Patching ESXi

If you’re running ESXi in standalone mode (that is, without using vCenter), you can apply patches online from VMWare directly.

Your ESXi server will need direct access to the Internet. First you must allow it to access the network by creating a firewall rule:

esxcli network firewall ruleset set -e true -r httpClient

You can then use the following command to download and install the patch:

esxcli software profile update -d https://hostupdate.vmware.com/software/VUM/PRODUCTION/main/vmw-depot-index.xml -p ESXi-5.5.0-20150204001-standard

The image name (after the -p parameter) is used for selecting the patches you want to apply. You can find the list of patches at the excellent v-front.de website – https://esxi-patches.v-front.de/ which is also where I found these instructions.

Running a white box (generic PC) ESXi server is fraught with issues. I’m still working out how to upgrade my ESXi 5.1 server to 5.5 or 6.0, without losing the drivers for my Realtek network cards and SATA storage. I use network attached storage on a Qnap device for running VMs, but still use the internal SATA drives for image backups, logs, and other things, so I want to retain the ability to use those drives as vmfs storage.

More on my progress with that later.

Verizon Changes Email Service

I had an interesting conversation with Verizon customer service today. The entire conversion is posted below (personal info redacted, including agent names – I just left an initial).

A little background. I got burned many years ago (MANY: I’m old!) when I had a comcast.net email account. I used that email address (hholt@comcast.net) for everything.  When I moved to another ISP, I send a lot of folks my new email address, but inevitably, I lost a few things. I lost my Battle.net account (no big deal), and I lost access to my ICANN user name – HH92.  That’s a really early ICANN ID, in case you’re not familiar with them. That was back in the day when you could get a IP address class and register a domain for free (imagine that).

So I learned my lesson from that.  No more ISP-based email addresses. I registered my own domain (this very one), and set up a Linux server to handle that and a few other things.

It’s worked great for many years. I can have all the email addresses I want, help family and friends with one if they wanted, keep all my emails forever, easy backup, recovery, and encryption too.  I’ve moved from ISP to ISP over that time, and it became increasingly difficult to get things set up to work correctly, as ISPs imposed more and more restrictions to help stop SPAM.

But what Verizon has now done has nothing to do with stopping SPAM. They’ve decided to block me from sending any email unless it says @verizon.net on the end.  Seriously.  Just check out the conversation below.  As of November 15, 2016, you must be advertising with Verizon if they are your ISP and you want to send email.

“Well can’t you send your email directly” you ask?  No, they blocked that capability years ago.  “Can’t they just implement secure SMTP authentication” you ask?  Already done, years ago.

I couldn’t help quoting Darth Vader from The Empire Strikes Back in the conversation with their Tech Support.  Sorry tech support guys.  I feel your pain.  But you’re the face of Verizon.  Apparently the email guys who decided to do this never have to face angry customers over it.  But it was a little rude to hang up on me after your last comment.

Your chat ID number is 11261641250.

Chat Subject:FiOS Internet (E-Mail)

Your Question:I am now no longer to send email. I’m getting: “550 5.7.1 From address not allowed” Every time I try to send email. I have made no recent changes on my client or email setup. The error is coming from smtp.verizon.net outgoing email server. Please fix! Thx… H

A Verizon Service Representative will be with you shortly. Thank you.

Agent N has joined. (18:29:32)

N : Chat ID for this session is 11261641250. (18:29:32)

Niranjan(18:29:42): Thank you for contacting FIOS repair support. My name is Niranjan. May I confirm your telephone number as 804*******?

Harry (18:29:49): yes

N(18:30:14): Thanks a lot.

N(18:30:19): Sorry for any inconvenience this has caused you. But not to worry, I will definitely help you today.
N(18:30:19): In case we need to follow up with you, may I have a preferred call back number?

Harry (18:30:29): same

Harry (18:31:16): 804-***-****

N(18:31:31): Thank you, please let me know the email address you are facing this issue?

Harry (18:31:47): *****@lizardslounge.org

Harry (18:32:10): The SMTP login ID is *********

N(18:34:16): I am so sorry to say that Effective November 15, 2016, the ability to change the “From” address or the ability to use a non-local “From” address on outgoing email will be removed.

