sachathomet.ch

Application virtualization, IoT and Cloud Computing, Blog of Sacha Thomet

IoT – ideology of technology | new MyStrom Smart Devices

Those who know me in person are aware that my life is not only controlled by Citrix technology, I’m also fascinated by Smart Home stuff and Internet of Things, IoT. Since years I use Philips Hue, Netatmo and other gadgets to make my life easier – or to solve problems which I won’t have without this Smart Home devices… Some of my neighbours believe that I have a girlfriend called “Alexa” and I’m very rude to her. 

Anyway, I already wrote about the MyStrom Smart plugs in the article Control MyStrom smart plug by a trigger or Another LaMetric IoT script – power control .

The special thing about the LaMetric Smart plugs is that they are only for Switzerland, we have here not the same wall sockets like they are common in Europe. For this reason in my point of view MyStrom is a niche product, even when it’s a very very good product. 

Today I received a package from MyStrom with two very cool new products inside, the MyStrom Bulb and the MyStrom WiFi button. I have already similar products, for the Smart Bulb from Philips Hue and SengLed Boost. For the button I have currently an Amazon IoT button, which I have connected to IFTTT that I can trigger some things.

In this post I want to compare this new MyStrom devices to other existing devices on the market.

Comparison Smart Bulb:

 

MyStrom Bulb

  • 39.- CHF (Color)
  • Color
  • E27

+ Has a HTTP Rest API
+ Show power consumption
+ great colors! 
–  only 600 lm
– Bulb becomes pretty hot, 52,9°C after 30min test.

 

 

Philips Hue

  • 69.- CHF (Color)
  • 20.- CHF (White)
  • E27 and GU10 availible

+ Use the ZigBee protocol
+ Up to 806 lm
– An additional device, called “Bridge” is required
– Colors not so saturated
– Range is limited, I was not able to have a Hue Bulb in my garage, why I added a SengLed Boost.
– Bulb becomes pretty hot, 62,5°C after 30min test.

 

SengLed Boost

  • 59.- CHF
  • E27

+ Works as an Wireless Wifi Repeater
–  only 470 lm

 

Conclusion: It really depends on your needs which Smart Bulb is the best for you, if you have already a Philips Hue ecosystems it makes no sense to Switch to MyStrom. But if you start on green field, you really have to consider to go for MyStrom. With MyStrom you have Bulbs, Plugs and Buttons from one brand. The MyStrom Bulbs are cheaper than Hue and for me very important every MyStrom device has his Webserver which allows you to toggle the power state. If you want o extend you Wifi Range, have a look to SengLED Boost Bulb, but wit this it’s not easy to toggle the light with somethin other than the existing app.

 

 

Comparison Smart Button:

 

MyStorm WiFi Button

  • 25.- CHF

+ Availible in Switzerland – for everyone (soon …) 
+ Battery rechargeable
+ Native IFTTT compatible 
+ 3 Push Patterns
+ Fast reaction time (< 2sec to toggle a Switch)

 

Amazon IoT Button

  • 19.90$ 

– Only for Amazon Prime customers
– Battery not replaceable
– Reaction time pretty long
+ IFTTT with an “special setup” possible
+ 3 Push patterns

 

Hue Tap

  • 69.-
    NOT TESTET!

– need the Brigde
+ No need for battery
+ 3 buttons

Hue Dimmer Switch

  • 29.-
    NOT TESTET!

– need the Brigde (?)

 

Conclusion: For most “Home-automater” the MyStrom Wifi button will be the best choice, the way to configure an AWS IoT button is an “advanced expierience”. I don’t like that the Amazon IoT Button has a non replaceable/rechargeable battery inside. If you have already a large huge Philips Hue ecosystem maybe the Hue Tap / Dimmer Switch is the best for you. 

StoreFront – Allow relogin without browser close

Citrix StoreFront is able to handle Logins with SmartCards, and after a successful SmartCard Login you cannot Logoff and Login again before you close the Browser, you will see this message:

You have logged off successfully. Please close your browser to protect your account. Sie haben sich erfolgreich abgemeldet. Schliessen Sie den Browser, um Ihr Konto zu schützen.

According the message, this is a feature and not a bug … Not in every case a Re-Login is a security problem as for example if SmartCards are mandatory in general you need to logon also on the VDI or the application with your SmartCard.
Especially as an Admin working with multiple accounts it can be very annoying.

In scope of the CTP program I’ve asked Citrix to improve that and give Citrix admins the possibility to configure this security feature in future versions. Now when StoreFront 3.8 was released I complained that this is still not implemented.

Feng Huang then gave me the hint that this is actually configurable but not yet implemented into the GUI.

