James O'Neill's Blog

May 31, 2007

ExpressCard (not express delivery), travel and Benchmarks.

Filed under: General musings,How to,Photography,Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 5:06 pm

Back in March I wrote that 64 bit Vista marked the end of the line for my Lexar 32bit Cardbus adapter. It got lost in the post on the way from Hong Kong. I gave it enough time to be sure it really was lost and the e-bay seller sent me another which arrived yesterday.  This is (for now) the last piece of a puzzle of how to keep a lot of gadgets charged up and/or to connect to your PC. For me this list is

  • Laptop
  • Portable Hard-disk / card reader
  • Smartphone
  • In-car FM transmitter.
  • Bluetooth GPS puck
  • Bluetooth headset
  • Digital Compact Camera (used mostly for diving)
  • Digital SLR camera

The SLR camera takes SD memory cards and has a non standard USB connector. I sometimes shoot in a studio with my laptop and I’ve mentioned the software for tethered shooting doesn’t work on 64bit, so I  swap memory cards and copy from one while I shoot on another. The expresscard is ideal because

(a) Vista supports it without having to mess about with drivers.
(b) Once fitted it can stay in the slot for ever and there’s no risk of forgetting it.
(c) It’s faster reading than any other method available to me (even if I had got the Lexar device to work).

I didn’t understand why Vista called the Expresscard a USB device until I looked at the “about expresscard” page and saw that “ExpressCard-compliant host platforms must support both the PCI Express and USB interfaces.” So the card is USB in an alternative package – which is what I see when I put Vista’s device manager into “by connection” view. I got odd results when I tried running the  benchmarks that I ran on the old Toshiba  – it’s faster on writes and slower on large reads than the Tosh’s built in SD reader  It’s faster than anything I’ve plugged into a normal USB port but by varying margins depending on whether reads or writes are tested and which cards are in use.

Having bought 2 USB adapter sets (one in my camera flight case, and another with extras in my laptop bag) – I don’t really need to connect the SLR to the laptop: On a day out shooting I slot the memory card into the portable hard disk and press the copy button. For studio shoots (or quick shoots) I put the card in the laptop. On long trips taking the laptop means I can edit pictures and burn backups to DVD or make a secondary copy on the portable hard disk (if I bring it).

The cable rationalization goes further.  I download from the Digital compact camera using a standard Mini-B USB cable. Although the portable hard disk has a “Y” cable to allow it to draw enough current, my Dell Latitude D820 will supply enough current for it to work with the standard Mini-B cable. My new E650 (now also available on Vodafone) no longer needs a special charge cable and can use the same cable in the car or with my Swiss Word Adapter (I’m on my second one of these – thanks to a combination of poor packing on my part and rough baggage handling by Lufthansa).

I’ve changed the FM transmitter I have to play music from the phone – to one with a wider choice of frequencies and a USB power connection. So all my In-car devices are now USB powered : I showed before the “universal” USB power adapter I made; this powers the Bluetooth headset charger or GPS unit form the car, laptop or Swiss world adapter.  I still have to pack 3 mains powered devices the power brick for the dell and the chargers for the camera batteries. All 3 can share one mains cable.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

May 30, 2007

Privacy again

Filed under: Privacy — jamesone111 @ 10:57 am

I’ve managed to get a lot of my concerns about privacy down to a simple statement. “Databases of everything” worry me. Where we’ve been, what we’ve bought, who we’ve associated with. I alluded to a conversation I was in last week where we talked about the information that could be gathered by Live ID –  during that conversation someone made the observation that people stop worrying about privacy when they see utility.  Even with my paranoia I’m fairly happy for Amazon to tell me things I might like, because the know what I’ve bought in the past. I haven’t bought many things – and some gifts I’ve bought lead to odd recommendations. But I don’t use a supermarket loyalty card because (or even use the same credit/debit card each time I shop) because that’s somehow the wrong side of the line.

I thought there might a place where everyone would draw the line… ?  For example implanting RFID into people is pure sci-fi, right ? Wrong: I thought when I read that doctors were talking doing just that to track patients with Alzheimer’s – the technology comes from Verichip makers of “VeriGuard™ “the first radio frequency identification (RFID) security solution to combine access control [with] VeriChip’s patented, human-implantable RFID microchip. “  

The BBC has previously reported on surveillance uses of RFID tags and last Friday they reported how RFID can be used in combination with Wifi : 
Angelo Lamme, from Motorola, said tracking students on a campus could help during a fire or an emergency. “You would know where your people are at any given moment,” he said. ‘ 
Yes. You’d know where they are every moment of every day – a classic “database of everything”.  1.8 Million people signed the Downing Street Petition against tracking every vehicle movement for road-pricing – clearly this didn’t offer enough utility to offset the loss of privacy. But the Motorola representative thinks Emergency protection does.

As I said, we were chatting informally about the Utility/Privacy trade-off and was it acceptable for Windows Live to be a database of everything ? Around the same time, Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt was telling to the press he has grander ambitions in that direction.. To quote the FT he said

Gathering more personal data was a key way for Google to expand and the company believes that is the logical extension of its stated mission to organize the world’s information. Asked how Google might look in five years’ time, Mr Schmidt said: “We are very early in the total information we have within Google. The algorithms will get better and we will get better at personalization. “The goal is to enable Google users to be able to ask the question such as ‘What shall I do tomorrow?’ and ‘What job shall I take?’ ” 

Worrying for privacy or great utility ? The next day a piece by Mark Lawson in the Guardian was introduced with the words “Anyone stupid enough to do a computer’s bidding is not losing civil liberties so much as their marbles” Over at ZDnet Andrew Keen really had a swing at Eric. He calls him “the Chauncey Gardiner of Silicon Valley” (twice) and “Google’s Chief Eccentric Officer” (also twice) ouch. “Eric” he says “I thought you were a businessman rather than a looney”. I remember Eric’s time in charge of Novell, so I’ve got a view on which he is. Andrew’s colleague on ZDNet, Donna Bogatin – who posted a summary of my post on Google’s stance on T-shirts – calls him “Harmless” with links to explanatory posts.

