ESX Networking

This is just a quick update with something that I finally fixed two nights ago.  If you happen to run VMWare ESX, *DO NOT* share a NIC between the console and Virtual Machines (VMs).  This was how I had been running my system because I only had one NIC at the time.  However, I had purchased a new dual port Intel gigabit NIC about a month ago, but I just hadn’t had the time to actually update the system to utilize it.  Well, two nights ago, I set the original NIC to only the console session, and then put ports on the dual port NIC on a virtual switch used by all the virtual machines.  Therefore, I theoretically get 200 Mbps to the virtual machines. 

Holy crap, talk about an improvement.  Transfers between the VMs and my NAS used to be dog slow, but now they are where they should be.  I just need to get a gigabit switch with jumbo frames to use everything to fullest extent.

Apple New Announcements

Last week they announced the Video iPod.  I personally have nothing against it.  However, today, Apple made some announcements about new PowerBooks and PowerMacs.  It’s today’s announcement that really bothers me, specifically the new “quad” processor PowerMac.  Normally, I’d be all about it, it sounds like a beast.  I’m not even going to talk about anything else from here on out.  I just want to show “the people” how overpriced Apple products truly are, but first, some background.

I had mentioned my home setup at home to a coworkers before.  It’s nothing really that great hardware wise, but it’s more how I utilize it, and the price I got it when it was new.  Anyways, I’ve got VMWare ESX server installed on it which allows me to run multiple “virtual” machines on top of the one machine.  This way I can have a machine dedicated to specific tasks, instead of everything on one.  Obviously this helps for when something goes wrong.  Now, everything doesn’t go down if I accidentally mess something up. 

Anyways, he realized how great of an idea this was, so he wanted to get a server machine up and running that could do the same thing.  Well, he’s a developer, so he didn’t really know what to look for, so I priced out a machine for him.  Basically I priced him out a beast of a machine for $2500.  The specs of it are listed below.

Supermicro H8DAE ($356)
One Dual Core Opteron 265 ($728)
4GB PC-3200 Reg ECC RAM ($516)
MegaRAID 150-4 SATA Card ($235)
3 Seagate 200GB SATA Drives in RAID 5 for 400GB of redundant space ($327)
Case with 645W PSU ($266)

Now that, plus a plain CD-ROM drive and floppy comes to just under $2500.  Now, lets look at the Apple Store to see what you get with their “quad” machine for $3300. 

Two dual-core G5 Processors
512MB 533 DDR2 NON-ECC RAM
250GB Harddrive (not redundant and not on dedicated hardware controller)
Dual Layer 16x DVD Burner
NVIDIA GeForce 6600 256MB Video Card

Shall we compare the differences?  Yes, we shall.

If I were to get my machine up to all the specs listed on the mac (without reducing any of the components), I’d have to add another processor (+$728), add a dual layer DVD burner (worst case +$100), and add a video card (+$110).  Let’s see, adding that all up gets us to $3404.  Shoot, just over what the PowerMac costs.

But wait, let’s do a similar thing for the PowerMac.

We’d have to add 4 1GB ECC Dimms (+$1500), and increase the harddrive space, oh wait, they don’t have a redundant solution, so we’ll just go with the 500GB option they offer, even though it’s insanely inferior (+$500).  After adding on those, we’re at $5099. 

Wow, for a whole 1.5 grand less, you can have a superior machine.  That’s really all I wanted to show.

VLAN Trunking with Virtual Server 2005

Getting VLAN trunking working on a Virtual Server 2005 host with Intel NICs can be problematic if done on host that already has Virtual Server installed.  The problem arises with the Virtual Machine Network Services that is installed on each NIC.  In order to get everything working, make sure you have the latest Intel Drivers and that you uncheck “Virtual Machine Network Services” under the NIC properties.  You can then add your VLANs that you want trunked to the card under the NIC’s properties.  The new VLANs will then appear as separate Network Connections, and each of the new Network Connections will have the Virtual Machine Network Services installed and checked.

Now, if you don’t uncheck the “Virtual Machine Network Services”, after you add the VLANs to the NIC properties, nothing shows up.  Talk about wasting a lot of time.  Also, all of this should be done from the console session, otherwise you may or may not see the tab on the NIC properties to add VLANs.

