sachathomet.ch

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

Long-term experience

Prologue

Today, everyone is crying out for long-term studies, which is more of a challenge in these short-lived times. In the age of agile development of many products, no one really knows how what we buy today can be used in the mid-term future.

In this somewhat different article on my blog, I am now trying to write a “rudimentary long-term” report. This blog post is not about virtualized applications, Smart-Home, or virtual reality. No, in this blog post I will dedicate myself to another topic that I have been dealing with for a little more than 6 years. It’s about the topic of electric mobility. More precisely, my personal experiences after 5,5 years and 150’000 kilometers (93750 miles) with a pure electric car. I think this is my first post that addresses a somewhat broader audience than my previous articles, which were more interesting for IT experts, “nerds” and smart home hobbyists.

Currently, this topic seems to be very well received and the media is full of lurid headlines about Tesla and other battery electric vehicles. There are already many “EV sympathizers” and just as many electric car haters. There are a lot of false statements circulating and a lot of people parroting.

In this article, I will not cover all these so lurid topics. I will not write about topics like ecology or sustainability of electric cars. I do have an opinion, but I could only cite countless existing studies which are credible to me. Furthermore, I have not done any practical research in this area myself. I’ve wasted too much time discussing these issues over the last 6 years, and I’m frankly tired of it. But here I like to refer to the “Mythbuster Elektromobilität” (in German) by Martin Rotta: http://www.mythbuster.ch. If someone wants to discuss these very controversial topics with me, let’s do it face to face and with facts as well as the necessary respect. I will ignore comments under this article on these topics.

How did it come about that I ordered an electric car?

I had the idea in mid-June 2015 that I would like to test drive a Tesla. At that time I had a Škoda Octavia station wagon with which I was quite happy. A car had to be suitable for everyday use and a bit sporty for me. Further, I had the need to be able to drive with the car also into the vacation. Also I had the need for my hobby, the Scuba diving in Swiss lakes, to transport 2-3 scuba gear. On June 30th I made my first test drive with a Tesla Model S P85. This experience was quite impactful, it was an iPad on wheels with incredible driving fun. An electric car converts the instructions with the pedal without any delay. Since my Škoda was dying, I had too many repairs, then I did a second test drive with a Tesla S85D on July 21, and then finally I ordered a Tesla Model S 70D.

Rückwärts gerichtete Kindersitze

There was only the Model S to order from Tesla and the smallest battery with 70 kWh has blown my budget least high. The D stands for Dual, i.e. 4-wheel drive, this was mandatory in my opinion because my commute led over the Frienisberg which was not really cleared in winter from time to time.

As options, I ordered the air suspension and the rear-facing child seats. On P for performance, a larger battery and the premium package with electric tailgate, front fog lights, ambient lighting, etc. I have waived.

Then the time had come, I became a Tesla driver

On December 30, 2015, I was allowed to pick up my Model S in Möhlin. Although the Tesla Service Center in Bern opened in January 2016, I didn’t want to wait any longer.

Delivery of the Tesla Model S in Möhlin

This is customer service

However, I came into contact with the Tesla service center in Bern in January 2016. The charging port, equivalent to a gas cap on a car with a combustion engine, did not close properly. It gave an error message on the onboard computer, although it was closed. After I asked in the “Tesla Fahrer und Freunde Forum” for a tip to solve this problem (https://tff-forum.de/t/fehlermeldung-chargeport-offen/9268), a friendly lady from Tesla Bern called me. She told me in her role as a service advisor, if I had time to drink a coffee in the lounge, that they would fix the problem within 15 minutes. So it was then also.

Tesla in everyday life

The first few months with my Tesla were rather unspectacular, though I’ve never enjoyed a car so much. I’m really not a car nut, but I was happy about my commute every morning. Vacation trips were a highlight, every charging station I had to photograph and post on social media 🙈 . When I went to Krk, Croatia for vacation in the summer of 2016, I thought I needed to do some planning. Which Supercharger will I use, can I charge in the destination, etc.? During the trip, I realized that I worried too much, with a Tesla it just works thanks to the Supercharger network. Even more so today than 5 years ago. Today I use it for planning long-distance driving (>600Km) https://abetterrouteplanner.com but only because of the trip optimization and not because it would not work otherwise.

Service

I bought a maintenance service subscription for 1850 CHF for the first 4 maintenance service appointments, up to 80,000 km, which I would no longer do today. Every 20,000 km, a regular maintenance Service is not necessary for an electric car and not mandatory for Tesla to maintain the manufacturer’s warranty. Mostly the car was just checked, the batteries in the key fob (CR2032) were changed and the windshield wiper blades were replaced. Currently, Tesla recommends changing the cabin filter every 3 years, checking the brake fluid every 2 years, and replacing it if necessary. Be aware, my information that a service every 20’000 is not necessary is my personal opinion. I recommend that you make up your own mind and include the manufacturer’s recommendation in forming your opinion. Tesla has more information on service at https://www.tesla.com/support/car-maintenance.

