James O'Neill's Blog

November 30, 2006

Strange piece of Tech-ed IT-Forum follow up.

Filed under: Uncategorized — jamesone111 @ 7:18 pm

If you are in the UK you are probably aware of the death of the Alexander Litvinenko, and the on-going investigation into some of British Airways’s Boeing 767s. It appears one of these aircraft was working on the London Heathrow – Barcelona route during the week of Tech-ed IT-Forum. The flights involved are flights BA478 (from London at 07:25) and BA479 (From Barcelona at 11:35). I flew BA, but not on the affected flights. More information is available from a link on BA’s Home Page, including what to do if you were on one of them.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.


November 29, 2006

Change the world or go home ?

Filed under: Uncategorized — jamesone111 @ 10:57 am


Hugh Mcleod’s cartoon has a bit of a following in Microsoft, (it’s only a matter of time before we see it on T-Shirts round here).  I like it because I like ambiguity in pictures, slogans and the like and Hugh gives 5 possible meanings on his blog.

I’ve mentioned the interviews I did in Barcelona and I always think the best interview are the ones where the interviewer knows what their interviewee has to say and asks just enough to entice them into saying it, hopefully giving the interview a theme. This is why I like Midweek on Radio 4 ; which I managed to catch this morning. One of the guests was John Wood who has published a book called  Leaving Microsoft to Change the World, about setting up Room to Read.   For the next few days the program will be on the Radio 4 Listen Again page. John saw the need to help educate children when he visited Nepal. His choice: Go back to his job at Microsoft and forget what he’d seen, or try to change the world. Interestingly this choice Change the world, or go home (to Microsoft) is one which Hugh leaves under “and so forth”.

For those who can’t take such a big step as John, but feel they want to do something, have a look at DigitalPipeline, which puts old but usable PCs to use in education in the developing world. Sometimes, changing the world begins at home.


This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

November 27, 2006

Huskies, Cats … oh and a whale for good measure.

Filed under: Uncategorized — jamesone111 @ 10:45 pm

My Colleague Mike Pallot keeps an interesting blog, which I’m slightly ashamed to say I found by accident : a recent entry got me to do a test of my “Personal DNA” which comes back with saying I’m a …

Most of Mike’s stuff is about High Performance Computing and Search. He gives a great analogy for High Performance Computing , Cray Super Computers (like the one I got access to as a student in the mid 1980s) were like race horses, Linux Clusters resemble flocks of chickens that are tough to harness, manage and configure, and Windows Compute Cluster Server is like a team of huskies. Presumably the number one dog in the team is a respectful leader too.

Hmmm. Herding Chickens ? I thought the phrase was “Like herding cats” (I love that commercial – shame it’s only in qucktime). Mike says the analogy made him cry with laughter… now … leaving the office this evening I was listening to Radio 4’s PM program and I heard “A listener contacted us to say they’d found the exploding whale on You tube”. If you don’t know the exploding whale (the story of removing a Dead Whale with Dynamite)  it takes two seconds to find it. And it makes me crry with laughter everytime.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

The customers you don’t want.

Filed under: General musings — jamesone111 @ 9:57 pm

About 1999 someone from Microsoft sent me a cassette tape of a talk called “Selling Consultancy services” and the guy giving the talk threw out a question.

“We and our customers both want exactly the same thing. What is it ?”

And you could hear the audience mumbling – thinking, “we want them to pay us a lot, and they don’t want to”. Eventually the speaker put them out of their misery.

“We both want them to have an excellent experience of our technology”.

I’ve hung on to this ever since because it seems to be the basis of everything I have done in the computer industry. But if you reverse the statement it is also true.  I don’t want customers who can’t have an excellent experience. Sadly some customer needs don’t fit with Microsoft products, if the customer will never be happy with SQL server, better they go to Oracle, if their requirement would make them miserable on Exchange, better they have Notes and so on. The good they do a competitor by being satisfied with their product, is less than the harm they do me by being dissatisfied with mine. But, I think we all know, there are some customers who you just can’t please and I’d rather they were hurting the competition.

