James O'Neill's Blog

August 31, 2006

Virtual server 2005 R2 SP1 Beta2 goes live – so does Virtual Machine Manager Beta 1.

Filed under: Virtualization — jamesone111 @ 9:16 pm

I had a mail this morning which I think is worth sharing. And not to poke fun at the unwieldy names we come up with. Service Pack 1 for Release 2 of Virtual Server 2005 is now in beta 2.   Why is this Service pack interesting ? Well, to quote from the mail, it includes:

  • AMD Virtualization (AMD-V) compatibility
  • Intel Virtualization Technology (IVT) compatibility
  • Volume Shadow Copy Service support
  • Offline VHD mounting
  • Active Directory integration using service connection points
  • Host Clustering technical white paper

To download SP1 Beta 2, select the Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 Beta program from the list of available programs that appear when you complete the registration process on Microsoft connect

When I went to Microsoft Connect I found another piece of news on the home page. VMM… Or  rather MSCVMM – What’s that ?

Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager is an enterprise management application for the virtualized data center that enables increased physical server utilization, centralized management of virtual infrastructure and rapid provisioning of new virtual machines by the administrator and end users.

System Center Virtual Machine Manager has one goal – Make Windows the best platform for virtualization.

I had Coffee with Clive earlier, and his blog has the guide to VMM. Impressive piece of work.  

Tagged as Microsoft Virtualization

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

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August 30, 2006

Builds of Vista. And all I can say (for now) about RC-1

Filed under: Beta Products,Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 4:27 pm

Here is some Vista build information

Build 5456 was the June CTP (community technology preview) build

Build 5472 was the July CTP. Quick arithmetic: they are 16 apart, lets add keep adding 16s

Build 5488 Hmm, can’t find this one. Add another 16

Build 5504 was an internal build. Builds from here are suffixed .16384  (interesting number) and the build date, if a minor change is made the build becomes .16385, 16386 etc.  Add 16 again

Build 5520 was the internal build I was running when I blogged last week. Next!

Build 5536 was the one with the Bat-out-of-Hell performance (comparatively speaking) that got people excited last week. I upgraded to it yesterday, and it is available for download. However, if you’re patient, you’ll wait for RC-1. Roll on 16 more.

Build 5552 – a bit of fuss followed 5536 suggesting that this build was “Out” if this did see the light of day it appears to be by mistake  so add another 16

Build 5568. Here’s a story from Paul Thurrott on Monday.

“According to my sources, Microsoft plans to finalize Vista RC1 this afternoon. The build, 5568.16384, will ship internally today and will be seeded to customers next week if all goes well …. ” .

That’s the 3 parts of the build number. If he’s right it will be 5568.16384.060828. He continues:

“So here’s the schedule. Microsoft plans to ship RC1 publicly sometime in early September, probably right after Labor Day.” 

Being British I don’t know anything about Labor day (I just assumed that it was when Americans got together to eat Meatloaf or something) is falls on September 4th.

I’ll cast a little doubt on the article, because Paul talks about numbers of bugs (down, he says, from 825 bugs on August 5th to 7 on August 28th) . The number of “active” bugs is pretty sensitive and if someone has disclosed it their life may be a shade uncomfortable. With all the petty little things that go in the database as a bug and given that I know 2 that are still open, I’m sceptical. [Yes folks, that was a Microsoft person saying “No! I’m sure we have MORE  bugs than that”]  This morning I had a mail regarding my one of my bugs (%msft% appearing where the text should have said Microsoft – that’s how small a bug can be) and talking about the release of RC-1.  Was it built on Monday ? Yesterday ? Not built Yet ? Was the Main build number 5568, or did we go on to 5584 or even a nice round 5600 ? Was the minor number 16384 or 16385 or 16386 or higher ? Enough questions: dare I leak the news ?

Actually No, I daren’t. Should Paul be happy with his prediction then? Lets just say he shouldn’t be sad. And “available right after Labor day” ? Probably.

Update. I’m glad I didn’t leak that “news” – it was wrong in one important respect, but “right after labor day” still rates a probably.

