All posts by Alan

Alan Renouf has a role of Automation Frameworks Product Manager at VMware responsible for providing the architects and operators of the cloud infrastructure with the toolkits/frameworks and command-line interfaces they require to build a fully automated software-defined datacenter. Alan is a frequent blogger at http://blogs.vmware.com/vipowershell and has a personal blog at http://virtu-al.net. You can follow Alan on twitter as @alanrenouf.

Thank You Everyone!

“Thank You”…. words that just really do not convey the magnitude of what I am feeling right now for friends, family, my VMware colleagues and the vCommunity.

I have always prided myself on being the person who helps others, whether its through my blog, my scripts, being a PM and pointing my products in the right direction or just in general life, I have enjoyed being the one who supports others…. recently the shoe has been on the other foot.  As I’m sure most of you know by now, my family home was completely obliterated by the CZU Lightning Complex Fire along with 100’s of other houses.  We were evacuated at 3AM in the morning and were able to grab the basics like passports, a change of clothes and most importantly the family were able to escape safely to a nearby town and a friends house.

We had the bad news a few days after, everything we have ever owned was destroyed 🙁

We are completely overwhelmed and thankful for the incredible response to the Go Fund Me account and Venmo account that was set up for us by friends and contributed to by 100’s of people.

We can’t describe how we are feeling very well as every hour brings a roller coaster of emotions, we have such highs when we see how much everyone wants to help us and how much we are loved and then we have such lows when we remember the little things that we have lost, the kids yearbooks, cheer and softball trophies, all my youngest sons toys and books, My wife’s Tupperware collection, My clown picture that terrified me as a child, so when my Nan passed away of course that was what I wanted from her house!!

This incredible amount of money will make such a difference, there is so much that we have to organize and pay out for even before we can get up to our land and find out where we even begin to start.

Again we thank each and everyone of you that has so generously donated to us, no money can’t buy you happiness, but it can buy peace of mind and at the moment that’s priceless, without this fund we would have no peace of mind and I can’t imagine how much harder that would make this horrendous situation.

I hope people reading this never have to go through this kind of experience, especially with children, my biggest worry is making sure I provide a stable environment for them.

I have no doubt we will rebuild a better, bigger house once everything is all sorted out and I work through the insurance mine field! My family arrived in America 8 years ago with 8 suitcases and now we are starting again, we know we can do this as the amount of friends we have made is clearly visible through the support we are getting at the moment!

During the bad times there were definitely things that brightened our spirits, far too many to mention here as the help and comments and messages were literally hundreds a day, here are a few that my family found touching, inspiring and funny…

  • The Matlocks, you are amazing! Everything you do for us is fantastic, we are so lucky to have you
  • Pat Gelsinger and the entire C level team at VMware for helping me in every way possible they could
  • Matt Coppinger for being there for me when I melted down in the midst of all the stress!
  • Duncan, Cormac, William, Frank, we have been together since the start and I don’t know what I would do without you guys.
  • Tina & Rick Walsworth, you are amazing, enabling us to get back on our feet in the darkest of our times and have a fresh mind while we worked on insurance and next steps.
  • Andy Banta for making me laugh when my wife couldn’t understand why the donated amount was $256 – Anyone in IT will get the joke!
  • Michael Dell for reaching out to me and making sure we were ok
  • Chris Wolf (You know what you did! WOW!)
  • Tisa Murdock – You really touched our hearts, thank you!
  • My team for picking up the slack while I wasn’t around and we still had deadlines to meet
  • The Rolen Clan, the Adams Family, the Boose Family, all our other friends who were there for us, what ever we needed!
  • Bess and her team at Studio 3 Design for helping us move forward and thing about the memories we want to make in our new home!
  • The vCommunity, I have known the VMware community has been special since I joined it but it astounds me just how fantastic it really is and how much people help and care for each other!
  • The comments on the Go Fund Me page kept us going, my family read every one of them and loved them.

