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A Popclip extension to dial a number using OS X Jabber Client


Popclip is a nice little OS X app that adds iOS style copy/paste popups on the Mac desktop ($4.99 in Mac App store regularly, but only $2.99 until Jan 31). The real beauty of Popclip is in a number of plug-in extensions that can then also be quickly applied to any selected text (some favorites of mine include open hyperlink, and create note in Evernote).

Popclip - Open Hyperlink extension

Extensions are also pretty easy to create and tied to a Mac OS X service, AppleScript, Shell Script, URL, or Keypress. We use Jabber integrated with the Cisco UC platform at work, so I thought it would be nice to be able to quickly dial a selected phone number using a Popclip extension.

Call Jenny

To use the the Popclip extension, make sure the “Dial with Jabber” service is installed and active (the service is installed with the Address Book plug-in — from the Cisco Jabber menu choose Cisco Jabber > Preferences > General and click Install Mac Address Book Plug-in).

Dial with Jabber

Jabber also needs to be configured to control an associated Cisco IP phone or as a softphone. The extension (unsigned for now - sorry) can be download from GitHub. Grab the “” file, un-archive, and double-click on the dialjabber.popclipext icon to install the extension (Popclip has to be installed first).

Then dial-away!

Hope you find this useful.

— Klaus


Using FlexFlash SD on Cisco UCS B-series blades to boot ESXi

Newer UCS servers (both B-series blades and C-series rack mounts) have SD flash card slots that Cisco brands “FlexFlash”. Datasheets initially indicated that these flash slots were not usuable until a future release. With UCS Manager 2.2 and associated firmware the FlexFlash slots can now be used to boot ESXi, but getting the hypervisor installed can be a little tricky. A multi-step process may be needed, where a service profile that updates firmware and enables the FlexFlash state is applied first, and then the service profile is modified to include SD card in the boot order.

Update blade BIOS and Firmware to 2.2

Before starting, make sure the BIOS and CIMC versions on the blade are updated to the 2.2. versions. If they are not the service profile settings associated with the FlexFlash slots may produce errors that will prevent service profile association. If you are using the service profile to associate the 2.2 versions via a firmware policy, apply the service profile without having “SD card” in the boot order first, otherwise it may fail until the CIMC is updated.

Enable FlexFlash slots

Use of the FlexFlash slot is enabled via the local disk policy in the service profile (or template). Set “FlexFlash State” to “Enabled”.

Enable FlexFlash

If the firmware has not been updated, a “FlexFlash Controller error” will likely come up when trying to associate the profile.

Association error

Add SD card to boot order

Once the FlexFlash slot has been enabled (and assuming an SD card inserted - according to spec sheets up to a 16 GB card is supported), SD can be added to the boot order. I had to get the service profile associated that would set the proper firmware version, and enable the FlexFlash controller BEFORE I could add the SD card to the boot order - otherwise an error occured that prevented the service profile from being associated.

Boot Order

Once the SD card is part of the boot order, ESXi can be installed to the card by mounting the image to the KVM and installing just as with any other disk install.

In Summary

Booting ESXi off an SD card on the server is a nice alternative to using boot disk or boot-from-SAN. The dependancy on new firmware for CIMC and BIOS can just make it tricky to get things configured in one step (by just defining firmware update, FlexFlash state, and boot order up front in a service profile template) and may lead to errors when associating the service profile. Hopefully the steps outlined above will help minimize some issues I ran into.


This discussion on the Cisco Support Forums helped me get through some of these issues.


Some thoughts about "The Phoenix Project"

At a colleague’s [1] recommendation I picked up a copy of “The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win” [Amazon affiliate link] months ago. It sat in my Kindle queue ever since – the last thing I was looking forward to reading most days in my free time was a “Novel About IT”. On a whim last week, however, I finally took a look at the first few pages and found myself coming back to it through the weekend.

“The Phoenix Project” is closely modeled after Eliyahu Goldratt’s “The Goal” – a famous business book that used a novel storytelling approach to get across the idea that a manufacturing plant’s bottleneck point is what most constrains the flow of production, and therefore the effectiveness of the whole plant. “The Goal” is well know for introducing Goldratt’s “Theory of Constraints” in a highly understandable way. Not only does “The Phoenix Project” model itself after the “The Goal” in structure, but it also translates many that book’s ideas from a manufacturing viewpoint to an IT focused one. In fact, the authors’ main argument is that in many ways the work of modern IT department should be considered much like a traditional manufacturing facility, and that many of the techniques that helped revolutionize manufacturing - such as kanban board, automation, managing the flow of work, focusing on reducing the impact of bottlenecks and constraints - can be applied directly to how IT work is done. Using these manufacturing-based methods to improve the “flow of work” can help us in IT transcend many of the limitation we take very much for granted.

One way that “The Phoenix Project” succeeded (almost too well) was in bringing to life many of the challenges and dysfunctions that are all to common in IT departments today. It then demonstrates how ideas from manufacturing, along with organizational techniques such as team-building and bridging across functional areas, can hope to transform this dysfunction. The story illustrates in a more real way what alignment between business goals and IT can look like. In this way, the novelization approach used by the authors succeeds in illustrating general concepts such as “IT/business alignment” and the more specific ideas behind “DevOps” to transcend the buzzwordiness one typically associates with discussions of this type.

Through the course of the book the protaganist, Bill, is led by his fictional mentor, Erik, to discover the 4 kinds of work that IT does – business projects, IT Operations projects, changes, and unplanned work – and the “three ways” to revitalize how his team can do that work better.

The First Way helps us understand how to create fast flow of work as it moves from Development into IT Operations, because that’s what’s between the business and the customer. The Second Way shows us how to shorten and amplify feedback loops, so we can fix quality at the source and avoid rework. And the Third Way shows us how to create a culture that simultaneously fosters experimentation, learning from failure, and understanding that repetition and practice are the prerequisites to mastery.”

The book introduces several ideas for improving the work of IT, many of which can be easily implemented at even an individual or a team level. Erik, in fact, challenges Bill to share what he’s learned to help others break through the all-to-common frustrations of IT work.

“Life in IT is pretty shitty when it’s so misunderstood and mismanaged. It becomes thankless and frustrating as people realize that they are powerless to change the outcome, like an endlessly repeating horror movie. If that’s not damaging to our self-worth as human beings, I don’t know what is. That’s got to change”

By illustrating in an easy-to-read manner how life in IT can be less stressful, the book sets out a vision for how this change can be achieved. Even if you are not a manager or director there are many good ideas to take away. All-in-all, an easy and worthwhile read.

  1. Follow @gurusimran for many other recommendations for virtualization and IT “good reads”.  ↩


Writing a Post-Mortem

TechCrunch pointed to a blog post by GitHub detailed a recent network related outage. As someone who all to often gets neck deep resolving network issues I find it interesting to read these outage post-mortems which, to their credit, many online services post following outages. All to often once a major issue is resolved it is tempting to just breath a sigh of relief and go on. But taking the time to reflect and write about what happened can help the learning process to ensure that the same issue doesn’t happen again, or at least lead to quicker resolution if it does.

Even if its only in your own personal log or journal, a post-mortem write-up is a good practice to develop.


"An entirely different game..."

The reason Instagram is succeeding (and by all accounts winning) is the same reason every majorly successful startup ever wins:

They started playing an entirely different game altogether

Table Stakes Are Dangerous | Cap Watkins