Tagged as Microsoft Windows Vista

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

Virtual PC round-up

Filed under: Uncategorized — jamesone111 @ 10:42 am

Three bits of news that I should mention although if you monitor the Virtual PC home page, you’ll know all this already.

  1. Virtual PC is FREE. This will carry forward into the next version. The change was made in July, following the lead set by virtual server. You could be forgiven for missing this as we didn’t even put out a press release. 
    Why are we doing this ? To quote Ben ArmstrongMicrosoft views vitalization as a tool.  Virtual PC is used for a number of reasons, but the primary reasons are for development and test scenarios and application compatibility.  We already provide Virtual PC as part of MSDN for development and test users, and given that all our other application compatibility tools are free – charging for Virtual PC did not make much sense.” 
  2. Virtual PC 2007 is in preparation, although we have not yet set a date for a beta you can read the first of the documentation
  3. Software assurance customers who licenese Windows Vista Enterpise will be licensed for up to four instances of the OS (or downgrades of it) on the same computer. 

The Windows Vista Enterprise page hasn’t caught up with this – there is no reference to the “4 instance license” and it still refers to Virtual PC express which I think is now dead. The Software assurance page only mentions enterprise edition so it’s not clear if SA customers can get this with Ultimate edition. I’ll try to find out …

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

August 28, 2006

Windows Marketplace now open …

Filed under: Beta Products,Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 11:36 am

I found a reference to this on Ed Bott’s blog according to what he say a couple of days ago the store has opened a few hours ahead of schedule.  Ed describes getting to this page from the performance settings in Vista. It is also available from the Welcome center, or via the Control Panel programs section. Or you can just go there directly. Interestingly although there is mobile software there, the Mobile device center links somewhere else in “programs and services”

Tagged as Microsoft Windows Vista

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

DRM: is there a lesson in cricket’s PR disaster ?

Filed under: Exchange,General musings,Security and Malware — jamesone111 @ 10:43 am

I think the world of the people I’m working with at the moment, and of my previous manager too. But it wasn’t always so. Some of the people I worked with in the past showed me the that anything you say in e-mail can be used in evidence against you: I learnt the value of digital rights management the hard way.

In the roughly 20 years I’ve been working, I’ve made 2 offers to walk away from jobs. I think a legal agreement still covers one, and the other was on the second day of a job when it appeared that in taking the job I’d created a huge conflict of interest issue: it turned out to be a storm in a teacup; but it seemed for a while as if the only honorable course was to walk away.

Last week’s Cricket match between England and Pakistan ended in chaos and people blamed the umpire. Having some idea what it feels like I would have gone the Umpires’ manager (Doug Cowie) and said “You can’t really fire me. However a lot of people would rather I wasn’t here. I can’t afford to lose my income. Can we do a deal?”. He did so, by e-mail which has now come to light. Cowie forwarded the mail to his boss, the Chief Executive (wouldn’t most people ?). Both of them decided Hair’s offer was the wrong course.

As the offer could be relevant to Pakistan’s defence in the disciplinary case that will follow, the ICC’s lawyers told them to disclose the mail and they went public rather than see it leak – now the media are reporting Umpire Darrell Hair offered to quit in exchange for $500,000 (£266,000), the International Cricket Council has said. as if he were seeking a bribe. 

I’ve been wondering if Umpire Hair had used DRM on his mail would it have gone public in the same damaging way ? 

[Addendum] He is trying to put his point of view . I was thinking in the Gina Ford saga about “History is written by the winners”. Usually we mean that history is written afterwards and the losers don’t get a say. In a world dominated by PR it works the other way. Those who control the story come out on top. Any referee or umpire gets criticism: Hair can shrug that off. People have implied he is a racist and he should be able to persuade impartial observers that he isn’t. This e-mail has meant that his integrity has been called into question. No-one can endure negative press for ever.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

August 26, 2006

Zune news. No FM transmitter (yet) it seems.

Filed under: Music and Media — jamesone111 @ 11:43 am

I’m going to stick my neck out and be (I think) the first Microsoft blogger to tell you where to get details of the Zune.

