James O'Neill's Blog

January 26, 2008


Filed under: Uncategorized — jamesone111 @ 8:53 am

I’ve developed a bit of a reputation as a curmudgeon, although I prefer to think that I don’t waste my good opinions on people who don’t actually deserve it. I mention this because when I say that I think very highly indeed of Scotty Macleod that’s not something I say of everybody, nor something I would say simply because of circumstances. If you asked for a shortlist of the best people I’ve met in this job he’d be on it.


Richard Siddaway (who’d also be on that shortlist) contacted me yesterday, to say Scotty is hospital with a serious head injury following what sounds like a freak accident. I know quite a few readers will have met Scotty and would want to know.


The nature of the major head injuries means it’s impossible to know what the outcome will be, and this must be tough for those who are closer to Scotty than I am. But I suspect there are quite a few people who aren’t all that close too him who will still be hoping or praying for him.


And Scotty, the day you read this and tell me not to be so daft can’t come soon enough.


Update. Steve S was also trying to let me know about this yesterday afternoon, with a link to a little more info.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

January 24, 2008

Vista vulnerabilities – a comparison.

Filed under: Apple,Linux / Open Source,Security and Malware,Windows Vista,Windows XP — jamesone111 @ 10:32 pm

Perhaps it’s a bit strong to say “if complete and utter chaos was lightning, Jeff Jones would be the sort to stand on a hilltop in a thunderstorm wearing wet copper armour and shouting ‘All gods are bastards’ ” (as a favourite quote  has it)  but you must admit it’s a better opening than “Blimey, XP was better than we thought”, or “See, there was no need wait for Vista SP1“.

Jeff, you see, has posted on his blog an analysis of Vulnerabilities in the first year of life of Windows Vista, Windows XP, two popular linux distros and Apple’s Mac OS X 10.4. Here are the bare numbers (though you should read the whole thing)

Metric Windows Vista Windows XP Red Hat rhel4ws Reduced Ubuntu 6.06LTS Reduced Mac OS X 10.4
Release Date 30-Nov-06 25-Oct-01 15-Feb-05 01-Jun-06 29-Apr-05
Vulnerabilities Fixed 36 65 360 224 116
Security Updates 17 30 125 80 17
Patch Events 9 26 64 65 17
Weeks With at least 1 patch event 9 25 44 39 15

To explain the numbers a little, an update might fix more than one vulnerability, and more than one update might go out out in a patch event. Apple seem to roll all their fixes for a given event into a single update.

Vista is the newest of these operating systems and you could argue that the art of software engineering has advanced. But then Why did a 2001 Microsoft OS fare so much better 2005/6 products?

With all the claims of the Linux community like “With many eyes all bugs are shallow” – how did Red Hat have 360 vulnerabilities ? They released Patches 44 weeks out of 52, 20 of their patches came in weeks when there had already been a patch. Ubuntu didn’t fare much better on that score.

If security vulnerability counts are indicative of bugs in general then Vista shipped in a better state than XP; Vista will go longer to SP-1 than XP did, it seems that they’ll have roughly the same number of vulnerabilities fixed at SP-1.

So that’s all good – why the “Wet copper armour” quote – and Gizmodo agrees with me ? Well, to bend another favourite quote, “The Internet is more full of exciting trolls and excruciating fan boys and girls than a pomegranate is of pips”. Most times I mention Apple I get visited by one set or the other. Jeff just called their babies ugly. He’s happy to discuss it. His document explains how he got to the numbers and he encourages people to do their own analysis. And he faces down point that “Of course you think the Microsoft products are good because you work for Microsoft” by pointing out it’s the other way around, he works for Microsoft because he thinks the products are good. Like me. Like most of us.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

Hyper-V API information on MSDN

Filed under: How to,Powershell,Virtualization,Windows Server,Windows Server 2008 — jamesone111 @ 10:37 am

I’ve been waiting for this for a little while, in fact I had hoped to see a draft before it went public (although I wonder if that actually falls foul of the rules on not having “Secret” APIs). I could see the WMI providers from Powershell but working out what to with them wasn’t trivial.

