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© Rakhesh Sasidharan

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Azure VM stuck on starting/ running/ shutting down

So I was creating a new VM from an image in Azure today. The portal showed it as “Running” but I couldn’t connect to it. Took a look at the Boot Diagnostics and it’s stuck on boot up:

Stopping the VM from the portal or PowerShell made no difference. Finally I had to log a case with Microsoft. 

The engineer from Microsoft didn’t seem to know of any reset option either … he suggested I resize the VM, which I did and that shutdown the VM. (Or maybe it was just a matter of time. It took an hour+ from the time I encountered this issue to when I did the resize. First I had to log a case via the portal, then a Critical Situation Manager contacted me to say she will arrange for an engineer; then the engineer called me and he wanted a screen sharing and Teams call, and I was like dude why don’t you just shutdown or reset the VM from your console. He didn’t want to do that and wanted to document the whole thing so that took some time during which he suggested I do a resize … and some 10 mins after that the VM stopped. So maybe resize helps, or maybe it just needs an hour for stuck VMs to be reset automatically).

Thanks to Microsoft for calling and coordinating promptly, but I do wish sometimes people would not be so tied up in following the “script” and just listen to what the customer is saying (dude, reset the VM) instead of insisting on a screen share and call etc. Would save everyone time. :)

[Aside] man: can’t set the locale; make sure $LC_* and $LANG are correct errors

I was getting errors such as man: can't set the locale; make sure $LC_* and $LANG are correct when SSH’ing my Raspberry Pi box. Suggested fixes such as dpkg-reconfigure locales didn’t help (I got a new error after selecting the correct locale – /usr/bin/locale: Cannot set LC_CTYPE to default locale: No such file or directory).

This AskUbuntu thread has a good explanation of the problem and possible fixes. This StackOverflow thread has a good explanation of the Language variables themselves. It is common for macOS users coz the macOS /etc/ssh/ssh_config file exports all the language variables and that confuses the remote machine. If you don’t want to fix it cleanly, a “rough” solution is to disable sending of language variables in the Terminal app or iTerm. Special shoutout to this answer from the aforementioned AskUbuntu thread that explains the problem well and gives a good fix.

The Terror (first season) is a different type of horror… and is good!

“The Terror” is a different kind of horror show. At least the first season that I watched today & yesterday definitely is. I started watching it expecting some terrifying kind of horror. The poster had Jared Harris as a captain and I thought the story would be about zombies and other mysterious creatures attacking a bunch of seamen stuck somewhere. Lots of blood and gore basically.

Sure the show has a mysterious beast but that isn’t the central character. In fact it is even missing for most episodes, making a return towards the end. The real horror of the show is the people themselves. A group of people stuck on the cold and frozen Arctic Ocean, unable to move forward or go back, slowly being poisoned by something in the food and “losing it”… that’s the premise basically. It’s a slow burn horror show if you could call it that. Lots of character development, some amazing camera work, and the environment itself plays a role and is well captured. Think “Lord of the Flies” meets “The Leftovers”.

A lot of the scenes are setup in a way where you’d expect something to happen. Like a monster attack for instance. But nothing happens. The camera lingers ever slightly slow and you tense in your seat waiting for something… but nope. It’s almost as if the writers/ directors know you expect that and so toy with it to break you out of that expectation. This is a different sort of horror, they want to say, you are not going to get mindless gore and violence. :)

Got to watch season two now. It’s a different story, that’s good. I love it when shows have separate seasons that are only united thematically but don’t have any common story or characters.

Stop Palo Alto GlobalProtect on macOS from launching automatically

I had installed Palo Alto GlobalProtect on my macOS as part of work sometime. The silly thing always launches when I login (minimized thankfully, so that’s something) and there’s no option to quit it nor to set it as never launch upon login. Moreover, if I close it via Activity Monitor it just comes back again. Irritating!

Today I finally decided to do something about it. (This week and past I have been cleaning up my MacBook Pro, removing a lot of the clutter etc).

GlobalProtect on macOS is loaded by launchd thanks to two plist files in /Library/LaunchAgents. You can read about launchd in this link. I happened to know about it because that is the new/ preferred way of even scheduling tasks in macOS as opposed to cron for instance. If you open this file on your machine you will see that 1) it is set to load at run and 2) it is set to be kept alive in that if the application shuts down it will be launched again. I wanted to know how to change that and this post turned out to be useful. It tells you how to change whether an application is loaded at runtime or not, and also how to tweak with the exit behavior.

I decided to 1) set GlobalProtect to not load at run time, and 2) if I do close it after launching then not start again. The change was simple and here’s a git diff of the changes to the two files for easy viewing:

The changes are simple. Change two <true> keys to <false> and also modify a KeepAlive key to not do anything if the program is successfully exit.

After that do a launchctl unload each of the .plist files (no need to use sudo). This will quit GlobalProtect for you. Then on just launch GlobalProtect manually as you do any other program; and to quit it kill it via Activity Monitor.

Netflix Stuff

“In the Shadow is the Moon” started off great as a murder mystery set in the 80s and 90s but then became sci-fi and I didn’t enjoy it that much. It became another one of those sci-fi movies that Netflix has. Which is a shame, I had high hopes for the movie when it began.

“In the Tall Grass” was a pleasant surprise. I chanced upon some reviews before watching it and they gave me the impression the movie wasn’t that great. Turns out they were wrong. There are some pretty bad Stephen King book adaptations (I am looking at you “Pet Semetary” and “Mr. Mercedes”) but this is not one of them. Good scary stuff, if you like such movies definitely watch this.

I am also enjoying the “Criminal” series on Netflix. Saw far I’ve seen the UK, France, and Germany ones and enjoyed them. Saw one episode of Spain, waiting to see the rest. Each episode is different, so don’t be fooled into thinking it’s just the same 3 stories set in four different languages. The David Tenant one was a disappointment though mainly coz I started with it and had high hopes considering it’s David Tenant.