Trevor Pott

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Trevor Pott is a full-time nerd from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He splits his time between systems administration, technology writing, and consulting. As a consultant he helps Silicon Valley start-ups better understand systems administrators and how to sell to them.

Start to finish: Building a cloudy service in two weeks

Wading through Microsoft's private cloud offerings has been a bit of a slog for me. My background is mostly VMWare and my experience of providing web services is largely Lamp-based. A major element in Microsoft's play is the concept of services, and an outsider looking to learn the details of how these work may face a wall of …
Trevor Pott, 14 Jun 2012

Microsoft assembles a private cloud so you don't have to

The backbone of a cloud is infrastructure. At its core, it is an attempt to deliver compute power, networking and storage as efficiently and responsively as possible. Every serious public cloud player has its own industry-leading approach. From cookie sheet computing to custom networking gear to open-sourced infrastructure, …
Trevor Pott, 11 Jun 2012

Microsoft takes on the private cloud

To many, private cloud is simply virtualisation plus management. But there is more to it than that. There is an awful lot of misunderstanding surrounding such an important design concept, in part stemming from a lack of exposure to what is possible with today's technology. Different vendors say different things based upon the …
Trevor Pott, 07 Jun 2012

I need to multitask, but Windows 8's Metro won't let me

What is multitasking? Different people seem to mean different things when they use the word multitasking. The definition chosen has implications for accepting or rejecting the prevailing design choices of modern user interfaces. I have been a vocal critic of Windows 8's Metro interface. My chief complaint is that it does not …
Trevor Pott, 31 May 2012

Sysadmins: Chucked your Exchange servers up? Let's enable SSO

My previous article focused on migrating Exchange into Microsoft's cloud, but there is more to Office 365 than just Exchange. Single Sign On (SSO) between Office 365 and your local Microsoft domain can be a bit tricky. A proper implementation has high minimum requirements, and there are very good arguments against cutting …
Trevor Pott, 24 May 2012
DVD it in many colours

Chuck Exchange mailboxes into the cloud... sysadmin style

How do we migrate Exchange mailboxes into the cloud? A customer of mine has recently approached me with a request to move his mail hosting into the cloud, and it had to include BlackBerry support. After some discussion of the options available, a hosted exchange solution was deemed best, with Microsoft's own Office 365 emerging …
Trevor Pott, 23 May 2012

The key questions you must ask to save your virty desktop dream

What is required for a successful stateless desktop deployment? Planning. Every implementation will be different, and experience has taught me that there are very few hard and fast rules. Stateless desktops are non-persistent, meaning that they get destroyed every time the user logs off and returned to a known setup. Proper …
Trevor Pott, 15 May 2012
server room

Finally, it’s the year of Linux on the desktop IPv6!

One month from now, World IPv6 Launch Day with be upon us. Numerous online services will be enabling IPv6 and leaving it on. AAAA records will be published, and those of us with IPv6 enabled systems will start to use IPv6 preferentially to IPv4. But what does this all mean? For the short term at least, the truth is "not much". …
Trevor Pott, 08 May 2012
SGI logo hardware close-up

Microsoft storage boffins serve up smoking 2012 NFS server

Developed by Sun, NFS version 2 was published as an IETF standard. Sun guarded NFS development for nearly two decades before handing protocol guardianship over the ITEF for version 4. This openness fueled adoption by the major UNIX vendors, even though most had their own competing protocols. Deployment on Big Iron fueled …
Trevor Pott, 01 May 2012

Enterprise apps to bring bespoke BACK FROM THE DEAD

The '90s saw a boom in the development and acceptance of Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) software. Ever since, various analysts and pundits have predicted the marginalisation of custom software development. In the SME space, it has been hard to argue; the past two decades have seen COTS software dominate. But with the emergence …
Trevor Pott, 23 Apr 2012

New tech revolution: Small biz begins to lock out industry giants

Software as a Service (SaaS) combined with Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)-style technologies promise to free us from vendor lock-in once and for all. The consumerisation of IT, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and hybrid cloud-based applications are additional marketing buzzwords relevant to this discussion. Each concept is ( …
Trevor Pott, 20 Apr 2012

Pirates not to blame for Big Media's sales plunge

The RIAA and MPAA would have you believe that piracy is responsible for their decline in sales. This is all of course blame to be laid at the feet of computers, the internet and the generic "digital boogyman." Even without getting deep into the flawed math in play, there are other reasons for the middling returns on investment …
Trevor Pott, 16 Apr 2012
The Register breaking news