All what must be done is to add the line CTXS.allowReloginWithoutBrowserClose = true in the file C:\inetpub\wwwroot\Citrix\YOURSTORE\custom\script.js

THANKS Citrix for Listening to special requests!

PowerManagement for dedicated Citrix desktops? Yes with Tags!

Are you using Tags in your XenApp & XenDesktop environment? Maybe you should. Tags to resources, in my case desktops can be very powerful especially in combination with PoSh scripts. You can do actions for machines depending on the tag. Of course you also can use tags to filter Citrix policies on it, also useful.

I had the Problem that I have a delivery group with dedicated Win10 desktops so for dedicated desktops there is no power management. Usually it’s also not needed because if a user launch a Citrix Session over Storefront the machine get’s powered on. The problem in my case, sometimes users connects on an other ways than Citrix to his desktop, so this built-it construct doesn’t work. So if they shutdown their virtual Desktop they can newer ever access it until an admin power it on over director or studio.

My solution to this was, I tagged this special user machines with a tag “AlwaysOnline” in Studio and I wrote this small script which runs every 15 minutes:

 

param([string]$tags=$(throw "Tag parameter is required"), [string]$poweroperation=$(throw "Power operaton parameter is required"))
#==============================================================================================
# Created on: 09.2016 Version: 0.2
# Created by: Sacha Thomet
# File name: PowerOperation-DependingMachineTags.ps1
#
# Description:  This is a Powershell to change the PowerState of VDI's or XenApp Servers in 
#               a PowerManaged XenDesktop 7.x environment accodring to Tags.
#
# Prerequisite: None, a XenDesktop Controller with according privileges necessary 
#
# Call by : Manual  or Scheduled Task
#==============================================================================================
# Load only the snap-ins, which are used
if ((Get-PSSnapin "Citrix.Broker.Admin.*" -EA silentlycontinue) -eq $null) {
try { Add-PSSnapin Citrix.Broker.Admin.* -ErrorAction Stop }
catch { write-error "Error Get-PSSnapin Citrix.Broker.Admin.* Powershell snapin"; Return }
}
# Change the below variables to suit your environment
#==============================================================================================

$maxmachines = "1000" # as default only 250 records, this increase it to 1000
#$tags = "AlwaysOnline" # if you comment out the param line you can have the tag here
#$poweroperation = "TurnOn"  # if you comment out the param line you can have the poweroperation here

$machines = Get-BrokerMachine -MaxRecordCount $maxmachines | Where-Object {$_.tags -eq $tags }

foreach($machine in $machines) 
{
$machinename = $machine | %{ $_.MachineName }
Write-Host "Action $poweroperation will be performed for $machinename  "
New-BrokerHostingPowerAction  -Action $poweroperation -MachineName $machinename 
}

 

I know I know, this is not a common use case, but the script construct show what is possible with tags … there are almost unlimited possibility to cover special cases with tags.

 

 

My example Script on GitHub: PowerOperation-DependingMachineTags.ps1

Finally 1.0 – but never finalized!

In November 2014 I created the blog post about the adaption of the PVS Script for XenApp/XenDesktop 7.x :
XenDesktop & XenApp FMA (7.x) HealthCheck – Oops!… I Did It Again

sheepsNow after almost two years of continuous development on this Script, the XenApp & XenDesktop 7.x Health Check has now Version 1.0.

I started this script in a very basic version and in the meanwhile lot of tester and contributors helped to bring this script in this version. Just this year I started with GitHub and it’s surprising, the community who helped is awesome!

Now after a number of 0.x versions, just at the point we introduce the XML configuration file, I can say the version now has deserved the number 1.00.

 

xaxd-xml

The big benefit of the configuration in the XML file is in case you have multiple environments with the script you don’t need to edit the header section of the script which has earlier contained the config. On a new version of the script, you just replace the script in your environments and keep the XML file.

The XML file and the script need to be in the same directory and the Name of the XML file need to be same like the script, e.g:

XA-and-XD-HealthCheck.ps1
XA-and-XD-HealthCheck_Parameters.xml

The XML-Config is introduced to this script by Stefan Beckmann (Twitter: @alphasteff)

github

The newest version of the script you can find on GitHub:
https://github.com/sacha81/XA-and-XD-HealthCheck 

html script output

The HTML Output file gained some more input, even it was difficult to decide which feature request to consider and which not.

We check now CPU, Memory and disk space of controllers and workers (XenApp Server and XenDesktop VDIs). Because I learned last month’s that with 7.x and the FMA architecture it’s really possible that an environment contains number of different VDA versions, I also added this info. And for troubleshooting reason I assumed that it would be helpful to have also the hypervisor host information on this output.

