Laser Eye Surgery – My Experience with Optimax, Maidstone (29/11/2013)

A little over a year ago, on the 29th of November 2013, I underwent Laser Eye Surgery at Optimax based in Maidstone. I’m glad to say a year later I still have my eyesight and don’t regret the decision at all.

I had an astigmatism, my readings before surgery were:

Left eye:

Sphere: -0.25 | Cylinder: -3.75

Right eye:

Sphere: 0.25 | Cylinder: -2.75

I don’t have my readings after the surgery, I do however know I now have 20/20 vision following the procedure.

The procedure I had done was: Wavefront Designed LASIK IntraLase. I opt’d for this over the cheaper ones due to wanting the quickest recovery time and the best possible outcome. If I was to take 5 days off it would’ve equated to the same difference in price for the shorter recovery and therefore saving my holiday, I guess this depends on what you value more.

The staff and surgeon (Dr Amir Mani) was brilliant and answered all my questions, ran through the tests and ensured everything was ok prior to surgery.

The surgery itself was fine, I got some diazepam from my local GP and took this beforehand and this calmed me down, do speak to the surgeon before hand to ask when’s best to take, as you don’t want to take this too soon and have it wearing off.

The process was pain free, just a little discomfort after the surgery, light being the main issue. I was told that during the procedure I have really sensitive eye, this would explain why they kept pouring loads of eye drops during the procedure!

The healing process was smooth, the next day I could see miles better than before the procedure and this continued to get better over the coming weeks. I did have a slight concern with the flap on my eyes over healing (note I do tend to over heal, for example Keloid scars) but this was closely monitored by the surgeon and luckily was very minimal. The surgeon was excellent in that, he wanted to ensure everything was ok and saw me 3 times before discharging me. I found him very approachable, had a few jokes and communication was excellent, this is key to any procedure and feels you with confident in their abilities.

I would highly recommend, Its awesome waking up in the morning and to be able to see straight away, no more having to reach for glasses, glasses steaming up, changing contact lenses, having to take contact lenses out when swimming… just awesome!

To recap the client and surgeon I used were:

Clinic: Optimax, Maidstone
Surgeon: Dr Amir Mani – Optimax profile | LinkedIn profile
Procedure: Wavefront Designed LASIK IntraLase

If anyone has any questions feel free to leave a comment.

Windows 10 Technical Preview – Upgrading and Start Menu

I decided to be brave and upgrade my Surface Pro to the Windows 10 Technical Preview. Upon successfully installing I immediately clicked on the windows button… only to notice the start screen/metro interface launched instead of the start menu, little confused.

It seems, well in my case you need to turn the start menu on.

Head to the Control Panel and open Taskbar and Navigation, click the Start Menu tab, tick Use Start menu instead of the Start screen.

EnableStartMenu

 

Click ok, you will need to logoff and then log back in for the changes to take effect. Then BOOM clicking the windows button will now bring the start menu up. :)

 

Open University Student IT Tips & Deals

Last updated 24/09/2014

I have been with the Open University now for a few years studying Computing & IT and Business and thought I would give my views on some good IT tips students can take advantage of to ensure their work is secure and backed up.

Spotify

Spotify is a great way to listen to music when studying and on the go, allows you to listen on your iPhone, iPad, Android devices, Windows smart phone and Windows. Get yourself an NUS card for around £12 a year (as of posting) and save 50% of a yearly subscription on Spotify – saving of £60 (£48 if you include the NUS). If you already have a subscription paying the full price, I believe you can still get the offer, if not just cancel and re-sub.

Microsoft Office 365

Use your .ac.uk email address and get Microsoft Office 365 this includes Word, Excel , Onenote, PowerPoint etc for £59.99 for 4 years! this includes 1TB of storage to easily store your important TMAs in the cloud all backed up! If you already have an Office 365 subscription, this will stack.

Amazon Prime

Get a 6 month free trial and then 50% of – cost £39. This will give you next day delivery for free for 6 months! You also get some other cool stuff such as unlimited streaming of movies and some free kindle books (after the 6 month trial). You can cancel online and at any point.