I was reminded of this when I was reading someone’s explanation for returning a (new-to-market) camera. He’s not the first camera owner I’ve read where I’ve thought If “I were the camera maker, I’d pay him to go to a different brand”. And before you wonder, no I don’t feel that way about any of  Microsoft customers I’ve met in the last few years.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

November 25, 2006

More on Powershell

Filed under: Powershell,Windows 2003 Server,Windows Server 2008 — jamesone111 @ 1:21 pm

Since it’s the weekend I’m catching up on my reading …

A few days ago I mentioned Richard Siddaway, who is setting up a Powershell user group for the UK. Somehow I failed to mention that Powershell released to the web during Tech-ed IT forum. DOH ! The www.microsoft.com/powershell will take you to the home page where there is a ton of infomation, as well the powershell Download there.

My old freind Thomas Lee dropped Eileen* a message to sat he was is also involved with the user group, and enough people have expressed an interest on his blog alone to get things started.

If you’re looking for more information, the Windows server team have a great post about Powershell on their blog, with a great set of links. I’ve already mentioned the Powershell team’s blog (or rather the presence of Jeffery Snover’s transcript from IT forum there) and a quick seach on Technorati reveals several more.

* I’ve said a few times that I’m enjoying work more since I started working for Eileen; she’s the only boss I’ve had who would have made the post I linked to.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

November 24, 2006

Exchange Vista and Office Launch (for Pedants)

Filed under: Events,Exchange,Office,Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 3:28 pm

I realise that those of you who are prone to bouts of political correctness might describe me as “pro-detail” – and whose who aren’t might call me a Pedantic wassname. You might register for the Exchange/Vista/Office (a.k.a EVO) Launch event perfectly happily but since I first saw the UK version of a the “Ready for a new day” graphic, it’s bugged me that

(a) The London Skyline doesn’t look like that  (and when using artistic License licence- in the style of the old Thames TV logo -one should at least get the parts in the correct sequence – the London eye is the wrong place) .

(b) We have the Sun rising in West.

If this put anyone off registering for the event, here’s how I think it should look


OK ? Now go and register !

Update, thanks to the Pedantic person who pointed out that Pedants had morphed into Pendants. [Sigh …]


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This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

November 23, 2006

Vista Automated Installation Kit (and Windows PE) now available.

Filed under: Events,Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 8:30 am

I’m indebted to Mikey for letting me know that we have now published the kit here. It’s in 3 parts at the moment. There are, an X86, an AMD-64 bit and a Windows PE file, I believe there is also an IA-64 version which has yet to appear.

While I’m tipping my hat to people, I also need to thank Jesper, who pointed out my post “Getting started with Windows PE” relies on using the Windows Vista version of diskpart. He writes: “Diskpart in XP does not recognize removable storage devices like USB flash drives”, and predicts (correctly) that I don’t have XP any more to confirm this.

Finally both Jesper and Mikey were at the event I did in London called “Everything you want to know about Vista imaging”. My slides got uploaded, but someone forgot to add the link to the Technet “post events downloads” page. Thanks to Mike for prompting us to fix this.

Update. Thanks to Mark who pointed out the download for WAIK is no longer working. You can get it as an image file here.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

November 22, 2006

Softgrid: what kind of Voodoo is that ?

Filed under: Virtualization — jamesone111 @ 5:08 pm

At Tech-ed IT forum I did an interview, with Chad Jones who came to Microsoft when we acquired Softricity earlier in the year. I’m was pleased with the interview because I didn’t know much about the product, did my research and was able to ask Chad a set of questions which got him to tell the story of the product pretty well. The only thing that went wrong was I asked a really long question about “People don’t understand the product, is it something like terminal services or more like virtual PC …” and in editing it down the question doesn’t make a lot of senses. Parkinson doesn’t have this problem . Still, if I say so myself, it’s a decent 5 minute intro to Softgrid


This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

Got TechNet ? Get Vista.

Filed under: Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 3:40 pm

I’m not the first to break the news, but Windows Vista was posted on the TechNet subscriber site last Thursday – a day sooner than originally planned.

This is a good time to give out a reminder about the value of TechNet, it’s the must-have toolkit for IT professionals, giving you

  • Access to full version evaluation software, Betas, product keys and Service packs & security updates and TechNet library.
  • 2 free professional technical support incidents (by phone)
  • TechNet Managed Newsgroup support with answers by next business day
  • e-learning, product documentation and white papers .. And more!

There are two options.