It’s widely known that Zune will have wireless functions and that means for the US market it needs FCC approval. Some people who watch the FCC web site have found this link.  It seems Zune will be made by Toshiba. The best photos are found at the end of the Test report – which says there are 3 models designated 1089 1090 and 1091which are simply different colours. There may be further models with additional functions …

The test report says nothing about FM transmission – which was one of the things I said might tempt me to buy one. The user guide was looks very rough band still seems to be using the code names “Argo” and “Pyxis” which seems to be someone else’s trade mark.  Interestingly someone had leaked the code name to engadget… What it says about wireless and other users is:

Using the Wireless communication.
Turning on wireless:
In order to use wireless sharing feature such as “send’ and “DJ” you will need to turn on your device’s wireless capabilities… …your device will be discoverable by other Pyxis device and also be capable of searching for other Pyxis devices in range.

Sending Content:
Once your wireless setting is set to on, you will be able to send and receive photos and promotional copies of songs, albums, and playlists from other Pyxis users…  …You will  be presented with a“nearby” list containing any Pyxis devices that have their wireless setting on and are in range. Select one (and only one) device from the list and a notification will appear on that device allowing that user to accept or reject your send.

DJing Content:

Pyxis allows you to stream music to up to 4 other Pyxis devices. … If you chose DJ:on, anyone (max 4 at one time) can listen in to the same music that you are currently listening to. If you chose DJ: friends, only people in your friends list can listen in. If you choose DJ:off, no one can listen to your music but you can still tune in to other people who have their DJ setting turned on.

Friend requests:
You can invite other Argo members that you meet to be your friends wirelessly via Pyxis.

Sounds to me like the wireless is an adhoc peer-peer arrangement. Nothing in here suggests that the device will be able to connect to home network to play through an XBox 360, or get recorded TV from media center, or download from a PC without USB … never mind connect directly to the internet. Whether than is a matter of documentation or whether the features are missing is anybody’s guess.

Tagged as Microsoft Zune

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

August 25, 2006

Blog spam

Filed under: Uncategorized — jamesone111 @ 11:46 pm

I’ve had enough. There are so many robot created spam posts to the comments to this blog – I’ve just removed 60 and accidentally removed one valid comment in the process – that I’ve made 2 changes.


One is to cap posting at 7 days. The other is that I’m going to moderate anonymous posts from now on. The people who provide us with the site software are working on a better solution.


 

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

Vista – we’re getting closer and closer.

Filed under: Beta Products,Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 7:13 pm

Around the office loads of people have been saying the pretty much same thing… and before the management get nervous this has nothing to with it being “bonus season” right now. It’s been  “Have you tried the new build” . I haven’t noticed this before


Vista is approaching the next major milestone: it’s first “Release Candidate”. Ordinary Microsoft employees (i.e. those who aren’t Vista Developers) , are now running a build which, if it doesn’t turn out to be the one to be made available externally is at least very close to it.  You can tell this because the Internet explorer team have released their Release Candidate for XP, it’s worth paying their blog a visit just for the IE 7 quick reference sheet


The previous builds have had one major problem for me – the Nvidia driver for my Toshiba M3 wasn’t up to scratch. Odd behavior included failing to turn the screen back on when the machine came back from sleep – so I had to use hibernate. If IE was open when I hibernated when I went back some pages would “strobe” as I moved the mouse. Both of these things have been fixed. I’ve known for a long time what a difference drivers make and that drivers cause more windows issues than anything else. I’ve been living that for the last couple of months – a decent (but still not perfect) driver means this Toshiba doesn’t seem “lousy” anymore, Visa feels better.


Then there are some things about Vista itself which are clearly better than 5472 – the July community technology preview build. I’d been running that for 3 weeks and although faster than my previous build, I described the performance as “lumpy” – it would have an unresponsive moment now and then – not to any pattern. That’s gone, my 2GHz machine feels like a 2GHz machine. The time from log-on to starting work has been reduced so dramatically that I can only wonder what on earth was happening before. The time to come back from sleep (now that I can use it) is not much different from the time to come back from a screen saver.   Overall speed is better: Outlook Web Access explodes onto the screen faster than I’ve seen it before. Battery use is better – I don’t hear the Toshiba audible procesing indicator (fan) half as much which may be part of it.


