All posts by cparks73

Day 2

Yesterday was very hectic due to the amount of people. Everyone in the same place at the same time. 30,000 people at the Keynote, then everyone went to the Expo. Then packed sessions. I didn’t even partake of the Welcome Reception because is was so crowded!

Today is better. People slept in, everyone didn’t need to be at the same place. Much more relaxing and less crowded.

Attended some good sessions:

  • Server 2019
  • Share point
  • Deploying Windows 10 updates

I even completed a hands-on lab (which I don’t like): “Integrate your on-prem Active Directory domain with Azure AD”

I’ve done this before, but I have an idea I can use in my current environment. The cloud is coming, need to be ready for the migration.

Lunch today was make your own pasta bowl, not good for my low carb diet, well neither is the beer. That reminds me, gotta go!


Just got out of the Keynote presentation by Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella. It was informative, but not any news on new versions of software, hardware, etc. He did focus on Tech Intensity and how companies need to use new technologies and create new technologies.

MS is partnering with Adobe and SAP to promote open data. They want their customers to have open access the the data they have stored across applications and vendors. They don’t want your data “stuck in silos”

Satya even showed a customer experience video of a company I had partnered with at my previous job with Lifeline Foods. Buhler is an innovative corn milling equipment supplier that is using technology to provide real time data from the milling process.

ATTENDANCE: Holy Crap! 30,000+. Too many people.

Finally for today here’s the bag:

Cut the Cord – Update

Well its been three months since I have cut the cord so I figured I would give you an update.

First, my cord is still cut!! I am still happy with the choice.  I have made some service changes, equipment changes and modifications which I will outline.

  1. DirecTV came out with their live streaming service, DirecTV Now, at the end of 2016.  They had a intro special to sign up for their “Go Big” package for $35/month and get a free AppleTV with a 3 month commitment.  So basically I got a $150 device for $105 plus the service.  No brainer.  The “Go Big” package has 100+ channels.  The service was very bad to start, but has since become alot more stable.  That being said I just cancelled my $40/month Sling service and will stay with DirecTV Now.
  2. Originally I had purchased two HD over-the-air antennas for the free local service.  They were approx $40 each and I had one connected to two of my TVs.  I was getting 6 channels with those, the three major channels except CBS.  Then I was wondering about my other two TVs.  Buy more antennas??? UGH! No, instead I purchased this external antenna, ViewTV VT-0958A Digital Amplified Outdoor Antenna   I mounted this on my roof and then ran a coax back to the outside cable box on my house.  This then connects to all my internal coax wiring in my house so all I need to do is connect the TV into any coax jack and I will get the signal.  I needed to use the supplied amplifier with the antenna and now I have 26 free over-the-air channels, HD quality and now I have CBS!! Ready for March Craziness!!
  3. I bought these for my AppleTV remotes and I love them. 
  4. I was able to watch the SuperBowl!!  The game was on Fox which I get for free on my antenna AND it was streamed for free with the FOX Sports app on the AppleTV.

So, here’s where I’m at:

  • Outdoor antenna, $32 – Gets me 26 channels, including all the locals and major broadcast stations to any TV in my house.
  • 3 AppleTVs – 1 free with DirecTV Now
  • DirecTV Now – $35/month
  • Hulu – $8/month

My monthly cost for television service now is $43/month.  Right now the only downfall has been DVR capabilities.  DirecTV Now has said they will be adding that feature in the future.

AT&T UVerse with Sonicwall

A location at work needed more bandwidth.  Unfortunately, the only option in the area was AT&T UVerse.  The location is a remote office that was currently being connected back to the main building through a Sonicwall NSA2400 site-to-site VPN.  I had heard and read alot of horror stories about trying to get the UVerse in bridge mode, getting IP Passthrough to work, etc.  Before the service was activated I printed out a 15 page doc that someone else used everytime they had to do this.  Luckily, I didn’t need it, it wasn’t that complicated.

Here are the details:

  • The UVerse modem is model 5258AC
  • The Sonicwall is an NSA2400
  • I order static IPs and got a block of 8

The technician gave me a handwritten paper with my IPs, Gateway, and Subnet Mask on it.  It said:

  • Subnet Mask:
  • Gateway:
  • First Usable:
  • Last Usable:

So I started looking and testing.  It is kinda confusing the way AT&T does this, more like I’ve just not seen it done this way.

  1. With nothing connected to the UVerse modem, I set my laptop to the first IP available in the block and connected it via ethernet.  I opened my browser and went to which brought me to the web interface of the UVerse modem.
  2. I looked around and this was the significant portion I saw in there,uverse2
  3. Once i figured out that the router had the 94 address, I realized I could probably set the WAN interface on the sonicwall to one of my other available addresses and be fine, which is what I did.weldsonicwall
  4. I then put my laptop on the LAN and was able to browse the network and the internet as expected.

No changes were made to the UVerse router at all.  Changed the IP address of the WAN interface to an available IP in my static block and everything was up as expected.  I then changed the IP on the other end of my site-to-site VPN tunnel and it came right up.

Alot easier than I expected and none of the nightmares others had reported.


The Cord Has Been Cut!

