Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Installing Windows 7 from a USB fob

So, I have this older laptop that has a stuffed CDROM. So the only option fora clean install was to install from a USB key. So after a quick Google search I found these great instructions for creating a bootable USB stick to install windows 7 from. The only change was to use Xcopy to copy the install contents from the CD to the USB Key. This allowed me to make sure i got all hidden and empty folders.

So after alot of mucking around in my Windows VM to finally get the USB fob created its now happily installing on to the old laptop. The laptop is an old HP, with no LCD screen, SO it will be come my torrent downloader and also my VI Client for my EXSi server. I will just RDP into it from the mac.

This will save me having to have the ESXi server running all the time as its a power hog and it was only really running Windows7 as a play thing.

Oh I do still love the Muppets

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Apple TV upgrade to 3.0.1 and ATVFlash

So Apple TV firmware 3.0, then 3.0.1 came out. I wanted to upgrade to the latest version but wanted to wait until the hacks to allow XBMC to work on the new firmware were confirmed.  After some debate I decided to purchase the ATV Flash bundle.

It was a purchased bundle, but they were quick to update to allow functionality on the new release from Apple, and it had all the cool apps as part of the bundle. The decision came down to time. how long would it take me mucking about to get all those programs working, and for the asking price I felt it was a good deal.

I could have waited and done alot of patching and SSHing myself. But I just wanted up and running fast as I use XBMC alot, But also want to try the other media players to conpare. Now if I didnt have the RattyT and other work, I would have taken the time to do most of it myself.

So I went and purchase the download and created my patchstick, In about 20mins.
I then upgraded the Apple TV to 3.0.1 and used the patchstick. In all the process was painless.

Check this Video out to get a good idea of the process and the feature you then get.

Done and dusted

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Upgrading ESXi for 3.5 ro 4

Well it was raining so couldn't do any work on the RattyT, So it was time to do some geek work. I have a ESXi 3/5 server running on my old workstation. To my surprise the install of ESXi 3.5 we smooth. I was expecting it to have issues with my hardware. But it installed first time.

ASUS A8N-SLI Deluxe motherboard with 4GB Ram
2 SATA 120GB drives not in RAID
IDE DVD Player
IDE DVD Recorder

So that got me up and running very fast. The server has two SATA drives so one was the install and the other is now data.

Its working really well, I have a Win7 & SSLVpn server currently running on it. But I wanted to try the newer version. ESXi 4.

Now to administer ESXi there is no MAC VI Client, So I have to run a windows client (Win7) in fusion on my mac to be able to install the VIClient and administer the ESX server. So I wanted to try the upgrade in place option using the VMware Host update utility.

Once I finally got in extracted from the upgrade zip file and installed on my Win7 admin vm, I struck this issue when trying to access the ESXi server. I was presented with this error.

“The type initializer for ‘VirtualInfrastructure.Utils.HttpWebRequestProxy’ threw an exception.”
Of course it was since I am using Win7, ..... sigh

So after some hunting I found this great article, This got the vSphere Client running,

But then when I tried to run the Upgrade utility if failed the same way. ...
More digging, another great article

So go both the clients running on Win7.

Next I tried to do the upgrade .... While going through the upgrade I got half way and got this error

"Boot disk layout not supported"

I wasnt able to find a work around for this one, it was 1:30am I needed to go to bed.
So I am planning to recreate a USB boot fob running ESXi 4, This will have two benefits. Easy upgrade options and since its only a home server more things to play and learn from. But the biggest advantage is that I will free up my other 120GB hard drive for data and VMs.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

FreeNAS : Project Part 1

What to do with lots of spare drive of all sizes, a couple of old Compaq slimline pIIIs. I had to find some use for them so I come up with a little project, a NAS server. I decided to play with FreeNAS, FreeNAS is a small, powerful, full-featured implementation of FreeBSD (Based  BSD Unix) as a network-attached storage device.

