A look back at Niagara Colleges Pitch Perfect Startup Event

It has been a while since Niagara College’s Innovation Centre hosted their Pitch Perfect 2017 event, and I have some reflections I would like to share.

SourcedHealth presenting at 2016 Pitch Perfect

SourcedHealth presenting at 2016 Pitch Perfect

First off, my team pitched SourcedHealth. SourcedHealth is a social media tool that uses machine learning with geolocation, to correlate data to test against. The platform searches for keywords used in a specified geolocation, producing a heat-map of results. The platform was solid, but difficult to pitch in a 7 minute timeframe.

Our team was definitely a contender, but a few things came between us and first place. To start, our product was out of scope. We created a product that was intended for million dollar enterprises. I remember when the judges asked “How much is your monthly fee”, and Chris responded “Ten thousand dollars a month.”. A product using twitters private firehose would require such prices, just for the access to said data. A smarter approach would have been to spin the product to local companies for an advanced product / marketing tool.

The other key issue was our early development phase. When entering Pitch Perfect, we where under the idea that the judged where looking for new products at the start of development. In fact, they where looking for a more small business that was ready to launch in the next several months. The winning group went on to launch their finalized product line a month later.

In the end, we at SourcedHealth had a blast with such an opportunity. We learnt its hard to pitch a Software As A Service platform in the making, but I would do it over again. The team meetings, brainstorm sessions, and energy will be truly missed. I will always remember my SourcedHealth team I met in Niagara Research.

SQL Server Integration Services

Use SSIS with C# To Automate Business Tasks

Are you running a Microsoft SQL Server to keep track of your business records? Have a ERP or CMS management system and want to automate tasks? Let me introduce you to SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS). SSIS is a component of the Microsoft SQL Server database software that can be used to perform a broad range of data migration tasks. It allows for programming logic to be mixed with C# to leverage SQL queries for business needs.

SQL Server Integration Services

SQL Server Integration Services

Over the past two months I have generated many SSIS packages to reduce manual data entry and to create a set of alerts to optimize business practices. Packages where used to update fields for predicted inventory burn out dates daily. Reports where created to alert staff of inventory arrival and approval for put away. Additionally warning alerts where created to check system availability statuses and to flag user error in the warehouse. With C# one is able to build dynamic HTML5 emails to present SQL query data in a friendly end user way.

AutoXOA Advert - credits : Brad Gillap

Use AutoXOA to Autopilot Xen Orchestra

Today I wanted to discuss a open source script I am working on called AutoXAO. AutoXOA stands for Automate Xen Orchestra Appliance, a project the goals including compiling and upgrading Xen orchestra from source. Xen Orchestra is a web appliance used to manage clusters of XenServer instances from any web browser. It also has the same feature set as the original XenServer management software XenCenter and then some. For more information on Xen Orchestra check out this blog post.

AutoXOA Install Menu

AutoXOA Install Menu

To use AutoXOA all one needs to do is install curl on a Debian variant of linux, then execute the following line of code: curl -L autoxoa.zxcv.us | bash . Click here to learn more about AutoXOA.

The OSI Win95 Wallpaper. Combining the best of both images.

OSI Wallpaper

Today I wanted to give back to the graphic design community with my custom made OSI wallpaper. Both convenient for desktops and phones, this clean OSI model overlaid ontop of the Windows 95 Default wallpaper will make the perfect background during networking exam season. Click the image above to save the full resolution version, or Download the ZIP including PSD and raw files found

View- Open full resolution version.

Download – ZIP incl. PSD and sources.

Xen Orchestra Screenshot.

Why you should be using Xen Orchestra

Today I am here to sell you on XenServer, in particular Xen Orchestra. Cloud Services are all the rage right now, and this includes Citrix’s Hypervisor solution XenServer, which is based off the open source hypervisor project Xen. Xen Orchestra is a web based Virtualization manager running on top of Node.JS and is 100% open source. It replicates the features on XenCenter, with the scalability of running thousands of VM’s, on several hundred hypervisors in a dozen or more pools of servers.

Xen Orchesta runs as a web service, meaning wherever you have web browser, you should have access to Xen Orchestra and all of your appliances (Pending external NAT routing configuration). Running VirtualBox on an extra machine? Give Xen Orchestra + XenServer a try. The type 1 hypervisor will give you the performance you need + the flexibility of web browser management.

