The Pros and Cons of Working in an Office

That Office Life
That Office Life

One of my friends recently asked me what my thoughts were on “Working from Home” vs Commuting. So, I wrote down a list.

The Pros of Working in an Office

There are definitely a couple pros that I can think about when working from the company office.

  1. The People.
    1. You get to have the random watercooler conversations.
    2. You don’t feel so “alone”
    3. You can easily bounce ideas off of others or weigh in on conversations that you otherwise would not have been involved in.
    4. It’s harder for people to avoid you. (So you can finally get Bill to provision that extra RAM you requested weeks ago)
  2. You have a better sense of the state of the company.
    1. You overhear information about how the company is doing
    2. You can literally see Manager1 and Manager2 rush down the hall to the CEO’s office. Which gives you a clue that something might be up.
  3. You can take part in the office perks (only available to office goers)
    1. Work provided lunch?
    2. On site Gym?
    3. On site Massage?
    4. Work provided chairs and desks

The Cons of Working in an Office

On the other hand there are certainly some flaws too.

  1. The People
    1. They are loud
    2. They don’t know when to leave you alone.
    3. Manager stands behind you pretending not to look directly at you (might as well be parked in a big white van right across the aisle from your desk).
    4. You overhear conversations you don’t want to hear
    5. Gloria complained that it was too cold in the office so now the thermostat is set at a flat 76 degrees during the summer and 82 degrees in the winter.
    6. Ted never washes his hands after using the restroom.
    7. Ted enjoys randomly giving you back massages while telling you some inappropriate joke.
    8. Ted works here.
    9. The restroom is always out of toilet paper.
    10. Ted is your boss.
    11. The restroom is also out of acceptable toilet paper substitutes, like paper towels, because someone decided using a TON OF ENERGY to heat up and blow hot air at your hands was better for the environment.
    12. Amanda plays with the action figures on your desk when she comes over to ask you a question. (BTW you’ve already answered this question three separate times via email, chat, and in a meeting).
    13. MEETINGS -> you are all literally in the same room. Ted is there.
  2. You have a better sense of the state of the company.
    1. Nobody knows what they’re doing. This company is doomed.
  3. You can take part in the office perks (only available to office goers)
    1. Work provided chairs and desks. Why do they even buy them?
    2. There is no work provided lunch, gym, or massage. But they do pay half the monthly fee for your space at the parking structure a couple blocks down the street.
    3. You have to commute to work, which means you might get stuck in traffic.
    4. Your space at the parking structure has a pillar in it.
    5. That couple blocks is a long way to walk.
    6. Your company believes in an “Open Office” environment. That means you work at a long fold out table in an old warehouse. The good news is that there are no cubes so you can see Ted clipping his finger nails. Also, you’re elbows are constantly bumping into Bills elbows who sits immediately to your right. You don’t bump into anyone on the left, because on your left is the wall and you’re just squished against it all day.

I think that sums it up? Feel free to drop your own Pro/Cons in the comments.

Connect to a Chassis.io Vagrant Hosted WordPress Database

Chassis.io is an excellent tool to get you quickly setup for WordPress development. Barring any timeout issues, the setup is typically as simple as following their QuickStart guide.

Chassis.io uses Vagrant and VirtualBox to setup a Virtual Machine that hosts your WordPress site. This post covers how you can connect to your WordPress database that exists on that Virtual Machine. I’ll be using Windows and HeidiSQL for the purpose of this post. The connection information I use in this post comes from this GitHub issue.

Connecting with HeidiSQL

HeidiSQL is my favorite query browser for MySQL and MariaDB databases. I like the layout and the interface is nice and clean.

When you first open HeidiSQL you will see the interface for creating a new Database connection.HeidiSQL Session Manager
Choose whichever name you want to help you remember what this connection is for. I’ve named mine “Chassis” because it’s my connection to the database Chassis.io setup. You’ll also want to set the following settings:

  • Network type: MySQL (SSH tunnel)
  • Hostname / IP: localhost
  • User: wordpress
  • Password: vagrantpassword
  • Port: 3306

That’s it for the basic settings. Now for the SSH Tunnel settings.

HeidiSQL – Plink.exe and Private Key

HeidiSQL uses a utility called “plink.exe” for it’s SSH capabilities. plink.exe is made by the same author who wrote PuTTY (which I’m sure you’ve heard of). If you haven’t got plink.exe downloaded you can find the latest exe on this page. You’ll want to grab both plink.exe and puttygen.exe. I stuck both utilities inside a “PuTTY” folder in my Program Files (x86) directory. You can stick them wherever you want to.

