Monday, November 9, 2015

Happiness compressed

3:59 AM Posted by Grant No comments
This is one of the posts I have had in draft for probably over a year and like a lot of other posts I have in draft things have changed over time so I figured I would re-visit this post and while the objective is still to write a list of things I'm happy the altitude I was at when I wrote the draft has changed a lot in a downwards direction however at this point I feel that considering recent events that it has just reinforced the fact that I'm my own ally in this situation having burned almost all my bridge in the last few weeks.

In my current state I'm able to recognize that my emotional state has a wide range, all you need to do is read up to know that however at present I'm well aware of the times that are at those deceptive highs then the consequent equal and opposite roller coaster downwards then back to the ground state again meaning that the fidelity of this list is variable depending of my position on the track. Having said that I'm not where I was even going with that point however I'm going to leave it here because it feels relevant.

Work and it's fast-passed demands

Most quotes on the internet are rubbish, I find this one to be true.

Although I'd never deny it feels weird to write that down, that while I keep a fairly good work-life balance that so much of my happiness is dependent on this, I do have a few parallels that prove that it's more the objective and time constraints than it necessarily being bound to my job however AVCon commitments are seasonable. I honestly don't feel like it's an exaggeration to say I'd be long dead without my job or something similar in structure.

The core value is to be presented with a pre-existing framework within which people are un-interested in fixing as I will take on destroy any problems I find from the smallest to the largest issues and I have been doing that ever since I started.

The rush of the stress and the feeling of accomplishment is something that keeps me coming back, even after 5 years there is still so many problems that I haven't got too simple due to lack of time, things people put in 'never' due to time I make time for and they get done.

The above means that I have never come into work not wanting to be there and having been promoted into a senior role focusing on improvements and more focused on management has allowed me to really knock down issues at a record pace. This is what I do, 

Having said all this I don't consider myself a work-a-holic like some, work is a means to an end regardless of how satisfying it is for me personally and how much of my time I spend there it is not the goal itself. 

I spoke to someone a few weeks ago at work and she professed her life outside of work is discussing 'professional development' with her friends now I'd be re-miss to pretend I didn't just admit to liking work and while I find trouble finding things meaningful to do outside work I never thought someone dedicate all their time outside of work to what is essentially meta-work

I'm not just saying this provide a contrast between someone who find meaning in their work and another person where their work is seemingly the only meaning just that from my perspective the wider the net you cast the more experiences you will find.

The vague quest to find meaning

While I could easily romanticize this as the 'search of the unknown' or 'exploring life' in practice it's nothing as glamorous, while I feel that there is an unknown to be search and that there is a life to be had I lack any sort of cornerstone to build from resulting in houses so un-insurable you would have think they were build on the New Orleans coastline during a hurricane.

I can't explain why but an image like this seemed appropriate. Hurricane not pictured.

After writing the second paragraph to this aspect I quickly realized my writing was quickly becoming negative due to the constant frustration in trying to find some certainty I could us upon which I could re-build the life skills I sorely lack however it's resulted in nothing but frustration.

While at this point I was planning to move onto the next point I then realized that while there are the small things they are transient and seem to happen far less often and after that I find myself staring over a cliff rather than a metaphorical bridge built from a list that is desperately short on planks.

What should be on the list

The one I think about more than anything is relationships and while I'm tempted to write another 40 page sob-story I'll just say for all the things I don't know about how to fix this I do know how far down the road I'm away from the solution.

A clearer way to figure out how to achieve my business idea (part of the vague idea above I feel) is still my best best to give me something to focus on or maybe something else like helping other in some way at least then it would give me something tangible I suppose?

Apart from that I'm having trouble thinking straight about this, I guess it's harder to deny what is written right in front of you when I can't just push it to the back of my mind whenever I feel like it.

Unfortunately this post from start to finish turned into something unlike the initial draft all that time ago, maybe there is something to be learnt from that maybe not.

