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How to build a cloud tenant in 30 minutes

Start with building Microsoft Azure

So I will admit, having focused on Windows 10 and BlackBerry UEM for the last few years, I realise my cloud experience isn’t what potential employers would want to see. So I decided to put my money where my mouth is again and see what I could do.

Azure probably took the longest to setup, but once I had the Azure Tenant setup, with an SQL server, plus In-tune and Office 365. Setup BlackBerry UEM, connected it to In-tune and deployed the MS Office Apps from UEM with In-tune managing the MAM policies on my iPhone and Pixel 3. I did it this way since Mobile Iron and VMWare Airwatch do not deliver evaluation version of their MDM software as quickly as BlackBerry do, I could have probably done it with them…. But in all the time it took me the best part of 20 minutes to do it all, so spent the next 10 minutes setting up an Amazon Web Service Tenant and Google Cloud.

While all this was happening also deployed VMWare ESXi (Vsphere 6.7) with 2 copies of Ubuntu Server clustered with BSDUnix and Oracle Solaris running Oracle and for the hell of it did DOS.

Tomorrow is installing Windows Server 2019, setting up Active Directory and Azure Active Directory Connectors, and maybe an eval of a proper X500 Directory. Novell eDirectory or NetIQ Identity Management… And maybe MAC OS for fun

On top setup Cisco Virtual Machines, so in effect a small datacentre.

It has been a difficult setting up kubernetes on the R Pi cluster as the 4 Model B doesn’t support it yet

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Take a moment to contemplate. Anything is possible

Fidelis habentes fiduciam vitae doctrina et sperans

— Ashley Taylor

This is the first post of my new blog. It will be about pretty much anything that interests me. From Technology, to food. Hopefully it won’t be too deep and intense, but here to inspire anyone to imagine what is possible. I’m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more. And excuse the Latin grammar. My Latin is a little rusty. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates.

My name is Ashley Taylor. Before anyone second guesses, I am a man – more about that later… I live in the United Kingdom in the fair county of Essex, in an old market town called Maldon. I have been fortunate to have lived there almost my whole life, because it is one of the most peaceful and beautiful places to live.

For many years I have worked in Information Technology, specialising as an Analyst troubleshooter, in industries ranging from Pharmaceuticals, Law and even spent time at a technology vendor. I originally had the idea of starting this blog to share experiences and inspire other Information Technologists to think about what is possible. But the idea inspired me to also think about what is possible, so this blog will also be about my other interests, ranging from food, cooking and my other hobbies. There will even be a post about medieval calligraphy.

As I mentioned before, the first idea came when I decided to try and build a unified desktop between Windows and Linux, personal project just to see what was possible. I use Windows primarily for a few things. Microsoft Office and Photoshop / Lightroom. Could I do it with Linux and use the same software in Windows? Turns out I could. Libre Office and GIMP. Linux is now my primary desktop. More about that in a later post. I need a new job and Cloud is the way to go. I’m the best Analyst that I have done, but need to learn new things…. Cloud.. So what better way than to build your own cloud? My next posts will be about Kubernetes and Raspberry Pi, but I promise I will get back to you about medieval calligraphy. But before I get into clouds and calligraphy. I have just purchased a new Nikon DSLR. They now come with Wi-Fi which allows you to connect your phone. I can take a photo and instantly share it… but more I can remote control the camera from my phone. Life is too short to miss moments

As I mentioned I am a man. This little private joke started when I would email customers when I worked at BlackBerry. The reply would always address me as Mrs Ashley Taylor. It sometimes helped since in the same team there was also a girl called Ashley.

Finally for this post, my new motto. Fidelis habentes fiduciam vitae doctrina et sperans

In literal terms, it translates too Believe, trust, live, learn and hope. Believe in oneself and others. Trust in oneself and others. Live life to the full. Learn from your mistakes and most of all, have hope. We never know what life can bring and as a good a friend once told me, “What Will Be Will Be”

Kindest regards,

Ashley Taylor

taylorwaxseal

The Internet of Things (IoT) has it gone too far?

I know what you are going to say, an Internet connected Bicycle

Firstly I’m not going to be talking about Internet connected phones, media players etc because they are useful

This is going to be primarily consumer focused, but lets start off with business opportunities. BlackBerry Radar allows a business to track their shipping containers. BlackBerry say;

BlackBerry Radar® is a complete asset tracking solution providing reliable visibility to trailer, chassis, containers and equipment. These ruggedized devices are easy-to-install, low maintenance and long-lasting to minimize operational disruptions and maximize your ROI.