LastPass

For those  a little geeky you can use LastPass which is an online password keeper to keep your passwords securely backed up. This runs on iPhone, iPad, Android devices, Windows smart phone and Windows and is free for 6 months using your .ac.uk email (will give you 6 months free if you already have a subscription).

Evernote

Evernote is a free note taking app for iPhone, iPad, Android devices, Windows smart phone and Windows. It stores all your notes in the cloud, meaning you can easily access your notes from any device and everything is backed up. I use Evernote daily for pretty much everything.

Feel free to to add comments with any other deals and I’ll add them to the post. :)

MCSA Server/SQL 2012 electives changes

Microsoft has made some changes to the MCSA for Server 2012 and SQL 2012 by introducing electives. This I feel is good idea as it allows you to pick an exam that may be more relative to your job role. So in my case I will be taken the following mandatory exams:

70-410: Installing and Configuring Windows Server
70-411: Administering Windows Server 2012

and then I can decide to do 70-409: Server Virtualization with Windows Server Hyper-V and System Center.

Taken from http://borntolearn.mslearn.net/btl/b/weblog/archive/2014/09/15/electives-for-windows-server-2012-amp-sql-server-2012-mcsa-certifications-now-available.aspx

For MCSA: Windows Server 2012 > Exams 410 and 411 are required. You can choose one of the following exams to fulfill the requirements for the third exam in the path:

  • Exam 346: Managing Office 365 Identities and Requirements
  • Exam 409: Server Virtualization with Windows Server Hyper-V and System Center
  • Exam 412: Configuring Advanced Windows Server 2012 Services
  • Exam 462: Administering Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Databases

For MCSA: SQL Server 2012 > Exams 461 and 462 are required. You can choose one of the following exams to fulfill the requirements for the third exam in the path

  • Exam 411: Administering Windows Server 2012
  • Exam 412: Configuring Advanced Windows Server 2012 Services
  • Exam 463: Implementing a Data Warehouse with Microsoft SQL Server 2012
  • Exam 483: Programming in C#

MCSA electives Server 2012

 

 

PowerShell Script: Decommision VDI (XenDesktop & vCentre)

I have been trying to learn PowerShell and this is my first attempt at a script that just works. This PowerShell script will put a XenDesktop VDI into maintenance mode, disable the object in Active Directory and shutdown the VM in vCentre as well as moving between containers (if required). This is handy if you have a lot of VDIs that need to decommissioned.

See below for the script, you will need to ensure a list of names are in a CSV called IMPORT_DecomissionVDI.csv. The reason for the ‘IMPORT’ is I find it easier to keep track of what a CSV does, so ‘EXPORT’ / ‘IMPORT’ etc. The same goes for the PowerShell script files ‘Set’ if it’s going to change something and ‘Get’ if it’s going to return information. Handy so you don’t run the wrong script!!

An example of what the CSV should look like:

PS-VDIName

Don’t forget to change the variables at the start.

#========================================================================
# File: Set-DecommisionVDI.ps1
#
# Description: This script imports a list of VDIs to be disabled, sets the VDI in XenDesktop in maintenance mode, then disables the AD account 
# and moves to an OU if required. Lastly the script moves the VDI in vCentre if required and shuts down the VDI.
#
# Date: 12/09/14 11.52 PM
# Author: Chris Stark
# Version 0.1
# Blog: ChrisStark.co
# Twitter: twitter.com/ChrisLStark
# Google+: http://google.com/+ChrisStark86
# LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=clstarks
# Link: http://chrisstark.co/2014/09/powershell-script-decommision-vdi-xendesktop-vcentre/
#========================================================================

# Imports Citrix and VMware PowerShell snapins

Add-PSSnapin Citrix.*
Add-PSSnapin VMware.VimAutomation.Core

# Variables for Citrix XenDesktop Server, vCentre, Domain and paths to move VDIs

$Domain = ' '
$XenDesktop = ' '
$VCentre = ' '
$CSVFile = 'IMPORT_DisableVDIs.csv'
$DisableADPath = 'OU=Disabled Computer Accounts,DC=DOAMIN,DC=co,DC=uk'
$VcentreFolder = "Disabled VDIs"

