The Trek to 200 – Part 1

A few years ago, I decided to lose weight, and came close to my goal of 200 lbs. If I recall I made it to 202. I’ve decided to start this trek again — not today, mind you, I’ve been working on this for a couple of months, but I figure I’d chronicle some of it here.

My three goals are:

  1. Improve general health
  2. Achieve and maintain 200 lbs.
  3. Be able to return to Taekwondo with less risk of injury

My weight on Sunday (10/27) was 273.4 lbs. My current exercise activities are 10 push-ups daily (a little challenge with my friends on the Network team at work) and jogging (very slowly) 0.75 miles and walking 1.75 miles at least 4 days / week.

I don’t know how many parts this post series will be, but if I feel inspired to mention something about my progress, I’ll be sure to write more.

Discovering Windows Nano Server

I’m still in Chapter 1 of my first cert book, and it’s covering something I’ve never touched: Windows Nano Server. At first glance, this seems like it’s equivalent to the net install image of Fedora Server. After deploying a few VMs and logging in, it seems even more basic that the net install. From the console there is no command shell. So outside of network and firewall configuration, all management would come from PowerShell remoting or from various GUI tools from the RSAT suite.

The scope of my training is more focused on deploying Nano server to VMs, dealing with domain joining them, and dealing with managing them (whether on a domain or not). At a later time I might dive into seeing how you’d install web apps, etc. on them. One thing I did discover is that Get-WindowsFeature and its companion Install-WindowsFeature aren’t available on Nano Server. This makes sense, as the whole goal of Nano server is to use the least amount of resources possible. So rather, you either install packages ahead of time with New-NanoServerImage or, you add them later with Edit-NanoServerImage — which I’ll try doing tomorrow.

The Journey to MCSA Begins

I purchased these e-books not too long ago, and it’s time to get started. The way I plan to prepare for this certification is to try to create some applicable scenarios in my lab based on whatever objectives are covered in each of the chapters. At the end, if I feel confident enough to sit the exam I will. Otherwise, I’ll be happy with whatever I learn along the way.

Earlier this week I finished configuring my Hyper-V host. Tonight’s (tomorrow’s?) task is making some template VMs. Plain Hyper-V manager doesn’t have a way (about which I’m aware) to create templates such as VMWare vCenter; however, I’m simply making a couple of VMs, patching and sysprepping them. To clone I should be able to copy and rename the VHDX, configure a new VM, and attach the VHDX. Alernatively, I could probably export the “template” then import it. Either way, I’ll be able to spin up VMs a bit quicker, since I won’t have to patch them. I’ve used differencing disks in the past. I might try them again, since I can’t remember with 100% certainty how dependant child disks are on the parent, which will be significant when I eventually need to patch the parent again.

Go see Halloween!

Globlia and I went to see Halloween tonight at Studio Movie Grill. If you enjoy classic horror, you need to see it. I was thoroughly entertained throughout the movie. I was a bit disappointed with the younglings in the audience. While their behavior was fine, they didn’t laugh at the right times. Certain deaths in a slasher deserve a “Ha!” or some kind of positive acknowledgement. Maybe the new generation didn’t grow up with slashers; thus, aren’t aware of how to properly consume them.

If you’re on the fence about seeing it, go for it. Like any slasher movie, don’t expect some thought-provoking work of cinematography. Instead enjoy a good continuation of slasher that captures the same feel of the Halloweens of old.

IT Learning Lab Tour – Part 3

This part of the lab is no longer in use, but the equipment still functions fine. In fact, this was actually my original lab: My CCNA Routing and Switching training lab!

When I transitioned from my teaching career to IT, my formal training at Gwinnett Tech was in their Cisco Networking program. Before I sat for the ICND1 and 2 exams, I wanted to practice the concepts on actual equipment. Again, the idea was to be able to say truthfully that I’ve worked on and trained with actual networking equipment rather than just Cisco Packet Tracer. That being said Packet Tracer is a GREAT tool for learning.

My learning work flow was something like this:

  1. See some behavior on real switches / routers I thought was odd
  2. Replicate what I was doing in Packet Tracer.
  3. Use Packet Tracer’s tools to see exactly what’s going on and what caused said behavior.

The equipment I used for this lab consisted of two Cisco 1841 routers and one Cisco 2811 router. Also, I used two Cisco 2950C switches and one Cisco 2960 switch. I acquired all of this from CertificationKits. I could probably have got stuff cheaper from Ebay, but at the time, CertificationKits had the hardware I wanted including mounting brackets, etc. I just noticed the mainly still sell the same models of stuff I used for my CCNA tests from three years ago. Maybe the CCNA hasn’t been updated?