  • TechNet Plus Direct: Online offering, no need for CD/DVD, better price! 370€
  • TechNet Plus Single User: same as Direct offering plus the media shipment. 530€

Sorry to only have a price in Euros …


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This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

November 21, 2006

Powershell …

Filed under: Events,Powershell,Windows Server 2008,Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 3:44 pm

I mentioned that one of the negatives of my trip to Barcelona was not getting to sessions and the positives were all around the people I met. I was minding my own business in the speaker room when Eileen got into a Powershell conversation with a man in a most distinctive tie. She had a suggestion for how Powershell could be improved and the man in the tie listened and ended up saying “Can you send me the [something] I’m …. ” Eileen said simply “I know who you are”. After he’d left Eileen turned to me and said “Did you know he was ?” … I didn’t, but from what I’d heard he was connected to Powershell and Eileen knew him when he didn’t expect her to. “That was Jeffery Snover” (and he’s posted a transcript of his session) 

Another guy that I met was Richard Siddaway, who is setting up a Powershell user group for the UK. If your interested in Powershell, go to his blog and register an interest.

You may have seen that the other UK evangelists pitch in and help with user groups – we’ll provide rooms, catering and speakers for them just to make the process easier. I’ve got someone talking to me about a directories user group. Now if anyone there is interested in starting an HPC or Virtualization group with a Microsoft thread to it I’d love to hear from you.


This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

On QuickTime….

Filed under: Apple,Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 11:56 am

I’ve just mentioned a post by Robert Scoble, and I mentioned Photosynth a couple of weeks ago. Before I went to Barcelona, I downloaded  Scoble’s video showing Photosynth – it was in QuickTime .MOV format and I hadn’t put QuickTime onto the build of Vista I was running.

I’ve been raving about Sony’s Bravia advert which is available as a QuickTime download, and since my children like some of the other bit of QuickTime I have this weekend the I reached the point where QuickTime had to go on my system.

Apple’s download page had a link to give feed back for QuickTime on Vista; and I had to tell them what a pain of an application it is. It doesn’t let the Windows mange its Window: it implements its own title bar, and Minimize/Maximize/Restore icons rather than using the standard Vista ones. There’s no system Icon in the top left corner, the Window doesn’t support glass or follow the system colours and font selection. I plugged my Samsung TV in as a secondary monitor and found that if you maximize the QuickTime Window it comes back to the primary screen (a consequence of not letting the OS manage the Window and implementing your own lash-up).

Then there are the “poor citizen under Vista” issues.  The “Rolodex-style” Windows Switcher will show the progress bar moving in QuickTime, but the Video freezes. Quicktime files don’t have preview “Live-icons” and can’t be played in Vista’s preview pane (something which annoys me with Adobe PDF as well). Explorer can’t show or set properties on QuickTime files – like a title, tag or author, but since Apple don’t provide a filter for Vista’s search engine setting meta data wouldn’t give you much benefit.

If I want to play multiple WMV files I can make a play list in Windows Media player. To do this with QuickTime Apple want me to buy the pro version of the software.  If you open multiple Quicktime files they show in separate windows (WMP assumes you want to stop the one you were playing and open the new one in its window), the QuickTime way might be better – except that the instances communicate so that only the foreground plays sound – even though Vista will allow multiple applications to make sounds at the same time.

Why do I need a QuickTime application at all ? Since QuickTime comes with an ActiveX control that can be embedded in a web page it can’t be that difficult (surely) for the Windows

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Media team to embed the control in WMP…

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

November 20, 2006

Long queue for a Wii

Filed under: Xbox — jamesone111 @ 4:48 pm

Every time I see a headline about Nintendo’s new console something puerile in me takes over; sorry but there it is.  

While I’m on the subject of consoles, having seen so much about it I went to see Casino Royale at the weekend. Past Bond films have been over-the-top, and this one was underplayed, and was the better for it. Daniel Craig – and the people who selected him – must feel such a sense of vindication. My only annoyance with the film was the product placement. Virgin’s boss Richard Branson was shown going through an airport X-Ray, before the film we had an excellent version of Sony’s Bravia TV-Ad (no music, real explosions). If that ad had been running earlier in the year I would probably have bought a Sony. The came an advert for the Sony Viao laptop (Bond sends email from one in the film). All the cars in the film are Ford-owned marques – Jaguar, Aston Martin, Volvo as well as Ford, all the electronics are Sony – not just the Viao but Sony phones, and a Sony digital camera. One of the clips before the film shows 007 breaking into M’s home, but not even he can get his hands on a Playstation 3.

