Nov 262015

Well, I received my new Microsoft Lumia 950 XL Windows Phone yesterday. Played with it all night (mostly setting it up). I have to say I’m very impressed with both the device, and the Windows 10 mobile operating system on mobile devices.

Let me start off by saying that I’ve actually had Windows 10 loaded up on my Lumia 1020 for the past week and a half (after hearing that the latest insider build is the same build that was shipping on the new Windows 10 devices). Jumping to Windows 10 absolutely rocked. The new operating system is a major step in moving forward in a mobile operating system for phones. I’ll get in to this later on in the article.


WP_20151125_15_31_48_Pro WP_20151125_15_31_59_Pro WP_20151125_15_32_15_Pro WP_20151125_15_32_51_Pro WP_20151125_15_33_35_Pro

As you can see, they shipped me the Dual SIM variant of the device which was a nice surprise.

Opening the box, it was a very simplistic and nicely organized layout inside. One thing that I immediately noticed was no headphones/headset (which is somewhat surprising as Microsoft is really pushing their Groove Music service, along with Xbox Music Pass). Either way, I can probably use my Lumia 1020’s headphones. I’m sure there’s a ton of headsets available on the Microsoft Store as well.

First, the device feels absolutely lovely in your hands. I ordered the black, and it’s very sleek. The device has a massive screen, and a simple “Microsoft” logo at the top of it. The back has the Microsoft Logo, along with the PureView Zeiss markings, and of course the camera.

Back cover pops off (this took me a while as I didn’t want to break or damage any clips). I’m not sure how easy these break, but I would advise to take your time opening it to install the SIM as well as Micro SD card. One thing I noticed that was interesting, is how the buttons are mounted on the back of the case that pops off. The design shows promise in that if anything is broken, it should be easy to replace the back cover. It would be nice if Microsoft made these parts available for purchase for people who remove/replace these on a regular basis. I’m sure the buttons become a casualty. Under the cover you’ll find the Micro SD slot, 2 X SIM slots, and a replaceable battery (replaceable battery is a nice touch).


Plugging in the device, you go through the usual Windows Phone setup which has now been updated to Windows 10. You’ll notice the menu’s and interfaces are beautifully animated in simplistic ways that are pleasant for the user. I elected NOT to restore a backup, as I wanted to start from scratch (especially since my last backup was completed on a Insider Fast build). Give’s me a chance to start from scratch, chose the apps I want (discard ones I don’t use any longer), and setup new personalizations.

You’ll notice once completing the configuration wizard, the display is absolutely BEAUTIFUL! The display features a massive screen, with a high resolution that you can enable a view of more tiles if required (note, if you enable the “View more tiles” feature, the text size remains the same and may limit visibility of text displayed inside of tiles. This is not a problem, rather an observation).


Immediate Observations:

-Beautifully animated interface for OS

-Massive screen, easy to read

-Easy to hold phone, feels comfortable in hand/hands.

-Microsoft nailed Windows 10 on mobile devices… Literally, nailed it!

-Texting/typing is super easy and pleasant now for people with big hands. I’ve been hating texting up to this point simply because I find it so hard to type on smaller screens. The 950XL screen size is perfect.

-Text messaging layout is amazing

-Skype video calls work beautifully

-Lots of new UI enhancements moving to Windows 10

-Continuum (desktop experience powered by the phone when connected to video/keyboard/mouse) sounds promising. I have not tested this.

-The Camera takes beautiful pictures, also a nice surprise was 60fps 1080p video recording, also 2160p video recording at 30fps.

-Iris scanner built in for logging on to phone (no more PIN codes). I’ve been using this and absolutely love it!

-Bluetooth pairing extremely reliable

-Service/Cell reception is better than my penta-band Lumia 1020!

-Major improvements to Microsoft Outlook, and now have the entire Microsoft Office suite on the device itself.


After spending a night and morning with it, this is my new favorite toy. I’ve so far had absolutely zero deal breaking issues with it, I will report back later on how battery life is.


There are 3 major things I want to discuss with this device:

Windows 10 for Mobile Device

This truly is the next step not only for the desktop based operating system, but for mobile devices as well. Numerous improvements can be seen in this OS both on the desktop and mobile platform. What’s really interesting is how Microsoft is converging these platforms and almost essentially merging them both in to one thing, while identifying and maintaining the actual usages for the device that is running the OS, Windows 10.