The information is now published on MSDN at http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc136992(VS.85).aspx

Calling WMI APIs from PowerShell is something I know a bit about having done a lot of that for the OCS resource kit so it looks like I’m going to be having some fun with this … yes I do regard it as fun.

I’ve mentioned Jeff Woolsey before he’s a contributor on the virtualization team blog and keeps us informed internally with clear headings about  what’s confidential, what to share and what can be public with a “please don’t paste to your blog” this one came tagged This is important customer information. Please provide this information to customers.

Here’s a bit more informatiom from Jeff. Please note the final paragraph – the APIs are settled enough to share, but they are not guaranteed to be final.

The virtualization team is pleased to announce the public beta release of the Hyper-V WMI interfaces.

Hyper-V WMI APIs. Hyper-V uses WMI APIs (similar to the Virtual Server COM API) to create, manage, monitor, configure virtual resources. We expect the Hyper-V WMI APIs to be used widely in a variety of ways such as:

· By third party management vendors who want to write tools to manage WSV (examples, HP Openview & IBM Director)

· By enterprises who want to integrate with an existing management solution

· Developers who want to automate virtualization in a test/dev environments through scripts

The Hyper-V WMI APIs are publicly available here:


Important: This documentation is preliminary and is subject to change. This same warning is provided online (see the screenshot below). While we’re trying to avoid any changes, modifications are still possible up to the final release. We encourage user feedback by clicking on the link below to “Send comments about this topic to Microsoft.”


This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

January 23, 2008

Touch phones.

Filed under: Apple,Mobility — jamesone111 @ 3:36 pm

I was wrong. People seem to get on better with “touch” phones than I thought. I understand that different form factors suit different people. Just as some want a PDA and some want a phone, it seems that some want 12 keys, some want Qwerty and some want touch.

HTC have sold 2 Million of their touch phones (thanks to Jason for that link). HTC don’t have the brand glamour of Apple. Apple have sold 2.3 Million iphones according to the BBC’s reading of their accounts, and 4 Million according a quote from Steve Jobs in the news story about HTC. (I suspect jobs is talking since launch, and the BBC is talking about the last quarter). And the HTC device isn’t as beautiful an object as the iPhone. It does corporate things well, like all the Windows powered phones from HTC, but people must like the interface. There’s no other way it could be out for just half the year but account for 1 in 6 of all the phones HTC sold. 

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

January 22, 2008

Strings, strange forces and being misquoted

Filed under: Virtualization,Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 11:44 pm

When I was in my teens, my school Physics class was taken on trip to the Royal Institution, and the star speaker we saw was  Eric Laithwaite. He demonstrated a famous experiment of his (lifting a spinning gyroscope which was too heavy to lift when at rest). Wikipedia says he “had a habit of championing the ideas of amateurs over those of experts” and this came out right at the end when he made an aside about centrifugal force. “Do they teach you there is no such thing as centrifugal force ?”  “Yes” we murmured: we were taught that there is no force which pulls something at the centre of a circle to the outside, only centripetal force which pulls an object on the outside towards the centre, making it go round in a circle. Laithwaite went on “You know Newtons third law ? … Action and reaction are equal and opposite ?” we  did. “So… How can there be a force acting only one way on the the string ?   If something is being pulled inwards, something else must feel a force going outwards. It just depends which end of the string you’re standing at.And quite quickly one of the teachers reminded us the Laithwaite was so eminent that the examiners hadn’t caught up with him.

Until today I hadn’t heard the news that we had announced a change to Virtualization licensing of the home versions of Vista. I spent the day with some journalists going through different kinds of Virtualization (Hyper-V , Presentation Virtualization with Terminal Services and Application virtualization -neé Softgrid). Somewhere the subject of applications which don’t run on Vista came up. I think this problem is overstated, as I said responding to a comment by “CW”  to an earlier post.  OS changes break stuff. The bigger the changes the bigger the risk of breakage and although we put huge effort into keeping it small, XP broke stuff, XP service pack 2 broke stuff, and Vista breaks stuff: but not that much. However if you work in an organization with a problem with compatibility, then Virtualization can be a “Get out of jail free card” . Not just hardware Virtualization with Virtual PC / Virtual Server / Hyper-V / Third party products (we had to show the journalists this post from May ’07 to be clear that you can use third party products), but also hosting the problem application on terminal services, or streaming it with Softgrid App-Virtualization.

