Everything is ….. good!


December 19th, 2013 by TheEditor

Updates updates updates.

Right off the bat I want to say that the new job is great, any doubt in my mind that I did the right thing is now gone forever. Not only do I like what I’m doing, like the people I work with,  but all the other  bonuses that go along with it are nice too, like being able to walk to work, being able to actually leave for lunch etc.  I no longer feel like I’m constantly just trying to find yet another thumb to stick in the  dam but now I feel that I have a direction and a foundation to build on career wise.   I no longer despise having to go to the office every day, and that is something very new.

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, I have updates in regards to the whole experiment thing.  I’ve spent the last 2 weeks trying to get my routine, or what will be my routine, together and see how everything is going to fit.  Changing jobs, changing schedules, changing workouts, it all added up and I’m very glad that I didn’t wait until January 1 to try and start this all.  Having a month to ramp up was the right thing to do.

I just scheduled my VCP5-DCV test, the first in the list, for January 27th.  It’s paid for and on the books so I now have a hard date to work towards.   I’ll be glad to get this one one and move on.  I think I may have over estimated what I can get done in this section.  I did some reading and the VCAP5-DCV is a bit more than I had originally thought.  I will not sacrifice me getting my CCNP in 2014 so I think what I’m going to do is take my VCP, then head straight in to my CCNP, once that is over I’ll see what kind of time I have left to deal with the  VCAP.  I don’t take getting these certifications lightly, I don’t want to just “pass the test”.  I want to actually learn the material so I’ll take what time I need, I’m not going to hurry through just to get one more.  The VCAP will still be there when I’m done with my CCNP, and who knows, by then I may not want to take it, I might want to do another Cisco cert.

Sore, I think that is the one word to describe how I’ve felt over the past 2 weeks in regards to the quest for the planche.  I’m finding the workouts very challenging, which is a good thing.  I knew it was going to be hard, I was prepared for that, but I wasn’t prepared for where I fell in the progressions.  What I mean is that I’ve been working out for awhile now and I’m in great shape, but moving to these progressions really, for lack of a better word, humbled me.  I’m using new muscles in new ways, plus I’ve had to go back and look at my form on some things and make changes.  Pull ups for example, no longer can I do pullups with a 30lb weight vest on, because I wasn’t doing them dead hang. No vest, dead hang, I’m doing a third of what I was doing before. I’m trying to not focus on the numbers because really they are not important, the progressions are.  I can hold a straight arm crow pose for almost a minute now, that made my day the first time.   All in all I’m really having fun with this, I think by the end it’s going to be very rewarding.

Along those same lines the change in diet has also been a welcome change.  No more 1800 calories and 2 workouts a day.  I was ignoring the fact that I was totally over training AND not eating enough to boot.   Now I’ve moved to the 3 day split for strength, 3 days of cardio on the off days, and I upped my caloric intake to between 2600-2700.  It’s like night and day.  The over training was killing me, I was constantly tired and I know my workouts were suffering as a result of not enough fuel and not enough rest.   The addition of 800 calories was very welcome and I could tell after day 1 that it was the way to go. I’ts been 2 weeks and I haven’t gained a pound,but I have energy again. I’m no longer almost falling asleep at my desk at 2pm.

In addition to adding calories I also changed my split.  I was on a very carb starved diet for a long time  in an attempt to get my bodyfat percentage down to like 8%, I’m now on a much more forgiving 40/40/20 split.  That’s 40% carbs and protein, and  20% fat. MUCH BETTER!  The diet I went with is simple, very simple.  Lots of eggs, oatmeal, chicken, quinoa, beans, almonds, pineapple, and cottage cheese, that’s it. Boring I know, but it’s functional.  Yes I eat the same thing every single day, although I have been not so strict just because it’s the holidays and I’ll really tighten up come Jan 1, but it works.  I notice an aesthetic difference and as I mentioned my energy is way up also. I’ll post more on this as we go forward.

My meditation has been sporadic lately just due to trying to get a handle on my new schedule, but this will settle down after this week is over, hopefully.  Plus once the holidays are over too, that will help.