Going specifically in to phone devices, Microsoft has truly has taken it’s own path in to what it believes the most user friendly mobile platform should be. In my opinion, I think they have hit it dead on. The operating system focuses both on ease of use, and the usual simple little dumb apps that are used for simple tasks in ones personal life, but at the same time is a very powerful tool for both business usage, along with keeping one connected, integrated, and in touch with things that are important for both business and life.

Cortana is a move with Windows 10 to provide an assistant of which most think it compares/competes with Siri on Apple’s iPhone, but while it does compete, she’s actually a total different gal! Cortana integrates all of ones Windows 10 devices, providing an assistant to life, as well as with the integration among devices. This provides someone with an interface to all their data, devices, and technologies behind each of the devices, to any outlet/device that runs Cortana. We are slowly seeing these technologies being introduced and enabled, I think it’s just the beginning of something great!

Microsoft is pushing for developers of Windows 10 apps, to provide design that allows the app to run fluidly among both desktop and mobile platforms. This allows a single app to be installed and ran on both platforms, allowing users to have a converged experience on both their desktop and mobile devices. This means your apps, data, and uses are seamless in changing devices. This essentially allows you to do whatever you need to do, on any of your devices.

Ultimately, you’ve got more than “just a phone” in your hand! You have a device that can do whatever you want, whenever you want! You could say Windows 10 is your window to the world! I know it’s cheesy, but it came to mind and holds true.


Iris Scan for Log on/Authentication

One thing I wasn’t aware of getting with this device, was the Iris scanner. While setting up the phone, it prompted to configure this and I thought, “There’s no way this phone has an Iris scanner”… Well, it does! Configured, and did about 20 scans of my Iris to improve the authentication mechanism. It works great, and is very comfortable and quick to use when signing in to your phone! I’m curious to know exactly how accurate this is, also where the Iris data is being stored.

Traditionally I’ve always used a PIN, and set up time-outs for authentication appropriately, but have still had issues with friends getting their hands on my device in between the security time out. With this new Iris scanning authentication, I’ve prompted to require it every time the device is used.

Great technology! I’ve been using fingerprint scanners on my Lenovo laptops for some time, and love the feature. However, Iris authentication is taking it a whole step further. Question is, where can I buy an Iris scanner for my desktop?

Make sure you do tons of scans in different lighting, different angles, and make sure you’re looking in different directions so it can fully map your Iris. This will make signing in to the device that much easier.


App availability for Windows 10 (or Windows Phone in general)

With all this power, flexibility, and technology, the only disappointment is that more 3rd party developers aren’t developing their applications for the Windows 10 platform. While the phone has everything I need built in for business, I do use quite a few apps for personal uses. The kicker is, is that most of the apps are not developed by the actual company, but by 3rd parties (one example being 6tag for Instagram access). It would be nice for 3rd party companies to take notice to the Windows platform and embrace it, especially with what it has to offer.

I’ve said this before many times, Microsoft hasn’t marketed any of their Windows Phones well, going back all the way to Windows Mobile days. There has been more adoption in the United States due to events, marketing promo’s, etc… However in Canada I feel there is still a lack of marketing being done.

Essentially, I believe there needs to be 3 separate initiatives. One for business apps, one for personal/consumer, and finally app development.

Microsoft needs to partner with more partners, hold more events, and really work on their relationships with phone providers. It also wouldn’t hurt to provide funding to some 3rd party companies to push Windows app development (this has been done in the past by Nokia and Microsoft as far as I know, however a lot of apps that were created from this haven’t been updated in some time).

Now that there is a new flagship Lumia (The Lumia 950 XL), it will be getting out in the hands of the people, but we need apps!


Final Note:

This device is kick ass. I’d totally recommend it!

Nov 212015

I’d say 50% of all e-mails/comments I receive from the blog in the last 12 months or so, have been from viewers requesting pictures or proof of the HP MSA 2040 Dual Controller SAN being connection to servers via 10Gb DAC Cables.

Decided to finally publicly post the pics! Let me know if you have any questions. In the pictures you’ll see the SAN connected to 2 X HP Proliant DL360p Gen8 servers via 4 X HP 10Gb DAC (Direct Attach Cable) Cables.

Connection of SAN from Servers

Connection of SAN from Servers

Connection of DAC Cables from SAN to Servers

Connection of DAC Cables from SAN to Servers


Nov 172015

Decided to whip up a post about an issue that I have been running in to more and more as of late.

Typically, situation goes as follows: Customer has an environment where there are industrial machines running Windows CE Embedded computers as controllers. These systems typically are configured to either host files, or grab files off a network. These systems are typically dated, and IT staff is unable to get the Windows CE based machines to connect to network shares on Windows Servers running SMB version 2 or later (ie. Windows Server 2008 and later).