Meanwhile Scoble explains why Bill Gates gave this great quote about Xbox 360 to CNet:

CNet: There’s obviously one other big product for the holidays in terms of things that you guys make–XBox 360. You did get the year’s head start this time. There still seems to be pretty strong critical acclaim and demand for PlayStation 3. How do you see that?
Gates: I wouldn’t change positions with them in a million years. I mean, we know what it’s like to be a year late. We feel great about the position that we’re in. And, of course, they’re going to sell a lot in Japan.

You know, Sony can make 80,000 bricks, and people would buy them. So the real competition–you’re going to see the impact of our innovation and all the momentum we have in Christmas 2007. This Christmas, the story is: XBox 360 is going to sell super-well, and they’ll sell the rounding error amounts they can make.

I came back from Barcelona to a message from an old friend asking me if I can get Gears of War. The 360 does have innovation, but Sony’s sales figures being small enough to be “rounding error” Ouch!


This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

Royal Bank of Scotland (and Natwest) just missed my business.

Filed under: Internet Explorer — jamesone111 @ 4:12 pm

[Note: the information below was correct when it was published, please read the update at the end] 

You can judge my loyalty to the Williams F1 team by the fact that – after several miserable years of results, I still call myself a fan. Williams’ main sponsor last year was RBS. I’m thinking about getting a new credit card and I do try to use people who sponsor my teams  – and RBS turns up on a number of lists as one of the better deals right now, I thought it made sense to with them. Sadly – and I say this having worked with some of the RBS IT guys who deal with mail and messaging, RBS has a web site which doesn’t know about IE7

The RBS site says “Please use a recent version of Internet Explorer” – which actually makes matters worse, visit  www.Microsoft.com/IE  and you end up at the IE7 page. I know people in RBS who have been looking at Vista since before the beta 2 release, and so the existence of IE version numbers higher than 6 is not news to them, yet a month after IE7 was released “recent” means IE6 to the web site (which in some people’s eyes is the bank). I could get around this, but it’s easier to take my business somewhere else. I did try Natwest as they are owned by RBS but I got the same thing. As Natwest’s Ads might say my browser: rejected, my account switched.

In case you think this is having go at RBS, it isn’t really. It’s a lesson in how not keeping your site up to date costs you business. Make sure it doesn’t happen to you.

Update. I had a mail this evening from someone who I assume is connected with RBS: the site now accepts IE7. I’ve got their competitors card.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

Back from Barcelona.

Filed under: Uncategorized — jamesone111 @ 3:13 pm

A non technical post … normal service will be resumed shortly.

I’ve been to a couple of Tech-eds and IT forums (fora ? ) before but this one was a whole new experience, mostly because of the work Steve and I are doing for the Virtual side; which meant I didn’t get to see a single session.  

People kept saying “hello” to me. Yes, I know this shouldn’t seem wierd, but my few minutes of fame meant people I’ve never met would say hello, people I had seen for ages were at here and say hello too – putting me through the worry of “If I really do recognize this person, who on earth are they ?” It’s been a reunion for about 10 “alumni” of Microsoft Consulting Services as well, as well as some who are still serving – who seemed a lot happier to say hello than when I was in MCS…  

Shooting for theVirtual side was … …no I can’t sum it up in one word.

I don’t want to lapse into saccharine statements about everyone being lovely, but the truth is that we did get wonderful co-operation from our interviewees; even when it wasn’t totally convenient for them. We made the conference manger turn his radio off to inteview him during a mini crisis and promptly stopped filming to discuss whether we could ask him X,Y or Z. He didn’t turn rude or angry, but made it crystal clear that we needed to get on with the interview – and that was as close as we got to anyone getting annoyed with us; galvanized into action we started recording and got a brilliant piece for the conference wrap up – and then didn’t use it.

There was some tension about what we filmed and used; Steve and I aren’t TV reporters – the success of channel 9 shows that our audience likes the “unvarnished” style (One person told me he likes reading the blogs from the IT pro evangelists, “Because you tell the truth”). Our ,cameraman / producer / director was a pro. more used shooting things as spontaneous as a party political broadcast – and about as close to the truth. He seemed distressed when I wanted to ask the event owner “We sold out easily, so isn’t this venue too small ?” – the idea being that he could counter with the centre’s plus points, for which he’d turn a few people away in a peak year (which we think this is). Tough (or apparently tough) questions weren’t the only problem area, we couldn’t include:

  • A reference to the proximity of the prayer room to the hands on labs
  • A voice over in the style of a wildlife programme (David Attenborough) for the presenters rehearsing in the auditorium
  • A reference to the height of one of they keynote presenters
  • The story of speakers who ended up at Barcelona’s other big conference centre.
  • An out-takes piece.

