Monday, August 24, 2015

Wireless Field Day Approacheth! #WFD8


I received the good news that I'll once again be attending a Wireless Field Day in San Jose. This time around we'll be visiting Aruba, Cisco, Fluke Networks and Zebra so far. As the event gets closer the full list of sponsors will be unveiled. I will be spending quality time with some familiar faces, and getting to socialize with a couple of delegates whom I've only met once or twice. It's always sure to be a good time!

The full details on the event will continue to expand on the Tech Field Day website for WFD8. Bookmark the site and check back to see how things are unfolding.

The full delegate list for WFD8 is thus: 
Blake KroneChris LyttleDrew LentzJake SnyderJennifer HuberKeith R. ParsonsLee BadmanPeter Paul EngelenRichard McIntoshSam ClementsScott McDermottShaun Neal

Friday, August 21, 2015

How To Restring an Oil Rain Lamp

I am the proud new owner of a Creators Three Goddess Oil Rain Lamp! Sadly, one of the monofilament line got broken during shipping and I had the seemingly odious task of restringing the lamp foist upon me.

Searching online yielded very little information about how to take apart the lamp and what to expect upon doing so. There are two PDFs online describing the process of restringing and one describing repair of the lamp, how much mineral oil to use, but none with helpful photos.

Prior to taking apart the lamp, spread out a large trash bag  or plastic sheeting to catch any oil which might still be in the bottom of the lamp.

Disassembling the lamp is done by removing the three brass acorn nuts which hold the bottom of the lamp (the oil reservoir) to the center portion of the lamp. The lamp pump assembly is affixed to the bottom of the center portion of the lamp. Unscrew the top nut of the lamp where it joins the electrical cord/chain and slide it down the electrical cord and away from the lamp center. Working on the lamp from a position where the lamp is still suspended in mid-air is extremely helpful. Tying a knot in the electrical cord at the top of the lamp will allow you to suspend the lamp while you work on it.



The monofilament line is held taut by a series of interlocking brass couplings. The larger, outer brass couplings are the portion you can see sticking out of the top of the lamp, where the monofilament line appears to come out of the top of the lamp.



The smaller brass coupling is what holds the monofilament lines taut as the filament is threaded through the holes in the bottom of the lamp base and then back into the brass coupling in the top of the lamp. Make note of the threading pattern, you will replicate this pattern when you're replacing the monofilament line.



Using a small chisel or tool with a beveled edge, pry the smaller fitting out of the center of the larger fitting. Collect all small fittings and place them in a lidded container containing a mix of hot water and Fantastik (or some other grease cutting cleaner). Once all of the small fittings have been removed, remove the monofilament line from the lamp by unthreading it from the holes. Remove all large brass fittings and place them in a lidded container with a grease cutting mixture and let them soak. Clean the center of each small brass fitting, ensuring there are no clogs or blockages present. Set aside the small brass fittings to dry. Repeat the cleaning process with the large brass fittings. 

When all fittings have been cleaned thoroughly, restringing the lamp can begin. Work from the inside out to make the process simpler.
I tied the "starter" end of the monofilament line to a pencil to keep a good length of filament on the bottom of the lamp so I wouldn't have difficulty making a good knot in the filament when I'd finished threading it through the lamp.



I used 40 pound clear, monofilament line to restring this lamp. Monofilament line is also commonly referred to as fishing line. Do not use anything heaver than a 40 pound line, as you will have difficulty reinserting the smaller brass couplings (I'll cover this a few paragraphs later).

The inner circle rain pattern on this lamp is diagonal. The filament was threaded from the bottom of the lamp and then two holes to the right of the hole which would create a vertical rain line. The length of the inner circle rain pattern filament line was approximately 24 feet in length. This length will allow for a foot or so extra length at the bottom. This will make knotting the thread at the end easier.

The outer circle rain pattern on this lamp is vertical. The filament was threaded from the bottom of the lamp and straight up into the hole in the top to create vertical rain lines. The length of the outer circle rain pattern filament line was approximately 40 feet in length. This length will allow for a foot or so extra length at the bottom. This will make knotting the thread at the end easier.