In Switzerland, a good and recommendable alternative to the maintenance service at Tesla, especially after the warranty period by Tesla is, in my opinion, Remo Iseli with https://reego.ch/service. Reego does excellent, customer-oriented work.

Man sieht einen Riss im Bremsbelag

Very shortly before the warranty period was over the 12V battery, which supplies the onboard entertainment system and the conventional onboard electronics, has told me with a message on the onboard computer that it no longer wants to work and must be replaced.

I also found out at the 80’000 maintenance service (50’000 miles) that one of the brakes is no longer ok. The brake was “rotten” due to moisture and too little use, so a brake pad had to be replaced. Since then, I always take care to break properly after driving in wet weather and after washing the car, instead of recuperating so that they dry a bit due to the frictional heat. The 12v battery was replaced under warranty. Brake service and replacement of the one brake pad I had to take over 580.- CHF myself.

In December 2018, I rudely “kissed” a curb on a slippery road. Since the Model S is really heavy, and I was driving somewhat briskly and the impact thus occurred at about 35 km/h (22 mph), the extent of the damage was severe. Some parts in the front area had to be replaced. This was extremely annoying since it was already the second comprehensive damage in which I had to participate in a deductible of 1000.-. But the worst thing here was my customer experience. The repair took only 3-4 days, but the wait time for the parts was very long. I was without a car for a total of 9 weeks. Tesla did not inform me about the whole time how to proceed. There was no replacement car.

So if I had to chart my Tesla experience now on Gartner’s hype cycle, here we are now at the bottom here in the Valley of Disappointments.

Warranty extension

With the above-mentioned damages, I also first became aware that Tesla in Switzerland charges an hourly rate of 210.- CHF for work, which is rather high for an auto repair shop. Reego is here with 160.- CHF (as of July 2021) far below.

To cushion further nasty surprises and their financial impact, I have in July 2019 a 2-year warranty extension for 3200.- CHF concluded with Car Garantie via Garage Gubler.

In 2019, I upgraded the car to be compatible with the European standard for fast charging called “CCS”.

Another repair was due in the summer of 2020 because the eMMC chip went bye-bye. A Tesla children’s disease that affects, so to speak, all older cars from Tesla. More information about this here: https://insideevs.com/news/376037/tesla-mcu-emmc-memory-issue/

In 2021, I had still some minor repairs like a problem with the parking brake, the trunk lock, and the driver’s door handle.


Tesla makes minor repairs at one’s home or workplace with Ranger Service.

Furthermore, a major maintenance service at Reego revealed some minor damages, which also was repaired by Reego. There were 2 wishbones and problems with the steering geometry, also a childhood disease of the first 120,000 units of the Tesla Model S.

Battery (TLDR: no fear of degeneration)

To know how healthy the battery of my Model S is, Remo from reego Service read out the battery for me.

I now know that I still have a nominal capacity of 63.8 kWh.

Important! The battery of electric cars does not degrade linearly, most battery degeneration occurs in the first months of operation.

Verlauf des Reichweiteverlustes über ca. 100’000 Km
Quelle: TeslaFi

I can live with that just fine. I try to keep my Tesla always in the range between 20% and 80% when it is standing, which is supposed to be best for the lithium-ion cells according to different studies. If you don’t stick to this and often charge above 100% or drop deep below 15%, Tesla’s onboard computer will tell you to change your charging behavior.

The battery in my Tesla has an 8-year warranty with no mileage limit, and the same goes for the powertrain, i.e. the engine and transmission.

Software

For me, there are 2 reasons that still speak for Tesla being ahead. One is the charging network with the Supercharger for long distances, which I will discuss later. The other is the software. Similar to a smartphone, the software of a Tesla gets better and better after delivery. The updates of the onboard computer come over-the-air via Wifi or rarely over the mobile network on the car. Although my “old-timer hardware” no longer gets all the new features, improvements are constantly coming free of charge.

You can see the latest improvements and history through 2019 here:
https://www.notateslaapp.com/software-updates/history/

Charging network (TLDR: Range anxiety is a foreign word for Tesla drivers).

Tesla has faced the chicken-and-egg problem in electric mobility from the very beginning, dedicated itself to building a fast-charging network in addition to building its cars. This is known as the Supercharger network. This fast charger network is intended for long-distance travel and, as of today, charges at up to 250 KW are possible as long the car can take this power amount. The network of fast-charging stations, which are directly visible in the Tesla navigation system and are automatically integrated into the route planning, is growing exponentially. This is clearly visible at https://supercharge.info/charts.

So far, I have charged at almost 40 different Superchargers throughout Europe. In 5.5 years, I have never experienced a Supercharger being out of operation for technical reasons. So far, I have had to wait 2x because all the slots were occupied for about 500 charging processes.

Red: Tesla Supercharger Green: Typ2 11 Kw Charger

Tesla’s “normal speed” charging stations, which can be found at hotels, amusement parks, campgrounds, restaurants, etc., and which Tesla calls “Destination Charger”, have been open to all car brands since the beginning. Here Tesla kept to the standard from the beginning. Every Tesla in Europe can also be charged at a normal Type2 charger.

