James O'Neill's Blog

January 31, 2007

Another machine another rebuild and a Backup headache.

Filed under: How to,Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 12:08 pm

Santa came late this year, and brought me a new Dell Latitude 820. Nice. Two 64-bit cores, a 1900×1200 screen and for the first time I have integrated Bluetooth – which works nicely with my new mouse. I put Microsoft-IT’s standard build of 64 bit vista on, and all the components seem to work just fine, along with my mouse, Microsoft Lifecam NX6000 (who comes up with these names) and USB headset. My new Pentax DSLR looks like any other USB storage, however my older compact camera works with one of the built in drivers but needs an INF file to persuade Windows it. 32 bit Vista and Windows PE recognize it, 64 bit does not. All in all I have a working laptop. Since I’ll lose the the second drive for my un-loved Toshiba, once I got the Dell set-up and I needed to make a backup.

When  I ran backup it tells me “Your backup configuration is not valid” and gives me an error code 0x81000029.

I hate errors like this. The fact it ends 29 tells me there are 28 other errors I don’t understand, and how can my configuration invalid ? All I’ve done is follow the defaults.

A quick search led me to Microsoft-Tech.com.

Some machines come with a partition for utilities – often labeled as and EISA config , and it’s marked as the Active partition. Vista will happily work in this configuration – it puts it’s boot code onto the EISA config partition. However this breaks backup. Fixing the problem requires re-instating the boot code on the other partition, so it’s not for the faint hearted and you need either the Vista install disk or another way of getting into the recovery environment. If you have this then you can go into Manage Computer, go to disk and set the C drive to active. Then repair the start-up environment – otherwise your machine won’t boot.

For more details see the Microsoft-tech article

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This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

January 28, 2007

The mouse James Bond would have.

Filed under: Windows Vista,Windows XP — jamesone111 @ 11:03 pm

A week or so ago I wrote about daft voices, and I feel like this should be in the voice of Sean Connery. (Which ish eashy to do. You jusht shubstitute mosht of the esshh shoundsh ….) I was given a new Wireless Presenter mouse 8000 – and it seems like one of the Gadgets Q branch come up with in the bond films. We’ve got some of these to give away as prizes at the roadshow. I didn’t know until I talked to Andrew who is responsible for these things that we have 24 different Mice and sell over a million in the UK alone in a year.  What’s so special about this one. Well here’s how Q would explain it to 007.

Now pay attention. This looks like a perfectly ordinary mouse …
But there are no Wiresh !

If you’d let me finish was coming to that. It uses Bluetooth, using this little dongle  which will connect other devices as well.

On top a normal mouse with two dimensional scroll will and extra buttons for a magnified, but turn it over …
Extra buttonsh.  

You can use it to move slides forward or back and as a volume control. Concealed in the body is
A lasher beam.

A Laser pointer, so don’t try cutting with it. And the whole thing goes in this neat little case so there is no excuse not to bring it back in the condition which you were issued with it.

I’m quite taken with it. You can read more information here. I don’t know which Bluetooth profiles it is meant to support but I had it working with my GPS puck in no time.

Bluetooth and GPS would have been science fiction to Connery’s Bond. But laser beams weren’t.

Do you expect me to talk ?
No Mister Bond, I expect you to Present


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This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

January 26, 2007

Another lesson in FUD, from a past master.

Filed under: General musings,Linux / Open Source,Office,Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 6:48 pm

A little culture to lead into the weekend. A quote from Voltaire no less.

I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: “O Lord make my enemies ridiculous.” And God granted it.

Someone sent me a link to story “Rivals Attack Vista As Illegal Under EU Rules“.

We’ve heard of the self styled “European Committee for Interoperable Systems” before. It includes IBM, Nokia, Sun Microsystems, Adobe, Corel, Oracle, RealNetworks, Red Hat, Linspire and Opera (note the European nature of its members. The interoperability track record of IBM, Oracle, and Real networks is less than great, even Adobe blocked the inclusion of PDF support in office 2007). My guide to FUD pointed out the first step was, broadly establishing credibility. If you are arguing in the domain Science or Engineering position yourself as wise and expert, if it is the solution of Social problems, position yourself as “New”, and if it is one of competition position yourself as Open and Interoperable.  “American IT lobbying against Microsoft” would be truthful, but not help when the goal is to lobby the European Commission. I’ve written before that they equate “pro-competition” with “pro-Microsoft competitors”, so it’s pretty fertile ground for this group.

Any statement from that group should be examined for signs of FUD, and they’ll usually be found.