All sounds good!

I feel it was a missed thing. BlackBerry had QNX installed in the vast majority of automotive. What if corporate fleet management or hire car companies could manage their cars, including possibly tracking where they were, using a Unified Endpoint Management System. Yes Privacy issues arise, but that is for the corporations to sort out

I’m not going to even suggest that UK Railways are IoT because they would probably run better and on time.

So firstly I’m going to start off with things I think are useful connected to the Internet to the consumer, people… because that is who the customer is.

Ok to me …

I love cooking. I Sous Vide my steaks, fish, chicken etc and it tastes almost as good as a top quality restaurant. But Barbecue is where my heart is. I recently went on holiday, took my Mum and dog and I did all the cooking. On the BBQ. A Cadac Carry Chef where I have the Grill Pan and the Chef Pan. The Chef Pan is Ideal for cooking a 1 Pan cooked breakfast (English Breakfast to any Americans reading, I’m not talking about hash browns, pancakes, corn beef hash or anything else) Bacon, Sausage, Mushrooms, Tomatoes, Fried Bread and Fried Eggs all cooked together, but I am getting sidetracked.

Above is a Green Mountain Grill Jim Bowie Stainless WiFi. Wood Pellet driven smoker / grill / bbq / braii ‘to all my south african friends’ You can program it from your phone and it will even send you a message when your meat is cooked (Now this could be 36 hours later if you are doing a slow cooked pulled pork belly). What is not to like?

What is next on the list?

Nest Products

How can you not love what Google are doing with the Internet of Things? Security Cameras that you can track with your phone, upload to Google’s cloud and even have your own CCTV security system at home. I have one using an NVidia Shield TV running Android TV. It will even put the screen up from your doorbell camera while you are watching TV (how many people do not hear the door bell when watching TV?) Thermostat if it is too warm or cold, you can just say “Ok Google” and the rest is done. Having a lock unlock as you approach it with your phone in the pocket is a nice thing, but what if you forget your phone. 1 is the house unlocked and would the Alarm System alert the authorities if your place was burgled? And what if they decided to burn your house down to erase the evidence? Would the smoke/ fire alarm still alert the authorities…. if you had left your phone at home.

So that is Nest… the next is Phillips Hue

What can I say? You can dim / change the colours of the lights, but best of all. I press play on a movie using PLEX and it will automatically dim the lights… like in a cinema (using IFTTT)

And next, for me…. and of course, I have an Apple Watch. Apple have gone to town on health as they saw a gap in the market but have they also gone too far (More of that later) It will tell me if the Ambient sound around me will damage my ears, or if I am going to have a heart attack… I got health conscious after a scare last year, so bought myself an Omron M7 Intelli IT Blood Pressure Monitor. You can take it day / night and I’m happy mine is normal 120/78 with average 88 BPM and 59 resting rate.

And lastly, my Kiwi Wifi. OBD-II connecting Wi-Fi dongle. Allows me to connect my phone or iPad to the car, can do diagnostics and even have a Nissan Skyline GTR type instruments

So why am I having a “debate” about the Internet of things? Lets start with the Griffin Toaster

Their blurb says; Join the upper crust of society with the Smart Connected Toaster from Griffin. Featuring Bluetooth technology for remotely controlling temperature, bread type and much more, wherever you are in the home or office – all from your iOS or Android smartphone. You can even put your bread in at night an it will have toast in the morning… problem is bread in air overnight goes stale – can you imagine the “Upper crust” – pun not intended eating stale toast? Why does a toaster need to be internet connected? Do you want to check if your partner is eating properly?

Next it even gets worse…..

An IoT connected kettle. Do you really need to tell the kettle to boil water as you are 5 minutes from home? Remember the water has probably started going stagnant and caught flies.

Fridges that can automatically order from Amazon when you have run out of milk, cheese and wine are good because lets face it Hotel Mini bars have had that technology for years, but a toaster and a kettle? What next? Washing Machine, Dishwasher?

Edited. Before you get too excited, you can get an IoT (Ok Bluetooth connected toothbrush) that will tell your Apple Health App if you are brushing your teeth properly. Does anyone need an iPhone to tell them they are brushing their teeth properly?

Colgate say…. “The Colgate Smart Electronic Toothbrush E1 offers Artificial Intelligence technology built into the handle that works with an app on your iPhone or iPad to help you manage your oral health more effectively. Designed with the help of dentists, the brush also features sonic vibrating technology to thoroughly clean and protect your smile.”