Monday, October 26, 2015


6:10 AM Posted by Grant No comments
So this post has been a long time coming I suppose and while it will only be partial complete for reasons I'll explain later I still think it will record one aspect of my life, for better or worse and it deals (Or doesn't) with my emotions and while it's been something I have felt like I had to write about before however something happened recently which made it more of a priority I suppose. So considering that Google Analytics shows all my traffic is from various Google crawlers and Yandex (Russian Google) this one's for you web crawlers. Before I go into detail I have to take a slight detour, I have written a blog before and it was a horrible idea. The reason I made the blog is one of the main reasons I made this one and it was to provide a way to record things that otherwise would drive me insane with no friends to tell but during those times I was in far less control of my things than I'am now and when a particular situation came up instead of abstracting the situation and the people involved I just listed everything and I think even sent it to the people involved, I guess I wanted to get my feelings across however lets just say that was the beginning of falling off a cliff at that point. Having said that this post will very much maneuver around the recent situation with a lot of abstraction so prepare for vagueness however understand that the way I view a conflict with another person involved is that it's not my place to tell the story because I don't consider it mine to tell. If one person tells the story it helps control the narrative and even if that is not in my favor it causes much less conflict and doesn't divide people by endless bickering, this also makes it easier to remove myself from the situation. I won't go into why all this bad where it leads, just be assured that I don't care what your opinion is but we'll look at a bit of history and you can draw some conclusions of your own. So I have had a long standing policy of no-relationships and the reason without going into individual situations suffice 100% have ended badly with none that I can think of that haven't been my fault, sure it sounds like I'm being unfair to myself and I'm course totally biased and honestly while it's easy to recall these situations I don't find it easy to give myself time to be honest on their outcome. While this isn't related to this recent issue as it was not a relationship it may help provide some context, this policy while long standing I have always convinced myself to contravene and while I know exactly why I have done that at the time I always convinced myself that I can't stop trying. As I said before 100% failure rate and not just with a mutual parting and every-time I remember why I had the policy and how selfish it was to put someone else through that all because I thought I had changed. I wrote about this a bit in my last post however it's more about the cause but not result so if you care about context go and index (Or read if you're not a google bot) the ramblings of a literal crazy person, no it's fine I'll wait it's not like you shouldn't have indexed the page before you indexed this I really do sound like a crazy person. Off the opt of my head there are multiple parts to this sad saga, the first is the reason for the whole relationship cycle and and you already it in the title, now I'm not saying I'm a hopeless romantic I mean the term does apply but in a more literal and less romantic context but it's far more than that. The reason is simply and it's just wanting to be loved and accepted, growing up when I never got that I became very accustomed to this and in the end just learned to suppress the related emotions fairly early and let me tell you that it really fucks you up and I wouldn't suggest trying it. Lacking those type of interactions leaves a whole in your life that may attempt to fill a number of ways and of them is with relationships, to illustrate this and draw on my previous point if you assume that you have 10 relationships with various outcomes that have ended. Out of these 10 depending on a number of factors you may have 6 that end badly, 3 that are mutual and 1 ending well and assuming you go into these relationships affected by whatever factors ARE normal then we have a bit of a control group...look I know this hypothetical situation is full of holes but if it helps just pretend you're watching CNN of Fox News. If we apply my broken emotional state these variables tip very much into the bad direction, this being how I obviously hit 100%. There is this saying I feel strongly understand this and it goes 'Look for someone to compliment and not complete you' or something to that effect and if it wasn't for the fact it leaves the door open for happiness I'd probably print it out for my wall but I really hope the person who wrote it found happiness. While I will be fair and say I never went into a relationship with a conscious intention to do this none the less it was the result and in retrospect I knew why it had failed in the end so I'm very much solely responsible for this outcome and not others. Before we move onto the next part there is something that has always 2 concepts at war within my mind and those are empathy and guilt, the first is easy as that relates to what I already talked just wanting to tell you it's alright and feel like they care about your well-being and understand your situation the second I think is more to do with an irrational fear bordering on phobia of not wanting to hurt people and you can easily glean from above however I haven't bothered to really psychoanalyze why. What makes the whole thing worse is that by making irrational decisions in these situations it almost always ends badly reinforcing my already twisted justification for this dichotomy. This problem means that over time the chance that I would explain a given situation to someone I felt I could talk to became less likely over time however when the planets are in alignment my desperation to tell someone and not go crazy gets the better of me and I tell someone. This is what happened recently and while there were other factors in my decision the outcome was predictably bad, the result is what I mentioned above about being able to extricate myself from the situation what is what I have done here. I know from experience in this same situation that this will remove a number of other people which I have already accepted, you reap what you sow and while you may be reading this with a sense of empathy I'd ask you sit the fuck done while we get into what I think will be the last part. While I realize we have progressively ventured further from the shore to so speak I ask you stay with me as this gets bizarre and while I wanted to write that the course this post takes is really up the wind and that I'm just a victim of the seas I immediately catch this as a cop out, what I mean by this is that it's too easy to just pretend I'm a victim of some unknown force that I can simply heft all my burdens onto and it's not just the responsibility that I find an issue. Let's just randomly continue the sea metaphor and get to the real point of this, if you have read this with any sense of empathy then I have an issue with that because I don't feel I'm worth that compassion but while I reject anything in this family of emotions at the same time I crave it to fill the hole it's absence left in my life. Honestly I'm just guessing but I think someone else might have trouble writing this post, I'm pretty sure it's a roller-coaster of emotion but all I get is some anxiety from writing this. It's a sick kind of poetry that the reason I'm able to write this post is due to the things contained within this post, this is what it's like to feel dead inside with the ability to suppress all emotions. As they say denial isn't just a river in Egypt, trust me you don't want to end up in a place where you're starved for emotions but respell yourself from people with a overriding feeling of self-loathing.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Hurricane - A mind not at rest