Xen Orchestra Screen Shot

Xen Orchestra Screen Shot

Try Xen Orchestra today by Downloading a preconfigured VM. Or if you are feeling Dangerous, try compiling from source to gain access to the pro features for free. Or if you want, try AutoXOA: autopilot setup Xen Orchestra from source.

Ecycle FIndings

E-Clycing; Repurposing goods for your home lab

Earlier today, while walking through the halls of my college, I came across our electric recycling containers. Here departments dispose of unwanted old tech, from dead power supplies, to iffy looking Pentium 4 white boxes. Though time to time gold can be found. Below is my find from today:

Ecycle FIndings

Ecycle FIndings

In total I found several KVM cables, a few cat 5e patch cables, PS2 to USB adapters, null serial cables, and RJ45 to serial adaptors. These components are in great condition and shorty will see repurpose in my home lab.

This practice is called Ecycling. E-cylcing is the practice of reusing / repurposing electronic equipment rather than disposing of said equipment at the end of its life. Over the years I have recovered netbooks, 100MB lab switches (One was POE!), cables, 5.25 floppy holders, CRT monitor stands, rolling stands for desktop towers, 17” monitors and more. My current tower is using a recycled late 90s yellowing case just for that vintage feel.

Reused computer case

Reused computer case

In the end all I want to stress is everything can be repurposed. Additionally always keep an eye out for goodies that may appear in your corporate / college recycling.

Vintage server rack setup

Hello folks today I am going to go over my new rack setup. Currently my rig features several servers, switches, and “white boxes” to run a vast array of applications for my home lab. Below is several photos of my setup followed by a list of my equipment.

The Equipment
2x Cisco 2950 switch(s)
1x Cisco 2960 switch

Monitor / Keyboard / Mouse
1x Nortel POE switch / shelf

2x Whitebox / freeNAS / PfSense
1x Sun 4950 server / 64 Gb ram / 2 * Xeon quad processor
1x Apple Xserve 2009 / 48 Gb ram / 1 * Xeon quad processor
1x Apple fibre SAN / 4.8 Tb Storage

The backside
1x Segate 1.5tb network share
1x 8 port Gb managed switch
1x Nortel switch / Shelf

OSX Quick Tip

Quick Tip: Delete Key VS Backspace in Boot Camp

Today I am here to talk about the mildly infuriating backspace / delete key debacle in Windows under OS X bootcamp. If you have a user trying to delete a file, or clear a email in outlook I have the solution for you.

In OS X the universal DELETE key is a hybrid function for delete and backspace. Under bootcamp in Windows the delete key is mapped to the ASCII backspace key. To access the true delete key one must use the FN + DELETE key in conjunction. The FN + DELETE key will map to the true ASCII delete key.

*Effects people running Windows 7 / 8.1 in bootcamp on a macbook or mac users using a wireless keyboard.*

Hard drives wedged into DVD / Floppy drive slot.

Turning JUNK into a NAS with FreeNAS : My experience

If you are looking for tips on turning your old desktop / Frankenstein PC into a filesharing device? Do you have several old hard drives collecting dust? If so FreeNAS may be the solution for you! Below I will cover how I turned my old Dell 755 into a RAID NAS that also acts as new age PVR, Plex server, as well as file share for any OS.

Firstly I adopted an old Optiplex 755 desktop. This old 2008 Quad core processor white box is a perfect fit for my lab NAS. I threw 6 gigs of ram into the box and it runs seamlessly. It. Currently it’s running 3 1tb raid 5 ZFS along with one 500gb drive for sparse storage. I installed FreeNAS on two Kingston 16gb USB3 drives for redundancy.

To start a FreeNAS install all one needs is a live cd or dvd. I chose to install it onto two usb drives for redundancy. if you choose this route FreeNAS will alternate drives based on the last proper configuration, rotating between drives for a backup point. For a price of a usb drive one cannot go wrong with redundancy. To configure FreeNAS itself isn’t To hard. The built in wizard will help configure all your drives / do software raid for you with just a few clicks. One key rule: NEVER apply permissions recursively / to all folders. This may break your apps.

Another great think about FreeNAS is application support.