It’s not perfect – I reported a bug: if you delete properties you have set on a picture you can’t edit them again – given what I said about using the Index for photography this is a pain. Soon after filing the report I got a flurry of mail from the product group who thought I’d found a variation of something they had fixed – this ended with a remote session for me to verify that their fix works – though I don’t know if will be in RC-1. I don’t think I would have seen such responsiveness if the team in question had been up to their eyes in bugs.  


Postscript. While I was editting the above, Steve posted his entry The latest internal build of Windows Vista is REALLY GOOD he says we seem obsessed with build numbers – I hadn’t noticed it before.


Bonus links
As we get closer to shipping vista we can see the funny side. There’s this movie which originated in Microsoft (thanks Steve for the reminder) and this song, which didn’t (thanks Scoble)


Tagged as Microsoft Windows Vista


 


 

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

In lieu of a cartoon of my own …

Filed under: Events,General musings — jamesone111 @ 3:32 pm

I’m prone to “writer’s block” -or as I call it the “tyranny of the blank sheet of paper”. Starting a document or presentation, creating a photograph (as opposed to recording an event) or drawing a cartoon can impossible (I blogged about mind mapping which is can be a great help for these). I want to do a cartoon each Friday but I just can’t draw anything at the moment.

Eileen was giving me a toughtougher than usual time yesterday about because I haven’t taken expensed any lunches or drinks with influencial people. (This job can be tough sometimes). She gave me strict instructions that I must buy a round at the Girl Geek Dinner in London next week … so let me link you to this Cartoon of Hugh’s (hopefully the dinner venue will have Stormhoek)

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

August 22, 2006

Microsoft and open source. IE and Firefox

Filed under: Internet Explorer,Linux / Open Source — jamesone111 @ 10:26 pm

Here’s Something I bet most people most people thought they’d never see.  (Thanks to Information week). We’re making sure we help Firefox development.

We have an Open Source Software Lab in Redmond – they have an interesting web site at  http://port25.technet.com.  It makes a good story to portray Microsoft and the open source world as engaged in a full blooded fight to the death; but life is rarely that simple. A lot of Microsoft customers have some open source software (and Vice versa), as well as wanting to understand what we’re competing with, we want things to work well for our customers.

We’d rather people made IE their browser of choice. But if they’re going to run Firefox, we don’t want them to have a rotten experience of their Windows system as a result. And we’d certainly prefer them to use firefox on Vista than use it on XP or something even older. No sense in detering people from upgrading because the browser they happen to prefer doesn’t work so well on the new OS.

I also read a great post on the IE team blog this evening, they’ve set out a list of things that are fixed in CSS support, but the key stuff is at the end – there is tons of information around IE 7, you can start at the Information Index for IE 7.

A couple of things I’d pick out are the IE 7 Readiness Toolkit and the Checklists for Developers IT professionals and consumers if you support web clients or servers, this tells you where you should concentrate your efforts.

Tagged as Microsoft Windows Vista IE Internet Explorer Firefox Open Source

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

Putting Vista’s index to work.

Filed under: Blogcasts,Photography,Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 2:13 pm

You can go straight to the blogcast if you don’t want to read the text …





Click for Larger imageClick for Larger image Stitched together... click for Larger image Before and after... click for Larger image

Last weekend I went with an old friend, David, and my daughter to watch the “Grand Prix Masters” which is now the only motor sport where the drivers are older than I am. There was a race for historic Formula one cars and, for those with the right tickets (not us), a Katie Melua concert afterwards. It seemed like a good way to spend an August day.

The weather was, “cold and dank and wet” to quote Michael Flanders on August. I had my camera but with rain drops on the filter that protects the lens, and lousy light it wasn’t a great photography day. Security was relaxed and we could look around the pits – taking in the two seat GP Masters car – and then “doorstep” the VIP lounge. I was able to do my impression of a member of the paparazzi and snap a couple of the drivers coming and going. Katie Melua emerged in a crush of people and I was (just) on the ball enough to realise the fuss wasn’t for a driver and get some reasonable pictures of her. You can see the results on the left. I was told you need a faster camera than mine to grab shots like this; David’s camera can focus faster and he didn’t get the shot. I did. Ha Ha. Replying to the “faster camera” advocate I said my Pentax can use standard batteries which the faster ones don’t: on Sunday I’d forgotten to put freshly charged ones in the camera and ended up using batteries I bought at the track. The best camera is always one you can use.