6:19 AM Posted by Grant No comments
So I have wanted to write a blog entry while under the effects of anxiety and since the situation has presented itself then this is it, It's not the ideal situation but panic attacks are rare and it's hard to tell how long this will last. Yes this idea sounds mad but I had the idea while I was a right frame of mind and I always thought it would be interesting to put on paper for some reason so here goes. Sometime this week is my birthday and to be blunt I'd rather it not be, I know it's a great time for people but for me it brings back memories of my 18th which was a horribly tortured experience of having my parents drag people together to attend because people really didn't want to and ended like most birthdays drinking alone in my room. It's been almost exactly 18 years since that day and I have never celebrated my birthday since then, I came close this year but because there are so many others around this time I decided against it and despite some of my decisions it was to avoid a repeat of my 18th. The plan was set and while I can ignore the few people who know my sister is a bit more persistent, full of love, adoration and is only one of 2 people I consider family but we'll get more into that later. Anyway she's persistent for all the right reasons but I just can't deal with it and then I find she has re-arranged her work schedule in advance, it's at this point I feel different but I don't acknowledge that I have enter the anxiety zone cue crazy mode. At this point I feel it's right to mention I feel much more anxious going over it again which is what I was hoping for so hopefully you'll get the real experience (tm). This leads us into the other thing of any note this week that I guess has just piled on and while I'm fairly sure it's just life being a jerk like usual with it's timing it does make me word. First up is my father who's birthday is earlier in the month along with Fathers Day, keeping it short I never felt any love from him growing up along with another factor however against my feelings I have tried to make an effort to keep in contact with him especially with him pulling out the 'Im doing to die anytime now' card every few weeks including this week where after continually asking him if he wanted to out for tea (I know it's been weeks, this is how hard it's been) out of nowhere he says he's changed his will and named the executors. Now this was a surprise and I honestly believe by naming them he was just saying 'you're out' and while I know it doesn't mean I wouldn't get anything which I could care less about I think it was just his way of speaking his mind as he never could be up front, fast forward a few days and I receive an SMS from my mother who I haven't seen in about 15 years, I find out that night she had contacted my father to get my mobile number which I have told him over the years to never give to her which he admitted he only gave to her so she would stop contacting him. So now we have a trifecta. I won't go into details because these things are already nebulous enough if you're reading from the outside as you always get one side so let's just say we went our separate ways and that with their combined efforts of neglect to give you some context I really had to find my own way in many ways. You may be or know of someone with one of those happy families, the ones where everything is all good and you think 'that's what it's supposed to be like' now I know that many of those arrangements hide dark secrets but for comparisons sake let's take it at face value. When you dig yourself out of that proverbial hole and you have a bit better vantage point than just hate and anger you can appreciate what you missed and how it will effect you going forward. In some sort of twisted this path has made me who I'm but more than the accomplishment I feel I'm really proud of, that given less than optimal conditions I made it to a point that I feel proud of. I wasn't going to get into the SMS chain but also writing verbatim wouldn't be the right format however I feel I need to get across my point here so lets just go for the highlights, reading SMS show up my anxiety and I was starting to feel like I might be running on empty for adrenaline so lets pulp-fiction this up. Before we jump in this isn't one of those Facebook battles where one person is using the context as a weapon. So I got jumped on this as I saw the email about this after I started getting txts and the first message is 'I don't want to be a problem but...' with a follow up 'pls send email kthx' (You get the idea) and this establish what I feel is a background of guilt from the message but never an admission of fault, we'll get into why this is a problem soon. I was in no mood for this my response was to ask what she wanted, while I thought there was a chance it could be a life/death situation to be honest I didn't even care I just wanted to be the cruel one for once. I don't think I have ever felt good about being cruel to someone even someone I didn't like until I had the chance to return the favor to both of my parents after so long, I know there is an allegory for this situation (Schadenfreude anyone?), when you're hurt it feels good to be able to hurt them back and this a chance I never got. One thing I didn't realize I even did until now was call them by their first names and that's what I did, I told her I had moved on and I thought she had as well and this is where we come to what I feel is what makes me so infuriated, the general feeling that nothing is wrong such as the reply I received stating as such, continuing on we shift to her wanting to make amends and that it's never too late which is a good start them we immediately shift to off-loading the blame to one of her parents. Now I realize this is harsh as that much of tough growing up but this excuse is so well worn in this family that it sounds hollow. Even if this was not the case I personally feel someone who sits around blaming others (I never had money, I don't have the job opportunities you do, etc etc) are really of poor character because for every example you can produce I can produce 10 who have overcome those odds and worse and it insults those who got back up while you sat on your ass. Back on track I'm sum up the above with something I have always tried to get across to them and it's that you have to take responsibility for your choices and failure to do that shows that she hasn't really understood the lesson life tried to teach her, from the next few txts I get the feeling she is at least speaking from the heart. From here there are massive txts about nostalgia and I'm talking like 100KPh a whole bunch of things I don't remember ending in an offer to send me an album of photos for whatever 'special girl' is in my life, I know this got weird quickly but trust me I was just as caught off guard as you probably are. From here she says 'Oh you're probably out with friends' which is worth mentioning because ever since I was a child I had little to no friends and she was well aware of this yet I can clearly remember her delusions about me growing up being having my door beaten down by beautiful women and that I would be so popular, I can remember that moment to this day because it was just so strange and I feel like she was maybe projecting onto me at that stage? At this point I agreed to let her message me, having written this all out and going over it again I have felt one of 2 courses of action so cliche it feels like it was always so black and white. I could do what people would consider the right thing and forgive her for everything and I do think she is sincere (Unlike my father) but on the other hand I think back what I went through and I could use this opportunity to exact my revenge and destroy either one of them or both. So that's where things stand, written in one sitting while under the influence of anxiety at least I mostly think I was all as I was mainly measuring my heart rate. No revisions that's it, post!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Travel challenges - Las Vegas!