Welcome to the Jungle … of the Citrix Display Modes

When I started to work with Remote Desktop stuff back in 2001 there was one thing definitely not possible, watch a video over a remote connection – not even with Citrix … in the last years a lot of things changed and Citrix improved their protocols and Video codecs from version to version. Today you can do awesome things over a remote connection with Citrix. There are many blogs and articles which shows what’s possible, also for GPU mapping 3D stuff and so on … this blog doesn’t describe how you can get the awesome 3D things out from your VDI. It’s more what if you don’t have special requirements for 3D, you don’t have time to test all possibilities, no time to tune, but you want have the best result according to the Pareto principle.

What do you configure? Nothing? Just default, because default is the setting which will fit for most Users?

 

Are you aware that default setting on XenApp/XenDesktop until VDA  7.9 was Thinwire with H.264 and since VDA 7.9 it’s Thinwire Plus (Compatibility Encoder)?
You need to consider this fact before you upgrade from 7.x to 7.9! Why they changed that? Is Thinwire Plus better? No! Is Thinwire H.264 better? No!
It’s just different! What are the differences? What I need to choose? It depends! But on what?

This blog post is mainly a comparison between Thinwire Plus and Thinwire H264 !

I’ve done a survey what is preferred for the codec on twitter, funny result 50% vs 50%:

Twitter-h264thinwire

I’ve started some tests, also with the Pareto principle, so no deep scientific background! I tested an internal video in our Intranet of 53 seconds and 1 minute of a YouTube video, Big Buck Bunny, with 25 fps,  set to 720p in YouTube. I had an eye on the user experience, means fragments, fluent movie, lip-sync and on the other side on the resource consumption like CPU and bandwidth.

(Advice if you like to do your own tests, Big Buck Bunny is nice to impress people but if you want test for lip-sync take an other movie … the Bunny doesn’t talk much …. )

 

RDAnalyzer14

For this tests I used the best, or the only one tool on the market to analyze remote display stuff, the Remote Desktop Analyzer from
Bram Wolfs and Barry Schiffer. In version 1.4 you can do some very helpful statistic reports:

 

I have tested with:

Virtual Desktop:

  • Windows 10, VDA 7.9, 2 vCPU, 4 GB Memory, virtualized on VMWare ESX.

Video Codecs:

  • Thinwire +
  • Thinwire with H264

Client:

  • Mac OSX
  • Windows 10
  • HDX Raspberry Pi

and thank you to René Bigler (Twitter @dready73 ) to test with those clients:

  • ChromeBook
  • Linux ThinClient (IGEL)

 

And this are our Results:

h264-twplus-Win10-corrected2

h264-twplus-OSX

h264-twplus-RaspberryPi

h264-twplus-iOS

h264-twplus-IGEL_IE h264-twplus-IE-ChromeOS

 

My personal conclusion:

If you have clients like ChromeBook or Windows who can manage H.264 this is your way to go. With limited H264 on the end device you run better with Tw+.

I work in a company which has internal only Windows 10 client devices but from external we have users with BYOD, and MacBooks are not a minority. For this reason I set a Citrix Policy which set all connection not coming over  Netscaler to Tw with H.264. So we have internal the best result and external still a good result over the average. What would be the best, is when it’s possible to set a Citrix Policy according to the Client OS which connects.

 

Recommended Links:

HDX Graphics Modes – Which Policies Apply to DCR/Thinwire/H.264 – An Overview for XenDesktop/XenApp 7.6 FP3: http://support.citrix.com/article/CTX202687

Citrix Display modes: How to configure, what to configure, when to configure: https://bramwolfs.com/2016/02/24/citrix-display-modes-how-to-configure-what-to-configure-when-to-configure

H.264 compression JUL 19 2013 A graphical deep dive into XenDesktop 7 https://bramwolfs.com/tag/h-264-compression

Update 23.9.2016:

An excelent blog post here: Citrix HDX Just Got Smarter…Again https://www.mycugc.org/blog/citrix-hdx-just-got-smarter…again?source=6 a post about selective H264 with XenApp / XenDesktop 7.11

Use Octoblu with Amazon Echo as trigger to start A/C on Tesla Model S

It need’s a bit courage as a non native english speaker and with my hard swiss accent it’s maybe awkward … but I’ve done it … my first webcast … you cannot win without a risk 🙂

Goal: Use Amazon echo to start the Air Condition of the Tesla Model S.