Step 2 in the guide to FUD. Make assertions which will go unchallenged. e.g. “Microsoft is dominant in the market. Anything Microsoft does is intended to increase or cement that dominance”. So that article tells us
“Vista is the first step of Microsoft’s strategy to extend its market dominance to the Internet,” the ECIS statement said
To borrow the famous Mandy Rice Davies quote “They would say that, wouldn’t they” But “the first step of Microsoft’s strategy” ? Gee, the Internet’s been around for a while and we – this powerful player committed to expanding our dominance – are only just getting round to the first step of a strategy …

On to Step 3. Extrapolate form your assertions. So what would expect ?  IBM can see a commercial opportunity in “Open Document Format” standard while Microsoft is on the side of the Office Open XML standard which is backed by ECMA. According to this news story “Bob Sutor, who is vice president of open source and standards at IBM, confirmed that IBM voted against adoption of OOXML at the Ecma general assembly”. IBM have been arguing for ODF and against OOXML in any way they can.. There have even been accusations that they stooped to putting false information into Wikipedia*. So what did they their mouthpiece tell the EC according to the article
“They said a so-called “open XML” platform file format, known as OOXML, is designed to run seamlessly only on the Microsoft Office platform.”

So the real story is: IBM having lost at ECMA is trying its luck at the EC, through a Front Organization.

Have they finished ? No.  So that article tells us
Microsoft’s XAML markup language was “positioned to replace HTML”, the industry standard for publishing documents on the Internet.Microsoft’s own language would be dependent on Windows, and discriminatory against rival systems such as Linux, the group says.

It’s the most ludicrous kind of scaremongering. Microsoft somehow getting everyone on the Internet to abandon HTML at all, never mind in favour of something closed really deserves to be laughed at. The scary thing is that the European Commission seems to be full of people who fall for this stuff.

* Before I leave this there’s been a bit of a storm about what’s on Wikipedia about Office Open XML. Pro OOXML people have accused pro ODF people at IBM of using Wikipedia to spread disinformation. It got to the point where someone from Microsoft asked an independent expert in XML, to have a look at it. This story has been turned into “Sneaky Microsoft Spin machine pays people to falsify Wikipedia”. When I first heard the story I thought the person behind it should be fired (especially when I see luminaries like Dave Winer saying we absolutely wrong). Then I read the page where the  story was broken by the guy who did/would have done it. And the mail asking him to do it was posted here.  I changed my view, I’d encourage anyone else to read those two pages and make up their own mind.


This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

Interview with a top Microsoft person.

Filed under: Events,Webcasts — jamesone111 @ 2:01 pm

Somewhere in my “Pending” file is a blog post about working for Microsoft provisionally entitled things that “Rock and things that suck”. In the “things that Rock” column. I have to put something about how approachable a lot of our senior execs are. Case in point Christine Betts is senior director of IT Professional Audience Marketing.  Christine came to tech-ed IT forum in November in Barcelona and agreed to do an interview for “Talking Microsoft”“. 
In the “things that suck column” are the downsides of being a big company – one of which is the hoops you have to jump through to get a video on any “official” Microsoft site. I wonder how Robert Scoble managed when he was here – I’m sure he wouldn’t spent months trying to stuff hosted hosted in different places as I have. I’m painfully aware Talking Microsoft got off to a false start, but eventually I got the nod to put it on Soapbox. I have some more items up my sleeve for Talking Microsoft which I hope will get things going properly

When I moved into evangelism Eileen sent a “tell the world” mail and I got a very nice mail from Christine. When she was at a couple of dinners that I was at in Barcelona she reinforced the impression of being “nice” but added interesting.  She joined Microsoft UK back in 1983, and I was rather surprised to find that the only reference I could find to her on Microsoft.com was when the company celebrated it’s 30th Anniversary and they talked to the “20 year club”.  She was happy to share some personal things at the Barcelona Girl geek dinner and again on video – I had to ask her afterwards if she was happy with that and she was.

Doing these interviews I think of Michael Parkinson’s style.  I trying to get the “guest” to talk it in their own way about something you know is interesting. Which means making questions as open as possible. Parkinson wouldn’t ask “You met Elvis didn’t you ?” [The only answer is yes] – “And what did he say to you” – which is test of the guest’s powers recall. He’d say something like “You told me a great story about meeting Elvis”. A technical interview becomes a test of recall if you ask “What are the 3 top features of Vista” – but if you ask “What kind of things will get people excited” it’s an open question.” which let people take the idea and run with it. I’m pleased with the way that side of things worked out here.

Both audio and video are on  Talking Microsoft. You can Subscribe to the Talking Microsoft RSS Feed and receive the audio only for future pieces. Or you can just hop over to Soapbox to watch the video.

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Update. Eileen says I have “a natural engaging, non threatening style ” in these inteviews. I know at least 2 readers who will laugh at that.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

January 21, 2007

A guide to FUD, thanks to Canon.

Filed under: Photography — jamesone111 @ 7:01 pm

One of the Interesting things about this job is getting a new point of view on how Marketing and PR work – and applying it things I see away from work. I’ve seen Microsoft accused of spreading “Fear Uncertainty and Doubt” and I’ve seen FUD used against Microsoft too. I’ve recently seen a textbook example of the FUDer’s art in the photography world… It might be instructive to look at the main techniques away from the IT world, and show why my group in Microsoft try to stay away from FUD.