Now, Kelly Fiveash from the Register latched onto “Get Out of Jail Free” and used it a piece she posted later in the day. Actually she used it three times. But I didn’t say it was a get out jail card for Microsoft or for Vista. I was about to set off on huge rant about being misquoted. Until Prof. Latithwaite’s string came to mind. (I bet you were wondering how I was going to bring the first two paragraphs together).  It depends which end of the string you stand at. Perceived application incompatibility does worry customers, “you can always virtualize your way out” is a solution for us as much as for them.

The Licence currently on the web site hasn’t been updated yet, so I can’t tell if we only allow these versions to be run in a virtual machine, or whether we give a license to run a virtualized copy on top of a normal copy; the latter is the case in Vista-Enterprise – if it’s only the former for the home versions we’re only providing “get-out-of-jail cards.” to enterprise customers.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

The Wow of powershell (again)

Filed under: Photography,Powershell — jamesone111 @ 12:19 am

I’ve recently bought Efficasoft’s GPS utilities  for my phone – I keep thinking about GeoTagging photos. I was toying with writing a GPS logger of my own, but for $17.95 Efficasoft gave me that and a bunch of other things which range from the useful to the clever party trick. For example it has no maps, but you can give it co-ordinates of known points on an image file and it manipulates it accordingly. It will save key points as well as recording a track. Money well spent; it even has a choice of log formats, it’s own compact format or a standard dump of the NMEA 0183 sentences sent back by the GPS device. The problem is that these are not exactly easy to read; they look like this


The ones which begin $GPGSV, and $GPGSA are satellite diagnostics and of no interest to me here. I only want the  lines beginning $GPRMC which are the “Recommended Minimum data”

Translates  as time=13:22:06.42, GPS Status OK, Latitude 52 degrees 07.8403 minutes North, Longitude 0 degrees 59.2248 minutes west. Speed 20.059710 knots, track 146.77 degrees, date 20 Jan 2008,,checksum.

Now what I want to do is to take that data and do something like this

$myPhoto=Get-Picture “picture.jpg”


Get-GPS_co-ordinates_at ($myPhoto.DateTimeTaken)



Easy. But Get-GPS-Coordinates at a given time ? A pipe dream surely ? Here’s how I did it.

Since it’s all comma separated to start with, I wanted to use PowerShell’s built in Import-CSV. But I wanted to strip out the lines that weren’t relevant. That’s easy enough, but here’s a trick, Get-Content returns an array of strings, one for each line, so if I put my header in an array of strings and add the cleaned up file content to it I get a useful CSV file.

@(“HEADERS”) +  ( get-content FILE.log | where {$_ -match “GPRMC” } ) > temp.csv

I’d like to pipe this into Import-CSV, but it insists on a file (Imust check if that has changed in the V2 CTP), so the next bit processes that.  Using Select-object , I can pare the data dow and splice the date and time together forcing the result to a DATE-TIME type – that accounts for most of the next bit

import-csv temp.csv | select-Object -property NS, latitude, EW , longitude , @{Name=”DateTime”; Expression =
{[DateTime]::ParseExact(($_.Date+$_.Time),”ddMMyyHHmmss.fff”,[System.Globalization.CultureInfo]::InvariantCulture)}} |

 So now I’ve got a collection of objects with North/South, Latitude, East/West, Longitude , DateTime. Now to find the one that matches the photo’s date and time.  Part of my brain took this as an idle process and came up with  “| Sort-on (Difference between GPS time and photo time) | select the first one”  it took me an age to realize I needed the absolute (not signed) value to sort successfully, which meant calling up the system.math library

sort -Property @{ Expression={[system.math]::abs(($_.datetime – $MyPhoto.TimeTAKEN).totalMilliseconds)}} | 
select-object -First 1 |

Finally I added a GeoCode routine to the Exif library I published in August, so I can pipe the results into $myPhoto.GeoCode

foreach-object {$MyPhoto.geoTag($_.Latitude, $_.NS, $_.Longitude, $_.EW)}

Granted it is a heck of a long line, but Import | Select | sort | select | geoTag is one of only 4 lines needed: one to get the Photo (which is actually $MyPhoto=new-object oneimage.exifimage “Picture.jpg”), one to make the CSV file and one to save the result at the end. I don’t want to think about how much VB script it would take to parse the file, and find which date was closest

I’ve added the latest version of my EXIF class here, for anyone who wants to play.