Actually I’m happy with what we got, though I would rather have had more and had it a little more “RAW”, and that’s going to be my suggestion for next year. Generally the 1:1 interviews which we recorded were better than the pieces to camera, and they were at their best when we were having a conversation – that let the personalities of the people show though.  I’ve come back with one great interview which didn’t appear on the Virtual side which I’ll post a link to shortly.

When I set off for Barcelona, the papers were full of tales of NTL and ITV merging – which would mean the TV programmes I didn’t want to watch were delivered by the TV company I dropped. Sadly I still get my internet service from NTL and it wasn’t working when I got home. I’d love to interview someone senior form NTL …

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

November 12, 2006

My Account: Switched

Filed under: Exchange,General musings,Outlook — jamesone111 @ 11:19 am

When I posted about Vista RTM (Trolls: Slain, Lake: crossed, Mountain: climbed, Vista: Released.) I said it wasn’t connected with the NatWest Adverts In the current one a woman walks round town (stopping for a beauty treatment with free Coffee: I know what you pay for a haircut when the coffee is thrown in.), explaining why she’s had it with her bank

“My shop – extended hours. My bank – early doors.”
“My cappuccino – thrown in. My branch number – thrown out.”
“My favourite shop – a new store.  My bank – a trendy wine bar.”
“My Patience – exhausted. My Account, switched”

In the previous advert we had a man walking round and I can’t find the script for this but it was something like

“My shop – round the clock. My bank ?” We hear his phone saying ‘please try later’  “clocked off”
“My Barber -a person. My bank ? “. We hear his phone saying ‘Press 1 for ….’  “A robot”
The next part may have caused complaints, he looks up from a meal in a curry house.
“My Indian – Local, My Bank ?” he stares at the phone “India !”

He switched banks too. I’ve been trying to come up with something in the same vein, because on Thursday morning my mail box was moved to Exchange 2007.  Apart form the punch line of “My mail box – full. My account switched” I’m short of ideas … if you can think of something post a comment.

As Darren pointed out this lights up some new features in outlook. He concentrated on meetings,  Darren, if you’re going to use that title, the meeting location needs to be “Upon the heath”… and don’t forget to invite Macbeth.

I’m off to Barcelona in a few minutes, which is my first chance to use the new out of office assistant which needs Exchange 2007 and Outlook 2007.


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This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

November 11, 2006

Customizing Windows PE

Filed under: Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 11:07 pm

In “Getting started with Windows PE” I said that (once you have got the Windows AIK) the stages were

  1. Copy the Windows PE source files somewhere,
  2. Customize Windows PE 
  3. Put it on a bootable USB key or
    make an ISO and burn that to a CD

Stage 1 uses Copype.cmd to put the Windows PE files somewhere you can create the image; Stage 3 uses OScdIMG to make a CD Image of the OS from the “ISO” folder, or you can copy that folder to a usb key.

Which leaves stage 2

One customization is to add utilities to the bootable PE media, e.g. the ImageX tool and the associated wimscript.ini. Simply copy these to the ISO folder, e.g.

md c:\WinPE_x86\iso\[your stuff]
copy [your stuff] c:\WinPE_x86\iso\[your stuff]

A classic thing to include is the imageX utility. Something has changed with this: it no longer needs an INI file to tell it what to exclude – I gave out duff information on this at the event in London on Friday. Doh!
The other customization is to change what is installed in Windows PE the image you’re going to boot from. This is held in a WIM file which is extracted into a RAM disk at boot time.  To do this:

STEP 1 Use IMAGEX to apply the image in copy of boot.wim to a folder, e.g

imagex /apply winpe.wim 1 c:\WinPE_x86\mount

STEP 2 Make the changes

Then copy the modified WIM then goes into the ISO\SOURCES\BOOT.WIM  

Some Windows components are included but not installed with the image

  • WinPE-HTA-Package: HTML Application support
  • WinPE-MDAC-Package: Microsoft Data Access Component support
  • WinPE-Scripting-Package: Windows Script Host support
  • WinPE-SRT-Package:Windows Recovery Environment component
  • WinPE-XML-Package: Microsoft XML (MSMXL) Parser support

These can be added with the peimg tool.e.g.

peimg  /install=WinPE-HTA-Package “C:\WinPE_x86\mount”