The announcement by Elon Musk, the Tesla CEO, that other cars will soon be able to charge at the Tesla Supercharger is completely new. Since the launch of the Model 3 in Europe, the Superchargers have also been equipped with the CCS plug.

 Cost overview (TLDR: tires are the most expensive)

I have written down all the costs I had to spend for maintenance, repairs, consumables like tires and accessories in a spreadsheet. All figures are in Swiss francs (CHF).

Pie Chart about all the expenses

Here are a few important additions:

  • As a “Tesla Early Adopter” I received Lifetime Free Supercharging from Tesla, further you can still charge many places for free. Therefore, the figure for electricity purchase is very low at 1658.- CHF. The Tesla S 70D consumes about 20 kWh per 100 km and 1 kWh costs about 0.23 swiss francs here. So if I had paid each kWh itself, we would talk about electricity costs over 150,000 Km of 6,900 CHF.

    Fun fact: If you have a look at battery report above, you can see that I charged 20’578 kWh DC and 14’591 AC. No, I’m not nicely calculating this numbers, but every time you drive down a hill the car regenerate energy which goes into the DC charging counts.
  • Cost savings on road taxes I have not included, these are different from canton to canton. In Bern, I had the first 2 years 50% discount.
  • As unforeseen are the 2x deductible of the hull damage listed. These would not be mandatory 🙂
  • The warranty extension was not worth it, too little was broken on the car during the warranty time. Nevertheless, it let me sleep more peacefully.
  • The maintenance service subscription over 1850.- I would not buy today, but pay for the maintenance services themselves as needed.
  • With the tires, I could make 2x a bargain and buy almost new 19″ summer tires from someone.

What next?

Now it was announced that from September the Model Y (Made in China) can be delivered to Switzerland. This is actually the car I would like to have as the successor to my Model S. However, from an economic point of view, it makes more sense to drive my Model S for a while longer, which is what I have in mind now. With the old nose cone (pre-facelift) I almost feel like a Tesla veteran 🙂 I may upgrade the onboard computer to also enjoy some of the new features that are delivered via software updates. At the moment I have a real range of 342 km in summer, which is enough for 95% of my trips. In addition, I have with this car lifelong free fast charging at the Supercharger. Back to the Gartner Hype Cycle, I see myself now on the plateau of productivity.

Would I buy a Tesla again and why?

In my eyes, Tesla is still a nose ahead, although I also quite like vehicles like the Škoda Eniaq, the VW ID4, or the Mustang Mach-E and would possibly risk a test drive. In terms of software updates, however, I still see Tesla way ahead. Also, the Tesla Supercharger charging network speaks for Tesla, here is exciting what happens now when Tesla opens the Supercharger network for all-electric cars. Above all, I’m wondering about the pricing policy here. Some fast-charging networks charge exorbitant prices for charging. 

I hope you enjoyed my article about electric cars and Tesla. If you have a specific question, do not be hesitated to write me a comment below. Take care, a test drive of an electric car could be dangerous because you might want to change your car afterward. But if you really want to know if an electric car is something for you, I recommend not only a normal test drive, I recommend renting an electric car for a few days. If you live in Switzerland, I can recommend the company Tesla4All or EV4All.

Referral Links

Of course, I have various referral links where you can benefit when you buy a Tesla or Online services for any EV:

If you order a Tesla with this link, you get 1500Km of free Supercharging credit:https://www.tesla.com/referral/sacha3162

For the logging service TeslaFi: You can test TeslaFi 1 month for free with this link:https://www.teslafi.com/signup.php?referred=1monthfreefromsacha

If you want to test AbetterRoutePlanner, it’s free, if you want to use Premium, this link will give you 30 days for free: https://abetterrouteplanner.com/premium/?referral=OHZNSWLI  


I have not received any incentive benefits or monetary compensation from Tesla, Reego Services, or Tesla4All / EV4All for my text. My recommendations are based on my honest and my own experiences.

Citrix CVAD and MTU Discovery

Update August 2021:
Don’t update the default.ica how it’s described below, referencing to https://support.citrix.com/article/CTX231821 – it can make more problems as it solves! (Coming with Citrix Workspace App 2108 for Mac)

Recently I saw an increased number of issues by connecting to Citrix virtual desktops and apps. Desktops were connected from private devices over a Citrix ADC (aka Netscaler) but virtual apps were connected from our internal network from different branch offices.
I wrote a blog article some weeks ago: Issues by accessing Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops on a pure IPv6 Internet Provider with enabled EDT

Our first workaround for this issue was to disable the UDP based EDT protocol which is now the default for Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops. But this is not really our intended solution because all the benefits of EDT get lost, so we just did it on client-side with a reg hack, but so we have to identify all the clients with issues. (see the recent blog article)

Further analysis of this issue showed that the root cause of this issue is on the MTU, which means the Maximum Transmission Unit or simplified said Package size.
I found out that our branch offices has a smaller MTU than 1500 what is the default, the reason is a crypto-tunnel which is configured to all our branches. So there will be a fragmentation of the packages, in some cases the fragmentation causes problems because the payload is no more enough that a session launch will work. It looks like EDT is much more sensible on that than the classic ICA protocol on TCP.

