#vBrownbag TechTalk at VMworld

The great folks who run #vBrownbag are hosting another series of Tech Talks at this year’s VMworld.  These short talks are given in the Hang Space and feature community members presenting on topics that they’re passionate about and cover a variety of topics including Log Insight, Docker, and OpenStack. 

I’ll be giving a Tech Talk on automating the Microsoft stack using vCenter Orchestrator and PowerShell on Monday at 4:30.

The entire schedule is available here.

If you haven’t double (or tripled) booked yourself yet, and you’re passionate about a topic, there are still some slots available. 

Horizon View 6.0 Part 7–Installing View Composer

The last couple of posts have dealt with preparing the environment to install Horizon View 6.0.  We’ve covered prerequisites, design considerations, preparing Active Directory, and even setting up the service accounts that will be used for accessing services and databases.

Now its time to actually install and configure the Horizon View components.  These tasks will be completed in the following order:

  • Install Horizon View Composer
  • Install Horizon View Connection Server
  • Configure the Environment for the first time
  • Install the Security Server

One note that I want to point out is that the installation process for most components has not changed significantly from previous versions.

Before we can install Composer, we need to create an ODBC Data Source to connect to the Composer database.  The database and the account for accessing the database were created in Part 6.  Composer can be installed once the ODBC data source has been created.

Composer can either be installed on your vCenter Server or on a separate Windows Server.  The first option is only available if you are using the Windows version of vCenter.  This walkthrough assumes that Composer is being installed on a separate server.



Service Account

Part 6 covers the steps for creating the Composer service account.  This account should have local administrator rights on the server prior to installing Composer.

Creating the ODBC Data Source

Unfortunately, the Composer installer does not create the ODBC Data Source driver as part of the Composer installation, and this is something that will need to be created by hand before Composer can be successfully installed.  The View Composer database doesn’t require any special settings in the ODBC setup, so this step is pretty easy.

Note: The ODBC DSN setup can be launched from within the installer, but I prefer to create the data source before starting the installer.  The steps for creating the data source are the same whether you launch the ODBC setup from the start menu or in the installer.

1. Go to Start –> Administrative Tools –> Data Sources (ODBC)


2. Click on the System DSN tab.

3. Click Add.


4. Select SQL Server Native Client 10.0 and click Finish.  This will launch the wizard that will guide you through setting up the data source.


Note:  SQL Server 2012 uses Native Client 11.0. If the Composer database is installed on SQL Server 2012, Native Client 11.0 should be used.

Note: The SQL Server Native Client is not installed by default. If you are connecting to a database on another server, you will need to download and install the native client for SQL Server 2008 R2 from Microsoft (direct download link). 

5. When the Create a New Data Source wizard launches, you will need to enter a name for the data source, a description, and the name of the SQL Server that the database resides on.  If you have multiple instances on your SQL Server, it should be entered as ServerName\InstanceName.  Click next to continue.


6. Select SQL Server Authentication.  Enter your SQL Server username and password that you created above.  Optional: Check the Connect to SQL Server to obtain default settings box to retrieve the default settings from the server.  Click Next to continue.


7. Change the default database to the viewComposer database that you created above.  Click Next to continue.


8. Click Test Data Source to verify that your settings are correct.


9. If your database settings are correct, you will see the windows below.  If you do not see the TESTS COMPLETED SUCCESSFULLY, verify that you have entered the correct username and password and that your login has the appropriate permissions on the database object.  Click OK to return to the previous window.


10. Click OK to close the Data Source Administrator and return to the desktop.


Installing View Composer

Once the database connection has been set up, Composer can be installed.  The steps for installing Composer are:

1.  Launch the View Composer installer.

2.  If .Net Framework 3.5 SP1 is not installed, you will be prompted to install the feature before continuing.


3.  Click Next to continue.


4.  Accept the license agreement and click next.


5.  Select the destination folder where Composer will be installed.


6. Configure View to use the ODBC data source that you set up.  You will need to enter the data source name, SQL login, and password before continuing.


7. After the data source has been configured, you will need to select the port that Composer will use for communicating with the View Connection Servers.  You also have the option of selecting an existing certificate if you have installed one.


8. Click Install to start the installation.


9. Once the installation is finished, you will be prompted to restart your computer.


So now that Composer is installed, what can we do with it?  Not much at the moment.  A connection server is required to configure and use Composer for linked clone desktops, and the next post in this series will cover how to install that Connection Server.

Sexism, Bro Culture, and IT – Thoughts on A Recent Advertising Campaign

On June 4th, 1919, the United States Senate passed what would go on to become the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution, which granted sufferage to women, by a vote of 56 yeas to 25 nays.  It would take more than a year to officially become part of the Constitution.