Ok, before we setup the SSH Tunnel settings we are going to want to setup the Private key file that plink.exe will use to communicate with your Virtual Machine. PuTTY utilities use specific private key files called .ppk files. We are going to want to convert the Vagrant provided private key file to a .ppk file for use by plink.exe. Luckily, the puttygen.exe utility you downloaded makes this conversion simple.

Launch puttygen.exe. This will launch the “PuTTY Key Generator”. Load in the Vagrant provided private key file by using File > Load Private Key. Navigate to the location of your Vagrant private key file. Mine was located in C:\projects\chassis\.vagrant\machines\default\virtualbox. Your location may be different depending on where your Chassis project is. Find the “private_key” file and open that. The PuTTY Key Generator will take care of loading the key in for you. You should see a “Successfully imported foreign key …” message. Now click “Save private key”, choose a name for it, and save it. I just saved it exactly where the other private_key was.

PuTTY Key Generator
Location of the “Save private key” button

Woot! Now we can fill out the HeidiSQL SSH tunnel settings. Remember where you saved that .ppk file because you’ll need it for this next step.

HeidiSQL – SSH Tunnel Settings

Click on the tab for “SSH tunnel” to access the HeidiSQL Session Manager SSH Tunnel settings.

HeidiSQL SSH Tunnel Settings
HeidiSQL SSH Tunnel Settings

Alright, let’s plug in the values!

  • plink.exe location: Insert the path to your plink.exe utility.
  • SSH host + port: localhost and 2222
  • Username: vagrant
  • Password: just leave this blank
  • plink.exe timeout: default is fine
  • Private key file: Path to the .ppk file we created above
  • Local port: 3307 is fine

Now we come to the moment of truth. Push the “Save” button on the HeidiSQL session manager to save your changes. Now push the “Open” button and HeidiSQL should connect to your Vagrant hosted WordPress database. Woot!

Chassis.io Timeout Issue

TL:DR -> Try enabling Virtualization in your BIOS.

I’m trying out http://chassis.io as a way to easily setup a WordPress development environment on Windows. It’s actually quite easy and everything works almost exactly like the Chassis Get Started guide describes.

However, I ran into a timeout issue when attempting to boot up the Virtual Machine using vagrant up. On first run the process installed necessary dependencies and wired most things up. However, it hung for a considerable amount of time when booting up the virtual machine. Eventually it told me that it had timed out. It didn’t start the virtual machine.

VT-x/AMD-V hardware acceleration is not available on your system

Hrmm… I wonder why it’s timing out. Chassis.io uses Vagrant and VirtualBox. So I spun up VirtualBox to see if I could manually start the VM myself. As it turns out, I could not. VirtualBox threw up the following error:

VirtualBox - Error
VT-x/AMD-V hardware acceleration is not available on your system. Your 64-bit guest will fail to detect a 64-bit CPU and will not be able to boot.

Well, that’s nice… (Hint: it’s not nice).

First Try: Disabling Hyper-V

I did some searching. I found a number of posts that indicated the solution was to disable Hyper-V. It sounds like this works for a lot of people. Scott Hanselman actually wrote up a post about how to “Switch easily between VirtualBox and Hyper-V with a BCDEdit boot Entry in Windows 8.1“. I tried this approach. It did not work for me (you can remove a bcdEdit entry using bcdedit /delete {ENTRYGUID} btw).

Second Try: Enabling Virtualization via BIOS

During my search I stumbled upon this SuperUser answer. The answer indicated that, depending on your system, Virtualization could be enabled via the BIOS.

In my case, enabling Virtualization via BIOS involved booting to the UEFI Firmware Settings. I’ve outlined the steps below.

  1. Hold down the Shift key while you click Restart. This will cause your computer to bring up a special menu.

    Hold Down Shift and Restart
    Hold down “SHIFT” and click Restart
  2. Next you need to navigate the option screens to find “UEFI Firmware Settings”
    1. Select “Troubleshoot”
    2. Select “Advanced options”
    3. Select “UEFI Firmware Settings”
    4. Restart

    Steps to UEFI Firmware Settings
    Steps to UEFI Firmware Settings
  3. This will reboot you into your PC’s UEFI settings which looks a lot like a typical BIOS menu.
  4. Enable Virtualization
    Your system may be different. My system had a “Virtualization” setting located under the “Security” tab. Once I located the “Virtualization” setting I noticed that “Intel (R) Virtualization Technology” was indeed set to Disabled. I enabled it, saved the setting, and restarted my machine.