Solution 1: How to configure MSS when using EDT on networks with non-standard MTU
In the recent blog article, I called Citrix “please fix that” but they already started on this at this point. In this article, you can see how to configure EDT for non-standard MTUs https://support.citrix.com/article/CTX231821 e.g. put the MTU to 1480 with the default.ica
The disadvantage of this solution is that the MTU is lowered for all connections, also it’s needed to figure out which MTU fits best. The benefit of this solution that it works on every platform with the exception of Android.

Solution 2: enable MTU Discovery
An even smarter option Citrix introduces on the background with CVAD 19.12, this is MTU Discovery for EDT. This feature gives the possibility to have the best MTU for each session. MTU discovery is not a invention by Citrix, just new on EDT. You can read more about MTU discovery here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Path_MTU_Discovery

I tried to visualize these 3 scenarios:

standard, MTU set to 1500

Default configuration, MTU to 1500

The default is that MTU of 1500 bytes are sent, if the MTU on the path is somewhere smaller the package gets fragmented, what is not a big issue but in real life we see that it can be a problem.

MTU reduced to 1380 bytes according to the mentioned Citrix article
(Change in default.ica on StoreFront)

Now packaged of 1380 bytes are transmitted.
Is the possible MTU somewhere on the path smaller than 1380, the packages are still fragmented. Example on this picture, the BYOD client from the Internet.
Also, the MTU is lowered when not needed, in this example the Client in the HQ
+ This solution works on all platforms except Android.

MTU with MTU Discovery (Registry Setting on VDA)

MTU Discovery alway use best MTU

+ The MTU is figured out optimal and individually for every session. First, the Session will start with 1024 bytes and the MTU will be increased during the Session.
– Needs Citrix Workspace App for Windows 19.11 or newer.
– If the connection goes over an ADC its a minimum required version 13.0.52.24 or 12.1.56.22. If you are on a lower version the MTU perhaps remains on 1024 bytes!

You can check your EDT MTU with this command:
ctxsession -v

MTU Discovery is today not active as a default, you need to activate it on the VDA with a Registry Key, the VDA must be at minimum 19.12, details here: https://docs.citrix.com/en-us/citrix-virtual-apps-desktops/technical-overview/hdx/adaptive-transport.html#edt-mtu-discovery

Update 5.6.2020 – Combine solutions 1 and 2 and have the best config!
For our case, we have separated Storefront Servers for access via ADC, so I decided to implement a solution with the best of both worlds… I set the MTU in the default.ica to 1300 and I enable MTU Discovery – so Apple macOS can use the setting from the default.ica and Windows computers have the optimal value with MTU discovery

Technical:
on VDA, add this DWORD: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Terminal Server\Wds\icawd
Name: MtuDiscovery
Type: DWORD
Data: 00000001

default.ica, add this lines:
OutBufLength=1300
udtMSS=1300
edtMSS=1300

If MTU Discovery is active, means enabled and accessed from a Citrix Workplace App the MTU Discovery override the value set in the default.ica, what is very helpful!

How do you configure MTU on your Citrix with EDT environment? Leave a comment!

Issues by accessing Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops on a pure IPv6 Internet Provider with enabled EDT

Some weeks ago first Incidents reached my team with the problem description that Users having a problem accessing their pooled Windows 10 desktops trough Citrix ADC (aka Netscaler).

I noticed that all affected users have one thing in common, they all have UPC Cablecom as an Internet Provider. As soon they connect their device to another internet connection, for instance to the Wifi hotspot created with their mobile phone all works fine.

Further troubleshooting steps showed that if I publish a dedicated VDI with disabled EDT also all works fine. If you don’t know what EDT is, Google EDT and Citrix 🙂

Usually, EDT is enabled and uses UDP for communication if the port is open and it’s possible. Otherwise, it should fall back to TCP. It seems to fall back just works if the ports are closed.

Now my problem is, I can’t disable EDT for all pooled VDI as we have some users who really need it. I also won’t give all the users dedicated desktops.
Luckily Julian Jakob gave me the hint to disable EDT on client-side. This is the best workaround.

Guidance for the User
(Because of BYOD the user needs to do that … )

On Windows it’s just a Registry key which the users have to create:

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Citrix\ICA Client\Engine\Lockdown Profiles\All Regions\Lockdown\Network\UDT]
"HDXoverUDP"="Off"

On a Mac this command should be typed in the terminal:

defaults write com.citrix.receiver.nomas HDXOverUDPAllowed -bool NO

On iOS devices you can disable EDT in the Workpace App:

Settings => Advanced => Adaptive Transport Settings => EDT (set on inactive)

Please Citrix fix that! All that I want is a fall back to TCP if UDP is not working, I don’t care if the port is closed or if it’s another issue. If EDT doesn’t work don’t use it. For users, this manual config on the client-side is not just annoying, some are not able to do it.

