Monday, November 21, 2016

#vDM30in30 11-12-2016 IT certifications - my 2016 results so far

I realize this post is not something to proudly announce to the world, but I also feel that I get enough questions from people just starting out that I thought I would share my experience - if nothing else, so others can learn from it :)

So far since I started with the goal of attaining IT certifications, I've only been able to successfully pass one relatively tough cert per year - and all have been VMware certifications (VCA doesn't count, that was a free voucher for an entry-level exam). 

When I started this year, I really wanted to "level up" my resume in regards to IT certifications. When I planned out 2016 back in January, I wanted to achieve at least two more VMware certifications, a Cisco certification, and a Linux Foundation certification. You can see the original plan from this post (which will be edited for 2017 in January again).

Results so far

The results so far fall in three categories:

1) Failed to even sit

There was one exam that, although I tried to study, I failed to cover the material in time and thus didn't even schedule it before the version was upgraded:

August 20, 2016 (last date exam was active) - Cisco CCNA 200-120 - only covered 30% of the material by exam due date - did not sit.

2) Sat (with mixed results)

I've sat three exams this year - all were taken at that time because of the discount offered, not because I had actually prepared properly... And you can tell they were taken at different times from my original plans:

June 26, 2016 - VCAP6-DCV deploy exam - half price during beta of $200 - passed!
August 29, 2016 - VCP6-DCV in VMworld 2016 - half price during VMworld of $113 - failed! 
September 22, 2016 - VCP6-NX for NSX 6.2  - super discount during beta of $50 - still hasn't been scored but I'm not sure I will pass it.

3) Still have to sit

In Black Friday 2015 I purchased a Linux Foundation bundle that included video training and the exam voucher. Last date I can take the exam for it to be valid is December 1st (in roughly a week). I just remembered that I hadn't scheduled it yet, so I've just done so

To note - my current employer does not provide incentives or pre-pay for certifications exams taken, so all risk is mine if I don't pass an exam. I'm almost sure that they will pay me back for a passed VMware exam since that is my main job - but that is the reason why I've taken exams in these dates, rather than actually preparing and paying for them until I felt ready, like I did my first few ones.

Actually, that's not entirely true. The VCAP5-DCD I was halfway through preparation when a voucher fell into my lap, to take the exam that week. I was very lucky to pass that one. And the LFCS exam, I've had a full year to prepare for, so there's no excuse there.


(ノ≧∇≦)ノ ミ ┸━┸

I think anyone can agree that my results have been terrible so far. There was bad planning, bad execution, and definitely no real commitment. With the excuse of "reach for the starts, if you fail you will land in the clouds" I've basically spent more money than I could have, while attaining only one new certification for now.

Clearly the time to take cheap VMware certification exams is around fall. I spent valuable time studying for CCNA in the summer that I should have focused on preparing for the VCP6-DCV exam that I failed (from overconfidence and little preparation). I should have tackled the CCNA in the first few months of the year, which was going to be the same cost no matter when I did it, and then focused on the VMware certs.

What was different with the exam I did pass? One reason why I passed the VCAP6 Deploy is that it maps much closer to my day-to-day job. This was an exam that I could lab, there were active HOLs that I could use to practice, and that tests tasks which I'm very familiar with. The rest of the exams, including several topics of the VCP which are not in use in my job, don't map as well to my job description and thus don't get the benefit of me needing and using the knowledge 8 hours a day.

For the VCP6-NV beta, I won't feel bad if I miss it. I took it on very short notice because the price was cheap (even for a beta), I have genuine interest in NSX, and I had just bought Elver's excellent study guide, which had been released during VMworld. I didn't have enough time to prepare for it, but I can live with a fail that pushed me to study and cost only $50, as this is an exam that I do want to pass for the long term.

Next steps

Clearly I have to invest this remaining week on my LFCS studies so that I don't add another failure to these results. I believe that the future is in Linux/BSD and that if I don't address this ASAP my relevance as an IT professional will go down.

I've already committed publicly to doing VCDX5-DCV by March, and I'm coming to the realization that I'm probably setting myself up for failure. If I'm going to submit a VCDX5 design document that I'm not ashamed of, I need to find a way to concentrate and dedicate hours to it - much more than I've been doing for everything else. That submission is $1200 or so by the way - not something to do halfheartedly.