Disclaimer . Like any code on my blog, this code is provided as an Example for illustration purposes is only. It comes with No support and No warranty that it is fit for any purpose whatsoever.

Technorati tags: EXIF, Powershell, Windows, Photography

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This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

January 20, 2008

Homework, Plagiarism and Intellectual property in the 21st Century

Filed under: General musings — jamesone111 @ 6:54 pm

I went to school in Brighton, and while the Brighton Evening Argus is the daily evening paper for quite a wide area, I don’t think of it having an international readership. So I was surprised when Robert Scoble Linked to one of their education stories: Lecturer bans students from using Google and Wikipedia. It’s by no means an isolated concern,  BBC had a story that “More than half of teachers believe internet plagiarism is a serious problem among sixth-form students”. 

When I went to school, we had a standard history book and the teacher told us “I know exactly what’s in there, so I’ll know if you just copy stuff out ” When I went to University the Internet was embryonic: the search engine we were taught to use was the library catalogue. I think it was expected to quote what we found in the library to show we’d done assignments properly.  The Internet is a fantastic library – though one that needs to be used with care, as the Ronnie Hazlehurst obituary debacle showed.

One of the surprises I had at the BETT show was the number of questions brought to us which were answered quickly by an on-line search. There do seem to be a proportion of teachers who don’t search on-line.  To my mind educators at all levels should
(a) Encourage searches, but with that “I’ll know if you just copy” message – updated as “I’ve already read the Wikipedia entry and the top search results for this”. I’d put phrases which looked out of place in student essay straight into Live Search and/or Google. There’s even a Plagiarism Advisory Service  for testing en-masse.
(b) Foster collaborative working by encouraging students to research different aspects and share the items they find – Eileen was wowed by Taffiti’s ability to blog stuff on live spaces.
(c) Develop students’ ability to distinguish good sources from bad
(d) Develop a culture of attributing research sources used. It’s the difference between building a provenance to add to the value of your work, and being accused of plagiarism

As soon as the P word comes up I think of Tom Lehrer (and I was fortunate enough to get his complete work on CD for Christmas.)  

Let no one else’s work evade your eyes,
Remember why the good Lord made your eyes,
So don’t shade your eyes,
But plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize…
Only be sure always to call it please, “research”.

The difference between research and plagiarism is attribution. But we live in a world where pictures posted to the Internet are taken and reused without consent, where it is common to steal music and, increasingly, films (not forgetting software) and where the public sides with thieves who make a fortune by stealing the design of a game (Acknowledgement to Sharon for that link). Encarta defines plagiarism as “copying another person’s idea or written work and claiming it as original”. Of the students who worry teachers, I wonder how many are claiming the work as original, and how many just use anything found on the Internet without any sense that it is another person’s; that intellectual property is property. Should educators be explaining that ?  

Back in the 1980s someone mooted the idea that in addition to the schools staple of the “3Rs” (that’s Reading ‘riting, and ‘rithmatic for non-UK readers) there should be an additional R, the teaching of “Right & Wrong” (I remember Mrs Thatcher being involved, but whether she was arguing parents should teach this or schools I can’t recall). It was out of the question – trendy thinking in the teaching profession held that it was oppressive even to impose spelling and grammar on children, who should express their ideas.  I don’t think students should be told to rewrite the work of others so it appears to be their own – that is plagiarism. If they make proper use of other people’s work to develop, even express, their ideas – that’s fine with me. For example
“On subject X there are two basic positions. Expert A says that [long quote from A, properly attributed], the key part is [requote] because [original writing]. Those who disagree with this have a particular problem accepting [requote] and their view is best summarized by Expert B who says that [Long quote from B also properly attributed]. The weakness in this is [requote] because [original writing] or as Expert C says [further quote].
If the choice of quotes and the surrounding, original, material combine to demonstrate understanding, then the student should get a good grade. And if they regurgitate someone else’s words without showing understanding they get a bad one. Which is pretty much what my history teacher was saying 30 years ago.