Here’s the background
Shake limits the shutter speed you can use when hand-holding a camera. Longer focal lengths amplify hand shake and need faster shutter speeds to get a sharp picture. Nikon and Canon SLR cameras have had lens based systems to reduce the effect of hand shake which for years. Nikon call theirs “Vibration Reduction” (VR) and Canon use the term “Image Stabilization” (IS); and they allowed film cameras to get 2 or 3 shutter speeds below what was otherwise possible.
Digital offers the possibility of stabilization by moving the imaging sensor. In 2006 Pentax and Sony introduced models with such systems. Sony inherited “Anti-shake” when they bought Konica Minolta’s camera business. Pentax call their system “Shake reduction” or SR, and their K100 and K110 models are identical except one has SR and one doesn’t – the price difference is $100 US.Samsung re-badge the Pentax and call the system “Optical Picture Stabilization”. The web seems to be awash at the moment with Pentax owners (including me) showing the incredible results they’re getting with SR.
Names aside, the downside with an in-body systems is that the image recording system is stabilized, but the viewfinder isn’t. However the big win is every lens is stabilized. The Canon IS system has only 16 lenses, and only a couple come in under $1000  US. The IS and Non-IS versions of their EF 70-200mm f/4L USM sell for $ 1,060 and $ 545 respectively. The difference is more than the cost of a Pentax body with SR. And with IS in the lens the customer buys stabilization again and again with each lens.

Now for the FUD
Canon recently took out an advert in “Outdoor photography” magazine, not for a new camera, but to make the case for their IS system, and its 16 lenses . Here’s my Fud-spotters 101 with examples from their Ad

  1. To prove you are wise make your forced actions look like smart decisions (and vice versa for your competitors)
    From the Ad: “When Canon developed IS, back in the early 1990s, the engineers decided to make the stabilization system lens based, as opposed to embedding it in the camera bodies. Why? ”
    You can’t move a frame of film around like a digital sensor- when it’s part of a long strip it’s a practical impossibility. There wasn’t a decision to make, but they want readers to believe the boffins rejected the other path – according to the advert “Because every lens is different. And different lenses have different IS needs.” .

  2. Few people will challenge a plausible assertion of a “scientific fact” by the “wise”
    The ad goes on “as the lens focal length increases, so does the amount of Image Stabilization that’s needed. For example, a 300mm lens requires 6 times more stabilization than a 50mm lens” It sounds plausible, but Canon ought to know that a given amount of sensor movement gives the same gain (in terms of shutter speed steps) regardless of focal length. Why ?
    Below a certain threshold shake doesn’t shift the image enough to cause noticeable blur. The twist on the camera to produce that much varies with focal length, hence a rule of thumb familiar to 35mm film users – “shoot with a shutter speed faster than 1/focal length”. Let me give a worked example. Assume blurring becomes visible above 0.02 mm of movement – and you get the that with a 50mm during a 1/50th second exposure. At 1/25th the movement is 0.04mm, by 1/12 it is 0.08mm and by 1/6th it reaches 0.16mm. With a 300mm lens we get these amounts of movement at 1/300th, 1/150th, 1/75th and 1/40th. No one claims their stabilization allows all lenses to get down to the same speed.

  3. You can extrapolate from asserted “pseudo-facts” to any conclusion you want
    So Canon’s copywriters can now assert that any body based system ” is clearly less effective when telephoto lenses are used”. A quick tour of the web shows this isn’t so. Building on this error, they go on “This brings up the issue of responsiveness. When the IS is built into the lens, the actual movement of the optics is relatively small, whereas in body-based systems, he moving parts have to make larger adjustments to compensate, and responsiveness can be sluggish.” A sensor weighs a few grams and moves fractions of a millimeter. And responsiveness ? Both systems need a moment when powered on for their motion sensors to activate. Body-based systems only have to don’t have to do anything extra when the shutter button is pressed.

Actively spreading Fear Uncertainty and Doubt about a point where competitors are beating you on one specific feature.

  • Draws attention to it.

  • Makes you look rattled

  • Makes people ask questions like “are they scared of losing people and begging them to keep the faith

  • Raises questions about your honesty.

If you catch me doing it, then you have my permission to ridicule me.

Update: Thanks to Alain D who pointed out I must have been cross-eyed when I read the prices of Canon’s IS lenses.

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This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

January 19, 2007

Vista activation

Filed under: How to,Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 12:21 pm


One of the things I learnt in the run up to last week’s BETT show was about licensing. I often joke that I have a degree in computer science, 40 Microsoft product certifications and 20 years industry experience but that doesn’t fit me out to understand licensing. The thing I learnt is that schools have volume license agreements too. So it wasn’t surprising that some of the questions we got on the stand were about the activation of Vista. People kept asking about some Scottish bloke called “MacKey” or rather MAK keys. And at this point we need to dive into the rabbit warren which is vista activation.