If you’re still reading you may be asking is he going to talk about software at all ?

When we got home, I put the memory card from the Camera into my laptop, and did a couple of quick edits with Microsoft Digital Image Suite – the only fancy thing I did was to make a single picture of the 2 seater car which I’d had to shoot in two halves. Mostly I was just tweaking the contrast curves a little, straightening and/or cropping the images, and retouching out the odd spot. The results are on the left. David asked what I was using. I’ll admit that I don’t evangelize about Digital Image Suite – I have a bit of an inferiority complex about it, as a serious photographer shouldn’t I be using Photoshop ? David’s view was different. “This is what I need. Photoshop is too complex, this does just the things that I want”. I can recognize that – it was what I talked about with Writer, and I keep saying the best camera is always one you can use.


What I do evangelize about, of course, is Windows Vista. So when David asked “What do you use to organize your photos” he should have guessed what was coming. I said back in May that No photo filing system I’ve found works, and made the link with my work on the early Sharepoint. I know photographers with a couple of terabytes of space at home. There is only so much you can do with a hierarchical file system – you hit the problem of things that belong in more than one place. Do I want to file the Motor racing pictures by car, or by team or by race meeting ? When you have lots of anything you need search: and you need to search more than just the text. It is not only music, video and photos that need to be found by their properties – I want to find things like “that document of Barry’s from last year”. Or “The picture of a turtle that Kathy took” or “Nigel Mansell driving a Williams F1 Car” or “Pictures with [my daughter’s friend] Alice in them”. The problem with cataloging software is that it implements it’s own meta data store. The data isn’t store in the picture file header – entering it is often painful, and it isn’t understood by anything else. By attaching the meta data to the file it becomes sticky (a lesson I learnt with sharepoint). And the search index is accessible to other applications – Daniel gave me a link to where he blogged a couple of sources for information on doing this in Vista. Do explorer and Photo Gallery in Vista amount to the last word in photo management ? No – but anyone developing software to do it in future would be stupid not use the fields that Vista users will enter – and stupid not to use the existing index. That’s what a good OS is supposed to – provide great services which allow developers to write fantastic applications.  Did I say I was evangelical about Vista ?

After pushing this post around for a few days I realised you can’t appreciate indexing without seeing it.
You can view the resulting blogcast on Vista search here. I had to use remote desktop because Windows media encoder and Vista don’t get on at the moment – and te result won’t play in my current build of Windows Media Player 11 (though vista’s Movie maker will play it … sigh)


About half way though the video I mention that a couple of tags are out of sequence, and I forgot to go back and explain that Lisa (Friends and Family) is actually \Friends and Family\Lisa and the Windows Vista Photo Gallery will show this as a proper hierarchy – showing all friends and family, and then dividing them into different individuals. Next time maybe I’ll work to a script:-) As usual comments are welcome


Tagged as Microsoft Windows Vista Search Photos

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

August 21, 2006

Feeling stupid Part II

Filed under: Events — jamesone111 @ 8:46 am

I like the advice given by the conductor Sir Thomas Beacham about “Try everything once, except incest and country dancing”, so Eileen didn’t have to do much to persuade me to join her at the next Girl Geek Dinner in London.  I’m not sure what to expect: the guest speaker is Abigail Sellen from Microsoft research.  Steve has her picture and a link to her bio on his blog. One shouldn’t jump to conclusions based on a picture, but Abigail doesn’t look ancient and decrepit… According to the biography she has managed to work in some pretty top drawer places, “So” I thought “she must have missed out univeristy”: wrong she has degrees from univerisities in the US and Canada. “OK” I tought “she can’t have much of a home life”, wrong again she’s married with 3 children and 2 cats. Steve and I will see if we can get some material for talking Microsoft and the first question to Abigail would have to be “how have managed to fit so much in ?” If she’s a good speaker on top of this, then I may have to shoot myself 😉

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

August 20, 2006

Would Apple sue Scoble’s new company ?* . Don’t Google for Podcasts. And other stuff from my weekend reading.