This issue is due to authentication issues with protocols and incompatibles. Over the years, Windows File Sharing has come a long way (SMB to be precise). Numerous security enhancements have been made, authentication mechanisms, etc…

In all cases, I’ve noticed companies usually either give up, or hire someone who is able to resolve it, but the resolution is never documented.


The solution I have come to could be considered somewhat controversial (due to the fact that Windows XP has reached it’s EOF), but I’ve found a way.

To provide file sharing solutions, in my experiences I have been able to accomplish this by implementing a Windows XP based “proxy” machine (calling it a proxy by name, not by actual usage). Configuring a Windows XP machine, enabling the “guest” account on it, and configuring file shares, will allow users on the network to dump files on these “proxy” network shares, in turn which will be browsable and accessible to the Windows CE machine. This Windows XP machine can be joined to the domain, to allow seamless authentication with other network users/computers, and also contains it’s own local user database.

The guest account needs to be enabled as the Windows CE machines typically browse and do initial file sharing handshakes as “guest”. You’ll also need a local user account configured on the Windows XP machine, which is the account that the actual Windows CE machine will use to connect/authenticate against the share and it’s access.

Please note, you may also have to go in to the “Local Security” policy, and allow guest access to file shares and browsing on the Windows XP machine.


As always, since Windows XP has reached it’s end of life, no more security updates are available. You want to make sure you have other security measures in place to mitigate any security concerns that could arise from having an active XP OS running on the network. If anyone else has a better solution or can comment further on this, please do! I’ve had to deal with this issue multiple times for CNC machines with older CE based controllers, as well as handheld Windows CE devices that require network share access.

Nov 172015

I recently had a reader reach out to me for some assistance with an issue they were having with a VMWare implementation. They were experiencing issues with uploading files, and performing I/O on Linux based virtual machines.

Originally it was believed that this was due to networking issues, since the performance issues were only one way (when uploading/writing to storage), and weren’t experienced with all virtual machines. Another particular behaviour notice was slow uploading speeds to the vSphere client file browser, and slow Physical to Virtual migrations.

After troubleshooting and exploring the issue with them, it was noticed that cache was not enabled on the RAID array that was providing the storage for the vSphere implementation.

Please note, that in virtual environments with storage based off RAID arrays, RAID cache is a must (for performance reasons).¬†Further, Battery backed RAID cache is a must (for protection and data integrity). This allows write operations to be cached and performed on multiple disks at once, sometimes even optimizing the write procedures as they are processed. This allows writes to occur simultaneously to multiple disks, and also dramatically increases observed performance since the ESXi hosts, and virtual machines aren’t waiting for write operations to commit before proceeding to the next.

You’ll notice that under Windows virtual machines, this issue won’t be observed on writes since the Windows VMs typically cache file transfers to RAM, which then write to disk. This could give the impression that there are no storage issues when typically troubleshooting these issues (making one believe that it’s related to the Linux VMs, the ESXi hosts themselves, or some odd networking issue).


Again, I cannot stress enough that you should have a battery backed cache module, or capacitor backed flash module providing cache functions.

If you do implement cache without backing it with a battery, corruption can occur on the RAID array if there is a power failure, or if the RAID controller freezes. The battery backed cache allows cached write procedures to be committed to disk on next restart of the storage unit/storage controller thus providing protection.

Nov 162015

After upgrading to Windows 10, I immediately noticed that my 3 display setup no longer worked. It was powered by two NVidia graphics cards (GeForce GT 640, and a GeForce GTX 550 Ti).

For some time, I couldn’t find anything on the internet explaining as to why I lost my dual display setup. Finally I came across a forum that pointed to this NVidia Support KB article:

Essentially Fermi based GPUs utilize WDDM 1.3 mode, whereas the newer architectures of Maxwell and Kepler support WDDM 2.0. In Windows 10, it is not able to load multiple display drivers using different WDDM versions.

For a really long time I waited and no updates enabled the functionality until September when I performed an update, and out of nowhere they started to work. I assumed they fixed the issue permanently, however after updating once again, I lost the capabilities. In this case I reverted to the last driver.

I’m not sure if they updated the Fermi driver to support WDDM 2.0, but I just know it started working. And then after a short while, with another driver update stopped working again. Again, the driver rollback fixed the issue.


I recently upgraded to the latest build of Windows 10, and completely lost the ability once again, and lost the ability to rollback drivers.

