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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.

Spiceheads keep Austin weird at IT's Comic Con

Spiceworld 2012* was in Austin, Texas. I spent my time there grilling vendor reps at the booths, talking to attendees and collaborating with Spiceworks employees. I'll save the article on "what's new in Spiceworks" as well as the feeds and speeds for later, after I've done some compare-and-contrast in the lab. Instead, I bring …
Trevor Pott, 15 Oct 2012

Unrootable: Mash these bits together to get a CLASSIFIED spyphone

What does it take to build a classified smartphone? Demand clearly exists Given how readily every iPhone and Android device is rooted, infected, and otherwise compromised, the answer isn't simply "better software." In the battle to secure our mobile endpoints, operating system tricks and mobile device management will only take …
Trevor Pott, 12 Oct 2012
Pano Logic's Pano Device "zero client" - front

I can't wait for Pano to thrust some hard 3D love into size-zero models

Around this time last year I reviewed Pano Logic's Zero Client Solution, a sort of super-thin-client set of kit. I was test-driving the company's first-generation hardware and a software suite two versions behind the latest release. I've now had a chance to review the second-generation hardware with its latest software, and I …
Trevor Pott, 08 Oct 2012
Microsoft System Center logo

Windows System Center 2012: The review

Microsoft's System Center suite of products is not easy to categorize as a group. The breadth of the offerings falling under the System Center moniker makes being asked to review all of System Center in a single article somewhat intimidating. Microsoft System Center logo System Center 2012 has already seen production …
Trevor Pott, 01 Oct 2012

Keep your Playboy mansion, Supermicro is my nerd vice palace

With several clients facing refresh cycles, I've decided to poke my nose back into the tier-2 space to see what’s going on. Supermicro has been on my preferred vendor list for years, so when I was in the Bay Area this summer I stopped in to see what’s new. I left impressed with what I saw, and got a swank backpack admittedly …
Trevor Pott, 01 Oct 2012

Inside the guts of a fiendish Internet Explorer 0-day attack

The latest use-after-free vulnerability in Microsoft's Internet Explorer is being actively exploited in the wild. While this comes as a surprise to nobody, we all get to live in fear for a while until the software giant manages to get a patch out the door. In the interests of attempting to overcome a particularly nasty bout of …
Trevor Pott, 19 Sep 2012
Picture of the Miss Piggy puppet

How to be a Puppet master: Make Amazon, VMware dance for you

Puppet, if you haven't heard of it, is automation software that takes on a role similar to Active Directory's group policy. Puppet can also handle application deployment, image deployment and anything else you can imagine that you would typically manage with scripts. Puppet is both cross platform and very simple to use. Born as …
Trevor Pott, 14 Sep 2012

Titans of tech: Why I'll never trust 'em

I am responsible for making decisions regarding the purchase of computer hardware, software and services. I advise others regarding the tactical and strategic implementations of technologies and IT-related services. The financial security and stability of my own company, the companies of my clients and all the associated …
Trevor Pott, 07 Sep 2012

Oh no, sysadmins! VMware touts data centre that runs itself

Now that vCloud Suite 5.1 has arrived, VMware is pushing a new term: the software-defined data centre (SDD). It's easy at first to dismiss this as merely another marketing buzzword, meaningless PR babble like "cloud" or "synergy". If you poke your head behind the curtain, you'll find there's good reason for this newest bit of …
Trevor Pott, 05 Sep 2012
bug on keyboard

Thanks ever so much Java, for that biz-wide rootkit infection

Right on cue, Java has responded to my hatred in kind. Shortly after I awoke to discover my previous article denouncing the language had been published, a client called to inform me his computer had contracted some malware. Java has, if you'll forgive the anthropomorphization of a bytecode virtualization engine, decided to exact …
Trevor Pott, 03 Sep 2012
VSphere UI. Credit: VMware

Love vSphere? You're going to have to love Flash too

If you're considering building your cloud infrastructure on the latest version of vSphere, you probably weren't banking on Adobe Flash being part of your set-up. VMware has announced vSphere 5.1 and along with it an updated web based management client. Features new to vSphere 5.1 will only be available in the new web client, …
Trevor Pott, 30 Aug 2012

Why Java would still stink even if it weren't security swiss cheese

Java is horrible and I hate it. Good, now there's a strong intro: attention grabbing, and it gets the natives all riled up. Sadly, the extremist sentiment of my statement is not that far from the truth. Hating or loving a logical construction such as a programming language is irrational, illogical and otherwise nonsensical. As a …
Trevor Pott, 30 Aug 2012

Tech conferences: Not just here for the FREE BEER

Tech conferences have real value to sysadmins, something that goes far deeper than the cynical tropes of expensing beer out to the company or a free vacation. The excuse used to sell conference attendance to the brass is that they provide valuable training and a good look at upcoming technologies. The real value is in the …
Trevor Pott, 23 Aug 2012
Suitcase bulging with cash