8:13 AM Posted by Grant No comments
Have you ever wanted to go somewhere and do the thing yet did not have the means? Well this is your chance to do the thing through someone else across the internets!

At the start of August I will be fulfilling a lifelong dream to attend Defcon and to visit Area 51 and while I'm going alone because I have no friends having said that I have seen people who have before who have put up a call for challenges while they're travelling and I'm a fan.

I will be there until 11st August and actively attending the convention between 6th-9th, my current list which I have made by just trawling the tourist sites includes:
  • Poolside Blackjack
What's not to be a fan of, it's blackjack which is the only card game I know apart from 52 pick up and it involves what looks to be the best pool on the strip (How else do you think I picked a hotel?)
  • Penn and Teller show
I have seen these guys in Penn & Tellers Bullshit which for those who haven't seen it is about them debunking various things however I'd love to see them live as well, would be nothing better than shaking Penn's hand and saying 'and then there's THIS asshole!'.
This looks pretty awesome and I only just realized there are multiple places like this in Vegas, so looks like a couple of choices.
  • Drive to Area51
This is pretty much my highest priority, I'll be hiring a car and driving up to the famous Little A'Le'Inn near Area 51 then driving up to Tikaboo Peak to get a glimpse at Area 51, this in particular feels like a milestone as it's something I have wanted to do ever since I read all the crazy conspiracy theories online in the mid nineties.

After that I think I'll drive to the Black Mailbox and just see what flies out of the base, at the very least it's likely to be a clear sky under all the stars.

There is more but I have left this post too late as I leave Saturday morning and it'll have to wait, released so early just call me EA.

Monday, June 29, 2015 and the maw of madness - Chapter I

6:24 AM Posted by Grant No comments
This is a short story I came up with based on a real support issue at work, the story will be technical term heavy due to the way it's written, also I suck at writing.