Each run of filament is tightened by pulling on the filament enough to stretch it enough to allow you to press the small brass fitting into the larger brass fitting with the filament pinched in the center. As the filament is pulled/stretched, the diameter of the monofilament will decrease by a very small amount, allowing you to pinch the filament in place with the smaller brass fitting. Use a tiny hammer to tap the smaller brass fitting into place. It does not require much force, tap gently.

When you've successfully threaded the new monofilament line through the lamp, tie a knot in the filament underneath the center of the lamp. Tying three tight knots, one after the other will be sufficient to keep the filament in place.

The oil ran lamp uses mineral oil to give the effect of rain drops cascading down the monofilament line. Mineral oil is readily available at drug stores or grocery stores. The typical cost of a pint of mineral oil is just over $5.00. The lamp will take about 2 pints to fully submerge the intake hose of the pump in the base of the lamp (2 pints = 32 ounces). This equals ~$15 in mineral oil. People are selling 32 ounce bottles of mineral oil labeled as Rain Lamp Oil for $24.95 plus $13.00 S&H. Don't be pulled in by this tactic! Buy your oil rain lamp oil from your nearest grocery/drug store! 

If the pump is the problem with your rain lamp, replacement pumps have been seen selling on eBay for $65.00 plus S&H.






Thursday, August 20, 2015

Introspection, Basic Truths and Transformation

”Be at least as interested in what goes on inside you as what happens outside. If you get the inside right, the outside will fall into place.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

I wouldn’t have ever imagined the personal transformation I would undergo as a result of beginning a yoga practice. Admittedly, I first came to yoga for superficial reasons. I had become bored of running and I was seeking a new challenge. What I found on the yoga mat was more than a butt-kicking workout. I found myself. I jokingly refer to the time spent on my mat as ‘forced introspection’. Taking 75 or even 90 minutes a day to turn inward and focus on the self, the breath, was not something I had done. As I faced each physically challenging asana with calm, measured breath, I also began to face myself and the choices I’d made with the same calm determination. “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” was starting to make sense. With each conscious decision, I was cultivating my own new reality. Turning inward each time I got on my mat was helping me clearly define the direction I was moving toward off my mat.

I marveled at how the simplest truths became profound when combined with a physical challenge I did not initially envision myself capable of achieving. Shifting my perspective allowed me to see that what I could or could not do was not bound to the past simply because things had always been that way. If I had the strength for wheel pose, I had the strength to manifest a new reality of my own choosing.

I have let the specter of judgement keep me hidden away for too long. I shied away from social media for fear of saying the wrong thing, or saying too much. Instead, I said nothing which might reveal the personal revolution I was undertaking. I will no longer be silent about what I think or how I feel. This journey has just begun, but I feel I must share my truth in this or else I will be incapable of sharing anything else.

I recently enrolled in a 200 hour yoga teacher training program so that I may give back some of the power of change and mindful, determined living into my new community. The experiences I’ve had through coming to my mat each day have been so profoundly rewarding, I am called to pay it forward.

Sharing my story allows me to blog again about Wi-Fi without me feeling that I’m not saying something which I feel needs to be said. We only get one go around in this life. I think it is of upmost importance to be mindful in one’s intentions and move from a place of authenticity.

Do not be surprised if you see more posts from me on this theme. I briefly considered starting a different blog to separate the technology from the spiritual but quickly rejected the idea. I think I would be doing everyone a disservice by compartmentalizing myself to suit an presumed audience. If I’ve written about cookies and cameras, why would I not write about the most meaningful choice I’ve made - to begin and continue a yoga practice.

It has been three years since I started this journey. I had no idea where it would take me when I began, but I am plotting a clear course for where I want to go.

