Thursday, April 30, 2009

Using USB Devices in Virtual Machines on VMware ESX

I’ve been getting this question a lot lately - “Can I use USB devices or dongles inside a Virtual Machine on ESX?”

The out-of-the-box answer is No. USB devices are not supported within the VM on ESX 3.5. That being said, there are a few companies that have gotten excellent reviews and are very popular on the VMware Community Forums that provide USB functionality.

The most popular way of presenting USB devices in Virtual Machines on ESX that I’ve heard/seen is from Digi International, which has a product called AnywhereUSB. Follow the link for additional info on the product.
They have also published a VMware Branded Technical Note (whitepaper) entitled VMware ESX Server: Using AnywhereUSB to Connect USB Devices

FabulaTech is another popular way. A good post regarding it can be found here:

Update to the post:
I came across a recent post over at VMetc mentioning a couple more temporary plus permanent options for using USB over IP:

A few other links of companies that have gotten good reviews to allow USB access in VM’s: (Inexpensive, starts at $89!) (Open Source Project for USB over IP)

Microsoft Office/Outlook 2007 SP2 Released

If you are running Office 2007 (including Outlook 2007) on your own computer or a PC you can install stuff on, Service Pack 2 for Office is out. It looks to have quite a bit of updates and performance fixes.


For the nerds out there ;-) , a list of bug fixes can be found here:

I’m downloading as we speak and I’ll let you know if I notice anything positive or negative..

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Our Refiance

Let me begin by saying that my family has been a Bank of America customer for longer than I have been alive. My father prided himself on loyalty and when he walked into the bank, they would know who he was. When we moved, my father went to the local BofA branch and talked with the VP of the branch. He found going to the top dog to be very useful when he had an issue. (These days, it seems like everyone is a VP and really don't care who you are or what you bring.) My first checking/savings account at BofA, my first house mortgage, etc. You get the point. Well, my wife and I decided to refinance the house since the rates are so low. So, we went online and filled out an application with Bank of America. (coming back to that loyalty thing) We promptly received a call from a broker to talk about our options. He and I agreed on the loan amount, points, and what the house is worth (based on the tax assessment). He called again one other time to make sure that we received the application and to tell us who would be our closing rep.

So, I called the closing representative to make sure that she has everything that she needs in order to go forward. But, I got voicemail, which is fine, I generally will send people to voicemail when I am busy. So, I left a message… the next day, I called again… I finally received a call back with a request for a mound of paperwork. It was very apparent that she did not even bother to determine what she had, since most of the paperwork that she asked for was sent with the original paperwork. But, that is okay.. I can fax it.. again. I called several times to verify that everything is on track and there was nothing further required on my part. (queue tumbleweeds) I finally received a call with closing information about our refinance and the points, which were increased from 2.125 to 2.625. Hold up a sec… That is not what the original agreement was, costing me about $400 in addition. So, let me get this right, I have to pay the application fee, closing costs, and now an additional $400 dollars. I think not! When I dared to inquire about why the change, I was told to go and contact my Rep. (who is out until May 2nd) I guess it a screw-you service charge for being a loyal customer for 20 years.

I talked it over with the wife and decided to be pissed about it, but to continue with the process. They are going to get their money one way or another. Grin and bear it! However, This will be the LAST Bank of America mortgage that we do. EVER!

Monday, April 13, 2009

The "Virtual" World

Most companies today are expanding their virtual environment, instead of purchasing additional hardware. Makes sense! Buy one beefier box, instead of several little boxes. The one thing that you have to be care of is your SAN. Watch that I/O and timeouts, or you'll bring your SAN to it's knees if you are not careful. Be mindful about how you deploy or spread the load across your storage. However, not the topic I want to talk about at this very moment. I ran across this and wanted to pass it along.

Eliminate planned downtime for server maintenance.

Eliminate planned downtime with VMware VMotion and VMware Storage VMotion VMware VMotion and Storage VMotion enable the live migration of virtual machines across physical servers and storage arrays with zero downtime, continuous service availability and complete transaction integrity. VMware customers use VMotion and Storage VMotion to:
• Eliminate planned downtime associated with server and storage maintenance
• Dynamically load balance workloads in order to optimize performance
Here is a quick overview of the steps you need to take to enable non-disruptive migration of virtual machines:

Step 1:
Set up your shared storage infrastructure

Shared storage, such as fiber channel or iSCSI SAN or NAS, is a prerequisite for enabling live migration of virtual machines. Chapter 8 of the VMware Infrastructure Comprehensive Evaluator’s Guide offers detailed instructions on how to create and/or configure shared storage for use in a virtual infrastructure. You should also make sure you set up virtual networking before you implement live migration with VMware VMotion. To learn the fundamentals about networking in a virtual environment, check out the new VMware white paper, “Conceptual Networking Overview".

Step 2:
Migrate a virtual machine from one physical server to another with VMware VMotion

Once you have implemented your shared storage infrastructure, you can begin migrating virtual machines from one physical server to another with VMware VMotion. You can find an overview of VMotion in Chapter 9 of the VMware Infrastructure Evaluator’s Guide.

Step 3 (optional):
Move live virtual machine disks files across storage arrays using VMware Storage VMotion

In addition to VMotion, VMware Infrastructure also includes a product called VMware Storage VMotion, which lets you move your virtual machine's disk files from one physical storage device to another with no disruption or downtime. Refer to Chapter 12 of the Comprehensive Evaluator’s Guide for more detail.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Girls LOVE The New Play Structure

Well, the Rainbow guy for the install of the Play Structure showed up on Saturday at 10am and it was done by 3pm. I do have to say that, I am glad that I did not have to put this thing together. It was a whole lot 4x6 and a few 6x6 beams. I don't think..wait.. I know for a fact that I would not be able to lift a 6x6 without help or possibly a crane. (or both) But, this is one of those, this install guy makes it look easy… Yeah.. Not so much.

So, by 3:10pm the girls were out “testing” out the newest addition and played until 7:30 that night. Sunday morning, my oldest at 5:30am wanted to go out and play, but we held her back until 8. Then both girls went out and played, ate lunch, watched a movie on the portable DVD player. At times they would be watching the movie, then playing on the swings, then playing on the rock wall, then back to the movie. This is the most time that they have spend outside in… well… ever…

Well worth the money and happiness of the girls!

Monday, April 06, 2009

My Kids are spoiled

Over the past couple of weekends, I have been working in the yard.. With help from some paid individuals. The backyard is all cleaned up and the play area pad is ready for the play structure. It all started back in late January, the family went to a local “Home Improvement Show” in Portland. We went there to get some ideas about how we can improve the house a bit. Well, right off the bat, I knew I was in trouble. As you walk in, the first booth is Rainbow Play. They are the makers of the ‘ginormus’ play structures that will hold about a dozen kids. Well, the girls were sold!

So, we grabbed a flyer, which conveniently had a coupon on it for 30% off any structure and a catalog. How could pass that up? We looked at the catalog, measured the backyard, looked at the catalog, measured the backyard again, decided that we could fit any of them and that our only issue was going to be price. But, we narrowed down to two, depending on what the rep said. The next step was to the local showroom, which was an old gas station. J The girls got to see, touch, play on, and experience the “Rainbow Play Structures”. They did not have a demo of the one the girls really liked from the catalog, but they had last year’s model, which was six inches taller and had a couple of nice add-ons that this year’s model did not have. He also gave me a better price on the unit, than the one we were looking at… Since it is last year’s model… (So.. What does the year model matter??)

They show up at 8am on Saturday to install...