App that provides dramatic productivity improvements (for parents)

So this may seem like a strange post, as most people will think that I am going to be talking about a an IDE application, a RAD tool, a CRM application or some sort of text-to-speech processor, regardless of what you are expecting I can almost guarantee you will be expecting something a little more sexy than what you are about to see (especially if you are not a parent).

I think this app is so useful I am not only posting to my appoftheday.org blog but also to my gotitsolutions.org blog because it is that good.

Let me provide some background.  I have two wonderful little girls, a 5 year old and a 6 month old, for anyone with children we all we have retooled the human machined (ourselves) to have a CPU that is focused on work and coprocessor that deals with our children while we try to focus (we can flip this paradigm as well).  I have to say my time slicing skills are second to none, you learn how to work in 2 min slices while breaking away for 30 seconds to lend some CPU cycles to an often overheating parental coprocessor.  I often read emails back later that had the same thought double typed, missing words, etc… this is because I am processing too much information, my mental programming is way off.  I have this huge array of things I need to do, things I am doing, things I am being told to do, things my kids want to do, yadda, yadda, yadda…. Let’s just say that the that I often suffer pointer corruption which leads to memory leaks, corruption and eventually a segmentation fault (in non techie lingo this is know as a freak out, but this is a technical blog hence the techie speak).

So to the point of the post.  There is this brilliant lady named Julie Aigner-Clark the founder of The Baby Einstein Company, absolute best videos for kids under the age of one to help cool down the coprocessor (why didn’t I start filming shiny lights and hand puppets 10 years ago).  My 5 year old will even watch the videos.  There is this great website site called YouTube where you can find Baby Einstein videos as well as other great videos like Oswald, WordGirl, Hannah Montana and The Pink Panther (a few of my older daughters favorites) So you are probably asking what relevance does this have.  I will explain, be patient, I know how difficult this probably is because you 6 month old wants to eat and your 5 year old wants you to “Play Barbies” with her.

I am in my office trying to work and my daughter comes in, she wants me to stop what I am doing to play with her, I attempt to stall and concentrate at the same time (very difficult).  I eventually sit her on my lap (applies to 6 month old and 5 year old) and open YouTube in my browser and start playing our favorite Baby Einstein or WordGirl video.  Good so far.  I pop out the video window from youtube.com and resize my excel sheet and attempt to work, here is a screen shot of what I am left with:

image

So on the left my daughter(s) can sit on my lap and watch the vide while I work on the spreadsheet on the right.  Now here is the issue, I only have 3/4 of the screen which can be a little annoying, if I need to use another app it can be a big issue.  So what is the effect of me switching windows:

image

Oh no, the video moved to the background, scramble to resize the browser window to avoid a complete meltdown.  Reflexes are not that good so I rarely accomplish the goal.

Now for the introduction of a must have application that dramatically improves productivity, focus and sanity.  The app is called DeskPins and simply it allows you to pin any window to the foreground so lets look at a couple of examples of how I use this.

I follow the same process as before with finding a video on YouTube, popping out the video windows but now I pin the video window to the foreground.

image

Now I can maximize my spreadsheet (far better) and without the video moving to the background, I can move the video window around as needed.  I can open FireFox and not worry about losing the video to the background.

image

The app works on 32 and 64 bit versions of Windows (I am running on 32 bit XP, 32 bit Win 7 and 64 bit Win 7) and has become an invaluable tool for me.  Hopefully this post helps with some use case examples and helps other parents occupy their children in times of need.  Enjoy!