Learn everything you need to know about System Center 2012

Among Windows systems administrators System Center 2012 is arguably the most hotly anticipated software release in nearly a decade. Microsoft is at last taking the fight to VMware, and it is expending the resources necessary to ensure that sysadmins are prepared. One branch of the strategy is making good use of Microsoft Virtual …
Trevor Pott, 10 Apr 2012
High-altitude snap from Dave Akerman's Cloud 7 payload

Microsoft parts private cloud to reveal its infrastructure

Brightly coloured videos with a cast of improbably good looking people and some upbeat music don't shift data-centre gear. Instead of the endless merriment of terrible marketing videos, Microsoft has focused on education. Given that the vendor wants you to know about its private cloud technologies, it was just a matter of time …
Trevor Pott, 04 Apr 2012

IPv6 networking: Bad news for small biz

IPv6 is traditionally a networking topic. Yet IPv6 is as much a business consideration as it is a technical one. As world IPv6 day rolls around again, we're going to see an ever-increasing amount of technical IPv6 coverage. Before we do, I think a business interjection is warranted. IPv6 was neither designed for small biz nor …
Trevor Pott, 31 Mar 2012
Cat 5 cable

Baffling barcode-on-steroids stickers plaster the EARTH

QR codes are everywhere. They have completely overrun Japan and are becoming well-established in the rest of the world as well. There are plenty of convenient uses for this technology, as well as several less carefully considered uses. QR codes were created in 1994 by Toyota subsidiary Denso Wave. There was a need for a machine- …
Trevor Pott, 23 Mar 2012
SGI logo hardware close-up

Why Windows 8 server is a game-changer

Windows Server "8" beta is out, and everyone reading this should sit up and take notice. This isn't a boring iteration on a previous server operating system wherein a few tweaks have been achieved and nothing really changes. Server 8 - along with the suite of associated 2012-ish server applications - is nothing short of a …
Trevor Pott, 14 Mar 2012

Windows 8: Thrown into a multi-tasking mosh pit

Does Windows 8 improve upon Windows 7 for the use cases that my real world customers and users demonstrate? After a week of tinkering with the consumer preview, the answer is far from simple. Now that's what I call multitasking (click to enlarge)... First up is the ribbon. For new users to a product, my experience correlates …
Trevor Pott, 12 Mar 2012

A sysadmin in telco hell

At the best of times, telecommunications is a complicated field to navigate. Putting aside the technical difficulties of creating and maintaining a modern telecommunications system, customer support and regulatory compliance can be challenging burdens for organisations of any size to cope with. Even with the best and brightest …
Trevor Pott, 05 Mar 2012
The Register breaking news

US shuts down Canadian gambling site with Verisign's help

The Department of Homeland Security has seized a domain name registered outside of the US, by individuals who are not American citizens, and who registered with a Canadian registrar. What is unique about this case is that the American authorities did not get the domain's registrar - a Canadian company - to pull the domain. …
server room

Wake up, small biz: Learn to speak internet

Today I wanted to buy a metal business card case I could carry around in my pocket. I asked Google Maps politely if it knew where in Edmonton I could find such a widget, preferably on the way home. Google didn't have the faintest clue where I could get such a thing, no matter how delicately I phrased the request. I eventually …
Trevor Pott, 24 Feb 2012

Telcos in Canada: Ethics, monopolies and regulation

Telecommunications Politics in Canada is pretty standard. There are people worried that our regulator – the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) – has succumbed to regulatory capture. There is the common burden of institutional inertia and there are the usual sorts of shenanigans involving various …
Trevor Pott, 17 Feb 2012

What's in the box, Windows sysadmin?

Windows is a powerful and complex Operating System (OS). As with any modern OS, it comes equipped with numerous features, utilities, and applications. But Windows' default tools are not always the best widget for the job at hand. The ubiquity of these tools makes them a standard minimal toolkit that Windows administrators can …
Trevor Pott, 09 Feb 2012

Sysadmins: Don't get in your own way

I remember the first time I saw these automated supermarket tills. They intrigued me. Yet I was also afraid of the things. I was afraid that despite all of my knowledge and training I wouldn't be able to figure it out and I would end up looking like a fool. I avoided them for three years; the basis of this avoidance nothing more …
Trevor Pott, 03 Feb 2012
SGI logo hardware close-up

When a DNS outage isn't an outrage

A little over a decade ago I registered my very first personal domain name. This domain was not registered for a client or an employer. This was a domain name all my own. When I picked my DNS provider I picked one who was affiliated with the local technology magazine, and I picked them because they were Canadian. It was the …
Trevor Pott, 31 Jan 2012
The Register breaking news