Update 26.5.2020

Update 4.6.2020

I’ve enabled MTUDiscovery and it really looks promising, please be aware that MTU Discovery currently is just for the WorkspaceApp for Windows available. (CWA 19.12 an newer)

No Computer, no wires – a very short Oculus Quest Review

This blog article is slightly different from all others. As you can imagine tech is for me always fun, even when it’s from my professional life as a System engineer for virtualization. But this article is only about fun, with no professional aspects … today …

More than a year ago, I posted the article about using the Oculus Go VR headset to access Citrix virtual Desktop session: https://blog.sachathomet.ch/2018/11/25/virtual-virtual-workplace-or-my-first-vr-experience-with-citrix-and-oculus-go/

Yesterday I created a short video for my friends to let dem understand what I mean when I tell them that I gambled in VR instead of a morning workout 🙂

Here you can see what a VR Player sees and how awkward this looks from outside:

Oculus Quest Demo: BeatSaber & Racket Fury

The reason why Oculus Quest is the breakthrough for VR?
Price and easy as pie technology:

The Oculus Quest gives you access to the world of virtual reality for less than 500.- Swiss francs (about 500.- US $), and you don’t need a high-performance gaming Computer. In contrary to the predecessor Oculus Go the Quest is not limited to one point in the room where you stand or sit, you have real 6DoF. 6DoF means you can move across a room, you have Six Dimensions of Freedom. Other existing VR Headsets need for that a permanent Setup in the room with “Lighthouses” that the Headset knows where you are. The Quest has only 4 integrated cameras and will build the virtual Guardian with those. Before you start to play you define your field when you are running to the edge of the field during the game you can see that as a grid.

More recordings here on YouTube Playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDX-0d_gd9OdXmL24Aj-c2ZtA0plOqzXG

Virtual bank accounts – FinTech compairson

Some weeks ago, I created my first FinTech blog post about using ApplePay without an expensive Credit card instead of using a Revolut card.

Now I try to share a bit more my experiences with different virtual bank accounts I’ve tested. If you have read the other blog post you have maybe seen in the comments that I was asked about Boon. I’ve used Boon already some years ago and I also had the chance to test TransferWise more than a year ago. Last days I gave the Neon-free and ZAK a chance, this was the first two Swiss virtual bank account I’ve found.

I’m not working for a bank and so I can give now with my current standpoint my view and insights as a normal customer.

First I have not focused about fees, more about functionality and created the following table:

Boon Revolut Transfer
Wise
Neon
(Hypothekarbank
Lenzburg)
ZAK
(Bank Cler)
physical Card No Yes Yes Yes Yes
virtual Card Yes Yes No No No
Disposal Card No Yes,
only
Premium
No No No
ApplePay Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Instant Card Freeze
in App
N/A Yes Yes No No
Instant Info by Transaction Yes Yes Yes Only SMS No
Advanced Payment Security

N/A Yes,
Location Based,
ATM, Contactless,
Magnetic stripe
(Swipe),
Online Transactions
Yes,
ATM,
Chip&Pin,
Contactless,
Magnetic stripe
(Swipe),
Online Transactions
No No
Payer authentication
(e.g. 3D Secure)
N/A Yes ? ? ?
Location of the Company UK UK UK CH CH

There are also other virtual banks like e.g. N26, but honestly I had not the time to test all what is currently existing. Also my insights are a snapshot in time snapshot in time from now July 2019. New features are coming fast and things are gonna changing every week.

physical cards of virtual bank accounts

Now I can say Revolut has the most comprehensive offer! But I have some friends here in Switzerland which don’t trust to a foreign bank and they are sceptical about the worker conditions in this company.

Everyone needs to do his own choice, the world is changing and the disruption of the classic banks has started. I’m sure that this is not only good for the Country I’m living in, but I really hope that it has it’s good sides for the consumer of banking services.

If you have any questions to the virtual bank account’s I’ve tested feel free to add a comment to this blog post. If you have your own experience and want to share, a comment is also appreciated!

If you want to sign-up for Revolut, ZAK or Neon, feel free to use my invitation Link and get some perks.

Revolut: Sign-up with my link and get a physical card for free as soon you topped up 10.- and used your card.
ZAK: Ask me for an invitation and get 50.- CHF
Neon: Use my invite code BTNN4F and get 10.- CHF

updated 2.2.21

Machine Catalog with overflow

The idea for the concept behind this blog post was born during a lunch break in summer 2018 when in Switzerland the temperature was pretty high and my colleague Stefan Moser and I had the idea to go swimming in the Aare river instead have a proper lunch. This is a good example of how leaving the Office can facilitate creativity! During our walk upstream, Stefan explained to me that he thinks we need to give vGPU also to normal Office Worker users as long we have enough capacity.

Beginning of 2018 we equipped our virtual desktop infrastructure with Nvidia Tesla M10 GPUs after we’ve done some tests and figured out that only in this way we can get the same high user experience like with a powerful physical laptop computer. We purchased 4 new VMware Hosts with each 2 Tesla M10 GPUs, this is good enough to equip 256 VDIs with an M10-B Profile, which is recommended with Windows 10 and 2 screens.

