Android Emulator Skinning

If you had a desire to create your own custom skin for screen shots of your awesome app for Google Play store and had trouble finding an example to work from… Well, you’re in some luck as I’m going to give away what I used to create mine. The app I created (GasUP) was my first attempt to work through the entire development pipeline, I guess an exercise you can say, to finish my Android Developer Certification from the University of Texas in Arlington.

However, being a bit retentive on presentation, I was not satisfied with the flat emulator screen shots you can do and… a desktop screen capture of a scaled emulator just looks like garbage. So for a stylized “brand” for publishing, I wanted to create something unique which also allowed me to provide some ‘tagline’ space for wording.

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Posted in Android, Development

Maya: UV Texture Editor Extension

The default UV Texture Editor that comes with Maya is… sad. Sure you can do things with it, but there are some great extensions out there that can add to your workflow. I’ve used a few of them, but I really only “need” a few extensions to really get the job done. While those found freely on sites like Creative Crash are fine… they usually also try to cram in so much stuff … things I just don’t use or need.  I found a few that fall short when it comes to handling scenes with references and editing large numbers of UV sets on multiple objects. So in this article, I will share a quick and easy extension I created to help solve that issue.

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Posted in 3D Graphics

Virtualize: Low Cost Source Version Control

If you happen to be weary of the “everything online” approach to handling the security and storage of your projects or data, then welcome aboard to my skepticism ship. I too have a few issues with entrusting all of my data and code to a single entity. While the lure of many free source control hosts is enticing, that subconscious voice murmurs a paranoid chatter to not put all the eggs in one basket. Yes, it is an annoying language with which it speaks to me; however, it has grown strong due to my experience in failure. So, sometimes I listen to it.

I took a look at how I can solve this as a “do-it-myself” project, and found two great free resources that may help others to come up with a similar solution. Now, I need to mention that a holistic solution is not and never will be free. In order to host a source control server you need to have a computer system available to do that and a bit of time to learn the ropes. However, the base requirements for such a system can be minimal, and if it happens to meet some fairly low requirements for virtualization… you may be in luck and put that old computer or laptop to some use. The time to ramp up skills in this area can be consuming; however, it just depends on what you know and how far you wish to take the learning. In this article, I’ll briefly describe what the key is to climbing this hill and what free resources are available to you to help surpass that imaginary boundary to create your very own source control server.

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Virtualize: Backup Virtual Machines to Multiple iSCSI Targets

If you have a tight budget and need a backup solution for multiple virtual machines, you can create your own using PowerShell. While there are a few completely free options available such as Veeam or Altaro, you are either locked into what may be proprietary archive formats or limits on the total number of virtual machines you can backup. In my case, I choose to keep my costs to a minimum and leverage the integrated ability to provide a customizable solution with PowerShell and Windows Server Backup.

More often than not, each environment has its’ own requirements. This solution is not use case dependent, meaning it has been design generically and can be used for nearly any standard Hyper-V virtual machine backup to a standard iSCSI Target. I will explain what this use case looks like, what the dependencies are, and how to adapt the PowerShell script to fit your needs. While each use case is unique, if the underlying platforms are similar then common frameworks can be mashed up to create a solution that will work.

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WD DX4000: Create a decent SAN

One requirement or recommendation when creating a SAN that utilizes iSCSI is to separate the physical MPIO segment to permit full bandwidth utilization for the Initiators. This would also allow the network to operate with Jumbo Frames and minimize any potential conflicts with machines or adapter that may not support that capability and force the sessions to fall back to a lower MTU value. It also lessens the likely hood that an unmanaged switch will become a problem as it only needs to deal with a one frame size. This is probably not much an issue, and with more expensive switches it obviously isn’t; however, I’m using consumer grade dumb switches that only cost me about $30 USD.

The problem that you will run into with the Western Digital business line of storage servers is that they only provide two integrated Ethernet ports. So you either have to cripple the MPIO by using one port for iSCSI on a separate segment, or put both ports onto the LAN segment (not a good idea).

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Virtualize: Native VHD & Custom RE

Over the past couple months, I began experimenting with using virtual disks for use with what are called Native Boot Virtual Drives, or what I like to call “Native VHD”. The technique allows one to use a virtual disk to boot the host operating system and does not require a hypervisor. This means that on systems with or without virtualization capability, you can use a virtual disk as the container for the host operating system. There are a few short-comings to using this technique that I will cover in this article; however, the benefits far outweigh the minor quirks in its’ implementation.

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WD DX4000: Windows RE & Bare Metal Recovery

One part of the business continuity plan that lays solely on the shoulders of any IT organization is the Disaster Recovery Plan. It’s the framework that gets enacted when a disruption of service occurs. It could be a security intrusion, network outage, or a failing database that raises alerts. Anything that may cause a disruption of service will enact the continuity plan to keep your business running or restore services as soon as possible.

The experiences that I had while being involved in a global IT operations showed me how important, and often times convoluted, these “plans of action” can be. So how do we make a plan for our use that is simple and effective? By boiling down the necessary steps into a short action plan that you can leverage later when needed. You may be using the DX4000 at a remote office as a branch cache solution, or in your SOHO… whatever the case is, we will break this thing down to make a backup solution that works. Your plan will be different depending on what your needs are, but hopefully this article will provide some tips on how to setup a recovery solution for the DX4000 when being used with Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard or Essentials.

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