I’d suggest using peimg /install=* if you’re building a CD.
You can also add drivers with the PE imageTool e.g.

peimg  /inf=”C:\Install Files\MyDevice\Device.INF” “C:\WinPE_x86\mount”

I tried this with a the driver for my old digital camera which isn’t recognised as storage drive withouth installing a driver; the driver is Once you have tweaked the image to the way you want it you can optimize it for size with

peimg /prep

Step 3 Use IMAGEX a second time to Capture the IMAGE back to a bootable WIM file, e.g

imagex.exe ” /boot /compress max /capture “C:\WinPE_x86\mount” “C:\WinPE_x86\ISO\SOURCES\BOOT.WIM ”  “MyNewPE”

And now you’re ready for OScdIMG or copying to a USB key.


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This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

Open Specification Promise.

Filed under: Virtualization — jamesone111 @ 1:33 pm

In a previous posting I’ve talked about adobe and their DNG (Digital Negative) format. I said at the time ‘A few people were suspicious of Adobe’s motives for DNG, but their licence “grants all individuals and organizations  [the right] to make, have made, use, sell, import and distribute Compliant Implementations” ‘

Adobe’s licence doesn’t give away any patents and so on they might have but it guarantees they won’t pursue a claim against someone who use their patented material to create something which implements the specification (if you use that same patented material to do something else, they can still get you).

After I posted about the VHD test drive programme I went over to see if John Howard had anything to say about it.  He also had a pointer to news that VHD format had been opened up  it’s now covered by the Open Specification promise. I’ve explained that Microsoft employees aren’t allowed interpret a Microsoft licence – since no-one would think we work for Adobe we can interpret their licenses 🙂  But I think it’s a reasonable approximation to call this our equivalent of Adobe’s licence for DNG. No doubt some cynics will say the same things about this as they did about Adobe and DNG

Bonus link the CTO of XenSource talks about why he thinks this is “profound”.


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This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

November 10, 2006


Filed under: Beta Products,Photography — jamesone111 @ 3:13 pm

Dreadful timing for me, because I really want to be honing the presentation I’m doing later today – but I was up late looking at this and it still feels exiting.

So here’s a problem that’s always bugged photographers: You can only get so much in a photo. The camera is at one point in 3D space, aimed and focused on another point in 3D space, and has a given angle of view. Now … you can keep the camera at the same place and take pictures aimed at different points then stitch the resulting pictures together to form a Panorama (I’ve been pleasantly surprised what a good Digital Image Suite does stitching pictures from my phone camera)  and for some time we have had tools which let you move a computer viewpoint around a large panorama. But really that only let you over come the limitation of looking at a computer screen instead of standing in front of a print.  You can move the camera around a single object and stich the results together to get what I call a “peel” – which is trickier than a Panorama, but are trying to produce a continous photograph which gives you a single impression of a bigger scene.

The painter David Hockney experimented with making collages of photographs which he called “Joiners”. A joiner isn’t smooth,its lot of individual impressions which you also give you a single impression of a whole – even if that couldn’t be seen from one view point,or different parts existed at a different times. 

Although you can make Joiners and Panoramas on the computer you’re not doing anything which exploits the computer as a medium – or in less pompus terms, the computer overcomes the limitation of the frame size of your camera, and it replaces pasting up prints to form a collage, but it’s not a “multimedia experience” – letting you pan and zoom round an image which is too big for your screen doesn’t count, sorry. Cue Photosynth. It’s such a visual experience that I’m not sure I can verbalize it properly; but let me try. It takes a lot of photos of the same place (one of the Demos is St Mark’s in Venice) and relates them together.  The pictures can be taken from different points around the square, with different angles of view; so we couldn’t make a panorama out of them; but photosynth works out where the camera was in 3D space and where the parts of the images are, in 3D space, and which pictures overlap with each other, so that you can look around the scene and get all those different impressions linked to each other so that they have a kind of context. It’s not virtual reality (which is a relief) but like VR  it doesn’t have any kind of experience away from the interactive one on the computer… You have to try it, but be warned: it’s a beta and currently it only supports recent Microsoft Browsers on Recent OS’s – it needs a 5MB download to install the active X control. But it’s worth it. Go there now

Update: I had a chance to watch one of the Videos where they show this stuff in action and cover it’s history a bit. Rick Szeliski from Microsoft Research talks about this as a new medium in much the way I was thinking about it above. Also look out for the book of Hockney pictures about 3 minutes in.

