Category Archives: IT

Onsite wifi shooting with multiple Canon EOS 6D

One of my private clients is a photographer and he’s done a pretty good job at trying to keep pace with technology.
He made the jump to digital pretty early and worked through the issues with colour and digital print quality and has installed his own digital photo lab.
As camera megapixels’ increase, storage and file processing speed challenges start to crop up and a small business starts needing serious technology such as storage systems and 10gbit ethernet.

His latest challenge to me was changing the way he shot his major yearly dance event.
In the past photos were taken and then staff would visit dance schools a few weeks later after the photos had been processed and do the selling.
The new approach this year was to shoot, retouch, print and sell on the same day at the venue to capitalise on the impulse buy. Simple. Yep. Kind of.

Enter the equipment.
FujiFilm Frontier-S DX100 printer
Canon EOS 6D cameras
Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop
Canon EOS Utility
Two PCs
Wireless router

shooting setup

The FujiFilm DX100 is a stunning little 6 colour inkjet photolab. Inkjet you say, humf. Well this thing prints as good as it’s full sized (small car sized) FujiFilm brother. Now when I say little it’s twice the size of your average inkjet printer.
The cost is about 40c per print compared to 4c off the big brother.
My only gripe about this unit is the lack of onboard ethernet. It’s USB only which means you need to resort to windows printer sharing.

WP_20150629_20_03_30_Pro

The Canon EOS 6D are his current stock camera and the requirement was for two to be able to shoot at the same time (he has a light and a dark background) and save directly to the computer. For this job we setup four camera bodies with WiFi shooting but also saving to card as a safety.
So this is where we found the first limitation. The Canon EOS Utility only allows you to pair a single camera at a time so in order to shoot with to cameras we had to have two different computers running the EOS Utility.
Canon WT.? I could not find any 3rd party software or Canon solution to this limitation. There is software out there but it is geared to remote triggering multiple cameras at the same time, not what we’re after here.
What we really need is a camera server edition which it’s only job is to receive photos from multiple cameras as they are taken.

Lightroom and Photoshop are the final pieces of the solution.
The original plan was to have a single computer renaming, processing and printing all the images. We originally set both EOS Utilities to save their files to the same location (via the network). The main reason for this was Lightroom can only have one auto import folder.
Due to the pace of the event, a single processing workstation couldn’t keep up with pace so we swapped out the simple laptop that was running the second EOS Utility and bought in another workstation.
Another frustration on mine is Lightroom’s lack of support for a shared catalogue. We have the same problem at his studio where he has 4 processing workstations. An image processed on one workstation means nothing to another unless the final product is exported.
I guess the same could be said with Lightroom and Photoshop. As Photoshop knows nothing of Lightroom edits, you need to export to then run Photoshop actions that Lightroom doesn’t have.

The final outcome is each backdrop (light or dark) has it’s own processing workflow.
Camera -> EOS Utility -> Lightroom crop and renumbering then EXPORTED) -> Photoshop actions then print from Photoshop.

In fact for the remainder of this job we are also adding a second printer so each backdrop is now truly independent.

TIP: On two of our computers, Norton firewall software interfered with the Canon EOS Utility network communications. Even after disabling it we had to completely re-pair the cameras and sometimes again when turning the computer on the next day.
Next year we will completely remove security software prior to this job and reinstall afterwards. Canon might need to look at improving the robustness of the software as there should not have been a need to completely re-pair cameras.

CANON: Multiple camera shooting please!
ADOBE: Lightroom Multiuser Catalogues please.

Modifying USMT and KACE to capture Firefox settings and other specific programs

It’s that time in the hardware refresh cycle again where you have to replace laptops on mass, well at least it is for me.

Our main challenge was migrating users Firefox bookmarks and also the desire to capture Outlook signatures and auto-complete information without capturing all Office applications information (we wanted to start as fresh as possible).

I’ve never really dug in depth into the USMT and K2000 before now and I’ve found it in needed of a little massaging.


USMT Problem

The USMT definition XML file for applications (MigApp.xml) included with USMT 5.0 does provide support for many non Microsoft productions including Firefox, Chrome and Adobe Acrobat amongst other. The only problem is Microsoft hasn’t had the inclination to keep it up-to-date.

Thanks to some clues from fellow ITNinja Jegolf, I found that the MigApp.xml is hard coded to look for Mozilla Firefox 3 (hello cira 2008).


USMT FIX:
(assuming WAIK 8)

Edit the MigApp.xml files in both the “C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Kits\8.1\Assessment and Deployment Kit\User State Migration Tool\amd64” and “C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Kits\8.1\Assessment and Deployment Kit\User State Migration Tool\x86” folders.

The line to modify:

DEFAULT:
<condition>MigXmlHelper.DoesObjectExist(“Registry”,”%HklmWowSoftware%\Mozilla\Mozilla Firefox 3.*\bin [PathToExe]”)</condition>

MODIFIED:
<condition>MigXmlHelper.DoesObjectExist(“Registry”,”%HklmWowSoftware%\Mozilla\Mozilla Firefox *.*\bin [PathToExe]”)</condition>

After making these modifications, re-upload the USMT tool into the K2000.