History, it seems, is not without a sense of irony.  Yesterday, Nutanix launched a new ad campaign called nixVblock.  This campaign, which should have highlighted the advantages of their product over the VCE converged infrastructure, instead veered into “Bro Culture” territory with “high brow humor” that is normally reserved for locker rooms, fraternity houses, and lite beer commercials.

The primary characters of the nixVblock ads are an IT guy named Doug and his “date” Vicky Block, who goes by VBlock for short.  While Doug is characterized as your average IT infrastructure engineer, “VBlock” is supposed to be an uninteresting, high maintenance woman who hears three voices in her head and dresses like three separate people.

The “VBlock” character is supposed to represent the negatives of the competing VCE vBlock product.  Instead, it comes off as the negative stereotype of a crazy ex that has been cranked past 11 into offensive territory.

When I saw the videos, I was offended.  These videos were laden with unfortunate implications (warning: TV Tropes link), and they hit a lot of my berserk buttons (warning: another TV Tropes link).  I found them to be both sexist and insulting to those suffering from mental illness.  These negatives completely overshadowed any positives that I might have picked up about their product.

But most of all, I’m disappointed.  Nutanix has great technology and some of the smartest people in tech working for them.  They didn’t need to stoop to this level, and this ad campaign showed a complete lack of awareness for current events.

In the last couple of weeks, we’ve had the following:

You’d think that someone, somewhere in the company, would have seen these and thought “Maybe this is a bad idea.  Maybe we should scrap these videos.”

Obviously, that did not happen.

It’s 2014.  Why do we need to continue to perpetuate sexism in IT?

Note: Nutanix appears to have pulled the videos from the nixvblock website prior to this post.

Top Virtualization Blog Voting For 2014 Now Open

Every year,  Eric Siebert (Twitter: @ericsiebert) of vsphere-land.com runs a poll of the top VMware and virtualization blogs.  The poll to select the top virtualization blogs for 2014 is now open.  You can vote here.

Eric’s poll is a great way to recognize the top bloggers in the field.

This will be the first year that this blog will be participating in the poll.  Unfortunately, there isn’t a category for top end user computing/virtual desktop blog, but if you enjoy what you’ve seen so far, feel free to vote for me in the general category.

First VCAP Exam Scheduled for December 30th

I scheduled my first VMware Certified Advanced Professional Exam for December 30th. I wasn’t planning on taking this until spring, but I ran across a discount voucher that had to be used by the end of the year.

I’ve already started to prepare for this exam. The resources I’m going to be using are:

I will post more about my experiences preparing for the exam and my experience taking it.

Looking for a Better Social Media Client

I’m looking for a better social media client for keeping up on Twitter and Facebook. Since Apple does not allow home screen widgets in iOS, I would like to find an app that allows me to easily keep up with both networks on the go. I’m looking for the following features in a new client:

  • Support for both twitter and Facebook from within a single application
  • Support for the built-in twitter and Facebook accounts
  • Ability to post to either network from within other apps like Safari


Newsblur…or How I’ll Survive The Google Reader Apocalypse

In case you haven’t heard, Google announced that they would be ending their Google Reader feed aggregation service on July 1st.  As many other users of the Google Reader service have done by now, I started to look for alternatives to keep track of the 150+ blogs that I follow.

The Reader service is, at least until July 1st, a convenient way to keep track of multiple blogs across multiple devices.  Any replacement for Google Reader would need to be usable on my iPad, my phone, and from a web browser.  A native app or a good mobile website, two things that Google Reader lacked, would be a definite plus.  Google Reader did have a mobile website, but I considered it unusable.  And while there was a nice ecosystem of mobile apps that sprung up around the Google Reader API, none of the ones that I came across were developed by Google. 

One of my other requirements for a replacement is something that I do not have to host myself.  While there options like Tiny Tiny RSS are a valid replacement option, I don’t want to have to host or manage it myself.

A few blogs had some recommendations for possible Google Reader replacements, and the one that stood out was a program called Newsblur.  Newsblur is an online RSS aggregator with a nice web interface and iOS and Android apps.

It is also open source.

After looking at Newsblur, I decided that this was my Google Reader replacement and bought a premium subscription.  A free subscription option does exist, but you are limited to 12 feeds.

Why I like Newsblur

There are a few things that I really like about Newsblur.  I like that it has several styles for consuming blog content.  If you prefer a “river of news” style, that is an option.  If you prefer to select and read each post individually, you can select each post.  There is also an option to bring in the full text of a blog post on those that only provide a snippet similar to the readability app on the iPad.