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This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

January 19, 2008

On the superiority of Windows vista.

Filed under: Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 7:12 pm

One of the ways to divide I meet is break them into the “Stallers and Installers”. I meet plenty of people who have installed are running Windows Vista. No OS is perfect, but those who have made the move to Vista seem to be happier there than they were with XP. The others divide into the very few who tried it and didn’t like it, a few more who couldn’t make it work with a specific app or device. Device support has come a long way in the last year: the present nVidia drivers work well but the initial ones were simply dreadful. With SP1 just around the corner the time is probably here for those who had a bad experience

What does surprises me is number who haven’t even bothered to look at it, and the excuses I hear. I’ve had people whose companies have bought the right to move up to Vista telling me they’re not doing it because of the cost (they’re looking at the retail cost for one copy on the high street) without realizing they’ve paid for it. A couple of people at the BETT show last week said Vista wasn’t stable, so they wouldn’t try it. Monthly service packs cause my laptop to reboot about every other month; it goes into sleep or hibernate a couple of times a day but it’s been an age since I initiated a reboot. Outlook and Internet explorer hardly ever close – I have 35 pages open in one instance of IE right now and 28 windows open. This workload would bring XP to it’s knees. Unstable indeed !

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This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

One of our laptops is missing.

Filed under: Privacy,Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 1:17 am

A snowclone I guess, with films like one of our Aircraft is missing , and Thomas Dolby’s “One of our submarines”  (“One of our Submarines is missing, tonight. Seems she went aground on manoeuvres” ) something with a slightly military edge to it.

The latest evidence that when it comes to anything relating to IT the UK government achieves a rating of “Not fit to run a whelk stall” comes form the Ministry of Defence. According to the BBC

West Midlands police are investigating the theft of a laptop from a Royal Navy officer which held the personal details of 600,000 people.
the MoD said.  “In some cases, for casual enquiries, the record is no more than a name.  But for those who progressed as far as submitting an application to join the Forces, extensive personal data may be held, including passport details, National Insurance numbers, drivers’ licence details, family details, doctors’ addresses and National Health Service numbers.”

I watched the Lib-Dem leader on TV earlier and he got some good points over about the ID card and the database state – he actually used the term more than once. But if were  an opposition politician I would be demanding to know why  – when Microsoft have been shipping  Bitlocker in Windows Vista for a year, and third party solution are available for Windows XP (and I belive non-Microsoft OSes as well) – MoD officials are still carrying huge amounts of unencrypted data. (And if I were the Information commissioner I’d want to know why one person needed both casual contacts and a full set of intimate details on their laptop)

Vista Service pack 1 will be out soon. Now some people like to wait for the first service pack – it’s an idea which really belongs to the 1990’s but it’s still there. Sometime I wonder if it is a way of making Luddite behaviour sound like prudence. If your organization has sensitive data (your employees’, customers’ or partners’) then you’ll be in the news if you lose it, and you’re not using bitlocker or an add on product which does the same thing,  that would mean you’re negligent and deserve everything that comes your way.

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January 18, 2008

Will you be our hero ?

Filed under: Events,Windows Server,Windows Server 2008 — jamesone111 @ 1:41 pm

Click for a bigger version

I’ve talked about my habit of “Brutal e-mail triage” before my equation for guessing the usefulness of a mail is

100 Log2(1+sentences_by_the_sender) / (recipients * Kbytes * Organizational-hops-from-me)

A 1 sentence mail from Eileen scores about 10. I got a mail this morning which

  • Came from outside my normal circle.