Plainly I’m not the only one worrying about databases of everything. It doesn’t matter who it is. What I wonder, and would love your comments on, is just what privacy will people give up for utility ?

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This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

Microsoft Surface. Alias Play table. AKA Milan.

Filed under: Beta Products — jamesone111 @ 10:12 am

 Scoble had an interesting link to Mary Jo. I had seen a lightning demo of this before, but I thought it was still in the Research stage. I did quick search on the intranet and didn’t find much.

Then someone in the office said “Microsoft.com/surface” Ooooh. This looks useful and fun. Either way this is a technology I’ve got to get my hands on (literally). Here’s hoping we get some in the atrium(s) here.


UPDATE. There’s a longer video at on10.net which shows some “real” applications, and the BBC has picked up the story.


This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

May 27, 2007

Getting a better PDF experience

Filed under: How to,Windows Vista,Windows XP — jamesone111 @ 3:46 pm

Lets get prejudice out up front. I pendulum between liking Adobe products (e.g. Lightroom), admiring the technology but hating the way it’s used (Hugh has it right when it comes to flash use), and getting thoroughly ticked off with PDF. e.g.

  1. Microsoft’s travel agent sending me itineraries in Protected PDF format – plain text would be helpful

  2. Adobe reader.  Functionally it offers me no more than 10 years ago, but is more cumbersome to use – thanks to pointless tinkering with the UI. It’s slow to load and doesn’t unload after use.  

  3. Search. Adobe do have an iFilter which integrates with Microsoft search products. But can I find a 64 bit one ? Can I heck !

  4. Preview. What preview ? Adobe don’t provide preview functionality for Outlook 2007 or Vista’s Explorer.

  5. The “Sure it’s a Standard” but “We’ll sue you if you support it in-the-box with Office 2007” attitude of Adobe. (Compared with their DNG format for pictures. “It isn’t a ratified standard, but we promise not to sue you for implementing it).

Now I’ve mentioned Foxit Software before. Arthur put be onto Tim Heuer who had used their tools to implement the missing preview functions. I called it a “must have”.  Only later did I find Tim actually works for Microsoft. DOH ! Now I knew that Foxit had a 32 bit iFilter and was going to drop Tim a note to say “Hey if you know these guys … lean on them to a 64 bit version”. Well it’s out (I’m not sure when it was released but files are dated 30th April). It installed and I left the machine alone for a little while to see if I really need to rebuild vista’s Index and popped in a search for a known PDF file. Bingo! And with the preview pane working … FANTASTIC. By the way the ifilter is Free for clients, but chargeable for servers.

(Opps. Forgot the picture originally) So… I thought “Time to try out their reader“. And so far I like it. Although I’d like to see properties appear in the pane at the bottom of explorer. Maybe between Tim and the Foxit guys they could sort out getting PDFs to display inside internet explorer rather than spawning a separate program – there’s a KB article on doing this for office apps but I don’t see corresponding registry settings for PDF. Adobe needed an extension for IE to do this – and circumstantial evidence pointed to it being responsible for some IE crashes.


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This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

Xbox 360 – a nice surprise at Amazon.co.uk

Filed under: Working at Microsoft,Xbox — jamesone111 @ 12:50 pm

I’ve been dragging my feet about upgrading my Xbox, but some of the bearings are getting a bit noisy, and the more time I spend with Vista’s Media Center the more I want to use the Xbox as an extender. Then there’s the gaming side: I quite like driving games and to be honest the wheel I have has been a major disappointment after the force feedback wheel I had on my PC.  I’m quite taken with the Force feedback wheel for the 360 – although it’s early days for games which support it. And Halo 3 isn’t far away.

I’ve also had a little bit of good news on the financial front recently so I decided the time had come to treat myself to a 360; you may know that Microsoft has a staff purchase system to let us buy software more-or-less at cost price. Since Consoles are sold with a subsidy, they’d be more expensive than in the shops, so they’re not even listed. Which is how I find myself on Amazon – where I found three offers

  • Get a free Xbox 360 Entertainment pack (a 2nd wireless controller, Project Gotham Racing 3 and Xbox Live Arcade Unplugged: Volume 1)

  • Get Crackdown & Gears of War for £10 until midnight on May 30, 2007. (£10 the pair, not £10 each – cheaper than staff purchase)

  • Get a top game for £30 (from a list of 20 or so) until midnight on May 30, 2007

So I’ve ordered the console with 20GB hard drive, ethernet cable, HD AV cable and headset, two wireless controllers, PGR3, Crackdown and Gears of War – for less than £279.99 RRP. Now I have to go to the staff purchase site and order the wheel ,the Media remote (a much better design original Xbox DVD bits)and  WiFi adapter (which runs at 54Mbit/sec and turns off with the console. My current 11Mbit one is on 24/7, not very green). Then I have to move my Xbox live subscription over.  So there’s still stuff to do to get exactly what I want, but I feel like a big kid a few days before Christmas.


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This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

May 25, 2007

Loves and hates

Filed under: General musings — jamesone111 @ 4:04 pm

Yesterday was spent on an18 hour “jaunt” to speak for 90 minutes at an HP event in Portugal. Before I left I Eileen asked why I hadn’t responded to her tag with this latest meme

  • name at least 5 programs (web or standalone) that you love that go against the mainstream ( optional – reason why – if possible)
  • name at least 5 programs that you dislike; OSes not included, (optional – reason why – if possible)
  • tag at least 5 other people 

  • Oh boy a blog chain letter. Ho hum. It was one of 10 things I thought I’d try to do on the flight back. Tapping away at 30,000 feet over the bay of biscay with I had “”Music for a found Harmonium” [watch]  on my headphones. It’s instant “good mood music” and it was actually quite difficult to narrow down the list to 5 loves.

    5 things I love …

    I’m going to limit myself to one office product and it really should be Groove. But I have to respond to Eileen and say One note is the best thing we’ve done in office since we merged Schedule+ and “Exchange” client and called them Outlook. I was in a meeting with Eileen the other day and she was writing on tree corpses; with a pen !. I’ve now idea how she indexes that. And where does she store all those little scraps of mails and other notes. I’ve got everything from Job interview notes, via product guides and diving plans, to one line jokes. e.g. “How many of you believe in telekinesis? Raise my hand…”  and when your mobile device has a keyboard One note mobile is a killer app.

