mirabox: reflashing

i was applying some updates to my mirabox recently (which was running debian wheezy) and i decided hey why don’t i see if i can upgrade this thing to debian jessie. this ended up being a big mistake. jessie installs a version of udev that requires a newer kernel than supplied by the mirabox. i forced a new ARM kernel package on the mirabox and was 98% sure that the system would not come up after a reboot.

my suspicions were correct and i had an unbootable mirabox. after doing some digging i found it was possible to create a microSD rescue disk (download link: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B0imSF-34b8dZEc0SFo3N1Fzb0E/edit). create a 100MB fat16 partition on a microSD card and then create another partition that consumes the rest of the space as ext3. copy the mirabox file to the fat16 partition and extract the rootfs.tgz file to the ext3 partition.

next interrupt the boot process over a usb-serial connection to get into the uboot mode. with the microSD card inserted into the mirabox run:
usb start
set bootcmd ‘usb start; fatload usb 1 0x6400000 mirabox; bootm 0x6400000’
set bootargs ‘console=ttyS0,115200 root=/dev/sdb2 rootwait’

i ran “usb start” first because it appears that the microSD (MMC) access relies on the usb/mass storage subsystem.

the mirabox will now boot from the microSD rescue disk. on first boot the system seemed to infinitely hang at eth0 becoming available. to get around this i plugged eth0 into a spare wireless router port and tried the boot once more. this time it went much better and i was able to get to a login and use the root/nosoup4u credentials.

i then plugged in a usb stick that i had copied a rootfs_mira_debian7_v5_v7_arm8766.img file to (download location: https://code.google.com/archive/p/mirabox/downloads). i then went to the directory where the usb stick auto-mounted. it ended up being /media/usb2 in my case.

i then ran:
ubiformat /dev/mtd2 –flash-image=rootfs_mira_debian7_v5_v7_arm8766.img

and removed the microSD card and usb stick.


Reflashing GlobalScale Mirabox filesystem


Posted in: IT by resinblade Comments Off on mirabox: reflashing

epcot food and wine festival 2015

for some reason i waited a whole year to write about this.

Buttered chicken with micro cilantro (africa)
“Le Cellier” wild mushroom beef filet mignon (canada)
Frozen Dominican piña colada (dom. republic)
Lechón asado: Roasted pork with mangú (dom. republic)
Kielbasa and potato pierogi (poland)
Coconut Porter Float (desserts/champagne)
Tacos de camarón (mexico)
Frozen S’mores featuring Monin® (desserts/champagne)
Beer flights (brewers collection, craft beers)
Grilled sweet and spicy bush berry shrimp (australia)

Roasted pork lettuce wrap with kimchi slaw (south korea)
Pork Spareribs with red wine (sustainable chew) – really small portion though

okay, but probably wouldn’t get again:
Teriyaki gyoza bun (japan)
Grilled lamb chop with mint pesto and potato crunchies (australia)

Ice Pop Pomme (france) – just tasted like pure alcohol
Loaded mac n’ cheese with Nueske’s® pepper (farm fresh) – this had a great taste, but were overloaded with pepper
New York strip, parsnip silk, balsamic glaze (chew labs) – unimpressive and really small portion size
All of the coffee liquors (ireland, belgium) – despite the fancy names, they were all tiny cups of baileys and way overpriced

passed on the following (maybe next time):
Tzatziki martini (greece)
Roast bratwurst in a pretzel roll (germany)
Tuna poke with seaweed salad and lotus root chips (hawaii) – tiny, and tuna seemed thawed out from being frozen?
Berbere-style beef tenderloin tips (africa) – too vinegary from pickled jalapenos

Posted in: Food by resinblade Comments Off on epcot food and wine festival 2015

the so-called post PC era

when i was younger i used to be one of the types of people that was always eager to play with the latest gadgets. i had high hopes for the pocketpc PDAs and bought one during their heyday. like most people i imagine, i stopped using it after a year or so. for me…it simply didn’t live up to my expectations, especially the handwriting recognition. so my latter use of the device was relegated to using it as a gameboy (more or less). anyways, they were still cool devices…obvious precursors to today’s smartphones.

