iPad Apps

22 February 2012 Leave a comment

I have been evaluating different iPad apps to deploy on the first of two iPads for one the departments. The requirements presently are form filling, and field-service report writing, so I have been looking at different apps for those purposes. The iPads do not yet have 3G connections, and wireless is not available in the clearance-required environment, so these will be non-wirelessly linked iPads for the duration of the year. FMGo will be one of the apps, since we have an existing FileMaker server infrastructure, but there are many forms that could be filled too. Form filling will likely be some sort of PDF Annotation app, for these I have been looking at (1) pdfReviewFree, (2) pdf-notes free, (3) Sign-N-Send free, (4) GoodReader, and (5) DocAS. Ultimately, a developer will be creating purpose-built FileMaker apps, converting paper-forms based data collection into an FMGo based alternative, but that will take time to write requirements and use cases, then work the agile-SDLC.

Although not part of the requirements, perse, a good tool for the creation and sharing of structured notes might also be of benefit: I use OmniOutliner for iPad presently, but I cannot organize collections of outlines into folders. I now have 60+ outlines covering six or more topics, sliding sloppily from side-to-side all jumbled together, and this presents an obstacle to continued efficient use of this app.

I do intend to use the iPad as a front end to a paper-reduction effort, with a FileMaker server backend, but that will require a wireless connection. We have a SuperContainer on Tomcat7 container for the documents, indexed in a FileMaker DB that will be ported over to the iPad using FMGo.

Categories: iPad

Symantec Backup Exec 12.5 SP4 incompatibility with Windows Server 2008 R2 persists

30 December 2011 2 comments

We installed a single Windows Server 2008 R2 DC in our W2k3 domain to extend the schema and manage our new windows 7 desktops, and now there is a problem. Symantec Backup Exec 12.5 is incompatible, or so it seems. I patched SBE 12.5 to SBE 12.5 SP4, plus hotfixes, and still some of the jobs error out with complaints, “A failure occured querying the Writer status.” The data is being backup, as the job status lists a byte count, but errors occur at the end of each job. These are multi target jobs, and when the backup targets have either an MSExchange or MS SQL agent running, the jobs seems to end in failure. The job status log has more red than black, and that annoys me immensely.

All I did was extend the schema in the forest and domain, all my member servers remain Windows 2003, but the media server is Windows Server 2003 R2, but Research suggested that the incompatibility was isolated to SBE 12.5 where installed on a W2k8R2 platform, not merely within a mixed W2k3(R2) / W2k8R2 domain.

I’m in the proces of breaking jobs into smaller targeted jobs, but It seems clear thet servers running an agent will hang after the job completes after querying the Writer status. The “Writer” is associated with VSS, and I have tried adjusting the options in the job configuration without success.

I have been rereading the documentation hoping to find some scripting or logic mechanism that might permit me to branch around error conditions… Still researching this!


26 December 2011 Leave a comment

My latest gig has kept me occupied tremendously, and I am getting near one year at the new gig. Managing a budget, documenting and controlling a previously neglected domain, engineering a FileMaker infrastructure, and walking down the road towards paper-reduction (originally branded “paperless” but now “paper-reduction” so as to set realistic expectations) is an immense collection of projects… And, while very busy, I have been enjoying it!

As the year end grows near I am pushing to deploy two iPads and prepare a departmental three-year plan. A two pad deployment seems simple enough, whether iOS or Android based, is and will have a huge impact on computing in our department, but the first two have been procured ahead of a deployment plan, and so the plan is a super-Agile plan, where it develops as it is deployed. I picked up the iphone-management-app, recommended by Apple, and will be using it for initial iPad management, but will also be looking at JAMF Casper Suite and Equinux Tarmac as enterprise tools. The three-year plan is well under way and will likely be delivered as a powerpoint presentation, plus a multi-page paper to summarize my collected data.

Budget restrictions are forcing me to find creative storage solutions, and I have a collection of 100+ 750GB SATA hard drives as part of a recycled video archiving array. The colection had been relegated to a holding area, waiting to be DoD wiped and sent to the crusher, but now I am looking at open-source NAS solutions to add storage that can stand at the ready, as both disk-to-disk backup and scanned document repository space. Experience with document management issues tells me to be ready with 100’s of GB’s of storage as datasets are copied or replicated, and developed databases are versioned, and that the many internet predictions on space consumed by scanned generally underestimate realistic overall storage needs.

