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No Digital SLR, No macro lens, no special lighting, Just and old Google Nexus 4 droid smartphone, and some Patience! - A Common Toad!

February 19th, 2017

In the dark this evening, I spotted a Common Toad - Bufo bufo

So grabbed my smartphone and took a snap…I thought you would like to see it…

Marks out of 10 ?

Common Toad - Bufo bufo

Common Toad - Bufo bufo (click for full image)

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VMware vSphere Hypervisor ESXi 6.5a on a HP/HPE DL380 G5 - IT WORKS!

February 16th, 2017

Sad looking DL380G5

Sad looking DL380G5

Yes, we all know that the HP/HPE DL380 G5 is not on the VMware Hardware Compatibility list, the last ESXi supported operating system was either 4.1 - 5.0, depending upon your Xeon version. But these make ideal lab servers, and one very important function is if you remove the spinning rust disk drives from the disk carriers, you can swap them directly for consumer SSDs. So this makes an ideal test vSAN. 8 SSDs, and if you happen to have enough DL380G5, and we do…. you can build a larger cluster!

VMware HCL

VMware HCL

VMware vSphere ESXi 6.0 does install and run on the DL380 G5, see here - INSTALL ESXI 6.0 ON A DL380 G5 – YES IT WORKS, but for shits and giggles, I want the latest and greatest 6.5!

DL380 G5 running ESXi 6.0

DL380 G5 running ESXi 6.0

and if you try to install ESXi 6.5 on a HP/HPE DL380 G5 with a Xeon 51xx series you will get the following error message

CPU_SUPPORT ERROR

CPU_SUPPORT ERROR

from the VMware vSphere ESXi 6.5 release notes

CPUs removed...

CPUs removed...

You will see the Xeon 51xx series has been removed from the code, and I also believe that more Xeon series will be removed with the next version 7.0 of ESXi, including all 52xx, 53xx and 54xx.

So I just happen to have some Xeon 5430, on my desk as coasters!

Not a matched pair of Xeon 5430

Not a matched pair of Xeon 5430

This pair are not matched…. I don’t think the world is going to come to and end…so, swap them and all will be fine…and the DL380G5 makes this simple, unlock the heat sink bar, unclip the processor clips, remove and replace…

dl380g5-processor-swap1

dl380g5-processor-swap2

dl380g5-processor-swap3

So here you go, ESXi 6.5a on HP/HPE DL380 G5 -” IT WORKS!”

ESXi 6.5 on DL380G5

ESXi 6.5 on DL380G5

A quick tip, download the last firmware disk from HPE Firmware 10.10, and update your DL 380G5 before you swap the processors! In fact I found this server, had never had any firmware upgrades still on stock firmware!

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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Customer Services!

January 31st, 2017

I’m fed up with poor (and that’s me being polite), customer service, so from today in 2017, I’m going to start a list of companies with Good, Bad, and Ugly Customer Services!!!!

So here is my list for January 2017

2017-01-30-21_35_22-microsoft-excel-book1

So congratulations, to those that have made it, in the Good list, hopefully those in the Yellow and Red, can improve in the future….

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After 20 years of Continuous RAC membership and a Black Card, I sacked RAC! @RAC_Care @GreenFlagUK

January 30th, 2017

In the last couple of years I’ve been the proud owner of a Black RAC Membership card, given to customers, I’m led to believe this is because of my loyalty to RAC. I’ve never been sure what benefits it actually gives me, other than a black rather than orange card in my wallet.

Black R.A.C membership card

Black R.A.C membership card

I been with the R.A.C for 20 continuous year, but the renewal cost  was £27.46 a month, a total cost of a £328.99, I spoke to them today, to discuss this cost, this membership does included Onward Travel, which I decided I do not require, but even the reduction they offered does not match the current £13.13 they want to charge NEW CUSTOMERS!

They were NOT prepared to discount any further despite friends telling me that had current cover for £8.50 a month. I’ve noticed R.A.C twitter handle is RAC_Care ?

I don’t think so!

So R.A.C YOU ARE SACKED!

I’ve now switched to Green Flag for better cover, which also includes Onward Travel and Mis-fueling….!!!