Filed under: Apple,Beta Products,General musings,Music and Media,RSS — jamesone111 @ 3:16 pm

Before I was working for Microsoft,  I read Douglas Coupland’s book “Microserfs”. I visited Redmond in1997 and was amazed how close it was to the book. Half a dozen pages in Coupland writes “WinQuote … gives continuouse updates on Microsoft’s NASDAQ price … Most staffers peek at Winquote a few times a day … Last April Fools day someone fluctuated the price up and down by fifty dollars and half the staff had coronaries”


The value of stock roughly halved after I joined Microsoft in 2000 (not that I’m bitter about that), and we’re not quite so obsessive about it. But I  looked at last week’s stock buy back offer and felt “It must be worth more than that”.  According to The Financial Times I wasn’t alone. Disclaimer. This is not investment advice: consult someone qualified. The value of Microsoft shares can go up as well as down. Etc.


While I’m on the subject of Coupland. Some family friends recently opened a bookshop, and I picked up his latest “JPOD” last time I was in there (though I haven’t started it yet). JPOD is billed as “Microserfs for the Google Generation”, by the way, I love the home page for the JPOD book-site – and not just because the music listing includes an obscure cover of a Gary Numan song which I happen to have. I can’t remember the last home page I loved.


Back at the Financial times I read that Coupland or his publisher could be on the wrong end of writs from Apple and Google, who both appear to have been studying at the Gina Ford school of public relations.  Google want people to stop using their name as a verb. I can only think of a few tradenames which have become generic (like Kleenex) and also become a verb (you don’t Kleenex your nose though you might Hoover your carpet, or Xerox your documents).  Google don’t want me to talk about “googling” something on Windows Live Search, but while defending a trademark is all fine and good, “you can’t put the toothpaste back in the genie bottle” as one blogger put itThe Independent reports Dictionaries already include the verb “to google” and I was first aware of people using it in print when I read William Gibson’s 2003 novel “Patern Recognition” where it appears on the second page. In case you didn’t know, Gibson is famous as the man who coined the term “Cyberspace”.


Any Cricket fan will know of the term “Googly” maybe it will come to describe a kind of behaviour, and we’ll have to refine the verb “to Google” as “to search for people using terms to which you claim rights” , if Apple turn googly, they may complain about Coupland’s tittle as they claim to own the word “Pod”. I don’t know what we’re supposed to call the things peas come out of (no… not “freezers”) or groups of whales. I always thought that it was the ‘i’ part of iMac, iPod, iTunes, iPhoto, iWeb, iLife which was the Apple specific part. Apple have gone after the makers of a datalogger called “profit pod”. If Yell can accuse Yellow wikis of passing off for using the colour yellow, how long before a name like Podtech attracts a “cease and desist” letter from Apple.


Robert Scoble is Podtech’s famous employee. He picked up a link from someone with no hands on experience of Zune, who asserts that it won’t have support for Podcasting: presumably non-Apple devices won’t be allowed to call it that . Robert, knows more about RSS than that, he linked to one of my posts about it.  Podcasting support is not in the iPod device, but the iTunes software. Sadly, I’ve no inside information about the Zune and I find the Zune blog by a Microsoft employee to be pretty feeble: so I’m forced to rely the same leak as everone else. That says nothing about the PC software and says that Wifi was disabled on the test device. Who knows what it will be able to fetch over wireless ?


That Zune story contains a reason why (if true) I might want one: built in FM transmitter. I was reading The 10 most annoying car innovations. My Citroen C5 has 5 of these 10 (and the automatic wipers and lights work well. It has lane departure warning – because it would have prevented an accident I was involved in last year). However Citroen have removed the Cassette player – it has a 6 CD multi-changer and a further CD player in the dash. I have to use an FM adapter to play WMAs and MP3 – which I do from my phone but it is such a fiddle to set up I rately bother. An FM transmitter would mean I could play music in the car and on any of the radios dotted round the house. This would be an inspired move, but who knows. Producing the player of choice for in-car use wouldn’t hurt the stock price.