---
My sincere gratitude to everyone I've crossed paths with at Breath and Body Yoga in Austin Texas, every single one of you have contributed to my growth. To all of the teachers at BBY: you are more powerful and influential than you could possibly know. You all deserve a shout out (in alphabetical order) Christine, Cynthia, Desirae, Diana, G’Nell, Jen, JessKat, Kate, Katie H., Katie O, KK, Laura, Lauren, LouiseMichael, Mindy, Natasha, Sami, Shannon. XOXO

Thursday, June 18, 2015

NetBrain Blew My Mind! #TFDx #CLUS

Many moons ago I was a Network Administrator who managed static IP addresses by consulting the critical IP Networks Excel Spreadsheet. I had to find a free Windows based app which would show me a diff view of two switch configurations during the 15 day trial window. I had to create network diagrams in Visio which never included the information I needed when I was troubleshooting an issue with the very same network which I had previously drawn. I remember the Senior Network Administrator being very leery of software monitoring solutions which monitored by polling the network devices. At the time, I imagined that any additional load on our network devices would cause the whole network to suffer under the load of  any additional monitoring traffic.

This brings me to the software demonstration I witnessed last week. The CEO and founder of NetBrain described the very same way of working which I had lived (albeit thirteen years ago). He then went onto have Ben Abbot (Pre-Sales Engineer) perform a demonstration of their current software product: NetBrain Enterprise Edition.



With my very own eyes, I saw things that I did not know were possible. I saw network diagrams created on demand to show the information necessary to troubleshoot any given network issue. I saw network documentation automated and annotated by multiple network administrators. I saw Qapps written to solve immediate troubleshooting issues by someone who was not a programmer and did not have a programming/scripting/coding background.




I kept my amazement to myself. It had been so long since I had been in charge of a network, surely all of these things were now possible with any number of software solutions. The room stayed quiet. I could not tell if others were as impressed as I, or if they were thinking "Yep, business as usual."


As it turns out, everyone in the room was just as impressed as I was. Maybe they were all shocked into silence in the same way that I was. After all, the NetBrain application they showed us has been 10 years in the making and has 5 million lines of C++ code to make performing complicated tasks seem that simple.

At CiscoLive 2015, NetBrain released their first free DevOps Edition of the NetBrain software. The limit to the free software is that it can only map up to 10 devices. 

As it stands now, Network Engineers are being forced to learn REST API scripting (among others) to do SDN troubleshooting. This free version of software is designed to ease the transition for the Network Administrator to manage the network here and now.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Aruba, HP, MobileIron, PaloAlto, Arista Networks, what do they all have in common?


As you probably know by now, HP and Aruba have announced their intent to merge into a single corporation. Call it an acquisition, call it a sale, call it a merger, call it whatever you like. This week at Aruba Atmosphere 2015, the keynote presentations made it clear that Aruba and HP are all about partnering with other companies to bring the customer the best-of-breed solution set.

The keynote presentation by Dominic Orr gave us the clear message that things were not going to change. Meg Whitman spoke to us live from Mobile World Congress in Barcelona with a full six second delay between Dominic speaking and Meg reacting. The jury is out on whether or not this was actually a live feed, but the comedic effect of the delay was milked for all it was worth.


I found it very interesting to see Bob Tinker, CEO of MobileIron come on stage after Meg Whitman. I'm wondering if we might see another acquisition by HP, simply based on the focus Aruba is putting on strategic partnerships with companies who help Aruba/HP bring differentiated offerings to market. The lack of a built in MDM solution has been a glaring hole in the Cisco product portfolio for a very long time. Sure, Cisco has partnered with at least 6 different MDM vendors, but since they're only parters - your mile will vary greatly when you're seeing support to implement any give solution.


Chad Kinzelberg, Senior VP Palo Alto Networks went on to describe how the Palo Alto firewalls were much more nimble because they don't rely on the port based communication firewall sets like legacy firewalls do (read: Cisco).


Jayshree Ullal, CEO of Arista Networks rounded out the speaker list. She is by far the best public speaker I've heard present in a very long time. It was clear she had given this messaging about Arista many, many times - but she still managed to sound human doing it.


It will be interesting to see how the merger between HP and Aruba plays out over time, especially when there are so many companies relying on Aruba hardware to have a mobility offering in the first place.

Also, the opening act before Dominic took the stage was really cool! The iLuminate dance team from America's Got Talent kicked off the Atmosphere conference in a unique, geeky, Tron-esque fashion! Whoever booked them for this event deserves a pat on the back! Good work!