Trevor goes hands-on with Microsoft Training

Reg columnist Trevor Pott's recent review of the Microsoft Virtual Academy sparked several comments that largely said the same thing: "where's the pics?" So we sent him back to the lab to flesh it out and he's returned with this screencap walk-through. Watch Video var MediaPlayerVars = { '_': { 'http://youtu.be/5n5WYNh8nT0 …
Trevor Pott, 27 Jan 2012
The Register breaking news

Trevor and chums tackle IT certification

Trevor Pott, along with his friends and colleagues, explores the benefits and pitfalls of training and certification. Do they think certificates are a good thing and worth the paper they're printed on. Or are they just a way for the less talented to get a bigger pay cheque? Listen using the player below or download the MP3. …
Trevor Pott, 23 Jan 2012
The Register breaking news

Trevor explores Microsoft virtual training

I've spent quite a bit of time recently exploring Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA). Putting aside the site's content, I think that the website design itself is worth a discussion. MVA runs on a clean, elegant website. What you need to find is easily found; what you need to do is easily apparent. In an era where information …
Trevor Pott, 18 Jan 2012
Broken CD with wrench

A preview of SOPA: Web shut down before my eyes

On Saturday, 7 January, a Canadian DNS host named EasyDNS winked out of existence. This was a preview of what SOPA promises to be like. Suffering from a massive DDoS, all DNS services provided by EasyDNS simply ceased to function. Metacritic and DSL Reports are two examples of sites that affected me directly. Random but …
Trevor Pott, 18 Jan 2012

DIY virtual machines: Rigging up at home

A brief look at virtual machines for home use resulted in several requests for system specifications and configuration details. It seems some of you would like to take a go at replicating my setup. The hardware is simple. The motherboard is an ASUS P8H67-I Deluxe, with an Intel Core i5 2500 CPU, two 8GB Corsair SODIMMS and an …
Trevor Pott, 11 Jan 2012
server room

Microsoft's RemoteFX is fab - but will it play Crysis?

Microsoft supports two very different types of remote desktop computing: Remote Desktop Session Host (RDSH) and Remote Desktop Virtualization Host (RDVH). Those of us who don't speak Redmondian know these technologies as Terminal Services and VDI, respectively. But can they play Crysis? RDSH takes a single instance of a server …
Trevor Pott, 06 Jan 2012

Virtual sanity: How to get a grip on your home PCs

Virtualisation can have a role in the home computing environment. Personal computers are kind of crap at migrating (or duplicating) your settings, applications and data from one system to another. Virtualisation can remove some of this grief. In the consumer space, Windows PCs come preloaded with crapware. The shiny new notebook …
Trevor Pott, 04 Jan 2012
Cat 5 cable

The moment a computer crash nearly caused my car crash

I very nearly had a terrible car accident: my car almost left me stranded on the tracks of my city's light rail transit. The short version of the story is that my car started acting up, of all times, as I was on the way to the mechanic for an oil change. “Acting up” in this case meant refusing to go above 20kph (12.4mph) for …
Trevor Pott, 15 Dec 2011

Even brilliant sysadmins need help plugging holes

While we must never allow ourselves to fall into the habit of thinking that security is somebody else's problem, the time has come to accept that external help is required. We accept the necessity of outside help in many other areas of business. Yet even when IT security audits are offered at no cost, companies are still …
Trevor Pott, 07 Dec 2011

How to stop network traffic fighting like cat and dog

Bandwidth and latency are two separate but equally important network considerations. An ideal network will have high bandwidth and low latency. The real world is rarely so obliging. For some applications, we don't care about latency. It doesn't really matter how long the packets in an FTP file transfer take to get from A to B, …
Trevor Pott, 29 Nov 2011

Keep it simple with one-size-fits-all networking

This isn’t the sort of thing that sysadmins usually admit to, but I have recently developed a grudging sort of respect for cable monkeys. This is a difficult statement to make: sysadmins despise cabling. All too many of us think it is beneath us, our time is too valuable to be spent on such mundane tasks, cabling is a waste of …
Trevor Pott, 21 Nov 2011

Virtualised storage: the perfect space-saving solution

In case you have been living under a rock for the past month or so, we are in the middle of a hard drive shortage. Now that we can’t simply add more drives at will, storage utilisation has suddenly become important again. It should not have taken this crisis to shine a light on this topic; we are reminded at regular intervals …
Trevor Pott, 21 Nov 2011
Broken CD with wrench

Making connections: The world according to Intel

With the year winding down, I'd like to pull out a crystal ball and peer in. It is not my crystal ball I want to examine here but rather Intel's. Let's start with the networking. We all know that Intel makes networking gear. Specifically, it makes some of the best PC network interface cards (NICs) available. It should be a …
Trevor Pott, 18 Nov 2011

Virtualisation: just a lot of extra software licences?