    Adobe lightroom. I have a kind of love hate relationship with Adobe. Lightroom feels like it was designed from the ground up for photographers, and probably by photographers. Support for the RAW formats of different cameras is very thorough. The only thing it lacks is clone/healing brush. Although they’ve been creative with the UI it is for a purpose not for the sake of it unlike their colleagues on the Reader team – I’m on the point of dumping Adobe’s PDF reader completely and going over to Foxit (which will be the subject of another post soon).

    Mindgenius. Another piece of software which feels like it was designed for the way I work. I got introduced to Mind Mapping on a course which Microsoft used to send everyone one and it’s not something I use every week but it’s very useful when I do. And often the results end up in One note (Eileen !)

    Paintshop Pro 5. This is stupid, and Luddite of me because PSP is up to version 10, and I don’t like the newer versions. I’ve tried Somehow the clone brush just works better than the one in Digital image suite, the soften tools work better.

    And I’ve got to agree with Eileen Wikipedia is a fantastic resource for number 5. Where else would I have learnt about Snowclones while looking up stuff on Orwell. A good place to plug search in IE7. I’ve got Wikipedia and (tut tut) my own blog on the search bar inIE7.


    Now having landed and found that yesterdays post went to the great folder in the sky, [update: Temporatily – it re-appear in Live Writer after I posted the re-typed version. Grrr]  it was time for something a bit more shouty on Windows media player. Motorhead’s cover of God Save the Queen [available for free download] should fit the bill. Grrr … 5 things I hate.

    No future for you … Any of Pentax’s software. A raw file converter that works, but a UI that is a complete disaster. An photo explorer works less well than the one in windows XP, a late Vista codec which doesn’t work on 64 bit and remote assistant for the new camera which likewise was late and doesn’t work on 64 bit vista.

    Ain’t no Human beings…  One note. What ?? After the bouquet for the One Note program a brickbat for failing to produce the print to One Note driver in a 64 bit version. It’s a fantastic tool and not having it annoys me. How can I take anyone else to task over missing 64 bit support ?

    Potential H[P] bomb… HP’s Vista drivers for the 3970 scanner. Look guys, I bought it to scan Slides, Negatives and Prints, a token driver which only does prints (even a 64 bit one) is a waste of your time and mine.

    Made you a Moron [1]… Changepoint. Changepoint is the time recording software my poor ex-colleagues in Microsoft Consulting Services use. Good time recording software seems to be a contradiction but this combines poor performance, rotten UI, and flawed database scheme to transcend mere badness. Anything that makes Microsoft Consults feel stupid is quite an achievement

     Made you a Moron [2]… Flash web sites. This isn’t an attack on flash as a technology, but on the people who use it as a substitute for content. I don’t give a tinkers cuss how clever your web site designer was, all I care about is content content and content. Flash has become the tool of choice for people who want to make their ads as annoyingly intrusive as possible – thank heavens for IE7 Pro even if is unfinished.

    Now who to tag hmmm. Steve, Sharon, Darren (for Office), Ned (Stretching ‘Friend’ but Pentax should have a chance to respond) and Mark

    This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

    May 22, 2007

    When the police think we’re becoming a Surveillance society…

    Filed under: Privacy — jamesone111 @ 4:16 pm

    Here’s an interesting factlet. A couple of miles from my house, in one of those villages with a double-barreled name which could belong to an old English actor, behind a 900 year old English parish church, is the grave of George Orwell.

    I’ve mentioned Orwell before. It was 1948 when he wrote the book which gave the word Orwellian to the English language. To get the title he simply swapped the last 2 digits. I’ve called 1984 the usage scenario for a 36 year long government IT project (and observed that like may government IT projects it looks like it will take twice the anticipated time to complete). 

    I fret about privacy, and I’m not alone Governments Information commissioner has said  Fears that the UK would “sleep-walk into a surveillance society” have become a reality, and Orwell came up in a report prepared for him 

    Our image of state surveillance is often shaped by novels and films. [Like Franz Kafka’s The Trial or George Orwell’s Nineteen-Eighty-Four ] These highlight the crucial role of information (or lack of it, for the surveilled) within bureaucratic governments, alongside the constant threat of totalitarianism (paragraph 3.6)

    I think we should be wary of more than just governments- it would be naive to automatically trust large companies to do the right thing with information about us. This morning I was in a meeting where we talked about some of the possibilities of Windows Live ID, and it was plain to all in the room that we need to go further to prove that we deserve people’s trust. Symmetry plays a part – government and businesses have information, the Surveilled do not. For example if Microsoft records where you have used your live ID that information is “asymmetric”  – you’re unaware that it is being gathered, and you can’t use it. If we mail you a list of sites where your ID is used each month and which of your details they accessed then that can work for you.

    The home office has come out with proposals for Council staff and Doctors to tip off police about people who might be potential offenders – with warning signs including “Heavy drinking, mental health problems and a violent family background”.  A police network of those willing to inform on prospective criminals was a key part of the infrastructure Orwell described in 1984. So was a huge network of surveillance cameras. The report I quoted above also says “In March 2005, the Association of Chief Police Officers demanded a national network of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) [Cameras  with capacity to process reads at a rate of]  50 million by 2008 ” (paragraph 9.5.5).  But even senior police officers are beginning to worry about the level of surveillance. Over the weekend the BBC reported  the Deputy chief constable of Hampshire Ian Readhead, expressing concern after a small town spent £10,000 on CCTV.  “If it’s in our villages, are we really moving towards an Orwellian situation where cameras are at every street corner ? … I really don’t think that’s the kind of country that I want to live in.” he said.

    The police can see the value of cameras in the fighting crime, but not if that means going to 1984 lengths. In the same way I want to see Microsoft technology in great Internet applications – some will use personal information. The flip side  is the quote I used from Caspar Bowden “It is very easy to collect all of our data and the fact that it is there means governments will come up with a good list of reasons as to why they need access”.  How much of your information should we keep ?  