I download created the live CD which allows you to install on to a USB fob. I created the bootable USB fob and got the below system up and running. Which by the way was a DC who's main OS drive died. So after I had a play and though yeah this will be useful I needed to find a permanent home for a FreeNAS install.

I finished rebuilding the below PC I needed to get the data back off the other drives, It is also used to host a couple of VMs, like my old blog (hence the side link isn't working) So I hopefully I will have that back up and running in the next couple of days. But back to my other little project.




The first hurdle I needed to address was that the old PIIIs would not boot from a USB fob, and they didn't have a CD drive. So after some searching on Trademe I found the perfect solution. The first part to this solution was the USB CF card reader, I could create, install and fiddle with the CF card all from my XP VM from inside of MAC OSX. With this I was able to do the install from the live FreeNAS CD, and test the bootiung off the CF card. The next more common item was the CF to IDE adapter (Once again TradeMe), this allows a CF card to be treated as a normal IDE harddrive.

So after I had confirmed that the CF card booted on the VM image I installed it as the first IDE drive in the Compag PIII3 and switched it on. I worked like a charm. The old PC treat the CF/IDE as a bootable harddrive and FreeNAS started up and I had a functioning FreeNAS server.

I then added a couple of drives and set about configuring FreeNAS.


 USB / CF reader & CFtoIDE adapter

 CFtoIDE adpater and harddrives in the old PIII

Now it took me a while to get my head around FreeNAS, its simple once you know how . So heres the basics.

Once you have configured the IP address and have it on the network (all done via the physical interface, keyboard screen) you then use the web admin interface to do everything else.

Once logged in you have to configure the drives. The steps to do this are,
Add the disks, this makes FreeNAS aware of the drives,
Mount the drives, this makes the drives usable.
Confgiure either AFP or CIFS/SMB to access the FreeNAS across the nextwork this is done by enabling the service. Once that is done you then create shares to the data you want available.

I spent lots of time play with the options and plan to add another drive to look at the software RAID5 features. But so far very impressed with the easy of use and capabilities.

FreeNAS status showing the two attached drives.
So if you have an old PC lying around and some drive a little spare time go make a cheap storage solution.

Great pick me up for the day

Playing For Change | Song Around The World "Stand By Me" from Concord Music Group on Vimeo.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Old New toy : Headless Powerbook G4

Well my journey to the world of only MAC is now ... well nearly complete. On Saturday night i spotted a Powerbook g4 laptop for sale on Trademe. It didn't have a screen, this was perfect as i was looking for a cheap mac mini or similar to run as the file server backup server for the macs we have.

I was lucky enough to win, as a very reasonable $275.

Once it showed up the first thing to do was install leopard so I could take advantage of Leopards TimeMachine backups and the TimeCapsule I have.

This was more troublesome than I though it was going to be. Since it didn't have a screen and I was using an external monitor. Everything the Leopard install started it treated it as a two monitor setup with the main dialog boxes for the install showing on the missing screen which was there and I couldnt continue with the install. After a lot of Google searches and finding nothing I decide to try this.

Have the monitor plugged in while starting the install, once it got to the point that it required input I unplugged the monitor and waited for 30seconds then plugged it back in. The leopard install defaulted to dual monitors in mirrored mode.... phew I could then continue with the install. Leopard successfully installed, even with only 512MB ram (I plan to upgrade it to 1GB once find some cheap ram)

I am now in the process of making this the file server and backup server.
I now have all my data on a external drive attached to the headless powerbook, this is then backed up via TimeMachine to the TimeCapsule, this covers any local disk failures.  I have also joined Mozy and the whole machine is also (well starting to be will take a while to upload 160GB) backup up to the "cloud"

This covers local drive failure of the external drive / laptop and the online backup covers fire/theft... natural disasters.

The data that is backed up is mainly digital photos, artwork and documents. I have decided at this stage not to upload my itunes music. I will wait to make sure I get all the other data uploaded first.