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Intro to Unisphere session at #emcworld

  • Unified management platform for CLARiiON, Celerra and RecoverPoint
    • Unified look and feel across all aforementioned products
    • Support for all CLARiiON >= FLARE 19
  • Release data Q3 2010
  • Only functions at the presentation layer
    • Will not impact the CLI so scripts will not be impacted by Unisphere
  • Views
    • Dashboard
      • Unified alerting sorted by severity
      • System list in the top toll bar provides the ability to drill down from the domain level to the physical system to view details
    • System View
      • Graphical hardware depiction (finally)
    • Summary Views
      • Storage
        • Bye bye CAP reports!!!!!  (thank you)
      • Replication
    • Note:  View Blocks are widgets that are placed on the screen somewhere that Aggregate data graphically displaying utilization, capacity, etc…
      • Ability to customize views, these views are tied to the client not the user so they will stay on the client not move with the user
  • Right-click provides context menu similar to what is currently available in Navisphere
  • Array data is cached locally on Unisphere client
    • This will hopefully help out performance
    • Data collection from array is time stamped so you can ensure you are working with the correct data set
    • A refresh (manual) needs to be performed to query the array and refresh the Unisphere cache
    • Once the data is cached it can be manipulated
  • Context sensitive help and actions
  • Replication Manager (RM) and USM (Unisphere Service Manager) integration (via link and launch)
    • If apps not installed it launches PowerLink and grabs RM or USM
    • Performs the install
    • Launches the app
  • USM replaces NST and unifies the ability to perform service tasks on CLARiiON or Celerra
    • USM adds the ability to track FCOs, Support Advisories, etc… via RSS feeds
    • Also provides the ability to launch to the proper location to research things (e.g. – EMC Support Forums), USM remains as the presentation layer, no need to jump around between apps.
    • Service requests can be created directly from USM

Interoperability Matrix

Platform Native Managed
CLARiiON CX, CX3, CX4 FLARE R30+ FLARE R19+
Celerra DART 6.0+ DART 6.0+
CLARiiON AX4 TBD FLARE R23+
  • Navisphere Off-Array being replace by Unisphere client and server
    • Support for Navi Analyzer off-array
  • Navisphere manager license supports Unisphere, no need for an upgrade

Overall the app looks really nice considering most of us are used to using a fractured set of tools between CX, NS and RP.  Will be interested in seeing how Unisphere helps us map the use of the array.  It appears to still be a JAVA based application so the jury is out on performance until I see it.

Audience questions:

  • Can you get to engineering mode from Unisphere
    • Unanswered.  Translation: Assume access to engineering mode on the CX will still require us to log into Navisphere.
  • Support for Centera on the roadmap
    • Answered, Yes.  No timeframe given.
  • What is the user experience like on a very large CLARiiON that is busy
    • Answer, it depends.  Translation:  It will likely still be slow.
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The best thing and the worst thing….

It has been said that the best thing about the internet is that anyone can publish, unfortunately the worst thing about the internet is that anyone can publish.  Another fitting cliché is that opinions are like buttholes, I propose that the blog sphere has become a public restroom, reeking from the stench of personal opinion backed by analogies, anecdotes, etc… and little fact (much like the opinions expressed in this blog).  By no means am I absolving myself from the claims made in this post, I am as guilty as the next guy when it comes to writing valueless content, but I do feel like I mix in some valuable content that is based on empirical data and facts.  I am all for some good rhetoric but let’s face it people, we all like to hear ourselves talk regardless of how little value the commentary actually has.  When your platform is largely opinions based loosely on facts as defined in the “Marchitecture” documentation you have to be willing to accept the 50% of the people who will agree with your perspective and 50% of the people who won’t.  Why does anyone even care what influences the authors perspective, why does it matter to the content consumer?  The assumption we all should make is that the content author is motivated by something, this motivation can be pure or corrupt in nature.  The great thing is you can decide to either agree or disagree, offer up some additional conjecture or not, that is the beauty of free will.