We have more than one kind of volume licence key. We have a “Multiple Activation Key” (MAK) or a “Key management service key”.  The best place to learn about this is the Vista Volume Activation Page. Here is a precis, and let me up front and say that this is a shortcut to understanding the other information which is available: if any errors have crept in please remember this blog is subject to the caveat ‘This posting is provided “AS IS” with no warranties, and confers no rights.’

Vista has different keys for different versions sometimes called SKUs (stop Stock keeping units) , and for different channels of supply. The installation media is the same for Ultimate, or business or home basic, but the keys are different. Business has a different keys depending on whether it is purchased Retail, or pre-installed by an OEM, or as part of a Volume license agreement.

Retail keys can only be used on one computer. Volume keys allow a single key on more than one. All copies of Vista need to be activated.  Depending on how you count the methods there are 3 or 4 ways to activate.

  • Internet activation. This works with both retail and volume versions. If the Internet service thinks that the key has been used the allowed number of times it will fail to activate.
    During this year we plan to introduce a server which goes by the name of “Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT)”. This tool is not out yet, but it will be Proxy for Internet activation for clients who would not otherwise be given Internet access. (Decide for yourself if this counts as an activation method)
  • Phone activation. Intended for people who can’t connect or don’t believe what we say in our privacy statement about the data used in activation. This is also the route that you use if Vista thinks it has been moved to a new computer and the activation service refuses to re-activate the OS.
  • Key Management service. The easy way to think of this tool is as a block of pre-activated IDs. Every machine using KMS for licensing gets a key for 180 days. It will try to renew at intervals during that time rather than wait till the end. If it can’t get find a server or if the server has run out of IDs then it gets a 30 day grace period before falling into Reduced Functionality Mode.

KMS seems useful for organizations who need to transfer licences to newer machines, and whose users connect to the corporate network at least every 209 days (after 180 + 30 day grace period the machine won’t be usable), it only works when there are more than 25 clients, below that MAK needs to be used.

I’ve summarized the information in a mind map (click for a larger version)

 As I said before the definitive source for this is the Vista Volume Activation Page. This has detail about how keys are obtained, and entered into the installation process, more detail about the choices between MAK and KMS and so on. If you find any differences between that page and this one, it is correct (but please let me know).

Update. Thanks to Mark Parris for pointing out my Typo. a SKU is a Stock keeping unit. Even the most state of the rat spell chequer won’t pick that up.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

Friday Humour

Filed under: Uncategorized — jamesone111 @ 11:39 am

I seem to be able reduce the other members of the team to laughter with silly voices. I met up with an old friend last night and that subject came up and I explained to her that I had been known to sing Dido’s “White Flag” in the voice of Winston Churchill…

When I got e-mail on the home computer from a fellow photographer, who obviously shares my warped sense of humour, and a few clicks later I was helpless with laughter at  TheDoctorSings. BT have a service which reads text messages out to people on landline phones. And for a limited time they had Tom Baker as the voice. To most people over 35 Tom Baker is “Dr Who” – the BBC’s “Dead Ringers” show made a series of radio sketches with one of the impressionists ring people up as Baker’s Dr Who … phoning Directory Enquiries and asking for a number on Galiphrey. Now with BT giving you the chance to get Tom Bakers voice to say pretty much anything you want the obvious thing was to mate this with some Karaoke CDs and hence TheDoctorSings. OK, maybe it wasn’t the most obvious thing to do. And putting together a Duet with the voice of Stephen Hawking wouldn’t be obvious to anyone with taste… Some people have altogether too much time on their hands. Now what could we do with Microsoft speech technologies, for example Outlook Voice Access….

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

January 18, 2007

Ooops. I gave out some duff information about limiting logons

As Eileen has already said our team spent last week at the BETT show. My first “proper” IT job after leaving university was working for RM who are the biggest supplier of IT to education and I did a couple of BETT shows when I worked for them; it’s the main UK IT-in-education show and it’s huge – 30,000 visitors over 4 days. I never thought I’d be doing another one.

I find stand duty at shows tiring – I need a bit of a push to do it, Eileen volunteered the team … Once I’m there it’s interesting to meet a different set of customers to those who come to our events, doubly so when the customers are a market segment like education that I don’t deal with much day-to-day. My days at RM taught me that IT managers in education have a unique set of challenges – not least of which is the IT is managed by people who are teachers first and IT people second. In business we’re used to the user-per-PC model; in schools PCs are shared. So a couple of people asked me a question which I got wrong.

“Can we limit the number of workstations where a user is logged on”. Now here’s the problem. Windows logs users onto a machine.  It logs users onto file shares, web servers, RPC and terminal sessions. Domains allow a central pool of accounts to be used for those logons and granting permissions. And this hasn’t really changed since OS/2 LAN Manager; we use Kerberos to do the job these days, but the idea remains the same. The service which authenticates you, and the service which you are using are different. So. You logon to your computer and it gets domain controller A to validate you; then you connect to a terminal server it it gets Domain controller B to validate you. The two Domain controllers don’t share information, and they don’t know when your session has ended. You can create a system which sets a central flag when someone logs on and clears it at log off, but this isn’t helpful in a school – switching the machine off without logging out will prevent the next logon. You hear the cries of “Miss I can’t log on” … ah yes, something else for business IT managers to note. Your daft users break the system accidentally. In schools the smart users break it for sport.

