James O'Neill's Blog

November 30, 2007

Virtualization futures

Filed under: Beta Products,Virtualization,Windows Server,Windows Server 2008 — jamesone111 @ 11:38 pm

A number of questions have come up in recent conversations about Virtualization. So here’s a run down of what is happening


System Center Virtual Machine Manager has already been released. Support for Hyper-V will come in the next version (along with support for other virtualization products).  The SCVMM team have said they are trying to have a preview version (beta or CTP) to coincide with the Beta of hyper-V, to synchronize the release of the two products.  are trying to get their releases as close as they can to the releases of Hyper-V … when will those be …


Hyper-V (a.k.a. Windows Server Virtualization, a.k.a Viridian). A Community Technology Preview came out with Release candidate 0 for Server 2008; a full Beta will included with the release of Server 2008, and within 180 days it will be released. At the moment the list of operating system / service pack combinations supported running on top of Hyper-V is still being defined.


Hyper-V itself is only 64 bit (x64, not Itanium). It is quite happy to run 64 bit or 32 bit guest operating systems, but it needs a 64 bit CPU with Virtualization support


There will be no new releases of Virtual Server; (no new server side 32-bit Virtualization).  But Virtual Server will be supported to the end of 2014. It became available in 2004, so mainstream support lasts until the end of 2009, and extended support ends in 2014, when the product is 10 years old.


There is a general expectation that there will be a new version of the desktop Virtual PC, at the moment there isn’t any concrete information to share. 


As well as server 2008, we also have service packs in the pipeline for both Windows XP and Vista. There may be patches / service packs for Virtual PC and Virtual Server to fully support the new OSes, but for general guidance, all three will be supported as guest OSes under both Virtual Server 2005 R2 and Virtual PC (32 bit only).


Virtual PC won’t be supported running on Server 2008 as a host, but it will support the new client service packs. Virtual Server 2005 will be supported on Server 2008 and Vista.



 


Update.


(1)  One of the SCVMM team contacted me to say my original comments on their ship plans weren’t quite right; which is one of the dangers of repeating information I got second hand. His words were “Our plan is to be close to Hyper-V’s schedule but I would avoid using the word synchronized”.  What I said originally was supposed to mean “Their ideal would be to be synchronized” not “They are working to this date”. I wouldn’t expect them to have dates that they can announce until the new year.


(2) Just to be clear. No new releases of Virtual Server, doesn’t rule out service packs, but we won’t be porting new features of Hyper-V to Virtual server


(3) Fixed some typos.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

A blog post about using PowerShell to get blog posts (about PowerShell)

Filed under: How to,Powershell — jamesone111 @ 4:28 pm

I guess the thing I like best about PowerShell its ability to make the business of getting stuff on the screen so easy. I’ve used format-List and Format-Table a lot. And looking for something else I’d come across the “Write-progress” cmdlet.

Now … I’ve been playing with a script I found on Lee Holmes’ blog.  Lee works for us and is author of the powershell cookbook  – the library here in Microsoft-UK has ordered it but I haven’t seen it yet. The script gets blog posts using the metaWeblog api

With community server I put in

.\get-blogposts -posturl "http://blogs.technet.com/metablog.ashx" -blogID "jamesone" -username jamesone -password LikeIWillPutItHere  -numberofposts 5000 

And it returns a bunch of objects, one for each of my blog posts (all 400+) FANTASTIC. But, as you can imagine, it takes some time. It would be really good to have a progress indicator, so this seemed like time  to try out Write progress

Lee’s code makes some XML, sends it to the server and the converts the string that comes back into XML – like this

$responseContent =  (new-object System.Net.WebClient).UploadString($postUrl, $postTemplate) 

$results = [xml] $responseContent

Both operations are time consuming – personally I would probably have written

$results = [xml]  (new-object System.Net.WebClient).UploadString($postUrl, $postTemplate) 

But Lee’s way makes it dead easy to put in the Write-progress, thus

Write-progress "Getting blog posts" "Fetching from server" 

$responseContent =  (new-object System.Net.WebClient).UploadString($postUrl, $postTemplate)
write-progress "Getting blog posts" "Checking XML"
$results = [xml] $responseContent

and if I am piping the posts to something else I want to be able to see which of my 400 posts we’ve reached,so just before returning each post I insert another write-progress

write-progress "Getting blog posts" "Checking XML" -cu $blogEntry.title  
$blogEntry

Of course, having changed the script, I might not want the progress output after all – in which case I can change $ProgressPreference from  “Continue” to “Silentlycontinue”. I love these details that I keep finding in Powershell, not only does it handle something which is always a pain to do in a script , but I don’t have to code in a “-silent” option with an if statement every time I wanted to output progress.  