If I don't pass the VCP6-NV, I will still want to do it; and I still want the CCNA and VCP6-DCV in 2017. The fact of the matter is that I won't feel satisfied until I pass these exams, since I don't feel I'm very far away and they are still relevant to me.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

#vDM30in30 11-09-2016 VMworld US and EU recordings

One thing that was different after VMworld 2016 is that all recordings were available to the public, whether you had paid for the conference or not. This is honestly a great move by VMware - knowledge is useful only if shared, and there are so many VMware admins that don't get to do the trip.

I wanted to highlight two ways to get the recordings - great if you want to just see one, just to download a few, or if you want it all.

The source is by the great and only William Lam, who figured out the playback and direct download URLs:

The other is thanks to Wojciech Marusiak who downloaded them and created torrents:

Go and grab them, and may they make you a better VMware administrator!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

#vDM30in30 11-08-2016 @arielsanchezmor Updating my site for 2017 vExpert application

Big announcement today was that vExpert 2017 applications are open. They remain open for quite some time, until Dec 16. I'm hoping we succeed in getting a couple more friends in that have been actively trying to get in, and that people that deserve it but didn't apply, don't forget this time :)

The vExpert application normally prompts me into updating all of my website, as when I create my application I make sure to use all the little bits of info I've left in several sections. So, today's post is about my site's coming updates. 

My personal site is just static pages, which means it's relatively easy to update. If for some reason you don't like my website, be sure to read this and leave me a note on how you think I can improve it!

Changes done already

I've updated the Books section, which I had neglected quite a bit. 

Added a new section on a bill of materials to record videos for later publication in YouTube for cheap. A friend of mine, Wences Michel, will try to record some videos in the Mexico DF vForum with a similar setup :)

Coming changes

Three sections I will update at some point are tied to what I will put into my 2017 vExpert application. I like to keep a log like this - it makes the application writing easier, and it also helps fellow technologists to see the things a vExpert can do for the vCommunity.

vBrownBag presentations - I think I'm missing at least one normal and one VMworld 2016 TechTalk

VMUG presentations - this is a bit outdated by now - want to talk of the work done after being named a leader :)

IT certifications - I did get a new VMware certification so I should update that section too!

Once I have it all updated, then I will create my new application. As with last year's I will post it in the vExpert section.

Monday, November 7, 2016

#vDM30in30 11-06-2016 @arielsanchezmor NYC and Bushwick

As with all #vDM30in30 posts, it's a good idea to read what it's all about first here.

So it's Sunday, day of rest. Let's talk a little about "living in New York" in case you're all glossy-eyed with that idea.

My wife and I talk about this enough that I could make this a very long post. But I'll really try to keep it short and sweet:

General stuff:

  • There's 5 boroughs in NYC, home of 8.4 million people. But what people mean when they "go to New York" is Manhattan.
  • Food is good. You can find about everything you want. Price and quality can vary wildly, and are normally not in direct correlation!
  • Rent is expensive. As you go away from Manhattan it gets lower, although nicer = more expensive. There's lots of openings all the time.
  • You really don't need a car as long as you are fine staying inside the greater NYC and have Uber and/or zipcar. Lots of bus, train and plane options in this city as well. Having a car would help you explore the rest of NY state which is worthwhile.
  • Yes, there are still restaurants that are cash only, especially if it's new, but with time everyone accepts credit/debit cards, even if it's just with square and an ipad.
  • Hotels are expensive - airbnb is hit or miss to be honest.
  • Subways run fine and especially in rush hour are the fastest way in and out - just expect anything to happen and use Google Maps, and read the signs :)
  • Most people are honestly nice - what could be interpreted as coldness is respect of each other's time and privacy. 
  • Don't get swayed by the few rotten apples. It's amazing how this many people live in harmony.
  • This is a town of tolerance - you will learn new cultures here. It really is the best city for the United Nations to be in.
  • There's so much people, and such high turnover - it's difficult to see someone more than once unless you really try or because of work. Most people don't stay in NYC for the long term, nor most people you will meet were born here.

