Website Refresh! v2.0

The vSkilled blog website has had some major improvements and is now officially launched as version 2.0!

The previous design had been in use since late 2014. Over time there were design elements and plugins that stopped working altogether or were causing various issues. I had worked tirelessly to improve the page loading times but had exhausted all my options on the old design. I knew a new design was going to be needed and I began slowly scoping out what I wanted for the new website refresh.

Version 2 (2017 – present)

Version 1 (2014 – 2017)

As you can see I wanted to keep a similar layout, only have it more simplified, and easier to maintain. I believe that has been accomplished. The cleaner look makes it look more professional and easier to read. I think the single post style instead of a post grid also makes the front page more attractive and relevant. Continue reading…

Firewall Swap & Windows Telemetry Data

I recently switched over from Sophos UTM to Untangle NG for my personal use firewall at home. During the process I basically had to rebuild all of my firewall rules and general network policy configurations. This allowed to me “start fresh” as my previous configuration had gotten quite bloated and complicated over time.

It’s clear that Microsoft has no intentions of telling us what exactly is sent in this telemetry data, how long it’s stored, and why when it’s disabled it continues to send data. Not to mention which obvious third parties have access to the data. For this reason, part of the new network policies I wanted to include was blocking telemetry data from getting sent back to the Microsoft mother-ship. Continue reading…

My first dedicated server, back in 2005

This is a short post about my first ever dedicated server… back in 2005. I seldom forget exactly how long I’ve been involved in the web industry. I took a moment to reflect back in time. Using the WayBackMachine I was able to find the company’s page and details. I rented my first dedicated server from a company called AngelNetworkz. This image below is exactly how I remember their website and page looking.

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Continue reading…

vSkilled Crypto – Now SSL Encrypted!

vSkilled is now fully SSL encrypted and including HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS).  Since vSkilled is a technical IT blog, one would expect to think that the communication between the client and server aught be encrypted. Now that traffic has picked up on the site I decided to move things over to SSL.

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vSkilled uses CloudFlare as our CDN so that complicates things slightly when using SSL. We’re using the Full SSL (Strict) model which encrypts the connection between you and CloudFlare, and from CloudFlare to vSkilled’s web servers.

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Enjoy!

 

 

vExpert 2016

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I am very honoured to be selected as a vExpert 2016 by VMware. Getting recognition is awesome but knowing that you are sharing content that is for the benefit of others is even better.

The annual VMware vExpert title is given to individuals who have significantly contributed to the community of VMware users over the past year. The title is awarded to individuals (not employers) for their commitment to sharing their knowledge and passion for VMware technology above and beyond their job requirements.

vExpert’s benefits and activities receive:

  • vExpert certificate
  • Permission to use the vExpert logo on cards, website, etc for one year
  • Access to a private directory for networking, etc.
  • Exclusive gifts from various VMware partners
  • Access to private betas (subject to admission by beta teams)
  • 365-day eval licenses for most products
  • Private pre-launch briefings
  • Private briefings from tier 1 alliance partners
  • Blogger early access program for vSphere and some other products
  • Featured in a public vExpert online directory
  • Access to vetted VMware & Virtualization content for your social channels.

I give thanks to the other vExperts and the VMware social media & community team for their hard work and dedication.

The full list of the 2016 vExperts can be found here.

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Whoops! My Samsung 950 PRO M.2 512GB SSD experience

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This story is a bit of a sad story. Mainly due to the failure of my own personal oversight over a very important specification requirement and snowballed by my online shopping addiction.

For a little back story – I had been reading great reviews all over the internet about Samsung’s new 950 PRO 512GB M.2 NVMe SSD drive having amazing benchmark speeds. This drive features cutting-edge V-NAND-based NVMe SSD supports PCI Express Gen 3 x4 lanes, providing a higher bandwidth and lower latency to process a massive amount more data than SATA SSDs. It outperforms SATA SSDs by over 4.5 times in sequential read and by over 2.5 times in sequential write, delivering the speeds of 2,500 MB/s read and 1,500 MB/s write respectively. I have never purchased or used a M.2 drive before, so this would be me venturing into a bit of an unknown territory.

I wanted to get my hands on one of these really badly! I knew my motherboard (Gigabyte X99 G1) had a M.2 slot so I checked the website to confirm and at a glance everything appeared to be right… So I pulled the trigger and purchased it. Patiently waited 2 weeks for it to arrive. Finally, I was able to install the drive after some frustration with BIOS settings and drivers. But something wasn’t right… I was concerned as to why I was getting a little under half of the speed other people were getting on their benchmarks. What gives?

Well… lets take a closer look at my mother board specifications again. It is the Gigabyte X99 G1:

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See that..!? Notice the “PCIe x2/x1“? The Samsung 950 PRO 512GB is a PCIe 3.0 x4. So that means that on my motherboard the M.2 drive is operating at literally under half the bandwidth that it’s capable of running at. Only at this point, having the drive purchased and installed, did I realize that there is a major difference between “M.2”  and “Ultra M.2” which also known as PCIe 3.0 x4 which supports up to 32 Gb/s (4 GB/s) compared to PCIe 2.0 x2 which would only support 8 Gb/s (1 GB/s).

nooooooooo

That means for a M.2 drive using PCI-E 2.0 x2, it only has a 25% potential speed increase over SATA III. Not exactly what I was going for considering the $329 USD price I paid. This means for me to be able to use the drive at full speed I will need to find a motherboard with a LGA2011-v3 CPU socket and a Ultra M.2 socket. A harsh lesson to learn and a fix I will have to put off for some time. Luckily I may be able to just get a M.2 x4 to PCIe adapter to fix this problem.

In the end I can only laugh at myself as a technical professional to make a mistake like this – but hey this is my story and hopefully it may help you avoid making the same mistake. Check to ensure your motherboard’s M.2 interface version supports PCIe 3.0 x4  NVMe 1.1!

 

Update 1/28/2016:

Fixed! Thanks to the $30(CAD)  Addonics ADM2PX4 M2 PCIe SSD to PCIe 3.0 4 Lane Adapter.

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The Samsung Magician software is also showing that I am using all four lanes, instead of just two!

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Here’s a bonus benchmark of another Samsung drive I have with RAPID mode (RAM cache) enabled. :O
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Do you have a story to tell about your M.2 drive experences? Let me know in the comments below!