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This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

Exchange 2007 SP1 released

Filed under: Exchange,Mobility,Real Time Collaboration — jamesone111 @ 2:46 pm

The news went live on the Exchange Web Page yesterday. Technet Magazine has “16 new features in Exchange SP1” the one which is of most interest to me is Improvements to Unified Messaging“… that’s all about integration with OCS and communicator. 

Update: Jason thinks the mobility improvements are pretty major too,  more control over the device stands out there.

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This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

November 28, 2007

It must be the truth ‘cos it’s there in the news

Filed under: Apple,Mobility — jamesone111 @ 10:08 am

I have learnt better than to read everything I read on The register.

But, deary, deary me. It seems only 26,000 iPhones have been activated in the UK. That was against a launch forecast of 100,000 for the first weekend. Indeed the register paints a picture of carphone warehouse having stacks of unsold iphones being gradually fixed to warehouse shelves by layers of cobwebs.

Gizmodo have a survey which says everyone’s heard of the iphone but 72% of people asked say it’s too expensive

I’ve never had my grubby paws on an iPhone so I shouldn’t comment, but I’ll happily quote what one of my colleagues said about it by comparison with the HTC’s touch dual.
I’ve got an HTC Dual and an iPhone and the Dual is way better than the iPhone.  As a business device the iPhone is a joke, email is just cr*p.  Also, although the UX/UI on the iPhone is initially cool, what really struck me was that on the plane in airplane mode – nothing worked as everything assumed a live connection

No doubt the usual Apple fan-boys and -girls will be along shortly to rant at me for even commenting on the telephonic messiah

Talking of rants, it seems Attila the stockbroker’s “Ranting at the Nation” album, so much a part of my mis-spent youth – is now avaialble for Download.  It includes “Russians at the DHSS”, which gave my title for this post. It opens with the fairly quotable
“It first was a rumour dismissed as a lie
But then came the evidence none could deny
A double page spread in the Sunday Express
The Russians are running the DHSS”.

Somewhere in a loft I must have a bootleg cassette of this album. It would be nice to go legit finally.

 

Update: Thanks to Finbar, I’ve fixed the link to the HTC phone. Note to self… don’t copy and paste links from OWA

 

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

November 25, 2007

You don’t want to start from here.

Filed under: Uncategorized — jamesone111 @ 6:02 pm

Holiday and Tech-Ed IT-Forum have caused me a backlog. I’ve more reading than I know what to do with … having RSS feeds brought into outlook means that they accrete there, slowly I’m working through them and finding the odd gem. For example, Sharon has had an interesting recurring theme on her blog. I’d summarize is it as In a world where we’ve moved from “production” jobs to “thinking” jobs how do organizations avoid stifling thought in their people ?

One can take these ideas to some interesting conclusions. For example, back in 1989, my wife of 4 months and I had just bought a new house and we wanted to get a joint bank account. A new bank had just opened which went by the name of first direct.*  Although they were a subsidiary of HSBC they had no High Street branches of their own: they were phone oriented. Now.. Phone banking tends to mean the dreaded phone trees and people in off-shore call centres rigidly following a script. I noticed an advertising campaign recently saying this was not the first direct way: with them you have a human interaction.  They belive this is an important selling point (as their unpaid evangelist for 18 years I agree). On the other hand If a company believes challenge of customer relationships is “how to do things with perfect replicability, at ever-increasing scale and steadily increasing efficiency.¨ as Sharon quotes McKinsey as saying -then the way to go is to move intelligence into the process and use interchangeable people. Henry Ford would have recognised that definition of a production line. Do people want to be treated as a widget going down a production line ? first direct would say no.

The problem with an offshore call centre isn’t dealing with someone who grew up in another culture or their accent when they talk to you. It’s dealing with an organization whose culture is to service customers instead of talking to them. It’s a culture which sees not people, but resources. The term “Human Resources” always jars with me – why not call your people “meat capital” or similar. In an economy which is moving more to thinking jobs the challenges revolve around talent, attracting it, retaining it, developing it, inspiring it. I’d love to see the term “HR” disappear and the function called something like Talent Attraction, Retention, Development & Inspiration Services: though whether we could nip into the TARDIS department and keep a straight face is another matter entirely.   