Again, if I didn’t mention you its not that I don’t appreciate you its just that my brain is still fried from working things out! Thank you.

THANK YOU ALL!

And finally a few more pics from the rubble which I will one day print out…

 

Screen sharing and recording a Pico Neo2 with Windows or Mac

Recently I have been using the Pico Neo2, a 6DOF device with is comparable to the Oculus Quest and works pretty well for enterprise use cases.

Compared to other headsets it is a lot more open when it comes to working with and managing the operating system, in developing for the headset there were occasions when I needed to share or record the screen to show others what I was seeing.

As with sharing the Quest, previously written about here, Screen Copy (scrcpy) came in very handy with the right configuration for the headsets display.

One thing that is rather annoying about the Pico is that it loves to change screen resolution when you are using it, mainly when accessing what was previously a 2D android based app or settings dialog etc.  In VR you wont really notice the difference as they do a great job of handling the 2D apps and giving you an immersive space to work with them but when using scrcpy you often see the output completely change.  The only workaround I have found for this is that when a 2D screen appears and messes up the screen display, just run scrcpy with no parameters.  This will default to the resolution of the screen and show you the 2D dialog, as soon as you go back into VR mode though you will need to relaunch scrcpy in the below way otherwise you will get a 2 Eye output.

But for most experiences in VR you can use the below instructions to display and record the screen.

Initial Install and Setup

  1. Plug the USB-C cable into your computer and the Pico Neo2.
  2. If its your first time plugging into this computer you will need to accept the prompt within the device that allows you to access the device from the computer and check the box to always allow if you want to skip this section in the future
  3. For Windows download and unzip the latest build of scrcpy from https://github.com/Genymobile/scrcpy/releases a direct link for the current version when writing this is here: https://github.com/Genymobile/scrcpy/releases/download/v1.10/scrcpy-win64-v1.10.zip
  4. For Mac the application is available in Homebrew. Install it using the following from a terminal window:
  5. brew install scrcpy
  6. You will also need adb. you can install this by running the following from a terminal window:
  7. brew cask install android-platform-tools

Sharing the Screen connected via cable

  1. Open a command prompt (cmd.exe) or and CD into the extracted folder from above
  2. Run the following command:
  3. scrcpy --crop 1280:1776:400:60 -m 1600 -b 25M

Sharing the Screen connected wirelessly

You will still need a cable to make an initial connection and start the client on the Neo2 and then you can disconnect and use wirelessly, use the following steps to connect wirelessly:

  1. Follow steps 1-4 above in the setup section
  2. Open a command prompt (cmd.exe) and CD into the extracted folder from above
  3. While the device is connected via a cable run the following to find out what your Quests IP address is in the src section:
  4. adb shell ip route
    192.168.1.0/24 dev wlan0  proto kernel  scope link  src 192.168.1.198
  5. Now run the following replacing the IP address below (192.168.1.198) as yours:
  6. adb tcpip 5555
    adb connect 192.168.1.198:5555
  7. Disconnect the cable from the PC and with the device disconnected run the command to connect to the device as below
scrcpy --crop 1280:1776:400:60 -b 25M

Sharing Window

If everything worked above a new window should appear showing the device screen, you can then maximize this for a better demo window.

Testing was done with variations of the scrcpy command but the above was found to be the best viewing size to enable a good demo.

Recording the screen

There is also a great way to capture the screen while mirroring, add the following command options to the end of the scrcpy command above to do this:

 --record file.mp4

To disable mirroring while recording:

 --no-display --record file.mp4

Troubleshooting

Connection Issues

If you get a blank window or are unable to connect when device is plugged in you should be able to run the following command from the same folder above:

PS C:\Users\alan\Downloads\scrcpy-win64-v1.10> .\adb.exe devices
List of devices attached
1PASH9AF839266 device

The device should show above rather than:

PS C:\Users\alan\Downloads\scrcpy-win64-v1.10> .\adb.exe devices
List of devices attached
1PASH9AF839266 unauthorized

If you get the latter then make sure you have enabled developer mode and authorized the device as per step 1-3 above.

