Slay that evil-doer on your sick computer

I have recently had a couple friends and family ask me to help them remove a virus or malware that is destroying their computer, creating conflict in their lives, and abusing their pets. Stop pet abuse now by following my quick recommendation below. Honestly, I realize I am THE computer guy in many people’s lives but in reality my expertise is in enterprise datacenter systems – not home or desktop troubleshooting. The last time I fixed a user’s desktop issue for money was quite a while ago but I certainly know enough about security and can recommend what I would do if I got nailed with a nasty infection (on my computer).

That being said and before I go any further, please upgrade or buy a new computer with Windows 7 and get rid of Windows XP or – God forbid you are still running it – Windows 2000. Windows 7 does a fantastic job of protecting you from junk on the web. Stop clicking on the website advertisements that tell you that you have a problem that they can fix. It’s called social engineering and they are just tricking you! Ask someone who knows what they are doing if you are unsure. More and more hackers and other evil people on the internet are trying to steal information about you. Yes, that includes your credit cards, your identity, and your passwords. Lastly, backup your important pictures, music, documents and whatever else is important to you using a service like Mozy or Carbonite. They are around $50/yr and are invaluable for that time when you disregard everything I or someone else tells you and you click on that nasty message that instantly causes your computer to meltdown.

Do understand that there are soooo many ways to deal with this and this may not fix your specific problem. It is in no way a complete solution. You may need to go to extreme measures like taking your computer to a brilliant computer repairman. Yes, they cost money but think about what you paid the last time you had your car worked on and the bill from the computer guy will likely not be so bad. Don’t get me wrong. I will do everything I can to help since I absolutely hate hearing about people being taken advantage of and all of the crap that’s on the web but beware – you owe me! 😉

Use at your own risk. I am not responsible for any harm you cause to your computer, data, or your head from bashing it into the wall.

Phew… on to the brief recommendation for ridding your computer of that mischievous demon.

Click Start -> Run.

Type msconfig and click OK. (occasionally msconfig32)

Disable any suspicious looking items from the startup tab by unchecking them. Items that have funky symbols or characters such as Afe$@521#$@ may be malware that starts with your computer. Alternatively, you can click Disable All to prevent all items from starting but beware that this will stop some programs that are required for proper use of devices and normal operation.

Click OK and restart when prompted. Install antivirus software if one is not already present. AVG’s free product works great and now Microsoft has their own free antivirus offering.

Run a complete scan and cross your fingers! It may be necessary to boot to safe mode by pressing F8 repeatedly after turning on your computer (actually just before the “starting windows” message). Choose safe mode and then try running the AV (antivirus, duh) from there.

Re-enable items in the msconfig window from the first step. You can always google program names to see what their purpose is on your computer.

If you have a question, do everyone else a favor and post it in the comments. There are no such things as stupid questions, just stupid people and they might be wondering the same thing as you!

Secure Multi-Tenancy from VMware, Cisco, and NetApp

NetApp, Cisco, and VMware held a joint webinar to discuss a collaborative solution to provide a secure multi-tenant platform for solution providers.  The goal is to provide the benefits of shared infrastructure, particularly converting IT assets from expenses to strategic business opportunities, while at the same time maintaining the isolation, security, predictability, and quality of service that IT came to expect from their independent silos in traditional environments.

Before I get into a breakdown of what was discussed and how this solution can help offer the best of both worlds, I want to discuss how we got to this point and it all starts with virtualization and the need or want to consolidate infrastructure.  In the past, resources (compute, storage, network) were spun up when needed for a new application which led to each application existing in an independent, predictable silo of resources.  The advantage of the silo is that the application owners knew what to expect from the resources.  This unfortunately leads to inefficient utilization of those resources.  Businesses flocked to virtualization solutions because of the cost savings derived from less servers, storage, and networking equipment in the datacenter – less to manage, less to power and cool, higher utilization.  Then, solution providers in the cloud realized they could take this to the next level and host low-cost, shared infrastructure for their customers.  Virtualization promised to increase the utilization while still maintaining this separation but in reality we’ve come to understand that multi-tenancy needs further separation than just the fact that each customer has independent VMs.  Each customer feels a bit funny about having their VMs running on the same hosts, network, and underlying storage.  They want their silos.