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Have you done the RSPB Great Garden Birdwatch yet? there is still time ? @Natures_Voice #BigGardenBirdwatch

January 29th, 2017

2017-01-29-10_28_19-biggardenbirdwatch-hashtag-on-twitterhere are my results:-

2017-01-29-10_15_08-microsoft-excel-book1

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The muts nuts of Access Points - The Ubiquiti Networks UAP-AC-PRO @ubnt

January 27th, 2017

Very impressive hardware, with lots of features, and statistics, logging….Good Radios, for 2.4GHz and 5GHz. Setup is straightfoward, and if you know what you are doing for shits and giggles, you can hit the Advanced Button!

The UniFi Controller software can be linked to the Cloud, so you can spy on your installation from remote Web browser or Smartphone application, available for Droid and iThingy.

UniFi Overview

UniFi Overview

An excellent feature shows WiFi devices MAC and IP Address, but also looks up the manufacturer, and also shows device signal quality, and data transmitted and received, I’m now puzzling why my Chromecast and Amazon Firestick are so chatty!

Here are some screenshots from the Droid app

UniFi Controller Stats

UniFi Controller Stats

UniFi Controller Stats

UniFi Controller Stats

So 16 hours into testing, and I’ve connected a total of 24 devices concurrently, and transferred a massive 23.1GB of traffic across the WiFi network (single access point). All other WiFi devices are turned off now,  no router WiFi or other access points, I’m still using the TP-Link router, at present because my Signal to Noise ratio on the Broadband Line has been reset to 6dB again!

That’s another story…..

Catch you later folk.

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The WiFi Cure! - Ubiquiti Networks UAP-AC-PRO

January 26th, 2017

So hopefully this will cure my issues - Ubiquiti Networks UAP-AC-PRO

Available to purchase from here.

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Too many WiFi devices and used up all my WiFi beans in my Broadband routers!

January 16th, 2017

Well the title says it all, with the addition of more WiFi Home Automation devices, it would appear I’ve used up all the WiFi beans in my Broadband Routers, or they easily get overloaded with too many devices. I’ve just added another 12 WiFi devices, and it would appear that’s overkill for a 2Wire 2700HGV and backup BT Home Hub 3 broadband routers.

2Wire 2700HGV & BT Home Hub 3

2Wire 2700HGV & BT Home Hub 3

I’ve been meaning to overall my WiFi for a while, so turned off a dedicated 2.4GHz  and 5GHz access points, and replaced with a single inexpensive broadband dual band 2.4GHz and 5GHz router from TP-LINK Archer D20 AC750 Wireless Dual Band ADSL2+ Modem Router for Phone Line Connections, those devices that have 5GHz have been migrated to the 5GHz WiFi, e.g. Amazon Echo, Nexus, laptops & iPads.

Boxed TP-LINK Archer D20 AC750 Wireless Dual Band ADSL2+ Modem Router for Phone Line Connections

Boxed TP-LINK Archer D20 AC750 Wireless Dual Band ADSL2+ Modem Router for Phone Line Connections

TP-LINK Archer D20 AC750 Wireless Dual Band ADSL2+ Modem Router for Phone Line Connections

TP-LINK Archer D20 AC750 Wireless Dual Band ADSL2+ Modem Router for Phone Line Connections

It does not look very pretty, and has the standard, LEDs for Power On, 2.4GHz/5.0GHz Enabled, ADSL Connection, Internet Connected and LAN states, this router, is on the top of a shelf, so I need to standard on a stool to check the LED status, it would have been handy, if they were visible… (ignore the whitebox in the above picture, that’s the SamKnows UK Broadband Availability monitoring box)

I’ve now got a few devices from TP-Link, a Chinese company, and the products are of good quality and inexpensive. I’ve got TP-Link  battery  power banks, and recent WiFi smart switches, all with a 3 Year Guarantee, and 24/7 Technical Support! and if you are a real Techie Nerd, you can visit the TP-Link website, and checkout the GUI Management Interface of their products, using their TP-Link emulator

TP-Link router interface

TP-Link router interface

and for shits and giggles, it has SNMP (for a budget router a bargain), you can graph traffic….

SNMP monitoring of TP-Link router

SNMP monitoring of TP-Link router

So all in all, Good value router, with 3 year guarantee, we will see if it struggles with the WiFi!

Update :- It made no difference, the end result, the WiFi radios in routers cannot cope and struggle with too many WiFi devices, in my case 30, which in the future more and more households, we will start to see the same issue….as more households embrace WiFi, how many WiFi devices are you currently using ?