    Of course I can’t mention Hampshire police on the BBC without giving you this link – you know the old , old Joke which ends, “Police say they have nothing to go on” … ?

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    This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

    Doing our bit … but wishing we didn’t have to.

    Filed under: Working at Microsoft — jamesone111 @ 10:27 am

    One of the pieces of music I have in my car is Anne Clark’s Elegy for a lost summer. One line from this is “Can you feel this pain, and keep your heart unbroken”. I’m the father of a 3 year old, so the coverage from Portugal about Madeleine McCann keeps bringing that line back to me. There is no news and yet to maximize the chances of finding her the story needs to be kept in peoples minds.

    One recent development is the police have appealed for photos which might give some clue, over the weekend some of my colleagues worked on putting together the site for pictures to be uploaded, This is being done under the auspices of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) a project which Microsoft has backed.

    The only mail I ever sent Steve Ballmer was after Hurricane Katrina. I’d heard a radio report of a mother whose children had been rescued, but she had no idea where they had been taken. I said to Ballmer “Helping people find each other after a disaster is mainly a problem of information, and it is one that can be helped with technology. It’s something where our EXPERTISE can make more of a difference than our money”. And he replied saying we were doing something already – a web site KatrinaSafe went live a few hours later.

    I’d love to say what a fantastic company Microsoft is to back these things or what great technology we use but to be honest my heart’s not really in it. Our resources and skills mean we were able to help and I think in that position it is almost a duty to do so, I hope anyone else would have done the same. 

    Needless to say we all hope these sites have a very short lifespan

    Update if you have your browser set for British English the Microsoft “GB” homepage now has a link to the the Madeleine web site

    This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

    May 18, 2007

    Some interesting facts about Vista and why the logo matters

    Filed under: Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 3:51 pm

    A mail came round with a few interesting facts about Vista – which I thought I’d share with you.

    • Sales fact 1: Nearly 40 million Windows Vista licenses had been sold as of 100 days after its January launch. If my sums are right that’s 400K per day 16,700 per hour, or about 4.5 per second. Making it the fastest-selling operating system in history.
    • Sales fact 2: In our quarterly earnings call with Wall street we disclosed that the agreements we sign with major customers are growing rapidly and renewals are at historic highs. Vista (and office) are major contributors to this. That call also explains some of the accounting complexities when we release something that big.
    • Sales fact 3: Selling a license to business doesn’t mean the OS is deployed; but Gartner and IDC are predicting that Windows Vista will be more widely adopted in businesses in its first 12 months than previous versions of Windows.
    • Reliability fact: In the first 90 days after release we had 21% fewer support calls than for the same period with Windows XP
    • Performance fact: Windows Vista machines with only 1GB RAM responded on average 15 sec’s faster than similarly configured XP machines for common desktop workloads (Office, Adobe, Quicken, etc.).
    • Driver coverage fact: Today Windows Vista supports 1.9M devices (unique hardware ID’s) up from 1.5M at launch. Less than 900 drivers are “missing” today (mostly scanners and older TV tuners) and we are tracking down to the level of devices that are used by as few as 500 people globally.
    • Compatibility fact: There are now more than 10,000 hardware and software products have earned either a Works with Windows Vista logo or a higher-performance Certified for Windows Vista logo.

    On compatibility and drivers I was referred to this article by Joe Wilcox, titled, “Whoa, The Vista Logo Does Matter.” When I was looking for a TV tuner I checked Vista hardware compatibility list – the Hauppauge Device -which Joe rejected was there and available on special offer in PC world. I had to download the driver but as I’ve said before it’s great with Vista Media Centre. Hardware vendors should take note: not having the drivers in the box and not displaying the logo will cost you sales.

    This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

    May 17, 2007

    Technical Careers Showcase: an Open evening on June 7th

    Filed under: Events,Working at Microsoft — jamesone111 @ 4:24 pm

    I’ve blogged before about what a good place to work Microsoft can be. Well the Microsoft Recruitment Team has asked us to spread the word that they are running a Recruitment Open Evening on Thursday 7th June to showcase the exciting technical career opportunities. Feel free to pass this invitation to anyone you know who may be interested in joining Microsoft in the following areas:

    • Development
    • Strategy Consulting
    • Infrastructure
    • Security Consulting
    • Solution Architecture
    • Technical Account Management
    • Support Specialists
    • Dynamics
    • Sharepoint
    • User Experience Consulting

    There will be presentations by Managers to showcase their businesses and the opportunities within them., and a chance to talk to ask them questions. The Recruitment Team will also be on hand to discuss the interview process, selection and how to apply.

    Thursday 7th June at Schedule of Events [Reading HQ] 
    6.30pm    Sign in and Register
    7.00pm    Presentations from hiring managers
    7.45pm    Networking opportunity to talk to Hiring Managers and Recruitment Team.

    There will be refreshments at the event. To register your interest in this event, please click here.

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    This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

    Office Communications Server round-up

    Filed under: Real Time Collaboration — jamesone111 @ 3:10 pm

    Two sets of information have come my way about OCS. The first is the licensing is beginning to get clearer. Please don’t send me questions on upgrades and pricing – talk to whoever you normally go to when you acquire software.


    The different versions of the server (standard and Enterprise) describe how the components fit together, not the Client Access Licenses (CALs) needed. There are two CALs – confusingly also called standard and enterprise. You can talk to an enterprise server with a Standard CAL (and vice versa) – CAL types are driven by function, not design.