Harry (18:34:44): It’s not non-local, it’s mine.

N(18:34:50): This also affects the your ability to use the Verizon outgoing server to send e-mail from a third-party e-mail address. You should use the server settings provided by the e-mail provider that is: hholt@lizardslounge.org

Harry (18:34:56): Same one I’ve been using for 20 years.

Niranjan(18:35:11): *****@lizardslounge.org is not a Verizon user ID

Harry (18:35:14): I AM the email provider. The network is VERIZON FIOS

N(18:35:35): So you may have to use the server settings provided by the e-mail provider that is: *****@lizardslounge.org

Harry (18:35:39): I know, it’s my email address. One that I’ve been sending email from for 20 years, and for 7 years on verizon.

Harry (18:35:56): MY email provider is ME. It’s on the FIOS network.

N(18:36:07): I can help you with the: ********

Harry (18:36:11): How do I send out email from here?

Harry (18:36:34): I can’t send email with *********@lizardslounge.org either.
Harry (18:36:51): WHAT CHANGED!?!?! PLEASE FIX IT!!!!

N(18:37:16): I can help you to send and receive emails with the email: ********@verizon.net

Harry (18:37:30): You can’t just disable services unilaterally!

Harry (18:37:38): WHY?
Harry (18:37:52): How much is my discount for a disabled Internet service?
Harry (18:38:21): It will cost me. This will cost me money. I want a discount. You’re changing the deail.

N(18:39:26): I suggest you to check with the billing team, I will connect you to them right away.

This session is being transferred. (18:39:36)

This session is transferred to G. (18:39:41)

Agent G has joined. (18:39:41)

H(18:39:51): Thanks for using Live Chat Support. You have reached the FIOS Technical Support Department.

H(18:39:57): I can see the notes from the previous chat, give me one moment to review the information.

Harry (18:42:23): ok

G(18:47:44): I am not sure why you were sent to me. I am not in billing and sales. I am in tech support.

Harry (18:48:00): Can you fix my email?

Harry (18:48:30): That’s why I’m here. It seems I can no longer send email, and N indicated it was somehow intentional.

G(18:49:51): Yes on November 15 Verizon disabled the ability to use our outgoing email server to send emails on a non-Verizon email.

Harry (18:51:09): Why? Don’t do that. I’m still paying the same bill for less services. So I’m required to act as a free advertisement for Verizon by only using @verizon.net email address, which I will lose when I move?

G(18:52:35): I cannot tell you the why, it was just emailed to us last week as a service bulletin. I don’t have any control on what our email team does.

Harry (18:53:04): Can I talk to them? What solution is there?

Harry (18:53:36): “The agreement has been altered. Pray I don’t alter it further”?

G(18:54:46): The email team is an offline non customer facing department unfortunately.

Harry (18:56:42): So I’m just SOL? I will need a discount. This is going to cost me $$

G(18:59:43): Unfortunately no part of your bill has charges for use of Verizon email since its complimentary. Because of this there is no way of providing a discount. To further discuss billing related inquiries please contact the billing department at 1-800-837-4966.

Your session is now closed.

Welcome to Verizon Live Chat

AT&T Wireless Saga – $600 for an old phone and lies from Customer Care

Update 3 – August 6, 2014:  After several hours oh the phone with AT&T, and several folks from “Customer Care”, we now have a Microcell and it is working.  It turns out that the hardware has recently gone through a major revision, and while the stores still have the old models, corporate is out of those, and has not really distributed the ordering information for the new models to the service reps.  I suspect that AT&T would like to exhaust the inventory of the old model before rolling out the new one, which makes sense.  Their methods for doing that is causing major issues, obviously, for their customers and service personnel.

So while this has been a pretty frustrating run-around with AT&T, they eventually did what they needed to satisfy us.

Check my blog for a review of the new model femtocell, manufactured by Cisco.