That 160Gb is only my data, I have to also do my wifes data which is another 200GB.
But for $5 a month per device / umlimited space is cheap piece of mind.

So here are some shots of the old/new wonder headless lappy.

Processor Speed: 1.33 GHz
Maximum RAM: 1.0 GB (Lower max Ram due to lower Ram slot no longer functioning)
Video Card: ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 with 64 MB of DDR SDRAM.
2nd Display Resolution: up to 2048x1536
Hard Drive: 120 GB (5400 RPM)
Int. HD Interface: Ultra ATA/100
Optical Drive: 8X "Combo Drive" capable of reading DVD at 8X, writing CD-R at 24X, writing CD-RW at 16X, and reading CD-ROM at 24X.
Modem: 56k v.92
Ethernet: 10/100/1000Base-T
Ports: Two USB 2.0 ports + One Firewire "400" port and one Firewire "800" port
Expansion Slots: Type I/II PC Card

Not a bad little mac for the price :)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Current must have iPhone app

My latest must have iPhone app is FlightControl, great game play and very addictive. Go check it out.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Just got back formAmericarna, loved it. Was just a shame that we didnt get to see all the cars.
There were over 800, but not all cars were at all events.

Here are some shots of the events I did see.

I hope to make it back next year ..... with some luck as a entry :)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Colorsplash: a must have iPhone app

Colorsplash is a new app that I downloaded today. It let's you turn a color photo to gray scale then you can paint the color in. It very quick and easy to use, yet give great looking results.

Go check out the app store and search for colorsplash.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Syncing Contacts

I had a problem, I wanted to sync my outlook contacts, with my Gmail contacts and also with my mac & iphone. Since i have the iphone already using active sync to my work exchange server, I couldnt use the new release google sync, as it uses active sync and the iphone only allows you to sync with one active sync source,

So after a bit of looking and finding Soocial on lifehacker, I decided that it was the best fit for me.

So after signing up to the beta and doing the inital I finally have my contacts synced and backup up acroos all the devices / applications that I wanted.

Go give it a go it you are looking for a good contact sync tool. Soocial

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Finally got backups sorted

Yeah it took a while, due to the disk formats as mentioned, TimeMachine only likes OS X formatted drives. So once I got all the drives to that format, which once again required moving of data, Then I stuffed up the dir-sync when using Chronosync, and got duplicates that I had to clean up. So that extended the time of setup.

But its now all good, Macbook, and local USB drive (HPF+) backup using TimeMachine to an external drive attached to the TimeCapsule. TimeCapsule internal drive used for Movies and TV files, and another External USB drive on the TimeCapsule used as a shared location for media such as photos for easy access from all Macs and PCs in the house. This data is synced via Chronosync to my local USB Drive, and included in the TimeMachine backup, Since this is the most important data its in three locations.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

TimeMachine & TimeCapsule

Ok, my plan to have the USB drive that is connected to my macbook isnt backing up via Timemachine to the Timecapsule. But I think I know why. The USB drive was FAT32, and I from what I have found, thats not a supported format for timemachine, So I now have to move the data off, reformat to HFS+, then copy the data back. So hopefully this will resolve this issue.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Moving to online webhosting for glittergirl

So with the whole move from self hosting and having multiple servers running at home I have slowly moved my data into the "cloud". The next step was to move my wifes website to a hosted service.
Its a really simple html site so I didn't need lots of fancy backend stuff. So my domain registrar, RegisterDirect offered webhosting, it wasn't free, but I can mange all the DNS, redirects, MX records all from one interface. And the price compared to other webhosting services wasn't that bad.

So now is a hosted site. I took me all of 20 minutes, signed up for the hosting service and paid the yearly subscription, FTPed the site up, changed the default homepage reference from homepage.html to index.html.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

An Apple a day ....