    • The OCS 2007 Standard CAL: Includes Presence, IM and Group IM, Peer to Peer File transfer, Voice and Video (but not multi-party Voice and Video)
    • TheOCS 2007 Enterprise CAL: is separate from the Standard CAL, not a superset of it and is needed for Application Sharing, Multi party Voice and Video and Data conferencing, and the functions of the old Telephony CAL, i.e. Call routing, User Call management, remote call control,

    Neither of these includes Public IM connectivity (linking to AOL, MSN and Yahoo!) and that will continue to be service with it’s own license

    You won’t need a CAL for:

    • Non OCS users calling (or being called by) an extension hosted on your OCS Server
    • Public-network or federated users communicating with your OCS users

    You will need CALs for each user or device for the following:

    • Users with IM identities hosted on your OCS Server
    • Users with OCS voice extensions
    • Users participating in a web conference

    This last point raises the question, “What about hosting conferences for external people ?” this is where the external Connector (EC) licence comes in. This allows access to “external” users –that can include, but is not limited to, business partners, suppliers, customers, retirees, and alumni.

    The second area is Devices and Gateways

    We’ve announced more details of partners providing phones for OCS – more information is available at the device and gateway “Strategic Partners” page), here’s a round up of the headsets and handsets.

    Jabra GN 2000 USB Headset

    Wired USB Headset
    [On10 have a good Jabra interview ]

    The Jabra GN9330 USB Headset

    Bluetooth Earpeice + USB adapter

    The Jabra GN9350 Headset

    Dual-function wireless headset for both traditional and PC-based telephony.

    LG-Nortel Bluetooth Headset (IP8502)

    [Microsoft reference design ‘Anacapa’]

    Bluetooth Earbud + USB adapter.

    Polycom CX100 Speakerphone

    Portable, speakerphone for Office Communicator 2007

    Polycom CX200 Desktop Phone /
    LG-Nortel USB Phone (IP8501)
    [Microsoft reference design ‘Catalina’]

    Office Communicator 2007 peripheral with handset, headset or speakerphone mode

    Vitelix VX-100

    USB Phone without dialpad

    NEC UC USB Phone

    USB Phone with dialpad

    Vitelix VX-200

    USB Phone with dialpad

    Vitelix VX-200 Duo

    USB Phone with dialpad and Standard Telephone Connection.

    PolyCom CX400 Cordless Phone

    Portable, cordless handset for Office Communicator 2007.

    PolyCom CX700 IP Phone /
    LG-Nortel IP Phone 8540 (IP8540)
    [Microsoft reference Design ‘Tanjay’]

    Standalone IP phone with a large touch-screen color display and WinCE based user interface

    We’ve got a photo in pressPass UC gallery with Gurdeep Singh Pall surrounded by these devices. Traditional phones have a limited frequency range which gives them their distinctive sound: the majority of these phones are “wideband” so the sound is more natural.

    The device and gateway “Strategic Partners” page also links to AudioCodes, Dialogic and Quintum who provide gateway products.

    This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

    May 16, 2007

    Goodbye "Longhorn" it’s been nice to know you

    Filed under: Windows Server 2008 — jamesone111 @ 9:51 pm

    We have announced at Winhec the name for longhorn server. It’s was tough to come up with a name which embodied all the facets of the new product. We worked hard with agencies and focus groups. And finally we’ve come up with a name that really captures the essence of the product. And the name is … Windows Server 2008.

    Like chicago, Tahoe, Catapult, Stinger, Whistler and my favourite Wolverine, Longhorn is a name we now forget.

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    This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

    PCs and Macs. And smartphones.

    Filed under: Apple,Mobility — jamesone111 @ 3:21 pm

    Having had a go at Google, I suppose it’s time to look at Apple. Odd as it may sound Microsoft people don’t dislike Apple. iPod’s market penetration among Microsoft employees is probably higher than the population as a whole. Ask many of us what hardware we’d choose to run Vista on and a lot would prefer Apple to Dell, HP, Toshiba and the rest. Apple’s industrial design is some of the very best out there.

    Apple punch above their weight, and nowhere more so than in their advertising. 23 years after it aired the “1984” commercial for the launch of the Mac is still seen as one of the great commercials. I’ve quoted a piece in the Guardian about the current “I’m a PC”/ “and I’m a Mac” ads – here in the UK they star David Mitchell (PC) and Robert Webb (Mac). A favourite bit reads

    [Mitchell and Webb] are best known for the television series Peep Show… ..  in which Mitchell plays a repressed, neurotic underdog, and Webb plays a selfish, self-regarding poseur. So when you see the ads, you think, “PCs are a bit rubbish yet ultimately lovable, whereas Macs are just smug, preening tossers.” In other words, it is a devastatingly accurate campaign.

    Dell have responded in kind;  and now so have PC pro (PC pro’s Tim Danton has a good piece on the subject, too). Their “32 ways that PCs are better than Macs makes a good read”

    A couple of times recently my new smartphone has come into its own. Last night, getting off the plane home I picked up a mail which said “was [this] meant to be in a blog post you made”. It wasn’t, and the web browser on the smartphone let me onto the blog site to make the correction before I got to front of the passport queue. A couple of times I’ve found myself using the camera as a way of grabbing a  note of something – as distinct from taking a photograph. One example was PC-Pro on the Mac adverts… If you want to know what their 32 reasons are you’ll have to get your own copy.

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    This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

    Halo 3 – and well kept secrets

    Filed under: Xbox — jamesone111 @ 12:04 pm

    Part of me says I should not have to learn about what’s happening at Microsoft from the BBC. My dive buddy in Malta was asking me about Halo 3 and I was telling him that consumer product launch dates are known to only a very few – it’s one of the few bits of the business which is secretive. I’ve heard an expected date for Longhorn Server to ship – and that’s expected, not fixed and I’m not sharing it. No one in my circle knew that HALO 3 WILL LAUNCH ON SEPTEMBER 25th (US) and 26th (Europe).

    As I type this, over at bungie.net , the clock is still ticking down with 1 hour to go before the start of the public beta, with no news of the launch date. Nor is the Launch date visible on Halo3.com Could it be that the BBC Story appeared a couple of hours early. I don’t know.

    Update. Looks like the Beeb jumped the gun. At Bungie.net the clock has gone and the announcement is there (with more detail here – but boys, the equinox is the 21st! you ship 4 days into Autumn, not 2 ! )

    Technorati tags: , , ,

    This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

    May 15, 2007

    Google stories ?