Lastly, I bought a book, “Time Management for System Administrators“.  I bought it because I’ve found myself with a good bit more time lately due to a bunch of factors and I don’t want to waste that time.  I went with this book because it’s geared towards people like me.   Not that you have to be a systems admin to use this book but it’s more of a personality thing.  It recognizes the fact that a lot of us “geeks” shared a blurred line between fun and work, that is to say what I do at work I also do for fun, there are not many jobs like that. Plus it also recognizes that we are tenacious when it comes to problem solving and will not let go of something until we have it figured out.  It looks at all these factors and offers way to manage time better. I’m a few chapters in and already I’ve started to change the way I do things. I’ll post more about this later but so far it was worth the 12 bucks.

I have to get ready for work now.

The Editor

 

Posted in Daily musings, Geek, The Experiment, Workout | Comments (0)

The Experiment – Spiritual


December 13th, 2013 by TheEditor

Finally, the last and final section of my experiment explained.  It took me awhile to get around to this because I wasn’t, ok I’m still not, exactly sure what it is that I want to accomplish here.  I do have a something hard and  fast that I want to do, but in the end I’m not sure where it’s headed.

I’ll begin with a bit of history.  First of all  I am not religious, the whole god worship thing  escapes me, it has just never rang true with me.  Not only that but the concept of blind faith, I can’t wrap my head around that one.  That’s not to say that I don’t understand the “need” for religion, that it serves as a point of comfort and strength for a lot of people, I’m just saying that none of it rings true to me.

I was raised Lutheran, and by that I mean I went to  Sunday school and church once in awhile with my grandmother. Once my father remarried we started to irregularly go to Catholic church.  Luckily that didn’t last too long and after that I had nothing whatsoever to do with organized religion.

My experience with being a kid and going to Sunday school was a good one.  I have very good memories of that church and the people that I met there, they were truly caring and I never felt as if the religion part of it was being forced down my throat, it was more teaching us good lessons about how to be a good person.   My experience with the Catholic church was much different.  With all the gilded items needed for a ceremony, the up and down up and down regiment, the confession and all that the whole thing seemed very not genuine.  To this day I’m convinced that Cathoicism is based off of money, guilt and fear.

Somewhere along the line I heard about Buddhism, I can’t say when or how but I remember first reading about it and thinking instantly that it made sense.  It’s such a simple concept. This is from www.buddhanet.net:

To many, Buddhism goes beyond religion and is more of a philosophy or ‘way of life’. It is a philosophy because philosophy ‘means love of wisdom’ and the Buddhist path can be summed up as:

(1) to lead a moral life,
(2) to be mindful and aware of thoughts and actions, and
(3) to develop wisdom and understanding.

I really don’t know how you get any simpler than that.    The second thing that struck me was the fact that you are never asked to have blind faith in anything, it’s actually just the opposite.    From www.buddhanet.net:

Science is knowledge which can be made into a system, which depends upon seeing and testing facts and stating general natural laws. The core of Buddhism fit into this definition, because the Four Noble truths (see below) can be tested and proven by anyone in fact the Buddha himself asked his followers to test the teaching rather than accept his word as true. Buddhism depends more on understanding than faith.

Those two simple things really opened my eyes to the concept of Buddhism, and at the same time closed them to any organized religion forever.

I’d like to say that at this point I got heavily into Buddhism and let an enlightened life but that didn’t happen. Over what would be the next 10-13 years I would read a little here and there, I’d try to meditate for a day here and there but that was about it.   It was always there in the back of my head, this idea that I wanted to pursue more but I wasn’t at a place mentally in my life where that could happen. Once simply cannot meditate drunk.

Then prison happened, once again with a positive benefit.  As I mentioned prison in boring to no end, especially for someone that  refuses to get a tv.  Maybe 6 months in, once I got settled at my home jail, I found myself writing a large amount of letters.  I wrote and recieved tons of mail over my time there.  I got to know relatives better, and the few friends that took the time to write and reply.  At one point I asked my sister to look around and see if there was any sort of pen pal program where you could write to a Buddhist monk.  She sent me information on Liberation prison project, and I wrote them. I got a nice letter back saying I should develop my meditation practice then write back, and they sent me a book.  This little blue book, Becoming your own therapist, got to me at just about the time when my head was finally clear and I was starting to look back and wonder how I had gotten to this exact moment in my life.  I was angry, sad, scared and all these things at once.  I read that book a few times and I can honestly say that it was life changing.  It told me that I have total power over how I feel in that I have control over how I react to every single thing around me.  That was very very powerful.