Update 2 – July 31, 2014:  It turns out, the earlier update was simply another deception by AT&T.  After 2 hours on the phone today attempting to track down the “order” submitted, it was determined that AT&T is unable to fulfill the order, they do not have MicroCell devices for shipping, and cannot order them from their fulfillment center.  They suggested that we purchase one from a store for $300, and allow them to credit our account.  After all the lies and deception from AT&T, we obviously do not trust this, and expect this is just another way for the corporation to extract an additional $300 from us.  And I refuse to pay $300 to fill in the gaps in AT&T’s coverage.  We are contemplating simply ceasing payment to AT&T, transferring our numbers to another provider, and forcing AT&T to take us to court if they attempt to collect more money.  I’m curious what a judge would have to say.

Update:  I just got a call from AT&T.  They are shipping me one of their MicroCell devices at no charge. When I get it and have it set up at home, I’ll post another update about how it works.


 

Full Story – Posted July 27, 2014

I hope this will be a word of caution to current or potential AT&T Wireless customers.  I used to be a very satisfied customer, but changes at the company have left me stuck in AT&T contract jail.

I need to supply some history for context.  I have had my AT&T Wireless account even longer that AT&T Wireless has had it, because it started out a SunCom Wireless account, then it became Cingular, and eventually AT&T acquired it.  Plans have changed and morphed during that time, as have the phones.  I have had up to five phones on the account in the past, but I only have  three now.

I actually liked AT&T’s new plans, “Mobile Share Value”, they call it, and I signed up in August of 2013, after substantial research into the plan and competing plans from other providers. The 10GB data plan covered our usage over 3 phones very nicely.

Things started to go south when we moved to a new home in April, 2014.  We were used to 5 bars of signal most of the time at our previous residence, but now we had mostly just 1.  It deteriorated from there over a couple of months so that we experienced no signal and dropped calls about 1/2 the time.  It could be because all of the trees filled out – we are in a pretty forested area, and AT&T has towers fairly close.  When we contacted Customer Care, they suggested we buy a “MicroCell” to resolve it, and offered to sell it to us for $100.  They do not ship them, so we needed to go by an AT&T store for it.

So with that potential solution in mind, my wife decided to take advantage of a free upgrade she was eligible for, to replace her iPhone with the broken screen.  The order site offered a refurbished iPhone 4S for free, just for extending our contract for 2 years.

At least, that’s what the order site said.

It turns out, that upgrade for a 2-year-old (or more) refurbished phone would cost us $600.

I blame myself for not going back and reviewing all the fine print on AT&T site, their phone store, and our plan.  It turns out, the plan terms changed.  Since we were ordering a phone on contract, it meant the per-phone charge changed from $15 / month to $40!!  No notification of this, of course, until the next bill, which went from about $140 per month to $170.  Over 2 years, that’s $600.

We discovered all this when we contacted Customer Care about the increase.  The rep proceeded to deceive us, intentionally or not.  She suggested that if we were unsatisfied, we were still within a few days of the “buyer’s remorse” period, and could return the phone.  We decided to do that, since we could actually buy a similar phone for less than $200.  But she also let us know that the MicroCell (previously offered to us for $100 purchase) would also add $10 to our monthly service fee.

It turns out, these statements were both false, and I can only opine that the CS rep lied. The original offer on the MicroCell also turned out to be effectively a deception.  When we went to the store we were told the 14 days we had to return the phone had expired.  The MicroCell did not require a $10 / month fee, but the store also refused to sell it to use for less than $200, even though they had access to the Customer Care note offering the $100 price (we declined).

So in my opinion we have been lied to at least 3 times by Customer Care.  We are stuck in this contract unless we want to buy it out for $550 (ironically LESS than what the phone would ultimately cost under the plan, but far more than market value).

And a lousy signal at home.  I refuse to submit to the bait-and-switch that doubled the price of the MicroCell, and of course I don’t trust what I’m told by AT&T any more.  Maybe the offer was a lie, maybe the reps at the store are lying, for some reason of their own.  Maybe AT&T just has a massive internal communication problem and we are the ones  left dealing with it.

So word of caution to my readers.  Read the fine print carefully.  And get everything in writing before you rely on it.

 

 

Working On It

This site is not ready yet.  Come back in a couple of weeks.

Update: It’s pretty ready, but not much content here yet. Unfortunate that my first real post was a complaint, and mostly off-topic for how I intended to use this blog.  Oh, well.