But, it gets worse! There are some websites on the Internet that may have some use for it…. but not Apple Health in my humble opinion. It looks like a Dunlop tyre and I have always been a Michelin fan. Ladies and Gentleman, let me introduce you to the “I.Con”. I’m not saying more, Google it!

By the way, I am in no way endorsing any of the products mentioned. Especially the last one.

So that is my take on the Internet of Things (IoT) Comments are welcome

I had to put one final edit. No post on the internet is worth anything without a cat video. I give you the SureFlap Microchip Cat Flap Connect. I like this: The Microchip Cat Flap Connect links to the Sure Petcare app via a Hub, allowing the user to lock the cat flap remotely from anywhere and receive notifications when their cat enters or leaves the house. Activity graphs give owners an overview of their pet’s normal patterns of behaviour, helping them to notice changes which could be a sign of illness or distress. In multi-pet homes, certain cats can be kept indoors whilst allowing other cats to come and go freely. It’s the perfect addition to any smart home.

New hope and new life can arise from apparently hopeless situations

My vicar made me a pen because I was admiring the one he made for himself and he showed me how well it writes by writing a letter.

This is what he wrote

About your pen

In January 2011 just after New year’s Day a freak storm hit Hatfield Peveral causing damage to many buildings, including St Andrew’s church but most drastically to our beautiful churchyard and its cedar trees.The cross on the alter at All Saints and this pen have been made out of the wood cleared away afterwards and stands as a reminder that from wreckage and disaster, new life and hope can arise.

Christians hold that the Cross of Christ is a symbol of exactly that and so when you look at the cross or this pen, think of the new life and new hope that can arise from apparently hopeless situations.

Prayers and blessings

Rev’d Derek

It’s a beautiful fountain pen that he hand crafted from cedar and the nib etc are 18 ct gold.. to buy a pen like it you would have to go to Mont Blanc etc. I’m a very lucky man

Photography

I have always wanted to get a great photo of a sunset. But either missed the time, or missed the time. My ideal pic would be over the river at sunset and high tide, but keep missing it. I am going to have a go on Friday as the Tide and Sunset time are spot on.

But, tonight I managed to get a shot like no other. This is Heybridge Basin at Sunset taken on a Nikon D3500 and only converted from Raw to JPG in Photoshop, no enhancements. After you see the pic I’ll tell you the whole story

I didn’t actually take the photo, or I did, but the original was taken on a man’s iPhone which I managed to see and I shot the photo of his iPhone screen on my Nikon. His picture was gold to my eyes but the Nikon picked it up like this, which we both thought looked more “Arty”

So my idea now is use a phone to take a photo then take a photo of the screen with a DSLR and see what the result is. But before I do that, here is a HDR (High Dynamic Range) pic of my church

God bless you all.

And now for something completely different

Saltwater Tropical Aquarium

Every day is a learning curve

I have this fondness for fish, whether they be coldwater, freshwater, tropical.My last aquarium had 2 Blackamores and 2 Golden Orandas but what they do not tell you is coldwater fish require more room and I had too many for the aquarium. And eventually they all died. Part of it was due to selective breeding of the Blackamores and Orandas to get that short swollen look, but it is detrimental to their swim bladders.

I like an aquarium because after a hard day’s work it is nice to get back to something relaxing and fish do that for me. This time I’m going for a tropical saltwater aquarium.

I’m a big fan of the Pixar film “Finding Nemo” however it was just a computer animated cartoon. None of the species are compatible and would have likely ended up with Dory (A regal tang) eating Nemo.

If the movie were to be played out in reality, if Bubbles (Yellow Tang) and Deb (Damselfish) were already in the aquarium and Nemo (Clownfish) were suddenly dropped in one day, things would not have gone well. Bubbles and Deb would have chased Nemo until he either jumped out of the aquarium or was pinned into a corner and was not allowed to move. If he didn’t die from exhaustion, injury, or fright, he likely would have succumbed to disease because of a weakened immune system as a result of the stress.

Jacques (Cleaner Shrimp) would have long since been lunch for either Bloat (Puffer Fish) or Gill (Moorish Idol). Gurgle (Royal Gramma) would probably have been far too large for Gill to eat but would have been the perfect meal ticket for Bloat.

Peach (Starfish) would probably have starved from having nothing to eat – flake food won’t cut it for this creature. Alternatively, if she were routinely fed frozen fish, the water quality would have been so poor in an aquarium due to under-filtration that she and her tank mates (especially Jacques and the anemone) likely wouldn’t have made it.

