Microsoft Tools Uncategorized

Need help resizing your Hard drive?! AOMEI Partition Assistant to the rescue.

I was asked to assist with a SSD replacement for a drive that was starting to degrade. I started off by using CloneZilla to backup the drive but de to the degradation of the 90 GB SSD I was not able to complete the backup to my drive. In order to get around this issue I was able to use the Windows backup utility to create a disk image (which for some reason worked) an then restore the image to a new 1 TB drive.

At that point I thought I was made in the shade. Until I realized that I was not able to expand the C:\ Partition as there was another partition at the end of the disk. Windows Disk Manager would not allow me to move partitions (thanks Microsoft!) so I had to look for a third party solution to help. I came across AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard which said it would do the trick.

For the purpose of this exercise I went with the freeware download as I was only going to need to do this once and the Freeware edition should have been able to do what I needed. Let me tell you, I was not disappointed.

I installed it on the computer and from there I was able to not only move the partition on the disk, but I was able to expand the C:\ from 90 GB to 990 GB all at the same time. After submitting the job, it asks for a reboot which took a while but once the computer came back up it was working great!.

If you are ever in this situation you should totally check these guys out as they are now going to be a staple in my tool kit for the foreseeable future.

Fitness Tracker Product Reviews

Is the Xiaomi Mi Band 4 Fitness Tracker the BEST Value?!

Read this post to find out if this is the Fitness Tracker of your dreams.


Over the past 10 years or so I have owned 4 or 5 Fitness Tracker watches and most of them were from Samsung. Every couple of years or so I get the idea in my head that I need/want a fitness watch. I don’t know why, but if I had to guess, it probably coincides with my on again/off again relationship with the Gym.

Homer Simpson discovering the all night GYM
I couldn’t have said it better my self.

After being without a Smart Watch for a while I decided to take a look at what was out there. I eventually came across the Xiaomi Mi Band 4 Fitness Tracker on Amazon. Coming in at $35 USD I was shocked. I had seen some other reviews on this smart band that it could hold a charge for 4 to 5 weeks. That has to be too good to be true. It took me a few days to pull the trigger because I just could not believe it was real. Who knew what I was going to get when I placed that order with Amazon?

My Impressions

I really wish I had kept the box to show you how this thing made it to my house. There was not a whole lot to it, Just a cardboard sleeve with the fitness censor, a band, a Charging Cable, and a 2 inch book that had the same instructions written in 10 languages. There was no power button or anything telling me how to turn it on, so I decided to plug in the sensor and charge it up (usually that will turn on an electronic enough to figure out how to work the darn thing).

Xiaomi Mi Band 4 Fitness Tracker

After about 30 minutes or so the Sensor was charged, powered on and I was off to the races. I downloaded the Mi App from the Android App Store and began to pair it to my phone. I found the interface of the app to be very intuitive and the band had a very minimalist design and pleasing to the eye. The band itself is very light on the wrist, sometimes you forget that it is even there.

On to the good stuff!!

As for a step tracker it does a great job, and it even pairs with Google Fit which has been my app of choice for a few years now. It even uses location services to track your walks so you can share it on Social Media (if you are into that sort of thing). As for the battery life, I have owned it since March and I have only charged it 3 times. Seriously 3 Freaking times.

It also offers some protection from water, but I didn’t trust it half the time. It did survive a dip in my pool. I also had the opportunity to wear the the Fitness Tracker on the beach, and I have to say it was the best experience I have ever had with a fitness tracker. Due to the way the Xiaomi Mi Band 4 Fitness Tracker is designed there is no creases or crevices for sand (AKA the bane of my existence) to get into and plague you for months on end.

The Down side

During the course my my use of this watch, I somehow cracked the screen. In spite of that still works and the display is not messed up which means the LCD panel is fine, however it is not a durable as I would like. Also the sleep tracker stopped working completely, and the heart rate monitor and step tracker seemed to randomly stop sharing data with Google Fit. However if you are fine using the Mi App then it works great.

Final Thoughts…

Personally I think that this is a great budget option for a fitness tracker even with it’s faults listed above. If I didn’t move on to a different smart watch I would have continued to use this until it died. I think that this would be a great option for teenagers, beginners, or people who are prone to losing or breaking your device.