This means our challenge was having 250 pooled non-persistent VDIs with only 100 vGPUs, that’s the amount of vGPUs we don’t need for the dedicated VDIs with special GPU needs. The idea was also to use vGPU-VDIs as long we have and then switch to the cheap GPU-less desktop.

The implementation of this solution is pretty simple if you know the Power of Tags in a Citrix Virtual Desktop environment.

Recipe:

Create 2 Machine Catalogs, one with VDIs with and one without vGPUs.

 

Then create one Delivery Group and restrict the desktops to the Tag “availibleForUsers”.

 

Further, build a simple PoSh script with 3 functions:
– check the number of free VDI’s in the GPU-Catalog

– set tag “availibleForUsers”

– remove “availibleForUsers” tag as soon
enough free VDIs are in GPU pool

The script is running as a scheduled Task e.g. every 5 minutes and opens and close the overflow pool.

Of course, depending on the Logon storm you need to consider how often the script is running and how many spare desktops you keep before you close the pool (VDI Offset, $FreeMachineThreshold in the Script).

Other use cases:
This script is not only useable to overflow a GPU/Non-GPU workload, but it can also be used in the various scenarios.

Just some examples:
– different hardware types, first the new cool servers than the old hardware.
– existing On-Prem resources before pay-per-use cloud resources
– Catalog in the same location before in a remote location (without any Citrix zones)

The script is available on GitHub:

https://github.com/sacha81/MachineCatalogOverflow

FAQ:

Q: Are Tags also working when you are using Citrix Cloud?
A: Yes They are. (Thanks @bjoernmue for this info)

How to use ApplePay without an expensive Credit card even in Switzerland and other countries

Those who follow me on Twitter and Facebook have already seen that I promoted the Revolut card multiple times. This was just as a happy customer! When I’m really convinced of a product I love to spread the word and want that others also can use the new cool stuff! I was a Revolut User since the beginning of 2018 and until today I spend over 8000 CHF over Revolut in 8 countries.

Yesterday 2 very important things happened

#1 Revolut introduced ApplePay for every customer (Standart, Premium & Metal).

#2 Revolut added me to the Pioneer Programm.

#1 Means you can now open a Revolut account in seconds and you are ready after some minutes to use ApplePay!

#2 Means not only that I receive from Revolut nice influencer perks, but it also means when YOU open a Revolut account with my link, but you should also receive your first physical card free of charge. Now you ask yourself why a physical card when you have ApplePay …Ok, first, a backup is always good, e.g. what if your iPhone battery is discharged. Also, you need the card if you want to pull money from an ATM. Revolut does not charge you until up to 200.- month on Standard for cash withdrawals at ATMs!

Ok, wait… was is Revolut precisely?

Revolut is an e-money service, which means app plus physical or virtual card. With Revolut, you can spend at home or abroad at the real interbank exchange rate (without unfair bank fees), set spending budgets, split bills, exchange currencies and withdraw from foreign ATMs for free (up to £200 month on Standard). With Revolut you can freeze/unfreeze your cards at the tap of a button. And with Premium and Metal account, where you pay a monthly fee, the possibilities are even more. But start with the Standard, you can do every time later an upgrade if you need.

Insider Tipps?
  • If you have to choose the currency during payment or at an ATM, ALWAYS choose the currency of the country you are currently in, so you avoid bad conversion rates outside of the force of Revolut.
  • You are on a weekend trip and use your Revolut card during the weekend in a foreign currency? Exchange the money you need on the weekend already on Friday and avoid “weekend-fees” from Revolut.
  • There are ATMs which have fees for the transaction by the ATM carrier, you will see this before of the transaction, keep an eye on it, I see fees between 0.- and 5.-! This is outside the force of Revolut.
  • If you are in a Hotel or a Car rental and you want to use the Revolut card, consider that they may block a larger amount of your money!
  • Don’t top up the Revolut card with a classic Credit card, there are Banks (e.g. Corner in Switzerland) who charge 5.- CHF fee to charge Revolut.
How to start?
  1. Click the link
  2. Enter your phone number (a text will be sent upon completion)
  3. To Download the app
  4. Create a new account in minutes
  5. Verify your account and top-up at least €10 or local currency equivalent
  6. Order your physical standard card for free
  7. You can create virtual cards and use those asap!

This Service is not yet available in all countries, but if you are not able to use the service you will see this already in Step 2. As I know there are some readers of my blog in the United States of America I have bad news … Currently, it’s not yet possible to open a Revolut account living in the US. As soon this will be available I will update this blog post.

And how can I use now ApplePay?

iPhone X with Revolut AppYou need a device that supports ApplePay e.g. an iPhone 6 or higher or an AppleWatch. Also, it’s mandatory that ApplePay is enabled in your resident Country.

ApplePay can be added directly in the Revolut App or in a classic way in the Apple Wallet app.

By the way, to use Revolut (even without ApplePay) you need a smartphone on which you can install the Revolut App!


Disclaimer: Some months ago I was pretty sure to never write a blog post about money or a Fin Tech company. Because this is about YOUR money YOU have to make your own decisions and be careful. What I suggest is to start with a free Standart account and just start with some pocket money. Revolut does not replace your today main account!