So Nemo was my favourite, so sticking with Clown Fish, but how to keep them healthy. First I have gone overboard making sure the water is right for them. I’ve let the plants flourish, but you also have to remove Nitrates, Nitrites and Ammonia from the water as well as all the chemicals they put into tap water. So this has been left for several weeks.

The first thing I noticed was a layer of brown Algie forming at the top. This is common due to the Algie being dormant in the substrate. There is now a layer of sea sand on the top. Filtering and removal plus water changing is the only thing you can do to remove it.

Next step is to add some live rock and some cleaner shrimp. The shrimp will help keep the toxins down as they eat pretty much anything aswell as any parasites the fish get. I will get the cleaner shrimp acclimatised first and then add some cleaner wrasse (another fish that also helps keep the tank clean)

The idea is to provide the fish with as little stress as possible, so manually cleaning the tank will be kept to the barest minimum.

I will keep posting updates so one day you will see Nemo and Marlin living in perfect harmony

Thanks again for reading

Enterprise Mobility Management

So what is Enterprise Mobility Management?

Once upon a time it was just about Mobile Device Management… Remember the old BlackBerry?

BlackBerry invented the BlackBerry Enterprise Server. The Server would connect to your mail system and perform a true push to the connected devices across BlackBerry’s own network. It was costly for a vendor to do that and there were a number of copies such as Good Technology etc. You could implement policies on the devices to prevent users from performing certain actions and from a user point of view they could be quite restrictive.. (more of that later)

Eventually Microsoft delivered Active-sync and a number of the catchup vendors such as Apple and Google settled on this protocol with a number of caveats.

So we now come to today. Enterprise Mobility Management has come a long way from when it began, from simple device management to managing application polices and securing all devices including Windows and Mac OS, allowing corporations to manage devices connecting to their infrastructure whether it be BYOD, COPE, COBO or BYOL.

So where are we now? I come from a BlackBerry background and last used their UEM product which as an MDM platform was the most mature, but I am now looking at 4 main contenders in the industry. BlackBerry UEM, VMWARE Airwatch Workspace ONE, Mobile Iron and Microsoft Intune. And will include the main mobile contenders. There are others like IBM Maas and Citrix Xen but I don’t have any experience of them.

BlackBerry UEM has evolved since the takeover of Good Technology to integrate the Dynamics Platform to provide the best BlackBerry provided as an MDM platform and what Good Provided as an Application platform. They can also manage Bring your own Laptop, securing corporate data from personal databases and are probably the most mature of vendors.

Microsoft Intune. If you are running the Office 365 suite and want to control data, then Intune is a must because it provides Microsoft Application Management policies alongside Conditional Access. This will secure Microsoft data, but Intune is not the most mature MDM platform, but thankfully you do not have to use Intune as an MDM platform since the other vendors are able to plug into it and use their MDM and EMM capabilities along with Intune providing Microsoft policies.

If you want to evaluate an EMM solution, VMWARE Airwatch Workspace ONE is probably the quickest to set up. In 10 minutes I had the cloud tenant provisioned , Apple APNS certificate installed and connected to Intune. BlackBerry UEM took a little longer to do the same, but for me Mobile Iron was a little less intuitive, but that is just a personal opinion. Note intune needs to be provisioned first.

Each have their own flaws and merits but each can probably do what you need them to do. For me, I’d now probably pick Airwatch with Intune because it seems to just edge ahead of BlackBerry for complete integration. But for the Application and if you are not concerned so much with the MAM policy and conditional access I’d pick BlackBerry.

A note about Smartphone Vendors. I have typed this on an iPhone X and also have a Pixel 3. I also adored my BlackBerry 10 phones and I have no doubt one day someone is going to come along with something better. But for now if you are happy with what you have, go with it.

Raspberry Pi 4 Model B

So decided to jump into the world of Raspberry Pi because since I now run Linux as a desktop at home, this is my new PC

Its a 4GB Pi 4 Model B with a 32GB SD Card. Still undecided whether to run Raspbian or Ubuntu.. remember this will be used as my PC running Office Apps etc.

This however is going to be running Kubernetes.

It is basically 4 Raspberry Pi 4 Model B running Ubuntu with the Docker and Kubernetes package installed. Like a mini cloud. Idea is to run My SQL and Plex Media Server with storage on Synology DS1819+

I remember the years when you were at home as a kid and Dad brought in a first computer. Remember for me it was the 80s and all I got was an Oric 1

Instead of a Spectrum

Dad would never succumb to our insane feelings. Instead he bought us a 386 PC instead of an Amiga

Love you dad! This can now run both and also act as anything. I’m not sure how they would get on if they knew everything, but such is life