Target Machine refused connection when in wireless

If you receive a message like the following: “cannot connect to 192.168.1.198:5555: No connection could be made because the target machine actively refused it. (10061)”

Reconnect the Pico to the computer and go from Step 3 in the wireless connection steps above, this is caused because the client on the Pico stopped, normally as you reset the device.

Immersive Education in Virtual Reality – Your chance to join in

Education, its one of those subjects that’s front of mind for me at the moment, anyone who has children will know that recently and under current circumstances with the pandemic, the kids and teachers are finding it hard to provide an alternative learning experience, one that allows the teacher to give great content and engage the children, but at the same time give the children the interaction and social aspects they need for a good learning experience.

For a long time now it bugs me that the way we teach has not been modernized for decades, the classrooms and content may have changed but the way we teach is still fundamentally the same.

The team I work on did some early prototyping on some of the key use case subjects we saw in XR and one of these was education, since then I have been sold that this medium allows for a much more enriched learning experience and with COVID-19 more recently it has only reinforced my thoughts on this subject.

I have seen lots of great articles on VR in Education (one of my favorites here) and they are normally aimed at college students.  Having a child myself who is just about to enter high school I felt like she should also be able to take advantage of this medium and new way of learning, then when browsing LinkedIn recently I found a great offer which I wanted to share so that others could take advantage of it.

No alternative text description for this image

Wendy Martin, who was a national finalist for teacher of the year is teaching a four week class about Biological Form and Function in Virtual Reality using  VictoryXR and it is aimed at high school or smart middle school students as is a group collaborative experience.

This also hits on another great reason to use VR, no frogs will be harmed during this lesson! (only virtual frogs).

VictoryXR is a VR Educational Platform and is being used to provide this learning experience, it is available for $165 per year for the Academy or VicrotyXR.Direct is $10 per month per headset.

The additional cost of this training from Wendy is $40, but they are providing a coupon code for 50% off: VXRWM50

The course will be four sessions, with independent activities during the week and the following dates/times are available:

Tue, July 14th @ 11:00 Anatomical Form & Function
Tue, July 21st @ 11:00 Evolutionary Form & Function
Tue, July 28th @ 11:00 Genetic Form & Function
Tue, Aug 4th @ 11:00 Viral Form & Function

Can’t make it? No problem, they will be recorded and you will have  access to the classes after the event.

What you need:

  • A VR headset
  • A license from VictoryXR.

SIGN UP HERE: https://lnkd.in/ez5MYHU

This sounds like a great way to bring the best education to you wherever you live and set your child up with an immersive experience with a nationally recognized teacher.

SCREEN SHARING AND RECORDING A PICO G2 4K WITH A WINDOWS OR MAC COMPUTER

Recently I have been using the Pico G2 4K, a 3DOF device with one controller which works pretty well for enterprise use cases such as 360 video or simple training use cases.

Compared to other headsets it is a lot more open when it comes to working with and managing the operating system, in developing for the headset there were occasions when I needed to share or record the screen to show others what I was seeing.

As with sharing the Quest, previously written about here, Screen Copy (scrcpy) came in very handy with the right configuration for the headsets display.

One thing that is rather annoying about the Pico is that it loves to change screen resolution when you are using it, mainly when accessing what was previously a 2D android based app or settings dialog etc.  In VR you wont really notice the difference as they do a great job of handling the 2D apps and giving you an immersive space to work with them but when using scrcpy you often see the output completely change.  The only workaround I have found for this is that when a 2D screen appears and messes up the screen display, just run scrcpy with no parameters.  This will default to the resolution of the screen and show you the 2D dialog, as soon as you go back into VR mode though you will need to relaunch scrcpy in the below way otherwise you will get a 2 Eye output.

But for most experiences in VR you can use the below instructions to display and record the screen.

