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Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Mac OSX: Sleep/Wake Issue

In Apple, OS X, Technology on May 3, 2012 at 10:22 am

Having trouble waking your Mac up after you put it to sleep?  Fear not!  I suspected hardware issues were causing my 13″ Macbook Pro’s drowsiness, but it seems Apple has a simple fix available that has worked well for me so far.

  1. Shut down your Mac and plug-in your AC adapter
  2. Press CTRL+OPTION+SHIFT and the Power button simultaneously
    • You will likely notice the light on your Magsafe AC adapter change colors
  3. Release all keys and power your Mac back on
  4. Viola!

If you prefer your fixes to come straight from the mouth of the beast, head on over to support.apple.com for the details.

NOTE: I tested this on an early 13″ Macbook Pro with OS X Snow Leopard – I cannot prove that it will work with other versions, though apple’s KB article has directions for various versions and hardware.

Microsoft BPOS? Large Inbox Item Count? Read this.

In BPOS, Microsoft, Technology, Varrow on February 21, 2012 at 12:57 pm

For those of us who are “blessed” to run our e-mail environments on Microsoft’s hosted Exchange service (curently BPOS – Business Productivity Online Suite, soon to be Office365), some not-so-recent news has come to my attention concerning users with a high item count in their “critical path” folders.  Microsoft published a document entitiled FAQ for Message Record Management in October 2010 detailing how they will be handling these types of users in the future.

The following is a table outlining Critical Path folders and the upper thresholds under which they will operate optimally:

  • Inbox: 20,000 items
  • Sent items: 20,000 items
  • Deleted items: 20,000 items
  • Calendar: 5,000 items
  • Contacts: 5,000 items

Microsoft will migrate e-mails that bleed over these thresholds into a new set of folders that will be automatically created within the user’s mailbox.  This process is known as Message Record Management (MRM) and the results will look something like this:

Note that this process is only engaged for users with high item count and has nothing to do with mailbox file size.  Click here to visit Microsoft’s technet for more details on MRM.

All content and images taken from Microsoft Exchange Online Standard: FAQ for Message Record Management, published October 2010.

UCS C-Series + ESXi 5 = Bug?

In Cisco, ESXi 5, Technology, UCS C-Series, Varrow, VMware on February 15, 2012 at 11:12 am

I recently finished working a case for a new customer with VMware support and Cisco TAC.  One of their hosts became totally unresponsive (VMs were still up, but host was disconnected in vCenter and you could not even console directly into the host).  This also happened to a second host about a week prior.  Both required reboots to fix the issue.

According to Cisco TAC, this is a known bug with ESXi 5 and UCS C-series.  Cisco’s short-term suggestion was to disable Interrupt Remapping either via ESX or the BIOS – they claim that they had one running in a lab in this configuration that had been 3 weeks without an issue.  Supposedly, Cisco is releasing a BIOS upgrade that will correct this issue “within the next couple of weeks.”  Unfortunately, it has already been several weeks since this incident with no BIOS update but I will update this post as soon as I hear otherwise.

On a mostly unrelated but similarly important note, Cisco also confirmed that Call Manager is not yet supported with ESX 5.

Interrupt Remapping directions from VMware:

http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=1030265

Link for latest UCS Update Manager (for when the new BIOS is released):

http://www.cisco.com/cisco/software/release.html?mdfid=283862068&flowid=25881&softwareid=283850974&release=1.4(2)&relind=AVAILABLE&rellifecycle=&reltype=latest

Isilon Installation Tip

In Technology, Uncategorized on June 30, 2011 at 11:51 pm

I was recently given the opportunity to install an Isilon NL-series solution for a customer.  Overall, the installation went great, but, having never installed one, I ran across some small hiccups that could easily be avoided in the future.

Despite what the installation documentation conveniently leaves out, be sure to install the rack rails 1U above the bottom of the unit.  I made the typical assumption that the rails would mount flush with the bottom of the unit but quickly discovered this was not the case.  Beyond that, it’s pretty self explanatory.

She’s quite beautiful, if I do say so myself!  😀

Mount hardware in racks? Hello, Mr. Cage Nut Tool

In Technology on June 27, 2011 at 1:26 pm

A coworker of mine recently introduced me to one of the most awesome tools ever invented by man – the cage nut tool.

This tool will save you countless hours normally spent slaving away with a flat-head screwdriver AND will save your knuckles from the relentless beatings they’d otherwise suffer at the hands of a cage nut.  I found one in the bag of accessories that comes with an APC four post rack.  Do yourself a favor and get your hands on one.

In fact, I’ll go ahead and provide you a link to an even more refined version, if you can get past the fact that it looks like a giant pair of fingernail clippers.

Image taken from Google Image Search

 

Communication Breakdown

In Technology on June 17, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Having recently jumped on the smartphone train, I have become increasingly aware of a few glaring problems they are creating, specifically in regards to email.

Formal Email Communication is Disappearing

While I was still riding the dumbphone train, I was quick to make fun of emails I would get from people with smartphones.  You can always tell when an email comes from a smartphone because it will include very limited punctuation and no line breaks.  Now that I have joined the dark side I still find the total abuse of written English disturbing, though I more thoroughly understand why it’s happening.