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This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

Getting started with Windows PE

Filed under: How to,Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 4:11 am

One of the tools you’ll need to get to grips with if you are going to support or deploy vista is Windows PE – the pre Installation environment. In order to get a copy to work with, you need to Install the Windows Automated Installation Kit.  This is keeping something of a low profile at the moment. I’ll post a link to it when I have one. Kudos to Nathan Mercer who says that you can register for it on connect. I will still post a link to the release version when it breaks cover 🙂 It is now available here. There are 3 steps to getting a copy of PE you can use.

  1. Copy the Windows PE source files somewhere,

  2. Customize Windows PE 

  3. Put it on a bootable USB key or
    make an ISO and burn that to a CD

Copying the source files. Chose a working directory for Windows PE files, the notes I have suggest C:\WinPE_x86. Open a command prompt, go to the where the AIK is installed, and enter the command:

Copype.cmd x86 C:\WinPE_x86

At this point you can Customize the image in the ISO subfolder of C:\WinPE_X86. I’m going to cover that separately but there are 2 things to know here. Firstly PE boots from a WIM file in the BOOT folder this contains Windows itself so drivers Windows options get added and removed here; once you have your WIM file it goes in the ISO\BOOT folder. Second most programs run under PE, so you can put them in ISO\Anything_you_like  own folders.

The notes I have suggest the command to make the ISO folder into an ISO image is as follows. 
Oscdimg -n –bc:\winpe_x86\etfsboot.com c:\winpe_x86\ISO c:\winpe_x86\winpe_x86.iso
I’ve found that this gives an error, the parameters I’ve found to work are

Oscdimg -n c:\winpe_x86\ISO c:\winpe_x86\winpe_x86.iso -n -bc:\winpe_x86\etfsboot.com

I.e. it goes  SOURCE_FOLDER, ISO_FILE, Switches. -n allows long filenames, and -b specifies a boot sector.  The tool gives a copyright date of 2000 and says it is for Microsoft internal use only…. Sigh. I don’t know why we didn’t include a CD burning tool either. Steve recently explained that you can get this in the Windows Server 2003 resource kit.

If you want to make a bootable USB key you use the VISTA DISKPART utility. The commands you use in diskpart are

  • select disk 1 {or the number of your USB key, be careful !}

  • clean  {Like I said, be careful this erases the disk}

  • create partition primary

  • select partition 1

  • active

  • format fs=fat32

  • assign

  • exit

Having done that you copy the ISO folder to the USB key

That’s it. Now you have your universal tool for imaging and repairing Vista.


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Updated (1) to include the link to the WAIK, and thanks to Jesper, to point out this needs the Vista version of disk part.
Updated (2) Active and format had merged into one step above. Thanks Alun.
Updated (3) The download link moved.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

November 8, 2006

Trolls: Slain, Lake: crossed, Mountain: climbed, Vista: Released.

Filed under: Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 11:38 pm

A couple of hours ago Jim Alchin, sent a mail which begins Today we are announcing the Release to Manufacturing of Windows Vista.

The first high point that Jim calls out is “This is the first time we’ve supported a broad array of product skus to help address different customer segments – and they’re all supported using a single product image. The same DVD can be used to install any of the product images.” which ties in with something I posted earlier.

There are a bunch of other things in Jim’s mail, including confirmation of a US launch event which the BBC had already announced. Watch this space for news of UK launch activities.

To explain the title of this post, it is not a tribute to the NatWest bank adverts which run in Britain, but to a famous mail from Brian Valentine. Back in 2005 someone asked where the mountain wallpapers came from in Vista and Brian – who was in charge of it at the time – sent this vintage reply.

Every day when I log on – I look at this nice peaceful quiet serene picture and I like to think of it as a mountain… a frickin’ mountain…  a frickin’ mountain we have to scale to ship Vista…. a frickin’ mountain we have to scale to ship Vista that has a pretty little frickin’ lake in front of it… a frickin’ mountain we have to scale to ship Vista that has a pretty little frickin lake that we have to walk on water to cross in front of it so we can scale the frickin’ mountain to ship Vista…  the only thing missing is a bunch of large frickin’ ogres and trolls blocking the way that we have to slay before we walk on the frickin’ water in the pretty little frickin’ lake that leads to the frickin’ mountain we have to scale to frickin’ ship Vista…

Next stop, Longhorn server, then on to Windows “Vienna”.

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This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

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