There was at least budget for the FileMaker infrastructure, so there will be two FileMaker servers, one the production rig and the other a development rig, either having the horse-power to function in both capacities. Both servers are dual Xeon chassis with 12GB of RAM and mirrored arrays locally, plus an attached external SAS array with room for future expansion. We have procured FileMaker Server Advanced under volume licensing, have one database in alpha and plans for several others. Plus FMGo is in the developer’s queue. Unfortunatley there was a disaster in Thailand, and the SAS HDDs we ordered are on back order, so infrastructure build-outvwill be delayed.

The Quadshot

11 September 2011 Leave a comment

I heard about (on the the HAK5 podcast) a trick new platform for aerial autonomy called the quadshot, from a group of developers out of Santa Cruz, CA. It has four propellers and takes off vertically, but uses a mono wing design, so flying under a pitch-yaw-roll scenario is second nature. I even contributed to their fund raising cause over at kickstarter.com. If I had time I would get busy playing with one, but I need to devote myself to my new job, which means constant techno-lust

VMware for, from iPad

21 August 2011 Leave a comment

The next feat for me was to access my VMware box with a tool loaded on the iPad. I loaded the vSphere Client for iPad, but it requires vCMA running on vCenter, or as it turns out on ESXi. Found a youtube video on how to do this, actually there are two parts, one for installing the vCMA and another for configuring the iPad client: this has had to be one of the easiest setups so far.  The two videos are not 100% accurate,  since they are tailored to the vCenter install details, rather than the community version ESXi v4.1  that I have at home, installed on an HP Pavilion m9000t, but the results are really cool.  in the part two video we are instructed to use the settings icon and set the IP for the vCMA but my experience was that there was no setting, I  went directly to the iPad app and logged into the appliance, then supplied the virtual appliance with the IP of my VMware server.

loading up

21 August 2011 Leave a comment

Getting busy with work and staying current, loading up the iPad with all manner of apps and reference material. Made the mistake of loading all my existing iPhone apps onto the iPad. They’re compatible, that is not the issue, the issue is the format. Most, not all, but most load in portrait mode and refuse to auto rotate to landscape. And most also do not adjust for the larger landscape of the iPad versus the iPhone, most annoyingly are the reference books: the little 2x button in the lower right corner does fix it , but the pixelization is ragged (the fonts appear as if magnified, rather than smooth) and it takes some getting used to. Other applications benefit, it seems, from built it logic that sense the alternate venue and reformat themselves for the iPad. In iTunes I had to go through and deselect apps from the iPhone, iPod, iPad section, that didn’t auto-rotate and demanded the 2x thing. Some I left because they were pricy and I frequently have use of the reference material contained within, I guess it all boils down to what is too annoying, and what you can put up with.

Apps of note for me are Lynda.com, Safari Books Online, and of course iBooks.  I have annual subscriptions to both Lynda.com and Safaribooksonline.com, both help me stay current on applications, or help me adapt to spot jobs where I need a bit more than a passing knowledge.  Recently I discovered Lua, a scripting interface for the iPad, but I will need to carve out some time to dig into it, as time permits.


17 July 2011 Leave a comment

Well I made the decision to add an iPad to the personal entourage, an iPad 64Gb 3G rig and I will be doing FileMaker Go application development with it.  This is an iPad 2, with the AT&T plan, although I have not yet signed up for a data plan.  For the most part I expect to be updating it from my home network, but use and familiarity will dictate future service decisions. At the office, there has been a request that one department have the use of a mobile device, specifically the iPad was requested, and management has approved procurement of three, so I need to be thinking administratively on how to support these devices; but I have been wanting one for a while now.  I need to study how to move data to and from the iPad as efficiently as possible, and yet as securely as possible.  The recent release of FileMaker Go is a well timed event for this project, and I will be leveraging and or testing FileMaker Go with an initial proof-of-concept implementation.

Now more than ever I am shopping for portable solar backup power generators to add to the disaster kit, but also to add to the day-to-day operations kit. I’d really like to have a mobile solar power array on the roof of my SUV, I can think of several good uses for it: trickle charge the automobile system, charge cell phones, provide camping power (when car-camping), and even roadside assistance when someone needs a jump. Once I thought it might me a cool way of offering a mesh-network solution, to bring the internet to the masses, but that would take some resources and a coordinated team of people to accomplish: it could be an interesting business venture, and I wonder if anyone has tried it yet?

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