One of the other things that I really like about Newsblur is the iPad app.  The iPad app’s interface is very similar to the web interface with one nice feature added in -the ability to quickly move between articles and having them marked as read by swiping to the left or right.  This is nice when dealing with some blogs like Ezra Klein’s Wonkblog or Hack-a-Day that post extremely frequently.

What I don’t like

One of the major drawbacks of Newsblur right now is performance.  This has improved significantly has they have been adding capacity to handle the flocks of people leaving Google Reader, but there are still periods where the mobile app loads slowly or throws up time-out errors.  I expect that these will be resolved soon.

I’ve also had some issues with sharing an article directly to Facebook from the iPad.  In order to work around this, I have to open the blog post in Safari and then share it from there.  This might be an issue with the Facebook app and not with River of News.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!

I’m not one for resolutions, so i won’t be writing a post on what I resolve to do this year. But I have some exciting stuff that I’m working on for 2013 such as:

  • An article on how I automated user account creation using PowerShell.
  • Some original science fiction that I’ve been kicking around in my head.
  • Some book and/or application reviews
  • No politics. My Facebook friends might appreciate this.

Now to start the year off right, here is this amazing bit of astrophotography courtesy of Phil Plait at the Bad Astronomy blog at Slate.


Windows Server 8–Installation and First Impressions

The long awaited (at least by this IT guy) public beta for Microsoft’s next generation server operating system, Windows Server “8” was released on Leap Day.  A previous development release was available to MSDN subscribers in September 2011, but this will be the first opportunity for a lot of IT professionals to jump in and take a look.


The Windows Server “8” beta can be downloaded from Microsoft’s TechNet site in ISO and VHD format.  A Live ID is required to access the beta downloads.  Like Windows Server 2008 R2, it only comes in a 64-bit edition, so you will need access to 64-bit hardware to try it out.


Windows Server “8,” like the Windows 8 consumer preview, will run on VMware’s ESXi.  However, before you can install it in ESXi 5, you will need to install patch ESXi500-201112001 from the VMware patch repository.  (You can install the patch by following these directions.)
Once you have the patch installed, you will need to choose either a Windows 7 or a Server 2008 R2 as the operating system type when setting up the VM in ESXi.
If you’ve installed Windows Server or Windows 7 before, you won’t see any major changes or surprises in this installation program.  The same basic graphical installer is used from previous versions of Windows.

User InterfacE

The first thing you’ll notice about Windows Server 8 is that the Server Manager from previous versions of Windows Server has evolved and replaced the old Server Manager console with a new Server Manager dashboard.  This new interface can act as a single pane of glass for managing the local server as well as any remote servers (although older versions of Windows will need to install the Management WTR tool in order to be managed).

The Server Manager Dashboard in Windows Server 8. (Click to enlarge)
The Start Menu on Windows Server 8 uses the Metro Interface that is found on consumer Windows 8 operating system.  While this is a significant change, I find it to be an improvement.  I like it because it allows access to all of the tools for applications on the server without having to dig through various menus to find them.

The Metro-style Start Menu in Windows Server 8.  (Click to Enlarge)
The color scheme on the UI looks to be a pleasant light-blue color.

New Features

According to Microsoft, there are hundreds of new features in Windows Server 8.  Some of these features are listed on the Windows Server 8 Technet page.  A brief summary of some of the more popular features that are found on the Technet page or in the technology press are:

  • Built-in NIC Teaming:  No need to use 3rd-party tools to team network cards.
  • Significant Improvements to Hyper-V:  Storage VMotion Live Migration, multiple migrations at one, using SMB shares for VM storage, and the ability to do live migrations without having to setup a failover cluster.
  • PowerShell 3.0 and PowerShell Intellisense
  • Virtualization-Safe Domain Controllers:  When on supported hypervisors, Domain Controllers will be able to better detect and heal USN Rollback as well as supporting Domain Controller cloning.
  • File Storage Deduplication
  • IP Address Management:  IPAM is now a feature that one can install on Windows Server.
  • AD Recycle Bin GUI:  There is now a graphical interface for the AD Recycle Bin, which makes recovering accidentally deleted objects easier.
  • Server Core GUI:  Server Core is now the default install mode for Windows Server, and it includes an optional GUI that can be toggled off and on as needed.


A few years ago, Server 2008 was a huge (and arguably disruptive) change for Windows Administrators.  Server 8 looks to be a continuation and refinement of those changes while adding several new features to the Windows Server arsenal.