Virtual virtual Workplace – or my first VR experience with Citrix and Oculus Go

On Black Friday sale I ordered my first VR Headset, an Oculus Go (64GB) for 222.- CHF (about 222 US $), in my opinion, a good deal for my first step in the word of Virtual Reality.

The Oculus Go is a very entry level VR with the benefit that you don’t need an additional Computer. The integrated hardware with an Android OS does all the work. But this article will not be a review of the Oculus Go as there are many others already available.

Usually, you use your Oculus Go with the apps in the Oculus store, but there is a known trick to load also other Android Apps to the Oculus, called “Sideload” and Android application. You need to set up your Oculus in Developer mode and then you are able to add APK files to the Oculus.

Here a good description of how to Sideload works: https://headjack.io/tutorial/sideload-install-app-apk-oculus-go

“Sideloaded” apps appear in Oculus Tv app in the section “unknown sources”, but unfortunately, I was not able to see the just uploaded Citrix Workspace App. I also tried after the installation of the Workspace app to just launch the Oculus Browser and open a Desktop from our companies “Citrix Web Receiver” (Netscaler, Storefront Web):

After that unsuccessful try to launch a virtual desktop, I tried to play around with sideloading other apps. I found out that the app Kodi and ES File Explorer appears in the Oculus Tv app in the section other sources. Both applications can be used to see and start other Android apps installed on the System.

So I can use the Oculus Tv to launch ES File Explorer and this app as a launcher for the Citrix Workspace App. Ok agree, all in all, sounds a bit like in the Movie Inception … virtual reality to Oculus app to native Android app to virtual desktop to other virtual desktops or virtual apps …

Unfortunately, I didn’t find out how to record the content running in Oculus when a sideloaded app is launched, so I had to trick for the video above, the first part is screen recorded, the second part is with a camera in the headset …

Conclusion

It’s pretty easy to set up an Oculus Go to run with the Citrix Workspace app, and the Oculus Go is an affordable VR headset. This is a cool tech demo, but not sure if I want to work a long time in an Oculus Go provided VR because this headset is really entry level. Assume headache and “VR fatigue” comes fast. Also, I miss a real Keyboard in VR. But with Augmented Reality or Mixed Reality, I think it can be a solution on the future to work with a virtual virtual Workplace!

For my tests I used:

Downloaded APKs from apkmirror.com :

ES File Explorer: com.estrongs.android.pop_4.1.8.7.1-729_minAPI14(armeabi,armeabi-v7a,x86)(nodpi)_apkmirror.com.apk
Citrix Workspace App: com.citrix.Receiver_18.11.0.0-94_minAPI19(armeabi,armeabi-v7a,x86)(nodpi)_apkmirror.com.apk

If you are not yet “jumped” in the VR World I can really recommend the Oculus Go 64 GB as the first VR Headset. You can buy it on your local electronics store or on Amazon.

How I try to help the community as a Citrix CTP

Now it’s already 2,5 years since I was elected as a Citrix Technology Professional. Becoming a CTP was a really big honor for me, but I didn’t write a long blog post about that.
Maybe because I was shocked about the fact I was chosen or I was just afraid because more eyes from the Community and Citrites are looking to me and I fear I’ll not find the right words.

I think now I’m able to write a short retrospective about this time, no I don’t say that because I intend to step back, I’m still happy in this role 🙂 But who knows if I will be active enough to get re-elected.

According to the Citrix Website (https://www.citrix.com/community/ctp) individuals are eligible to be a CTP when they prove their knowledge in Citrix products and invest a lot of time:  “The CTP Program recognizes the contributions of individuals who have invested a significant amount of time and resources to become experts in Citrix products and solutions.

Honestly, after being elected as CTP, I felt a bit under pressure to deliver new blog posts and to speak at conferences. Both are something that I like to do, but it’s only easy when I really have something to show or say. The Health Check automation was something and my early adopter experience with Windows 10, but I think these topics are now more or less stale.  And for the blog posts when I have time to write it down…

The value of being a CTP is that I have access to Beta and EAR sources of the products, having a free pass to Citrix Synergy and the best, direct access to the Product Management. Besides all the CTP goodies, there is also liability and duties. Maybe not all people out there are aware of that. A CTP is not the Extension of the Citrix marketing department! But in my opinion, a CTP should be a communication channel between Citrix and their customers and more from the customer in the direction of Citrix.

To get elected as a CTP is not an easy thing, but also to stay a CTP needs effort! To make the grade for the CTP Program there are multiple possible activities. There are 1-2 online meetings with Product Management which takes about 1 hour. Also, there are two in-person meetings which take 2-3 days each.

So, if you aim to be a CTP, please think that it needs a bunch of spare time to satisfy the needs! I’m doing this partially in my free time and my employer “Die Mobiliar” supports me and gives me time for the in-person meetings. Also, I have support from my wife, my family and my friends and colleagues at Die Mobiliar. At this place THANK YOU!