Of course we don’t want to completely drive out reliability and consistency …  as one senior Microsoft exec (Kevin Turner – I think) is quoted as saying “We don’t want to be mindlessly global, or hopelessly local”: there are pockets of both in Microsoft: I’ve seen “mindless” Human Resources process have a crushing effect on people, and I’ve seen “hopeless” inconsistency drive customers to distraction. Overall, though, I think we do a reasonable job. Sharon asks the questions “Do you have a standard job title and description shared with peers throughout the organisation?” and “Are a set of standard objectives used to measure performance?” in the role I’m in now (notice it’s a “role”, not a “job”) my job description and objectives are personalized. But elsewhere people have seen their team evolving into what Sharon describes as  “[the job] is to ‘do’ not ‘think’. What does the future look like? More of the same…”. Do they develop and inspire talent ? Retain it ? Take a wild guess…

In my backlog e-mail pile I have examples of the good and bad. Here’s an example of unnecessary “we’ll decide for you” management

The [Training on subject X] has been available for 45 days and is required for all [Large group] employees.  Because we  expect [sub group] to take the lead on driving [subject X] throughout the company and the industry, I was disappointed to learn that [Subgroup’s] completion rate is only 26%.  Kazakhstan for example is 100% completed (nice work Kazakhstan), but most other countries have a ways to go.  Please take 30 minutes this week to complete this training which reviews the [subject X] vision, the value proposition and the opportunities for our customers and partners.

Unless the law requires me to be trained in [subject x], I can judge: does it matter to my role and objectives ? do I know it well enough already ? Making it mandatory imposes someone else’s judgement about how I use my time. Check people have streamed the training to their PC they’ll do that (that’s WYMIWYG ) but if you hired thinkers, many will let it play, muted, behind another window, while they work towards their objectives.  If there is a date it needs to be done by, it won’t be done weeks ahead.

Here’s an example of the good: “remember to set your compensation choices for next year”. We have a number of choices, for example Microsoft pays for health insurance for all employees (that’s “process” and “global”), but employees can opt for Dental cover to be paid for from their salary (that’s “Human” and “Local”). Its a good combination: flexible benefits deliver value to me, without increasing cost to Microsoft – that’s good for profits. 

The flexible compensation scheme at Microsoft is an example of “enabling people to make thousands and thousands of individual decisions” – which is what Sharon quotes McKinsey describing modern management being about. We think the information you let people have and the tools you provide them to solve problems in their own way are important in this way of working. “The people ready business” might sound cheesy, but that’s what it is about. Just deploying a particular set of software doesn’t make you “people ready”, of course. If you see it like Darren “The millennials are coming” or like Sharon “The natives are leaving” the next generation joining the workforce won’t accept life as a “resource” or an IT regime proscribes the way they want to work.

But what if your organization (or your part of it) is run by process oriented managers, rather than goal oriented leaders ? How does it move to the new world ? As they say, if you want to get there, you don’t want to start from here.

 

* I love the disclaimer I just noticed on their web site. “We’re obsessive about the quality of our service, so we monitor or record calls to make sure everything’s tickety boo”

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

November 24, 2007

Video clips – MS Developers on YouTube.

Filed under: Uncategorized — jamesone111 @ 12:39 pm

Eileen linked to Jeffrey Snover’s video in the MS Developers area on YouTube. She and I separately met up with Jeffrey at IT-Forum in Barcelona. He seemed to be in great demand for interviews, he recorded an audio one with me and has a link to a video one on his blog. The week that I’ve been back has whizzed by in a blur and I must sort out getting the interviews posted.

Since part of this job is “showing the human face of Microsoft” (whatever that is) I like seeing little vignettes like these as much as I like the longer more technical ones – partly because I’d never produce anything in that style myself. Here’s a good example (which ends with the same bit of Jeffrey that Eileen liked)

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

November 20, 2007

7M families personal data mislaid by government.

Filed under: Privacy — jamesone111 @ 4:36 pm

At Tech-ed IT Forum I went to watch a couple of Steve Riley’s session, he’s quite the showman, but I’d never been to watch him in action – I found he got me to think about stuff I already knew in a new way.

One question he threw out to the audience. “How many of say e-mail is so important that it can only be Accessed from a managed corporate PC on the Corporate network ? i.e. you forbid mobile devices, access from Kiosks, from home, from the airport” {I’m going to call this model A} 1 person put their hand up, “And how many of you say e-mail is so important that it must be accessible from anywhere, using devices, Kiosk PCs, Public Wireless etc ?” {We’ll call this model B}. Most hands went up  “Why”  he asked “does that only apply to e-mail ?”.  Steve’s not alone in thinking about the trade-off between being secure (saying “no” to everything) and getting stuff done (saying “yes” to anything), and questions of acceptable risk. I may expand on some of these ideas when I’m talking about Terminal services at next week’s road-show.