For the next year and a half I read what I could find at the prison library, which surprisingly was a good bit, and had a few things sent in. Everything I read rang true to me.  I also had books sent in to me, zen buddhism, Quigong, meditation for dummies, and the list goes on.  I started, or tried to start a regular meditation practice but in that environment I didn’t do so well.

Meditation became something that fascinated me.  How something so incredibly simple could be so frustratingly hard.  Sit there, focus on your breath, and watch your mind go all over the place.  When it does, refocus on your breath.  If you’ve never tried it you should, after 10 minutes you’ll see what I mean. Simple, but also powerful.  I have only begun to scratch the surface of meditation, there is so much more I want to learn.

Fast forward to the last year or two.  I don’t read as much as I  should or want to but I’ve tried very hard to keep some sort of regular meditation schedule.  I have not made it the priority I should and I know that hence the final part of my experiment.  I want to make it a non negotiable part of every day.  I really want to fit 45 minutes a day in but it might end up being 30, I just haven’t decided yet.  I have this daily schedule that I’m working on that is not finalized yet.  This has been my first week at the new job so its been a crazy week trying to get into a new schedule and all that.

I don’t want to just put aside that time to sit, I want to move forward in my practice.  That is going to require some reading and maybe looking around locally for a Buddhist group.  I’m going to start by working with some guided meditations, from Dharma Seed, and seeing how that works. I feel that I really need some direction.

I said that I don’t know where this is going to go in the end because I don’t know if this is just going to end up with me spending a year learning a lot about meditation or me getting into the whole lifestyle of Buddhism more.  For the latter to happen there are some major changes that have to happen with me, mainly with how I deal with empathy and compassion, two very key points in Buddhism.  I think this is going to be the hardest thing that I’ve chosen to do in the new year but also potentially the most rewarding.

More to come on this.

The Editor

 

Posted in Bio, Buddhism, The Experiment | Comments (0)

The Experiment – Financial


December 8th, 2013 by TheEditor

The next item in my series of things I want to get done in the new year. is probably going to be one of the easiest actually, the financial aspect.

I have finally managed, for the first time in my entire life, to be at a place where I feel semi comfortable about where I am financially.  In my previous life I lived paycheck to paycheck, I was up to my ears in debt and I had very little to show for the work I did.   I had nothing saved, I had no plan for retirement, and most weeks I chose drinking over eating.  It was not a fun place to be.

Today I’m a bit better off.  I am 100% debt free first of all.  I paid off the remainder of what was left from all of my legal troubles, that was huge.  Writing that last check one was one of the best feelings I’ve had in a long time.  I’ve managed to put some money away for an emergency, not a lot mind you but enough that if something would come up I’d be ok.  I actually have the beginning of a plan for retirement, I feel so grown up now, I have investments!  The big thing is, I live pretty cheaply.  Aside from the normal bills, rent, food, electric ( ok the electric bill is a bit ridiculous but what can I say, a man needs his own SAN ), I have almost no other bills to pay.

When I moved into my current apartment I got very lucky, the rent here is unbelievably cheap for what I have.   I’ts almost a crime really, I have friends who’s places are half this size, and without some of the perks that are paying much more for their place.  Food, well that’s a whole other subject.  My food bill is darn close to my rent actually.  It’s expensive to eat non processed food.  I’ll go into my diet more as I update on the physical side of this plan, but needless to say I spend over $400 a month just to eat, that’s without going out.  I am trying to get that down a bit but there isn’t a whole lot of wiggle room.    As I’ve mentioned my electric bill is higher than I’d like but I use all the equipment that I have running here, plus having my own is cheaper than renting rack space just to study, which as I mentioned is going to play a big part in the next year.