i still like playing around with gadgets and working in IT gives me ample opportunity to do so. the difference nowadays is that i’m a lot less excitable about them. after you’ve seen the umpteenth next big thing come and go the hype effect dwindles quite a bit. now i like to stick to things that are tried and true and not so much what’s new/hot at the moment. i typically wait about 3 years for a technology to prove itself in the marketplace before i even think about purchasing it. for instance, when i finally upgraded my home network to a 802.11n network i waited several years until the standard was completely finalized (and really i didn’t have the necessity to upgrade until about 3 years ago). i like to buy technology based on research (features, reviews, company reputation) along with my own personal preferences and i want that device to last me a good solid 5 years. an exception being laptops…i generally like to upgrade laptops every 3 years. my rationale there is that the battery is usually shot and the laptop is typically suffering from general wear and tear by then.

anyways, the point i’m trying to get to is that recently the consumer technology market seems to want to come out with that next big thing a lot more frequently. or maybe it always has and i never noticed as much. the most common trend now is tablets. evidently everyone wants one and the PC era is dead. we are in the so-called post PC era. now business-wise i can’t foresee the PC era ever being dead. let me explain that…i do think the traditional model of PCs is going away right now, but i think businesses will always need something “PC-like”. i consider the traditional model to be that of the 1990’s where each year or so a business would rollout a new model of PC. this was done because PC performance was growing at a substantial rate back then. nowadays, everyone has a dual core at minimum and a decent amount of RAM and for what …word processing? there really isn’t much of a need anymore for businesses to upgrade their PCs unless there is an out of warranty hardware failure. that’s why i have described this model as going away. now i’ll explain by what i mean by businesses needing something PC-like. the majority of people in a business are stationary, they are stuck at a desk. they are doing whatever productivity work they need to do on their PC. this work most likely involves a lot of keyboard use. so one can see there’s no reason to force a mobile device on such a user. it’s pointless for a user to have to work 10 times harder trying to use a tiny touch screen keyboard-less device to do productivity work when they did it so easily on a PC. so replacing a PC with a mobile device is ridiculous. if anything a mobile device is just a supplement to a PC, not a replacement. now, the PC-like replacement i mentioned is VDI used with thin clients. VDI gives the user something that is still basically a PC and familiar to them. at the same time, it centralizes PC management and ends the PC upgrade cycles. in my opinion, VDI is the true successor to the traditional PC model.

now, consumer-wise replacing the PC…sometimes, i have to step back and take my personal opinion out of the picture. just because a tablet won’t work for me doesn’t mean it won’t work for another person. i’ve heard of people saying they use their smartphone more than they do their PC. and i’ve found out their typical usage is things like social networking, email, chatting, web browsing, etc. basic things really. so i can see how a tablet could really replace a PC for people who just do those things. now if someone said all i need is a tablet at my job i’d have to wonder if they ever do any serious work. and i still wonder what a tablet owner does when they need to type something up that’s more than a paragraph. do they go buy a laptop and use it to write what they need and then set the laptop on the shelf and go back to using the tablet 24/7? i wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case. despite how much i personally find it mind-boggling, i could potentially see the PC dying in the consumer market and tablets becoming the norm. i believe this because tablets evidently do what a average joe requires them to do. there’s a simple method of installing apps…if the tablet has a problem get it warranty replaced or just buy a new one. no need to pay $$ to a PC tech to remove malware from your PC.