The other thing that Steve was talking about was the threats to data and three axes to classify it. The first axis was Confidentiality (from public information, through boring internal information and commercially confidential information to private personal information), the second  retention (regulated – kept long term, Historical business data – medium term, to transient data)  and the third was recovery (segmented into business critical ,  Urgent and non urgent).

I’ve thought about one of Steve’s points before, but as I said he got me thinking about it in a new way. I’ve long known that we look at 3 dimensions of protecting data; it has to be available (it’s no good if we can’t get to it). It has to be correct (corrupt data is useless) and we have to guard its confidentiality. We rely on preventing access – the “Model A” approach to enforce confidentiality by controlling possession. But we’re living more an more in a “Model B” world, where possession is outside our control. What happens when the company’s secrets are on laptops or shared with partner companies ?  In the end the protection must be on the thing you are trying to protect. That means among other things protecting documents with Rights Management and hard-disks with bit locker (or equivalent technologies). These deal with data “at rest” as Steve puts it. Other technologies (like SSL or S/Mime encryption of mail) protect documents “in flight”.

Today the Chancellor has had to admit that HM Revenue and Customs have lost details of 25 Million child benefit recipients, which includes the bank details of 7 Million families. Since everyone with children in the UK receives child benefit that means my data is probably among them. If you’ve got kids and live in the UK  there’s no knowing where your data (Name, Address, dates of birth, NI numbers etc) is or what use it might be put to.

This isn’t the first time HMRC have lost a big pile of personal data, and this time their Chairman has resigned. Encryption would have saved all this. I’m moved to wonder (a) Why the data was being put on disks and sent through the post ? and (b) If government departments are so inept, why aren’t more people worried about them getting more data about us. (c) Can anyone get a top civil servant to resign just by hiding a couple of key CDs ?

 

Update. Inspector Gadget has his take on all of this. He ends with a comment about Blackadder Jokes. For those who think I’m not good at self restraint I’ll point out that the I never joked about the chancellor’s name, and  even saved the link to this private-eye cover for an update.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

November 15, 2007

Confessions of an environmental hypocrite.

Filed under: Uncategorized — jamesone111 @ 5:08 pm

I started tapping this out on my Smartphone at 30,000 feet as I headed for my fourth airport in 20 hours. From Carribean Holiday to Tech-ed Barcelona via London Heathrow (where, inevitably, BA lost my bag). With all the guilt we are supposed to feel when we fly, spending 15 hours in economy seems like some kind of penance. (‘Forgive me father for I have flown’ … ‘My son, say 3 life Jackets or 4 Emergency exits‘).


I ribbed Steve recently because I’m pedantic when it comes to Carbon Guilt. Unlike making a car journey, occupying a few square inches in the cheap seats on a plane doesn’t directly cause extra carbon to be spewed into the atmosphere – the plane would have flown if my seat had been empty. But everyone who flies a route keeps it viable, and a share of emissions yet to come can be laid at our doors. In which case, what am I doing flying half way round the world to go scuba diving?


I’m a little agnostic about the role of Co2 in global warming. Climate does appear to be changing, but in a way is more closely correlated with solar activity rather than with co2 output. The scientific models we have for climate are far from perfect – but neither of those things completely invalidate all theories of the Greenhouse effect: they show that climate is a more complicated thing than you might believe from the way the subject is reported. An Article I read in The Times on Monday said that “In 1950 there were about 5,000 polar bears. Now there are 25,000″ and “evidence from organisations such as the US National Biological Service [shows] that in most places polar bear populations are either stable or increasing”. Despite this, it says, the Polar Bear will top the eco-hysterics’ list of animals in danger because it’s so fluffy and white and photogenic.”


People are bothered by the extinction of any animal, not just a “fluffy, white and photogenic” one. When I first understood that modern animals could become extinct – some time in my childhood – it bothered me. I’m more of an “energy conservationist” than an “eco-hysteric” – I don’t like the idea of there being no more oil either. Things that have always been there should, in the natural course of things, continue to be there. Think of the “Death Star” in Star Wars and ask yourself why destroying a planet is worse than bringing many lives to an end prematurely. Lives come to an end: planets don’t. To me, back then, a world without Tigers, or Pandas, or Rhino was an idea which just jarred.