A WORD OF CAUTION TO BLOG CONTENT CONSUMERS

Every person has a predisposition to one perspective or another thus the concept of a non-biased view of the world, policy, product, etc… is made impossible by this little thing we call human nature.  But wait it's worse, beyond just human nature we have what I believe to be the two additional key aspects that influence behavior:

Indoctrination:  The belief system in which we participate (e.g. – WAFL vs CoW).  There is no doubt that a long time NetApp employee, user, etc… who has been indoctrinated in to the culture, ideology, thought process, etc… will believe that WAFL is a superior technology when compared to CoFW.  In contrast a person indoctrinated into the EMC culture could likely argue why CoFW is a superior technology.  The problem is that both of these perspectives speak to the technology and not the use case.

Personal Gain (monetary or otherwise):  My favorite because it has a huge impact because the so called independent analysts in the technology community (who will remain unnamed due to the litigious nature of the world we live in) are really marketing mercenaries or blackmail artists depending on your perspective.  This is not to say that analysts do not initiate coverage on technologies that they are no being paid to follow but let’s just say that the coverage of technologies that are being paid to follow is a bit more substantial.  It is funny how as human beings our opinions tend to align with our goals.

So my word of caution is as follows, trust ONLY yourself (and yes you can trust yourself, it is true that you likely have an agenda but is also true that this agenda is likely in your best interest), read lots of differing opinions and formulate your own.  Realize that reading information found on the web can be a dangerous thing if you don’t take what you have learned, internalize it and think for yourself.  My favorite example here is researching symptoms on WebMD, use the WebMD Symptom Checker and enter the req’d info (e.g. – male, 35-44 years), click submit, then drill down on the head, once you get to the symptom picker choose Headache (worst ever) now take note of the only possible condition.  Enough said about the dangers of the internet and not thinking for yourself.  So PLEASE apply some modicum of logic, reason and realism when digesting opinionated content.

So what prompted this seemingly common sense cautionary tale.  My opinionated colleague over at RecoveryMonkey.net posted an OPINION entitled “More FUD busting: Deduplication – is variable-block better than fixed-block, and should you care?” on his blog that received criticism from other opinionated ministers of public enlightenment and propaganda.  I have read through the posts and the short answer is everyone is correct and equally adept at the art of FUD slinging, what a tragedy.   IMHO the market today (especially among the big boys) has parity +/- 1% (exclusive of the features that don’t work or no one cares about, and yes they exist in all products), the 1% differentiation is often littered with caveats, the blogs outlining these caveats, workarounds, use cases, etc… are the valuable ones, spend more time consuming this content and less time reading content that reminds more of TMZ than a technical blog.

It should be fairly easy when consuming content to determine what is valuable and what is not, just read Scott Lowe’s Blog to see what good content looks like.

One final thought, was the FTC warning really necessary, really????  See what I mean about the litigious nature of our society.  It all starts with nationalizing health care, the next thing you know the FTC is commandeering your blog, where does it end.

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Data Profiling with Windows PowerShell

A customer asked me the other day about a method to do some data profiling against a file system.  So I thought I would share the request, my suggestion and little PowerShell script I crafted to do some data profiling.  The request read as follows:  “Do you know of any tools that will list all files in a directory, and all subs and provide attributes like filename, path, owner, create date, modify date, last access date and maybe some other attributes in report format?”

My recommendation was a commercial product called TreeSize Professional by JAM Software the product license cost is ~ $50 and worth every penny, scan speeds are good, supports UNC paths and reporting is intuitive.  Overall an excellent product.

As an alternative below is a quick PowerShell script (also attached to post as data_profile.ps1) that will create a CSV file with data profiling information, once the CSV file is create the CSV can be opened in Excel (or your spreadsheet tool of choice) or imported into a DB and manipulated.

The above script scans all files recursively starting at c:\files and outputs the results to results.csv.  One thing to note is that the scan stores all data in an array in memory, the is because the PowerShell Export-Csv function does not support appending to a CSV file (you gotta wonder what Microsoft talks about in design meetings).  I will likely create a version of the script that uses the out-file function to write each row to the csv file as the scan happens rather then storing in memory until the scan is completes and then writing the entire array to the report.csv file, goal here is to reduce the memory footprint during large scans.