    Enable Virtualization via BIOS
    Enable Virtualization via BIOS

After enabling “Virtualization” I tried to start the VirtualBox VM one more time. BOOM. It worked. I ran vagrant up via a ConEmu console and… success.

In Conclusion

Chassis.io is a pretty sweet project. If your system is setup correctly then Chassis.io “just works”. In my case my system needed “Virtualization” enabled via a UEFI Firmware Setting.

Have a stupendous day! 🙂

John Lasseters Favorite Jungle Cruise Joke

I watched a documentary titled “Disneyland: Secrets, Stories, & Magic” recently. Towards the end of the documentary they interview the Chief Creative Officer of Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, John Lasseter. In his interview he talks about the time he spent as a guide on the Jungle Cruise. At one point he mentions his “favorite joke”.

John Lasseters Favorite Jungle Cruise Joke

As you go through the cruise the guide tells you about various parts of it. At one point the guide sees a pile of skulls and he hides behind a small child. The guide explains how you are now entering the land of the natives. The natives are very dangerous but can sometimes be friendly.

John Lasseter's Favorite Jungle Cruise Joke

They’re doing their famous “I can’t find the bathroom” dance. Everybody laughs, you let them laugh a little bit and you go on… long pause and then you go “that’s why they call them headhunters”.

But what does it mean?

I’m going to be honest. I had no idea what this meant. I mean it’s one of those jokes that you laugh at because everyone around you is laughing but you really don’t know why anyone is laughing and everyone actually feels the same way just looking at eachother in a weird state of laughter.

I researched it. Turns out that a “head” is what they call a “toilet” on a ship. So. Now you know. They are “head hunters” because they are looking for the toilet. You probably deduced the meaning of the joke from the context. However, you may not have known what a toilet on a ship is called. And now you do. And now it makes a bit more sense why the guide on the jungle cruise might call a toilet a “head”. You are on a boat after all.

Entity Framework: Update-Database Migrates the Wrong DB

Recently I made the switch from using Visual Studio 2015 to using Visual Studio 2017. For the most part the transition was easy. However, I ran into an issue with Entity Framework updating the wrong database. I’m posting the solution here so I don’t forget 🙂

TL:DR
If you are experiencing issues with Entity Framework then check that your startup project is the correct one.

EF Update-Database Is Not Working

My current setup involves using a local SQL Server Express database. I check the database via SQL Server Management Studio (ManStu) when I run Update-Database to ensure my changes take place. When I run Update-Database from Visual Studio 2015 the changes are reflected in the database. When I run Update-Database from Visual Studio 2017 the changes are not reflected in the database.

Why does Update-Database work correctly in Visual Studio 2015 but not correctly in Visual Studio 2017? Why does Visual Studio 2017 tell me that the changes were applied successfully?

I decided to take a look at the output of Update-Database -Verbose to see if it yielded any helpful information. There I saw:

Target database is: 'MySpecialDB' (DataSource: (localdb)\v11.0, Provider: System.Data.SqlClient, Origin: Convention).

Entity Framework was using (localdb) and not the SQL Server Express database I setup in the app.config. That explains why the changes were applied successfully. However, why was Entity Framework using the wrong database?

The Not So Thrilling Simple Solution

I pursued a number of different routes looking for the solution to this issue. In the end the solution is so simple. The wrong startup project was selected. That’s it. In Visual Studio 2015 I was using a different startup project. In Visual Studio 2017 I never setup a startup project and so one was selected automatically.

As it turns out Entity Framework pulls meaningful information (like database connection information) out of the startup project. The fact that I had the wrong startup project selected in Visual Studio 2017 was the reason why my Entity Framework Update-Database commands were not working the way I expected.

So, lesson learned, if you are experiencing issues with Entity Framework then check your startup project. It could be that you have the wrong startup project selected 🙂

Fixing UI-SREF-ACTIVE – Specifying a Default Abstract State

I’ve recently begun working with Angular and by extension Angular UI-Router. The fact that you are reading this means that you likely have as well. That said, let’s all pause for a moment and cry together. I know it’s hard. You will get through it. It will be ok. We can do this.

Basic ui-sref-active Usage

One of the things that UI-Router gives you is the ability to add a class to an element if that elements state is currently active. This is done via the ui-sref-active directive.