A colleague of mine recently remarked that x86 virtualisation makes no sense to any organisation that is cost conscious. I am an early adopter of virtualisation and wanted to know what he meant. “When using virtualisation, you are paying for far more software licences than you would if you were to take the time to implement …
Trevor Pott, 16 Nov 2011
cookies_eyes_privacy evercookies flash cookies

The Register Guide on how to stay anonymous (part 3)

Enterprise browser usage is a messy subject. The enterprise is not what it once was; the days of the homogeneous Windows empire are past. Not only are alternative operating systems like Apple's OS X gaining traction in the enterprise, but the desktop is no longer a browser administrator's only concern. The consumerisation of IT …
Trevor Pott, 16 Nov 2011
Cat 5 cable

Intel takes the heat off power management

Intel has a new piece of software called Data Center Manager (DCM), which provides power management ranging from the individual server level up to the bird's-eye-view of your entire data centre. There are still few supported devices for this fledgling product. Given Intel's heavy push for cloud computing, I expect that to change …
Trevor Pott, 14 Nov 2011
SGI logo hardware close-up

Server virtualisation: How to pick the right model

Virtualisation has become an over-used buzzword. On mainframes, it has been around for ages. Its introduction to x86 took a concept formerly reserved for Big Tech and let it loose among the masses. Once a straightforward technology with a limited number of implementation models, virtualisation has been bootstrapped and …
Trevor Pott, 14 Nov 2011
cookies_eyes_privacy evercookies flash cookies

The Register Guide on how to stay anonymous (part 2)

In part one of this series, I explored the privacy threats presented by targeted advertising, and asked why we should care. Browser referral, social media buttons and cookies were examined as examples of basic methods used to track our movements across the internet. I also explored why advertisers track us, and examined browser …
Trevor Pott, 08 Nov 2011
Broken CD with wrench

Pass the remote control: vPro eases systems management

Desktop management is big money. It’s a critical topic for any size business seeking to optimise its IT. The right combination of software and hardware results in very impressive desktop management capabilities. The heavy hitter on the hardware side is without question Intel. The vendor’s vPro provides unprecedented hardware- …
Trevor Pott, 04 Nov 2011
cookies_eyes_privacy evercookies flash cookies

The Register Guide on how to stay anonymous (part 1)

It has been a year since I have talked about securing browsers against privacy invasion. In that time, things have got worse, not better. In addition to the threat of malware and malicious scripts, we have the frightening new evercookie. Leaving the criminal misuse of tracking for a later date, there is plenty to worry about …
Trevor Pott, 01 Nov 2011
The Register breaking news

Building a private cloud

For my last track, I chose Planning, building and managing a private cloud. This is organised into three modules: Introducing a private cloud; Planning a private cloud; and Managing a private cloud. The first module provided a very good overview of what cloud computing is, and more specifically the benefits of building a …
Trevor Pott, 19 Oct 2011

Bandwidth restrictions can affect the memory

Every now and again, a conversation at the pub goes somewhere interesting. One of the more junior sysadmins in our group recently took over an aging small business network. The company is absolutely dependent upon an archaic piece of software for which virtualisation was the only available route to increasing the application’s …
Trevor Pott, 14 Oct 2011

An ode to rent-a-nerds and cable monkeys

Writing an article for El Reg takes between two hours and several weeks of research. Different articles have different origins. I usually have some techie-type problems occurring that could make for an interesting article, but every so often I get a bug about something and dive into a pile of off-topic research. I have been …
Trevor Pott, 13 Oct 2011

Pano's virtual desktops go from zero to hero

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is a common industry term that has come to mean "all the real work is done on the servers". While VDI technically refers only to VMWare’s implementation of this ideal (now called VMWare View), in practice the term has been expanded to include all similar technologies. In a VDI setup, the …
Trevor Pott, 12 Oct 2011

Round up those wireless devices before they cause trouble

Shiny new mobile gizmos are driving the consumerisation of IT. As a systems administrator, I am naturally wary. Sure, it makes end-users happier, but they aren’t the ones who end up in front of the firing squad when security gets breached. Users don’t care about security. They never have and they never will; it is an …
Trevor Pott, 12 Oct 2011