If you found this post helpful, please share it with your friends. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Home Assistant Home Automation WiFI Z Wave

Upgrading your home security with August Smart Locks


Well it finally happened, I decided to take the plunge into the world of smart locks. More specifically, the August Smart Lock Pro Generation 3 with Connect Wifi Bridge. I have actually been looking into it for a while and I had the opportunity to purchase a first generation August Smart Lock on clearance at Walmart for $50. That was such a great deal that I thought it had to be a lie. So I passed it up. Fool!!

In all reality it was not that big of a deal. A few years ago, August Smart locks were only able to be managed via Bluetooth. Meaning you had to have your phone (or tablet) with the August Smart home app near the lock to be able to use it. This would not have been an ideal long term solution as I would not be able to remotely manage it.

Moving on to present day, the catalog of items available from August has expanded, to say the least, to include WiFi and Z-Wave as options for management and integrations to include platforms like Voice Assistance (Google Home, Alexa, and Apple Home Kit), and Smart home platforms such as Home Assistant (which I use in my own home).


Upon opening the box I have to say I was pretty surprised at how little there was inside. You get a lock, a bracket, the connect bridge, a door sensor, a little baggie with plastic tubes, and masking tape… and that is about it. Now that I write it down it seems like a lot of items, however the way it was packaged made it seem so insignificant. One thing not in the box that took me for a loop was the lack of instructions. There was a slip of paper that instructed me to download their app.


So following the “instructions” I downloaded the app which then walks you though the process of creating an account. Once you are logged in, you will be given the option to add a device. From here it is pretty much follow the steps on the screen as it walks you through mounting the lock and connecting it to your device and then downloading and installing firmware updates.

This is where I had a problem, because your phone has to connect to the lock via Bluetooth which means you have to stay near the lock while it updates. This can take some time depending on how close you stay to the lock.

Once the firmware has been updated you will be then prompted to setup the Connect WiFi Bridge which was pretty quick and straight forward.

Troubleshooting Issues

So because I am impatient I may have messed up the firmware update the first time which left my smart lock in an inconsistent place. This also gave me the opportunity to call tech support. Which was an interesting experience. Since I registered my cell phone number when I created my account, when I called, I was greeted with “Hello, Kenneth”. After navigating the call tree I was then told that the hold time was 59 minutes. I dropped the call and just did a factory reset on the lock.

First Impressions

I have to admit that it is pretty cool once the lock is installed and app is connected. It is very easy to unlock from your phone, and you are able to invite other members of your family to use your lock with relative ease. Even the transition from Bluetooth connected to WiFi happens seamlessly. So far I am giving this product my stamp of approval. I will do an update on this once I get it fully integrated into Google Home, Alexa, and Home Assistant.

I hope you found this post helpful and if so please consider sharing this with your friends and family who might me interested in purchasing a smart lock.

DNS OpenDNS Security

OpenDNS: Your first line of defense for your Family on the Internet

This morning I was going through my home network configuration due to power outages caused by the storms that just rolled through. I noticed that my one of my wireless networks was using a weird configuration for DNS.

DNS (Domain Naming System) is one of the key services that allow you to access the internet. You see every website or service that you go to online uses a nickname to allow you to get to it easily. It’s like me saying meet me at Ken’s house, do you know where that is or how to get there? No, the same thing happens when you tell your favorite web browser that you want to go to,, or The first time you ask to go to one of those sites your computer has no idea how to get there, but it has something called a DNS server to ask for direction. Long story short, without DNS, getting to your favorite website or service would be very difficult if not impossible!!

Thankfully we don’t need to picture a world without DNS, but we should be worried about a few other things around DNS. For instance, your ISP (Internet Service Provider) which would be Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and others, provide you with a DNS Server to use. Even some wireless routers that you may have purchased have them pre-configured as well. Which is Great! Except for the fact that the servers that they have you pointing to are slow and old and can really slow down your Internet Connection.

You may be asking, “What can I do about this?”

Enter OpenDNS. OpenDNS is a Free (for home users) DNS Server that you can point to which will offer better performance than using your IP’s DNS Server. It doesn’t require you to sign up or give them a credit card. You can just go to their website and follow their setup guides.

You might now be asking, “Well this is great, but what about defending my family?”