<ul class="nav navbar-nav" ng-controller="navController">
   
   <li class="nav-node nav" ui-sref-active="active"><a ui-sref="home">Home</a></li>

   <li class="nav-node nav" ui-sref-active="active"><a ui-sref="notHome">Not Home</a></li>

</ul>

So above we have some basic navigation with two states. The home state and the notHome state. The ui-sref-active directive takes care of adding the active class to whichever li contains the state that is currently active.

The Problem with Abstract States

The problem is that the ui-sref-active directive does not work correctly (or as we expect) when the parent state is an abstract state.

Let’s say you want to expand your “home” state a bit. Maybe you want to add a “dashboard” state and from there link to a “messages” state. You might set up your $stateProvider a bit like this.

$stateProvider
	.state("home",
	{
		abstract: true,
		url: "/home"
	})
	.state("home.dashboard", {
		url: "/dashboard",
		views: {
			"content@": {
				templateUrl: "app/home/dashboard.html",
				controller: "DashboardController"
			}
		}
	})
   .state("home.messages", {
		url: "/messages",
		views: {
			"content@": {
				templateUrl: "app/home/messages.html",
				controller: "MessagesController"
			}
		}
	});

You’ll see we’ve setup home as an abstract view. By default we want to land on our home.dashboard state. We also want ui-sref-active to set the active class on our “Home” link regardless of which child state we are on.


<ul class="nav navbar-nav" ng-controller="navController">
   
   <li class="nav-node nav" ui-sref-active="active"><a ui-sref="home.dashboard">Home</a></li>


   <li class="nav-node nav" ui-sref-active="active"><a ui-sref="notHome">Not Home</a></li>

</ul>

You will notice that in the code above we are now using ui-sref to link to  home.dashboard. This is where the problem with ui-sref-active crops up, it will only show the active class if the state is home.dashboard. We want the active class to appear on any child of the “home” state. As it is, the ui-sref-active directive will not detect home.messages as active. So the question becomes, “how can we fix ui-sref-active so that it detects a parent abstract state”?

Fixing ui-sref-active

The answer comes from Tom Grant in the form of a comment on a GitHub issue.

Tom informs us that there is an undocumented built in solution to this ui-sref-active problem. The solution, he says, is to “use an object (like with ng-class) and it will work”.

Code examples that Tom provides:

<!-- This will not work -->
<li ui-sref-active="active">
   <a ui-sref="admin.users">Administration Panel</a>
</li>

<!-- This will work -->
<li ui-sref-active="{ 'active': 'admin' }">
   <a ui-sref="admin.users">Administration Panel</a>
</li>

That’s it. Now we can link to children of abstract ui-router states and ui-sref-active will behave the way we expect it should.

Ubuntu Server not completing upgrade

It’s been about seven months since I setup a Wireless GitLab server. Since then I’ve figured out how to list updatable packages on Ubuntu Server. I’ve also performed several updates using sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade.

gzip: stdout: No space left on device

Today I ran into a new problem. Upon trying to perform an update I was presented with a peculiar error. It said gzip: stdout: No space left on device and it told me to run apt-get -f install to fix things up. So… that’s what I tried doing. I tried running the apt-get -f install command but to no avail. The command would not complete successfully.

This is about the time when I start getting really annoyed with Linux and the command line and all the things associated with configuring things manually like do I really need to download the entirety of the Linux MAN files inside my HEAD? DO I NEED TO DO THAT? GAHasldkjsadljfsadfsdsdf!!!!

Calm yourself.

The /boot partition is 100% full

Ok, so it turns out that the apt-get process can fail if the /boot partition becomes 100% full. There were a number of suggestions online that indicated you needed to clean out the /boot partition by removing old linux-images that you don’t need anymore. Many of these suggestions involved using sudo apt-get remove [package-name] or using sudo apt-get autoremove which are both completely valid options… IF APT-GET WERE WORKING. But apt-get is not working, that’s the problem.

So… I Googled a lot and dug through a lot of forums. Finally I stumbled on this uber helpful answer on askUbuntu. I’ll go ahead and paraphrase the answer below so that I can easily find it again. Yes. This is all about me.

Cleaning up the /boot partition

In the case where your /boot partition becomes totally full you can use these steps to clean it up. (From flickerfly on AskUbuntu).