  • Was forwarded to a large list (about 150 people) 

  • Was 3MB in size

With a single sentence of explanation would have scored about 1*10-6 but it didn’t have that so it scored zero, so normally that would mean straight to the bin.Except, something in the text jumped out at me: You might have seen the heroes happen {here} campaign (why they happen in a code block I don’t know), well now it’s having cartoons drawn by professional, and he’s looking for stories. So come on you must have done something a bit more heroic than looking answers up on a search engine or getting someone’s lost PowerPoint back. There’s a “Help us Drive the story” link on the cartoon page so there’s a chance for fame. Or you could share your story with Andrew or me and let us do one for you, or even do your own visit Janina Köppel’s Excellent SP-Studio site which I used to produce the ones above (PowerPoint is a great tool for assembling  the pictures into trips). We’ll find some reward for anyone who shares either a raw story or finished cartoon.  

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This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

January 13, 2008

The Final silence

Filed under: Windows Server,Windows Server 2008 — jamesone111 @ 6:35 pm

They called me the sparkle.
I was the best I worked them all.

I’ve used that quote before. But when I came across the story of The Lone Server, it popped into my head. The Lone server is the last Windows 2003 server being used on the Microsoft.com web site.

For years, my friends and I were on the front lines: we were the Windows Server 2003 servers that powered Microsoft.com ….
Quietly, without warning, the new kids took over… . All of ‘em on Windows Server 2008.
Except me. The last Windows Server 2003 left at Microsoft.com.

Note, we’re only talking Microsoft.com here various other bits of Microsoft web presence might or might not be on server 2008.


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January 10, 2008

Powershell to add social bookmarking tags

Filed under: Powershell — jamesone111 @ 5:02 pm

I blogged before about Lee Holmes’ code to fetch and modify blog posts from PowerShell

I was talking to Eileen about her experience adding social book marking tags one of the drawbacks was that she has to

  1. Post date the blog entry, and publish it

  2. Go to the blog site and get the URL

  3. Go back to live writer

  4. Add the social book marking tags

  5. Change the post date to “now”

  6. Re-publish the blog entry

OK, I’m a geek but I thought “blow that for a game of soldiers: I’ll upload it once and use powershell to make the change. I can even take a trick from Lee and add the links to old posts. So, I put the additional HTML in a text file, substitiute the necessary strings in and add it to the body of the downloaded posts, then re-upload.  

 My updated version of Lee’s code and my additions is in the attached ZIP file. And everything below here was added by the script.


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This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

At the BETT show

Filed under: Events — jamesone111 @ 3:01 pm

One of my personality traits that makes me doubt my vocation as an evangelist is a general dislike of going to trade shows. The general hubbub being on my feet all day is my idea of purgatory.  Fortunately I don’t have to stand, and the we’ve had a good ratio of interesting questions ("Can you show me photosynth ?" … "Can I ? Try to stop me !") to daft ones ("Why do you produce software with a new version number in it – new versions stop some applications from installing ?")

IMAGE_427Someone parked a Version of Asus’s eee on the technical desk  and it’s been quite the little crowd puller. A low cost – low weight, low cost (and it must be admitted low spec) PC, it’s shown up already running Linux. Asus have said a version running Windows is on the cards , and we’ve been told that version as we’re showing it is due in just a few weeks.

This is not a device I’d want – I couldn’t live with the 800×480 res screen, but then it’s a useful reminder that my needs from a PC aren’t the same as school pupils. I’m happy lugging my "desktop replacement" around – but that would be totally unsuitable for my daughter’s school bag. So it will be interesting to see how much of a niche this form factor carves for itself. 

I thought I had written about form factors here before, but I can’t find the post. Basically devices have mixture of abilities to display, store, retrieve and process. Against these you have to balance weight, battery life and cost. A bigger display and more powerful graphics chip it needs demand a bigger battery to get the same life – so different compromises emerge.