For anyone who understands the terms artistic license is used to put them out of context.

The life of a resolver was one that had been passed down the stack for countless generations of his software, the job had it's jiffies but overall he spent far more time in a sleep state due to caching resolvers everywhere. 1408273594 was the day when everything changed, it was the day that would alter his program flow forever.

It seemed like any regular timestamp, sitting in the process list waiting for packets was routine, buffers ebbed and flowed with the passing of time but unless there was a package update things generally stayed the same.

Before he could complete his memory cycle it was interrupted by a new socket opening, before he was able to return his welcome banner a packet crashed through his connection slamming into the read-only memory behind him.

He gathered his variables and attempted to decipher what was left of his header, while he was able to read the packets flags and identify the packet as originating from sendmail he knew something was forked. In his experience it was rare to see such packet loss however something told him it was unheard of, yet a query of his memory returned 0 results.

"" he sputtered as he attempted to re-transmit, "qq.....m" his forward error correction failing him as he desperately fought to move his data up the OSI layer in an attempt to fulfill his purpose, his data was quickly escaping it's bound and all he could was watch.

He had spent a lot of his cycles dealing with UDP packets such as the one lying at his Process ID, most people thought them simple minded with no error correction or checksums but he had grown to envy their simple existence, end-to-end on the wire travelling the Ethernet.

With the last values returning to null the packet was no more yet he registered this was bigger than one packet, before he could run queries of what had happened a silence fell over the entire system.

All other DNS processes stood with open sockets and empty buffers for as far as he could read a slight hum of idle loops the only traffic he could find. The silence #echo'd through the entire process list as if a process itself had died.

Every buffer he read returned the same value "Await connection" but something in his source told him to he had to abandon protected memory and read the disk himself. For the first time in seconds he fought his instruction set, not since the Unix wars had he dared to construct a packet on his own without the direction of the system but it was a risk he was willing to take.

As he reached into the Ethernet he felt his lower level cache become readable and in an instant he flashed to a backup long since thought deleted, DEC Company, sendmail and the Unix Wars..memories he wished had stayed fused.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Relationships, how do they work? - Part I

5:52 AM Posted by Grant No comments
I have had so many ideas for blog posts (seriously, just need to write them...) but I'm going to jump into something that has only just come into my mind while it wandered, it's not something I deal well with or particularly want to write about but progress comes from change....

This is about me and not anyone else so before you construct scenarios, places and events know that this is all about how I (don't) relate to people in many senses, it has been both an advantage and a disaster at the same time...let me explain.

Friends is a concept I always understood conceptually but I never quite got the hang of I suppose you could say..I just stopped for a minute to think about why and all I can come up with is not growing up with any real friends, or at least ones I wasn't betrayed by. I like to say I was raised by the internet and at least in my early life it's fairly accurate.

Lets go on a bit of a detour so I can tell someone I don't think I have ever told anyone, when I was a teenager and lived at home my weekends would be walking down to the bottle shop to get a bottle of scotch, go home and watch anime all night and of course internet. It's a memory I have frozen in time of knowing no boundaries even though I was living in a mental box so small I could touch all walls.

So back on track and I still haven't had much luck in making connections with people, it doesn't feel natural to me which is an incredibly isolating feeling to have where it's you and 'them' where you see the connections people have and you can only feel jealous but also very happy for them because when you have it you want to try hold onto it.

I lost the connection I found once and it's kind of funny in a way because I think depression played a big part in it but then I think wait you don't get out of it that easily, using that card is not an excuse for my behaviour. Although I would class my behaviour in this example as irrational I can't help but think that it too easily becomes a crutch to my blame other problems on.

This comes to something that I have thoughts about many times, to put this in context it's rare for me to come back to the same aspect of a subject over time like this.

The question is why should I be looking for a relationship at all when I have 100% failure rate, knowing the issues I have it seems selfish to loft these problems onto someone else.

Before you think of your counter-argument put down your keyboard because I already know them, everyone has issues and I'm not special in that respect, broken pieces to form a whole and failure is not an end just another lesson but my heart still says it's wrong to seek a relationship...yet out of desperation for connection I do it anyway, a self-righteous idiot who thinks if he can save someone the pain of my flaws the world would be such a utopia.