So I purchased one of these - The WiFi Cure! - Ubiquiti Networks UAP-AC-PRO

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Trials and Tribulations of My Amazon Echo aka Saga of Andy’s Amazon Echo Part 2

January 11th, 2017

Previosuly on Andysworld! - Part 1

So 48 hours later, no email from Amazon, telling me that my US profile, had been migrated to a UK profile.

I decided to get Amazon to call me again this afternoon at 4pm, and what surprised me is that there are NO call records of previous discussions, no service request number notes, and it was lucky I had a photo of the box with serial number, because they have no record of that either!

After giving them the serial number again, for the up-tenth time, it was confirmed that the Echo had been registered from the original Experts Exchange purchaser.

So why was it still not working, after long 1 hour discussions with Customer Support, Kiera went away to ask an Echo Specialist Engineer, and it would appear, I’d been given the run around, and given some bull sh1t!

She confirmed, what needed to be done was as follows:-

1. Add my UK Amazon account, to US Market place.

2. Start Alexa App, and setup Echo.

3. Once completed, then Migrate my US profile (which would then exist) to a UK profile.

She then proceeded to Add my account to US Market place, which she sometimes takes 3-4 hours, but mine, went through immediately…she asked me to uninstall and re-install the Alexa App from Google Play Store, and login again with my account and password and proceed….

Amazon Echo Connected!

Amazon Echo Connected!

Success, I’ve never got this far before in the setup, so this was the issue. I then proceeded with the setup, but for some reasons it did not like the Office WiFi, so returned home, to continue setup, and now have a working US Echo!

Okay, so it’s on US at present, but I’ll get it switched later….

So what have we learnt…

1. Be Patient with Amazon Customer Support!

2. If someone does purchase an Amazon Echo for you, make sure they Mark it As a Gift!

(I did discuss this with Amazon, and said Amazon should make this clearer with the purchase of Amazon Hardware, I spoke to many people in my office, that regularly order from Amazon, and they only consider a Gift, as something you send somebody direct from Amazon, and maybe Gift wrapped! e.g. would you mark an item as a Gift, for someone in your household, or would you just order, and give it to them yourself, maybe Gift wrap yourself!!!! Food for thought here!)

or Ask them to Deregister it, and this could be easier to find.

3. If you do have a non-Country version, which does not match your Country of residence, Ask Amazon to add your Account to that market place.

4. Ask Amazon then to migrate you.

Now I can get on with Home Automation coming soon….

Coming soon TP-Link KASA!

Coming soon TP-Link KASA!

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Trials and Tribulations of My Amazon Echo aka Saga of Andy’s Amazon Echo Part 1

January 10th, 2017

The Saga of Andy’s Amazon Echo!

This is the Saga of Andy’s Amazon Echo - it started just before Christmas 2016, when I received an email from Gene Richardson, Chief Operations Officer at Experts Exchange, telling me I had won an Amazon Echo, see this blog - I won an Amazon Echo - Thanks @ExpertsExchange.

I’ve been so excited waiting for the day it would arrive….So I’ve been eagerly tracking it from the US via the USPS website…

Captured on 10th Jan - still in transit?

Captured on 10th Jan - still in transit?

it all started going “Pete Tong”, when it had arrived in London, UK, but then departed on another flight to it’s destination…. I don’t live that far from London to justify a flight..(as of 10 January, time of writing this blog, it’s still in transit!). But at least it had cross the pond I thought.

On Saturday 7th January, whilst I was washing, polishing my car and new alloy wheels outside my house, the Postman pasted me, and I said hello, I later found he had secretly deposited a Charges Card through my letterbox!

UK Customs Charges

UK Customs Charges

Damn it, the Local Sorting Office is now not open until Monday morning, I’ve got to wait all weekend, until I can get my hands on my Echo, and pay £28.77 GBP Customs Charge!

There is an option on the card to pay by plastic online, but unfortunately that would trigger a re-delivery and I would not be at home to receive it, so the only option was to go to the Sorting Office on Monday I thought using my mobile phone, pay the charges (at the Sorting Office door) online via plastic, and collect the parcel - NO that’s not an option, because the Sorting Office does not get notified that quickly by office mice or something, so it’s very slow.

