Autodesk is shipping light!

Autodesk, the owners of AutoCAD, Revit, and 3DS Max (plus a lot more than I can list here), offer a particular licensing contract with higher education facilities.  The Master Suite (for Education).

Essentially, it’s got the whole works that you could possibly ever play with, sans a couple packages that not many people use, geared heavily towards CAD, 3D modeling, and animation.  It has just about one of everything, in the general usage, utility sense.

Normally, we get this huge folder of disks, between 40-48 of them.

This year?

Autodesk Education Master Suite 2013 Packaging

It's so small!

Yep.  A USB drive.  64gb, with everything.  Somehow, they managed to fit (with compression) 120gb of data.  Solid metal housing, it’s got a nice heft to it, and has a hole drilled into it for a lanyard.

Admins beware though!  Creating deployments may not work directly off the drive!  You may need to copy the data to a local disk, uncompressed, to create your network deployments!

Diablo-esq

If you’re just now getting here, you’ve probably been in the trenches like myself.  To the right, you’ll find my BattleTag™ ID, which is currently being used for Diablo 3 (hence the D3 logo).

I find that this is odd, however.  Why did they create BattleTags for D3, when they had the groundwork, and most of the job done, in StarCraft 2?  Why not just integrate what they did in SC2 into D3?  It’s roughly the same system, but apparently more enhanced, and gives the option to change your ID later (in case something goes awry).

My only guess would be that the SC2 system is, in its current form, very specific to the platform, and a rewrite would have to happen, and that the RealID™ system is too intrusive (you have to give people the name of your account, which is your email, which makes everything less safe unless you have an authenticator).

You can still access your RealID friends in D3, so that’s not broken.  But any friends in the SC2 system that are not RealID, you’re outa luck.

The Great Google Migration

This morning, my workplace got a sudden change that was supposed to have happened 12 hours later than it did: The Great Google Migration.

That’s right, all of the IT people and a few others across the campus are now using Google Mail as their email standard. Well, of course with a custom domain, but it’s still the same, right? Save for the restrictions in account control, like your display name, pictures, web history…

But so far, everything is fairly smooth. Mobile devices can connect to the Google accounts, Google Drive can be enabled (the bump up for Google Docs), and most email pointers work right now (the new domain name isn’t ready yet, so you can send, but receiving is broken).

Plus I got to push out Google Chrome to all our IT areas using ConfigMgr (SCCM). I used nearly $3k to get SCCM 2007 training last week, and I’m already putting that training to good use!

Plesk Panel and Third-Third Party Support

There are a number of things that a member of IT should adhere to, and I will openly state that I am slightly guilty of this particular rant today: Providing clear documentation on changes to a system.

This site, the server it is on, was reverted today due to a problem from a third-third party support team.  1&1 is my current host, but the Plesk Panel (made by the Parallels company, the same folks who do the virtualization alternative geared to the Mac OS) had a problem.

Specifically, Plesk has the ability to install software directly on the system, automatically with the variables you feed it (username, password, directory, subdomain, etc…), and bring it up with the database table ready to use.  On-demand/JIT installs.  Useful, similar to Fantastico/Softalicous, but baked directly into the control panel.  That was broken, reporting that there was no command line interpreter, which is apparently a common issue that the solution will not be divulged to the public.

1&1 had to go to the Parallels support team to have this resolved.  Oh, and they did resolve it.  Apparently, I should have my main site PHP handler set to using FastCGI instead of the Apache module.  How does that make sense?  Really, it doesn’t, as most bash commands are common between different *nix OS’s, and if it’s trying to initiate a command via PHP, it should be able to, no matter the handler (see phpShell, a web based bash command tool).

Now, the problem was resolved.  All good, yes?  Nope.

The Parallels person deleted the MySQL database for this site, the main site.  Somehow in all their tests and fixes, they installed WordPress five or more (5+) times.  And in cleaning some previous instances, deleted the database.

That brings me to my point.  If you are going to work on a client’s system, website, or other gadgetry, and it’s not in front of them where they can see what you’re doing, tell them.  Verbally, or in writing.  In some of my own website projects, I’ve added into the core configuration document (the one that most new admins will take a look at to get a clue of what’s going on) what configuration changes I’ve made, warnings about potential breakage if code is changed, and some tips on extending the code.