On Why the Wisconsin Union Busting Bill is Not A Law…Yet…

I didn’t intend to use my blog to comment on a political situation.  While I don’t mind discussing politics, I prefer to talk about politics without everybody being able to see my posts (for those of you who are reading this after seeing it on my Facebook feed and going “what the hell,” my Facebook privacy settings are set up so that everything I post is restricted to a sub-section of my friends list).

One further note to any readers – I am not a lawyer, and I don’t play one on TV.  Everything expressed below is an opinion and has no actual legal bearing.  It is based on my reading of the relevant documents which I attempt to link to.

There has been a lot of discussion over the past month and a half about Scott Walker’s “budget repair bill.”  I won’t editorialize on the content of that bill here, nor will I give a full history of the bill except where necessary as most of those events are well known.
This particular part of the story starts on March 11th.  After finding a way around the quorum issue in the State Senate and getting the bill passed, Governor Scott Walker signed the “Budget Repair Bill” into law.  This, however, did not cause the Act to go into effect.  Wisconsin has a public notice clause in it’s Constitution that specifies that a law cannot go into effect until it is “published.”  Secretary of State Doug La Follette stated that he would wait until March 25th to publish the law in order to allow legal challenges to be presented in court.
Shortly after that, the District Attorney of Dane County filed suit alleging that Wisconsin’s Open Meetings Laws were violated in the process of this bill becoming law.  Wisconsin has a statute that allows the District Attorney of the County where the violation occurred to file suit, and if successful, the actions taken during that meeting would be voided.  On March 18th, Judge Sumi of Dane County issued a temporary restraining order baring Secretary of State Doug La Follette from publishing the law and baring further action in implementing the law until the case can be heard.  Text of the decision can be read here.
On March 25th, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) asked the Legislative Reference Bureau (LRB), a non-partisan agency that serves the Wisconsin Legislature, to publish the law in accordance with Statute 35.095(3)a which requires the LRB to publish Acts within 10 days.  After the LRB had published the law, Senator Fitzgerald issued a statement that it was now officially a law, and other Republican lawmakers including the Governor and Attorney General also issued statements to that effect.
But is it?  The answer, based on my reading of Wisconsin statutes and other relevant legal documents, is no.
There appears to be two statutes that govern how an Act of the Legislature goes into effect after it is signed into law by the Governor and are the most applicable in this case.  Those statutes are:
Statute 35.095(3)A and B read as follows:

(a)  The legislative reference bureau shall publish every act and every portion of an act which is enacted by the legislature over the governor’s partial veto within 10 working days after its date of enactment.
(b)  The secretary of state shall designate a date of publication for each act and every portion of an act which is enacted by the legislature over the governor’s partial veto.  The date of publication may not be more than 10 working days after the date of enactment.

Statute 991.11 reads as follows:

991.11 Effective date of acts.
Every act and every portion of an act enacted by the legislature over the governor’s partial veto which does not expressly prescribe the time when it takes effect shall take effect on the day after its date of publication as designated under s. 35.095 (3) (b). 

So while the LRB has published the law in accordance with 35.095(3)(a), it hasn’t actually taken effect.  Judge Sumi’s restraining order prevents the Secretary of State from setting a publication date in 35.095(3)(b). Since the act does not include a date that it takes effect, Statute 991.11 applies and the act is officially in limbo.
The act did have a date of publication at one point, the Secretary of State’s office has rescinded it in compliance with Judge Sumi’s order.  The official text of the act does have a date of publication of March 25, 2011 in accordance with 35.095(3)(b), but the footnotes also note that this is not the official date as the Secretary of State’s office is barred from officially publishing the Act and that the LRB’s publication was performed under 35.095(3)(a).
In plain English, that means that while the LRB published a copy of the Act, it hasn’t taken effect as law because the Secretary of State is barred from officially assigning it a publication date, and the LRB doesn’t have the legal authority to publish it into law.
There are two other statutes that direct how the LRB and the Secretary of State’s office as to coordinate in preparing, publishing, and providing public notice of the Act or fill in other details of the process, but aren’t directly relevant to the issue.
Finally, to make matters more confusing, Article IV, Section 17, Subsection 2 of the Wisconsin Constitution states:

“No law shall be enacted except by bill.  No law shall be in force until published.”

The Constitution doesn’t define what “publication” entails.  However the annotations in the document point to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel v. Department of Administration (2009) that does discuss the publication requirement, and all of the statutes listed above cover this in some fashion as well with 14.38(10)C being the most direct application of publishing an Act of the Legislature.  I won’t touch on that further here as the publicity surrounding the this law has, in effect, generated sufficient notice nor is it relevant to the issue of whether this Act is in effect.