Dear real estate agents, websites and sellers of Perth..

So, I finally bought a house, after starting to look in 2004 ;)

In fairness – life plans etc meant buying one earlier wasn’t the right move.

But I have some rants about the process so far.

  • Include floorplans, holy hell. If your real estate agent doesn’t include creating a floorplan and having it on your listing – fire them. I’m sure we skipped over many suitable properties because they didn’t have floorplans. It’s a buyers market – make it easy for us to understand what we’re getting.
  • Why the hell does one of Australia’s leading property sites include “under offer” properties in search results? I want to buy houses for sale, not houses that aren’t. Yes, agents might like to think their brand is valuable to buyers and that you will call them and say “oh, have you got another like that?”, and hey presto, the agent gets a lead – and I’m sure that happens, but it’s a big data world. We have sites, not affiliated with you, with specifications and pictures of the houses for sale. Your brand is of limited value.
  • Talking to a friend who sold a house recently, some agents apparently don’t do open homes, they just want it by appointment, because it “feels more exclusive”. The last thing I want to do is become a lead for you, and I want to know how much competition there is for a property. We didn’t look at any properties by appointment.
  • If your block can be subdivided, but isn’t – you don’t get to ask for the same amount as it would be if it had been subdivided. Especially in Perth’s very weak market, we saw a surprising number of properties for sale with inclusion of the standardly disclaimed “subject to council approval” subdivison potential. We did the sums on a couple of them, and we’d make maybe $50K, on a outlay and risk of around $950K. “But I need to make profit too!” .. yes, that’s the capital growth you got from land banking for 15 years.
  • Likewise, if you are subdividing and building units – don’t get greedy. We walked away from one of the first places we looked at because they had subdivided into three properties, then built to maximum dimensions – and there wasn’t even space for a clothes line outside! We had a look at a $569K 4 bedroom+theatre new construction property – all the rooms were TINY. 3 and a theatre may have got our interest.
  • Design is always an individual choice, and when developing you have a budget – but upper cabinets in a kitchen are necessary, as are non-laminex counter tops. If your kitchen design requires putting the fridge outside of the main kitchen area – build a wall around it so it doesn’t look like it.
  • Photos – please have photos of the inside of the house. Good photos, without using wacky perspective to make stuff seem bigger than it is. Well lit, in focus. Furnished or unfurnished doesn’t matter too much.. but NOT 3D rendered furniture! This seems to be an up and coming trend.. I hope it stops.

But we’d just as soon be back in time, for all the chance you’d change your mind..

Nikon AW130 Mini-review

I recently went on a once in a lifetime trip to St Maarten.. it was pretty awesome. I had done some pre-scouting online, and worked out that my primary photographic objective was planes at SXM (you’ll know when you see it..), but that there were also some really cool beaches there, so I figured now was as good time as any to get a water-resistant digital camera, and that since I would be taking photos of planes with good lighting at close range, there would be no need to take my DSLR and piles of L-Series lenses.

Also on my wishlist for a waterproof camera were Geotagging from GPS and wifi connectivity. All of these led me to the new Nikon AW130. My local camera store had one, and I picked it up for C$414 (with taxes included). Not super cheap, but affordable still. I also took along my iPhone 6, but not for underwater use, perhaps obviously.

I took about 500 photos with it, but before I get effusive about its photos, let’s break down what I don’t like about it:

  • No ISO, Aperture or Shutter speed settings
  • Flash Auto, Flash Off – no Flash Mandatory
  • Built in image sharpening
  • Image dynamic range sucks compared to iPhone 6 (which is an astonishingly good camera..)
  • Falls victim to megapixel myth – so much noise reduction¬†in the sensor that it may as well have been half the resolution
  • Only does 4:3 photos – c’mon, it’s 2015
  • UI issues a-plenty with geo-tagging – as soon as it gets wet, every single freaking time, it asks if you want to use the last GPS location for geotagging, or to just leave it blank. I feel that should be a setting you can set and forget. Turning on or off GPS tagging is NOT obvious – I would think a “geotag images – yes or no” option would be good – but no, you need to turn “Record location track” on to enable geotagging, AND to enable the GPS location display – ie, unless you turn this on, the GPS doesn’t run. There’s also no satellite diagnostics or status.
  • It also has a confusing “shake” UI for single handed underwater use.. not sure how I feel about it. It looks like you can turn it on/off.. but shaking it when it is off also has a UI response, so.. I don’t know what it means.
  • WIFI – creates a network, doesn’t join one, so you can’t photograph and upload to facebook or flickr directly. When you connect your mobile device to it, and pull photos off (only photos – can’t download videos from it), it only pulls them off at low resolution, not full resolution.

But on the plus side – it works nicely underwater, and takes pretty good photos, limitations notwithstanding. I don’t regret buying it, and it was great to have it with us for the trip. It’s just.. a pretty shitty UI. But I’m spoilt by iOS.

Check out the photos from our trip – some are from the iPhone, and some from the Nikon.

St Maarten 2015

As another observation, it’s also really weird holding a brand new piece of digital equipment.. and jumping into the ocean with it.


Setting clock from CLI is not allowed in this VDC.

If you’re trying to set the time on a brand new out of box Cisco Nexus 5500 and you get the message “Setting clock from CLI is not allowed in this VDC.”, it’s because the clock protocol is set to ntp, even though you didn’t configure NTP. Go into config and type “clock protocol none”, and then it will let you set the time.

Then, when you’ve finished the config, set up NTP!

And while you’re at it, this page from Cisco is awesome for troubleshooting VPC

Go away and I will replace you with a very small shell script..

I did a recent migration of SAN to NAS for a client recently, and had to unmount all of their datastores.