i think what really bugs me is all this consumer tech and ideology creeping over into the enterprise IT space. this stuff has never and will never belong in enterprise IT. i love having choices as a consumer. i love that i could choose to have a computer running linux, windows, or mac os, and that i can make similar choices in the smartphone/tablet space. however, choices do not belong in enterprise IT, standardization does. you develop a standard and stick to it. you don’t tell your end users “oh yeah bring in whatever you want, we’ll support it”. you don’t do that because it’s impossible. i’ve been dismayed by the fact that mac usage has grown in organizations. and users don’t want them for a purpose like multimedia work, they want them just because. i know there are MDM/BYOD solutions available but they all fail to keep up with device diversity. when it comes to end-user computing devices nowadays it’s the wild west when it comes to standards. it’s a losing battle that will never be won and when something else new comes out it will start all over again…

(this was a rant i wrote like 4 years ago)


Posted in: IT, Thoughts by resinblade Comments Off on the so-called post PC era

laptops suck in 2013

a month or so ago i was checking dell’s website for new laptops that came with haswell processors. i was interested in researching the new latitude models and hoping to find something with at least a 15 inch display (i was aware of the latitude 14 7000 series already). much to my dismay, i found that dell’s basically dropped all of the customization options for laptops. your only choice is to choose among a handful of premade configurations. and it seemed like the majority of these configurations had integrated intel graphics…no thanks, i know the intel graphics are supposed to be a lot better than they used to be, but that’s not saying much (i’ve confirmed they’re still not that great and have problems running 20 year old games even).

at the time when i was originally searching, the only laptops that had the specs i desired were the alienware ones. i wanted something that wouldn’t look silly in a professional environment though. the closest thing i could find was an XPS 15 from the last generation. surely, there would be a new release of the XPS 15…and there was very recently. today i was checking out the new XPS 15 specs and i was thinking hmm looks pretty good until i scrolled down and saw “integrated battery”. seriously? over $1,000 for this laptop and it will have an integrated battery? i really hate apple for making the whole integrated battery thing an acceptable thing for mainstream consumers. on the ultrabooks front, i’m all for lighter laptops, but at a much higher cost w/ integrated graphics and an integrated battery…no way, not for me at least. an ultrabook can be twice to 3 times as much as a tablet or smartphone. to make that initial investment (which i consider substantial) to basically be guaranteed that you’ll need to toss it in ~3 years because of a battery that no longer holds a charge is unacceptable to me.

i never finished this rant in entirety. i ended up settling on a dell inspiron that’s not too shabby. although it came with a touchscreen that i didn’t really want. guess you can blame that one on windows 8. side note: next time i get a laptop i think i’ll go for a solid state drive.

Posted in: IT by resinblade Comments Off on laptops suck in 2013

esxi/vsphere 5.x: assign host licensing

recently i needed to update the licensing on two 5.x esxi hosts with expired licenses. interestingly enough, it appeared as though the task could not be accomplished from the windows vsphere client. i couldn’t apply the licenses in vcenter either since vcenter was a vm that was currently down (because of the expired host licenses).

this wasn’t an environment that i actively managed so i’m not sure of the specifics on how these hosts were set up. anyways, the licenses can be applied over SSH if you use vi to edit the text file: /etc/vmware/vmware.lic. no reboot or restart of services appears to be necessary.


Posted in: IT by resinblade Comments Off on esxi/vsphere 5.x: assign host licensing

papercut & the universal toshiba driver

apparently, the default finishing setting for the universal toshiba driver is duplex printing for eco reasons. on the print server that hosted the papercut pay-for-print devices, i tried altering the finishing setting by opening the printer properties -> advanced -> printing defaults -> finishing -> 2-sided printing. however, whenever i made the change and hit apply and closed out the dialog the setting would revert to duplex. this happened 3 or 4 different times even after i tried making a new printing profile. at least for me, i was able to resolve this issue by first changing the setting under printer properties -> general -> preferences -> finishing -> 2-sided printing and then going back to change the setting under printer properties -> advanced -> printing defaults -> etc. this time around the setting would stick.