Now if you choose the User Data tick box under Documents To Be Scanned in the K2000 USMT Scan Template, any version of Firefox will correctly be migrated.


Firefox specific migration (and other) without migrating ALL User Data

In the K2000 USMT Scan Template, if you tick User Data then it migrates anything in the MigApp.xml template which is anything from Firefox to all Office components to Acrobat etc etc.

This is not particularly helpful if you want to be more granular about what you take to ensure you don’t pass on redundant or out of date settings.

To customize the USMT Scan Template created in the K2000 is not as easy as it could be.

  1. Create a KACE USMT Scan Template and customize it with any visible settings but DO NOT tick User Data.

  2. Export this USMT Scan Template from the Package Management area of the K2000.

  3. Browse to the \restore Samba share and find the exported package.

  4. Extract the package with 7-Zip.

  5. Open the extracted file with notepad and copy the USMT XML component out to a new file.

    This begins with <Configuration> and ends with </Configuration>

    To add Firefox, you must add a new section to the file called Applications and within that section add the Firefox component. You can add this at the top directly below <Configuration>

    Example:
    <Configuration>
    <Applications>
    <component displayname=”Mozilla Firefox” migrate=”yes” ID=”http://www.microsoft.com/migration/1.0/migxmlext/migapp/mozilla firefox/settings”/>
    </Applications>

    You can also specifically add other components by adding them to the applications section so long as they exist in the MigApp.xml.

    For Outlook 2010 this would be:
    <component displayname=”Microsoft Office Outlook 2010″ migrate=”yes” ID=”http://www.microsoft.com/migration/1.0/migxmlext/migapp/microsoft office 2010/container/microsoft office outlook 2010/settings”/>


  6. Save this file with XML file extension.

  7. In the K2000, open your USMT Scan Template and under the Content Configuration tick Specify config file.

  8. Browse and select the XML file you created and then Save the USMT Scan Template.

When you reopen this USMT Scan Template, the K2000 shows it in the Template GUI format but as this GUI is not aware of the Applications section of the config file it won’t be displayed. It does however exist and modifying and saving the USMT Scan Template will not overwrite it (an export of the USMT Scan Template proves this).


So, what have we learned:

a) Microsoft didn’t bother fixing this Firefox version number hard coding in the MmigApp.xml file. This is possibly a problem for Chrome and other applications mentioned in it.

b) KACE USMT Scan Template GUI is not aware of Applications section of config file.

c) KACE USMT Scan Templates are ALL or nothing for applications. Granularity of applications already built into USMT (anything listed in MigApp.xml) would be better.

d) the ‘Specify config file’ option in the KACE USMT Scan Templates is ambiguous as to the required format of the config file. I only got this working when I exported a template from the KACE (thank KACE support as I wasn’t aware you could extract the packages) and copied the XML.
The ability to directly save an example config or the current config out for modification would make it simple to add customisation.

Dell EqualLogic Virtual Storage Manager (VSM) hangs on VASA registration

(I may as well do something useful with this blog like add content Google can index to help people solve the same problems I’ve encountered in my day to day work.)

So we run Dell EqualLogic arrays at work and I’ve had a problem getting the storage provider to register with the VMware VASA service.

The Dell EqualLogic Virtual Storage Manager appliance (4.0.1) would hang with the message:
Waiting for VMware vCenter to register with the VASA Provider

After much troubleshooting with Dell ProSupport we found the issue was related to expired certificates in the Java services used by VMware.

There are two knowledge base articles you should refer to confirm and fix this problem.

DELL: in VSM prior to 4.0.1 there was a certificate distributed as part of the included JDK that expired in 2013.
Dell released a knowledge base article on how to fix this.
VSM fails to register with the VASA service on vCenter

In my case, is was the certificate on the VMware side that was expired. When looking in the VSM logs, the engineer only had the certificate date to go by as the name was not listed.
This matched the expired certificate we found when following the VMware knowledge base article on the issue.
Registering a VASA provider with vCenter Server fails and reports the error: InvalidCertificate (2079087)

Bug: The Dell VSM appliance doesn’t timeout or fail if it can’t register with VASA. It remains stuck in a retry loop. Ctl+C does stop it and show a failed message and point to a log file. However VASA is then reported as SET in the VSM console.
Hopefully this is fixed in future releases

Bug: Expired VMware certificate. I don’t believe I missed anything in the upgrade documentation whilst upgrading vCenter from 5.0 to 5.1 then 5.5 over the last 18 months.
Should VMware have flagged this during these processes or updated this certificate?

Phone phishing / fraud still going strong

Well it seems that phone phishing is sadly alive and rampant in Australia.