So I had the bright idea. The SHUTDOWN command line utility has a “logout” option….  so why not write a batch file at logon …  so the logon script has 2 lines

Call logoff%username%.bat
Echo   SHUTDOWN /m \\%computername% /L > logOff%username%.bat

Unfortunately the /L command won’t log off a user on a remote machine. I don’t think anything we provide [In the box] will solve this problem but I’m hoping someone will correct me.
Update 1: Thanks to Richard who pointed out in a comment below that we do have a resource kit tool to do this. I can’t say how sessions which are not ended gracefully are handled (yet).

Update 2: Thanks to Steve for his comment. The sysinternals command should do the job as I first conceived it … now someone needs to test it to see if a non-admin user can log themselves off a remote machine. It will fail to log off anyone else.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

Business Desktop Deployment 2007, now available.

Filed under: How to,Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 3:04 pm

There’s lots of of information on the Technet Desktop deployment page.

To quote from the mail I had telling me that BDD 2007 was release:


BDD is the best practice set of comprehensive guidance and tools to optimally deploy Windows Vista and the 2007 Microsoft Office system. Many changes have been made to BDD to significantly ease the deployment of Windows Vista, including new out-of-the-box imaging technologies, XML-based migration scripts, new tools for image engineering (ImageX and System Image Manager), application compatibility (Application Compatibility Toolkit 5.0) and the new unattend XML format. Another huge breakthrough with Windows Vista is Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) independence and language neutrality; this means that our customers can get to a minimal number of standard images across multiple hardware types and languages.

As with any advancement in technologies, getting the maximum benefit requires understanding the tools and technologies. BDD 2007 provides the depth of guidance and tooling to make the Windows Vista and 2007 Office system deployment process predictable and scalable.

  • BDD 2007 includes best-practice guidance based on every stakeholder role involved with desktop deployment, from business decision makers to end users. Tasks are divided into logical groupings, and comprehensive job aids are included to support the entire deployment process.
  • BDD 2007 provides the layer of project management knowledge and tool integration to make the complex desktop deployment process seamless and predictable, while reducing or eliminating deployment-related service disruptions and help desk calls.
  • Many of the tools and guides within BDD 2007 can even be used throughout the desktop management life cycle to provision new users, maintain images, and centrally manage drivers and applications.
  • BDD 2007 introduces the new Deployment Workbench, which enables users to build and manage multiple OS configurations, define network deployment points and network shares, inject drivers, attach language packs, and chain applications. It even helps generate ISO and WIM images using Windows PE that can be deployed in a networked environment or using DVDs offline.
  • BDD 2007 also alleviates much of the scripting requirements of previous deployment practices by incorporating a stand-alone task sequencer derived from System Center Configuration Manager 2007. BDD continues to offer the flexibility for Zero Touch Installation with Systems Management Server 2003 and Lite Touch Installation with minimal infrastructure requirements.

To learn more about this solution accelerator, visit the Overview page of the Business Desktop Deployment 2007 or download BDD 2007 now


This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

January 10, 2007

End of an era. Apple is no longer a computer company.

Filed under: Apple,General musings,Mobility,Xbox — jamesone111 @ 1:08 am

I don’t know what has happened between Steve Jobs’ company and the one owned by the Beatles. It was always the case that the guys from Cupertino had to call themselves Apple Computer to keep themselves distinct. Not anymore.

Scoble got it from Om Malik who thought it was of the noteworthy part of Jobs’ keynote. I couldn’t face watching another whole Keynote at Midnight after watching Bill last night, but about 1hr 40 into the speech Jobs explains that they’re not really a computer company any more, what with the iPod and the new iPhone and Apple TV (formerly iTV which wouldn’t work in the UK. That device seems a bit weak I’m not the only one who thinks an Xbox does more.) . They’ve been the Mac company for 23 years – but their Computer has been eclipsed by their other offerings, so from now on they’re just plain Apple.

Back in April I wrote

Apple is a leader in industrial design: which is why my wife has an iPod Nano – the iPods have a magic to their design which no-one else seems able to match. The number of things which borrow from the original iMac design shows how other designers admire it. I’ve just bought a new Samsung TV and I didn’t consider Dell’s offering but I’d look at an Apple TV. As well as design, Apple has brand kudos that Samsung, Dell and (yes) Microsoft lack, so the idea of Windows on Apple hardware is seductive.

iPhone has that magic. I’ve got to hand it to Apple: it’s beautiful, even if it does less than my 3 year old smartphone – Jason’s more neutral in his analysis.

