Monday, April 29, 2013

Cool Tool: Seagate Wireless Plus

Okay, the Seagate Wireless Plus is probably closer to a cool "toy", but it is cool nonetheless.  I was skeptical at first - why do I need yet another storage device for media when I have Spotify for music (or one of the countless online streaming music providers)?  Why not just use Amazon Video On Demand (or one of the countless streaming movie providers)?  Well, it stores movies, music and pictures.  It can stream up to four HD movies simultaneously.  Built-in 10hr battery, Wi-Fi broadcasting, apps for iDevices and Android devices, hmmm...

Then the rationalization, er... use case, hit me - since my kids have Android tablets, I could replace the bulky CD carrier and flaky behind-the-seat DVD players in the mini-van.  Sweet!  The kids keep pulling out the cables to the point where I'm re-splicing them once every couple of months.  With this thing I can turn it on, put it in the glove box and forget about it.  Nice!

Problem!  How do I get all of those movies ripped and copied on to the drive.  Well, its going to take two more (cool) tools to get this done.  First up, Slysoft's AnyDVD HD.  One year of updates is roughly $80 and 2 years is around $103 (I'd get 2 years).  It's worth every penny.  This handy little software sits between your DVD/Blu-ray drive and your software player such that the disc appears to be unencrypted.  We need the disc to appear this way for the ripping tool to work.

Now that we have unfettered access to our movie, how do we rip and compress it into one file?  Note that if we don't compress it we'll fill up the wireless drive much sooner than we might have otherwise.  Also remember we're streaming moving to 7" Android tablets, we don't need the HD detail Blu-ray (1080p) or even DVD (480p) gives us.  After searching the Interwebs for some time I discovered the answer: DVD Catalyst 4.  As of this writing its on sale for $10 but it's worth even the full price of $20.  This product is simply amazing - the number of supported devices is staggering.

This actually presented another problem - my kids have two different devices, an Acer A100 and a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (which has much better hardware specs).  Which device do I choose?  I tried a couple of different options but found the best compromise to be the Acer A101.  Using this profile, movies stream and playback fine on both devices.  They even work on my Samsung Galaxy S3 phone nicely.

With these two tools working together, ripping a disc to an MP4 file is an easy 2-3 click process.  After that, connect the drive via the USB port to the computer and copy the files to the "Video" folder.  That's it!

I'm about two-thirds through the discs and just now starting to break 100GB (out of 900GB+ free).  The kids have used it a dozen times on various trips w/o issue - they're happy so I'm happy!

I can highly recommend this product.  Note that I haven't discussed all of the features such as wireless Internet connectivity pass-thru.  I'm sure there are other "use cases" that I didn't even touch on.  If you need a portable drive that can be accessed wirelessly, this is it.

VMworld 2013: Are you ready?

VMworld 2013 - 10 years of VMworlds!  Registration is open - time to sign-up.  There were 45 of us that have attended every VMworld.  I predict 35 this year - time to start an office pool.

I'm on the VMworld Content Committee again this year and I'm seeing some fantastic sessions in the Business Continuity and Storage tracks.  Some are some reoccurring themes again this year such as Cloud and the Software Defined Datacenter, but I'm seeing more focus on specific aspects of these concepts - backup in the cloud, cross-cloud backup and recovery, Software Defined Storage and Software Defined Networking.  I'm seeing more on distributed storage than in past years.  I saw a demo of VMware's distributed storage tech at a session last year (I think they were calling vSAN).  I was very impressed.  Lot's of questions remain on scalability, performance and of course, when it will be released.  But given they had a working prototype last year, I have to believe it will be soon.

I remember the first VMworld - everything was anemic compared to today's event: standing-room-only sessions (if you could get in), a couple of dozen exhibitors, etc.  I do remember being blown away by some stats given by Diane Greene in the General Session, especially those on processor utilization - Mainframes=85%, Unix/mid-range=50%, x86/Wintel=5-15% (or something very similar).  Unfortunately, this video is not on the VMworld site.  However, for a blast down memory lane, check this one out:

I won't get to sign-up of another week or two but as my mom used to say "beggars can't be choosers".  And that's okay - the main thing will be getting a decent hotel within a decent walking distance.  May not be
possible this year but we'll see.

Overall it looks to be another good one.  What will be theme?  The party?  Who's the band? I'm guessing VMware has something special planned this year.  Another office pool?

See you there!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

ERROR: Call fails for “HostDatastoreSystem.QueryVmfsDatastore- CreateOptions”

I've run into this several times now when re-deploying servers as iSCSI SAN storage systems for vSphere.  What happens is there's an old filesystem partition (or two) on the device\disk so ESXi refuses to configure it as a datastore.

To fix this problem you have to delete these partition(s) from the device\disk.

Word of warning:  make sure you delete the correct partition!  If you delete the wrong partitions, you may have to recover/re-install ESXi.  The correct partitions should not be difficult to find, but now if you screw something up you can't blame me - you've been warned!

Use the vSphere client - on the ESXi host go to the Configuration tab, Storage, Devices.  Take note of the device name your trying to configure as a new datastore.

SSH into the ESXi host.
Run the following command:
fdisk -l

This will list the partitions on that disk device.

Now you need to delete these partitions:
fdisk /dev/disks/[DEVICE_NAME]

When prompted, delete each partition.  Press "d" for delete, then "1" for partition 1.  Do this for all partitions on this device.

When finished, press "w" to write the changes to disk.

You should now be able to go back into the vSphere client and create a new datastore using this device!