Living in Bushwick, Brooklyn

Bushwick really is something like this SNL skit. It's next door to Williamsburg (which is the world's hipster epicenter - and easily double as expensive) so you find lots of the same kind of shops. It's also very close to the famed Marcy Projects that Jay Z sings about so there is still that "keep your eyes open" thing - although everybody will tell you this area has cleaned up a lot in the last few years.

Living here is not bad - it's definitely cheaper than living in Manhattan or Brooklyn near the water (dumbo, williamsburg) or BK downtown. Commute times to Manhattan can be 20-45 minutes depending on where you are headed. It's really not far from Manhattan, and you have options (you can take the M, J or L lines) 

Economics is changing Bushwick. You see this frequently - run down house gets bought, new 3 story or more apartment building gets built, hipsters / young salaried professionals without kids move in. People that have lived here complain about Bushwick getting "gentrified", but you can't say the neighborhood isn't getting nicer. I'll say this about NYC - it does more than other cities to try to do something about it, like rent control and public housing.

Bushwick traditionally has a strong latin (mexican and dominican) presence, and quite a few housing projects - I do feel that it's an advantage and it helps keep overall costs down. You can find different cuisines, and overall, people that are trying to make a living.

If you work in IT

  • My internet's pretty good and stable - Verizon fiOS 50/50 for around $50. You could go cheaper with wireless from Optimum.
  • Big plus - meetups. There's a meetup in the NYC area (typically Manhattan) almost every week on whatever you want. This is where having 8.4 million people living closeby helps.
  • NYC salaries are famous. It just comes with the cost of living.
  • I find the job market to be healthy. I've been offered several jobs, and I'm not looking.

I'll keep it there. Another weekend I'll make a listing of my favorite spots in NYC so far.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

#vDM30in30 11-04-2016 @arielsanchezmor Ubuntu on my laptop

As with all #vDM30in30 posts, it's a good idea to read what it's all about first here.

I spent quite a few hours doing the things I detail below, so this post went out 11/05. Sue me :)

Linux (desktop), Linux (server), BSD

Every day that passes I realize how much more I need to be learning Linux and BSD. I am taking the LFCS exam by end of month, and I've already decided I will take it on the CentOS 7 flavor. But, since I don't work with Linux day to day, it's tough to really use it every day if all my machines are Windows.

Well, nothing beats hands-on learning - so today I decided to move at least one of my laptops permanently to Ubuntu 16.04 LTS. Before you tell me to switch to mac, please know that I'm not a fan of Apple and their overpriced, locked-in model, so it's either Linux or BSD for me. For my parents though, Apple it is, and they are happy with it so I'm happy with that too.

There's lots, lots more info on Google for Ubuntu than there is for OpenBSD, so if I'm going to be productive on my laptop, I'll start with Ubuntu, and when I actually have a better idea of what I'm doing, I'll move to a BSD. Truth is, lots of concepts about unix are the same on both platforms, so I'm taking "the easy road" for now until I get better at all this.

So hopefully this is the beginning of my Ubuntu->CentOS->OpenBSD journey. I also have a Raspberry Pi3 that is running Raspbian on ARM, so hopefully when I get to programming I can see some differences too! Hopefully all of this gives me enough exposure to both Debian and RedHat based systems.

Moving one of my laptops to Linux

I am writing this from inside the fruits of my labor - spent Friday night installing Ubuntu 16.04.1 LTS on my Acer ES1-111M. This time I stopped the dual boot non-sense - the recommendations I made in that post only lasted until the next upgrade. I don't have time for all that, so I grabbed a spare SSD I had around and decided I am committing to Ubuntu on this laptop for the long term.

Now, you know I like this laptop from my previous post, but the problem is you can't get it anymore. My wife liked it a lot too - it's small and convenient and with max ram and SSD it works perfectly fine. She wanted a similar one, and on Amazon Prime day I ended up getting her the Lenovo 11e 3rd gen, which already came with the 8GB of ram and a 128GB SSD (m2 sata btw), for $250. She has liked it so far - most of her gripes are from Windows 10, and not the hardware. The keyboard on that is much better than on the Acer, and the screen is a bit better, but it does bring in a fan :( I see you can get it for $300 now - I left my affiliate link to it below and in the hyperlink above. 