Enter Secure Multi-Tenancy architecture from NetApp, Cisco, and VMware.  This solution combines the features of their solutions – Multistore, VN-Link, and vShields respectively – to allow cloud solution providers to offer the benefits of virtualization and the advantages of the traditional silos by segmenting the shared resources into discrete independently manageable resources.  For example, a provider can allocate separate logical storage systems or virtual storage appliances on a single NetApp system similar to how we create logical virtual machines on a single server.  Management access to these vFilers can even be granted to the customer to provision as they wish.  From the validated solution guide produced by Cisco:

“Providers can leverage NetApp MultiStore to enable multiple customers to share the same storage resources with minimal compromise in privacy or security, and even delegate administrative control of the virtual storage container directly to the customer.”

At first I began thinking that we are in this nasty circular back and forth between sharing virtualized infrastructure and the “siloing” of resources.  When indeed there needs to be a balance between the two and this appears to be a good start by these major players at achieving this balance.  There truly is a need to collaborate to make sure all layers of the stack are represented and operate well together.  Virtualization-aware solutions continue to open our eyes to new use cases and will continue to do so.  I just can’t wait for desktop virtualization to become as mature as server virtualization at which point we will see some remarkable capabilities.  Just think… shared virtual desktops that grant significant efficiencies to the solution providers and the security, segregation, and reliability demanded by the customers.

Staying positive in a down economy

Everyone would probably agree that the economy shake-up is putting many people – and companies – all around the world in a difficult situation.  Professionals who one day feel their jobs are bullet proof and secure are facing the hard fact that we are in an unpredictable time.  Sure things seem to be looking up after an economically challenging 2009 but we are still faced with some very staggering statistics:

"In December, both the number of unemployed persons, at 15.3 million, and the
unemployment rate, at 10.0 percent, were unchanged. At the start of the re-
cession in December 2007, the number of unemployed persons was 7.7 million,
and the unemployment rate was 5.0 percent."
Employment Situation Summary of December 2009 published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics

I’m actually feeling quite positive about the responses I’ve received in a very short amount of time and feel that this is an excellent chance shift into something bigger and better.  With Virtualization present in nearly every top 10 prediction for 2010 from the likes of IDC, Gartner, and Forrester, I’m hopeful that this will be a tremendous year for growth to anyone in this space.

Currently seeking a demanding, fast-paced opportunity

Conquering Mountains - small

As a new addition to the not-so-thrilled-to-be-unemployed (due to downsizing) group, I am scouring the earth for the next big thing in my life. I’ve been blessed with many positions throughout the years that exposed me to lots of new experiences and contacts in the technology industry.

Anyone out there looking for a bright, master problem solver who is up for any challenge?  My most recent position put me in charge of technical services for a small software company – Tranxition Corp. – that was deeply involved in the user virtualization and migration space.  This adventure entailed different aspects in technical marketing and sales, critical business planning, partnership development, competitive research, technical assistance with proof-of-concepts plus more.  We all wore many hats in order to tackle the demands of the rapidly changing industry that is virtualization.

I had the wonderful opportunity to present at BriForum – a yearly gathering started by Brian Madden – where industry experts get together to discuss the future of desktop, application, and server virtualization.  Just as exciting was my experience as an exhibitor at VMworld 2009.  As you can see from my one and only post about VMworld on this site, I was extremely busy at all times meeting new customers, interacting with other exhibitors and partners, and demoing our new software.

Visit my contact page where you can find multiple ways to connect.  Even if not for a career opportunity, I would enjoy networking with new people.

~Jeremy
jeremykeen@gmail.com
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XenDesktop on VMware ESX infrastructure: Creating Desktop Groups

There are three methods for allowing Xen Desktop Delivery Controller access to VirtualCenter in order to create a new desktop group:

Allow HTTP access to the SDK on the vCenter (VirtualCenter) web server.

