I recently found myself faced with a 2.5″ NTFS formatted laptop hard drive from a 5 year old laptop that wouldn’t cooperate and would constantly fail so I decided to try and recover what I could from the drive by running SpinRite, a great application from Steve Gibson of Gibson Research that I have used successfully many times in the past to recover damaged or unreadable magnetic based media.  The last time I actually used it was about 12 years ago over the course of several days to recover a failing HD.  Computing and hard drive technology has changed a lot since then but they are still very much part of our day-to-day IT lives.  When I encounter a problem that needs extensive evaluation I would just run SpinRite on the x86 based PC from which the hard drive came.  However, after creating a bootable CD and USB key with SpinRite for use on the 5 yo laptop neither one would work so I decided to take a different route.  Without another PC handy I decided to assess my options…  My daily laptop is a MacBook Pro, doesn’t (thankfully) have an internal 2.5″ SATA bay and is sealed tighter than the sub in the Hunt for Red October…  So what’s a Mac user to do with an NTFS formatted magnetic HD that can’t be read, an old Laptop that won’t boot SpinRite, and no other PC’s within easy reach?  Try to run SpinRite from a Virtual Machine on a Mac of course….

Now for those of you who don’t know SpinRite was written in assembly and does very low level reads and writes against a computers magnetic mass storage drives.  FreeDOS has been incorporated into SpinRite distribution to allow it to boot to a bare-metal PC and mount any connected drives so you can exercise the individual bits of 1’s and 0’s stored on the drive, exercising it enough to get a magnetic drive in as good a working condition as the physical hardware will allow.  With any luck it will operate just well enough to get your information to a readable state and backed up before you have complete hardware failure…   Running SpinRite from a VM was a bit more involved to configure via VMWare Fusion on a Mac and I wasn’t completely sure it would work… so I thought I would share my experiences.

 

I created a spinrite.iso file from another Windows VM I use.  I then created a new MS-DOS based VM mounting the SpinRite.iso created from the SpinRite.exe file.  It booted to a familiar screen without any issues.

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SpinRite_and_Blank_website__Blank_site__Nothing_to_see_here_

Now the challenge was to get the physical hard drive mounted to the VM…  Looking through the settings there was no way to get RAW access to a physical HD.  I used a SATA to USB adapter and had to connect the drive to my Macbook Pro ensuring it was mounted to the Mac not the VM.

I needed to create a Raw Disk vmdk to make the RawDisk accessible to the VM so I did the following:

From a Mac terminal (I prefer iTerm) type:

diskutil list

In my case the 160GB HD came up as /dev/disk2 but your particular configuration may be different.

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Next from the terminal run the following command to list the partitions that rawdiskCreator can see:

/Applications/VMware Fusion.app/Contents/Library/vmware-rawdiskCreator print /dev/disk#

Note: Ensure that the last entry /dev/disk# is changed to the drive you are targeting for raw access.  In my case it was /dev/disk2

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What you should see next is your drive partitions…  My particular drive was split into two partitions (#1 was very small and #2 made up the bulk of my 160G HD)

With your partitions known and visible by the rawdiskCreator tool you can create the vmdk file that refers to the physical hard disk you are trying to mount and make it available to the existing SpinRite VM you created earlier.  You will need to know the location of the Disk and the partitions you want to mount from the previous command, which in my case is /dev/disk2 1,2 which says it’s disk2 and both partitions 1 & 2.  You will also need the path to the actual SpinRite .vmwarevm Virtual Machine that you created earlier (in my case ~/Documents/Virtual Machines/SpinRite.vmwarevm/rawDiskFile).  Now I used rawDiskfile but this is the name of your vmdk file and can be called whatever you like.  Make sure to include the ide designator at the end so the VM knows how to mount the drive.