My point is - you can always find a really cheap, small laptop, especially when sale season time comes around (black friday, wink wink). It's amazing the value you can get for 15 inch laptops, but 12" is just such a convenient size - what's better than a laptop you can tuck anywhere and even if you lose/break it, it doesn't hurt since it was so cheap?

Anyways, back to this laptop on Ubuntu. I made a quick post with the installation details in my IT Learning blog - let me know if you make the switch and I can help in any way, but my first recommendation is to try installing it with a few different distros and options and see what works out of the box and what doesn't.

Everything else

Is on standby for now :)

#vDM30in30 11-03-2016 @arielsanchezmor #BOSVMUG

Well! 11/03 was a day to remember. I can't make it justice on one blog post, but I will try. I got home so late without finishing it that I ended up posting it on 11/05 :p


The Boston UserCon was really good. I'm tempted to say I don't want to miss these ever again. It felt like such a party! The agenda was studded and so many people I respect were in attendance, a whole community series was presented (that's basically where I hung out, tons of good stuff), beginner/intermediate/expert sessions on tracks like PowerCLI and NSX - plus just cool people and all the grub you could ask for (breakfast, lunch, donuts and apple cider thanks to Stormagic, real beers and hors d'oeuvres)! Lots of prizes and super nice stuff to take home. Big shoutout to @steveathanas @vmspot and @JamesMuellerIT for putting in so much love and work into this event (hope I didn't miss a leader)!

I even got someone to stop me in a hall and say "you're Ariel, I follow you on twitter" (that was funny, I've said the same thing to someone else a thousand times!). Turns out they had read and found useful my VMware documentation template (that's single, to date I have only published one). Wow! Someone read it! That just amps me all the way to heaven to continue the series. I should have doc 2 tonight or this weekend. Thanks @KanjiBates - it just meant the world to me :)

A big highlight for me though was being able to hang out with 6 other vBrownBag Crew members - that just doesn't happen in real life (or meatspace, as @mistwire calls it!). If you don't know much about the vBB crew - we're geographically distributed and not close to each other, even if probably half are in the US, so most of the time we talk only virtually through Twitter or Slack. Being able to hug someone or have a beer and just talk nerd nonsense with them is sure nice for a change! Even in big conferences, there's work to be done, or people have commitments, so getting a bunch with a relaxed agenda is difficult :)

I even got to do a #vgeekFFL trade with @NerdBlurt whom I met for the first time in real life. Super chill dude! Those trades are hard to do over the internet, damn geeks don't want to trade...

Seriously thanks to all that spent some time with me today. I had a blast, and hopefully will see lots of you again in the VTUG in January!


I flew in early and flew out late through LGA, which is the quickest airport in NYC. Little did I know that this service was brand spanking new (started 10/31) and it included extra perks since they are celebrating their launch! I got free coffee at Au Bon Pain (man, those chocolate croissants wow), a free breakfast sweet pretzel thingamabob, and on the way back, there was unlimited FREE BEER. I don't know how long this will last but I'm definitely going to try to get on that route again!

Everything else

Was on standby for this day :) got home in time to see my wife and basically prepare for 11/04!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

#vDM30in30 11-02-2016 @arielsanchezmor

It's a good idea to read this before reading the rest of this post.

2nd day's log. It was a good day :)

Cool stuff

I went to a NYC BUG meeting today. What is that? BUG = BSD User Group. Lots of really cool and experienced sysadmins make up that group. Today's meeting was one of the leaders, .ike , talking about the economics and decisions of startups using AWS vs colo - with actual data and real life experiences. Real cool presenter, crowd and location - great discussions were had. I had to leave early so I couldn't stay for the traditional beers, which I normally enjoy!


Today was the start of Jillvember on vBrownBag US. Look out for that session - check the full schedule here. I wasn't able to attend live because of NYCBUG, but I'll be sure to catch the session.

Blog posts

I made true on a promise to highlight Clinton Prentice's huge VCAP6-NV deploy effort in my network virtualization blog - you can find the post and how to contact Clinton here.