What I do enjoy (and reassures me that I’m not in the wrong job) is seeing people look at a new technology and think "Hey with one of these I could …" 

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This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

Screencast: Hyper-v without integration components

Filed under: Virtualization,Windows Server,Windows Server 2008 — jamesone111 @ 1:00 am

When I explain Hyper-V to people I usually have to spend a fair amount of time on the Integration components. The other videos in this set of 4 have shown VMs with the integration components, these

  • Allow Hyper-V to issue shutdown commands to the OS
  • Provide “Heartbeat” links and clock synchronization
  • Provide mouse integration and clipboard support
  • Provide VM bus drivers for IDE Acceleration, Synthetic SCSI, Synthetic NIC and Graphics

Without these VMs still run but have to use emulated hardware, and lose integration support (most obviously they capture the mouse). One way around the mouse and display issue is to use remote desktop to connect to the VM instead of Hyper-V’s. I show all that in the screencast, and as with the others, you can replicate everything in the video if you have your own trial copy

Watch in a new window using Silverlight (9 Minutes 30)

Right click here and choose “Save target as” to download video (~40MB WMV)

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

January 9, 2008

Getting wireless access from a Hyper-V VM

Filed under: Virtualization,Windows Server,Windows Server 2008 — jamesone111 @ 1:00 am

One of the limitations of Hyper-V is Virtual networks can’t be bound to Wireless LAN cards. Initially I thought this was because of the way wireless is provided via a service in Server 2008, but I’ve since been told it’s to do with MAC addresses; wired Ethernet allows machines to change their MAC address, and even to have the same card sending out packets with multiple addresses. 802.11 does not.

Since I do a lot of my demos and general messing about with no wired connection this is a little bit of an inconvenience; after reading a few comments on the subject I thought I’d try setting up Internet connection sharing, and this forms the third of my  four server 2008  screencasts. As with the others, you can replicate everything in the video if you have your own trial copy

Watch in a new window using Silverlight (3 Minutes 45)

Right click here and choose “Save target as” to download video (~27MB WMV)

Tomorrow, I’ll post part 4. Using Virtual Machines without the integration components.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

January 8, 2008

Search: A quick round-up

Filed under: Events,Office,Virtualization,Windows 2003 Server — jamesone111 @ 12:48 pm

I’ve been meaning to have a play with Search Server since Viral demo’d it on the last roadshow. We have a downloadable VHD for it with a very good walk-through, I can say that honestly because I’ve just spent a couple of hours walking through it.

Of course since I’m doing all my virtualization on Server 2008 and Hyper-V now, I thought I’d try it out on there and rather annoyingly the VHD was built with an out of date set of Virtual Server extensions which won’t un-install under Hyper-V.  So I downloaded Virtual PC 2007, which warns me that it is not supported on Server 2008 (and I’m running Virualization on top of Virtualization – a silly thing to do) but it works all the same. So I fired up the VM, removed the extensions, shut it down, booted back in Hyper-V, added the integration components and off it goes. I’d run search server with more than the 1GB specified but even with that it runs OK.

Now I’ve been playing with Microsoft Search technologies since we introduced Index Server for IIS 2.0 back in about 1996, and at one stage of my life I was a Sharepoint Portal Server Guru. Back in 1999 when I was first interviewing for a job at Microsoft I brought in the some of the work I had done with digital dashboards – stuff that evolved into Web parts. Doing the walk-through for Search Server express two things leap out at me; first was how much easier it is now than I remember it. The other is how simple but how clever federated search is. Some while back I mentioned open search and that seems to me to be a clever technology based on two simple ideas (a) Provide an XML document to tell people how to query your site. (b) return the results as XML to make it easy to consume them in something else. (Use the RSS XML-Schema to make this doubly easy).  Several people are keeping lists of services which support OpenSearch, OpenSearch.org has a list of such lists.

According to Sharon’s blog we’ve booked her to do a series of workshops on search, which will cover search server unlike the walk through I haven’t seen the content for these, but knowing it’s Sharon doing them, I feel safe recommending those too. Someone is bound to ask her the perennial question “Can I index a database” – answer “What constitutes a match ? What is the URL you’re going to click, and what will that open ? – but you can create a web pages to crawl data and return records”. I don’t know if she’s going to cover things like adding PDF support, or whether Viral will have that on his blog sometime soon. I guess if he’s going to blog about Virtualization I’ll have to blog about configuring iFilters.