 

21.6.2016, Update to this post:

It’s not so difficult to use Alexa without IFTTT in Octoblu, I just created a flow to ask Alexa what’s the battery level and she tell me the remaining battery in percent:

 

Details about how to integrate Alexa in octoblu look at this:  Use Alexa to kick off automations with Octoblu

By the way: If you don’t have a Tesla but you like to buy one,use my referral Link http://ts.la/sacha3162 and safe 1000.- !

sachathomet goes GitHub

Last 11 days I was in Las Vegas on the CTP meetings, Citrix Synergy and at the E2EVC. I get known a few new people and a bunch of ideas, some about Citrix but also how to continue with my Scripts and the community. (Other blog post will follow, maybe here or on the myCUGC site)

It’s not easy to manage all my Scripts, versions, bugs and feature request so I followed the hint of some people at Synergy and decided to push my larger Scripts to GitHub.
You can see now all my Scripts in GitHub repositories under https://github.com/sacha81 – feel free to contribute!

Currently I have started with my two most popular Scripts:

 

Please be gentle to me if you are more experienced with GitHub than me, what is for sure if you work already more than 5 days with GitHub…. I’m really not the Software developer so I’m making baby steps with this repository thing. Hint’s are always appreciated.

Please use from now for feature-requests and bug reports the GitHub (issues) and no more the comment function in the blog.

https://github.com/sacha81

 

victim of a good reputation – Low free pooled XenDesktops

The Citrix Director is not so bad, and with Version 7.7 it is still better because now it’s possible to send email alerts. But one problem I still have … our provided pooled XenDesktop which are used for remote access with private computers are victim of a good reputation … this means a good word-of-mouth advertising in our company more and more people are tempted to use it … and we need to know when the number of free pooled desktop is low. And no I won’t go the read the numbers every day in director or Citrix Studio.

So I created a small script which send me an email as soon a defined threshold of free desktops is reached:

low-free-desktop

The code is on GitHub:

https://github.com/sacha81/Citrix-XD-Alert-low-free-desktops

Avoid blanks and dots in StoreFront 3.5 farm names!

Last day’s I upgraded my existing Storefront 3.01 to StoreFront 3.5 and in some farms I had a very bad issue after the upgrade, it seemed that all is ok but users are no more able to start any application or desktop.

On the StoreFront server I saw an Warning Event 28 from Citrix Store Service “ Failed to launch the resource “Farm Name.ApplicationName” as it was not found.

SF35_blanks_error-event28

The issue was that a blank and a dot (.) was in my Farmname, seems this is a bug in SF3.5 that you can configure that but It won’t work!

SF35_blanks_error-config

 

after I changed the display name to something like xa65farm without blank and point all works well.

An awesome thing happened … I’m now a CTP

2 day’s ago I received a very pleasant email:

“Hello Sacha,
Congratulations! You have been selected to receive the Citrix Technology Professional (CTP) award! We’re thrilled to welcome you to this elite family group of technology experts!”

I’ve done in the last months and years some stuff for the Citrix community with this blog, with the participation on Twitter, Citrix Forums, and other Social media channels and I’m leading together with Stefan Beckmann the Swiss Citrix User Group Community. Also I participated on the development of the 1Y1-401 exam and I won the GeekOvation award 2015. Seem’s my passion for Citrix and contribution on the community get honored.

What is the CTP award?

This program is the highest recognition what a Citrix Expert can get and definitely a milestone in my career.

ctpMore information about the CTP Prgramm you can get here: https://www.citrix.com/community/ctp.html

More about the CTP 2016 class here:
https://www.citrix.com/blogs/2016/02/04/welcome-ctp-class-of-2016 

 

I’m very thankful to be chosen as a CTP and I’m sure that people surrounding me are jointly responsible for my success!

I want to say THANK YOU!

  • To my Family
  • To my coworkers and my employer Die Mobiliar (a swiss insurance company)
  • To Citrix, especially Perrine Crampton
  • To the CTPs I met last year at the Citrix Synergy on the GeekSpeak-Tonight with the GeekOvation Award, especially Aaron Parker who supported me on my Presentation, but also Carl Webster who supported me later with PoSh stuff and of course Jo Harder, GeekOvation MC (Mistress of Ceremonies), who crowned me 🙂
  • To my current and former coworkers who supported me always to keep my Citrix heart beating
  • To all other which supported me in my doing and I missed here  (Sorry!)

And I won’t forget to congratulate to the other new 2016 CTPs

CTP2016

 

What next? 

Now I’m really feel obligated to give even more back to the community, of course I will continue to contribute on forums, write more posts on this blog. But I’m pretty sure I will have the chance to hold one or two technical presentations … Good chance to improve my english language … :-S

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