Well I am glad you asked, OpenDNS is already configured out of the box to block access to Adult content and other things that you might not want your family to have access to. You also have the option to create an account with OpenDNS which will allow you to see all of the things your family is doing on your network. It also allows you to set the level of restriction on your home network

“How can I configure this to work?”

Well you can either configure every device in your house to do it manually, which lets be honest is a pain, or you can configure it one time on your internet gateway and be done with it.

If you have questions or are interested in getting something like this setup for your home/business (yes there is a business option available as well) feel free to reach out to me via our Contact Us form.

Home Assistant Home Automation Z Wave

Inovelli Smart Bulbs

While I was in the planning phases of my blog move I wanted to find new sources of content for the blog. As I was shopping on Amazon for ZWave sensors I came across this company called Inovelli. I had never heard of them before and I kind of dismissed them and went on my way. But after a while I figured I would check them out.

Inovelli is a US based company and they make all their own products even down to the firmware. For my test of their products I decided to order 2 smart bulbs (one is being and open box and discontinued as the other one is their brand new Ilumin Bulb) since I had just purchased the Merkury Wifi Smart Bulb from Walmart and I was not unfamiliar with smart bulbs.

The packaging was not very impressive, in fact it was a little hard to figure out which was the open box and which was brand new aside from the label on the box. The bulbs were just rattling around in the box and were a little difficult to get out. That aside I am pretty impressed with the product.

The setup was pretty simple (after you read the instructions) and once the device was paired and I rebooted my Z Wave Controller it showed up immediately. They also work great with Home Assistant just an FYI there. The lights were bright and very responsive.

My Usage for these bulbs

You might be asking, Why do you want/need a ZWave smart bulb when you can get a smart switch? For me I am using one of these bulbs for a 2 fold purpose. The first being I have a pull chain light switch in my utility room in my basement and I don’t want to have to go through the trouble of setting up a smart switch. and secondly, as they are connected to power 100% of the time, and they actually will act as a ZWave extender/repeater (which I can go into at a later time) to expand my network.

I think if you are in need of a smart bulb and already have an existing Z Wave network you should really look into these Inovelli Smart Bulbs. I really regret not purchasing their colored bulb which I hope to purchase soon and have a review up for it soon.

Home Lab PowerCLI Starwind Virtual SAN Virtualization Vmware

Home Lab 2.0 – Starwind VSAN : The Greatest addition to my Home Lab

At the end of my previous post about The Beast I mentioned about lacking shared storage for my Virtual Hosts. My first thought was to go out and purchase a NAS like a Synology or a QNAP NAS. However I am trying to do this on the cheap and an extra $1200 when figuring in the cost of drives is just not in my budget. Now I am not sure about Synology, but I believe that they are comparable to QNAP in the sense that you can present disks as iSCSI LUN. Which I have done several times in the past and works brilliantly.

So here I am sitting in my office looking at the Beast and I was racking my brain trying to figure out what I can do with all this storage in this one box and how I can share it among my Virtual Hosts. I started looking at FreeNAS and running it as a VM in VMware Workstation and that worked! Until I had a power failure and the virtual disks became corrupted and I could not get them to come back online. Very Frustrating, my search continued.

Anyway, after doing some research I discovered Starwind VSAN. It allows you to take storage on a Windows machine and present it as an iSCSI LUN. I thought this is great and I signed up for a trial which gives you the ability to install it on one host but no graphical interface (it uses PowerShell) but unlimited LUNs. After some quick googling about the syntax I was able t piece together the commands with relative ease. Within a few minutes I was up an running with three new iSCSI LUNs and they were mounted in vCenter.

I mentioned earlier about having issues with FreeNAS and power failures, well ironically we had a power failure but Starwind VSAN came back online without a hitch. I was very impressed with how resilient it was. I have not had the chance to really put it through it’s paces, but so far I think I found a winner.

I plan to s follow up post once I really get off and running to the races so stay tuned for updates.

Home Automation

Is this $5 Smart Bulb the Best bang for your buck??

So I was walking through Walmart the other day and on the end cap between Hardware and Electronic (a very fitting place for this) I found this little nugget of Gold!

For just $5 ($4.66 since it is Walmart) I was able to add this puppy to my collection. The Merkury Innovations Smart WI-Fi LED Bulb which appear to be made by Greeni.

You can purchase the same one on their website located here and the color one for $12 here.

