Raspberry Pi and Alexa

Raspberry Pi and Alexa

As its only one day till Black Friday and I haven’t seen the Amazon Echo reduced as much as I would have hoped I thought I would write this post up. Seeing as I am also exploring AWS at the moment ready for when VMware will sit on it natively I also thought it would be good idea to look at getting my AWS certification so that if I wanted to do any integrations not running on VMware I could.

I found quite quickly some of the courses work better with the use of Alexa and she can also test you if using Acloud.guru

Luckily if you want to give this a go and don’t want to splash out on a £150 echo if you have a Raspberry Pi sat in your drawer go dig it out! You can build a near full Amazon Echo with it. It appears audio streaming isn’t supported at the moment but most other things are.

There is a great guide on lifehacker and a video version over at the main Raspberry Pi site depending on how you like to digest stuff.

Once you have it up and going if you really want to play and not only use it for exam prep like me you can try out Acloud Guru for free at the moment. There is a free Alexa course here if you want to make her do new things.

It’s a great way to learn and have fun at the same time!

Keeping your blog secure

Keeping your blog secure

If like me you use WordPress for hosting your blog and you may well be hosting this yourself you may have found keeping this all up to date and secure can be a bit of a nightmare.  There are a few things I do to try and secure my blog and keep it up to date.

The first thing I have installed is Jetpack. This not only lets me know about plugin been out of date it monitors my downtime and provide some level of malicious attack blocking. It also offers good things like stats and speeding up images via various means.

Secondly a new one for me but Sucuri does a good job of letting me know if there are any changes to critical files or logins. It also have a firewall built in and several other features to keep you secure. I also have it letting me know when posts are changed or released just in case.

To enhance the above I did a 2FA post here and I use Duo to further protect myself from brute force logins. I wont only get the email from Sucuri but I will also get a 2FA response from Duo.

Of course an obvious one is keeping a regular backup where possible. Many web hosts now throw this in if you just ask them.

Keeping it all organised

Keeping it all organised

Very much a follow on post from yesterday but I just wanted to share an app that I use to keep some of my tasks at bay. I know there are also other ways of doing this but I quite like their app and it sync across all my devices.

It’s called todoist

The main thing I love is the simplicity for some items but you can also make others as complex as you want for example projects. There is also that very primal satisfying feeling of ticking things off but not losing that original sticky note.

I do want to try some of the other work management tools such as pomodoro technique to see if I can be even more efficient.

It is also nice just to got down notes in like get bread or write a blog post just as a gentle nudge.

VCSA 6.5 A problem occurred while reading the OVF file / Error: ovftool is not available on Mac

VCSA 6.5 A problem occurred while reading the OVF file / Error: ovftool is not available on Mac

So today I spent sometime updating and rebuilding my lab so I could write some further articles. It appears one of the versions that you may well have downloaded of the VCSA ISO has a small bug. My version of the ISO was called VMware-VCSA-all-6.5.0-4602587.iso but it may well have been fixed now otherwise you get the following error whilst trying to install the VCSA appliance from the Mac GUI.

A problem occurred while reading the OVF file.: Error: ovftool is not available


I must say a massive thanks to David Stamen on the vExpert Slack for finding a fix for this and pointing me in the right direction. I believe Emad Younis is also aware of the issue and will be looking into this. I did see his post about it only hitting macOS Sierra 10.12.1 but I am still on 10.12 (10.12 Beta (16A312a)) and I still get the error. I thought another person putting something up about it would be good as I got nothing from Google at the time of writing this article.

It appears to be down to how the OS now prepares certain things. I didn’t have time to test this on my older Mac as the workaround is fairly easy anyway. Much better than me scrabbling round and installing the OVF tool and scratching my head wondering why it still doesn’t work.

The trick is to save the error log from the above window and herein lies the answer to getting it to work. Again I haven’t got another machine at this OS level to test so I am making an assumption that the path may differ in each persons profile and/or machine.

If you scroll to the end of the log you will see a very interesting path. Copy this out and open the location from Go to folder… action from within finder (CMD+Shift+G).


Inside this folder copy the whole VCSA folder from the ISO and relaunch the VCSA GUI. It did find you could select back and next and it would work but better to be safe. You will now see that this can read the OVF and all the items get populated as expected. I have also been advised to copy out the whole ISO to a temporary folder and run the GUI from here to get best results.



A few dates for next year….

A few dates for next year….

In the essence of planning it appears there are already some keys dates for your diaries which I thought I would repost incase anyone has missed them

EDIT:- Firstly the London VMUG dates


There are also the below TechUG Dates so far


Finally it appears the VMworld dates in Europe have moved and there is quite a bit of debate about this. A massive thanks to Duncan Epping for getting these out. For me maybe this means I can stay a little longer at this time of year as I can celebrate my birthday too! VMworld Europe now September 11th until 14th!

MDM Solution for small environments or the lab…

MDM Solution for small environments or the lab…

Firstly you are probably thinking why would I want & or need this…. Basically this solution I am going to tell you about is free for 100 endpoints. Its a great way to get your head around MDM (Mobile Device Manage) solutions and their benefits and pit falls. Including bring your own device. I learnt many risks here about selective wiping and containerisation of apps. At some point (even though it can be easy once you have done it) I will write a document about demystifying the Apple VPP, DEP programs and push certificates  along with the magic triangle of trust.. Yes that does mean Macs on your Active Directory domain.

The one nice thing is this MDM may allow (with me doing a bit more testing) not always requiring a Mac server to manage all your Apple endpoints. You will lose out on some benefits such as caching and deployment but if you have say only a handful of Macs this may well be a good option. Or at least its a starting point for you so that you can introduce a proper Mac server but have the relevant security policies for ISO27001 compliance for instance.

The solution I have been testing out is Meraki’s System Manager.  The dashboard itself if very clean and easy to use. It also integrates very well with their other products for easy deployment of VPN and WiFi access profiles. This is what I do for my lab and to also push out my Active Sync profiles.

They have also recently released the Cellular tracker feature which is quite nice if you have a small fleet of Mobile devices you wish to manage. I must also point out this works on Android and some features on Microsoft phones. I am yet to retest this on an Samsung with Knox but I have been very impressed with the work profiles on the Moto G4 Plus I am testing.

They are always adding features and since coming back to it much has changed but in a good way. It can always track Windows clients to and perform remote administration if required.

If you have never played with Meraki or heard and want a free AP or free switch use those links and I promise you that you wont get a sales call from me! I am not a sales guy I am a techie but its just so I can track how much Meraki love I have spread. I am curious creature and its nice to know I may have helped someone. The only call you should get is one from your local Meraki rep to confirm the address to send you your free kit 🙂 The webinar is about an hour and worth if for the kit with a 3 year license and see what it can do for you. Otherwise use this link to view all the webinars .

If you do have any questions do feel free to reach out as I have done the Apple push certificates so many times I forget it can be confusing to people the first time. Such as you cant use a personal or already in use Apple ID etc etc. Oh and also set a 1 year reminder so that you update this as you need to re do this annually.