    Filed under: Uncategorized — jamesone111 @ 2:36 pm

    I blogged before about Google reading peoples documents, but one of my colleagues in the US shared this with the world this morning

    From: Ryan Pollock [mailto:Something@google.com]
    Sent: Monday, May 14, 2007 11:30 AM
    To: something@google.com
    Subject: Please do not attend the Google @ Work seminar

    You previously registered for a Google @ Work seminar.  Because you work for a competitor, we politely ask you not to attend.  These seminars are intended for prospective customers.
    Thank you.

    Ryan Pollock
    Product Marketing, Google Enterprise
    (6xx) 2×3-xxx2

    Now it throws up some interesting questions because there are very few customers out there who buy everything from one vendor. I’ve blogged about “Coopertition” before, and it’s in our customers interests that we understand the other stuff in their environment. We just wouldn’t ban a competitor from our sessions. When Melville worked here he was welcome at the Oracle user group, Steve goes to Linux events. This brought another story out of the woodwork

    Subject: RE: Please do not attend the Google @ Work seminar

    I had the same story almost a year ago I did some booth work at the European Open Source Convention in Brussels.
    We had a booth with Port25 next to the Google booth. I was handing out a lot of t-shirts and I asked the google guys if they wanted one.
    “We are not allowed to wear any t-shirts from a competitor” 🙂 very amusing, I asked a google t-shirt just for fun 🙂


    So share your stories of Google secrecy and control freakery, that’s what comments are for.

    This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

    Windows Server virtualization and taking a dive.

    Filed under: Virtualization,Windows Server 2008 — jamesone111 @ 2:13 pm

    I’ve spent the last few days diving. Scuba and photography fight it out for third place in my interests (after family and work). To understand the hazards involved I studied scuba accident reports, and they mirror things I’d read in aviation: the change from “normal” to “disaster” is hardly ever instant – instead the cause is a chain of events and/or actions. Breaking that chain is key to disaster avoidance – and one of the major lessons in my scuba training was to keep thinking “What are my options here?”

    The Windows Server virtualization team have announced their public beta will coincide with the release of Windows Server longhorn and that some features have been deferred. Forecasting is an inexact business – especially around software development, in software as in scuba when you realise that things aren’t going plan you have to ask yourself is “What are my options here ?” and balance time, quality and features. You have 3 basic options

    Option 1. Denial. Not all signs of trouble are the beginning of a disastrous chain: you could ask “How might this develop – and what are my options if it goes the wrong way?” – Or you could insist that everything will be alright. In scuba you may have less air left than you planned but continue with something which needs a reserve – like going into a wreck. This could be a link is a fatal chain of events. In Software even when you need to test more cases than you first thought and development is taking longer than you expected, you can insist that if everyone works hard then you’ll ship on time and won’t have any noticeable quality problems. This produces (a) Demoralization. The developers know the product is destined to be a wreck and know that management is in denial. Eventually word will get out- which leads to… (b) Distrust. No-one will believe your next project is on track.

    Option 2. Delay. Do the things you meant to but later. In Scuba, if you’re exhausted after a dive then make the next one later than planned, if you haven’t the air to accomplish the things you wanted, do them on another dive. In software you can push back the release date of the whole product, or at least some of its features.

    Option 3. Ditch. Things are so far gone you have to abandon the dive / project (or one of their features). This is the option everyone wants to avoid, if the alternative is “making your next dive to 6 feet in a wooden wetsuit”, or ruining customer relationships with an irredeemable product that’s what you have to do.

    A re-plan is pointless unless you are confident of success: both in Scuba and Software. Machiavelli isn’t as widely read in Redmond as you might think – but he said when you have do something unpleasant, do it once and decisively so you don’t alienate people by doing it again and again and again. Program managers need to follow that advice. If you push back feature X, and then feature Y and feature Z, that’s worse than pushing all 3 back together – even if you realize on release that X could have stayed

    Having gone through the “Redmond, we have a problem” moment and decided “Denial is not an option” the WSv team faced the choice: keep the features or keep the schedule. They chose the latter, which meant deciding which features get delayed. I’ve had 3 or 4 days to think about this and I think they got it right. Features about how individual VMs behave stay. Deferred features affect how an environment of many VMs is managed. There are two separate questions for customers to address. “Does this product run our workloads well?” and “How good a dynamic environment can we build to run our workloads”. People can answer the first, but must wait to answer the second. How long might the wait be? In a perfect world we’d see these features in “Virtualization SP1”, which would go into beta when Virtualization itself releases, and ship 3 to 6 months later. But predicting if the dates will line up to allow that would be to layer guesstimate on guestimate.

    There are some customers who could barely wait for WSv before this announcement. This bit is painful for Microsoft people. Customers should buy the product which best meets their needs – and overall I’m happy with how often that is the Microsoft product. One of my pet sound-bites is “We and our customers want the same thing: Both of us want them to have an excellent experience of our technology. If they can’t get that – if we don’t meet their needs on features, timescale or anything else – they should buy another product. Someone who ends up as a happy VMware customer does us less harm than ending as an unhappy Microsoft one.

    Technorati tags: Microsoft, windows, longhorn, virtualization, beta, Windows Server Virtualization, Viridian

    This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

    May 9, 2007

    Voice control … sooner than I thought.

    Filed under: Exchange,Real Time Collaboration — jamesone111 @ 3:17 pm

    Maybe I’m getting mellow in my old age, or maybe things in Microsoft IT are changing. There was a time when I really didn’t think much them – directly after they off-shored the help-desk was the low point. But since then they’ve been doing this and that to improve the service they deliver to us. One thing I mentioned a number of times is how easy it is to receive a new computer and get it working – thanks to Windows deployment services. Another is rolling out the latest Windows Mobile powered phones with all the supporting stuff from Exchange 2007 – and I’ve mentioned that before.