And before you think that it global warming is the biggest risk for species, think about how demand for Palm oil could cause the extinction of the Orang-utan and one use being proposed for Palm Oil is as a bio-fuel to reduce Co2 emissions – as this report from the Guardian explains.


The idea of great majestic whales being hunted out of existence bothers us , and killing something with a reputation for intelligence makes us check that our tuna is “Dolphin friendly”. But what about long line fishing, which kills 100,000 Albatross – a year – 19 of 22 Species are endangered. Or the desire for Shark fin soup which has put 110 species into the “threat” category on the IUCN Red List. (Incidentally, Shark finning throws away 95% of the slaughtered animal, which is waste on crass level which can only be matched by the Ivory trade). The list goes on; over-fishing has all but wiped out the predators which used to keep down the Crown of Thorns starfish – a species which is now are chomping though huge amounts of coral.


So where-ever you stand on global warming – between the extremes of denial and “eco-hysteric” – it’s by no means the only example of humanity’s ability to screw up the planet. Before I started diving, I didn’t think much about what we’re doing to coral and the other life in the world’s oceans. It’s depressing, because I feel powerless to do anything about it. But excessive numbers of divers are harmful to reefs. Compressing air to use on dives, getting to dive sites (flying there, staying in the vicinity and taking the boat to the site itself) means using energy and creating pollution. It’s more depressing to find that in gaining an understanding of these problems, I’m adding to them, and I’m not doing anything to improve the situation. So here’s an offer. Microsoft allows me to take few days each year to do volunteer work. Is anyone reading this who could use that time to do something about any of the issues I’ve referred to? Get in touch.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

What else did I miss ?

Filed under: Events,Internet Explorer,Powershell,Windows Server,Windows Server 2008 — jamesone111 @ 4:47 pm

So I said that we’d done a lot while I was away , other gems now sifted from my inbox include.



  • As well as all the other Server “SKUs” I mentioned before, we’ve announced HPC Server 2008;  (formerly called Compute Cluster Server – CCS) the beta is downloadable now.

  • Staying with servers, Home Server has released holy deleted expletives Batman ! How did I miss that one ?

  • Also in the home, X-box live is marking it’s 5th brithday and there are free downloads available for Today and Tomorrow (pacific timings, so if you’re in the UK you have until early Saturday morning). Some original x-box games will be up for (chargeable) download from December 4th.

  • While I talk of live, Windows Live released a major update, including Writer (it failed to install on my PC over the beta … will have to try again later) and Photo Gallery, and there is a new Calendar beta

  • We also released the Windows Live™ Messenger IM Control which lets people on the Web reach you in Messenger by showing your Messenger status on your web site, blog, or social networking profile (or any other page they can see in their browser.

  • IE 7 Pro released a new update. Sadly  a bug has come back which means IE is prone to crash when I close a tab.

  • We launched Technet Edge, A new video site for IT pros. I’m pleased to see it uses Silverlight and lets you download in a range of formats. One of the first videos is my old friend Giovanni explaining HPC server 2008

  • A new IT cartoon blog got started that it looks like I might have to subscribe to.

  • The CTP for Powershell 2 has been made available. Jeffrey Snover has made several posts about it – be sure to read the one on beta vs CTP software and being a CTP user.  I will quote the last four lines of that in future (no not his signature !)

Here at Tech-ed IT-Forum I went to dinner with some people from the PowerShell community. I heard someone say afterwards something to the effect “If anyone in Microsoft has a right to a huge ego, it’s Jeffrey, but he’s really nice and wanted to hear what I had to say”. I interviewed Jeffrey the following morning, and his philosophy about listening to customers came out in the interview (which will be posted early next week – it probably on Edge). When I go to these events I’m usually “man on a mission”; this time I’ve not got quite the same sense of purpose – I’m just networking with people at random: I’m not exactly Mr Smalltalk at the best of times, and I’m only just over my jet lag which has made me feel even less inclined to chat. But I think my interview with Jeffrey is a good one, and one of my highlights of the show. The weird moment of Tech-ed was meeting Hugh Macleod: not so much for meeting him, but I happened to be wearing a Blue-Monster Shirt at the time. So our evening of drinks was one long round of Eileen saying to people “This is Hugh” [pause] “He drew the that” – [pointing to my shirt] and Hugh getting the reaction “Ohmygod ohmygod – you’re him !”


 


This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

November 13, 2007

Shooting fish.