Tech hacks should admit taking corporate coin, but don't start a witch hunt

Judge Alsup has required Google and Oracle to divulge a list of their paid shills - the bloggers and journos they've paid to comment on their copyright court showdown. This sets a major precedent, the consequences of which could echo throughout tech journalism. While there is a lot of blitting in the back buffers over this, I …
Trevor Pott, 16 Aug 2012
Victorinox Swisstool Spirit plus

Sick of juggling apps on biz PCs? This install tool will save your sanity

I've spent most of the past week in the San Francisco bay area. I've visited Nerd Mecca (Xerox PARC), various universities and Big Tech campuses. I've seen the Golden Gate Bridge, cursed San Francisco drivers, and discovered why Americans loathe AT&T. I've had a fantastic time down here, but the highlight of the trip has been …
Trevor Pott, 10 Aug 2012

Sysadmins! There's no shame in using a mouse to delete files

I am curious about the thought process of some systems administrators. When Linux is mentioned in an El Reg article, the discussion in the comments section can collapse into a tired debate of GUIs versus CLIs: a bitterly fought war over point-and-click visual interfaces in software versus typing out lines of commands and reading …
Trevor Pott, 26 Jul 2012
server room

Fear not, Linux admins: There are TOOLS to help you

Most Linux distributions have a significant focus on security. This does not mean they are necessarily ready for production out of the box. Tools like SELinux, excellent firewall options, and robust access controls can make Linux exceptionally secure. Despite this, actually deploying a Linux system into production still requires …
Trevor Pott, 23 Jul 2012

Metro, that ribbon, shared mailboxes: Has Microsoft lost the plot?

In a previous piece on Office 365, I discussed how difficult it was to enable public folders. The reality is that Office 365 doesn't support public folders in the traditional sense. Instead, to achieve a similar functionality to the most common use for public folders – a storage point for group emails – Microsoft have offered " …
Trevor Pott, 13 Jul 2012
SGI logo hardware close-up

Oil the wheels of virtualisation with 802.1Qbg

Virtualisation enables dynamic workloads within a data centre by easing and automating virtual machine movement. While the ability to move any virtual machine from any system located on any rack to any other system located on any other rack has become commonplace, elasticity of network configuration has lagged behind. A new …
Trevor Pott, 11 Jul 2012

OpenFlow takes networks in a different direction

As network topologies and data access patterns have evolved, load profiles can change so quickly that a completely new approach to networking is required. That approach is OpenFlow. According to Renato Recio, IBM Fellow and system networking CTO, life before the advent of x86 virtualisation was simple: client computers did most …
Trevor Pott, 09 Jul 2012

Can you judge a man by his Twitter followers?

Is following someone on Twitter (or friending them on Facebook) an endorsement of that person? Social networking isn't going away, and increased corporate awareness of it means that systems administrators need to be prepared to answer these sorts of murky questions. As a case study, I am going to pick apart my own use of social …
Trevor Pott, 04 Jul 2012

Forget internet fridges and Big Data. Where's my internet fish tank?

The Cloud is a great new way to store and access data, and Big Data is all about leafing through this stuff so you can figure out how to "target your audience" more accurately, almost always with advertising. These are the buzzwords of the now. Lost in all the hype is why we advertise stuff in the first place: we have something …
Trevor Pott, 03 Jul 2012

Sysadmins: Your best tale of woe wins a PRIZE

I'd like to share with you the plight of a good friend of mine. He's a systems administrator for a mid-sized American accounting firm. His story isn't particularly remarkable, but all the more important because of it. Bob has a bachelor's in computer science, and a lot more experience than I'd normally expect someone clutching …
Trevor Pott, 28 Jun 2012
Locked-in by Frits, hikingartist.com

CIOs should fear the IP police ... have your get-out-of-jail files ready

The powers that be in the copyright world continually push for ever-stricter copyright with longer terms. They seek to externalise the cost of enforcement onto society at large. Society at large, on the other hand, wants easier, quicker access to content with fewer restrictions. Regular businesses can easily be caught in the …
Trevor Pott, 20 Jun 2012
The Register breaking news

Introduction to Virtualisation, Microsoft-style

Microsoft has introduced a new series of tracks into the Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA). These are introductions to various topics targeted at Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). SMEs being the bulk of my professional experience, I am curious, and have taken the opportunity to give one of these tracks a go. The pick of the …
Trevor Pott, 19 Jun 2012

Office 365: This cloud isn't going to put any admins out of a job

Moving all of your email onto Office 365 is pretty easy; making it work properly once it's there is another story. As a salable product, I find Office 365 extremely curious; it's workable enough if you have a decade or two's experience beating Exchange into submission ... but a little too complex for anyone else. The cloud is …
Trevor Pott, 15 Jun 2012

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
Cloud_Computing

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
cable

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