# Connects to the Citrix XenDesktop server

Get-BrokerSite -AdminAddress $XenDesktop

# Connects to VMware vCentre

Connect-VIServer $VCentre

# Imports the list of computers to disable

$CSV = import-csv $CSVFile

# Loops through the VDIs

foreach ($Item in $CSV)
{
# Sets the variable VDIName to the name of the VDI being disabled

 $VDIName = $Domain+$Item.VDIName

# Sets the VDI to maintenance mode 

 Get-BrokerDesktop -MachineName $VDIName | Set-BrokerPrivateDesktop -InMaintenanceMode $true

# Disables the AD account of the VDI

 Get-ADComputer $VDIName | Set-ADComputer -Enabled $false

# Moves the VDI to the disabled OU - remove line if not required

 Get-ADComputer $VDIName | Move-ADObject -TargetPath $DisableADPath

# Moves the VM to the Disabled VDIs folder - remove line if not required

 Move-VM -VM $VDIName -Destination $VcentreFolder

# Shuts down the VDI

 Get-VM $VDIName | Shutdown-VMGuest -Confirm:$false
}

Download here

Citrix XenDesktop + Default printers not sticking

I had an issue whereby default printers were not sticking. Every time a user set a default printer and then re-logged in the printer would revert back.

Took me a while to find the cause, as I was either RDPing or using the vSphere client to troubleshoot and not via the Citrix client.

Turns out, there’s a policy (bear in mind I’m new to Citrix) that allows Citrix XenDesktop to control default printers. Turned this off, and BOOM! the default printers stayed.

To change the policy, open Desktop Studio.

Navigate to the users policy:

XenPrinter1

Within the Users policies you will see the policies you’ve. In this example mine is called “Unfiltered” select this and then Edit.

XenPrinter2

Click on settings and then scroll to “Printing” on the right next to Default printer click add.XenPrinter4Here is the default policy:

XenPrinter6

We don’t want Citrix to change the printer therefore change to “Do not adjust the users default printer”.

XenPrinter7

Click ok. Citrix will let you know its updating the policy.

XenPrinter8

You can double check the policy is applied by editing and verifying it has been added.

XenPrinter9

Success!

HP MicroServer N36L replacement power supply (PSU)

Came home to find the HP MicroServer was powered down last week and panicked! Turns out on further testing the power supply had decided to pack up. Not bad for 2 and a half years, running as a lab environment, 6 HDDs, PCI-E HD Graphics card and running as home entertainment system! As you can imagine, getting the PSU or ordering a replacement server was high priority. Though seeing as the HP MicroServer cashback offer has stopped led me to source a PSU.

Seeing as these MicroServer are popular as HTPC, storage, virtual environments for labbing etc, I gathered others may benefit from this post.

Now, finding a replacement wasn’t easy or looking to be cheap. The official HP part number 620827-001 was showing about £98.57 on the HP parts store – ouch!

So, after much research I come across the site LinITX which sell 1U PSUs and cheap. I first come across this when reading others were using a PicoPSU and a power brick – this seemed to pricey for me £50+ though does offer less noise.

I emailed the guys over at LinITX as I was worried about fitting etc and wanted to be reassured I could send back if any problems, yes I could’ve sent back under the distance selling regulation act but couldn’t be dealing with the hassle, much politer to just ask. Thumbs up to LinITX.

I opted for the FSP 150W 1U Compact Power Supply – FSP150-50GUB which as of this blog post is £27 + P&P – comes to about £30.96 – I selected normal royal mail and received the next day! does say up to 2 days.

The PSU fitted without any issues and the 24 pin connector easily fits, the SATA parts can be a stretch if using additional hard-drives in the top bay, though if required you could extend these. Mine just about fit.

You will need to buy an adapter to either convert the SATA power to Molex 2-way or Molex to a 4-way splitter. I bought mine from Maplin as I wasn’t sure on cable length. Having 2 additional hard drives in the top bay running of SATA I opted for a Molex splitter for the four internal HDDs.

The PSU is nosier than the HP one, but if you want a cheap solution and don’t want to go down the PicoPSU route this will do fine.

Overall, a cheap good alternative! This should work for other models such as the N40L.

A pic of the PSU and adapter, excuse the poor quality – I had both replacement PSU and Nexus 7 (2013) turn up so was in a rush to play with the new toy!CameraZOOM-20130828195021637

CameraZOOM-20130828195034551