Monday, December 29, 2014

Hilton Worldwide Holdings supports Marriott's blocking personal Wi-Fi hotspots












In the latest update to the debacle surrounding Marriott being fined $600k for blocking personal Wi-Fi devices on its properties, Ars Technica reports Google and Microsoft are fighting Marriott's Wi-Fi blocking request.

What I found most interesting in the Ars Technica article is this paragraph:
The American Hotel & Lodging Association, Marriott International, Inc., and Ryman Hospitality Properties submitted a public comment on Marriott’s behalf on Friday, saying that the hotel was merely exercising "reasonable network management practices.”
I find it interesting that the document linked from the article was submitted by Hilton Worldwide Holdings in support of Marriott. I have not seen other headlines indicating other hotel chains are siding with Marriott. I have only seen headlines that Google and Microsoft are fighting Marriott's Wi-Fi blocking requestI then tried to find out which hotels are members of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, but I came up empty handed. I was hoping to see which hotel chains I could switch to if Hilton and Marriott are successful in their petition to block the use of personal Wi-Fi devices in their properties.

In the original Marriott case, the Wi-Fi blocking was being done at Marriott properties in the conference areas to force exhibitors to pay Marriott to have an access point installed for the duration of their conference. This practice is similar to that of hotels forbidding outside food or drink in conference areas which have been booked for events. All food and drink must be purchased from the hotel, along with the room for the event.

A friend of mine told me a story of the last time he stayed at a Marriott in O'ahu. He was using Marriott points to stay there for free and didn't want to pay the $14/day Marriott was charging for Wi-Fi. In the list of broadcast wireless networks was an SSID called "Screw Marriott". Naturally, he was curious and joined the Wi-Fi network. He was presented with a captive portal which said they would provide Wi-Fi at a reduced rate of $4 a day, which would allow him to stick it to the Marriott (as indicated by the SSID). He called the phone number shown, made payment via PayPal to an email address and happily used the "Screw Marriott" network for the week he was there!

If you read the Hilton filing closely, it states that hotels should have the ability to block your personal Wi-Fi to keep their Wi-Fi operational. What it does not say is how they would be blocking personal Wi-Fi devices. I wonder if they were blocking by SSID keyword (jetpack, ClearSpot, MiFi etc) or by spoofing the MAC address of the personal Wi-Fi device once it is detected. If the hotel is blocking by SSID keyword, this list would have to be curated by someone on the Marriott IT team to include the thousands of SSIDs detected by the Marriott wireless infrastructure. If the Marriott IT team is doing an active containment by using their access points to pretend to be the "rogue" access point and tell any associated clients to de-associate. Keyword SSID containment would be an arduous task, and personal hotspot users might escape detection during short hotel stays. Active containment would be a much quicker and invasive method for blocking personal hotspot use.

Either way, I will be monitoring my Mi-Fi connectivity during my upcoming hotel stays. I am currently a member of the Hilton loyalty program and I'll be watching to see if Hilton joins Marriott in blocking Mi-Fi usage. If major hotel chains are successful in the FCC petition to block personal Wi-Fi devices, I will make the switch to staying at a B&B or to a hotel chain which does not engage in this practice.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Ultimate Gingerbread Cookie Recipe


Crisp Gingerbread Cookies
makes 16 large cookies


6 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
12 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter (room temperature)
4 teaspoons ground ginger
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 12 teaspoons ground cloves
1 12 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon finely ground pepper
2 large eggs

1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup unsulfured molasses

Recipe requires the following tools/supplies: parchment paper, plastic wrap, wax paper, icing tips and parchment paper icing bags, sprinkles or other cookie decorations (as desired) and paste food coloring.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and baking powder. Set aside.




In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and brown sugar until fluffy.




Mix in spices, salt, pepper, eggs and then molasses.



Add in half the flour mixture on low speed, then slowly add in the remaining portion.

Divide dough into thirds, tear off several sections of plastic wrap the size of the cookie sheet used to bake the cookies. Place section of dough on plastic wrap, place second layer of plastic wrap on top of cookie dough.