/Applications/VMware Fusion.app/Contents/Library/vmware-rawdiskCreator create /dev/disk2 1,2 ~/Documents/Virtual Machines/SpinRite.vmwarevm/rawDiskFile ide

After you execute this command successfully you can option click the SpinRite.vmwarevm file and choose Show Contents.  Here you should see the files that makeup the .vmwarevm file including the new .vmdk file (if that’s what you named it) for each partition you listed above (1,2).  In my case it was rawDiskFile.vmdk & rawDiskFile-pt.vmdk

If you boot the VM now you won’t see the additional drive so you have to manually edit the configuration file for the VM to recognize the drive.  With the VMWare file contents still being displayed in finder you need to edit the .vmx virtual machine configuration file.  In my case it was called SpinRite.vmx because SpinRite is what I named my VM…  You should probably back up this file incase there is a problem and you need to start over.  Use your favorite editor (BBEdit, TextWranger, TextEdit, etc…) to edit the .vmx configuration file.  You want to insert the following lines to your configuration file being careful not to duplicate an existing ide#:# entry:

ide0:1.present = “TRUE”
ide0:1.fileName = “rawDiskFile.vmdk”
ide0:1.deviceType = “rawDisk”
suspend.disabled = “TRUE”

If the VM already has in its .vmx configuration ide0:1, use another port such as ide1:1.  It is also possible to use scsi#:# or sata#:# if the VM is somehow configured to use a SATA or SCSI controller.   The suspend.disabled=”TRUE” entry prevents the VM from suspending and being out of sync with the attached HD.  Important since most of SpinRite’s scans can take a long time to run.

The last step is to power on the VM and select your HD…  You may be prompted to enter your administrators password to get RAW access to the HD as the VM powers up.

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If you run into trouble it may be necessary to unmount the HD from your Mac by ejecting or un-mounting from Disk Utility prior to turning the VM on.

I won’t go into detail on how to use SpinRite as the tool is pretty self explanatory but the 160GB HD partition did appear in the interface ready to begin SpinRite’s operations.

SpinRite

SpinRite_and_Blank_website__Blank_site__Nothing_to_see_here_

SpinRite

 

Again this certainly isn’t an ideal setup as SMART access to the HD wasn’t available from within SpinRite menu options because, and I’m guessing here, of the SATA to USB setup but it might work in a pinch.  Hopefully it proves useful to your IT Toolkit and helps you extend the life of your SpinRite license which is worth every penny…

Update:  I tried a couple of drives and while it worked for one drive there was an error that completely stopped SpinRite and the VM in it’s tracks…   It only occurred on a specific section of the hard drive where there was clearly an issue…

SpinRite

SpinRite

The InfoWorld/Forrester Enterprise Architecture Award, presented by InfoWorld, Forrester Research, and Penn State University Center for Enterprise Architecture recognize organizations whose practice of enterprise architecture has delivered substantial business benefit.   I’m pleased to announce that my team at Molina Healthcare was recognized this year for our re-organization efforts to make our department more business outcomes focused.

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The announcement can be found on the InfoWorld Website:
http://www.infoworld.com/article/2686202/enterprise-architecture/2014-enterprise-architecture-awards.html?page=6

Forrester Research VP and Practice Director, Alex Cullen stated:
http://blogs.forrester.com/alex_cullen/14-09-22-2014_enterprise_architecture_award_winners_wow

Molina’s EA team, headed by Cary Brown, Director of EA, responded with a strategy that simplified its own service offering, narrowed its focus, and fundamentally redefined how it needed to fit within the organization. As part of its re-chartering efforts, EA also reorganized services around two primary groupings of Enterprise Architecture offerings: strategic services (focused on future state planning, roadmapping, governance and standard setting) and tactical services (focused on new technology evaluation, solution design and facilitation).

Collectively these re-chartering efforts have resulted in a streamlined, partner approach. By partnering with stakeholders in each business area EA is now ensuring:

– Decisions made in one initiative benefit for the first time from an enterprise-wide perspective;
– The company no longer invests in “one-off” parochial technology solutions that favor a particular business unit or project;
– All initiatives, including ad-hoc IT efforts, have clearly stated objectives and end with a positive outcome or transparent decision be it a new capability or some new business function that improves quality or removal of barriers to healthcare services.

