Delivering Lightboard Presentations from Home

Over the last few years I have been asked to give multiple different lightboard presentations, they have a very cool look of drawing on the screen while the presenter is speaking and I have enjoyed creating them, however there is a problem. The equipment to do a lightboard can be very extensive or one would think. My first one I did in a full production studio at the Lenovo US headquarters, and since then I have done them all in set up studios, including the ones that I have done for Cohesity.

Lets talk about what is setup for a true production quality lightboard, you of course need the board, in our case this would be the size of an old school chalkboard but it a large piece of glass, most likely no-iron glass also. Built on to the glass is a set of lights that make the glass “glow”. Then you will need a fully dark room, some stage or camera lighting, a microphone setup and a high end video camera. This is great when you can go to the office, but we can’t so how do you do a lightboard.

I created the lightboard you see in the video below to be able to work in my home office and simply sits on the back of my desk when I am not using it. Do you get the same fantastic production quality, of course not but is it good enough, I think so.

I created this entire lightboard for under $250 and you can use your standard webcam you already own or even your iphone to record. You are probably now wondering where you can get all the parts.. well here you go. Its rather easy to assemble but I will tell you the connectors for the LED lights can be a pain so be patient.

  • Led Light Strips – $14.99 Per Set (I used 2 sets so that I could control the brightness on me and the board separately)
  • Led Light Strip Connectors – $7.99
  • Clear Lexan Sheet 24′ x 24″ – $109
  • Desktop Whiteboard – $99.40 – You will only use the base but the glass whiteboard is very nice.
  • Neon Whiteboard Markers – $6.40
  • 3D Printer Lightboard Mounts – These were from a project done at Duke University and are great and really only need 2 of the sets of lights not 3 for the home usage. You will print these on any 3D printer, the default ones are 5″ long, I used 10 of them at 6″ and 2 at 3″ when I created mine. If you dont have a 3D printer and want to try these, I could make some more with the right offer. The do take a while to print on my printer, over a day per five pieces.

If you dont have access to a 3-D printer then you can switch out the printer light holders for the shower door liner and lights below, its does not light you up but holds the lights against the Lexan very well.

Once you have everything together, all you need is any video editing software that will allow you to flip the image, camtasia is probably the easiest but you can use any you want. Enjoy and comment on how it works for you.

Onward and Upward

Constructing a new home is one of the toughest and most tiring things a common person would be doing. Each of us considers constructing a new home as the biggest desire of our life and this excitement often leaves us making unpractical and money-draining decisions that leave us regretting afterwards. In order to make sure that we do not drain our hard-earned money into anything wasteful, we need making a proper plan before finally starting to construct a new home for ourselves.

Investigate the Area

Before you purchase the land for your future home, it is necessary to hire real estate consultant and ask for their opinion. Buy the land that is best in terms of all basic necessities of life and is situated nearby market, eateries, school, park etc. Moreover, you should ask your real estate agent to guide you about the land from the future perspective. Improve your property landscape curb appeal with New England Turf Store.

Ask Your Architect to Not Overbuild

After having done with land purchasing, it is time to interact with your architect. It has been noticed that the usual construction in Pakistan includes overbuilt houses that end up with a number of problems afterwards. So, before you finalize the home plan, you should make a comparison of it with the others in the same street to make sure that you are following the same pattern and are not overbuilding. This would also result in legal issues afterwards and would cost you a great deal to settle them down.

Hire a Construction Consultant/Builder Carefully

After a thoughtful consideration and a thorough survey, you should hire a professionally qualified, experienced and well reputed builder for your home. The analysis of a construction company or a builder can be done by having a look at their previous projects, asking their previous clients about how they were treated and how their homes turned out to be. Besides, going after big names is also sometimes not a good idea since it would drain away a major portion of your budget into the consultation fees. Look for your budget first and hire the services of a professional construction company accordingly.