additionally, some printers defaulted to using ldap authentication which interfered with the papercut login process on clients. this issue can be resolved by going to printer properties -> device settings -> account settings and setting user authentication to off. in some cases, device settings retrieval -> update automatically, may need to be disabled to get this setting to stick. source: http://www.papercut.com/kb/Main/ToshibaPrintDriverSpecifyLDAPServer

Posted in: IT by resinblade Comments Off on papercut & the universal toshiba driver

office365: granular licensing

for various reasons, an organization may not want a certain feature enabled under a parent licensing SKU in office365, for instance – yammer. this could be done through the office365 admin GUI, but that approach is impractical when dealing with 1000’s of users. the same thing can be accomplished through powershell as described below…

Get-MsolAccountSku will list the SKUs available in a tenant
example: mytenantname:STANDARDWOFFPACK_IW_STUDENT is Office 365 Education Plus for students

running the following: (get-msoluser -userprincipalname UPN).licenses.servicestatus
will list the actual serviceplan names of licensed features, some examples:

to bypass enabling these features during license assignment, first create new license options by running something similar to this:
$NoPlannerOrYammerSku = New-MsolLicenseOptions -AccountSkuId mytenantname:STANDARDWOFFPACK_IW_STUDENT -DisabledPlans YAMMER_EDU,PROJECTWORKMANAGEMENT

then the actual license assignment process would look like this:
Set-MsolUserLicense -UserPrincipalName UPN -AddLicenses mytenantname:STANDARDWOFFPACK_IW_STUDENT -LicenseOptions $NoPlannerOrYammerSku


Posted in: IT by resinblade Comments Off on office365: granular licensing

papercut: restoring a database from backup

the most straight forward method of restoring a database is:
path: c:\program files (x86)\papercut mf\server\bin\win\
db-tools.exe import-db –force “..\server\data\backups\export-####….zip”

the force option assumes there’s already an existing database with data that needs to be overwritten. the unfortunate part of using this method is that it deletes all the data in the existing db in a very slow fashion (several hours to clear out a 2GB database).

and in my case the deletions eventually errored out with:
Cannot delete or update a parent row: a foreign key constraint fails (`papercut`
.`tbl_user_email_address`, CONSTRAINT `fk_user_id` FOREIGN KEY (`user_id`) REFER
ENCES `tbl_user` (`user_id`)) Query: delete from tbl_user Parameters: []
See server.log for full error details

PaperCut Support mentioned that i should try using db-tools import-db -k to work around this. i didn’t get a chance to try this since i took an alternate route.

to get around the very time-consuming deletions i decided to create a new blank db and reinitialized it with the papercut schema with db-tools init-db (after updating the server.properties file with the new database name)

i then ran the import-db option again this time without the –force and it went much smoother.

more info:

Posted in: IT by resinblade Comments Off on papercut: restoring a database from backup

useful vmware flings

I/O Analyzer – https://labs.vmware.com/flings/io-analyzer

Posted in: IT by resinblade Comments Off on useful vmware flings

toying with unix group permissions

i was curious about a concept presented in this following MIT presentation:

so i tested it out on a recently set up vm of ubuntu server.
directory structure of /dir1/dir2/
dir2 contains a secret.txt file
group permissions on both dir1 and dir2 are 710
testgroup1 has execute on dir1 and testgroup2 has execute on dir2
testuser1 is a member of testgroup1 and testuser2 is a member of both groups

testuser1 cannot traverse past dir1 as expected. testuser2 can traverse to dir2. neither users can list directory contents; however, since i know the filename for secret.txt a “cat secret.txt” does reveal the file contents to testuser2. testuser2 was also able to copy the text file to its own home directory.

next, i created a soft link to the original secret.txt in testuser2’s home directory then removed testuser2 from testgroup2. of course, testuser2 lost the ability to traverse dir2. additionally, testuser2’s softlink that it had ownership did not allow it to view the contents of secret.txt.

i imagine this would work with a hard link though.

Posted in: IT by resinblade Comments Off on toying with unix group permissions