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1971 Fender USA Stratocaster

Well, after a bit of hunting around, I am now the proud owner of an original 1971 Fender USA Stratocaster. Am I happy? Hell yeah 🙂 And to boot, along with the obvious unknown elements of its life, the previous owner was someone that most people will have heard of.. Justin Hawkins from The Darkness. Oh yes..

Where did I get this beauty? Guitar Village – they are a great bunch of people who make you welcome and are as helpful as they come. Do check them out ! Their website can be found here:

As you can see above, they have a great selection of vintage and relics. My new bad boy is below


Xtravirt Co-Founder Achieves Chartered Fellowship Status

award1I found out on the 22nd December that the British Computer Society have awarded me the status of a Chartered Fellow grade (FBCS CITP). This for me is a great honour and I am really chuffed to have been awarded it! If you don’t know anything about the BCS I urge you to have a look and consider membership. There are many benefits of being a member as well as providing you the ability to put something back in to community – whether it be helping people new to IT or providing input to focus groups on various aspects of IT.

Who are the BCS?

bcs-logoBCS—The Chartered Institute for IT is a professional body and a learned society that represents those working in Information Technology in the United Kingdom and internationally. Established in 1957, it was formerly (and is still legally) known as the British Computer Society.

With a worldwide membership of over 70,000 members in over 100 countries, BCS is a registered charity and was incorporated by Royal Charter in 1984. Its objectives are to promote the study and application of communications technology and computing technology and to advance knowledge of education in ICT for the benefit of professional practitioners and the general public.

BCS is a member institution of Engineering Council UK, and therefore is responsible for regulation of ICT and computer science fields within the UK. The BCS is also a member of the Council of European Professional Informatics Societies (CEPIS). The BCS is the only professional body in the United Kingdom with the ability to grant chartered status to IT professionals.

(as stated by Wikipedia)

What is Fellowship Status (FBCS)?

BCS_4Colour_LogoThe grade of Fellowship comprises the most senior and respected professionals who have demonstrated eminence, authority and seniority in the field of IT.

(as stated by Wikipedia)


What is Chartered Status (CITP)?

citp-logocolourAs the Chartered Institute for IT, only BCS can award Chartered IT Professional status. CITP is the benchmark of IT excellence, and is a rigorously assessed, employer led qualification, recently updated according to the needs of such international IT industry leaders as IBM, Microsoft and BP.

(as stated by BCS)

ThinApp: Capture, Build & Applink

One of the newer members of team Craig Whelan has released a youtube video of a thinapp capture, along with a demonstration of Applink.

High-res demo of a Capture & Build of Firefox 3.5 using ThinApp. Also a CnB of Adobe Flash Player 10 to demonstrate the abilities of AppLink.
Three systems used in this demo.
1, Clean machine for CnB – with ThinApp installed, VM for snapshot revert purposes
2, Host for source files, capture files, updates via IIS
3, Test machine, reference any architecture to prove functionality of the ThinApp’d application
Brief edit of the package.ini to use AppLink, pointer towards video 2, 3 and 4 for the AppSync feature. This functionality isn’t all that new but seems to be gaining exposure recently – so I thought why not put my own 2c out there and join the community!
Apologies for the lack of sound or commentary.

Check it out

Note: there are 4 videos, part one to part four.

The vCloud Portable Lab: Part Two (A.K.A April Fools)

Ok, so if you are reading this, hopefully you have taken the time to read through the previous posts. If you have, and you have tried it you will have hit a slight problem after the last post. It’ll look something like the below


Well, for those who read the Part One post, you might have noticed that we never resolved the following point.

  • Change the listener port from 8080 to something else (8081)

Well, early April Fools (or I forgot to resolve this in the previous post.. you can decide Smile )

To change the listener port from 8080 to something else (I’ll be using 8081) simply follow the process outlined below.

Launch the ‘Run SQL Command Line’ shortcut from the Oracle program group under the Start Menu, then enter the commands below.



<your password>

exec dbms_xdb.sethttpport(8081)



Congratulations!  You have changed the port successfully. Now reboot your server!

The vCloud Portable Lab: Part One

You may have heard some news about something called VMware vCloud Smile Well, the vCloud solution has multiple components comprising of technology and process. One of the key ingredients is the vCloud Director component. What you may not know is that currently vCloud Director only supports Oracle for its database. That’s right, no MS SQL support, just good old reliable Oracle.. or so I was told. Oracle was a minefield for me, having not used it before. So to try and save some of you the horror that I went through, I’m going to provide you the shortcuts. You may also be wondering why I am going to use Oracle Express to provide the database for my vCenter server and not use MS SQL/SQL Express… well, practice and use (and pain..) makes perfect!

Oracle 10g Express

Before we talk about Oracle and installing it on to the vCenter server, do yourself a favour and turn off the Windows Firewall. This is a lab, you can configure it if you want to, but to keep this simple I am going to assume that you will follow the above advice.

Ok, to start with you are going to need to grab some software from Oracle and download it to your vCenter server. Don’t panic! The registration process on Oracles website is quick and easy. Point your web browser over to Oracles Express Site. You need to download Oracle Database 10g Release 2 ( for Windows. If you are being lazy looking, you can find it here. Don’t forget to accept the License Agreement.