Sorting Office does not accept plastic, only cash and postage stamps!!! So I ran round to the Post Office, purchased £28.77 GBP of postage stamps to stick onto the card, via plastic! and then returned to the Sorting Office, handed the card, got the package, but needed a receipt!

Box from Experts Exchange with Customs Duty stickers!

Box from Experts Exchange with Customs Duty stickers!

20 minutes later……I’m on the road again to the office….now very keen to open the box, and get it setup!

Amazon Echo open box

Amazon Echo open box

So excited I can taste the Amazon Echo (I must admit, the build, box is of very high quality - Impressive!), and here it is

and the first issue, it has an American Plug, not a problem I thought it’s bound to use a micro-USB, and I’ve got plenty of them - NO it uses a standard jack type plug, but not a problem, I’ve got variable voltage supplies, with correct adapters, but that didn’t work, because the power socket is recessed under the body, and it would not fit. So I immediately ordered a UK replacement PSU from Amazon.

Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo

But good news, I’l order a US-UK converter from Argos UK, some luck we had some in the stock cupboard…..Best News all day, at least I can power it on, I did check the PSU supplied was 100-220v AC.

So Google Nexus 4 in hand, Alexa App is already installed, turn on Amazon Echo, Alexa greets us, we are in Setup Mode, start the Alexa App,

Android Alexa App

Android Alexa App

hit the connect WiFi button on the App, Amazon Echo goes bong, and responds with You’ve Connected to Echo, now use your App to setup Echo…..wait….wait…..wait…..wait….long wait….

Android App not working ?

Android App not working ?

with the Echo orange light circling around, and eventually it will time out, and sayh WiFi not setup, and display a nice purple ring.

The same happens with a Nexus 4, Nexus 10, and Windows 8.1 laptop. So time to call Amazon support! (first call!). In fact it was a Live Chat, which was not resolved, so they phoned me.

After lots of discussion, it was suggested that the device was locked to the Amazon Account, that purchased the device, and Amazon could not tell me the email address of the person, and I had a guess it was @experts-exchange.com, and they told me that bit, and said I would need to contact the person, so they could Deregister it from their Amazon account, it would not work with my account, unless this was done.

So we played guess the email account with Amazon, listing the many employees names I know at Epxerts Exchange, it was not any of them! So I have up on this and pinged an email off to Experts Exchange….

later that evening at my home, I tried a different Android device, iPad and iPhone, Windows 10 PC, exactly the same issue, so it’s nothing to do with the environment in the office!

Another few discussions with Amazon….it’s getting late now … and I’ve been at this all day, and still no working Echo….

An Amazon Technical report specialist stated that it needed to be Reset to Factory defaults, and he would monitor his screen, whilst I did it, to see if the Registered User - disappeared when I did it - I had a discussions with him, as to how is that going to happen, because how can the Echo communicate with anything to do this, but he swore blind, it would do it…..

After a Factory Reset - no change to the registered user - what a surprise, he then told me, it sometimes does it…..by random.

I asked if they could let me know the Registered user, so I could contact them, Amazon then revealed they do not know, and all they have in the control panel was b**********@experts-exchange.com, later an email from EE, stated they had no record of it, and then it appeared against the Finance Controller’s Amazon account, which he had Registered…

Very late last night….I thought brilliant now I can get to use it….. but still I get….

Android App not working ?

Android App not working ?

So back on the phone to Amazon, and this time a Smart Person informed me that the Echo I had was a US model,which has a US Profile, and this has to be migrated to the UK Profile (EMEA)…..I’m still not sure how this CLOUD setting works with my Echo which at present has not and connect connect to the internet, because as of yet, it’s not been configured for WiFi, but I was told that the Amazon App, which is connected to my Account, would not be able to connect to a US Echo….

So how does my Echo get a UK Profile?

So I’m still here 22.43 still waiting for a communication from Amazon, this US to UK migration has been completed…….

Anyway for shits and giggles this evening, trying to prove something, if this Echo is really working, and is a US Model, what if I was to use the US Amazon Alexia App for iOS and Android….so sideload APK onto my Anrdoid phone, and some black-magic with iTunes, grab a Amazon.com account…

I’ve got both Amazon Alexa Apps from US, on Android phone

this should work right ???

Umm.. WRONG it does not!

and guess what THE SAME!

The SAGA continues…….here Part 2

22.49 Jan 10 2017 Still not working!

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