It’s just good practice.

Ovila – Dubbel

Last night, I had the pleasure of having my second taste of an Ovila abbey ale, the Ovila Dubbel.

Ovila - Dubbel

Ovila - Dubbel

From the label:

A collaboration between Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and the monks at the Abbey of New Clairvaux, Ovila Abbey Quad brings the ceturies-old monastery brewing tradition to America.

Ovila Abbey Dubbel features a complex and rich malty sweetness with hints of caramelized sugar. The aroma is a heady and layered mix of fruit and spice with hints of clove and black pepper from the unique Belgian-style yeast.

A portion of the proceeds from this ale goes toward the restoration of the historic Santa Maria de Ovila chapter house on the grounds of the Abbey of New Clairvaux. This medieval building stood for nearly eight centuries in Spain. William Randolph Hearst purchased the monastery in 1931 and planned to use the stones for a castle even grander than his famous San Simeon. Although Hearst’s plans crumbled, these historic stones will rise again in a Califorian Cistercian abbey.

Similar to the Quad, this brew is robust, deep, and quite a pleasant taste.  Light enough for a smooth drink, yet dark enough to suit my personal taste.  My only wish is that I did not enjoy the whole bottle at once last night, so I could write a more thorough review.  But alas, I did enjoy the whole bottle.  Which means I will have to revisit this again.  Oh darn.

At 7.5% ABV, it lacks the potency of the Quad, but the flavors make up for the rest.

For more information on the restoration project, the Dubbel ale, or the other brews, look no further than here: http://www.ovila.com/

Ovila – Quad

This one I have been saving.  Monday was a heck of a day, so I decided to break out my Ovila Quad.

Ovila - Quad

Ovila - Quad

From the label:

 A collaboration between Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and the monks at the Abbey of New Clairvaux, Ovila Abbey Quad brings the ceturies-old monastery brewing tradition to America.

Ovila Abbey Quad is rich and complex with laters of flavor including notes of intense dark fruits, and caramel-like maltiness. Rich and complex, this ale should be shared among friends in the true spirit of the season.

A portion of the proceeds from this ale goes toward the restoration of the historic Santa Maria de Ovila chapter house on the grounds of the Abbey of New Clairvaux. This medieval building stood for nearly eight centuries in Spain. William Randolph Hearst purchased the monastery in 1931 and planned to use the stones for a castle even grander than his famous San Simeon. Although Hearst’s plans crumbled, these historic stones will rise again in a Califorian Cistercian abbey.

Uniquely identified from most other brews, this is cork-and-cap secured, and was one of the three variants on an Abbey style ale, produced by Sierra Nevada, under the label of Ovila.  The purpose: Raise the funds to restore and rebuild a monastery in Northern California.

The first pop of the cork was met with almost a wine-like scent, but the ale is most definitely not wine-like.  A good, dark brew, with a reddish hue when held into the light, and a perfect head when poured properly (though a patented Sam Adams glass makes the carbonation last longer).  Very smooth, not too fizzy (again, carbonation held in check), and the flavor is absolutely well rounded.  It tastes of the darker brews I’ve had, sweet, but without the super-thick, super-strong aftertaste.

At 10.4% ABv, this is a very well done brew.  As this is the Quad, there are two others that I will have to try, the Dubbel and Golden.

For more information on the restoration project, the Quad ale, or the other brews, look no further than here: http://www.ovila.com/

Sierra Nevada – Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale 2012

On this night, I bring thee Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale for the 2012 year.

Sierra Nevada - Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale 2012

Sierra Nevada - Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale 2012

From the website (as there is no text for the label):

Our award-winning barleywine boasts a dense, fruity bouquet, an intense flavor palate and a deep reddish-brown color. Its big maltiness is superbly balanced by a wonderfully bittersweet hoppiness.

Well done.  Well done, indeed, good sirs.  Carrying a 9.6% ABV, this is a very excellent brew, on a similar vein of the Ruthless Rye, and Samuel Smith’s Imperial Stout.  Good barley, excellent scent, and a well rounded flavor, with the tart of the hops.  It’s not too bitter, goes down very nicely, and has a great color.  All in all, a very good brew!

