Tin Tuirtle Design

Baby Dragon VMWare Whitebox

clock August 21, 2012 06:42 by author Bald Turtle

I decided to go ahead with a whitebox build instead of trying to buy a used server. It was more expensive, but the performance will be a lot better, and by doing a "green" build I will be shaving about $15 a month off the electricity bill. This server should be powerful enough to last 5 - 10 years, so over the lifespan those savings will cover the cost of the box. I really liked @Rootwyrm's Baby Dragon. Chris Wahl did a variation of this that I liked even more. He used a Synology NAS box for all of his storage and populated that with some "green" hard drives for even better power savings. Both of these guys were fiends on noise and wanted to go fanless, but I decided to use a platinum certified power supply (with fan) and put it all in an old 4U server case I had. The case uses 3 wire fans and neither cooling or noise is an issue for me since the rack is in the sub-basement.

I had not upgraded the network since the original install in 2003. Because I have to be able to remotely manage the entire system from China I wanted IPMI on the server, and remote management of the switch, router and NAS. A HP ProCurve 1810G switch replaced the old Catalyst 1650. The old switch had taken a couple of lightening strikes and I had lost almost half the ports. Because of that I knew I needed some beefy protection, so a APC 1500C UPS was added to the rack.

  • Intel Xeon E3-1230 “Sandy Bridge” – 3.2GHz, 4 Cores, 8 Threads, 8MB
  • Supermicro X9SCM-F – Intel C204, Dual GigE, IPMI w/Virtual Media
  • 16GB (4 x 4GB) Kingston 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM ECC Unbuffered DDR3 1333
  • Lexar Echo ZX 16GB
  • Rosewill 450 watt Platinum Certified

That fingernail drive is awesome. There are no hard drives in the server, everything boots off the 16 gig fingernail drive. Installation was smooth using VMWare's Hypervisor 5.0 iso and the UNetBootin utility to prepare the USB drive.

I am still working on getting everything running, and then I will get the VPN setup completed and attempt remote management from the laptop. I struggle with VMWare because I am not Linux fluent, but this is a good opportunity to polish up that skill set.

VMWare Whitebox Build

Pondering a VMWare server

clock July 30, 2012 12:57 by author Bald Turtle

While looking over the last .NET project I realized my hardware and software on the development server was getting out of date. I would like to upgrade the system, and at the same time really reduce my electricity costs. Virtualization is the way to go since I can run multiple instances and VPN in through the new Cisco router. The router is giving me a hard time, but I should have it figured out in the next few weeks. Any upgrade has to have the costs kept to a minimum so I am looking over several options. There are lots of old Dell PowerEdge 1950's and 2950's on eBay, or I could try and do a whitebox build of some kind. The whitebox would give me a solution with a lot lower electricity costs, but its also riskier than pursuing a certified hardware solution.

  • Windows 2008 w/ SQL Server 2012
  • Windows 2008 running IIS 7
  • Oracle Linux with Oracle 11g Express

Future options might include the ability to run another instance for a Sharepoint server. I have not worked with Sharepoint but it is a skill that is in demand and I would benefit from learning the basics. Licensing is going to be an issue, I can't see paying full price for the MS products, so either I look at their developer editions or I think about a MSDN subscription. All of this, plus a UPS and a gigabyte switch will require some serious planning if I go the whitebox route.

A .NET Project

clock July 11, 2012 07:41 by author Bald Turtle

While I am back for the summer I have been looking over a .NET project for my cousin's radio station. At first his provider was using a PHP based solution but they were having problems with their developer who was overseas in the Phillipines. A couple of weeks in they have now switched to a solution from MarketGrabber. They offer a predeveloped classified ad package that already imports directly from the main automotive DMS (dealer management system) providers. It is in .NET but coded primarily in Visual Basic so I have to make the mental switch back from C# but I did VB for quite a few years. I'm not doing that much, just helping his IT guy understand how .NET projects work and some of the coding. It has been fun and I enjoy the spending some time looking at web development projects again.

Workshop Site Update

clock May 10, 2012 22:19 by author Bald Turtle

I finally updated the section of the site that describes the shop. There are lots of new pictures and pages to describe how the shop is setup and the tools I use. I have not had a chance to do a browser check yet, but I hope to get that completed before I leave China.

Getting back in the groove

clock January 5, 2012 13:54 by author Bald Turtle

It has been one week since I arrived back in Beijing. I got rid of my jet lag and put my kitchen back in order. The reverse osmosis unit has been a great addition to the apartment and really cut down on our expenses plus I have safe water. I really did not do much in the way of cooking over the holiday but starting Wednesday we began putting some things together. I will build up momentum over the coming weeks and we will host a few parties.

The sites need a serious revamp and some formatting work. The style sheets holding the Tin Turtle site together are some butchered copies I did from the original BlogEngine install and I need to build new ones from scratch. I didn't notice it as much here when I built the site last year, but when I got back to the U.S. and saw it on my 26" monitor it was painful. And I need to do browser checking, this site was developed in designed for I.E. with no regard for anything else, and with I.E. having less than 50% of the browser market that won't cut it. Mindspear has to be redone too, it hasn't been touched since 2002 and none of the cool projects I worked on in Chicago are even on the site.