Of this submission, Eric Meredith, VP Architecture Governance at PNC Financial, said: “What was most intriguing was that they began by applying EA principles to the EA practice, i.e. applied EA principles to themselves to identify challenges in their own EA strategy. Brilliant and Gutsy. “

Source: http://blogs.forrester.com/alex_cullen/14-09-22-2014_enterprise_architecture_award_winners_wow

 

troux-logo

I recently had the privilege of delivering a presentation at Troux’s Worldwide User conference in Austin, TX .  Troux  creates software that helps enterprise architects align IT planning processes (projects, governance, architecture, standards, etc…) to business goals such as building new business capabilities, creating new lines of business, and expansion into new markets.  Ben Geller, Troux’s VP of Marketing asked me to speak about the rechartering efforts taken to make enterprise architecture align more with  business needs at Molina Healthcare.  You can find my full presentation on the Troux Conference Website.

The theme of this year’s conference is making EA stick.  There were several fantastic presentations and Troux made a great effort, as they have in years past, to ensure it was not a big sales pitch.

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It was fantastic to be among peers and several leaders across many different industries outside of healthcare who share many of the same struggles.  I’m thankful for the opportunity to speak and look forward to continuing my interactions with other colleagues.  There were several great partners present at the conference and it is clear they are working closely with Troux to ensure data is accurate, timely helping leaders build a better window into the enterprise.

At Molina we have developed several  solutions around standards, governance, and future-state roadmaps all closely aligned with a business need and I was happy to share our efforts with everyone.   I would love to hear how your organization Enterprise Architecture program is working to be more business focused.  Leave a comment below or message me on Twitter or LinkedIn

I’m honored to have been asked to speak at the Troux Worldwide Conference 2014 in Austin, TX.   I will be discussing the re-chartering and re-organization efforts  for our Enterprise Architecture division at Molina Healthcare.  Below is an overview from the Troux Website…

Molina Healthcare – Re-Chartering EA to Focus on Business Outcomes

Managing the demands of government funded healthcare is a certainly a big challenge.  Re-Chartering EA to deliver positive business outcomes in the midst of massive healthcare reform is an even bigger challenge.  This session will offer key insights and the approach Molina Healthcare has taken in reshaping Enterprise Architecture to tackle hurdles, such as defining how EA aligns with and supports the business, demonstrating the business benefits of an EA program, and how Molina uses Troux to improve the quality of information for decision making through the development of capability maps, standards, and customized roadmaps.
Cary Brown, Director, Enterprise Architecture, Molina Healthcare

The agenda can be found here:  http://www.troux.com/resources/events/conference2014/agenda.asp#

We have taken some very unique and innovative approaches to leveraging the Troux EPM tool at Molina.  I hope you can join us for what has historically been a very informative and educational conference.

While I can’t attend CES 2014 myself this year the blogosphere is awash with updates of the new and innovative consumer electronics on display in Vegas this year.  I’m fortunate to have colleagues there who are live sharing some amazing pictures and video’s from the floor so I thought I would share…

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I anticipated a huge uptick in the number of health conscious iDevices….  but CES appears to be overflowing with new “wearable” devices that track every aspect of your daily life.  Hope their security is good so no-one knows when you go out of town or out for a long run and decide to steal your 105 inch curved OLED 5k display?  (see below)


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Just when you thought you had 4k televisions understood manufacturers start promoting a wider aspect ratios like 21:9 and add another 1k pixels to the screen and create 5k Televisions…  Television is such a dated term…  Why don’t we call them retina-searing monstrosities…  I can totally justify one of these in a network operations center… and by corporate network operations center I mean my living room…but really!?!

Head over to Engadget for the play-by-play or GeekBeat.TV 

I’ve had relatively great success with running Apple’s OS X Maverick since I installed a developer release on a second generation MacBook Air in June while at WWDC 2013.  No issues.  None.  Never-the-less, I hesitated updating my primary Mac with developer pre-release software.

