photos on your iOS device.
  • Drag and drop photos from iPhoto to your iOS device of choice via AirDrop.
  • This triggers automatic sync to iCloud which starts dropping optimized versions all around the place.

I’m currently chugging back through May 1 of this year, which I only stopped there because that filled up my iPad with photos, and I want to see if after it uploads how it smashes the used space back down. I could keep going with my iPhone 6 that has another 40GB free, but this is enough experimentation for now.

I’ll also probably have to increase my 20GB iCloud plan to keep going beyond what’s in there now. Once I’ve got things moved off, I’ll be able to get my local copies moved back to external storage and then at some point once the Mac Photos app is released figure out how I want to deal with my local copies again.

I think my iPad will become central to future workflow for editing. I’ve long owned the camera connection kit, but never used it. Now it’s going to become the primary injection point of new images taken with the DSLR or editing ones taken with iPhone. (Especially now that Pixelator for iPad is here!).

iPhone 6

My iPhone 6. 4.7”, silver/white. 64GB. AT&T. This iPhone is the first iPhone I didn’t immediately open the box to feel it was the best one ever. I almost didn’t even order one. The 5 was fine.

I’ve owned it a month now. Originally I felt that I was going to drop it every time I tried to grip it (using my smaller than normal man-hands) — that panic led me to the Apple Store to pickup the black, leather Apple case. The case gave me a safety blanket and the ability to learn to adapt my grip, however, last Thursday I took the case away. It’s been a week since I’ve removed the training wheels.

I love this phone, it feels great. The size is perfect. The rounded corners feel great holding it for long periods of time. I’m also past fussing about the camera bulge. I worried it’d get scratched, now, in Apple(Care) and sapphire crystal, I trust.

I still find myself adjusting my hands a lot more than the 5 or 3G/4 to reach the entire screen, but I’m getting used to it.

iOS 8.1 has massaged the major issues I was having with the software. Battery life has been awesome, far superior to the 5. The ability to use the higher capacity chargers for quick refills is great. Apps are now being updated to take advantage of the increased real estate of the larger screen resolution, but there are still some stragglers. (I’m looking at you OmniFocus.)

Over all, solid purchase.

Encryption Rights

Law enforcement officials usually play on our fears whenever their powers are limited, but those limitations are what keep our society from being a police state. The Supreme Court’s ruling in Miranda v. Arizona in 1966 led to catastrophic predictions that many criminals would go free and society would be harmed if all arrested people were informed of their rights. Didn’t happen.
That’s what’s happening here. Law enforcement types are suggesting that Apple and Google are making their products safe for child molesters. It’s the same old tired “good people have nothing to hide” argument against privacy rights that’s been carted out for years.

You have the right to remain encrypted.

Guidance Change

A few months ago I wrote about the VMware View optimization script breaking Internet Explorer and Adobe Acrobat through the addition of a registry entry that disabled Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR):

ASLR was a feature added to Windows starting with Vista. It’s present in Linux and Mac OS X as well. For reasons unknown, the VMware scripts disable ASLR.
Internet Explorer will not run with ASLR turned off. After further testing, neither will Adobe Reader. Two programs that are major targets for security exploits, refuse to run with ASLR turned off.
The “problem” with ASLR in a virtual environment is that it makes transparent memory page sharing less efficient. How much less? That’s debatable and dependent on workload. It might gain a handful of extra virtual machines running on a host, and at the expense of a valuable security feature of the operating system.
For some reason, those who created the script at VMware have decided that they consider it best practice for it to be disabled.

At the VMware Partner Technical Advisory Board on EUC last month, I pointed this out to some VMware people and sent a link to the blog entry.

Over the weekend I got a tip from Thomas Brown from over at Varrow:

Today I had an opportunity to download the updated scripts (available here) and was very pleased to see:

 rem *** Removed due to issues with IE10, IE11 and Adobe Acrobat 03Jun2014 rem Disable Address space layout randomization rem reg ADD "HKLMSystemCurrentControlSetControlSession ManagerMemory Management" /v MoveImages /t REG_DWORD /d 0x0 /f


As always, please review the rest of the contents to make sure the changes that the script makes are approprate for your environment.

Meraki Certified

Wednesday I had the chance to spend the whole day soaking in knowledge. Always a welcomed event. This time it centered around Cisco Meraki.

As an employee of a Cisco Premier partner (AOS), and a current CCNA, I was able to attend this one day boot camp on Meraki and earn their Certified Meraki Networking Association (CMNA) designation.

Other things you get for attending the class:

  • CMNA polo shirt
  • MX60 security appliance
  • MS220–8P switch
  • MR26 wireless access point
  • Lunch

Lunch was delivered today. The shirt and kit get shipped to me, and I can’t wait to get my whole home network setup on it and really start playing.

Tweet Sweep

I’ve been trying to determine the best way to link the blog and my Twitter account together. Obviously I tweet links to much of what I post here, but I tweet far more often than I blog. There are usually lots of good nuggets that I find, either links to other blogs, KB articles, or even just retweeting insights.

As an experiment I’m going to start putting together a little digest with some extended comments from me on them. Sometimes they’re the most popular things I’ve shared, sometimes the things I’ve found the most interesting, or sometimes just my failed attempt at being funny. So here we go.

Take note of the Dell PERC H310. This is in no doubt response to the VSAN Day from Hell that one unlucky user experianced a few weeks ago. The low queue depth on these cards prevent VSAN from performing as it should. It was good of VMware to yank these to prevent further issues, but frustrating that it wasn’t accounted for prior to rollout.

Kids say the darndest things.

I failed. Second attempt is August 2.

I do what I can to raise my children right.