Creating Bulk Users and Groups in AD via Powershell

I often get tasked with finding out where some of the limits of our products might be and one of them that has come up is the ability to work with larger Active Directory configurations.  Running a lab I obviously don’t have thousands of users so I wanted a way to quickly create and remove users and groups.  In comes the powershell scripts that I have below.  I created this is multiple parts but have since made each part a function and put a nice menu around it.  The final BulkAdd.ps1 is the total script that you are free to download and use for your environment.  You can follow the flow in the diagram below.

You can get the full script Bulk-Menu_v2 but I will list all the parts below. All of the scripts start the same way and I have some centralized variables at the top of the main script.

You can see the script in action

 100 Groups and 200 Users Created and Removed in 2 Min Continue reading “Creating Bulk Users and Groups in AD via Powershell”

EMC tells their SDS story, but is it really theirs alone?

EMC today announced the their latest entry into the Software Defined Storage (SDS) market, VIPR. They’ve coined it the “World’s first Software Defined Storage Platform” ( I have to say, I am a little put off by this initial push and need to be first when they are clearly not. I could list a few that have claimed to be a SDS platform first, DataCore, Nexenta, and when looking at some of the capabilities, I think IBM beat them out with the SVC Director.

Continue reading “EMC tells their SDS story, but is it really theirs alone?”

End of Year SMB Tech Survey

Every year we see survey results posted by Gartner and just about every known trade rag that says what the next year will hold.  What will be hot, and what will be relegated to the trash bin.

This year , I haver been asked to pass along a survey to my readers in conjunction with Ivy Worldwide.  I vy is a social media firm that I have worked with for the past few years.  The great part of the survey is that I get to publisht he results right here when I get them back, not just from my readers but from readers of many blogs around the world, but also you get a chance to win $250.  Who doesn’t like free money?

Click ont he graphic to be taken to the survey and i look forward to sharing the results.

SMB Survey

2012: the year that storage died

Sure the title was meant to be inflammatory, but at the same time I am seeing one of the most dramatic shifts in enterprise storage in the last 10 years. Some history would probably help here. I began my career in IT 15 years ago, in 1997 major companies ran their entire businesses on either a mainframe or a midrange system and green screens ruled the world. We barely had email, and it was surely not a collaboration suite. At the time, I was a systems admin and spent days and often nights working with the large direct attached storage systems for either the mid range or the windows environments. We slowly moved into shared storage, often for a single system. Our exchange server had a shared set of disks for the cluster, same goes for SQL, but we didn’t dare move the mid range systems(as/400 at the time) to a shared storage solution. Around 2001, I was insistent with my management that we should have a shared solution for both open systems (windows and Linux) and our iSeries but got amazing pushback. The more we virtualized the more traction I was able to get. Probably helped that many of the mid range systems were being replaced by monolithic sun and windows boxes, the IBM purists had less traction. About this same time, you saw IBM itself start to transform itself into a services and software company, the move that Sun never realized it needed to do. With the vast growth of virtualization, came the rise of EMC and then startups like NetApp. Over the next 5 years you would see shared storage become the go to accepted platform. As our data growth has exploded so has the size of the arrays we use to store the massive amounts of data
So if we have massive data growth, how can I say that storage has died? The answer is simple, I can’t, but what I can say os that the way we address storage has changed. We are reverting back to the direct attached storage days, with a few exceptions. In the direct attached days, the big reason for keeping the drives local was that the data was all controlled by the software. Software defined storage, just no one called it that. Today we are seeing the same back to software defined storage. The major cloud players have all found that users want the choice of where they data goes. VCloud Director now has storage profiles. OpenStack had already let you have tiers of storage. Object based storage is leading a way to move data between entities without the need for a set structure. Hadoop and Gluster are saying that the data does not matter and you should concentrate on how we process the data.
So where does that leave us? We need to look at hardware vendors right? After all they control the drives and we want to make sure our data integrity stays high and we can control where we place our data. I argue that we should be only looking at the hardware vendors to give us a place to put data but not a way to control it. The software defined storage of today allows for me to add data integrity, portability, and speed with what ever hardware I want. We have 4TB drives spinning faster than most personal computer drives, solid state drives that will give us 5 year warranties and in sizes approaching a TB. Now we need the likes of HP, Dell, and IBM to press on the manufacturers, the Sanmina and Quantas among others to produce for density, and environmental factors. HP announced with the Gen8 servers that their hardware RAID controllers on their servers could hold more disk and process at a faster speed. But what about when I want to control the data? Where is my dumb JBOD at density? Dell has started to trend towards higher density with the 3020 60 drive JBOD. Well almost, they say you have to have the 3260 to manage the JBOD. Seems like a conflict to me.
If we can start to get all our data controlled by software, on the hardware we want, with the best density rates we can keep moving forward to a point when storage as we know it may very well die.