This little one liner lists all SAN volumes, then gets rid of them..

# esxcfg-scsidevs -m | sed -e ‘s/\:1 //g’ | awk ‘{ printf(“esxcli storage filesystem unmount -l %s;\nsleep 1;\nesxcli storage core device set –state=off -d %s;\n”,$4,$1);}’ > /tmp/

Hope it helps someone, somewhere, someday.

Las Vegas with Penny and Kim

Las Vegas with Penny and Kim

This week, I went to Las Vegas. For a day. I arrived in at about 9:30PM, and left the next day at the same time. I went along for Chris and Rachel’s wedding.. and their wedding guest, Kim, Penny and Laura. Yay seeing Perth people. I also had a pretty full week at work.. so I’m sitting at home on Friday night thinking back over my week – “san installation, crazydayinvegaswithkimandpenny, san installation, network installation, san installation..”

Have you tried turning it off and on again, five times?

These days I’m doing a lot of work implementing Datacentre equipment, including SANs, servers and switches. I recently installed some Brocade VDX6720 switches. Pretty cool stuff, especially the way that TRILL and vLAGs work so easily. I had a loaner switch, running Network OS (NOS) 3.0.1aa, while waiting for the final switches to be delivered. When the final switches were delivered, they were running NOS 2.0.1, so I had to upgrade them. That wasn’t the smoothest of experiences.

In Brocade’s defence, I should have read the manual closer, both of these issues are in there, if you read it all.. but time is money!

1 – I couldn’t get it to download new firmware over SCP – it kept reporting file not found, and that’s hard to diagnose. Might not be brocade’s fault, so I went to use the USB method of loading firmware. It took about 15 minutes till I re-read the manual and saw that you can only use the Brocade branded USB key to do that. Yes, there’s a USB port on the thing, but you can only use the ONE USB key it came with to load firmware onto it (or a similar Brocade one, at least they aren’t node locked)

2 – Turns out by “not supported”, they mean that a direct upgrade from 2.0.1 to 3.0.1 will almost brick your switch. You need to upgrade to 3.0.0 first. I missed that bit. One of the switches didn’t have VLAN information on, and came back pretty quickly, while the other, that I had configured VLANs on, would crash at startup.

eAnvil rev B found
Info: panic dump has been initialized!
Exisitng reboot reason fsize = 5 rb=
Global Fan Direction is 0

The file contains no trace dump information.

Network OS ((none))

(none) console login: ********************************************************************************************************
** Crashed in OM/Worker (WaveNs::ClusterLocalObjectManager::boot(WaveNs::WaveAsynchronousContextForBootPhases*))

WaveNs::PrismLinearSequencerContext::executeNextStep(unsigned int const&)
/lib/ [0xc306e5c]

Thu Jul 11 22:04:07 UTC 2013 :: Confd: Waiting for Dcmd to become ready...

How did I recover? Well, reading scrollback I noticed a “Found 2(threshold 5) abnormal reboots within 3000 seconds window(threshold)” message, and wondered what would happen if I hit 5 abnormal reboots? Well, that gives you an option to “clean databases”, which fixed it good and proper.

3 – Bonus gripe here. As far as I can tell, there’s no way to configure a range of interfaces, like cisco’s “int range” or dell’s “int blah/0 to blah/2”. I’ve seen some people say on forums that they wouldn’t buy Brocade again because of this. A little harsh, but it seems like a pretty trivial feature to add.

FileVault on SSD

After the previously posted of “thieving gits” in 2009, I now encrypt my laptop, and was prepared to take a performance hit for it, and this is just fine.

For the OCZ Agility 4 I just got (AGT4-25SAT3-512G) – this is the “411”, as they say here. Without encrypting, blackmagic speed test was 208MB/sec write, 252MB/sec read. Encrypted with Filevault, it’s 196MB/sec write and 215MB/sec read, which is good enough, especially considering I was getting about 40MB/sec read/write on my encrypted 5200RPM HDD (vs 70MB/sec read/write on my wife’s unencrypted 7200RPM HDD)

One of the pieces of advice I’ve seen about SSDs is to not encrypt them because the extra write cycle will wear them out quicker, incompressible data leads to slower transfer rates, garbage collection/trim will slow them down, etc. Well, that hasn’t been my experience, and these concerns are even addressed specifically for this drive.

OCZ Agility 4 in MacBook Pro (Mid 2009)

I sort of regard replacing hard drives like changing oil in a car – something you need to do to keep things working. It might last, but it probably won’t.

So along those lines, I’ve just replaced the hard drive in my MacBook Pro with a new SSD – my local computer store had two 512GB OCZ Agility 4’s for a very good price – so I got that.

One things I was worried about was how it works with the crazy NVidia MCP79 SATA interface in these.. they are a SATA-II controller, and have a bit of a bug, where if they see a SATA-III device, it goes “wtf is this?” and clocks it down to SATA-I speed, instead of SATA-II. For hard drives, that doesn’t matter – but for SSD’s, it’s going to limit performance. I have an SSD in my work MacBook Pro, of a similar vintage, and it only runs at SATA-I speed, and it’s good enough, but not great.

I did some reading on OCZ’s offerings – for their “3” series of drives, there’s a utility you can download to set them to SATA-II, but no such utility exists for the “4” series. Well, turns out what I had seen suggested is the case – they will detect they’re connected to an MCP79, and automatically claim to be SATA-II. This is the main reason I’m posting this – in case someone else has similar concerns ;) So this SSD is doing 208MB/sec write, 250MB/sec read, which is pretty impressive.

As a side note: I saw a storage company’s SEs who I work quite closely with while I was buying this – and made a joke about how much cheaper they were than their SSD’s ;)