#TIL: How to Present PowerPoint Slide Show in a Resizable Window

Full screen is great if you don’t need notes. Until today, if I need notes I just minimized the tools and gutter while presenting. And then I discovered this:

 

Slide Show > Set Up Slide Show > Browsed by an individual (window)

 

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© Scott S. Nelson

Chrome Extensions on Edge

In a musing mood this morning, so tldr;

… so I took the 18 seconds to go research and found that all you gotta do is go to the chrome web store and installed it from there. [imagine forehead slap here].

As both a consultant and tech enthusiast, I have multiple profiles that would clash in a single browser. One solution to profile proliferation is using multiple browser, each dedicated the a particular profile (especially useful for profiles based on Microsoft authentication). All of the chrome-based browsers have made this easier as they function generally the same, making it seamless to switch back and forth with the style reminding which context I am in.

A key feature for any browser is tabs, and one behavior I have grown used to is that opening a new tab should switch to that tab immediately. Other than sketchy tracking pages and lazy session tracking I expect the reason for a tab to open is to view the contents. Doubly so when I purposely open to a new tab. To this end, I always install Tabs to the Front. When I started using Edge (v2, once they switched to being chrome-based and worked on the worst of the kinks) the chrome store is where it took you for extensions. At some point, it switched, and removed my extensions. Some I could find in the Edge Add-ons, but many were not there. This became extra annoying to me today when I was setting up a new laptop, so I took the 18 seconds to go research and found that all you gotta do is go to the chrome web store and installed it from there. [imagine forehead slap here].

 

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Managing VirtualBox VDI size for a Linux Guest

If you are just looking to save space on your operating drive, always remember to use the Description box for snapshots and delete those you no longer need.

And if the guest host is Ubuntu, see some good pre-wash steps at https://itsfoss.com/free-up-space-ubuntu-linux/.

Assuming you are using a dynamic disk you can perform the following steps below save more space:

Check for a dynamic disk VDI
Verify the VDI is a dynamic disk

From within the Linux guest, run the following in a terminal:

dd if=/dev/zero of=/var/tmp/bigemptyfile bs=4096k ; rm /var/tmp/bigemptyfile

It will take some time to complete. Depending on the size of the disk and the amount of empty space, it can be a long time, so be patient.

When the commands complete, shut down the guest.

The next step is to run VBoxManage.exe. First, locate where VirtualBox is installed. This is usually C:\Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox, though you can also find it by checking the path of the VirtualBox launch icon:

Find the VirtualBox install location from the launch icon properties
Find the VirtualBox install location from the launch icon properties

Open a commend prompt (search for cmd.exe) and cd to where VirtualBox is installed:

cd "C:\Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox"

Locate and copy the path to the VDI:

Locate and copy the path to the VDI
Then run VBoxManage as follows:
VBoxManage.exe modifymedium disk “[absolute path]” –compact
ex:

VBoxManage.exe modifymedium disk "T:\VirtualBoxes\Ubuntu_21.04_withVPN\Ubuntu_VPN_21.04-disk002.vdi " –compact

I also back mine up, which is why I need to reduce the size.

VirtualBox Export Appliance Menu

 

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© Scott S. Nelson

Create a Reusable Informatica Cloud Secure Agent Dev Image

I am going to start this article with a confession. As a system integration and automation consultant I am continuously shifting from one product, language and platform to another. The frequent changes strengthen the short-term memory and change the long-term memory to manage concepts more than details. A complex set of steps, processes or systems commands that can be performed without having to refer to Google, Evernote, or vendor documentation today can often fade to nothing more than a clear memory of having done them without recall of the specifics within a few months. Sometimes in mere weeks (or even days) depending on how different the next project is.  So the main reason I write these detailed articles is so that I can repeat a process if ever needed again.  Being able to share these mental breadcrumbs is just a bonus.

Lately I have been working a great deal with Informatica Cloud, an excellent iPaaS solution. Informatica Cloud uses an on-premises application called a Secure Agent to facilitate secure interactions between internal systems and the Cloud. During training and development it is useful to have a Secure Agent running on a developer’s laptop. While the Secure Agent will install on the operating systems of most laptops, it runs better in an environment that is configured to support server operations rather than day-to-day work. There is also a simple way to switch the Informatica Cloud instance (known as an Org), though it can be a hassle for a developer or consultant that needs to interact with multiple Orgs. To make life easier in such circumstances, I have taken a baseline VirtualBox image and added some applications and scripts so that the image can be quickly configured for any Org I have access to. Following are the steps I took to build this image, plus instructions for running the scripts that will make it reusable.