My current job now has a dedicated networking team, with me living within the server and systems administration team. I must say listening and watching the network folk do their thing has rekindled some of the love and enjoyment I had from learning networking with my GTC classes.

Fun Times with Administrative Shares

So, I have my nice, shiny, clean install of Hyper-V Server 2016. Thanks to some wisdom by one of my ML friends, Timothy Gruber, I have everything configured to manage my new server from my Windows 10 desktop — alas, I don’t know of any Hyper-V management tools for Linux.

Using a remote PowerShell connection, I configured my D:\ drive on the Hyper-V host, to be ready to store ISOs and VHDXs. So the next logical step would be, get some ISOs on this thing and start making some VMs! Administrative shares could be just the tool for the job. After all, I should be able to do something like this New-PSDrive -Name X -Root "\\MYHOST\C$" -Credential (Get-Credential) -PSProvider FileSystem, feed it the administrator credentials for my Hyper-V host, then go to town copying some ISOs over — especially since Get-SMBShare shows they’re available. But alas! The remote location cannot be found.

Prior to this I edited my hosts file (still sucks that I have to go to C:\Windows\System32\Drivers\Etc to get something that should just live in /etc), so hostname resolution shouldn’t be a problem. I also set the network profile on the Hyper-V host to be private. However, attempting to access that share while running Wireshark yielded TCP re-transmissions for traffic destined to port 445 on my Hyper-V host. Also, Test-NetConnection with -Port 445 failed.

This thing just isn’t accepting my traffic. Thinking a bit + Googling, has yielded me a few possible solution to this. First, I could install the File Services role on my Hyper-V host. I’d like not to do this, since I really don’t want this box being more than a hypervisor. Since this is supposed to just be the Hyper-V hypervisor, that role might not even be available. Second, I could try to open port 445 specifically within the Windows firewall. Third, I could try to open a group of items within the Windows Firewall — found that on some article via Google. Fourth, sneakernet.

Since this is just for a lab, I ought to use sneakernet and be done; however, I’m thinking about what if I didn’t have physical access to this machine. What would make sense to be able to transfer files to it. I would imagine the answer would be along the lines of create an SMB share — which, really isn’t necessary since the administrative shares are there, and clearly the host is dropping SMB traffic.

As I’ve rambled on, I think I know my answer. Open port 445, transfer what I need to transfer, then close it. Well, it’s time to put that to the test :D. Since I have my Linux lab in colo, I’m currently creating a VM for Hyper-V server and another for Windows 10, to test these scenarios and see what least amount of change and exposure can be done to get some ISOs onto my new Hyper-V host.

IT Learning Lab Tour – Part 2

I have a few minutes after having a delicious sandwich for lunch, so I figure I’ll knock out part two.

I’ve decided to pursue the Windows Server 2016 MCSA certification. There is a bit of logic behind it, but ultimately it was simply coming to a decision. There’s so much on my list of what I want to learn, I simply have to start somewhere. My general philosophy about IT certifications is to use them as a guide to gain some knowledge, and at the end, get a cert — rather than get a cert simply to pass a test. While, I have a great interest in Linux, there are some knowledge gaps with my knowledge of Windows Server administration, and frankly, I want to be fluent in both worlds.

The Windows Lab

This is a single tower server that lives in my apartment. At one point, I was running VMs using Hyper-V on my desktop computer, but the problem there is it’s not feasible to work with only Hyper-V server on the bare metal. Also, I wanted a device that could handle 64 GB or more of RAM. I ended up finding what I think was a good deal on a Dell T420 off of Ebay. Right now, I’ll have only one NIC connected, but I might end up segregating this server on its own subnet — only if it either makes sense to do so, or I find an itch for handling traffic traffic from other subnets that needs to be scratched. The plan for this server is host the VMs I need to go through the chapters and exercises from these books.

Why not colocation?

I considered getting another rack server and putting it colocation, but the cost doesn’t make sense. Plus, unlike the Linux lab server, where I don’t foresee needing to re-install the hypervisor due to experimentation and breaking, this server is all about break / fix / experiment. I’m sure the training materials will want me to try some different configurations, which will likely mean I’ll need to wipe and start over a few times. The T420 runs quiet, unlike a rack server, so having it in my apartment isn’t a problem.