Look:★★★★½ 
Smell:★★★★☆ 
Taste:★★★★½ 
Feel:★★★★½ 
Overall:★★★★½ 

Sierra Nevada – Stout

I’ve been on a Sierra Nevada kick, it seems.  Tonight, I’m trying out their Stout.

Sierra Nevada - Stout

Sierra Nevada - Stout

From the label:

Sierra Nevada Original Stout is brewed with generous amounts of deep roasted malts, providing a bold, roasted coffee and dark chocolate flavor with a hint of sweetness.  This full-bodied American version of the traditional black ale is perfectly balanced, with big malt flavors and earthy whole-cone hops.

To be honest, it’s a bit bitter to me.  It’s got the coffee/chocolate flavor, but it’s that last note that hits my palette the wrong way.  Good alcohol burn going all the way down, with a 5.8% ABV, which is surprising at such a low percentage.  I could chalk that up to the Stout brewing, as this is not the first time I’ve felt that burn.

Look:★★★☆☆ 
Smell:★★★★☆ 
Taste:★★★☆☆ 
Feel:★★★★☆ 
Overall:★★★½☆ 

Samuel Smith’s – Imperial Stout

Tonight, to celebrate getting a particular, mission critical server back up and running at work today, I am enjoying a Samuel Smith’s Imperial Stout.

Samuel Smith's - Imperial Stout

Samuel Smith's - Imperial Stout

From the label:

Brewed at Samuel Smith’s small, traditional British brewery with well water (the original well sunk in 1758 is still in use), best barley malt, roasted barley, yeast and hops to create a rich flavourful ale; deep chocolate in colour with a roasted barley nose and flavour that is a complexity of malt, hops and yeast.  Fermented in ‘stone Yorkshire squares’. This distinctive type of ale was originally shipped to Imperial Russia; it was a favourite of Russian nobility.

My spellcheck hated that.  It’s the ‘u’ in words that American english revoked.

Anyway, at a 7% ABV, this is surprisingly smooth.  Well rounded, dark and heavy as expected.  It’s an import, so it’s a tad more expensive than I’d like, but still very nice.  Compared to other Imperial Stouts I’ve had, this is about average, but less so on the ABV.  So similar to the Cutthroat Porter, I may not seek this out again in more quantities that what I’ve had.

Look:★★★☆☆ 
Smell:★★★☆☆ 
Taste:★★★★☆ 
Feel:★★★☆☆ 
Overall:★★★½☆ 

Fox Barrel – Rhubarb & Elderberry Pear Cider

Today, we bring you the Fox Barrel Rhubarb & Elderberry Unfiltered Pear Cider.

Fox Barrel - Rhubarb and Elderberry Pear Cider

Fox Barrel - Rhubarb and Elderberry Pear Cider

From the label:

Pear Cider Infused With Rhubarb & Elderberry Juices & Organic Honey

Naturally fermented using 100% pear juice, not from pear-juice concentrate, or flavored hard apple cider. Unfiltered, using racked pear-wine, infused with rhubarb & elderberry juices. Smoothed with organic honey.

A deep plum colored cider. A big robust nose of elderberry with a background of rhubarb. A crisp, tight tart start which rounds out to sweeter elderberry & hints of honey. A zesty, drinkable cider with an almost vinous complexity but a subtly creamy mouth-feel.

No added colorants, sugar, sorbate or benzoate preservatives. No added malt, spirit, grape or apple-cider alcohols. Give a full bottoms up tilt and vigorous swirl to disperse unfiltered pear-wine sediment evenly though the bottle.

A very pleasant aroma and taste, and a unique color!  Most definitely not your standard cider, the pear gives it a very different flavor and scent.  The pear is heavy on the aroma, more than the elderberry so stated on the label, but the elderberry and honey do win over the flavor.  Went very well with the fish we had, as it was light and airy to match the meal.  It’s a 6.5% ABV, so a bit stronger than your average brew.

As a side note, Fox Barrel is a side-company of Crispin, so they are very closely related.

Look:★★★★☆ 
Smell:★★★½☆ 
Taste:★★★½☆ 
Feel:★★★☆☆ 
Overall:★★★½☆ 
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