So what is the actual plan?  The goal is $10k saved in one year, for the sole purpose of buying a house.  What that means is that the balance in my   savings account at the end of next year will be 5 digits long.  Now before you go thinking that I probably make 6 figures, I don’t, I make less than the median income for Pennsylvania. How it works is that I planned all of these things to work with each other.  I’ll be spending my entire year working, studying, or working out, that leaves no time to be out spending money.  Also, I don’t have any expensive tastes or hobbies.  I’ve also pretty much bought the few toys and gadgets that I want.  Finally, not having a car payment or anything car related is nice also.

Starting to plan for the future at 36 is terrifying to say the least.  I do not want to have to go to work when I’m 75 just to be able to scrape by, that is not how it is supposed to be.  Let’s be honest,  the chances of social security being around when I’m old enough to use it are slim.  Not many places give pensions these days, so that leaves it up to me to take control of my future.  I know too many other people my age that have nothing nor have they even given it any thought.   The whole trick to this is invest now, let it compound and grow over time.  Owning a home is one of those things that I want off the books as early as I can.  Having a place that is paid for is going to be a huge weight off of my shoulders.  I said paid for, not mortgaged, but that will come later.

I still plan on contributing to my retirement investments, I still plan on having a bit of fun here and there but for the most part this is a grind year.  That is the whole point, 1 year to grind out  a bunch of things that are no fun but need to get done.

The end goal of this part of my plan is to buy a house.  Originally I thought I was going to do that in 2014 but I’ve decided to put it off for at least 2 years.  If I were to do it at the end of 2014 that would tap me out, put me in a financial position that I don’t want to be in.  I love the apartment that I’m in, and as I mentioned it’s cheap, it makes sense for me to stay here for 2 years and then buy.  In the back of my head I have this idea that I want to have a house paid off by the time I can drive again, but we’ll see how that plays out.

So that’s that. That leaves one more aspect to explain but I’ll take care of that later this week.    For the rest of the day today I’m going to enjoy watching the snow fall and relax, I start my new job tomorrow!

The Editor

 

Posted in Bio, Money, The Experiment | Comments (0)

Installing VMware VDP, then removing it.


December 7th, 2013 by TheEditor

I’m going to preface this post by saying that I run a DRS cluster here at home. I’m using normal equipment and I’m only dealing with tops 15 vm’s.

That being said, I spent about 7 hours with VDP, vSPhere Data Protection,  on Thursday and that was more than enough time to realize I’ll never like it.  It was just a headache to deal with, let me explain why.

I have a spare NAS that I wanted to turn into just a backup repository.  Up until this point I’ve been lax about backing up my vm’s but I had some time and I wanted to remedy that.   I figured why not kill two birds with one stone and install and use VDP.  Right away   VDP is a hog, it wants a ton of memory, a ton of vcpu’s and gives no choice at all to configure for a smaller environment.  Strike one.  Secondly, and I found this out after going through the whole deployment once, is that it is really weird with DNS.  You have to have all the records setup ahead of time or the VDP instance will never register correctly with  vcenter, or at least not that I could figure out how, then you have to re-deploy.

Next is the fact that I had to create 3 vmdk files of .5 tb each.  I was hoping to just be able to mount an existing NFS share and go.  This wasn’t that big of a deal though, just a pain.  Lastly and probably the biggest issue, it never ran.  Scheduled backups would start then just die with ambiguous if any error message.  OHHHH,  I almost forgot,  you have to use the vsphere web client to work with it, no support for the vsphere client.  The best feeling I had all day was selecting “Delete from disk” and watching it go away.

That left me without any backup, the same place I had been that morning.   I looked at a few different scenarios, I’m not going to link to them because they get quite enough advertising as it is, and didn’t like any of them.  I wanted something simple, easy to schedule, that would email me, not of which are exactly complicated requirements.  I finally found exactly what I was looking for, ghettoVCP.sh, a simple script that will clone the vm to a storage volume, and send an email. From the time I clicked download to the time I started a backup it was only about 2 minutes of configuration.  It can be scheduled with a normal cron entry.  This is exactly what I was looking for, and really it’s the reason I use linux, simple config files and a cron system that works.

