Friday, 04 November 2011 17:43

KVM Howtos

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I don't generally use KVM so the Howto's here are old and probably obsolete.


Friday, 04 November 2011 17:43

VirtualBox Howtos

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I use VirtualBox almost every day but I haven't created a product around it in a very long time so the Howto's here will probably be very old until the time comes when I'm digging into it again.

Friday, 04 November 2011 03:41

XCP Howtos

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Xen Cloud Platform is the free/open community driven version of Citrix Xenserver.  I've moved all of my Xen Virtual Machines to Xen cloud Platform so any future tutorials will most likely be about XCP. I've found XCP to be a wonderful product but not necessarily an easy tool sometimes thus the tutorials you see below.

How to get started: Go to Xen.org and download the latest ISO disk image of Xen Cloud Platform and install it on a machine. It uses the whole machine as it's an appliance so beware. By the way I think this is the best design strategy. It's a good idea to let your Hypervisor/Cloud stack focus on what it's good at and not use it for playing World of Warcraft. ;-)

Expect a great deal more Howtos in the future. Feel free to request them as well. If it's within scope of what I'm doing I may create one just for you.

 These tutorials can also be found on the Xenapi Admin Project website and the XCP wiki.



Friday, 28 October 2011 16:02

Microwave Cassoulet brought to you by Betty Crocker

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This is not a joke! Well, it is sort of but I bet Betty Crocker didn't think so. My daughter checked out a Betty Crocker cookbook from the local library. She was showing me some recipes in it as normally I would not have even opened it. About halfway through there was an Easy Cassoulet recipe. Intrigued I looked it over. Seconds later my jaw dropped in disbelief. You, my faithful readers probably remember my Cassoulet article from the past. If not then go there now and read up on it, I'll wait for you. In that recipe (which is quite good) there are no less than 19 ingredients and start to finish it takes about 3 days to prepare spread out over one month. I never thought any meal could be worth that kind of labor and yet I've made it 4 times. Now my least favorite season - Fall, is welcomed open armed just because it gives me an excuse to break out the butcher knife and soak those great northern white beans until they're smooth as butter. Yes, I'm hooked.

I'm sure Betty Crocker they're doing their readers a great service having an Easy Cassoulet recipe because who wouldn't want to partake in this rustic southern French dish? The recipe is as follows.

  • 1 pound of Polish sausage
  • 1 can of great northern beans
  • 1 can of kidney beans
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1 can of tomato sauce
  • 3 medium carrots
  • 2 small onions
  • 2 tbs brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of dry red wine or beef broth
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 2 cloves of garlic


In the interest of their consummate readers they've even included microwave directions *gag cough gag* as follows.


To Microwave: Place carrots and red wine in 3 qt microwavable casserole. Cover and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Place sausage on carrots. Mix remaining ingredients. Pour over top. Cover tightly and microwave on high 18 to 22 minutes, stirring after 12 minutes, until hot and bubbly.


Can we have a moment of silence to honor the death of our dear old friend? If you don't mind I'd like to say a few words. "Cassoulet, I'm sorry for what has become of you. I'm sorry for how little we've tried to understand your complexity and how we've attempted to make you into something you're not out of our own laziness and for the sake of convenience. But most of all I'm sorry that you had to go out this way, with such a loss of dignity, please forgive us - amen."

Polish sausage and 3 cans of beans? Are you on crack Betty Crocker? Betty Coker is more like it. What can they possibly think to accomplish by putting Polish sausages and 3 types of canned beans in a microwave dish and cooking it for 20 minutes? I'm not saying you have to spend three days cooking Cassoulet but there are some dishes that if you don't plan on cooking them right you should just leave them the hell alone! Or here's another idea, microwave your sausage and beans but call it microwaved sausage and beans - not Cassoulet.

I have other issues with it. I don't believe I'm actually giving it any time at all but dry red wine OR beef broth? Oh you don't have any dry red wine for your wine reduction to pour over that Chateaubriand? Just use beef broth, they taste about the same. Ack! I can't think of an instance where you'd substitute beef broth for red wine. I just can't. Speechless I may not be but flabbergasted I am.


Sunday, 23 October 2011 09:02

Livening up Macaroni Salad

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My mother has been bugging me about putting up my Macaroni Salad recipe so she can make it and you know what they say, if your mother tells you to do something you should listen - and share.

This is the first recipe in a series that's a result of my tackling each item of the standard American BBQ feast one at a time. I'm fairly happy with it so now I can move on to other things like BBQ beans or Potato salad. Considering the weather I probably won't finish them until next summer.

I'm not straying too far from the standard base of macaroni, mayonnaise, vinegar and some form of sweetener. In my rendition I swap sweetened condensed milk for some of the mayonnaise and the sweetener. I also add sweet peppers (bell or otherwise), red onion, carrot and celery.

As with a lot of cooking it's not so much the ingredients you choose but the balance they create and I really like this salad. I make it each Sunday and eat it for my lunch. Those of you who know me know that I don't put up recipes unless I'm satisfied and I rarely am so take this one serious. That does not mean however, that I won't still be playing with flavor balances in the future.