Flatten dough first using your hands, then use rolling pin to roll out dough to an even thickness of 18 or 14 inch depending on desired thickness of cookies.



Chill dough by placing sheet of cookie dough onto cookie sheet and place in freezer until dough is firm.



Repeat the creation of cookie dough sheets until all the cookie dough is rolled out and prepared for chilling. Stack layers of cookie dough sheets on cookie pan to ensure the dough is lying flat while chilling.


Chill dough until firm. Dough should not deform or bend when removed from freezer. This will make it easier to work with and make well formed cookies.

Cut several sheets of parchment paper sized to cover the cookie sheet used for baking. Set parchment paper sheets aside. 


Begin pre-heating oven to 350℉. 

Remove sheet of cookie dough from freezer. Remove one side of plastic wrap and then re-apply plastic wrap. The goal is to have the under side of the cookie dough sheet on the plastic wrap, but not stuck to the plastic wrap as tight as it was upon removing from freezer. Lay cookie dough down on work surface with the less 'stuck' side of the plastic wrap down. Remove top layer of plastic wrap.

Using lightly floured cookie cutters, cut out cookie shapes and transfer to parchment paper on top of cookie sheet. If cookie dough has chilled long enough, the cookies will remove cleanly from the plastic wrap. If cookies do not remove easily from the plastic wrap, place plastic wrap back over cookie dough sheet and put cookie dough back in freezer to chill longer.



Leave room between cookies on the parchment paper for dough spread during baking.



Bake 8 to 10 minutes at 350℉, or until cookies are crisp but not darkened around the edges. Baking times will vary depending on thickness of cookie or size of cookie.

Repeat process of working with chilled dough and place cookies to be baked on parchment paper sheet while current batch of cookies are baking. When cookies have finished baking, remove cookie sheet from oven and slide parchment paper with baked cookies on it to the counter top. Slide parchment paper with cookies not yet baked onto the hot cookie pan and place in oven to bake. Remove baked cookies from parchment paper with a metal spatula and transfer to wire racks to cool.

Once cookies have cooled to the touch, they can be organized by shape and size in preparation for decorating.




Royal Icing (makes 2 12 cups)
2 large egg whites, or 5 tablespoons meringue powder mixed with scant 12 cup of water
1 pound confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice (lemon juice used to add contrasting flavor to gingerbread cookie. If desired, plain water can be substituted)




In bowl of electric mixer, beat egg whites, sugar and the 2 teaspoons of lemon juice on low speed for 10 minutes. If icing is too thick, add additional teaspoon of lemon juice. If too thin, beat 2 to 3 minutes more. Separate into 34 cup portions, add food coloring paste to achieve desired colors.


Using parchment icing bags, fill each bag with colored icing, apply decorating tips as shown in steps 6, 7 & 8. Place filled icing bags in small containers with a damp paper towel at the base of each small container or drinking glass. The damp paper towel will keep the icing from drying and clogging the frosting tip. 



Using a #2 tip for piping, outline the cookies with a slow steady bead of icing. For floodwork on cookies use a #5 tip or carefully add frosting with a small icing spatula. Here is an excellent photo tutorial on floodwork icing cookies.



**

This recipe was originally published in Martha Stewart Living magazine 1997 December #55, but the original recipe left a lot of crucial steps out if you actually wanted to make cookies. There was no mention of the layering of plastic wrap on the dough and chilling the dough to the point of stiffness, nor was there any mention of using parchment paper under the cookies.



The original recipe suggest using Silpat mats. Silpat mats retail for around $30 today, heaven knows what they cost in 1997 - I sure couldn't afford it. The magazine also offered a set of oversized Christmas ornament cookies for around $45. Again, that was a massive amount of money for my 1997 budget.

Necessity is the mother of invention: I went down to my local surplus store Skycraft Surplus and found 12 inch strips of stainless steel. I used a pair of pliers to bend the steel into the ornament shapes shown in the magazine and secured them with a bolt and locking nut. Yay for DIY!