Customize a Linux Image

If you aren’t familiar with VirtualBox, you can download it for free at https://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Downloads.  Be sure to get the Guest Additions download, too, you will want it later. I don’t have a preference for a specific Linux distribution. This article uses a CentOS 7.0 image available from https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/virtualboxes.org/CentOS7-Gnome.ova.torrent, a choice resulting from the first image found that was of recent vintage and provided sufficient support for the task (it also has a graphical desktop, which is useful when you want to share the image with people who may not be comfortable with command-line-only interfaces). That said, support for various installation processes vary widely between distributions and builds, so if you choose a different distro you may need to find alternative methods to some of the steps on your own.

The first step is to import the pre-built appliance you have downloaded.  The screenshots below will help if you have never done this before.

Import Appliance

Select Appliance File

Customize Configuration Values

I change the Name of the appliance to be descriptive of the purpose of the image after I have completed configuring it. I also increase the CPU count and RAM total so that it will not be too slow during development test runs. You may need to adjust these values according to your own machine. I recommend no more than half of your available resources.

Hard Disk Space

One reason I use this particular base image is that it has adequate hard drive space, which many lack.  If you have an appliance image you like but the drive space is too small, see my blog post about Resizing the Root Drive on a Linux VirtualBox Guest Image with a Windows Host for a solution to use it anyway.

One value of a VM is the ability to use Snapshots to go back to a working point.  During the process we will create one to make a reusable appliance.  Create others as you go according to your own sense of adventure or caution. I suggest you delete old snapshots when you know your current state is stable to save disk space. Doing so at the start saves re-importing the appliance if there is a mis-step earlier in the process.

Install the Informatica Cloud Secure Agent

The next thing to do is to install the Secure Agent. If you plan to re-use this image as a starting point, do not initialize the agent after installation, just start it and verify the install as follows (screen shots follow the steps for those unfamiliar with them):

Download the agent from Informatica Cloud

Download the Secure Agent

Select Linux Agent for this set up

Default save location is the user download directory

then:

[centos@localhost ics]$ cd ~/Downloads
[centos@localhost Downloads]$ chmod +x agent64_install.bin
[centos@localhost Downloads]$ ./agent64_install.bin

Default install options

Choosing the default install location is the simplest option.

[centos@localhost Downloads]$ cd ~/infaagent
[centos@localhost infaagent]$ ./infaagent startup
[centos@localhost infaagent]$ cd main/agentcore
[centos@localhost agentcore]$ ./consoleAgentManager.sh getstatus

Finally, add the following to ~/.bash_profile:

cd ~/infaagent/
./infaagent startup

Find your .bash_profile

Planning for Reuse

For this to be reusable, we will want to change the hostname, especially for a shared dev environment as we cannot have everyone using “localhost” as their hostname. The following is a bit of an overkill script that handles setting the hostname for a variety of distributions:

changehostname.sh:

#!/usr/bin/env bash

OLD_HOSTNAME="$( hostname )"
NEW_HOSTNAME="$1"

if [ -z "$NEW_HOSTNAME" ]; then
 echo -n "Please enter new hostname: "
 read NEW_HOSTNAME < /dev/tty
fi

if [ -z "$NEW_HOSTNAME" ]; then
 echo "Error: no hostname entered. Exiting."
 exit 1
fi

hostnamectl set-hostname "$NEW_HOSTNAME"
hostnamectl set-hostname "$NEW_HOSTNAME" --pretty
hostnamectl set-hostname "$NEW_HOSTNAME" --static
hostnamectl set-hostname "$NEW_HOSTNAME" --transient

echo "Changing hostname from $OLD_HOSTNAME to $NEW_HOSTNAME..."

hostname "$NEW_HOSTNAME"

if [ -n "$( grep "$OLD_HOSTNAME" /etc/sysconfig/network )" ]; then
 sed -i "s/HOSTNAME=.*/HOSTNAME=$NEW_HOSTNAME/g" /etc/sysconfig/network
else
 echo -e "HOSTNAME=$NEW_HOSTNAME" >> /etc/sysconfig/network
fi

if [ -n "$( grep "$OLD_HOSTNAME" /etc/hosts )" ]; then
 sed -i "s/$OLD_HOSTNAME/$NEW_HOSTNAME/g" /etc/hosts
else
 echo -e "$( hostname -I | awk '{ print $1 }' )\t$NEW_HOSTNAME" >> /etc/hosts
fi

echo "Re-boot for change to reflect correctly."