I'm catching the short LGA-BOS-LGA planes and going to the Boston UserCon. Huuuge attendance, incredible star-studded agenda, and a chance to wear my Patriots gear without getting heckled like normally in NYC. Plus, lots of vBrownBag crew will be there :)

We're also doing going to have Sergio Munoz, @mrserch, do a cool session on some hot tech (AWS? Azure? with Docker?) in the weekly vBrownBagLATAM. If you can deal with spanish, I wouldn't miss that one :)

What about the rest of the stuff you were working on?

Nothing to report :p well, there's only so many hours in a day.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

#vDM30in30 11-01-2016 @arielsanchezmor

It's a good idea to read this before reading the rest of this post.


Main thing today was wrangling VMware support to get information on removing weak ciphers, particularly DES-CBC3 (all DES and 3DES ciphers are now regarded as insecure) and disabling TLS 1.0 and 1.1 from VMware products. Good KB to gather a base understanding of supported ciphers is 1018510 


I'm going to setup with a Jekyll and Github setup, and basically put all of my blog production through it. I have several blogs - it makes trying to keep up with my blogging work difficult. Also, I will ask Eric to remove the google sites link reference from the vDM30in30 list, and to correctly spell my last name.


LFCS is getting to crunch time. I have both the official Linux Foundation videos and the Plurasight course. I had taken a Redhat class some time ago, but CentOS 7's commands have changed quite a bit.

Also, as part of the blog work, I'm learning about Github, Atom, and the Markdown syntax. My idea is to be able to write from any linux box I stand up - the laptop I'm writing today is Windows but I know I have to learn Linux, and you only learn by really using it, so pretty soon I'll install Fedora or Ubuntu on this laptop.

To-be-blogged topics

-Live reconfiguration of a local virtual disk on a Dell server running ESXi with the OMSA vib
-Weird issue where vMotions fail with a 13% or 14% because of a storage fabric problem

VCDX work

November is month of reading and working on documenting the "project" that will get designed. It's quite a challenge to write down all the circumstances of a project to the point where another engineer can understand it to the same point as you do.

vBrownBag work

-Have to get the latest LATAM posts out
-Need to work on creating a public google calendar for upcoming topics - something easy for people to add to their own calendars. I have my own setup to where it's easy to maintain now here so it should take too much time.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Smarphone interviews with cheap mobile kit - my 1st test videos

I bought this dual lavalier microphone, a cheap bluetooth button and a cheap small tripod to be able to record either a person giving a talk or an interview between two people with my cel phone as the video source.

I'm using the OpenCamera app; the default LG wouldn't work well with the bluetooth button. This app works very well and has plenty of options.

In the share below I've put a pic of the materials, my first test video (yes, I need to put the phone off vibration when doing recordings) and also a test when trying to use only the additional microphone (it records really, really low); finally a test while connecting the 2nd mic on the fly and seeing if there's a big difference between them.

I also tried it interviewing my wife and I think it works very well. The camera is on auto, but it has a lot of settings I can play with if the lighting is not perfect (this is an LG v10). If I am to appear in the interview, I need to figure out a way to tell if the video is properly framed.... since i would be on the other side.

The long microphone is about 4 arm lengths - listed as 2.5 meters. I'm still deciding if I should get a longer one - since the tripod is so small, I may not always have a table at the right height (close enough to the best light for the recording).

I get around 100MB for one minute at 1080 resolution. The video uploads to YouTube directly without issues, and I do get 1080p as a quality option :D

Original files:

Test video one in youtube (I actually edited the end :D ):

Please let me know any tips or other hardware that you think will help; hopefully soon I can start testing this out in the VMUGs, design sessions, etc.

From the Youtube video description:

This video is done with a LG v10 in auto settings (except 1080 and record from external microphone) with the excellent OpenCamera app

Items shown here

(these are my affiliate links)

Movo Executive Lavalier Clip-on Interview Microphone with Secondary Mic & Headphone Monitoring Input for Apple iPhone, iPad, Samsung, Android

Tripod Kit - Universal Adjustable including Tripod / Universal Phone Holder / Velvet Phone Bag / Microfiber Cleaning Cloth - Suitable for iPhone, Sams

CamKix Bluetooth Camera Shutter Remote Control with Wrist Strap for Smartphones - Black

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Windows 8.1 / 10 and Ubuntu 16.04 LTS on the same laptop (good old dual boot)

There was a time when you could install Linux on your windows machine and it would make itself some space and you would reboot and get a Grub selection screen and the world was good.