Steve quoted some interesting numbers. 26 Million Games Consoles sold world wide in 2006. Robbie Bach said at the CES keynote that we’d sold 10.4 Million Xbox 360s. If those numbers are calculated on the same basis then Xbox 360 has a 40% share of the market. I don’t know what the original Xbox sold in 2006, and what the rest of the non-Sony Market is. Steve compares this against 94M digital cameras, 135M MP3 players, and 209M PCs. And about 1 billion cell phones.

But iPhone is $499 US with a 2 year contract. Now I’ve no idea what the world market in $499 designer phones is, but it sure ain’t a billion – and it doesn’t look like it has the things which business users demand (like sync to the corporate mail server). I wouldn’t buy a $499 phone any more than I’d buy a pair of $499 shoes. But Steve want’s 1% of the whole market – 10 million phones in 2008. A man who wants to create a $5 bn market in it’s first full year: what can you do but be impressed ? 


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Postscript. I might have guessed that Hugh would have something witty to say about this

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

January 9, 2007

The first Windows Vista "Ultimate Extras"

Filed under: Uncategorized — jamesone111 @ 3:35 pm

Darren blogged about Bill Gates Keynote at CES, which I watched at home last night.  In passing was they mentioned first 2 “Ultimate Extras” . Vista ultimate, has a section in Windows update for “Ultimate extras”. The first two will be Motion Desktop and Group Shot. I’ve mentioned group shot before. The idea is that you take similar pictures taken from the same place and combine then together to give the best one. So you might take a family group 2 or 3 or more times. In each one, someone will have their eyes shut or be pulling a silly face. Group shot lets you overlay the pictures and get each person at their best. I like to use it to remove people and cars from a view; here’s one I did on my new camera in oxford last week. As you can see in the frames down the side, it was a busy shopping day with lots of people walking down the street, and I was shooting with a wide angle lens. There was no way I was going to get a clear shot. Knowing I had group shot I shot 9 frames over about 30 seconds. Using group shot I combined the images to give me an almost clear foreground. I then used Digital image suite to a little bit more retouching. straighten the image, remove the fisheye effect of the lens, correct the perspective and create a toned black and white image.


This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

January 8, 2007

Vista Backup …

Filed under: Uncategorized — jamesone111 @ 5:09 pm

It’s quite impressive how many different sorts of backup we’ve put into Vista, and the launch of home server adds another one. You can:

  1. Image your machine using imageX: this is really geared to installing or reinstalling, but you can use a WIM file as a giant, single instanced ZIP file. WIM files are maintainable, and easy to rebuild a system from.
  2. On the business and Ultimate editions, use CompletePC backup (from the Back-up and Restore centre) to create a VHD file backup which is an image of the disk; you boot into the Recovery Environment and and re-instate a system from the VHD – though it’s not very maintainable.
  3. Use Vista Restore points. Windows XP creates system restore points, but these are concerned with rolling back changes to the OS. A Vista restore point is a shadow copy of everything (pretty much – there are some exclusions). This is the engine behind part of the “Previous versions” tab on the file properties dialog box.
  4. Vista backup (with Scheduling) – a backup of everything except Program files and Windows folders. It’s intended for “configure and forget” use, so that files get written to a second hard disk or a file server as a scheduled task. The catalog of backed-up files also appears in the previous versions tab.
  5. Folder re-direction – which isn’t new to Vista. On server 2003 you can enable shadow copies and these will be visible on Windows 2000 or XP with a suitable update applied: in Vista these copies are also shown through the Previous versions tab without the need to add anything. .

Now there is some confusion about system protection. First if you turn on system protection (from the option on the left of the Computer/Properties or Control Panel/System dialogs) then a scheduled process will create a restore point at Midnight (or when the system is next awake) and every time it boots. Older restore points are moved off the system to make way for new ones. That’s the version you can restore to: you can’t restore to a version between restore points. Vista doesn’t keep every version you save, but it does give you a daily backup.

Secondly Backups are listed on the previous versions tab whether the file has changed or not. However shadow copies only appear after the file has changed.

Most of us are used to “off computer” backups, but not a “revert” facility that we can carry with us. Shadow copies aren’t supposed to keep versions forever – the system will push out old backups to make way for new ones – and that kind of thing is best done with a true backup. However the is a security implication because if you lost your laptop a confidential document which you recently deleted may still be recoverable via shadow copy … all the more reason to use technologies like bit locker.

With Home server we have an additional client which backs up any machines you have at home to the server. Flexibility is great, but I do wonder if we’re creating confusion with all these options.

Now here’s a thing. I was looking for somewhere to send you for more information. IT’s Showtime has a video called “New Backup and offline files features in Windows Vista” It contains this “hockey stick” graph showing how we expect the amount of data in homes, and the average size of disk in use. And from that we estimate the demand for home file servers. Which brings us back to Windows home server….