Tagged as Microsoft Zune Apple  iPod Legal Google Gina Ford Yellow wikis


* Note I have no idea if they intend to or not: I’ve subtley changed the title from the original post so it doesn’t imply that they will.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

August 18, 2006

Feeling Stupid (part 1)

Filed under: Beta Products,General musings,Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 1:36 pm

Two quotes for the day


I am the final silence
The last electrician alive
And they called me the sparkle
I was the best, I worked them all ….


and


Roy: There’s only two of us now.
Pris: Then we’re stupid and we’ll die.


The second is the from Blade runner.  Oddly the page where I found the lyrics for the first says it makes him think of Blade runner.


The what made me think of this was I’ve been teasing Eileen on and off for being a Luddite (or as  Darren would say a staller rather than an Installer)  over the time it’s taken her to move to Vista.


My build of Vista has been messed around with so much that things are breaking on it and last night I put the spare hard disk in and installed a clean copy of vista that I could do some demos with. This morning I swapped the hard disks back and Vista refused to boot, claiming that a key file couldn’t be loaded. It told me to run the repair tools from the DVD. Since it was still in the drive, I did. The repair process told me that it had found a problem with my boot environment, would I like to repair and restart. Sure … I mean … in that situation, who wouldn’t. and  Normal Service is Resumed.


I’ve no idea what happened to the my machine, or what Vista fixed. AND THIS TROUBLES ME. I’ve understood BOOT.INI files, and the job of NTLDR, and NTDETECT.COM for the last 13 years. I feel like shouting at the computer …. “I’m technical !! Tell me what was wrong, and how you fixed it” . I know that I don’t need to know this, but not knowing bothers me. Still, it took me ages to be happy with plug and play systems where interrupts and like were set automatically. Some days I feel like “I’m the last electrician alive” …

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

August 14, 2006

Interview with the MD

Filed under: Uncategorized — jamesone111 @ 4:12 pm

There are days I jump in with both feet. One of those was the day that Gordon Frazer was announced as our new MD. He seemed approachable, so I pitched him my idea to bring something like Channel 9 to the UK… wouldn’t it be great to do the first interview with him ? Eileen was out of the country at the time but after a quick exchange of text messages, she thought it was a good idea too.  Gordon said yes – which, as it turned out was the easy part. It’s taken a week to get the video edited and posted, but Talking Microsoft is live with its first video for all to see, and we now know the process so future videos won’t take so long. [Note to self: don’t use the MD to learn on in future…] 

To save you can going there you can click to play (WMV format) or click to download (Zipped WMV).  And if you’ve got comments, or suggestions for future interviews please post them with the video

I said it would be a day of Links. And thanks to Steve who was my producer and cameraman.  

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

X-box 360 and the "You tube of games"

Filed under: Xbox — jamesone111 @ 11:57 am

Yes, the BBC got my attention with that headline too.  Here’s the official press release.  This is the launch of XNA Framework, a custom implementation of the .NET Compact Framework for game development.

Dan Fernadez has a great summary  and a great collection of links on his blog. The talk is all about C# express, there is a tantalizing comment that “Since the XNA Framework is a set of managed code libraries, you can use any managed .NET Framework language.” … It opens up the rather odd possibility that you can write for the X-box in CoBOL ????

It seems like today might be a day of links, so here’s a Bonus Link: After trying out VB express with some enthusiasm, I was going to write about about how it’s a great time for the hobbyist programmer – but Dan’s written that one too.

Tagged as Microsoft Xbox XNA

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

Windows Live Writer

Filed under: Uncategorized — jamesone111 @ 8:09 am

Several of my recent blog posts have been made with a new Microsoft tool. Writer is branded as part of Windows live but it supports a range of blogging plaforms. It is can’t do as much as Word 2007 with the blog post template and there are times times when I prefer to use an all purpose tool (like word). There are also times when something simpler and designed for the task seems more elegant. And that’s the niche writer fills.


If you keep a blog of your own, check it out


Tagged as Microsoft Windows writer
 blogging

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

August 11, 2006

Vista Power plans – get exactly what you want

Filed under: Beta Products,How to,Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 3:37 pm

Back when beta 2 came out I read Scot Finnie’s article on ComputerWorld “20 things you won’t like about Windows Vista “. I was shocked: with a whole new operating system to aim at he came up with 20 really lame things. I took it as a sign that we’d done really well when 5th place went to “Faulty assumption on the Start Menu.“. I don’t normally single out people for whining and sarcasm but this stuck in my memory.