Filed under: Photography — jamesone111 @ 5:22 pm






 


Eagle-Ray


Coral Head


 ReefShark

A while ago I wrote about getting a new camera to take diving. Rather spookily one of the mails in my inbox when I got back from my dive trip last night was asking about underwater cameras , so here’s what I replied about the new Canon

 


One of the observations of my recent dive trip was “You don’t buy the right dive kit first time … it’s always the second one that’s right” I started with a 2002 vintage Pentax optio 430RS – which was 18 months old and made redundant by my purchase of a DSLR.  I bought a housing and put it to use underwater. Not a great experience.

Learnings.


  1. Start-up time and Shutter lag matter a lot.  Power saving means the camera will turn off during a dive. If it takes 6 seconds to power up and 2 seconds from press to take the shark that just swam by isn’t going to be captured.
  2. Batteries matter a bit.  A camera with a dead battery on a dive boat ….  You need spares. AA’s are a plus (you can raid a torch if need be !)
  3. Big, standard memory cards are good (on my trip someone had a fuji with XD cards, both laptops we had with us could read SD, one could read CF.  But  XD and memory stick – forget it.).
  4. Screen. The tiny screens of 2002 are usable underwater, but bigger is definitely better.  A conventional view finder would be a hindrance underwater IMHO.
  5. Exposure. There’s less red light at depth. The Pentax would tend to over expose to try to compensate. An “Underwater mode” suggests the camera “gets it”
  6. Wide Angle and Macro. The more water between you and what you’re shooting, the more red light is absorbed and the more particles get in the way. Because of the usual underwater effects (Snell’s law) a 38mm equivalent lens becomes more like a 55mm underwater.

I went to cameras underwater’s web site and the only compacts I could find which ticked all the boxes were Canons (Pentax no longer do housings, Sony, Fuji, Olympus use daft memory, Casio batteries are proprietary, some Nikons use AAs but, it seems, not the ones with housings); with the 570IS looking the best with 7MP, 4x zoom, image stabilization and an underwater mode.  (I got mine from AJ Electronics – who are currently quoting £114, for UK sourced product – when I bought ,it was £140 shipped, with £50 back from Canon)

The housing I imported from a company called Aiko trading for $199 US.
I don’t shoot many Macros and the Canon focuses closer than Pentax did anyhow. I’d seen the Inon fish eye converter  and wanted that to solve the wide angle issue – it promises huge depth of field and very close focusing too.  I went with Aiko because they could supply the lens ($359) and the mounting kit for it ($75) as well as Canon’s housing. With shipping and import duty the extra bits cost about £370 (dwarfing the £90 the camera cost).

A purpose designed alternative would be Sealife’s DC600, but it’s less convenient out of the water, doesn’t support SDHC (high capacity) and costs more than the Canon + housing.  It has a cheaper (though not as wide) wide angle converter but no Inon mounting kit. The Dive operator I was with last week rents out the Sealife, which suggests it’s reliable and easy to get on with (its buttons are easier to work with “fat fingers”)

I was worried that I had joined the “all the gear and no idea” brigade with all these bits, but the proof is in the pictures. They do need some tweaking afterwards (for contrast, and white balance  – I’m going to try a magic filter at some stage). None of these pictures (or the one I posted earlier) would have been possible with my old set-up.  So I’m happy. Not that I’d recommend other people buy the same – your mileage (or depth) WILL vary, but for anyone trying choose a camera that should give and idea of criteria to consider. 


 


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This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

A week is a long time …

Filed under: Uncategorized — jamesone111 @ 10:10 am

I’ve been away scuba diving for a week and that’s meant no news, no e-mail and no RSS feeds.  Turn your back for a week and things go mad.

We announced Search Server 2008  (Viral has the details)

We gave Viridian Windows Server Virtualization, a new name “Hyper-V” and a new “SKU” (Stock Keeping Unit – i.e. product version people can buy).  Oh we announced all the SKUs for Server 2008. There will be a Hyper-v Server edition (I’m told ‘imagine Server core with no other roles’ …) at $28. This looks interesting, you can buy server with hyper-v and Licenses for instances of the server OS.  Or you can have Hyper-v on its own to run non-Microsoft workloads. It also seems we’re offering the OS with everything but hyper-v at a $28 discount. That has the ring of D.o.J or EU demands (or an attempt to preempt them) – but only a few people know if that’s really the case, and they’re not saying one way or the other.   