How to Create “Add to Calendar” Links within a blog

I am hosting a live podcast in a few weeks (blog announcement upcoming) and I wanted to find a way to let people add the date and time to their calendars with just a simple click instead of having to enter the information themselves.  After alot of searching, all the post seem to say you had to add the event calendar plugin and then it would be a new plugin to the wordpress page and things like that.  Not exactly what I was looking for.  I wanted something as simple as

Heres a reminder to read when the podcast announcement comes out:

Continue reading “How to Create “Add to Calendar” Links within a blog”

Are you a Nerd or a Geek?

After having a conversation last week that being called a Geek or a Nerd is not a bad thing once you get out of high school, I found this infographic interesting. The conversation did conclude that no matter what some girls say, being called a Dork is pretty much never good.

So which one are you??

Thanks to

When you think of geek, you think of the woman or man who is hooked onto their Xbox like a newborn onto a teat. The geek is out of shape living on a diet of chips and Mountain Dew. The only locker room experiences geeks have are the ones where they are shoved into the locker. So they grow up thinking, fitness is not for me.

I was that geek.

I was the kid who was picked last at kickball, couldn’t lift weights and couldn’t catch a ball if it was covered in glue. That’s because I received a message over and over: you aren’t an athlete. You can’t be a geek and have athletic skill. I was the Forrest Gump of the gym. Seat taken. Can’t sit here.

So I resigned myself to my Xbox and sci-fi books, my board games and comics. I ate what I wanted and then last year, after nearly drowning in a SCUBA accident, I realized something:

I was killing myself.

So I did what every geek would: I turned to the internet for the solution. I researched blogs and websites trying to find how I could get into shape. Because I knew this simple fact: joining a gym would be a mistake. I would do the minimum input to get the greatest psychological result. I would just be overwhelmed by the choices, do the smallest little thing to help me feel better, and walk out.

I would fail. And fail hard.

But the one thing that kept coming up was CrossFit. I joined one CrossFit gym and after three weeks of puking, the trainer told me I wasn’t fit enough for his gym. I think after I tried to do 60 jumping jacks and vomited it might have clued him in.

I pressed on, found another CrossFit gym, and after I told my coach about my first experience, he said, “That’s horrible! I’d never give up on you. You just have to show up.”

And show up I did.

A couple of the guys actually guessed how long I’d last. You have to understand. I never lifted weights. I didn’t know anything about anything in regards to fitness. And it’s been over a year. I have a little weight left to lose, but this geek is now much more fit and I know how you can get your fellow (or inner) geek to get fit, for improved results try out meticore supplement.

1. Set tiny goals: Don’t say you are going to work out every day. It’s a lie. Set out to work out just today. Go for a walk. Throw a ball around. Jump some rope for 5 minutes or even 2 minutes.

2. Write it down: We geeks like to look back and see what we’ve done. Keep a journal. Decorate it Superman style, but write down every attempt. (I take a picture of myself after every CrossFit workout and post it to my Facebook.)

3. Discover why: You have to find out why you are embarking on this quest. Health? Show up your high school reunion? Make your eHarmony picture better? If you don’t know why, and you start hating it, you will instantly give up if you don’t have a reason.