It’s actually worked out really well, so far. I need to get into setting up LDAP and vCenter authentication for it. One less reason to have anything Windows running in the home. I also switched the home firewall from Untangle over to pfSense. This will change again soon once I get my Cisco Meraki firewall, switch and access point for the house. (Doing partner level CMNA training this Wednesday.)

This shit still has me pissed off, and logged off of Facebook on most of my devices.

Any encryption is good, but I’m not exactly jumping up and down with excitement about it.

Last but not least, what a mess this upgrade was. I won’t get into details since it involves a customer environment, but it was a stressful couple of days when we discovered Smartnet didn’t get renewed on their UCS environment as expected, after the FI was totally bricked. Our company was able to get it resolved with Cisco and they had a new one in the rack and running less than 24 hours later, still not fun.

Jabber Persona

I just got finished with a customer issue who had deployed Cisco Jabber along with VMware View, using Persona Management and floating desktops set to refresh at logoff. Much to their annoyance, users would have to reconfigure their Cisco Jabber client with the server connection settings and any client customizations made were lost after logging back in to the desktops.

After looking into this, what it looked like was happening was that the Jabber configuration XML files were not being sync’d down to the local PC before the Jabber client was launching and this was causing the settings to default back to a non-setup state. Even though the configuration data stored in jabberLocalConfig.xml was saved to the Persona Management share it never had a chance to get loaded before it was overwritten.

The issue was resolved by adjusting Persona Management group policies to precache the settings stored on the persona share to the virtual desktop before completing login.

Modify the Persona Management GPO setting “Files and folders to preload” to include the following directory:

AppDataRoamingCiscoUnified CommunicationsJabberCSF

Server settings, custom adjustments to the client are now maintained across desktop sessions. WIN!

Desktop Tested

Yesterday I sat for the VMware Certified Advanced Professional in Desktop Administration exam. While I would love to tell you that I passed, sadly it seems I will be sitting for the exam again soon.

For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to take the exam at 8AM on a Monday morning, and then not study. Add in staying up late on Sunday night to watch World War Z on Netflix and you’ve got a receipe for a rough morning.

But enough excuses…

I did read the exam blueprint, as with every certfification exam this is the best starting place to find out what will be covered. In order to save myself some time I’m going to plagerize what I wrote a few months ago after taking the VCAP-DCA exam to help explain the format for the test.

For the uninitiated, the test is unlike any other exam in the VMware portfolio, and unlike any other exam I’ve taken for any other certification. It is 100% lab based. You have remote access to a VMware vSphere 5.0 environment, with a vCenter, two hosts, a collection of virtual machines, and pre-provisoned storage.

In other VMware exams, you’re given 60–70 multiple choice questions to regurgitate anwsers to. In the VCAP, you are given 26 different “projects” you have work your way though. I say projects because each of the 26 will vary in length and have multiple component problems to solve. Some may be straight foward, some far less so.

In the case of this exam, the environment has more hosts and a newer version of vSphere. There are also 23 projects instead of 26. The rest of it still stands.

You start with 180 minutes, and half way through I thought I was making great progress, but then I ran out of time. I did feel like I was spinning my wheels a bit with lag back to the enviornment from the testing center, and there was a lack of clear direction about the environment and in some of the questions.

The last time I totaled up the number of View deployments I’ve either deployed soup to nuts, or done significant upgrades and management of since 2009, it was somewhere around a couple dozen. Even with that experiance, there were a couple of things on the exam that I’ve never had to do in my work and then plenty of things I was expecting to have to do that never came up. Overall though, it ran a pretty good swath of knowledge.

I’ve rescheduled for Saturday, August 2 at 10:30AM, not because I wanted to wait this long to retry but because that was the first time they had an opening that fit with my schedule.

Facebooked Out

Almost exactly one year ago, I wrote:

I’m taking a Facebook Vacation.
I’ve logged out from every device, removed the apps, the bookmarks, integration to operating systems.
The duration will be as long as I can swing it. There may be a point at which I can’t take it and come crawling back. I wouldn’t say I’m having withdrawal, but when I woke up this morning and got on my phone, the first thing I would normally do would be to open the app.
It wasn’t there.

It lasted about two or three weeks. I came back. We all come back.

I just spent the last 24 hours going without, and let me tell you… it’s hard.

When you’re 30, you’re basically right smack in the middle of the original Facebook demographic. I’m the same age as Mark Zuckerberg. Making it worse is having kids.

Everyone is on Facebook, especially family. They get quite irritated when I don’t keep them fed with pictures of 2.0 or news on developments of 2.1.

But now we have Facebook though their own admission, that they’ve been doing psychological testing on user emotional status without our knowledge or concent.

In a report published at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Facebook data scientists conducted an experiment to manipulate the emotions of nearly 700,000 users to see if positive or negative emotions are as contagious on social networks as they are in the real world. By tweaking Facebook’s powerful News Feed algorithm, some users (we should probably just call them “lab rats” at this point) were shown fewer posts with positive words. Others saw fewer posts with negative words. “When positive expressions were reduced,” the paper states, “people produced fewer positive posts and more negative posts; when negative expressions were reduced, the opposite pattern occurred. These results indicate that emotions expressed by others on Facebook influence our own emotions, constituting experimental evidence for massive-scale contagion via social networks.”

My initial reaction was that I’m out, cold. That’s what I did last night. I even hovered over the button on the account deactivation page. But the pictures they throw up of my friends and family, wife included, who will miss me when I’m gone is almost another bit of emotional manupation.

After thinking about it today, I’m just going to be curtailing my browsing to a minimum. No more mobile. Just checking the main site a few times a day. Beyond the manipulation Facebook has been caught doing, Facebook really isn’t all that healthy to begin with.

At some point I’ll cut things off, but not cold turkey.

For now I’ll leave you with a bit of topical humor on the subject.