Intel announced their new Penryn chips: Moore’s Law continues  (I love their “I fought the Law” video)

Jobs in the news, Adobe  , Scuderia Ferrari and Honda racing all got new bosses. Ross Brawn at Honda: didn’t see that one coming. Avid readers will remember the whole McLaren / Ferrari “spygate” row started with a McLaren chap and a Ferrari chap who were thinking about going to Honda. What’s in Ross Brawn’s head that Ferrari benefited from and Honda are now getting remains to be seen. Talking of spying, now Renault are being accused

Reading round internal stuff three people I know are moving to new roles (though I haven’t figured out exactly what Steve Clayon’s new gig is).
Steve Lamb has got carbon guilt about going to IT forum (how much less Carbon would be emitted if you stayed home Steve ? ). On the plane back from diving I started a post with the provisional title “Confessions of an environmental hypocrite”.  

Now I’m at IT forum, the flights back from my holiday meant I missed the keynote (Thomas Lee has a good summary). My work for the next 4 days is 3 shifts of two hours each on the “ask the experts” stand. That doesn’t give me the “speaker privileges” that Steve and Eileen get – the interesting Microsoft people from round the world who are here are all in the speakers’ lounge. So I’m left to write blog posts and catch up on my mail .Coming to Barcelona to do that makes me feel bad – if not for the carbon, for the family I’m neglecting and the fish I left behind.  

 

YellowTail

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

November 2, 2007

The one hope against the database state.

Filed under: General musings — jamesone111 @ 6:23 pm

I blogged yesterday about the database stated and referred to No2ID including their example of International eBorders schemes that exchange Passenger Name Record information with foreign countries as well as collecting them

One of my ex-colleagues, a chap I shall simply call “Tim”, maintains that since all government IT projects descend into a morass of cost over runs and missed deadlines, there is very little chance that they will be able to construct the database state. It’s not just the government that can’t get things right: I’m off on Holiday for a week on Sunday, and on the way back I change planes and fly straight to Tech-ed IT forum without going home. I thought I’d give British Airways the Passenger name information they need for that flight. If you look at the full size picture you can read the error I got when I tried. British Airways want me to

  1. Check the country which I selected from their pull down box. WHY ?
  2. Enter my name as it appears on my passport. It has an apostrophe in it. Ah. They want it with only letters. 
  3. Enter my passport expiry date. WHERE ! ?

The deterioration of my relationship with BA is a matter of record; I’m also no fan of the on-line travel tool which we have to use at Microsoft (Doesn’t present options in a meaningful way, can’t find hotels you want to stay in, fails if you have ie7Pro installed, doesn’t use Active directory federation so only works if you’re NOT travelling and are connected to the corporate network etc ). But a system that could never work is a new low. I checked the HTML code on the form, there’s nowhere for the dates to go even though I’ve told British Airways they can store my passport information and use it to fill these forms.  

Oh well British Airways will just have get my data at the airport. And I hope they do a better check on their planes before the public get on them than they do with the web-site.

Update according to this page they don’t need my passport expiry date for a flight to Barcelona anyway.

Click to see full screen
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This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

November 1, 2007

From the "I want one of those" file.

Filed under: Photography — jamesone111 @ 8:07 pm

I was sure Scoble mentioned Eye fi ages ago …. He did. 

How’s this for Cool. A 2GB SD card with integrated WiFi. Set it up and it sends pictures to Web services or your PC, and if it can’t find where it is supposed to send them there is a 2GB buffer until you’re back in Range.

There’s a review at DP Review, or you visit http://www.eye.fi  (in case you didn’t know .FI is the top level domain for Finland, if you want to buy one it’s eye.fi/buy ) Only US suppliers at the moment, priced at $99 so with $2.08 to £1 that will be about £110 when it gets here

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

And I get paid for doing this ?

Filed under: General musings,Working at Microsoft — jamesone111 @ 7:39 pm

Why do I get fossil fuels. Office, Creche, Film-set ... ?Actually, no. I got bribed with free sandwiches to use my lunch time testing stuff for First lego League.  I didn’t even know we supported these folks, but my colleague Paul Foster does a lot of  work with enthusiast communities like these, in places like robotics. 400 teams of 9-16 year olds participate in the League (with up to 10 in a team that’s a lot of kids). As well as sponsoring them we are looking to provide “mentors” (coaches might be a better word) for some of these teams in the future.

Our team (too old to be allowed to enter the league) spent lunch time putting together bits if the landscape for an a set of energy focused robotics challenges to work their way around – the theme for the challenge is “the power puzzle” so we were building things with an energy theme. Instead of a nice friendly wind farm, Andrew and I got the Oil Rig.

My 3 – nearly 4 – year old son has only been to Microsoft for the children’s Christmas party, and thinks that the office is full of bouncy castles. If I tell him I played with Lego at work today I think he’ll get completely the wrong idea about what “work” really is. Then again when his sister was here on Tuesday someone turned the office into a film set ! 