Smartphones are difficult, at best, to type on.  Therefore, we use as few words (and, in many cases, as few letters) as possible to convey the message at hand.  Hey – I’m all about some efficient communication, but there is a point at which communication becomes confusion.

The Inability to Comprehend and Respond

We’ve all experienced it – there is just about nothing worse than sending someone a well thought out, long email containing multiple thoughts or questions and receiving a short, mindless response to only ONE of those thoughts or questions.  This phenomenon became one of my pet peeves long before smartphones hit the market, but I believe smartphones have done nothing but worsen the climate for this type of behavior.

Smartphones are more difficult to read emails on than a full-sized PC, so, when we receive lengthy emails, we skim through them in frustration and instantly reply to the first (or sometimes the last) piece of information in the email.  This, in turn, results in one of two problematic results.  Either an increase in email traffic results (caused by subsequent emails to iron out the details that should have been addressed in the first reply), or the questions/thoughts are left to die, resulting in a communication breakdown.

Nemine Respondente

Possibly the worst problem I’ve noticed is the one I’m the most guilty of – that of receiving emails and being flat-out too lazy to respond to them at the moment.  More often than not, these forgotten emails end up never receiving a second thought, let alone an actual response.

I don’t really believe any of these problems are new, but they are becoming worse with the proliferation of smartphones.  Going forward, we must consciously fight against these problems or risk falling further into a degraded state of human communication.

Also, it’s about time for some Led Zeppelin action.

“Communication Breakdown, It’s always the same, 
I’m having a nervous breakdown, Drive me insane!”

Photos taken from Google Image Search.

CPU Manufacturing Competition is Good

In Technology on June 12, 2011 at 10:16 pm

In my last post, I spoke about Intel’s new 22nm 3d transistor technology.  While I’m fairly excited to see what Intel is bringing to the table, I am concerned about what it may mean for the industry.  The CPU manufacturing industry (like all other industries) has relied on market competition to keep forward motion a priority.  If what Intel has been brewing is really all it’s cracked up to be, AMD (Intel’s largest desktop/server CPU competitor) has reason to be shaking in their boots.

For years, I have shared a slight hatred for all things Intel with many, many other true nerds out there in computerdom.  This is not necessarily because of Intel’s products (some of them have been alright), rather, because of the way Intel has (particularly in the past) perpetuated its market leadership position by covering up poorly engineered CPUs in marketing hype and a massive advertising budget.  In essence, Intel is the perfect example of the rich kid down the street who continues to succeed simply because he’s rich.

Specifically, Intel has used its riches in two ways.  Primarily, Intel has relied on its deep pockets to fund a marketing beast that has positioned Intel as the market leader.  Much of the consumer world has grabbed onto this notion hook, line, and sinker.  Since Intel’s name is more visible, they must make the best chips, right?

In addition, Intel’s riches have allowed them to construct the best chip CPU manufacturing facilities in the world, leaving AMD with the second best.  As I briefly pointed out in my last post, any time a die shrink (essentially, new machinery is installed that allows more transistors to fit in a smaller space) occurs, CPUs automatically gain a performance boost and a power consumption drop.  Because of its better manufacturing facilities, Intel is always able to die shrink earlier than AMD.  Basically, this allows Intel to squeeze extra life out of mediocre CPU architectures designs.

My proposed solution?

IBM needs to buy out AMD.  AMD needs some serious cash to stay competitive.  IBM has it.

Latest intel on Intel

In Technology on May 17, 2011 at 11:16 am

I recently caught wind of what could be the most important announcement in the technology world this year.  And somehow it almost slipped by me unnoticed.  Intel has recently announced its plans to move to a 22nm manufacturing process using its new 3D Tri-Gate transistors.

WHAT THE HECK DOES THAT MEAN?

It means a couple of things.  First, efficiencies are always to be had with a die shrink.  We have seen this with all major die shrinks in the past – smaller parts generate less heat and therefore allow higher clock speeds using less energy.

The part we really need to be interested in is this whole 3D Tri-Gate business.  I’m no scientist, but I have found a few good articles that boil down the main points.  According to AnandTech.com, this new transistor technology has massive potential for increasing CPU efficiency.  When combined with the 22nm die shrink, Intel claims >50% power reduction if performance levels are kept similar to current chips.

Mobile

This advent is likely to have profound results for all CPU markets.  Intel has struggled with its Atom chip in the mobile market because it consumes too much power.  With this new technology, Intel is better positioning itself to compete with ARM and AMD in the mobile chip market.

Desktop/Server

In addition, with such huge power savings, Intel can either begin manufacturing more power efficient server chips, or it can leverage those savings to increase clock speeds significantly.  In doing so, they will likely pass the 4GHz mark.  If I were a gambling man, I’d bet that Intel will repeat history and push for the highest clocked, fastest chips it can.

CONCLUSIONS

Get ready.  When Ivy Bridge chips hit the market, Intel is likely to give most of its competition a serious run for its money (and, if Intel has anything, they have money).  My next post will be about what this news could mean for Intel’s competitors and why I’m hoping they have some tricks up their sleeves.