Besides the CTP Program, I’m also active for the CUGC, on one hand as a local leader here in Switzerland but also in the CUGC Steering Committee. I think this is kind of “double burden” but also there were good synergies to combine these two or three roles.

I sometimes was asked “What can you accomplish as a CTP?” and now I can see that I’m really able to help Citrix and the Community to bring products in better shape to the customer needs. I posted some Feature Requests and those were implemented in the last months. These are only very little features, but for me, the fact that they implemented them was a big thing!

Here are some examples:

  • VDI Battery Indicator:

    this feature was implemented in Virtual Desktops (XenDesktop) 7.18 !
  • Limit Number of Desktops in a Site
    The next feature request I submitted because my SwissCUGC fellow leader Stefan Beckmann (https://www.beckmann.ch / @alphasteff)had an issue with the missing feature in version 7.x of Virtual Apps & Desktops (XenApp/XenDesktop): This is now implemented in version 1808 (former version naming would say 7.19). (If you want to use this feature, this is currently available in command line not in the Studio)
  • StoreFront Logout without closing Browser
    Also, this article describes the impact of a feature request from me: http://blog.sachathomet.ch/2017/01/03/storefront-allowreloginwithoutbrowserclose/
  • And also, the missing Windows 10 disconnect button I repeatedly requested from Product Management – but guess I was not the only one … 🙂 A fix you can find here https://support.citrix.com/article/CTX225970 and I hope soon it will be implemented in the standard VDA

I hope now you have a bit an idea of the role of a Citrix Technology Professional and know that it’s more than just a title like a certification like CCE-V or so. There are a lot of brilliant CTPs, see the full list here: https://www.citrix.com/community/ctp/awardees.html  or follow them on Twitter, Citrix has a complete list: https://twitter.com/citrix/lists/ctps 

No vacation for the smart home

Translation of this Blog Post to English will follow later

—-

Als wir diesen Sommer in den Urlaub fuhren, wurde mir wieder bewusst wie toll es ist, dass ich mein zu Hause “Smart” gemacht habe. In vorherigen Smart Home Blog-Posts konntet ihr bereits lesen dass ich einerseits eine selbst zusammen gestellte Lösung mit Home Assistant als zentrale Komponente betreibe, aber auch die Produkte von Energie 360 welche unter dem Namen Smartacus verkauft werden einsetze.

Ich gebe es zu, ich bin ein Kontrollfreak … ich will immer wissen was bei mir zu Hause geht. Es geht mir dabei nicht darum Leute zu überwachen, aber Raumtemperatur, offene Türen, Stromkonsum oder Schadensverursachende Einflüsse möchte ich gerne erkennen.

Hier ein paar Beispiele: 

Wer kennt es nicht, nach dem wegfahren zu Hause kommt plötzlich der Gedanke “Habe ich den Kochherd auch wirklich ausgeschaltet?
Mit einem entsprechend ausgerüsteten SmartHome kann man sich diese Frage mit einem Blick auf der Smartphone App sofort selbst beantworten. Voraussetzung ist natürlich dass die Energiemessung im SmartHome integriert wurde, bei Smartacus geht dies z.B. mit dem Strommessmodul, wenn man lieber selbst bastelt und eine Lösung für HomeAssistant sucht lässt sich z.B. Smappee dafür integrieren.

Mit dem Strommessmodul kann man natürlich auch gerade sein Standby-Konsum überprüfen, es macht durchaus Sinn alle nicht genutzten Geräte vor dem Urlaub ganz auszuschalten oder vom Netz zu nehmen. Das spart Strom, dadurch schont es die Geldbörse und man kann noch das minimale Risiko eines Brandes durch einen Kurzschluss etc. auf 0 reduzieren. Eigentlich weiss das ja jeder, aber mir wurde es mit der Strommessung erneut vor Augen geführt. Der Stromverbrauch der Smartacus Zentraleinheit ist mit ca 5 Watt übrigens enorm gering!

Habe ich erwähnt das in meinem SmartHome diverse Steckdosen stromlos gemacht werden, sobald ich das Haus verlasse und mein Mobiltelefon nicht mehr im Home WLAN ist? Nein … ok das ist das was für einen nächsten Blog-Post – bei Interesse wie ich das mache darf man gerne Anfragen.

Ein weiterer Grund das sich mein Smart Home diesen Sommer besonders nützlich erwies war die Tatsache, dass ich es mit einem Flut-Sensor ausgestattet habe um so “den Wasserstand” in meinem Keller zu checken. Siehe mein Post “Unterwasser“. Ich wusste somit auch das mit zu Hause keine böse Überraschung erwartet.

Trotz Smart Home hatte meine Schwiegermutter den Auftrag die Werbung aus dem Briefkasten 1x die Woche zu entfernen und in der Wohnung abzulegen, mit den Tür-Sensoren konnte ich feststellen ob und wann das gemacht wurde …

Urlaubszeit ist auch Einbruchszeit – mit dem zufälligen ein- und ausschalten von Lichtern kann eine Anwesenheit simuliert werden, was eventuell ein Einbrecher vor einer Tat abhält.

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