It was time to find out exactly what driver version WORKS with both Kepler, Fermi, and Maxwell architectures.

After playing around, I found the WORKING NVidia driver version to be: 358.50

Load this version up, and you’ll be good to go! Hope it saves you some time!

Mar 192015

So I picked up my new Lenovo X1 Carbon 2015 Gen3 laptop yesterday, and I absolutely LOVE it… I’ve been waiting for it to come in for a couple months now, and wanted to add WWAN as it wasn’t available as a preconfigured unit with the WWAN built in.

The unit I purchased was the 20BS0035US part number, which essentially is fully loaded with the exception of WWAN.

One big things for me is that I need to have LTE availability as I hate using USB data sticks. I did a bunch of research, and while waiting I went ahead and ordered the Sierra Wireless card that you can order as a configure to order.

I called IBM parts and placed an order for FRU Part# 04X6014 (Sierra Wireless Gobi5000 EM7345). When I received the laptop yesterday, I opened it to install the module, and thankfully the unit DID ship with the WWAN atennas built in. Installed the card, connected the antennas (orange is the main), popped in a SIM card and I was good to go!

The WWAN module is working great with Rogers on LTE in Canada!

Again, this laptop is SLICK!

For those of you that want to add it, place an order for the FRU Part# 04X6014. IBM notified me that this is a Wi-Fi adapter, however I can confirm this is in fact a WWAN adapter.

Feb 062015
Microsoft Band

Microsoft Band

Microsoft Band

Microsoft Band


Well, with this big work out mission I’ve been on lately, and with general love in technology, I finally decided to try and secure one of the Microsoft Band Watches.

These little devices are not only smart watches, but also fitness tracking devices.

Unfortunately I had to purchase mine at a premium on eBay since I’m in Canada, but I have to say it was worth it. I’ve been wearing the devices for two days and love it!


Here’s some of my impressions:

-Fits great (I got the large size). Originally I was concerned that I’d have issues with fitting (due to the general bulkiness look of the device as seen on online pictures). Also, I was concerned due to complaints from other users. The first time I put it on I could feel it, but since then I don’t even know I’m wearing it.

-Great information on life stats (heart rate, steps, calories burned, etc…).

-Looks stylish

-Battery life is superb

-Yes, it’s great for a normal watch

-Notifications are SLICK!!!! Calls, e-mails, texts. I don’t even need to whip my phone out to see who is calling me (this is a huge benefit to me)

-You can wear it screen out or screen in

-Forgetting the fitness aspects, there is totally a justified use in having this for the “smart” features alone.


Smart (non-fitness features):

-Easy to read texts, emails, etc… Keep in mind this is to give you an idea as to IF you need to pull out your phone, not to actually use it to read/respond to texts.

-Cortana works great! I talk to my watch, and my watch texts people (totally bad-ass).

-Calendar notifications on your watch.

-It tells time (I’m not joking, haha)

-All Windows Phone notifications appear on this device. This is great if you use 3rd party messaging apps, news apps, pretty much any type of app that creates Windows Phone notifications.


Fitness features:

-Workout tracking

-Running tracking

-Sleep tracking

-General life stat tracking

-Guided workouts (I doubt I’ll use this, but may end up trying it one day)


Things I’ve noticed:

-Since I’m in Canada, I had to set the region on my phone to the United States to install the Microsoft Health app. After installing you can set your region back and the app will stay. Don’t worry, you can choose your measurements so you can use English or Metric.

-I used it yesterday during my weightlifting workout. The stats provided mentioned I barely burned any calories and didn’t do much when in all reality I did A LOT. The readings were definitely incorrect. I believe this is due to my inner wrist and the device not being in contact with skin (under flexing, tendons pop out). I will test further by having the watch reversed on my next work out (screen on the inside vs outside).

-Step tracking is accurate

-Sleep tracking seems accurate. I’m a horrible sleeper and I noticed it did record 8 minutes of me sleeping when in fact I was awake, however for the most part it’s accurate.

-Will be trying the running tracker feature in a few hours. I’m REALLY looking forward to testing this out. Will be updating later.



-Buy it

-Use it

-Enjoy it

Sep 302014

Recently, a new type of error I haven’t seen showed up on one of the servers I maintain and manage.


Event ID: 513

Source: CAPI2


Cryptographic Services failed while processing the OnIdentity() call in the System Writer Object.

AddLegacyDriverFiles: Unable to back up image of binary EraserUtilRebootDrv.

System Error:
The system cannot find the file specified.


Also, after further investigation I also noticed that when Windows Server Backup was running, sometimes snapshots on the C: volume wouldn’t “grow in time” so were automatically deleting.