In its supreme state of being, Microsoft knows precisely what’s best for you. It knows that because its well-implemented new Sleep mode uses very little electricity and also takes only two or three seconds to either shut down or restart, you want to use this mode to “turn off” your computer, whether you realize it or not. It wants to teach you about what’s best. It wants to make it harder for you to make a mistake. That’s why it crafted the Shutdown area at the lower right-hand corner of the Start menu to make the large red Sleep button and the large blue Lock buttons very prominent. Meanwhile, the button that offers a pop-up menu with options like Switch User, Log Off, Restart and Shutdown is a teeny-tiny little arrow hanging off the edge of the Start menu. They know you’ll find it there, but they’re making it just a little harder for you to access by making the surface area so small that it’s harder to click. So long as Microsoft gets you to do what it wants you to do, it doesn’t matter that it’s torturing the user experience in the process.


I like to have the power button hibernate the machine, and have it go to sleep if I just close the lid, but with my recent update I found they were both doing the same thing. It took a moment to find it under, Power options in control panel, and  click change plan settings, then Change Advanced Power Settings,



powerOptions.jpg


you can change a whole range of settings, including changing the default on the start menu.   This can be controlled using group policy like the other power settings.  If you don’t like the default in the beta then give us feedback. If you don’t like the default when we ship, now you know what to do to change it.  


Tagged as Microsoft Windows Vista

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

On current events

Filed under: Real Time Collaboration — jamesone111 @ 12:09 pm

Eileen wrote Recently “Companies are still in the dark about Real Time Communications, some people view it as a waste of time and an invasion into their work time. “





You can get a 14 day free trial of live meeting and this video shows where we’re going with RTC – personally I can’t wait for roundtable..


I’ve averaged an intercontintal flight every 6 weeks for the last year and half. Most of that was when I worked in MCS and my time was billed out at £200 per hour. Between the departure terminal and the flight I might use my laptop for 10 hours on a flight; I’ve answered key mails from my phone while waiting to board the aircraft. Deny me those, and the cost of lost work runs into thousands is more than the price of the air ticket.

Microsft travel advice says “There is a significant risk checked laptops without special transport cases will be damaged in transit”. The big suitcase that came with me on my last trip bears scars from baggage handling staff – and I fly mostly from the airport known as Theifrow. If my laptop or Cameras have to go in the hold that makes a stressful process worse. And I can’t even put my headphones on and escape into my own private bubble.

I hope things get back to normal soon, because I sure don’t want to fly as things are.


Update: August 16th, things are moving back towards sanity and laptops are allowed on planes again. But British Airways alone thinks it has lost 10,000 bags some containing people’s car and house keys. Half of which have been reunited with their owners. How many laptops an cameras are missing presumed stolen (and uninsured) is anyone’s guess.  

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

August 9, 2006

Updates on a couple of Vista bugs.

Filed under: Beta Products,Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 4:24 pm

I mentioned a few days ago that the Windows Media Player in Vista no-longer supports my smartphone. Here is the response I got back from the product team

The [driver on the phone had ] “legacy” mode for versions of CE WMP older than [wmp10] and up-to-date syncable capabilities for versions [wmp10]  and later.  We had to abandon legacy device drivers due to ongoing incompatibilities and lack of support from the manufacturers of other devices which used this driver model… … we’re sorry about the timing, several contacts with various vendors needed to be completed, which kept us from completing this work prior to beta 2.

I know there was an update available from Orange to move the C500 from WMP 9 to WMP10. Looks like if I’m going to keep the phone for any length of time I’m going have to get that installed. Of course I’m hoping for an upgrade (which will, no doubt kick of a bunch of upgrades). But I’m not holding my breath.

I also mentioned the issue with Scheduling and defrag I said there that the fix was to change the scheduling options, I’ve heard back from the product team are lookin at having a scheduled defrag “back off” if it notices user activity which is a smarter thing to do. We’ll have to wait and see if that is what finally happens.

Tagged as Microsoft Windows Vista

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

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