Modify the proxy.xml file on the virtualCenter server located in c:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\VMware\VMware VirtualCenter\

The section

<_type>vim.ProxyService.NamedPipeServiceSpec</_type>

<accessMode>HttpsandRedirect</accessMode>

<pipeName>\\.\pipe\vmware-vpxd-webserver-pipe</pipeName>

<serverNamespace>/client/clients.xml</serverNamespace>

Change to

<_type>vim.ProxyService.NamedPipeServiceSpec</_type>

<accessMode>httpAndHttps</accessMode>

<pipeName>\\.\pipe\vmware-vpxd-webserver-pipe</pipeName>

<serverNamespace>/client/clients.xml</serverNamespace>

Restart the VMware VirtualCenter Server service (vpxd) on the VirtualCenter host.

Import the defaul VMware SSL certificate into the Xen Desktop Delivery Controller. (not recommeded in a production environment because you must use the defaul certificate hostname of “vmware”

Copy rui.crt from c:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\VMware\VMware VirtualCenter\SSL to the Xen Desktop Delivery Controller server

Import the certificate into the Trusted Root Authority for the computer account

Open the Certificates Snap-in in an MMC console and choose to manage the Computer account

Expand down to Trusted Root Certificate Authorities and right-click on Certificates and choose Import…

Use the wizard to select the rui.crt file that you copied from the VirtualCenter server

Close the MMC

Edit the hosts file in %windir%\system32\drivers\etc with notepad and add the following and save the file:

vmware <ip of your virtualcenter server>

Use an SSL certificate from a trusted root authority.

This process involves creating an SSL certificate for you VirtualCenter server and configuring IIS to use this certificate.  This is a well documented procedure.  See VMware and IIS documentation for this procedure.

VMworld – behind the scenes

This is the first time I will be attending VMworld as an exhibitor so I thought I would make my best attempt at blogging about the experience.  My past includes many large conference attendances but all from the attendee/consultant’s perspective.  It’s great to see these shows and absorb as much knowledge as possible in a short period of time.  This week will be different as I attempt to listen closely to customers, curious attendees, industry colleagues, and others in order to gain insight into what people feel is the direction of User Virtualization – and virtualization in general.  My hope is to reveal the other side of the show as I experience it this week.

To start let me tell you how exciting it was to walk into the exhibitor hall on Friday in the AM (first move-in day) and to get a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to setup an event like this.  Lifts, moving crews, servers, loud machinery and then… silence.  It was break time around 10:15am and literally the Freeman (union workers providing labor) halted everything they were doing and vacated the massive exhibitor hall.  That brings up another point.  I needed to carry in some gear for our demos and was directed to the office of the Freeman when I asked if there was a cart that I could borrow.  They told me that if I could carry the gear in unassisted – no cart or helpers – then I was free to do so.  However, if a cart was necessary I would be required to “hire” the Freeman.  Now I can understand there may be liability issues if they were to turn over the keys to one of their fork lifts and drove over another company’s exhibit equipment but come on, I have to pay for labor just to carry in some basic equipment?!

As it turned out I was able to lug  in everything with the assistance of my girlfriend Meredith – she was free except for the dinner later that night.  Check out a couple quick shots I took of the beginning phase of the exhibitor hall setup.

Behind the scenes at VMworld

Behind the scenes at VMworld

Another shot from the exhibitor floor

Another shot from the exhibitor floor

Tranxition's Booth

Tranxition's Booth

You must try the sourdough bread that they whip up at Boulin

I know this is unrelated to VMworld but I felt everyone should know about the amazing sourdough bread at Boundin. Had a fantastic dinner at Bistro Boudin and needed to share this photo of turtle shaped bread.

I’m looking forward to a fantastic week in San Francisco with other geeks who are as ecstatic about virtualization as I am.  Swing by Tranxition’s booth in the New Innovator area and say hello.