This paradox manifests itself ass imagined relationships with people I see once but don't even know, a vicious cycle of imagined happiness followed by a pessimistic view on a potential outcome ending with a realistic assessment of how insane the whole process is.

I suppose it was a coping mechanism I learned how to concentrate, focus my mind on objective more tangible that were aligned with my life, forget that other part for that way leads to madness...probably.

I remember reading somewhere that if you stop looking you will find what you seek and that by doing what you love you will find those who are like you, I guess it seems like the best bet at this point.

Feels like I have rounded out things for now, I did miss talking about relationships on a more personal level but I think I'll leave that for a second part but before I do having written words here I feel a tiny connection to the all the other words of other people talking about these things, a small insight into what they must of been feeling...emotions across the void connecting with someone I don't even know.

Monday, February 2, 2015

This Week I Learned (TWIL) - Week 1

4:49 AM Posted by Grant No comments
One of the (many) problems I have is remembering things, the most central point to this issue is when it comes to lessons learned, knowledge and general life progress. Since I have started making major life changes I have found that writing down things helps to reinforce them and as such this will be a weekly list of the highlights.

This is not going to necessarily be very exciting but many it'll prevent you from making the same mistakes.

Being stuck on a problem affects my happiness

I have been focusing on a particular project the last few weeks and it has consistently had me at a dead-end, in my overall list of priorities it sits at the top and while I expected it to drain my time I didn't expect it to affect other areas of my life.

I found that my happiness was being effected knowing that when I came home I faced another problem that a solution had evaded me on, it made me avoid all other work was I was burned out.

Once the problem was solved as I had hoped it set off a chain sequence of events meaning things were somewhat back on track, not sure how to handle this in future as I prefer to focus rather than switch priorities.

Another thing that has just really become obvious is that I work best when focused and that I always do find a solution in the end.

Being alone in crowds is something I can only do in small doses

I went to Schutzenfest this weekend and while I didn't really want to go I had people I wanted to catch up with, during the intermission between one person leaving and other friends arriving I found I had quickly had enough of the event.

Unfortunately I had a friend who asked me to loan him money so I sat around, completely out of place in a place full of people who I didn't know or care to know.

I have known this before but I suppose this is a good time to add some from the backlog so to speak, since this is an inherent personality trait I really need to assess what events I attend but also to remember I could meet cool people.

Being alone is required but not a permanent state

It's a universal truth for me that I can be around people for a certain limit of time before I need alone time, this varies person to person due to their personality with people who are more talkative and extroverted taking more energy.

That said I need people to talk to and that really doesn't happen that often, I have always had a hard time identifying with other people around me so I don't really see the value in their ongoing company.

Of course being alone for a prolonged period of time especially when it has been weeks or months it can be pretty torturous, I really think topic will be subject of it's own article suffice to say I think.

I have learned that while it really sucks I don't really have a plan to change things at this point however it can be managed by dumping more time into projects, it will have to wait for now.

Focus on my objectives

Weather it's AVCon or other endeavours throwing absolutely everything at a task I'm not fully invested in can seem like an inefficient use of time over a long period, while it's satisfying to see a job done to the best possible degree it should align with long term goals.

I have a tendency to put a lot of effort into what I do but frequently but if these things are not contributing to my goals in the long term focus should be diverted to areas that are.

This is one of the key items in a major re-focus of my life from external organisations to my own interests.

Note: Was meant for last week, technically late!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Getting VMWare ESXi 5.5 home server and M.2 PCI-E drives

6:29 AM Posted by Grant No comments
I decided more than 6 months ago (read a long time ago) to retire my previous server a Dell Poweredge 2950 III after many years of service, it has been a long road but I have finally gathered the main parts and got the Operating System working.

The story about how I got to this point would usually be fairly mundane except for the pleasure of buying new shiny things that go fast however as technology usually does at the bleeding edge (and far from officially supported) you have problems.

Samsung XP941 PCI-E M.2 SSD and the bleeding edge

These drives and others like it are a new generation of SSD drives that run directly over the PCI Express bus to take advantage of it's significantly higher bandwidth, something SSDs have been choking on for a while now.

While the drive installs onto the Mainboard (which has a small slot directly on it) the problem is that there is no support for the drives and as such mine wouldn't show up as a boot drive.

A visit to the ASUS Support site showed an available BIOS upgrade for my Mainboard (ASUS Z97-M) so after one false start where the drive would detect but was not bootable (fixed in later firmware update) that was taken care of.