As I sit here and write this my vm’s are almost all finished backing up and I can now find something else to spend my day doing.  As for VDP, maybe it really does work well with a large amount of resources to throw at it and a larger environment to work with, but for a smaller setup like mine, it’s worthless.

The Editor

 

Posted in Geek, VMware | Comments (0)

The Experiment – Mental


December 4th, 2013 by TheEditor

I thought today I’d go over the next section of my little one year plan, the mental aspect.   Aside from the physical this is going to take up the largest amount of time and energy to accomplish.

I’ve decided that I’m going to finish 3 certifications in 2014, the VCP5-DCV, VCAP5-DCA, and the CCNP.  That’s 2 VMware and one Cisco certification.  It would put me on the “second tier” of certs for both companies.

I’ve spent the last year or  so building up to this idea.  I have a full vSphere lab built at home, and enough Cisco equipment to take me further than the CCNP.  I’ll also be finishing my VMare class on December 11, thereby letting me actually get the certification once I pass the test.

The home VMware lab consists of a 2 host ESXI cluster, with a third host if I need it, a SAN that handles iSCSI, and multiple NFS nas’s.  ( The SAN is an HP ML350 G5 running FreeNAS) Each host has 4 nics allowing me to do pretty much anything network wise, all connected to an HP Procurve 24 port gig switch.  The whole setup is licensed, thanks to a friend of mine, and is also my entire home network infrastructure.   It’s quite nice to be able to test and actually play with everything I read about.

On the Cisco side I managed to amass a nice collection of switches and routers.  The current list is something like 4 2950′s, a 3550, and a 3560 for my switching gear, and on the router side I have 3 2811, 2 2950′s and a 2951.   I won’t actually but using any of the hardware routers though.  I built a GNS3 server with 3 quad nics.  It’s much easier to run everything emulated than it is to have that many routers plugged in and running. Plus I can bridge to a real switching environment and do whatever I need to do.

I’m planning on doing the VCP first, getting that out of the way right at the beginning of the year. I have no yet decided what I’m going to do next, it makes sense to go right into the VCAP with the momentum of the VCP behind me, but I really want to get back to the Cisco stuff which is what I love to do.

The whole plan here is to give myself a good basis of knowledge to work with.   My goal being heading for my CCIE starting in 2015, maybe.  I think the combination of VMware and Cisco certs work nicely since the relationship is getting closer and closer as software defined networking continues to grow in popularity, like the Nexus1000v switch.

This aspect of my little experiment will be chronicled at my other site, www.packetaddiction.com, or at least that is my plan.   Writing about it as I do it helps me learn and I think any sort of writing practice is a beneficial thing.

So there you have it, part 2 of what will be posts explaining this whole plan of mine.

The Editor

Posted in Bio, Certifications, Cisco, Geek, The Experiment, VMware | Comments (0)

The experiment – Physical


December 3rd, 2013 by TheEditor

Here is the first of 4 posts about my plans for 2014.    I decided to explain the physical aspect first since that is what sort of started this whole thought process for me.

I’ve been horribly bored with my workouts lately.  It seems that I just add more weight or add more reps and in the end I’m just incredibly bored.  I have no interest in going to a gym, it’s a pain with no car and really I enjoy working out at home.   Most of my workouts are based on bodyweight and not on pushing huge amount of weights.

I’ve done P90x, I’ve done Insanity, I recently have been doing A Shot of Adrenaline’s 3 month extreme bodyweight workout and I’m just completely bored.  I also feel like I’ve hit a plateau.  I can “do” all of the exercises, I’ve maxed out my weight vest, so I went looking for something new.

When you do bodyweight exercises you eventually end up looking at gymnastics workouts because that is really the ultimate in bodyweight workouts.  While looking around I found the planche and I decided right then that my goal for 2014 was going to be to do a full planche to handstand.   I watched that video over and over, I watched a ton of other videos, this was exactly what I was looking for.

I started looking around for some direction and came across of all things a subreddit devoted to bodyweight fitness.   Poking around there I found the workout I’ll be using for what will probably be most of 2014, Antranik’s Routine.