When VMWare announced during this beta that VMWare Fusion for OS X was upgraded to version 6 with specific focus on compatibility with Mavericks and Windows 8 I promptly upgraded.  Running Windows on OS X 10.8 was every bit as fast as if it was running on native hardware.  No complaints…

When Apple announced the general release of OS X Maverick’s I upgraded my primary machine a 2 monitor setup to which I was looking forward to with the additional options available.  I upgraded, again, without issue.  When I started to run Windows 8 VM inside of VMWare Fusion I noticed a performance hit…  Ugh…  I knew it was too good to be true.  I can accommodate a lot in order to help satisfy my inquisitive mind however when it comes to daily workflow I have much smaller levels of tolerance.  I knew the performance issue probably had something to do with Maverick’s so I dug a little deeper and looked at the newly  refreshed Activity Monitor in OS X.  Nothing exceptional in the CPU and Memory tabs.   CPU was at a reasonable level before and after running a virtual machine in VMWare Fusion and I have plenty of room with 16GB of memory.  Nothing seemed to be pegging either metric.  I looked at Disk and Network… again nothing out of the ordinary.  Knowing that Energy was a new tab I haven’t seen before in Activity Monitor I selected it and noticed the “App Nap” column was listed and indicated “Yes” in the row defining VMWare Fusion.   App Nap is the new feature in Mavericks that allows users, thankfully, to allow OSX to put to sleep applications consuming excessive amounts of your limited battery power.  A great feature for laptop users but I’m using a desktop and plugged into AC.  Not as big of an issue at my desk.  Activity_Monitor__Applications_in_last_8_hours_

 

 

A quick scan of Apple’s support site led me to how to disable this feature on an app-by-app basis…  Here’s what I did:

1.  Open a Finder window and navigate to your Applications Folder

2.  Locate VMware Fusion, right click and select “Get Info”

3.  In the “General:” section of the dialog box you will see a checkbox for “Prevent App Nap”.  Make sure this is unchecked.

VMware Fusion

 

 

I terminated and restarted VMWare Fusion and launched my Windows 8 virtual machine and so far so good.  Performance picked up and I’m back to my original daily workflow.   Hope this helps other VMWare fusion users who might have similar issues.

Waiting in line is one of the many memorable events at WWDC. I’ve met several people from all over the world.

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In less than 24 hours, the first Apple event in at least 6 months will be underway.  There are a lot of eyes on Apple given their incremental product releases.  Rumors abound about what will be unveiled however it seems a safe bet given the signs that are posted in the Moscone center that Apple will focus heavily on the OS X and iOS.  Apple has released the innovative MacBook Pro with Retina Display and manufacturers have yet to really catch up with the design or hardware specs of this product so it makes sense Apple innovates in the software in their portfolio.

Follow-me on Twitter @cary_brown for updates…

American Healthcare

3 May
2012

So I came across this infographic on Business Pundit and thought I would share.  It’s a great example of where things have headed south in American healthcare…  I use several of these statistics on the incredible rising costs and disease states in my speeches on healthcare IT, but a few stood out.  Specifically the lack of funds being directed to preventative services like Home Health…  Almost 50% of all deaths are related to only two disease categories…  Heart Disease and Cancer.  While there is not yet a cure for cancer there are preventative measures Americans can take to reduce their risk of Heart Disease, and chronic respiratory diseases…  We are a privileged nation with a lot of luxuries afforded to us but we have to start taking care of ourselves and change our habits otherwise the trend of costs and burden on our system will continue its sharp upward trend.

The Per capita spending never ceases to amaze me… but putting it into tangible real-world examples makes a big impact.  Would you pay $95,526 for a Volkswagen Beetle or $176.58 for a family dinner?  How far could you get when gas is $13.50 a gallon?

American Health Infographic

Enjoy and thanks topmastersinhealthcare.com for putting this together.

Certified ScrumMaster

20 Dec
2011

I wrapped up training two weeks ago to be come a Certified ScrumMaster.  The course was a solid foundation on the fundamentals of Scrum and the process of product management and development in an agile environment.  While I’ve participated in Scrum sessions many times in the past this formal indoctrination into the process was very insightful and will prove very useful in future meetings with teams.  Most sessions you see in practice are variations of the real process which, to the Scrum Alliance’s credit, has evolved and been refined over the years is actually very good.  With some effort, practice, and discipline of your teams the breakdown of product backlogs, into deliverable sprints could prove fruitful for any product focused company.

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