Without further ado here is the recipe - Macaroni Salad


Monday, 17 October 2011 09:17

Sweet potato pumpkin soup with parmesan croutons

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Google+ has been a very productive use of my time in a lot of ways. I have more intellectual conversations in one day than I've had on Facebook since the beginning. I fear that this will come to an end once everyone is using it but for now it's golden. If you'd like to follow me do so at gplus.to/grant.mcwilliams.

Lately on Google+ I've been trying to boost the number of foodie posts and in turn ended up making a recipe that Elaina Samardzija posted. You can follow her on her Flavour blog where she talks a great deal about food and wine. You can find her Google+ info there and I recommend her for your foodie circles.

The other day she posted a modification of Jamie Oliver's Butternut Squash soup recipe using pumpkin and sweet potatoes flavored with rosemary, red onion, carrots, sage and garlic. All good in my book. Since I had everything but the sweet potatoes I ran down to my local Indian market and picked up a few garnets (garnet yams are not yams, they're sweet potatoes, don't get me started).

The smell from the kitchen was very nice and the soup was easy to make.  I'd post the recipe here but it makes more sense to just send you to her blog at Flavour. Besides you might find other things interesting to read.

The gist of the soup is a melody of sweet potatoes, pumpkin, red onions, carrots, celery, garlic, rosemary and stock plus a touch of heat from cayenne. Topped with a sliced baguette sporting olive oil drizzles and shaved Parmesan toasted under the broiler.

I've tasted Butternut squash soup before that I've really liked and have attempted all the famous versions of it and it's been OK but not great. This one is better than OK but still not "hit it out of the park good". The heat is nice, the overall flavor is nice and it sort of grows on you. I think I'll be spending some time on it in the future to see if I get it creamy smooth and more depth.

The croûtons though I liked a lot and if you just cut them up and eat them with the soup it's a nice mixture of flavors. However, a change that I'll make the next time I do this is to fry them in olive oil in my non-stick pan like I do for my Fried baguette and truffle chèvre hors d'oeuvres. I think that will be an improvement.

Overall very nice and perfect timing for winter

Sunday, 16 October 2011 12:56

Making food more fun

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My daughter like a lot of kids, loves Macaroni and Cheese. However, there isn't a more boring food so today I thought I'd try to liven it up a bit. A lot of people eat hot dogs in Mac and Cheese so I started there. With some innovative ideas and changing out the standard elbow macaroni things get interesting. I found the larger tube macaroni (but not as large as penne) at my local Asian market even though they're still an Italian style noodle. Combine that with some spaghetti noodles and it gets fun.

The rest of the recipe is largely the Cooks Illustrated Macaroni and Cheese recipe with 8 oz of cheddar, 8 oz of Monterey jack, a blonde roux turned Béchamel sauce turned Mornay, a little dried mustard and cayenne for zip.





Thursday, 13 October 2011 17:47

Create an iSCSI target on a Control Domain

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  • XCP/Xenserver
  • Access to Internet


Update: June 2nd, 2014 - I changed most of the tgtadm long format options to short format due to my not being able to remember the long format. For some reason --lld didn't seem like a valid option. I did however keep --lun and --backing-store.

Creating an iSCSI target on Xen Cloud Platform 1.1

Premise: I have two pools – The first has one host in it that acts as a router, firewall and Host for a couple of special VMs for (DNS, DHCP, NFS, Web) the hosts in a second pool. I've added iSCSI SAN to it's lists of jobs using a software iSCSI target in the 8 steps below.


1. Install tgt from CentOS repos

yum --enablerepo=base install scsi-target-utils

2. Start the tgt service

service tgtd start

chkconfig tgtd on

3. Preparing for LVM


I'm using a separate hard drive - /dev/sdb and creating one partition which will be used as my LVM Physical Volume. We'll then add it to the Volume Group and carve it up into Logical Volumes. This way I can just add another hard drive to the Volume Group when we want more capacity and the rest of the tutorial stays the same. The bold letters are what I input, I accepted the defaults everywhere else.

Sunday, 09 October 2011 09:27

Amtrak provides less Agony for half the cost of flying

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I've done articles before comparing the Seattle to Portland travel options of driving vs. flying vs. the train. Although my initial impression was that driving would win on cost and flying would win on speed I was wrong. All three methods take the same amount of time from downtown to downtown if being fair (ie. you need to put gas in the car, get through security, wait in line to board the train etc..). The train ended up being cheapest for up to 3 people and by far the most enjoyable. Flying lost every comparison. When you fly you have less usable time, more interruptions  (light rail, security gates, boarding, wireless disconnect, de-boarding, light rail) and more discomfort (small seat, TSA) so it lost in every aspect. The Amtrak Cascades won in most aspects outside of freedom once arriving at the destination and frequency.

The reason I'm writing about this again is that Hipmunk a travel search engine has added Amtrak to it's search results. What's also interesting about Hipmunk is that it includes an Agony filter. You can sort by least Agonizing trip. I'm not sure what criteria Hipmunk uses but I'll show the results for Seattle to Portland trips. Also keep an eye on the prices for a round trip ticket. The trip with the least agony is also the cheapest.