Week two of living with my new purchase, an Apple Macbook. So far .... life is good. I have just spent the last week sorting out where to store all my data (Music, Movies, Images, Software, ISOs) Since the laptop only had a 160HD and I have over 1.5TB of data I needed to come up with some way of managing it all, and not to use My vista PC as the file server as I will be using that a Windows 2008 & 7 play thing later on. So I need a consistent low maintenance approach to have my data available not only to me but also to my wifes iMac.

I limited this to just focus on the Music / Images, as the other data can be easily replace, and most of the software and other data really needs sorting and cleaned up. So this reduced the amount of data I had to deal with. I have most of my data on external USB drives and synced to another location in case a hard drive fails. So after a bit of research I decided to invest in a Apple TimeCapsule 500GB (as this model as the better harddrive)

So why did I go TimeCapsule, First simple TimeMachine backups over the network to a second drive, gave me the redundancy I needed. It also backups up USB drives attached ot the source device, which is a feature I wanted. So my macbook and the external drive that has the master source of my data is backed up to the internal TC harddrive, automatically on a daily basis. This is my failsafe for my data.

I then via a hub attached the USB drive that had my movies on it to the TC (No redundancy needed). I also attached another USB drive that has shared data on it.

So it looks like this, The USB drive attached to my laptop is the master source of data (ie all our user generated data), this is backed up via TimeMachine to the TC internal drive. I then use Chronosync to sync the shared data (Subset of the master source) to another USB drive attached to the TC. This allows the data to be accessible on the iMac & other PCs in the house.

So my master data set is in two locations and update daily, Movies are accessible to everybody on the network (AppleTv included) shared sub set of data available to all.

This allows me to have the Vista PC turned off when not is use, also I can take my laptop with me and all shared data is still available.

Clear as mud.

The biggest issue I had doing all of this was the drive formats and the time it took to move data around. Since all my USB drives were formated NTFS, which is ok in the PC and OS X can read it, but cant write to NTFS (you can get 3rd plug-ins) I wanted to OS X as much as I could and if in doubt use FAT32, Yes I know the limits of FAT32, but is a compromise that Im conformable with considering the workload the devices would be under. So finding space move the data to and then reformatting the drives and then moving the data back. I think I have shifted over 4TB, takes a long while, And I changed my mind on how to do things and had to start over again. But I am finally there now.

So as of yesterday Vista64 shut down awaiting a rebuild on Windows7 beta or Windows2008, macbook able to be turn off or taken with me, data backup up and shared data always available ..... I think Im done .... well for this week.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Vista be gone ....

I have had a long love hate relationship with Vista64. But in the end i have decided to go and live in the MAC world and the land of Leopard. I purchased a second hand Macbook off trade me. its 18months old and isnt the flashest. But it has 3gb ram & 160GB harddive and came with leopard Disks & iLife08.

So how has life been since. Well go a mini-dvi to DVI to run an extra screen. Worked just fine with my viewsonic 21in wide screen (No drivers needed, just pluged it in and it worked).

Next big job was getting all the software I use for the MAC,

Firefox + Foxmarks
Gmail Notifer
VMware Fusion
Google Picasa
Quicktime Pro
Microsoft RDP

I have it pretty well sorted at the moment. Software wise. I am build a XP VM up to run anything that I cant find for the MAC. I still have the Vista64 machine running until I feel that I have everything over that I need.

The biggest issue I have had is moving itunes and getting access to my data. This is due to Leopard by default only able to read NTFS formated drives. All my USB drives were NTFS. I know I could hack the OS to allow it to write NTFS, but didnt want to go that path. So it took forever to move 1TB of data around and reformat drives to Fat32 and move data back. But now back up data is sitting on the Vista64 box, and "live" music & media are on a USB drive connected to the Macbox,

iTunes was a real pain to move and it took a few goes but its now all configured and no loss of data.

So far very happy with the swap, will post more on the experience.