The package I put together to practice guitar in China has worked out really, really well. I still have the laptop from 2009 which was a really good unit when new, and honestly still has pretty good performance. I had really thought out how to have a completely portable work station with enough ooomph to do full on development with VS and SQL Server. So when I added on Reason 6 with the Focusrite Saffire 6 pre it worked well. The tone in the Line 6 amp models built into Reason are very good - and I am a hard core tube guy. But they are more than adequate for what I am doing. And it all still fits in one backpack. There are some latency issues with the Focusrite and that seems to be in how the unit attaches to the internal USB hub. Once I have it ironed out I will post how I have this set up and what I am getting in terms of performance.

Need a decent image gallery

clock March 11, 2011 03:27 by author Bald Turtle

I've added some thumbnails linked to pics in the Workshop section, but still only thumbs in the Gallery.  I can't seem to come up with a solution I like that will allow me to show captions, thumbnails and scale dynamically.  And I want something that will not force me to use popups or new pages.  I'd like to go with a Silverlight app but I am too lazy to learn it myself, I'd much rather use someone else's code Cool

BlogEngine.NET - this is a very cool application

clock March 1, 2011 23:47 by author Bald Turtle

I have spent some time now working with this project and I am really very impressed.  This is the first open-source project I've used that is this complex.  The code base is really very complete.  There is nothing stopping me from customizing the app in any way that I want.  And there are literally thousands of hours in this project.  If this was a project for a medium sized corporation I would SWAG it at $350k plus for the initial release, and then you have at least one major update. 

Don't get me wrong it has some rough edges, but so far I have not had a functionality failure.  My only beef is with the way it displays and does some things.  But all of those I can tweak how I want, and honestly other people might not want those changes.  Documentation is kinda weak, but not bad and better than many projects I have been on.  The rather funny part is I have not went back to the docs one time so far, the comments in the code have been all I needed.   How many projects can you say that about?

Its a one or two minute download and free.  Amazing.

My new registrar - Namecheap

clock February 24, 2011 22:31 by author Bald Turtle

I know, they sound.... cheap.  Which they were, but that was the last criteria on my list.  I have been using Network Solutions since when there was only Network Solutions.  Grumpy old farts like me don't change easily, but it was really more of a stability issue.  When ICAAN first opened up domain registration to allow competition there were issues with fly-by-night companies, dispute resolution etc. and it was just safer to stick with Network Solutions.  But they have gotten greedy, and some of the marketing tactics with renewals are borderline fraud.  I wanted a new registrar for Tin Turtle, and I wanted to roll all my domains over so I could admin from a single place.

Namecheap sounded absolutely horrible, but they have a pretty good reputation.  The first year of WhoIsGuard is free, so that was a plus.  Everything was finished up today and the rolloevers went without a hitch.  No email outage, no site outage... all is good.

OMFG - I am sick of dealing with source control

clock December 27, 2010 20:14 by author Bald Turtle

I downloaded the standalone version of SourceAnywhere.  Its one user free (always per their site) so I put it on the Enterprise 2003 box and it was a quick install.  The client went on the workstation fairly smooth and connected without a problem.  I went ahead and pulled the unit from the rack and checked the fans, blew out the filters etc so it would be good to go while I am in China.  I had probably a day total into getting everything setup.  But then the nightmare of bringing in 7+ years of source code from VSS began.  First of all, the problem is not with SourceAnywhere.  There is only so much they can do when it comes to maintaining the project structure when you bring it over.  And to be fair my understanding of VSS 7 years ago was not the same as it was towards the end of the life cycle, so my organization was dubious on the old stuff.  But remembering where things were branched, and why, and then trying to make sure I haven't lost something important during the import - it was a pain.  I blew away the repository more times then I can count over a period of 3 days.  Finally I think I have everything, and I burned it to DVD just in case.  I hate it, I've been at it a week and I'm not out in the shop where I want to be.  Theres only a few weeks before I have to leave.  Christmas went by and I wasn't able to get back to see my family either, so I'm less then happy.

Source Control Options

clock December 21, 2010 19:42 by author Bald Turtle

I have all of my old source files in VSS 6.0 and stored on a mirrored drive.  Of course the drive isn't the dicey part, its VSS.  I have (knock on wood) never had a corruption issue either on my own stuff or at work.  But VSS is ancient and desupported so it has to go and I need to be able to import/export all of that code.  I narrowed it down to 3 choices:

Team Foundation Server

I also looked at subscription versus buying a package.  DiscountASP.NET is offering $20 a month for TFS and SourceAnywhere is $16 a month.  Subversion is open source and I either set it up in Chicago and VPN in, or do my source control locally in China which defeats the purpose somewhat.  I'm going with the trial for SourceAnywhere for now and see how it handles the import/export problem with my existing code.

The Subversion choice just bothers me... maybe its the Apache/old school look of the site.  I was never a Linux guy.  I know, I know, its secure, its cheap.... blah blah blah.  I was assimilated by the Borg early on.  Microsoft can be absolute prick bastards at times, but its organized, clean and makes sense.

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