Yet another client reported they had been cold called by a company, name given as Global Computer Solutions, claiming their computer had errors.
They mentioned that Microsoft had passed on information to them that this persons computer had errors on it along with their contact details.
Of course anyone with some privacy wits about them would know that Microsoft would probably be breaching numerous privacy laws if this was the case. Come to think of it, when was the last time you bought a computer and registered Microsoft Windows with Microsoft (eg giving them your personal details)?

When challenged as to their identity, the caller gave their name and a number that could be called to verify who they were. Funnily enought they have a Melbourne office.
Well, not really, they just have a Melbourne number: 03 90160451 which I suspect just redirect back to India where the call centre is. (am I suspecting too much?)

Using my trusty friend Google, I see that this phone number is listed on two other computer repair websites.
http://azurepcsolutions.com
http://homepcsolution.com
Funnily enough they have other numbers for other countries and also, gee, the company’s addres is in West Bengal, India.

I’d really like to hope that the ACCC and the phone companys would jump on these companys and disconnect their services promptly. (or at least their local services)

Graham Cluley and his guest Sean Richmond discussed this very issue on a podcast.
Check it out, it’s not very long.

(Sophos 05 November 2010, duration 6:15 minutes, size 4.5MBytes)

In fact I reccomend you use the Sophos Naked Security blog as a trusted source of information about security related issues in the IT world, covering Facebook and Twitter to general security issues and news.
They make it very accessable for all user levels. They’re on Facebook too.

To those in the IT industry or those that have some web sense, these scams are nothing new. To those that are new to this, I hope this helps educate you.
To Google, I hope this helps add to the information that is already out there about these frauds to assist those looking for information.

Hello, this is a phishy call.

And that number again just to make sure Google picks it up: 03 9016 0451 0390160451

Hello DNS

Last night Telstra suffered a DNS server outage, the details of which I haven’t had a chance to look into.

This revealed a weakness in our hosting setup as both primary and secondary DNS entries are currently hosted with Telstra.
I’ll now change to a different secondary and tertiary dns host.

We’re also in the process of have fibre run between hosting and office in order to provide a diverse path, carrier and technology.

I’m really trying to eliminate as many single points of failure in the entire infrastructure but it’s amazing how many things you have to cover.

I’m aiming to one day get to the point where “failure is not an emergency”.

There is a 50″ TV in my server room!

Well, yes there was a 50″ rear projection TV in my server room.
It was the foyer TV and the bulk off it stuck in to the server room.

Two problems with this.
A) heat. The unit vented into the server room.
B) size. That space has now become valuable needed space.

The server room is approximately 2.4m wide and 5m long. The raised floor and positioning of the doorway makes it just possible to squeeze in a 4th rack for new equipment.
With 1m deep racks and needing 800mm clearance at the front, that leaves only 600mm which was the space the TV was taking.

The things people leave behind

I’m on the way back to Melbourne now from my trip to Sydney.

Waiting at the Qantas Club waiting for my flight, I’m using a public computer to logon and check my email. (Laptop battery flat because I surrendered my power pack to a staff member who forgot theirs)

it’s interesting (but not surprising) to see the documents people have downloaded onto this public terminal but not deleted.
I did go looking for them but merely stumbled upon them when saving a temp document (nothing sensitive) myself.

Dividend reports, names and addresses, they’re all there.

Would you really want to trust a public terminal with private and confidential information?

This is also possibly a bad reflection on Qantas. They should have a more stringent cleanout policy in place to reset a system after use.

My advise:
-where possible, don’t use a public terminal
-never log into sensitive sites such as financial sites
-if you must, it must be secure, not clear text.
-where possible, use a web based service to access files. Citrix if your company offers it, that way no data leaves the corporate network.
-if you have to download files to the public machine, know where you save them and delete them. Directly opening a file from a browser will open the file from a temporary location you may not be able to find or delete. (Although it should get cleaned out)
-Always restart the computer when you are finished.
Many cleanout routines only take effect on a reboot and not a logoff.

Day 4?

Well I think it’s day 4 of laptop rollout.

16 units imaged, configured and ready to start going to staff tomorrow.

Steps so far

1) Pxe boot & image
2) Install Altiris client off USB key
3) Post Image script & Driver install Job. (Altiris)
4) Software install jobs (Altiris)

There are a few other nagging bits and pieces I hope finish scripting.

The corner pile of laptop boxes disappeared but have been replaced with the stands and docks.

Dick Smith Electronics rant

I’ve been at a client’s place doing software upgrades on all his pc’s.

To make life easier, I thought I’d reconfigure a printer to use it’s network ability, but was short a network cable.

The nearest place at 4:30 on a Saturday of course was DSE.

$15 for a 1m network cable!
Actually, I wasn’t surprised, but still that’s pretty good consumer ripoff work.
(3m cable was $25)

Here’s an idea. Get rid of the fancy plastic packaging (which will be better for the enviroment anyway) and have plain or almost non existant packaging. $8 maybe? (And that’s still making a big profit)