I started this routine officially this week.  I wanted to ease in and see exactly where I am ahead of time.  I’m sore, very very sore.  I have not felt this challenged by a workout in probably 2 years.   I’m on the first tier of all of the progressions, hell a 45 second floor assisted l-sit is really really hard, so I know I have a ton of room to grow.

I built a nice set of dip bars and some parallettes from pvc.  I’m probably going to have to buy another weight vest that can hold a good bit, or figure something else out.  When I figure out what I’m doing I’ll let you know.

My diet will also change just a bit.  It’s time to go on mass diet, that means upwards of 2700 calories.   I’m going as clean and simple as I can.  I want to keep it to maybe 15 total foods and I’m still on the fence about dairy.

That’s it. One year, one move.   Pretty simple right.  Did I mention how sore I am?

The Editor

P.S.  If for some reason this goes quicker than I think I’m going to make a secondary goal in this category.    If I get the full planche with good form, I’ll use all remaining time to work on a V-Sit.

 

 

Posted in Bio, The Experiment, Workout | Comments (0)

The year experiment – A preface.


December 1st, 2013 by TheEditor

I mentioned in my last post that I have something planned for the new year, not just one thing  but multiple things actually.  I’m currently at this odd point in my life where I have almost zero stress or distractions, just a very calm spot.  Everything I’ve worked for up until now has worked out the way I want it and it’s almost eerie to me.  Unfortunately I’m not good with that, I need something to work towards, something to focus on, me and idle time are enemies.

Without going into a long explanation of why I’m not ready to step back and just enjoy where I am right now you have to understand my past.  I’ve written about it at length but the main point of it is that I wasted a HUGE amount of my life as a drunk, not moving forward and barely staying in one place.  I’ve been sober since 2008, and out of jail since 2010 and in that time I’ve managed to accomplish more things than I ever thought possible, and yet it’s still not enough.  In my head stopping forward movement would be the same thing as going back to my own ways, irrational yes, but it’s what I have to work with right now.  I just have this underlying need to not only catch up, but surpass, if that makes any sense.

I know that this is totally unhealthy,  to focus life on the next thing and ignore the present.  I read and listen to a lot of Buddhist material and the biggest thing they focus on is to be present in the now, yet I can’t.  So with that in mind my plan for 2014 is to try to incorporate all the aspects of my life, make some really difficult goals for myself and spend the year accomplishing them.

I’m single, I have no obligations to anyone, I have enough money to do what I want, and as of recently I have a new job, if I’m going to do this now is the perfect time.  I sat back and categorized the things I wanted to accomplish into areas of my life, these are what I came up with.

In each of these sections I picked a few things that are hard, time consuming, and require a sacrifice and decided that I’m going to do them all in one year.

In the overall scheme of things a year is nothing.  If I look back on my life and look at how I’ve spent some of the 36 years I’m alive this whole thing seems easy.  I’ve spent a year drunk, a year in a maximum security prison, a year broke, and various other worthless things, now I’ll do things that are good for me instead.

I’m not going to say that this year will be fun, at least not in a carefree sort of way.  Accomplishment is fun, and the harder the accomplishment the more fun it is, at least it is for me.  I’m going to try to keep this up to date with my progress as the year wears on, whether good  or bad.

To  wrap this up for the evening I’ll be explaining the things I want to  accomplish over the next few days.   I might add some things before the actual end of the year, I’m not sure yet.  So much of this is going to come down to time management and how to fit everything in, but like I said, I’m really bad with idle time.  Until next time.

The Editor

 

Posted in Bio, Buddhism, Random thought | Comments (0)

I love it when a plan comes together.


November 30th, 2013 by TheEditor

I waited a little longer than I had planned on putting up this update, but I wanted to make sure that once it was posted there was no possible way  I’d have to remove it.   Yes, I’ll be moving on to a new job starting the 9th of December.

Gone will be the never ceasing phone calls, the impotent pseudo managerial role, and the coworkers that refuse to pull their weight.  The new company is a larger company with a system of checks and balances already in place, I’ve been looking for some structure for the longest  time now.

My new title will be Systems Administrator or some along those lines.  I’ll be working with a team in a  Vmware/Cisco/Linux/Windows environment, almost the exact thing I was looking for.  Heck I won’t even complain about the Windows portion of that, it will be fun to see a large scale Exchange setup and work on building that out.

