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

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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. 

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 hope you enjoyed my article about electric cars and Tesla.

No more able to start SOAP on PVS

After the last monthly Microsoft Security Updates one of my PVS Servers was no more able to start the SOAP service. I received an Event 7000 with the message:

The Citrix PVS Soap Server service failed to start due to the following error: The service did not respond the the start or control request in a timely fashion.

I live in Bern, and we are known as slow-paced people here in Bern, probably because of our slow sounding accent. So my idea is if the service need more time to start, I’ll give him more time.

I’ve created a new DWORD called ServicesPipeTimeout  with the value 120000 in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control which means the service has 2 minutes time to start. After a reboot my SOAP was again up and running.

By the way and additional tip according this service… SOAP is sometimes bitchy … it’s a good idea to set the service to auto restart after a crash.

How to bring your network back online in minutes with Ubiquiti UniFi gear

Less than a month ago I decided to buy a new WiFi Access Point to increase the quality and possibilities of my Home Wifi. Until now I just had a “Fritzbox” which is already very nice for home use. Fritz does anything, Fast WiFi, Modem, Router, VoIP, Call answer machine, DECT Gateway and it’s stable and easy to configure. Of course, I wished to have a more enterprise-like network setup, especially because also my lab environment is in my home network and a lot of IoT stuff. But honestly the components I had known that allows enterprise features were not in my budget.

So the first plan was to just increase WiFi. I just bought a Ubiquiti UniFi AP-AC-Pro without any ulterior motive. But to be honest, the new AP was like a starter drug. I saw what all is possible and for a price which is also payable for home use and with no extra license costs. I don’t want to write a review here about my new awesome Ubiquiti gear if you wish to know more about that stuff see here the blog post from my fellow CTP Jason Samuel: Building a secure high visibility WiFi network using Ubiquiti Networks UniFi gear

Just to say, now, some weeks later I have a Router (UniFi Security Gateway 3P), a managed Switch (UniFi Switch 16 POE-150W) and two WiFi AccessPoints (UniFi AP-AC-Pro and UniFi AP-AC-LR) in my Network from Ubiquiti. Finally, I’m able to segment my home network in virtual networks (VLANs) and to make all more transparent, hopefully, more secure and of course easier to manage for me. Currently, I have 3 different WiFi SSIDs and 4 VLANs. The software-defined network is great and let me do things I just dreamed of before. When I think about all the “use cases” I’m now really sure that a lot of Security considerations should be made for improvements in the network segment should be done … but that’s another topic …

The USG 3P, UniFi Security Gateway comes with 3 Ports, WAN, LAN, and VoIP. The Software of these devices will be always further developed and new features come with every new version. Some features are also implemented as beta features, e.g also to make out of the VoIP a WAN2 port:

With this feature, it’s possible to have a Second WAN link and to use it as Failover or as Weighted LB. Of course for home use, a second WAN link is not common. But definitely interesting for some small companies or maybe branch offices which need a reliable connection to the internet.

I have currently only one connection to the Internet, a cable connection with 250M down and 25M up from “Quickline”. Until now when I had an outage I was still able to use my 4G WiFi Hotspot from Huawei to access the Internet with my Laptop.

Last Saturday my Cable Internet connection was interrupted exactly at that moment where I was doing some lab works with my network components. So I decided to have a closer look at this WAN 2 Feature. I connected a Zyxel travel router (NBG2105) with the Cat5 cable to the USG and with WLAN to my 4G WiFi router, I configured the VoIP Port for WAN2. Wow after 30 minutes I was back online with my whole network.

On WAN2 there can just be anything that is providing an Internet link and give an IP address via DHCP in my case. Of course, first I connected the Zyxel NBG2105 with the cable to my laptop and connected with it to my WiFi router. The most important thing here with the NBG2105 is that the Switch is set to Client:

Of course the Speed of 4G is not near my cable connection but it’s still better than be offline:

And now I have not just the solution to “How to get back online” but rather also to “Stay always online”.

Win10 to Win10 with a Citrix VDA

Intro – my relationship with Windows 10

The company I’m working for, Die Mobiliar, started early with Windows 10, we rolled out in spring 2016 Windows 10 to all our physical devices and also to our virtual Desktops. We have two different kind of VDIs, pooled Win10 Desktops provided by Citrix PVS and also classical installed dedicated VDIs. Both with Citrix XenDesktop 7.x.