  1. Run the following command to get a list of the linux-image files that you don’t need anymore.
    sudo dpkg --list 'linux-image*'|awk '{ if ($1=="ii") print $2}'|grep -v `uname -r`
    
  2. Create a command to remove the folders you don’t need anymore. You can do that with a command like this (where brace-expansion is used to save keystrokes). Use the output from the command above to build your command.
    EXAMPLE
    sudo rm -rf /boot/*-3.2.0-{23,45,49,51,52,53,54,55}-*
    
  3. Now that apt-get has space to work with you can actually run sudo apt-get -f install to clean things up.
  4. Use Purge to manually resolve issues with “Internal Errors” (if you get any internal errors).
    EXAMPLE
    sudo apt-get purge linux-image-3.2.0-56-generic
    
  5. Run `sudo apt-get autoremove ` to clean up anything orphaned by the manual clean.
  6. Now you can finally proceed with those updates you were wanting to do.
    sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade
    

Party?

We can party now I think.

Secrets were required, but not provided

Psst… tl:dr -> rebooting my wireless router fixed the problem.

A few months ago I setup a wireless Gitlab server. This server has been working great. Once in a while I check up on it via SSH and make sure it’s updated. Otherwise, I leave it alone and it’s happy.

That is until today.

Secrets were required, but not provided

Today, for some reason, I could not access my gitlab server via the web interface or push to it via the git cli. In fact, I couldn’t even SSH into it. I had to pull out the ol’ physical monitor and keyboard and MANUALLY connect. Shudder.

First thing I do upon connecting to the server is try to ping google.com of course. It didn’t work. The server could not find the address for Google, and as anyone knows, if you cannot find Google then the internet does not exist. Plain and simple. You might as well be trying to fly a kite in the Marianas trench.

Now, up until this point I’ve had no issues connecting to the internet. The server automatically connects to the WIFI no big deal. However, I thought that maybe the network authorization expired or something? Maybe I can only connect for a few months at a time before re-authenticating. So I tried just that. I whipped out my old friend nmcli and ran:

nmcli device wifi connect MyAccessPoint password 123456789ACB

This is when I see the dreaded Secrets were required, but not provided response. Well – I’m not sure what secrets it wants me to tell it but I mean, the password was right, and I’m certainly not telling it who my favorite little pony is or even if I like little ponies.

I tried several more times, I tried rebooting the server. Nothing worked. It was at that point that I, using another computer, logged into my wireless router and told it to reboot. Several minutes later everything is fine.

Rebooting my router fixed the problem

Why? I don’t know. There has been some talk that some routers will auto select channels that some linux machines do not like. I think that was likely the original issue. Rebooting the router worked because another channel was selected. In any case… long story short. If you are having issues with your wireless server not connecting to your network then try rebooting your router.

Comma delimited list of United States Abbreviations

I’m putting this here because I sometimes need a comma delimited list of the fifty states.

"AL","AK","AZ","AR","CA","CO","CT","DE","FL","GA","HI","ID","IL","IN","IA","KS","KY","LA","ME","MD","MA","MI","MN","MS","MO","MT","NE","NV","NH","NJ","NM","NY","NC","ND","OH","OK","OR","PA","RI","SC","SD","TN","TX","UT","VT","VA","WA","WV","WI","WY"

Hide the Action Center Icon in Windows 10

It’s the little things in life that annoy me. Things like Microsoft’s Edge browser icon re-appearing on my taskbar. Or, when Windows decides to update just before a meeting. I find these kinds of things to be very annoying. That’s why I was a smidgen irked when the Windows 10 Action Center icon popped up on my taskbar and showed no signs of leaving peacefully.

For those of you who do not know what the Action Center Icon in Windows 10 is then allow Leonardo to enlighten you.

Windows 10 Action Center Icon
aRGGG win10 icon, I’ll kill you!

And only now, at the end, do you see your mistake.

Remove the Action Center Icon

Now that we are all aware of the horribleness that is this awful Action Center icon we can set off on our quest to destr… err remove it.

  1. Open the Windows menu
  2. Search for Turn system icons on or off **
  3.  Find the Action Center icon.
    1. If you are not sure where the Action Center icon is, let the WoW splash screen show you.

      Turn system icons on or off list
      DESTROY…
  4. Turn if off
  5. Rejoice in the boundless fruits of your labor.

**Alternatively, if you are old school and hate things like convenience, you can navigate to this setting section via the Control Panel. So hop on in your Conestoga Wagon and navigate to Control Panel > Appearance and Personalization > Taskbar and Navigation > Turn system icons on or off.