A year ago when I went to see the career coach I set a goal of being out of my previous job by the end of this year.  For awhile I didn’t think it was going to happen. The process for this position took about 5+ weeks for it to finally happen.   I was really scared that HR was going to have an issue with my past but in the end they didn’t.

The way it looks right now I’m going to be starting the new year on a pretty amazing note.  All the things  are coming together how I  wanted them, and that is really exciting.  That doesn’t however mean it’s time to sit back and relax, quite the opposite.

I have this idea for 2014, this little plan, this list of things that I want to make happen all in one year.   More to come on that later this weekend.

The Editor

Posted in Bio, Work | Comments (0)

ESXI home lab, on the way to the VCP.


October 26th, 2013 by TheEditor

As of about 2 weeks ago I’m officially taking a college class, at age 36.  As it turns out there is a way around the multi thousand dollar class requirement to getting your VCP.  If you are not already aware VMware requires you to take a class to get their VCP certification.  You can take the test and pass but if you don’t take the class, no certification.  Usually the class can run anywhere from 2000 to 8000 depending on when you schedule it.

I started looking around about 8 months ago for a way around this and ran across Stanly.edu, which offers an 8 week, 80 hour class that meets the requirements.  It’s 185 dollars plus a 43 dollar book.  I signed up on the waiting list and forgot about it.  Two weeks ago I got the email that I was accepted.

The VCP is a cert that I’ve wanted for awhile now.  It fits in nicely with the Cisco certifications that I’m pursuing, plus more and more places are looking for it.  Now that I’m actually in the class the first thing I wanted to do was build a home lab.  This is the tale of how that went.  Spoiler alert, it was not straight forward.

The nice part of this is that I have an infrastructure already in place.  I have a full Cisco rack so switching is not an issue.  I have all my servers already running under XEN server. I have a dedicated NAS so NFS and iSCSI is not an issue, plus 3 other NAS’s that I can use as needed.

The starting point for this build was 2 spare machines I had.   Both Intel DH61CR boards, i3 processors, 16g ram, and 2 rack cases so it all fit nicely in my rack. I also had a bunch of spare nic’s sitting around, all in all I was under the impression I’d get this built without having to spend any money.  Nope.

I downloaded ESXI 5.5, and the current vCenter installation and a cup of coffee, so begins the process.  I spun up another Windows 2008 R2 instance on my XEN server, once that was done I installed vCenter.  Next up ESXI.

You see, I’ve done this before.  The thing about ESXI is that it is really picky about hardware.  It’s a royal pain if you don’t have server class hardware to just throw around, I don’t.  I did however think that these 2 machines were pretty standard, as were the nics, nope.  First try was stock 5.5, no available nics, it didn’t see the onboard Intel 82579V nor did it see the Realtek cards.  Second try was with a custom 5.5 iso with the Realtek 8168 drivers added to the installation , these drivers were added with ESXI customizer.  Same result, no nics found.  Grumble, second cup of coffee time.  So I head over to amazon, order myself two Intel 82540EM PRO/1000 MT Gigabit adapters, and 4 Syba SD-PEX24009 cards, time to sit back and wait.

Cards come and we retry the previous two attempts.  Intel cards are picked up each time but nothing else.  I’m now tired of this.  After a bit of reading it turns out that drivers were removed in 5.5 but they are still in 5.1.  Fifteen minutes later I have 5.1 installed and every card is picked up. We can now begin to move forward.

Actually I lie, the last thing that needed to be done was to enable the onboard Intel 82579lm nic. After a quick search I came across this article on installing the newest e1000 vib.   A few commands and a quick reboot, 4 working nics.

We now have two running hosts, time to do networking, yay.   Each ESXI host has 4 available nics to use.  For right now I’m going with a vlan for vMotion, one for iSCSI, one for managment.   In addition to ESXI and vCenter licenses I also have a license for the Nexus1000v, so at some  point the fourth nic will be used for for now I’m going to use it as a standby link.   Here’s the layout.