Initial Install and Setup

  1. Plug the USB-C cable into your computer and the Pico G2 4K.
  2. If its your first time plugging into this computer you will need to accept the prompt within the device that allows you to access the device from the computer and check the box to always allow if you want to skip this section in the future
  3. For Windows download and unzip the latest build of scrcpy from https://github.com/Genymobile/scrcpy/releases a direct link for the current version when writing this is here: https://github.com/Genymobile/scrcpy/releases/download/v1.10/scrcpy-win64-v1.10.zip
  4. For Mac the application is available in Homebrew. Install it using the following from a terminal window:
  5. brew install scrcpy
  6. You will also need adb. you can install this by running the following from a terminal window:
  7. brew cask install android-platform-tools

Sharing the Screen connected via cable

  1. Open a command prompt (cmd.exe) or and CD into the extracted folder from above
  2. Run the following command:
  3. scrcpy --crop 1280:1776:400:60 -m 1600 -b 25M

Sharing the Screen connected wirelessly

You will still need a cable to make an initial connection and start the client on the Pico and then you can disconnect and use wirelessly, use the following steps to connect wirelessly:

  1. Follow steps 1-4 above in the setup section
  2. Open a command prompt (cmd.exe) and CD into the extracted folder from above
  3. While the device is connected via a cable run the following to find out what your Pico’s IP address is in the src section:
  4. adb shell ip route
    192.168.1.0/24 dev wlan0  proto kernel  scope link  src 192.168.1.198
  5. Now run the following replacing the IP address below (192.168.1.198) as yours:
  6. adb tcpip 5555
    adb connect 192.168.1.198:5555
  7. Disconnect the cable from the PC and with the device disconnected run the command to connect to the device as below
scrcpy --crop 1280:1776:400:60 -b 25M

Sharing Window

If everything worked above a new window should appear showing the device screen, you can then maximize this for a better demo window.

Testing was done with variations of the scrcpy command but the above was found to be the best viewing size to enable a good demo.

Recording the screen

There is also a great way to capture the screen while mirroring, add the following command options to the end of the scrcpy command above to do this:

 --record file.mp4

To disable mirroring while recording:

 --no-display --record file.mp4

Troubleshooting

Connection Issues

If you get a blank window or are unable to connect when device is plugged in you should be able to run the following command from the same folder above:

PS C:\Users\alan\Downloads\scrcpy-win64-v1.10> .\adb.exe devices
List of devices attached
1PASH9AF839266 device

The device should show above rather than:

PS C:\Users\alan\Downloads\scrcpy-win64-v1.10> .\adb.exe devices
List of devices attached
1PASH9AF839266 unauthorized

If you get the latter then make sure you have enabled developer mode and authorized the device as per step 1-3 above.

Target Machine refused connection when in wireless

If you receive a message like the following: “cannot connect to 192.168.1.198:5555: No connection could be made because the target machine actively refused it. (10061)”

Reconnect the Pico to the computer and go from Step 3 in the wireless connection steps above, this is caused because the client on the Pico stopped, normally as you reset the device.

Learn more about Enterprise AR/VR on the VMTN Podcast

Recently I was a guest on the VMware Communities Podcast where we spoke about Spatial Computing, Virtual Reality and Augmented reality and where these play in the enterprise, this was a great overview of what my life has been for the last while so I thought I would post it here for those interested in this space and looking to learn more.

You can download/listen to the podcast version here: https://t.co/bpRw8P9fam

Screen Sharing and Recording a Oculus Quest with a Windows or Mac Computer

Recently I attended a conference where I needed to display a demonstration of what we were doing in VR on the Oculus Quest, the Quest has some great mechanisms for casting to a mobile phone or to a Chromecast device attached to a TV but when it comes to sharing to a laptop there isn’t really a good solution at the moment.  Im sure that will all change when they bring out Oculus Link (for a wired connection anyway) but we needed something now.

After digging around on some forums and piecing some data together from youtube, forums and reddit I thought i would make a note of the end result here which enables you to use scrcpy, an android screen sharing utility, to share both with a wire but also wirelessly and also enables an easy way to capture video straight to the computer.