The output of this file script will be similar to the following:

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Blackberry Issues

So about a week ago my Blackberry (8900) booted to a screen stating “Error [some number I can’t remember]:  Reload OS”, obviously not good.  So I broke out JLcmder (a must have for all hard core Blackberry hackers), and proceeded to wipe and OS and reload my BB.  Yesterday afternoon I am sitting at my desk and I look down at my Blackberry and it is sitting there with a white screen, nothing but a white screen.  I try a soft reboot, and back to the white screen, I try a battery pull, back to the white screen.  Then in not my finest moment I some how rationalize that running over to the T-Mobile store will be the easiest/quickest fix, they waste a solid 30 mins of my life pulling the battery repeatedly and praying that it will boot, I will never get that 30 mins back.  As usual I returned to the office hooked the BB up to a laptop to see if I could connect from JLcmder, no luck.  I removed the battery, sim card and my MicroSD memory card, replaced the battery and rebooted, my BB returned.  I then stated scouring the forums, turns out that a few others had seen an issue with a corrupted SD card that caused the white screen of death.  Last night I formatted my SD card (fat32) and placed it back into my BB and the phone booted fine (happy about that).  When will I realize to never call my carrier for technical support (I have been with Verizon, AT&T and now T-Mobile and they are all the same. When you go to a BB specialist and the first thing they tell you do is pull your batter, you have to wonder how special he or she is.)  Hope this helps someone.

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What have I been up to… Project Hive…

Obviously my post frequency has dramatically decreased this is due to a couple of factors.  First I am busy so I have less time to turn my experiences into easy to digest blog posts and second myself and a few of my comrades have been developing something we call “Project Hive” .  As you can probably tell from many of my blog posts most of my work in recent years has been associated with EMC technologies.  Throughout the years we realized that while there are some good framework tools out there they are costly, require significant customization and often don’t solve the common day-to-day operational issues that system administrators face.  The goal of “Project Hive” is to dramatically simplify the common tasks associated with managing EMC technologies.  Being intimately familiar with these tasks we have developed a platform that is based on a distributed collection, aggregation and presentation, we call this the “Honeycomb”, each Honeycomb contains modules, we call these “Workers” which are responsible for the collection, aggregation and analysis of data from discrete infrastructure components, all workers are centrally managed on the Honeycomb and use standard based methods to collect data (i.e. – WMI, SSH, SNMP, APIs, etc…).  “Project Hive” is a very active project and we are continually adding functionality to existing workers and building new workers as time permits or requirements dictate.

Any EMC customer who has been through an upgrade is familiar with the EMCGrab process (the process of running the EMCGrab utility on each individual SAN attach host within the environment and providing the output to EMC so they can validate the host environment prior to the upgrade).

In a reasonably sized environment this process can be tedious and time consuming, one of our released workers centralizes and automates the EMCGrab process.  I recently created a video which contrasts the process of running an EMCGrab manually on an individual host vs. using the Hive Worker.  My hope is to publish more of these videos in the future but as you can imagine they take a bit of time to produce.  If you are looking for more information contact the Project Hive team at dev@projecthive.info

A hi-resolution video is available here .

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New Navi Look-and-Feel

Navispphere emerging from the dark ages with a new look-and-feel
 
Key takeaways from Navisphere Birds-of-a-Feather session:
  • New Navisphere will adhere to the EMC Common Management Initiative
  • Task focus UI vs old object based UI
    • Improved Navigation, multiple entry points, drill down
    • Improved scalability
  • Summary pages with aggregated data
  • Hardware diagrams with exploded views
  • Tables
    • Costomizable
    • Exportable
  • NaviAnalyzer will provide the ability to scope the logging (e.g. Only log NAR data for a specific LUN, RG, etc…)

In the first Navisphere release NaviAnalyzer will not conform the Common Management Interface.