VMWare ESXi 5.5 and supporting the unsupported

I downloaded the free version of ESXi 5.5 and wrote it to a spare USB drive with Rufus which made the ISO image bootable, this can be done with either GPT (New) or MBR (Legacy) File Systems of which ESXi supports both however I would suggest GPT.

Booting from USB into the installer seems rather problematic, here are some things you may need to do to avoid going insane like I did:

* Disable Secure boot

Go to the Boot menu then down to Secure Boot and select Other OS to disable it, VMWare installer will boot otherwise.

* Enable CSM (Compatibility Support Module)

I'd suggest setting this to Auto if it's not already, it's function is to provide legacy BIOS support if booting older things that don't support UEFI.

Once this is done check the boot menu for the USB drive and select the Non-UEFI option otherwise you will end seeing "Fatal error: 32 (Syntax)" which is due to VMWare's lack of UEFI support, see here.

Once the installer I ran into another problem of drivers, turns out VMWare are very brutal when it comes to culling drives for hardware and as such support for both my PCI-E NIC and Samsung XP941 were missing.

After some searching I found this man who saved myself and I'm sure many other people in compiling the drivers ourselves, he had recently added support for the Samsung XP941 as well, her deserves massive credit for all his work.

Customising the VMWare install

I grabbed the sata-xahi and net1000 VIB files, these are used to customise the VMWare ISO, conveniently ESXI-Customiser is at the same site and is dead simple to use.

Select the ISO image, select the VIB file to be added to the ISO and specify an output directory and we have our custom ISO!

After writing the image back to the USB drive we were back to VMWare setup however this time the Samsung was showing up, excellent!

VMWare won't boot, why? Because fuck you thats why!

With VMWare installed reboot was performed however attempting to boot the drive resulted in ending up in the UEFI BIOS, without any form of logs I can only assume there was something it did not like about the booting of the drive.

Testing Ubuntu and Windows 8 worked with no problem with both of them installing and booting without any issues so the issue was particular to VMWare, at some stage I had it working on VMWare 6.0 then decided to abandon VMWare for other reasons, suffice to say I forgot what I had done to get it working.

Upon returning to VMWare I came across the issue again, time to dive into UEFI and find out what the problem is, I was using the latest BIOS and latest ESXi 5.5 build so the easy options were out.

EFI booting why you no work?

Without going into details about EFI the very short version is that there is a certain partition called an ESP (EFI System Partition), it's formatted as FPT with a particular partition ID and is FAT32. This partition has a file called bootx64.efi located in \EFI\BOOT\bootx64.efi, this file is searched for by the EFI which uses it to start the boot process.

My Mainboard supports booting to an EFI Shell (DOS / Unix CLI) from a USB drive, all that's required is to grab a copy of shell.efi, rename it to bootx64.efi, copy is to a FAT32 USB drive in the above file structure with this done I was able to get a far better insight into things.

Once into EFI shell I could navigate the ESP, sure enough bootx64.efi was present and if I loaded it directly from shell it would boot VMWare so I knew the file was working.

The issue had to be in the boot options within EFI that pointed it to the file, I'll be honest I didn't dive into how this works but it's likely there is something (Possibly in nstartup.nsh) which controls this.

In this case I just wrote a new boot entry, surprisingly simple to do as well!

Shell > bcfg boot add 0 fs0:\EFI\BOOT\Bootx64.efi "VMWare ESXi"

* bcfg - An older alternative to efibootmgr, my EFI shell only had the older one, attempts to get a newer shell proved pointless, for some reason they would not boot.
* fs0 - This is the Samsung XP941, it can br browsed directly by just typing "fs0:" from the Shell> prompt can be browsed with standard linux commands (e.g ls, cd, mv,rm) and vol can be used to check the name
add 0 - I assume 0 is just for ordering, didn't really look into it that much
"VMWare ESXi" - Just the label in the boot menu

After restarting VMWare now boots without any issue and I'm no longer going insane re-writing USB drives, changing BIOS/UEFI options and trying different partition and file system combinations!


Arch Linux Wiki (EFI Examples) - Examples of how to modify the EFI boot
Arch Linux Wiki (UEFI) - In depth article with links to EFI shells
Intel Developer zone (EFI Shells and scripting) - Useful command-line reference for EFI commands
Intel Developer zone (UEFI Boot Manager) - Good detail and easy to understand