You are also going to need two other items from Oracle to enable the creation of a 64bit database connection.

You need to go to this page and download following from the Version section:

Now we finally have what we need to install Oracle!

Installing Oracle 10g Express

On the vCenter server you need to run the OracleXE.exe file. The installation is pretty straightforward; make sure you perform it logged on as the local administrator.

The observant ones of you may notice something in the summary dialog box – the Port for HTTP Listener is set to 8080. This is going to conflict with the vCenter installation. You can’t change the port from 8080 during the installation, but you can do afterwards. I’ll even tell you how to do it.


Once the installation is complete, we will need to carry out a few actions

  • Change the listener port from 8080 to something else (8081)
  • Create a database account for the vCenter server to use
  • Create the 64bit ODBC system connection


In the meantime, run the OracleXEClient.exe file and install the Oracle Express Client. Once you have, keep on reading!

Oracle 64bit ODBC

Extract the following two downloaded zip files in to a folder. You want to combine the extracted contents from both zip files in to a single folder.



You will end up with 21 files in a single folder, as below


Open a command prompt window (it must be run as administrator) and change directory to the above folder. Run the ODBC_Install.exe file.


Now we need to configure an environment variable so the system knows where two specific files are (tnsnames.ora and sqlnet.ora). If you have been accepting the default paths during the above installations, then the files are in the following path:


Copy the sqlnet.ora and tnsnames.ora files from the above location in to the location where you extracted the two zip files. So for me, this was


From Computer Properties, Advanced System Settings, Environment Variables we create a new system variable as below


Variable Name: TNS_ADMIN

Variable value: <folder path to files>


Now we are going to create a ‘database’ for vCenter and a user account for the connection in Oracle. First of all, create a folder called vpx in the following location


From the Oracle programs group under the Start Menu, launch a SQL Command Line session

Enter the following commands:



<your password>

CREATE TABLESPACE “VPX” DATAFILE ‘C:\oraclexe\oradata\vpx\vpx.dat’ SIZE 1000M AUTOEXTEND ON NEXT 500K;


grant unlimited tablespace to vpxAdmin;


From the Oracle programs group under the Start Menu, launch the ‘Goto Database Home Page’ link. Login using system as the username and the password you provided during install. From the Administration section, select the Manage Users option.


Enter a password for the VPXADMIN user and configure the options as per the below screenshot. Click Alter User to save the changes.


Now we are finally ready to create our 64bit Oracle System DSN. From Administrative Tools, launch the ODBC Data Source Administrator Tool. From the System DSN Tab, click Add and select the Oracle driver.


Configure the connection as follows:

Data Source Name: vCenter Server Connection

Description: vCenter Server Connection

TNS Service Name: XE


Click ‘Test Connection.’ When you are prompted enter the password you specified in the previous steps.


Assuming that the test is successful, click OK.

Congratulations! You can now install vCenter Server and connect it to the Oracle Database!

Cloud Confusion..

Whilst Google instant search is pretty impressive, the results can be somewhat.. unusual.. I only searched on cloud..


Moving swiftly on..

The vCloud Portable Lab: Overview

This post is part one of a series, detailing experiences, likes/dislikes and the ‘how-to’ process that I am going through to create a simple vCloud Lab on my laptop. Why on my laptop? Well, we (Xtravirt) do have a lab which is more than capable of running this lab environment, but I want something that is portable that can be used anywhere and at anytime.

I should probably start by telling you what I will be running this lab on! I am using a Lenovo W510 Laptop with the following specification:

  • Intel Core i7 CPU (Q720 @ 1.60GHz)
  • 16GB RAM
  • Seagate 500GB Momentus XT Hybrid SSD/HDD SATAII 7200rpm 32MB Cache
  • Windows 7 Ultimate Edition x64

The laptop is a pretty beefy specification, although as you will see I do keep allocated resources pretty tight. To run the virtual machines on the laptop, I am using VMware Workstation 7 (the latest patched version). Initially, I have created 3 virtual machines as follows:

  • ESXi 4.1 – nickname cloudesx1
  • ESXi 4.1 – nickname cloudesx2
  • Windows 2008 R2 Standard x64 – nickname cloudvc1

ESXi Servers

The two ESXi servers have the configuration as show below. Additionally, the processor virtualisation engine Preferred Mode has been forced to Intel VT-x/EPT or AMD-V/RVI. The 40GB disks are thin provisioned.


vCenter Server

The vCenter server has its disk thin provisioned. It is running DNS as well, providing forward and reverse lookup zones for PDLAB. There isn’t much to say beyond that!



Virtual Networking

You may have noticed that I am using the VMware Workstation NAT Virtual Network. The only change that I made was to amend the IP range to something else that I would be able to remember Smile



Here is the list of additional software that I am using to build the lab

  • VMware vCenter 4.1 download with all the bells and whistles
  • Oracle 10g Express Edition
  • vCloud Director
  • VMware Chargeback 1.5
  • VMware vShield

In the next post I’ll take the first steps towards getting my vCloud lab up and running… I’m pretty sure that you can all install Windows and ESXi in some VMs without me explaining that part Winking smile