    However. There has been one annoyance with Exchange 2007. My colleagues in the US get access to Unified Messaging – i.e the service which used to be voice mail now reads your e-mail to you and manages your calendar, and incoming voice mails arrive into your mailbox. We don’t get it. Here in the UK our switchboard presented a stack of problems for deploying UM: one of my customers who is based just across town from the Microsoft office has teased me because he has UM and I don’t. My expectation was they’d be hosting the Winter Olympics in Hell before we sorted it. I was wrong. Perhaps this is linked to the completion of building 5 – the rumour mill suggests this will be first non-US deployment of the Tanjay IP phones for OCS that I’ve mentioned before. Perhaps the necessary gateway has become available. Perhaps some of the changes that we’ve put into our software have helped our own IT folks do less firefighting, and more service development. I really don’t know. Either way we’ve been told that the deployment is happening soon.

    As I’ve said before – touch tone controlled voice mail is a relic of the 1980’s and as way of controlling systems, touch tones need to go the way of the punch card 

    Voice mail’s interface – keying in DTMF tones –  was designed for an era of desktop phones which were used two handed. But when you keep having to take a one piece phone from your ear to tell the system what to do, it’s clunky at best – and as for listening to messages while driving – that’s downright Dangerous.”.

    In a a world where voice command means we can speak to a phone to tell it play music or call a messaging service; shouldn’t we also be able to speak to the messaging service and tell it what to play ? I’m looking forward to that. And since I’m lousy at polling for Voice mail, when the system goes live I’ll know I’ve got a message a great deal sooner and won’t keep people waiting for a reply for quite so long.


    This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

    Webcasts on Certification – and 40% off !

    Filed under: Events,Exchange,Windows Server 2008 — jamesone111 @ 10:05 am

    With all the new products which we’re seeing this year, the question does bubble up “How does this impact certification ?” .

    The people who run the MC* programmes have put together a set of web casts. These have already happened (click to see more and watch the web cast)

    2007 Office System Certifications for IT Professionals and Developers

    Windows Server Certifications Overview

    Exchange Server 2007 Certifications

    SQL Server 2005 Certifications

    Update on Windows Vista Certifications

    Some are still to come – click the time for more information and registration.

    Protecting the Integrity of Microsoft Certification
    May 23, 2007  7:30 A.M. Pacific Time (That’s 3:30 PM UK / 4:30 PM C.E.T) or 5:00 P.M. Pacific Time

    Review of Windows Vista and Exchange Server 2007 Training and Certification   
    May 30, 2007
    7:30 A.M. Pacific Time (3:30 PM UK / 4:30 PM C.E.T) or 5:00 P.M. Pacific Time

    Introducing the Windows Server “Longhorn” Certification Roadmap *
    June 13, 2007 7:30 A.M. Pacific Time (3:30 PM UK / 4:30 PM C.E.T) or 5:00 P.M. Pacific Time

    1 Year In: The Microsoft Certified Architect Program
    June 20, 2007 7:30 A.M. (3:30 PM UK / 4:30 PM C.E.T) Pacific Time or 5:00 P.M. Pacific Time


    Now, you’ll notice that we’re not introducing the Longhorn certification roadmap until June; read from into that “We don’t know what the upgrade process will be – yet”. However if you go to the MCP PAGE you can register for 40% off the Exam(s) whatever the upgrade turns out to be. You have to be an MCSE or MCSA by the 30th of June to qualify. This is where future webcasts will be announced too.  

    This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

    May 6, 2007

    If your data is in the cloud… where’s your privacy ?

    Filed under: General musings,Privacy — jamesone111 @ 6:57 pm

    Another story which has been doing the rounds this week, has been stories that has been the rounds this week has been about a crack for HD DVD content

    Catching up on my reading I found Sharon’s post Who controls your data. There are a couple of issues in this

    (a) The AACS have a system of intellectual property to protect, but choose your phrase.  “The internet treats censorship as damage and routes around it”, Or Eileen’s “The internet has no delete key” or “You can’t put the genie back in the bottle.” The Wired post Sharon links to has be visited by “blog-spam” bots posting the key which is central to the crack.

    (b) Sharon’s post and the Wired one were about Google looking through your information and deciding what you may keep and what you may not. One of my correspondents was extolling the virtues of lodging data with Google. Sharon puts the counter case in this scenario.
    I use Gmail for email. Someone sends me an email containing content that might infringe copyright. Google receives a notification from the copyright owner and issues notices similar to the one above with 3 days to comply. I happen to be on holiday and don’t check my email, so have not even read the alleged offending email, let alone seen the takedown notice. When I return to work, my entire Gmail account has been deleted. What if I ran my entire business using Google services?”

    And no, this isn’t a swing at Google per-se. I’ve no reason to think that Microsoft would react any differently to a “take down” notice under the DMCA (for which see another of Sharon’s posts). Being outside the US the DMCA doesn’t apply to me… it will be interesting to see if

    Sharon replied to a comment in yet a third post,
    “I’m not too comfortable with the idea of my master copies being in the cloud, but I know the next generation behind us views the world differently….   [They] have fewer privacy/ownership concerns. That approach too will have a dark side for them, likely in how the content is exploited by less altruistic motives.”

    And what was the quote from Caspar that I included yesterday
    “It is very easy to collect all of our data and the fact that it is there means governments will come up with a good list of reasons as to why they need access”

    Technorati tags:

    This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

    May 5, 2007

    Privacy. And a tale of headless riders, Police blogs and security theatre

    Filed under: General musings,Privacy,Security and Malware — jamesone111 @ 3:10 pm

    When dealing with data privacy, we need to think about proper use of Personally Identifiable information (PII) the kind which can be used to identify someone and which tells us something about them. In the UK, the Information Commissioner , oversees operation of the Data Protection Act, which has principles and conditions for processing information. Everyone in Microsoft does mandatory privacy training to ensure that we use you information only in ways which comply with the Act and often go further.

    A macabre case of PII misuse has been in the news recently. Telling to the press about their “Arrive Alive” campaign, North Wales Police used what they termed “Harrowing Pictures”. These included a decapitated motorcyclist in a T-Shirt telling the police to “ p*** off And catch some REAL criminals.”. The T-shirt slogan, had been publicized at a biker’s inquest – so it identified the man (and his family). Stories appeared with his name and the fact of his decapitation – which his father had kept from the rest of his family, and they had no idea this was coming. There is to be an investigation into the behaviour of the police although the not of the press.