Lan layout

 

 

 

Everything is now connected and working but I noticed that the vmnics are not named in the same order on each host.  It’s the same quipment so as far as I’m concerned they should be in the same order.   After a bit of hunting, it turns out that all you have to do is edit the /etc/vmware/esx.conf file, and now the vmnics are numbered correctly. Call it O.C.D. but I feel much better now.

Next up is connecting to some storage.  Not much to write here really. On both ESXI hosts I added my NFS ISO store, my NFS vm NAS, and lastly iSCSI storage on my FreeNAS box.  It all went off without a hitch. ( Note here, make sure you get the vlan id correct or things don’t connect.  Just a tip.)

The last thing I did today was to spin up a Windows 2008 R2 instance and a Windows 7 instance.  Everything went fine, and it was all surprisingly quick.  All this is running over 100m network, even 8 port Catalyst gig switches are expensive.  I’ll add one of those one of these days.

That in a nutshell is how to build a home ESXI lab.  I saw a ton of write ups of doing this all virtually, where you basically nest ESXI under vmware workstation but that seemed hinky to me.   In the end if I decide to switch from XEN to VMware it will be an easy migration as the entire infrastructure is already built.

The Editor

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Finishing off the year strong. Hopefully.


October 8th, 2013 by TheEditor

This is going to be a non technical post today.  I’m taking a few day respite from all things technical after finally getting the mail server project  functioning  how I want it to.   Lot’s going on…

As I said the encrypted mail project is almost finished.  All the technical parts are in place and are functioning correctly, leaving just the website to finish up. Once I have that done it will be  time to put it out there and hopefully starting to attract paid customers.   No matter how it turns out I learned a ton just like I did with Monkeypulse.  I’m going to do a final follow up on the whole process, there are a lot of moving pieces and I’m hoping I can make it easier for the next guy to do something like this.

I’m almost positive that by typing this next sentence I’m going to jinx myself but what the heck.  I think  I’m finally going to be switching jobs.  I’m waiting for the call this week to schedule the interview but I’m confident about getting the position.  It’s with a local newspaper as a sys admin which is exactly what I’ve been looking for.   No more management, no more days of dreading going to work, hopefully that all turns around and my work experience will go back to being a fulfilling part of my day.

As it turns out a friend of mine knows someone that works there already and he and I have exchanged emails.  From all that he says it sounds like a nice place to work. Small team, technology that I’m interested in, most of the things I had been looking for.  The only drawback is that I am really unsure as to what they are paying.  The position was advertised I think as a systems helpdesk or something along those lines.  I’m ok with taking a pay cut,  this whole thing was never meant to be about the money, but I’m hoping it is not to large of a cut.  That is the only part that is up in the air for me.

This coming Tuesday I’ll be writing the last and final check that will pay off my fines/restitution.  That officially makes me 100% debt free, which is really nice.  Plus it frees up a large amount of money on a monthly basis which will make switching jobs and potentially taking a pay cut much easier.

That’s the current state of affairs in my life right now.  I’m going to leave out the goings on in my personal life because I just don’t know how that is all going to end up.  Maybe I’ll write about it at some point but not right now.

That leaves me with a “project void”, free time with nothing to occupy my mind.  I  think it is finally time to buckle the hell down and do my CCNP. No more distractions, no more projects,  just studying.   I realized the other day just how much material and equipment that I had acquired and have yet to use.  Plus I’m getting to the point where I’m starting to forget little things from my CCNA due to the fact that I just don’t use it on a daily basis.  Ok it didn’t help that I finished my CCNA and jumped into a 5 month project of nothing but PHP, then it was mail servers and python.  There is just too much to learn and not enough time.   I’m hoping that if I get this job being back as a pure tech will satisfy some of my tech needs and let me use my personal time to study.

Either way I’d like to plan on having my CCNP by maybe halfway through 2014.  I think then the decision will have to be made as to what to do next.  I’d still like to do my VCP but monetarily I’m not sure if that will happen. It would be nice to have my hopefully new employer cover that since they are a vmware shop but we’ll see.

I’d also like to spend a greater amount of time writing technical posts as I go through my CCNP.  I bought a domain specifically for that maybe it’s about time I used it.

That is all for this update.  More to come.

The Editor

 

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