Postscript. One of the teachers at my school was famous for throwing erasers out of the window of his classroom. He used to say if you can rub-out your mistakes you’re more likely to make them. So this morning I managed to shift-delete a folder instead of a file… and shadow copy brought it back. I wonder if the mere act of thinking about Shadow copy made me careless 🙂

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

A good day to be a fake doctor …

Filed under: Music and Media,Windows 2003 Server,Windows Server 2008,Xbox — jamesone111 @ 9:28 am

I mentioned we had something big planned for the CES show in Vegas, and that something is Windows Home Server. There was a nice teaser site, The Center for Digital Amnesia Awareness which now has the information on it.

On 10 has a video which explains it; their summary

As a small, headless box that lives on your network and in your closet, a Windows Home Server can quickly grow the pool of storage from which all of your shared files for each of your users lives. The backup engine in Windows Home Server also silently backs up the entirety of each machine connected to it every night. And because the data is always online, using the built-in remote access abilities, you’ll also be able to access your data from any machine on the planet.

Charlie Kindel works on it – and he has a photo which shows the kind of ideas people have for machines that will run WHS, the Windows Server Solutions Group (which is also responsible for SBS – which Eileen mentioned recently)

One thing that seems have caused confusion is the “Personalized Internet address from Windows Live™ with no monthly service fees* ” something I read says owners of home server will be able to get a name within a domain owned/managed by windows live. I’m guessing there will be a mechanism either for home server or the DNS Server to discover the machines true Internet address and register dynamically.

I’ll post more as I have it

Update: There’s a good five minute summary Video now on the MicrosoftAtCES site


This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

January 6, 2007

Microsoft at CES

Filed under: Events,General musings,Music and Media,Webcasts,Windows Vista,Windows XP — jamesone111 @ 5:44 pm

The Consumer electronics show starts in Las Vegas on Monday. The internal rumor mill has been going crazy and we’ve been told not to blog about …. well I can’t tell you what obviously.

Bill Gates is delivering a keynote speech on Sunday night – 6:30PM Redmond time, by which point most people working in Europe will have gone to bed. On Monday you’ll be able to view it via  http://microsoftatces.com/ 

They’ve already got some videos on the site. One is for the “Wireless Desktop 8000” . Lousy name, very cool product. When we look at Apple we see fantastic industrial design, which I don’t see in my original X box, or the older Microsoft mice (look out for the very first MS mouse in the video – about 4:40-4:50). These days I have a Philippe Starke mouse at home, and design of the Xbox 360 is pretty good. This is the first time I’ve seen a keyboard that would inspire envyI saw these before Christmas: they’re not cheap but I have a plan to get my hands on one. As and when I do I’ll blog about it.


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This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

January 5, 2007

More on keyboard short cuts.

Filed under: How to,Windows Server 2008,Windows XP — jamesone111 @ 1:13 pm

Eileen mentioned something about Keyboard shortcuts on her blog, teasing me for not telling her about them, but forgetting that she and I both posted connected items in August. You can get a full list for Windows generally, Explorer, IE and Photo gallery in Windows help. Just type “Keyboard shortcuts” in the search box.

One of the keys that was mention was ALT-Space to pull down the “Window” menu. ALT-F4 for “Close” is listed on that menu, Windows inherited this through the relationship we had then with IBM; as well as command names like “Maximize” instead of “Zoom”.  One thing that changed around the release of Word 2 for Windows, and Windows 3.0 was the keys used for Cut, Copy and Paste. Ctrl+C was originally “Centre paragraph” in word. Cut was Shift+Delete, and insert was Shift+INS. Both of these still work by the way, and they’re not on the list in Windows help – if you didn’t know this and you have the kind of friends who’d be impressed by it … no don’t thank me. 

Anyhow, some time about 1991 we began to change over to the keys we use now. Control + C for copy was obvious but why Control Z for undo. and control X for cut. (Why was X cut and C copy) why Ctrl V for insert ?

It’s obvious when you look at the letters as graphic shapes.

 Easy isn’t it.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

January 1, 2007

Not the usual mobile device review.

Filed under: General musings,Photography — jamesone111 @ 4:22 pm

There’s no two ways about it. I’m loving the new camera.

When I’d been with Microsoft a few weeks we were issued with the first iPAQ PDAs. I’ve been interested in the different things you can do with mobile devices ever since, in questions like “What kind of applications are viable on a smartphone with its small screen ?” Satellite navigation works, word processing doesn’t. Or what needs broadband speed and what works on GPRS ? Or “What would a bigger screen bring me ?” or “What would greater CPU power mean in practice ?” and so on. I mention this because it colours my thinking about the new Pentax.

