Installing VMware ESXi 5.5.0 into Zotac Zbox ID90

ESXi 5.5.0 running on Zotac Zbox ID90

Recently I discovered I was running out of resources on my old VMware ESXi host, a Lenovo Thinkpad X201. Because of some security concerns I don’t keep swap enabled. Therefore I need lots of real RAM on the host machine. I also prefer small form factor (as the earlier laptop is).

After a while googling around I came across Zotac Zbox ID90. It’s one of those small form factor PC’s. Relevant specs are: CPU: Intel Core i7 3770T; Chipset: Intel H61 Express; Maximum memory: 16GB. Looks sufficient, I thought. There were, however 2 concerns. I had no idea whether the on-board LAN chips were compatible with ESXi 5.5.0. One would think that if the chipset was from Intel, it would include Intel LAN chips, right? Right? Another issue was support for Intel VT-d technology. There was no way to determine this from the specs provided. I tried asking Zotac support, but they were unable to assist. I don’t blame them, since the only real-world way to determine setup support is to actually install ESXi and see if DirectPath I/O is supported. I decided to take my chances and order Zbox ID90.

Continue reading “Installing VMware ESXi 5.5.0 into Zotac Zbox ID90”

Chair-bombing at work

About a month back or so I got to the office in the morning as usual. I sat down on my office chair. For a while things were as any other morning. Then I started to hear eerie music with a weird male voice-over. I had difficulties locating the source first. I checked under the laptop, behind it, under the table. Then I noticed that the sound came from bottom of my chair.

Trigger mechanism for the office chair.

I took a look and.. just whoa! You cannot make this up. My workmates had rigged my office chair. Ingenious! They had used some USB powered promotional video board to play the weird video file. Then they had removed the power cords, soldered them to a micro switch and attached it to the base of my chair with electrical tape. They told me they had used quite a while in fine-tuning this installation. Good work, it actually worked very nice.

Continue reading “Chair-bombing at work”

Xerox laser toner cartridges programmed to fail

A few years back I ran into a problem with a Xerox 7700 laser printer. The print quality had been OK, but suddenly the printer reported that a toner cartridge had to be changed and refused to print anymore. After checking up on prices it seemed like we needed to spend 200 EUR to buy a new cartridge.

I googled around a bit and found out interesting piece of information. It seemed like the toner cartridges had some kind of memory units regarding print counts. Once the counter reaches zero, the cartridge stops printing. At this point I decided to hack the cartridge back to a working state.

1. First I removed the toner cartridge from the printer.

Continue reading “Xerox laser toner cartridges programmed to fail”