It was difficult to find anything on the internet regarding this as in my case it was reporting “The system cannot find the file specified”, whereas all other cases were due to security permissions. On the bright side, I was able to identify the software that this file belonged to: Symantec Endpoint Protection.

Ultimately I found a fix. PLEASE ONLY attempt this, if you are receiving the “The system cannot find the file specified”. If you are seeing any “Access Denied” messages under System Error, your issue is related to something else.


To fix:

1) Uninstall Symantec Endpoint protection.

2) Restart Server

3) Disable VSS snapshots for C: volume (NOTE: This will delete all existing snapshots for the drive.).

4) Re-install Symantec Endpoint protection.

5) Re-enable VSS snapshots for C: volume.


When this issue occurred, I was seeing the event many times every hour. It’s been 4 days since I applied this fix and it has completely disappeared, back to a 100% clean event log!

Aug 142014

So I purchased a Surface Pro 3 today from the new Microsoft Store that opened up in Calgary, Alberta today. I purchased the 512GB – i7 version with 8GB of RAM.

The unit is slick, beautiful, and totally has a purpose, however there is one major problem I encountered: overheating!


First it sync’ed my apps from my Microsoft Account, upon installing 20 (Metro) apps, the unit overheated and I was presented with the black background screen with a circle and a thermometer icon. The unit had to cool down for a while before it allowed me to power on. I wasn’t even using the device, except 20 “apps” were installing in the background.


I put the unit in my server room (air conditioned to 18 degrees), and then proceeded to configure the Surface, install applications, and install all the Windows Updates and firmware updates. Since installing the firmware updates the unit has not overheated, however it’s burning my hand from just ONLY running Microsoft Outlook.

Here is a screenshot of the temperatures when running only Microsoft Outlook.


This specific unit is too hot to use for me. It’s too hot for me to even hold to just read e-mails, and the sound of the fan racing non-stop (even when idling) is driving me absolutely insane. I’ve decided to return the unit for a refund until it sounds like these issues get resolved.

Is anyone else noticing overheating issues with their i7 version of the Microsoft Surface Pro 3?

UPDATE: I found this thread on Microsoft’s “Answers” forum –

Jun 072014

Well, I’ve had the HP MSA 2040 setup, configured, and running for about a week now. Thankfully this weekend I had some time to hit some benchmarks.


First some info on the setup:

-2 X HP Proliant DL360p Gen8 Servers (2 X 10 Core processors each, 128GB RAM each)

-HP MSA 2040 Dual Controller – Configured for iSCSI

-HP MSA 2040 is equipped with 24 X 900GB SAS Dual Port Enterprise Drives

-Each host is directly attached via 2 X 10Gb DAC cables (Each server has 1 DAC cable going to controller A, and Each server has 1 DAC cable going to controller B)

-2 vDisks are configured, each owned by a separate controller

-Disks 1-12 configured as RAID 5 owned by Controller A (512K Chunk Size Set)

-Disks 13-24 configured as RAID 5 owned by Controller B (512K Chunk Size Set)

-While round robin is configured, only one optimized path exists (only one path is being used) for each host to the datastore I tested

-Utilized “VMWare I/O Analyzer” ( which uses IOMeter for testing

-Running 2 “VMWare I/O Analyzer” VMs as worker processes. Both workers are testing at the same time, testing the same datastore.


Sequential Read Speed:

MSA2040-ReadMax Read: 1480.28MB/sec


Sequential Write Speed:

MSA2040-WriteMax Write: 1313.38MB/sec


See below for IOPS (Max Throughput) testing:

Please note: The MaxIOPS and MaxWriteIOPS workloads were used. These workloads don’t have any randomness, so I’m assuming the cache module answered all the I/O requests, however I could be wrong. Tests were run for 120 seconds. What this means is that this is more of a test of what the controller is capable of handling itself over a single 10Gb link from the controller to the host.


IOPS Read Testing:

MSA2040-MaxIOPSMax Read IOPS: 70679.91IOPS


IOPS Write Testing:

MSA2040-WriteOPSMax Write IOPS: 29452.35IOPS



-These benchmarks were done by 2 seperate worker processes (1 running on each ESXi host) accessing the same datastore.

-I was running a VMWare vDP replication in the background (My bad, I know…).

-Sum is combined throughput of both hosts, Average is per host throughput.



Holy crap this is fast! I’m betting the speed limit I’m hitting is the 10Gb interface. I need to get some more paths setup to the SAN!