Initial Install and Setup

  1. Enable developer mode on your Oculus Quest (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1PTFkLnJRLs)
  2. Plug the USB-C cable into your computer and the Quest, this also works with USB to USB-C
  3. If its your first time plugging into this computer you will need to accept the prompt within the device that allows you to access the device from the computer as per below and check the box to always allow if you want to skip this section in the future
  4. For Windows download and unzip the latest build of scrcpy from https://github.com/Genymobile/scrcpy/releases a direct link for the current version when writing this is here: https://github.com/Genymobile/scrcpy/releases/download/v1.10/scrcpy-win64-v1.10.zip
  5. For Mac the application is available in Homebrew. Install it using the following from a terminal window:
    brew install scrcpy
  6. You will also need adb. you can install this by running the following from a terminal window:
    brew cask install android-platform-tools

Sharing the Screen connected via cable

  1. Open a command prompt (cmd.exe) or and CD into the extracted folder from above
  2. Run the following command:
    scrcpy -c 1200:800:180:320 -m 1600 -b 25M

Sharing the Screen connected wirelessly

You will still need a cable to make an initial connection and start the client on the Quest and then you can disconnect and use wirelessly, use the following steps to connect wirelessly:

  1. Follow steps 1-4 above in the setup section
  2. Open a command prompt (cmd.exe) and CD into the extracted folder from above
  3. While the device is connected via a cable run the following to find out what your Quests IP address is in the src section:
    adb shell ip route
    192.168.1.0/24 dev wlan0  proto kernel  scope link  src 192.168.1.198
  4. Now run the following replacing the IP address below (192.168.1.198) as yours:
    adb tcpip 5555
    adb connect 192.168.1.198:5555
  5. Disconnect the cable from the PC and with the device disconnected run the command to connect to the device as below
scrcpy -c 1200:800:180:320 -m 1600 -b 25M

Sharing Window

If everything worked above a new window should appear showing the device screen, you can then maximize this for a better demo window.

Testing was done with variations of the scrcpy command but the above was found to be the best viewing size to enable a good demo.

Recording the screen

There is also a great way to capture the screen while mirroring, add the following command options to the end of the scrcpy command above to do this:

 --record file.mp4

To disable mirroring while recording:

 --no-display --record file.mp4

Troubleshooting

Connection Issues

If you get a blank window or are unable to connect when device is plugged in you should be able to run the following command from the same folder above:

PS C:\Users\alan\Downloads\scrcpy-win64-v1.10> .\adb.exe devices
List of devices attached
1PASH9AF839266 device

The device should show above rather than:

PS C:\Users\alan\Downloads\scrcpy-win64-v1.10> .\adb.exe devices
List of devices attached
1PASH9AF839266 unauthorized

If you get the latter then make sure you have enabled developer mode and authorized the device as per step 1-3 above.

Target Machine refused connection when in wireless

If you receive a message like the following: “cannot connect to 192.168.1.198:5555: No connection could be made because the target machine actively refused it. (10061)”

Reconnect the Quest to the computer and go from Step 3 in the wireless connection steps above, this is caused because the client on the quest stopped, normally as you reset the device.

Fixing HTC Vive Tracker Orientation

Recently I took my daughters Softball hitting skills to the next level by putting her up against some of the best pitchers in some of the best stadiums in America…. well kind of anyway!

I joke but this is actually a great use case, imagine putting your softball or baseball college or pro team up against any pitcher that you have recorded stats for and enabling them to hit against that pitcher and any pitch they have made during a game, that’s some next level training there!

We enabled this by attaching a HTC Vive Tracker to the end of an old softball bat she had and using this in conjunction with the HTC Vive VR Headset, this enables the bat to be tracked inside of virtual reality and for a more life-like experience and realistic training method when using some of the softball/baseball games…

Setting the tracker up was very simple and I soon had the tracker visible in Steam Home.