This is also a good time to place a readme on the desktop. Here is the one I use:

###### One time set up #######
Open a terminal and execute the folloiwng commands (excluding [examples])

cd ~/infaagent
sudo su
./changehostname.sh PL_USER_ID

[example:./changehostname.sh scott.nelson]

exit

Restart the VM

cd ~/infaagent/main/agentcore
./consoleAgentManager.sh configure USERNAME PASSWORD

[example:./consoleAgentManager.sh configure linux.virtualbox@primitivelogic.com pa55w0rd]


[LEAVE TERMINAL WINDOW OPEN]

Log in to Informatica Cloud with the same credentials registered above, go to Configure > Runtime Environments

Confirm that the PL_USER_ID agent has been created
wait for upgrade to complete (at least 10 minutes)
return to terminal and run:

reboot

Log in and should be good to go.

#################################
If you have questions: theitsolutionist@gmail.com

Useful commands:

cd ~/infaagent
./infaagent shutdown?
./infaagent startup?

cd ~/infaagent/main/agentcore
./consoleAgentManager.sh getstatus

Save the script in ~/infaagent, shut down the virtual machine and create a snapshot. Then start the machine and follow the readme. If all works well, restore the last snapshot and then export the appliance as your base image.

Export the VM Appliance

Select appliance to export

Set location and format

Add Guest Additions

Shared Folders require Guest Additions

I set up a shared folder to easily exchange files between the guest (Virtual Machine) and host (laptop), as well as to have a place to uses as a file location accessible to both while working with Informatica Cloud flat file connections and logs.

In order to access the shared folder (as well as have a shared clipboard), run the Guest Additions set up after logging in to the new VM.

CentOS7 is not all that easy to do that with. There is a good set of instructions at http://lifeofageekadmin.com/how-to-install-virtualbox-5-additions-on-centos-7/. One thing that is not clear in the instructions is that you will want to shut down and re-start the VM after the last yum update before running the Guest Additions installation. You may also have to run it twice to get everything working.

Insert and run the virtual CD

You will probably need to use Right-CTRL+C to release your mouse from the VM until the Guest Additions are installed.

Once the shared folder shows up under /media, add the centos user to the group for access:

sudo usermod -a -G vboxsf centos

Restart for change to take effect.

Installing MySQL

I often find that MySQL is handy to have on the VM. The following steps will work to get it installed on the CentOS 7.0 image available from https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/virtualboxes.org/CentOS7-Gnome.ova.torrent.

First, remove the old install with

sudo yum -y remove mariadb-libs

Then download the latest install from https://dev.mysql.com/downloads/repo/yum/.

The Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 version seems to work on Centos 7. Save the download rather than opening it, then go to your downloads folder and run the following commands:

sudo yum -y localinstall platform-and-version-specific-package-name.rpm
sudo yum -y install mysql-community-server
sudo service mysqld start

When done, verify with

sudo service mysqld status

Finally, find and update the database admin password and (optionally) install Workbench using:

grep 'temporary password' /var/log/mysqld.log
...
mysql_secure_installation
...
sudo yum -y install mysql-workbench-community

Be sure to add the new password to your readme.

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© Scott S. Nelson

Resizing the Root Drive on a Linux VirtualBox Guest Image with a Windows Host

Most of the solutions I design and develop are deployed to a Linux server. Before “DevOps” became a thing, there were always server admins ready willing and able to help with setting up the deployment environment and handling the day-to-day maintenance afterwards. Lately I have been left to my own means to get these tasks done and have learned some commands, written a several bash scripts for repetitive or automated tasks and bookmarked enough reference sites to be productive while still not considering myself an expert and definitely not an administrator.

So, being cautious, I prefer to have a virtual machine that is close to the environment I will be deploying my work to, especially bash scripts that can bring things down faster than they build them up if there some errant typo in the right-wrong place. I once built the duplicate virtual machine image from scratch, which I found to be a painful and dissatisfying experience given that I wanted the machine chiefly due to my lack of expertise with the finer points of configuration and administration. The next best thing to building it yourself (or first best thing, in my case) is to find one that is already pre-built and then add the necessary customizations to it. There are a plethora of free Linxu VM images out there, and finding one that is fairly close to the enterprise standard of my current client is usually fairly simple. The one thing that is almost always an issue is that the free images have a small hard drive in the configuration. If it is a case where another drive can be created and mounted, great. But recently I ran across a production configuration where the everything was off the root mount and I finally figured out how to enlarge the drive on the VM image without too many headaches. Here is how I did.

First, this is based on using VirtualBox. I have not used VMWare in a long time, but I believe the first stage of enlarging the capacity on VMWare may be even easier than with VirtualBox, which is where we start in the slide show below.

To save writing down the command from the slide show, you can copy and modify the following:

"C:\Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox\VBoxManage.exe" modifyhd "Ubuntu 15_40GB.vdi" --resize 40960

 

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