Well, UEFI / secure boot and all these new "features" said no to that. Thanks Microsoft (and whoever argues it wasn't Microsoft that put in all these complications can read this)

The dual boot process today can be basically described as a root canal:

Like the meme goes, ain't nobody got time for ALL that.

Here's what I did. And pardon the quality of the pics, I used my phone to grab the installer and disk screens.

First, I installed Windows 8.1 in UEFI mode with secure boot, yadda yadda. This is the only way I will get a properly activated installation and be able to upgrade to Windows 10, since that is the version that my BIOS Windows OS activation key is for - another genius "feature". On this installation I didn't give it the whole hard drive - only a section of it. I used 100GB + 500MB it takes for it's stupid partitions, then multiplied by 1024. After the warning that it will create some partitions for itself, you can see the final partitions it created, both on the installer and in Disk Manager once the Windows OS is running.

Second, I changed the BIOS mode to Legacy. Ah, BIOS like BIOS should be. This effectively makes Windows stop booting, since Windows relies on all the new features we just disabled. Your BIOS options will vary but there will be a way to do this (and hopefully, this option never goes away!)

Third, I booted the Ubuntu installer to install on the free space. In legacy Boot mode, Ubuntu sees others partitions but doesn't recognize it's Windows, hence you had to leave the free space from the Windows installation (or shrink it if you already are running Windows) and do the installation manually by selecting "Something Else".

I had to create a swap, /boot, / and something new to me, a Microcode reserved Boot partition. It said it only needed 1MB, but when I gave it 1MB, it balked, so I gave it 10 and it continued. I also left myself some free space in case I ever want to move things out of /. This is a personal choice and you can do whatever you want to maintain later. Here is my order:

I left the MBR boot info in the lone disk in this laptop and proceeded to finish the installation.

Voila - Ubuntu boots perfectly fine, thinking it's the only OS. No messing around with ANYTHING. You can see the output of disks from the Ubuntu OS:

I still wonder what will happen when I upgrade Ubuntu, as I should be at least getting a GRUB screen on boot and I currently don't see it. This screen is what would be showing the old and new version of the Kernel and the recover options, but I guess I will find out soon enough and will update this post when I figure it out. My intuition tells me that maybe I should asked the MBR to boot on that 10MB partition, so I will dig further if I ever care enough.

Fourth, and finally, If I want Windows, I go back into my BIOS settings and select the UEFI bios mode. Windows boots up perfectly. You can see what disk manager sees in this photo:

So if you are tired of playing with all the Windows settings and trying to fix the Ubuntu boot process inside UEFI, why don't you give this method a try? I had enough myself.

Monday, January 18, 2016

ES1-111M-P2YU: cheap, expandable laptop i really like

I am not afraid to pay for hardware. I built my gaming desktop/VMware lab, and I have a high end ASUS gaming laptop - both have i7's and 32GB of ram and are years old. However, I also really appreciate value. I wanted a light, small laptop for travel that had good battery life and was fanless so i could use it in bed or other places where a fan could be a problem - something convenient for when I didn't want to move my 7lb G750JX.

After much researching, and after months with this laptop, I can say the Acer ES1-111M-P2YU is one of the best pieces of hardware i've bought. I got it for $200 in amazon - you will need to put it in the cart and wait as it varies widely on price, or check other places.

This is an excellent in-depth review with lots of pictures: and this one was what I originally read when researching this model

My friend Paul Braren actually made a video on this laptop with me when we met in VMworld 2015:
pentium quad core
expandable ram to 8gb
actual HDD slot (upgraded to a SSD)
great driver support in linux/unix
Windows with Bing 8.1 upgrades to Win 10 home (which i didn't do but nice upgrade)
Both wireless and wired network

#2 key acts weird
only one dimm slot
not so easy to find now

I haven't yet installed Linux on it (right now playing with OpenBSD) but I found this post which has a lot of information from a user on a similar model (the 2 core instead of 4 core)