To be in the role as early-adopter with such a new operating systems is interesting but also nerve-racking on some days… Especially when you add Citrix XenDesktop on top to Windows 10 and then also special requirements like physical and virtual Smart Cards.
I talked about this adventure on E2EVC in Rome: The stony road of a VDI migration from Win7 to Win10

Next chapter

Now our story goes into the next round, we installed Windows 10 last year with the 1511 Release and we want to go now to the anniversary update (1607). For our pooled desktops it’s no question, fresh install on the new build. But an fresh install of the dedicated desktops where users have installed their own stuff will get me into big troubles … it’s really not an option!

I was curious who is in the same boat, so I created this poll:


36% are doing fresh install of dedicated desktops? Wow … BOFH? 🙂

I tell you now 2 secrets:

  • It’s not possible to update Windows 10 from one version to the other when a Citrix Virtual Desktop Agent (VDA) is installed!
  • Uninstall of Citrix VDA fails most of the times!

    Good News:
    Citrix knows that uninstall of the VDA is a problem, for that reason there exists the
    VDACleanupUtility.exe (https://support.citrix.com/article/CTX209255)
    Bad News: VDACleanupUtility.exe (VCU) should run as a User, need a reboot and login with the same user, what means it’s not in a easy way to automate that.

With some hints of the CTP colleague Stephane Thirion and my collegues at “Die Mobiliar” I was able to create this guide to automate the Windows 10 Update with an automated removal of the VDA.

Task Sequence for SCCM

We are doing this with Microsoft System Center but with the following infos it’s also possible to fulfil this challenge with other ESDs.

Upgrade Steps – Overview 
The Citrix VDI specific things highlighted in yellow, in this guide I’ll focus on that. We are using one task sequence to update all our Windows 10 installation, thats the reason we need to made a decision if the installation is a VDI or not.

After the OS upgrade we just install the VDA again with our existing software package.

Because the Windows upgrade kills the Citrix receiver we also re-install the receiver at the end.

The really hard part is the proper automated removal from the VDA, and thats where I go a bit into the deep in this article.

VDI or not – thats the question
Because we will use one TaskSequence for Win10 with and whiteout Citrix VDA we just check if the VDA is installed, we are doing that by query the Key which has been written by the Software package for VDA
A reboot to start is always smart

Sometimes the VDACleanupUtility ask for a reboot, it’s good to start with a reboot before any other steps are done.

first step of the VDA removal

The VDACleanupUtility should be started in silent mode and with a suppressed reboot:

cmd /c VDACleanupUtility.exe /silent /noreboot

The VDACleanupUtility.exe is the only thing in the Package you see on the screenshot.

Remove an action which would be done after the suppressed reboot in order of the VCU 

cmd.exe /c REG DELETE HKLM\Software\Microsoft
\Windows\CurrentVersion
\RunOnce /v CitrixVdaCleanup /f

 Now you can reboot 

Start the VCU again

this time with the switch silent and reboot – reboot doesn’t mean that it will do a reboot, it’s just the info for VCU that it’s now in phase after the reboot 

cmd /c VDACleanupUtility.exe /silent /reboot

 Now do all the Windows Upgrade steps you want to do,
here you also need to think about drivers or in virtualized environments XenTools, VMwareTools, etc. 
As a next Step install the VDA again
Re-install the Citrix Receiver

Update of Win10 will destroy your Citrix Receiver installation, for this reason install it again at the end

I want to thank here to Stephane Thirion  (https://www.archy.net) for the hints about automate the uninstall of the VDA. Also thanks to my colleagues Stefan Moser and Thomas Hahnel at Die Mobiliar with more Knowhow about SCCM Task Sequences and patience on testing.


Update Fall 2017: 

The Version of the Cleanup tool in September 2017 is able to run in unattend mode, see https://support.citrix.com/article/CTX209255 .
Also I’ve found out that the Update from 1607 to 1703 or 1709 works even when a VDA is installed.

Update November 2017: 

Now exists and article by Citrix: “How to Run the VDA Cleanup Utility with SCCM Task Sequences”: https://support.citrix.com/article/CTX229801 

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 MyStrom WiFi Switch 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 WiFi 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 available (Update: Now also E14)

+ 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

IKEA TRÅDFRI
LED-Bulb E27 1000 lm White

  • 14.95 CHF (White)
  • Color also available  but not with 1000lm
  • Uses 12,4 Watt
  • Is compatible with Hue-Bridge after latest firmware and perhaps 3rd party Software

+ brightest and cheapest Bulb
– Bulb becomes pretty hot, on some parts 84,9°C after 30min test!

 

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 something 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.

You have logged off successfully. Please close your browser to protect your account.

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

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

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