    I’ve said before that Inspector Gadget’s blog helps to develop public understanding of what police officers go through – his piece “The rich girls are weeping” is full of pathos and almost poetic, so is his one from this week. Seriously you should follow those links. I’m not interested in other Police blogs so I was surprised to learn from the BBC that the North Wales Chief Constable has a blog with his side of the biker story. He seems robust, his message boils down to “Want to portray me as a Speed Obsessed loony? First you should know what we have to clear up

    Sadly the Chief Constable is engaged in “Safety Theatre”. We encounter Security theatre on a daily basis, whether it’s as air travellers required to stand in large groups (read “target formations”) to perform strange rites before boarding, as photographers shooting in a public place being accused of being terrorists on reconnaissance or being child abusers , or as Computer users required to change (complex) passwords so often we write them down. Steve has a post on the logic of “buy [this security product] or the sky will fall down“. It is taboo to criticize anything, however bogus, linked to safety or security. In Britain the government tells us ID cards will protect us from terrorists, but they would not have prevented 9/11, the Madrid Bombings, the 7/7 London bombing or helped to catch the recent “Crevice” plotters. The Information commissioner seems like another robust chap; he has said that the UK could sleepwalk into a Surveillance Society as a result of ID cards, other opponents talk about a database state.

    Part of the theatre effect is rebranding Speed Cameras as “Safety cameras”. Some accidents (maybe up to 1/3) are caused by excess speed: so making people slow down removes that cause: so the argument runs keeping to speed limits must increase safety. Evidence to the contrary is buried. Reality is more complex; cameras only address one aspect of irresponsible driving, unfortunately, drivers tend to do more stupid things shortly after passing a camera and watching the speedo instead of the road makes accidents of inattention more likely. Published figures show the number of road deaths has stopped falling in recent years, while the number of cameras has rocketed.

    Safety theatre means the North Wales Police can show a corpse with the implication “Speed cameras could stop this“. It’s not true: the biker was caught on camera doing 125MPH, six hours before he died; cameras have meant automated processes replace human enforcement, so he wasn’t stopped. A court summons would have been sent out – although it’s alleged that the number plate on the bike had been altered so perhaps not. In any event he had no license to lose; Cameras had no effect on him.

     Cameras may not save lives, but they are part of the Surveillance Society; last year the BBC reported the information commissioner again, saying Fears that the UK would “sleep-walk into a surveillance society” have become a reality’ with a link to an Academic report – here’s a quote

    The intensification of surveillance of the motorist is set to expand rapidly. In March 2005, the Association of Chief Police Officers demanded a national network of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) ‘utilising police, local authority, Highways Agency, other partner and commercial sector cameras including the integration of the existing town centres and high street cameras, with a National ANPR Data Centre, with an operational capacity to process 35 million ANPR reads every day increasing to 50 million by 2008 (paragraph 9.5.5)

    Who’s in charge ACPOs policy on Road Policing? The Chief Constable of North Wales! Whilst he may be keen on implementing the “surveillance society”, but he is against a Police state: in his blog exchange with the BNP he says joining the police means …“not being able to play an active part in politics… It is precisely because I want to live in a parliamentary democracy, and not a police state, that I actively welcome this restriction on my private life.”. It’s a fine distinction because “Police State” and “Totalitarian” go hand in hand and as that report says

    Our image of state surveillance is often shaped by novels and films. [Like Franz Kafka’s The Trial or George Orwell’s Nineteen-Eighty-Four ] These highlight the crucial role of information (or lack of it, for the surveilled) within bureaucratic governments, alongside the constant threat of totalitarianism (paragraph 3.6) 

    So on the one side we have the Chief Constable wanting Cameras to keep us safe and secure, and on the other side the Information commissioner seeing their use in a the Surveillance Society. As well as ID cards he worries about facial recognition cameras (the ID cards database will hold facial data) as well as the ANPR cameras mentioned above. Last week he issued a press release saying he was

    “proposing new safeguards – including privacy impact assessments and inspection powers – to ensure public confidence in initiatives and technologies which could otherwise accelerate the growth of a surveillance society. Giving evidence before the Home Affairs Select Committee the Information Commissioner will also call for stronger powers to allow his Office (the ICO) to carry out inspections and audits.”

    If you’ve read this far you may be thinking But what has this got to do with Microsoft ? Well there a couple of obvious basic points about protecting PII – One of the data protection principles is “Appropriate technical and organisational measures shall be taken against unauthorised or unlawful processing of personal data and against accidental loss or destruction of, or damage to, personal data.” Which recognises it is a matter of process as much as technology. Of course when I read Staff at M&S have been warned they may be at risk of identity crime after the theft of a laptop I did think “Bitlocker would solve that.” {I’d love to hear from anyone looking at a large scale implementation of bitlocker by the way}

    On the same day as they said the Information Commissioner’s fears had become a reality the BBC published a piece called “How to hide in a connected world” and in the middle the heading “Microsoft as a privacy leader ?” The BBC repeats criticism of the initial incarnation of passport – it was good at “Oiling the wheels” in identity transactions but lots of people, including me, didn’t like a single organization to amassed so much PII. New systems like Card space can give users control of which details they share in any given situation. (Notice that we don’t trust people to follow the data processing principles of only doing with it what people consented to when they provided it, and only keeping it as long as necessary to do what they consented to.)
    But what about the wider questions ? Neither Kafka nor Orwell foresaw technology’s ability to retrieve and cross reference information about us. A colleague from the former East-Germany describes the surveillance we have in Britain today as beyond the dreams of the Stasi. The BBC piece had a quote It is very easy to collect all of our data and the fact that it is there means governments will come up with a good list of reasons as to why they need access “ it came from Caspar Bowden – who joined Microsoft with a reputation for being tough on governments and industry over privacy issues. I’m curious to know what people, in the UK especially, think. Do you think this is domestic politics, and Microsoft as a US company should keep out, or you think as the worlds biggest player in IT we should have an opinion and voice it. ? Do post a comment.

     Update another case where bit locker would have protected peoples privacy

    This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

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