Review – Lync Mobile for iOS

If you work for a company that has decided to use either Office365 or an internal deployment of Microsoft Lync you have probably been waiting patiently for a mobile client. Even with external connectivity, there was the issue of connecting to a PC or dialing a long numeric code to join a conference call. Plus the idea of presence really only meant that you were sitting at your computer. With the releases this week and last, of Lync 2010 Mobile for Windows Phone, Android, and iOS you can now chat, have conference calls and even accept calls from your desk phone. More info on all the apps can be found here.

Follow these links to get the apps depending on your device:

Windows Phone

Since I am an iPhone user, that will be my first review. I took a few screenshots you can see below.

When you install the app the only configuration that is needed is to provide your iPhone number so that Lync can connect calls and enable Simultaneously Ring between your Lync extension and your iPhone. You can also turn this feature off in the My Info screen if you want to. This is also the same screen you would use to change your status. It does no appear to change the status for you if you have been away, like the PC client does. Although that makes sense since you are with your phone. It would be nice if there was a way to set a toggle to make this easier to change, but I believe that might be a drawback of iOS.

There are also quite a few options you can select from the My Info screen. You can view the screenshot here. You also have the same options for Status that you get on the Windows client. (Screenshot)

The next part that most people look for is the contacts. They are the same as the ones you have on your client and will sync groups as well. The Chat is also pretty self explanatory and works as expected. I would like to see two improvements in the chat. They should utilize the integrated iOS 5 notifications and show if you missed a chat, and when a chat is missed, you should get some sort of change to the home screen icon. I would imagine this would change with voicemails, but I dont have any or use mine much to check that. If you select a contact in chat you can also see all their details. You also have options to call the person, invite others to the conversation, and store the chat as an email. A cool extra feature is the ability to send your location to the other person. Lync will use the iPhone GPS to find you on Bing Maps and then send a map and the location to the person you are chatting with.

Moving on to the meetings which was my most looked forward to feature. I have had mixed experiences so far. First for the good parts. If you set a online meeting within Outlook, it will automatically sync with your mobile client. As an added bonus, if another person in your organization sends a meeting invite for a Lync meeting it is also synced to your meetings. Once the meeting has synced you no longer need to type in the long code to join the meeting. Simply click on the meeting and select Join Meeting. Lync will then tell you to answer the incoming call to join the meeting. This is where one of the bad parts comes into play. The call comes from the main company number and not your direct dial if you have one. This is not the worse thing just something to be aware of. The other part I don’t like here is that it requires you to have phone service to join an online meeting that is using VOIP. I would like it to be more like Skype that I could run everything with wifi. This is not much of a problem when you are in your normal cell area, but if you are a US person traveling abroad, the cell phone minutes get very expensive. Possibly the ability to have it call with Skype could be a great tie in for Microsoft in a future release. The other very troubling thing that I found was when I was a meeting organizer and other people joined my meeting before I did, the system asked me to type * to allow the others to join. I attempted to do this 3 times and it never recognized the *. I had to go back to my old way and type in the full phone number and code to start my meeting. I have only tried this once so I am hoping it is a glitch and will not persist but it is worth mentioning.

The last spot is the actual phone. This works just like the softphone client. You can dial a number direct via the keypad, and check your voicemail. The voicemail screen is very close to the native iPhone voicemail screen so that is very nice. Again I have the same issue that you have to be able to accept a call to place a call. Microsoft needs to find a way to make this client truly a VOIP client.

Overall for the first version of the product I think Microsoft did a rather good job and for normal operations I think it will be extremely handy and I look forward to the updates as they come. Hopefully we will have an Android and iPad review up shortly as well so stay tuned.

How to get your upgraded vSphere 5 license keys

There seems to be some confusion from customers on how they get the new license keys for vSphere 5 if they have an existing support and subscription. If your support is current the upgrade should have been processed automatically in the VMware portal. The same process applies for any upgrades in the VMware system but I am just showing the vSphere hypervisor license as an example. To be able to complete this process you will need to be either Primary License Administrator (PLA) or Secondary License Administrator (SLA). If you need help adding a SLA to an account check out my other blog on “How to add a SLA to VMware.”

Without further ado and with actual keys redacted for protection, heres the process… Continue reading “How to get your upgraded vSphere 5 license keys”

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