Classic NaviCLI is going away completely in the next release of Navi so UPGRADE YOUR SCRIPTS to NaviSecCLI if you have not already.

Overall the screenshots look pretty good.

 

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Symm V-Max Overview with Enginuity Overview Session

Below are my notes from the Symm V-Max Overview with Enginuity Overview session, please excuse any typographical errors as I posted this as quickly as possible.  If you see any content errors or missing information please comment.

  • Symm V-Max and V-Max SE
    • Distributed Global Memory
  • Symm V-Max Configuration Overview
    • 1 – 8 V-Max Engines
    • Up to 128 FC FE Ports
    • Up to 64 FiCON FE Ports
    • Up to 64 gigE FE Ports
    • Up to 1 TB of Mem
    • Up to 10 Storage Bays
    • 96-2400 Drives
    • Up to 2 PB of total capacity
  • Director Boards Populated from 1 – 16 bottom to top
  • Engines are populated from inside out
  • Symm V-Max SE
    • Singe V-Max Engine (Engine 4)
    • Up to 16 FC FE Ports
    • Up to 8 FiCON FE Ports
    • Up to 8 gigE FE Ports
    • Up to 128 GB of Mem
    • Upto 120 Drives
  • V-Max Engine Overview
    • 2 Director Boards
    • Redundant PS, battery, fans, etc…
    • FA and DA on V-Max Engine
    • Backend I/O module supports up to 4 DAEs
      • 4 Backend I/O modules will support up to 8 DAEs in a redundant configuration
    • EFD support for  200 and 400 GB drives
  • FC I/O modules, FiCON I/O module, iSCSI/gigE I/O module
  • Memory Config
    • 32GB, 64GB, 128GB options
    • Memory can be configured by adding memory to a existing V-Max engine or adding additional V-Max engines
    • Memory is mirrored across V-Max engines for improved availability
  • Hard to show the picture I am looking at but the rear of the V-Max engine chassis has the following ports
    • Virtual Matrix interfaces
    • Backend I/O modules interfaces
    • Front End I/O modules interfaces
  • Symm V-Max Matrix Interface Board Enclosure (MIBE)
  • Each V-Max Engines can be directly connected to 8 DAEs
    • Depending on the configuration up to two additional DAEs can be daisy chained beyond the primary DAE
  • V-Max provides 2x the ability to connect directly to drive bays over the DMX, from 64 drive loops to 128 drive loops
  • I/O Flow
    • Director board has 2 quad core procs
    • CPUs are mapped as A-H slices
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The market is depressed it’s not the “Depression”

The market had a huge day today with the Dow rising 936 points!  Following the biggest rise in the markets history I thought I would post a few figures from Friday for all the people who pulled thier money out the market last week in a panic and who most likely are questioning the move after today.

As of Friday’s closing bell the US martkets were down ~ 18%, EU markets ~ 25% and the Asian markets ~ 30%.  While an 18% slump sucks is it enough to make me panic?  Well let’s look at a few additional indicators today vs. the "Depression"

  Today "Depression"
Industrial Production

Down ~ 1% Down ~ 44%
Unemployment ~6% ~ 25%
Housing payments in the rears ~ 4% ~ 40%

The market conditions today are a long way from the conditions in 1929.  Things look much closer to the market crash of 1973/74 where the Dow lost ~ 45% of its value.

Now let’s look at an investmetment made in 1972 and present day value.  This would be representative of a thirty somethings investment today with a retirement target cashout.

I looked at an investment in XOM made 01/70 and sold today, even following last week the gain is ~ +843%.  The Dow inthe same time perios is ~ +1060%.

I also looked at the past 10 years from Oct 1998 til today which shows a ~ +107% for XOM and ~ +19% for the Dow.

Conclusion, the market is not a place to put your cash if you need liquidity.  As a long term investment the market is the place to be!

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