I called and cancelled DirectTV today and here is what led to it.


First, I received my AppleTV on Wednesday and my first impression was, THIS. IS. AWESOME!!

Setup of the unit was simple and Apple of course used technology to make it easy.  Just put your iPhone next to the AppleTV and it configures itself.  The voice recognition (Siri) works great, I used it to enter my Apple ID password.  The touch remote needs some getting used to.

I then downloaded the SlingTV app and the Hulu apps and started playing.  I loved it.  The experience was great.  The AppleTV unit controls my Phillips TV.  When you wake the AppleTV it powers on the TV and sets it to the correct input source, you can then control the volume, then when you put the AppleTV to sleep it turns the TV off.

SlingTV is very impressive, i think it’s worth the price to stream 49 live TV channels.  Hulu is great to get the TV shows I want.  I also downloaded the CBS News app to watch live news for free when I need it.

Next, I got my HD antennas in.  I ordered two different ones, The Mohu Leaf 50  and the BAM Cables HDTV Leaf.  I live in a small town in NE Kansas, the nearest big town is about 20 miles away and they have 3 broadcast stations.  Kansas City is at least 50 miles away.  Both performed the same and I got 6 channels, ABC, NBC, and Fox.

I pulled out all my DirectTV equipment, connected my AppleTVs and HD antennas to our two main TVs.


  • Cancelled $140/month of DirectTV Service
  • Signed up for SlingTV (49 channels) and Hulu, $48/month of service
  • HD Antenna get me local ABC, NBC and Fox stations, just missing CBS (but there’s and app for that)
  • AppleTV is very impressive piece of equipment, exceeded my expectations.  I think it will only get better.
  • The AppleTV remote is black and I can’t see it when I’m watching TV in bed at night!
  • There is another piece of equipment I will look at later.  HD HomeRun Extend allows you to get to your live local HD antenna stations through AppleTV, but it’s kinda pricey so I will wait a few months to see if I NEED it.
  • Will definitely be satisfied with no service provider and $90+ a month in savings!

Cut The Cord – Preparation

I am getting ready to test “cutting the cord”.  If you don’t know what this means, it is getting rid of my television service provider (DirectTV) and going with internet based streaming services.

The reasons I am doing this are two fold.  First, my kids (13 & 14) don’t watch much TV at all.  They are usually on their phones.  Second and the larger influence is to eliminate my DirectTV bill which is currently at $140 / month.

After talking with a co-worker and doing some research online I will outline my plan.

  1. I will purchase the hardware.  I have ordered a new AppleTV and an HD antenna.  The AppleTV will be used for my streaming apps.  Apple just announced their new TV app, “you have one place to access shows and movies from multiple video apps — in one unified experience.”  The antenna will be used to see how many local broadcast stations I will be able to get for free.
  2. Next decide on my streaming apps.  After talking with my coworker I am going with SlingTV (Orange + Blue).  This service will give me 49 live channels for $40/month.  I will also get a Hulu subscription.  With that subscription I will get my necessary shows (The Goldbergs,  Modern Family, and The Middle plus others).  This service will be $8/month.  I will see how these two services satisfy my television needs.  Most likely I will one off some other services as needed.
  3. Once I get this in place, I plan to test the usability of this system and if I can watch what I want when I want to.

Summary, I will pay $210 up front for hardware and $48/month in streaming services.  So with reducing my current DirectTV bill by $92 I will have a 2 month ROI and then will reap the benefits of that monthly savings.





DellEMCWorld 2016 Summary

OK, I’m back in the airport waiting to head home. I figured I’d think about my experience compared to other IT conferences I’ve been to. First it wasn’t a bad conference, but just different than what I am used to. Here’s what I came up with:

  1. The mobile app was good
  2. Check in was smooth.  Something different, on check in you got a badge. That’s it. Nothing else. No bag, or all the junk that’s usually in them. No tshirt, no pen, no event documentation.  That was a first for me.  That should have tipped me off to the type of conference it is.
  3. The sessions were good, wished they had more around Sonicwall. They had a lot of interesting Hands On Labs if you like that, they usually bore me.
  4. The expo floor was different than any of the others.  No gimmicky booths or pretty girls trying to scan your badge and it was smaller.   I didn’t even come out with a tshirt, not that that’s a bad thing.
  5. More on the expo floor,it was great because it was all focused around Dell products and a lot of them. You could learn everything there was to know about Dell and Dell Technologies. 
  6. Social events were plenty and the ones I attended from both Dell and vendors were great.
  7. Next year they move to Vegas!!

Day Two done, almost…

Ok I am on the shuttle back to my hotel after day two sessions. Morning started with the keynote highlighted by Michael Dell.  Dell and EMC will be great together, blah, blah.  But besides that a Very promising and informing message.  Some good case study videos.  After that were sessions, lunch and vendors. 

What I learned today:

  1. Attandance: 8000
  2. Performance / storage / expectations will increase 10x every 5 years
  3. Kids will “learn beyond the borders of the classroom.” If they have the right tools (office 365 classroom notebook)
  4. Don’t stay at the Airport Hilton for a conference.

I’m still on the shuttle…