Now I must admit that my expectations were really low considering the cheapest LED smart bulb I had ever encountered before was the IKEA TRADFRI which starts at $12 a bulb.

Upon first inspection the bulb itself felt like it should and is about the same weight as the TRADFRI. Upon plugging it in the light turns on like normal and then starts to blink… I assume this is a pairing mode. The instructions want you to install a smart controller app called Greeni App which looked oddly enough like the same screen that Smart Life or Tuya use.

Having a few products that work with Tuya I thought what the heck and opened my app. As soon as I did it found the smart bulb and asked if I wanted to add it to my managed devices which I did and because of that it was automatically added into my Google Home…. Bonus Point!!

From my app I was able to control the brightness and even turn it on and off which is awesome.

For now I am very happy with this decision and I think if you want to get into the smart home market this is a great way to start. All you need is the Device and WiFi. Now if you want to get fancy with automation and rules you can start to do that from the app, however there are limitations.

If you are interested in learning how to do more complex automation reach out to me using the Contact us form.

Home Assistant Home Automation Z Wave

UPDATE!! Home Assistant: Open Z Wave Add-in 0.5.0 not working

So I just ran into this issue with my Home Assistant Setup. I logged in for the first time in about a week and found that I had an update available for the Open Z Wave Add-On. Oddly enough the check box that says Auto Update does nothing.

Anyway so I updated thinking everything would be okay….. WRONG!!!

After doing the upgrade and rebooting the appliance the Open Z Wave admin console would fail to load and the service would not start. I tried several times as that is normally what I have to do. Which by the way the the start on boot up also never works.

I checked the Home Assistant forums and found this thread. It turns out that the the issue is actually with MQTT. Apparently MQTT is presenting an invalid response which is causing Open Z Wave to barf. One of the options listed was to use an MQTT Browser to delete the entry and that has worked for some people to varying levels of success.

It did not work for me, but here is what I did:

  • Back up your configurations before you do any of this.
  • Step 1: Uninstall Open Z Wave from Supervisor > Add-ons
  • Step 2: Uninstall MQTT
  • Step 3: Reboot Home Assistant hardware
  • Step 4: Install MQTT again and make sure it is configured and then Start the services.
  • Step 5: Install Open Z Wave and make sure it is pointing to the correct ZWave Antenna and start service.

I then checked the Z Wave log to make sure the error was gone (and it was!!)

UPDATE!! Within about an hour of making this post I discovered that my whole Zwave setup was not working and the service eventually crashed. This morning I ended up doing a fresh install and I was able to pull down OpenZwave 0.5.1 and that seems to be working. I will update once I have more information.

I hope you found this post helpful, and if so please share with your friends.

Home Lab Virtualization Vmware

Home Lab 2.0 – The Beast

Continuing on our series on my Home lab we now move into present day. Well…. a few months ago at least. As I mentioned in my previous post about my Razor Blade 15, I used that as my home lab until I was able to procure parts for my current hyper converged VMware Home Lab.

Below is my part list for The Beast:

Once all the parts came in I managed to get it all hooked up relatively quickly and without issue. I must admit that this is the first time I have ever used a Noctua Cooler, but it is whisper quiet, and nowhere near as expensive as I thought it would be.

So moving away from the hardware I then installed Window 10 and after 4 hours or so of Windows updates I was finally able to install VMware Workstation Pro 15. Well, almost…. it turns out that Virtualization Support was not enabled by default. But I can get into that at a later time. I then built out a Domain Controller (another 4 hours of Windows Updates) and 3 Virtual hosts (no Windows Updates). Once the hosts were built I then deployed a VCSA appliance.

Now I think I have everything I will need to play with VMware Products. That is until I remembered I don’t have Shared Storage for my Virtual hosts. What ever will I do?!

Stay tuned for my next post in this series, especially if you are looking to build a home lab on the cheap.

I hope you found this helpful and if so please share it with your friends, we could really use your support.

Virtualization Vmware

Whats new in Pricing, Metering, and Reporting:…

Whats new in Pricing, Metering, and Reporting: June 2020 Update

Whats new in Pricing, Metering, and Reporting:…

We just started the first webinar in the “Whats new in Cloud Provider Pricing, Metering, and Reporting” series. In this blog we’ll visit what was discussed and as well as provide the action items that partners can perform today to plan ahead or make monthly reporting easier. We’ll cover what’s […]

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