I downloaded a few games for my daughter to use that I knew supported the HTC Vive tracker:

Pitch-Hit: Baseball

More Info

Continue reading Fixing HTC Vive Tracker Orientation

360 Media & the Vuze Camera

The Equipment

Recently I was able to gain access to a Vuze Plus 360 Camera a very niece piece of kit which retails at just less than $1,000, the features are very impressive as you can see below:

  • 360 LIVE preview and LIVE broadcast 
  • 4K Stereoscopic 3D 360⁰ Video and Photo
  • 3D audio (spatial audio)
  • IP65 (water jet proof)
  • Lightweight and Easy to Use

The Experience

I have always been rather skeptical about the use of 360 pictures, of course there are areas where it makes sense.  Real estate for example, this is a great use case for 360 pics and video, being able to look around or walk around a house and see all around you not only on your phone but also in VR can really bring 360 into its element.

Now I have access to a camera however I have to say I am very impressed with the quality and experience it gives to relive a moment in time via picture or video, it really does capture the all round experience and when viewed through VR it gives a sense of being in that place and being able to be in an area and experience it with full perception of the environment and with spatial sound you can also hear the different perspectives as you look around.

Working with 360 Media

Taking a photo with the Vuze is very easy, just hook into their wifi access point on the camera and use the mobile phone software to take a picture or video, couldn’t be easier!

Once you have the picture or video there is then some post processing that needs to take place, the camera tries to do a good job of stitching the individual views together but its not quite there by default.  The Vuze come with some great software that make this very easy, it allows you to download the photo and then with the press of a couple of buttons you can adjust the “stitching” and color levels, replace the image at the bottom of the picture (to remove any trace of the camera or tripod) and render the image or video to a given format. Super Easy!

Stitching in Vuze

I do however wish there was some kind of bulk mode for this as doing it for 20 or 30 images and videos can get tedious!

Now you have the pictures and Video you need to publish them somewhere or add them to a device, this I think is an area that needs to mature a lot! Its easy to drop the files onto my Oculus Go and Continue reading 360 Media & the Vuze Camera

Slight change of focus.. or should I say reality?!

Its been a while since I blogged, mainly because as I focused more on my day job, had a new baby and generally got really busy, I was unable to find the time to share my thoughts on the subjects I was working on, life got in the way!

As of the start of this year however I changed roles at VMware and am now helping to lead the strategy for Cross Reality (XR), Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Mixed Reality (MR) or as the industry has started to call it (and I quite like)… Spatial Computing. Of course I may have dabbled in this area before at VMware ;).

As its easier to blog about what you are working with on a day to day basis I am hoping to start blogging more on these subjects, helping others to learn as I also learn more.

At VMware we are seeing many of our customers already starting to use Spatial Computing to solve certain use cases for the enterprise. Im excited about how this technology will evolve in the future, how VMware will help our customers and what the industry will achieve as a whole.

I of course will keep the history of posts on automation and will continue to keep one eye on whats going on there, maybe even find time to create a few posts when things interest me in this area.

I thank you for continuing to stay interested in the areas I follow and hope you will find this area as interesting as I do, and if you are a VMware customer who has interesting Spatial Computing use cases then don’t be shy, reach out to me and let me know how we can potentially help you!

 

Using Curl with the VMware Cloud on AWS API

Sometimes the initial steps of working with a new API can be hard, often working out how to authenticate and call the APIs can be the hardest part.

I have found that if I break it down into industry standard tooling I can often get a better understanding of how to form this in other languages which I use.

For REST other than calling the API through an API Explorer (like the awesome API explorer built into the VMware Cloud on AWS console) clearly curl is the easiest and probably best industry standard way to test a REST based API.

With this in mind I wanted to show an example of how to use the VMware Cloud on AWS API using CURL, the below example shows how to exchange your refresh token (obtainable from your account) for an access token and then use this to work with all the subsequent APIs in VMware Cloud on AWS or as my example shows, listing the organizations I have access to.

You can download this sample from code.vmware.com here.