I hope this helps someone else out there, because there was a lot of time wasted on this here.

PIO Mode

I bought a DVD burner recently, and that has been my primary burner in my new Dell machine.  However, just the other day, I realized it doesn’t have the ability to burn from cue files.  This, unfortunately, is a problem, since that’s how I backup all my CDs with flac.  Thankfully, my trusty old LiteOn 52x burner that I got for like $20 after rebate does. 

So, I throw in the LiteOn in addition to the DVD burner, and start burning.  However, during the burn process my computer starts acting very slow.  Thankfully, I know that the problem is that the burner is in PIO Mode.  Usually, this is an easy fix; you just go into device manager, and then hit up the disk controller and change the pull down from PIO Mode Only to DMA Mode if Available under advanced settings.  I do this, restart, and STILL in PIO Mode.

Now, I know that this LiteOn works in DMA mode, because that’s the way it used to be in my old machine.  So I check out google, and one of the first links I get to talks about enabling the drives in BIOS.  It also mentions seeing if there are events in the logs about it timing out in DMA mode.  Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, so BIOS here we come.

Now, this seems a bit odd.  I mean, if it’s not enabled in BIOS, how the hell can Windows even see the drive at all?  Well, I figure it’s worth a shot.  I head into BIOS, and sure enough it’s disabled.  I enable it, boot back into Windows, and low and behold, works like a charm.  This may also explain why the DVD burner was having such a hard time while the CDROM drive the machine came with was plugged in too.

I guess you do learn something new every day.

Bluetooth and MPx220

Well, I finally had the time and got around to setting up syncing my phone via Bluetooth and Activesync this evening.  Amazingly it wasn’t all that hard (contrary to many website posts I’ve seen about it).  Hell, I even bought a generic Bluetooth key off ebay

So, now when I come home, I just have to tell the phone to sync, and then it’ll keep sync’ed while I stay around the house (I got the 100m bluetooth key, so I doubt I’ll be moving more than 300ft away from my main machine).  Granted, there’s still a few more things I want, like it actually syncing to the Exchange Server, instead of my desktop, but I figure that this is working well right now.  It’ll be fun to play with for awhile.

Sharepoint

Michael brought up a great point the other day.  As he puts it, “there’s way to much shit i know.”  Now, granted, this usually isn’t that big of a problem.  However, it’s when you haven’t been using that knowledge and you want to attempt to remember it in a timely fashion, that things begin to breakdown.  Personally, I’d hate to think of all the stuff I have forgotten about just because I haven’t used them.  Well, now I may have a personal solution.  Windows Sharepoint Services.

Hopefully this will help me clean out my bookmarks, since that’s where I have a tendency to keep all this stuff.  Usually, I have a problem, find the solution, and then have to redo all the previous steps when said problem comes up again.  It’d be nice if I had a personal place where I could just copy things into, and be able to edit them as I need to also. 

Case in point, just today, my brother needed help with something, and I needed to do a remote assistance session with him.  Now, he’s behind a router that doesn’t support uPNP, so I had to manually edit the remote assistance file that he sent me.  Granted, I’ve had to do this before, but hell if I remembered.  So I had to waste a good 10-20 minutes figuring out why I was having such a hard time connecting to him (plus the fact he had xp home, which I didn’t remember, so I couldn’t just TS in). 

Hopefully this will make everything better.  You can view my personal knowledge base at it’s new location.

Getting a Dell

Today, until the 14th (I think), there is an awesome deal on Dell’s Dimension 4700.  For $499 (after $100 rebate), you get a 2.8GHz 800MHz FSB HT P4, 256MB DDR2 400MHz RAM, 40GB SATA Harddrive, 2 Year Warranty, FREE 17” LCD Monitor, and free shipping. 

Just today, I was trying to transcode some Divx files to MPEG to burn to a DVD for my Mom (yes Mom, I’m still working on it), and I realized how dumb of an idea that was going to be on my tablet.  I started thinking that I needed to actually get a workstation for home, to do some of the things the tablet just isn’t very good at.  Of course, this deal just happened to start today, so, instead of getting a watch with my tax refund, I’ll be getting a new machine.  I did, however, upgrade the ram to 512MB and a 80GB harddrive.

Hopefully I’ll have it soon so that I can give my Mom her bday gift.