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

A police state ?

Filed under: General musings,Security and Malware — jamesone111 @ 2:46 pm

I’ve talked about serendipity a few times before. And a couple of strands in the News today show it at work.

The information commissioner has served notices on 4 polices forces telling them that some information they hold about people is no longer relevant and should be deleted. The BBC has examples of the things he’s talking about in their report of the story. I’ve got a lot of time for the current Information Commissioner – a man called Richard Thomas. He talked about “Sleepwalking into a surveillance society” – and the Today programme where I heard about the police issue, later had another privacy story, this time on CCTV (which you can hear about 20 minutes into their listen again segment) But that’s not the serendipitous thing I was thinking about.  

The government’s ID card scheme tends to raise the hackles of people who fret about the surveillance Society or “the database state”*. There is a fine line between having a view about the use of IT (quite proper for someone working at a company like Microsoft) and party politics (which should stay out of a work blog). So I’ll just say I found it interesting when the news also reported that both candidates for the leadership of the Liberal party say they will lead civil disobedience by refusing to carry the card (one has it on his web site, the other doesn’t). I can’t remember a major party’s leader taking such a position on any kind of legislation, however unpopular.

I’m curious to know if people think I should or shouldn’t use this blog to talk about my views on privacy, protection of the individual on line and similar themes. Commenting is only a click away.

 

 

* No-2-ID defines the “Database state” as “‘the tendency to try to use computers to manage society by watching people.” and cites the following examples:

  • ID interrogation centres, for passports and ID cards
  • ePassports that help collect data about your travel for…
  • International eBorders schemes that exchange Passenger Name Record information with foreign countries as well as collecting them
  • Recording of all car journeys, using Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR)
  • ‘Entitlement cards’ as part of or linked to the ID scheme, logging use of public services
  • Centralised medical records without privacy
  • Biometrics in schools – fingerprinting children as young as 4 or 5
  • ‘ContactPoint’, a database collecting sensitive information on every child
  • Fingerprinting in pubs and bars – landlords forced to monitor their patrons
  • A greatly expanded National DNA Database (NDNAD)
  • New police powers to check identity
  • Increasing Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks for employees and volunteers
  • Businesses under pressure to verify ID of staff and customers with the government
  • This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

    Linux Virtual Machine additions 2.0 .

    Filed under: Linux / Open Source,Virtualization — jamesone111 @ 12:43 pm

    I had to check the URL for Port 25 in the last post (is it technet … or MSDN ? its http://port25.TECHNET.com), and in doing so I spotted a post I’d missed from a few days ago.  

    The Virtual Machine Additions for Linux 2.0 download is now available. This is to provide better support for qualified distributions of Linux running on Virtual Server 2005. I understand that work is going on for the equivalent software for Windows Server Virtualization, but no-one’s ready to share a date for when these will be available even as a beta.

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    This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

    Security and blogging.

    Filed under: Linux / Open Source,Security and Malware — jamesone111 @ 12:19 pm

    This would normally be one for Steve, but he’s got a few days away…

     Kim Cameron’s blog got hacked; normally I’d just say “Blog hacked: Film at Eleven“. Except Kim is a big noise in the Microsoft security world. ZDNet broke the story,  and the comments to it show Anti Microsoft folks out there laughing themselves silly. It’s not such a silly assumption that the blog is on Microsoft Technology and this is a result of security hole in that Microsoft Technology. But it’s wrong. as Kim points out the blog “is run by commercial hosters (TextDrive) using Unix BSD, MySQL, PHP and WordPress – all OSS products.  There is no Microsoft software involved at the server end – just open source. ” (IE7 Pro let me check that from the status bar – calling up this page at Netcraft). Ha ha ha. It’s a security hole in a competing technology…. Actually even that’s wrong. It was a vulnerability in the application (wordpress) , now fixed. Application vulnerabilities happen; I don’t think wordpress is any more or any less prone to them than anything else.

    But what’s this ? A Microsoft person who keeps a blog on a FreeBSD system. Don’t we all swear never to use open source, before we even get the implants ? As Cameron says “I like WordPress, even if it has had some security problems, and I don’t want to give it up”. It astonishes people that Microsofties are free to use something they like. That’s what customers do, a lot of the time that’s why they choose Microsoft, but not always: that’s why we have sites like port 25

    And metaphorical tip of the hat to Kim; that post handles some pretty troll-like comments about the breach in a very deft way.

    This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

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