My Dad started my relationship with Pentax: he chose their entry level model because an expert friend told him it had better lenses than the others. 20 Years later, when they brought out their first 6 megapixel Digital SLR in 2003, I tried one at the first chance I had and bought it. It worked with the equipment I already had, the ergonomics were great and I liked the image quality. It was handicapped by electronics which were fixed in late 2002: a 5 frame buffer writes to Compact Flash at 2MBytes/Sec (with images of 12MB apiece it could be take 30 seconds before you could look at an image on on the 118,000 Pixel 1.8 inch display). Shifting lot of data over its USB1.1 interface wasn’t a practical proposition. Over the last 3 years Pentax introduced derivatives of that camera; they first showed it’s 10 megapixel successor at the PMA 2006 show in Florida in February and I could see that couple of key features, dropped on the derivatives were back. For several months I knew it just as “the PMA camera” , then it’s name was announced as the K10D , and what I read in forums, on the blog of Pentax US’s VP of Marketing and anywhere else I could find (including an extreme test of its weather proofing). And it told me I’d want one when it hit the market – as it turned out, 9 months after being shown at PMA.

People over-estimate the role of the camera. I like to say “Photographers, not cameras , make Pictures“, and there is a saying. “A camera is just a box with a lens on one side and a recording medium on the other. Everything else is just convenience”. Improvements in lenses or in film or electronics do improve image quality: I’ve written before about why changes within the same general class of camera don’t give a giant leap forward.  Changes are on the “convenience” side don’t just make it easier to get pictures; you’ll shoot more pictures with a camera you like, and these features allow pictures which we might not even have tried for: that’s often were the big changes come.

If there is a “big leap” on the K10D and it’s little brother the K100D it’s Shake reductionCanon and Nikon, the big players in the camera market have expensive image stabilization lenses. Pentax (and Sony, neé Minolta) have put the solution in the camera body so every lens is stabilized – in Pentax’s case even lenses from the 1950’s.  35mm film gave us a convenient rule of thumb Don’t hand hold with a shutter speed slower than 1/focal-length. A 100mm focal length on the K10D has the angle of view of a 150mm lens on a 35mm camera – and the same susceptibility to shake; so the shot below should be as blurry as the memory of a good New Year’s party. Look at the inset detail: blurry it ain’t.

The Barn Owl Centre of Gloucestershire quite often bring birds to show shoppers in Oxford… (this one’s a Buzzard)

Auto ISO setting helped this picture too: it’s been around for a couple of years, but wasn’t on the old camera. It was a bit dark in the shopping centre where the birds were being shown, so the camera turned up the sensitivity. Pentax have been pretty smart here: a roll of film has a fixed sensitivity, and we tend to treat digital sensitivity as fixed even though it can change from shot to shot: Pentax have added two new exposure modes where sensitivity is treated like shutter speed or aperture – just another variable that the camera or photographer can vary.  

The new camera maintains Pentax’s reputation for building cameras with a bright, clear viewfinders. The old camera presented information in the viewfinder very well, but I find the new one just a fraction better. Great presentation of information is one of the cameras signature traits- it helps you to decide when to take control and when to give the camera its head, and a major factor here is the new LCD screen. With new 2.5″ diagonal screens giving twice the area and twice the Pixels of the old 1.8″ ones, the Pentax engineers must have thought, as I would have done “what new things does that enable… ?”. First off there’s a status screen when you switch on or change exposure mode: do this in the dark on the on the old camera needed you to turn on the LCD backlight (also easier on the K10D) and then work out which mode you were based on which values were fixed and which variable. Pentax have also taken advantage of the better display to reinvent how you set white balance. I don’t know if competing cameras can match this, but it shows preview picture with the proposed new WB: it’s a stroke of genius, but it something they couldn’t have done with the old display. When it shows you thumbnails of multiple pictures you can now select more than one for deletion. I expect to vary the size of thumbnails in Windows Vista’s explorer and the camera lets me do the same.

Reviewing images you notice the increased responsiveness. 3 years of development in electronics makes SD card reads and writes about 4 times faster that I’ve been used to. This means I don’t have to stop shooting to let the buffer empty and I don’t have to wait 30 seconds before Chimping (quick time Video). I can use Mini/Micro SD with an adapter and pop them into a 3G phone to send, or plug the SD straight into my laptop – CF needed an adapter. Up-to-date electronics means fast USB transfers too. (Pentax should have the software out soon to support “tethered” shooting, missing out the memory card altogether).With more processing power they’ve given the camera the ability save multiple versions of a JPEG image with different contrast and saturation, sharpening or White Balance settings, it can convert  RAW data saved direct from the sensor into a JPG, and apply filters to images – though oddly there is no resize or crop.. I’m not sure yet if this is just a gimmick, but it wouldn’t have worked without the bigger screen.

Normally I’d have to wait till I got home and do this in Digital Image Suite, but I did this there and then.

So is there anything I miss about the old camera ? It was lighter and fitted in my hand just slightly better. It used AA batteries which got me out of a problem a couple of times (the new one uses a 1000-shot proprietary battery – I’m going to have to carry a spare.). Would I tell anyone else to buy one ? Not exactly. I’d certainly say try one out, but the advice I give over and over again is this Try as many cameras as you can, they are just tools and you need to get the one that works for you. Canon sell more cameras than anyone else, but theirs just work for me.

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This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

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