Finally this morning I got a mail saying we have Announced an Offer to Acquire the Norweigian search company FAST , I don’t know anything about them or how their product will fit in with our other technologies


This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

Screencast and Q&A: Hyper-V integration components Disk and Network behaviour

I had a really nice mail over new year from an influential IT Pros with more than a passing interest in Virtualization. It would be unfair to identify him, but I was very pleased to read

“Yours is always one of the blogs I point our staff toward to get up to date information and idea of how the various technologies come together. Please keep it up next year.”

Well, the year  is into its second week, so I’d better get on with it. There is, shall we say, some confusion about how the Integration Components work and what they do in Hyper-V. I thought this conversational way was the best way to explain it.

What’s the big architectural change in Hyper-v ? We no longer have Virtualization as a process which sits on top of an OS, with VMs as Tasks on that OS. We have a Hypervisor which divides the phyisical machine into Partitions

So all these partitions are equal ? No. One partition is the parent, which must run Server 2008. It tells the Hypervisor what child partitions to create, which VHDs to use, etc

Ah VHDs, so we can move VMs from Virtual Server ? Yes. And Virtual PC, and Xen. Removing the old VM extensions before you move will help the process.

So  Hyper-V emulates the same hardware ? Yes and No.

Go on then, enlighten me. I’m glad you said “enlighten”, because there is a new Virtual Machine bus. Hyper-V’s integration components they enable access to virtual devices this bus. We call an OS which can see them “enlightened” . Unenlightened operating systems use emulation.

So it’s like a “stub” in the enlightened OS, but what does the VM bus connect it to ? Something in the hypervisor ? In Windows Hyper-V the drivers live in the parent partition, calls reach them through VM bus. In the parent partition each VM has a Worker Process which provides emulation.

OK. Are there restrictions on using these VM bus devices ? Two main ones. They look like new devices, so they need new drivers, in the Beta the list of supported OSes is quite short, and others must use emulation….

The list is short in the beta ?  Server 2008 and Server 2003 SP2.

But it will be longer in at release … won’t it ? [Cough] You might think that… I couldn’t possibly comment

OK and the second restriction There’s no BIOS support for them, so your boot device MUST be an emulated one.

So you have to boot from an emulated IDE hard disk, not a SCSI one. Yes.

But, in Virtual Server SCSI was much better than IDE …. It was. But in Hyper-V there’s support for  an extra component to speed up IDE so once an enlightened OS is booted it is to all intents and purposes IDE is as fast as SCSI. (John Howard has more details).

The speed of the SCSI and IDE is identical then ? It’s too soon to be benchmarking Hyper-V and trying to judge. When it’s all done, SCSI might be a fraction faster but not enough to notice (this article over-states the difference)

I’ve posted the second of my four server 2008  screencasts, which looks at How Networks and Disks behave in Hyper-Vwith the enlightenments.  You can replicate everything in the video if you have your own trial copy

Watch in a new window using Silverlight (19 Minutes 45)

Right click here and choose “Save target as” to download video (~33MB WMV)

Tomorrow, I’ll post part 3. Getting wireless access from a Hyper-V VM

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

January 7, 2008

Too many Gates …

Filed under: Uncategorized — jamesone111 @ 6:13 pm

This is currently in my BBC news feed


The highlighted one is Bill talking about his vision of the future at the CES show in Las Vegas. Sadly he won’t be appearing on Dancing on Ice, that’s Gareth Gates. I had to open the article to find that out though.

Other Gems in the news Jeremy Clarkson published his bank account details to “prove” the loss of the HMRC data was nothing to make a fuss about – “All you’ll be able to do with them is put money into my account. Not take it out” he said. Now he’s found that someone set up a direct debit to a charity just to prove a point. Presumably the person who did it is laughing all the way to Bank.  Jeremy now thinks we’re all vulnerable after all “we must go after the idiots who lost the discs and stick cocktail sticks in their eyes until they beg for mercy.”

And as you can see in the list above British airport security is being changed again. The “ONE BAG” rule had brought back some sense; the struggles of people with lots of bags or grossly oversized ones, slowed down the boarding process and made everyone grumpy. And airline staff at the gate wouldn’t enforce the rules because it’s regular travellers who flout the rules.  Now you can take two bags through security in most airports; one terminal at Gatwick isn’t up to screening the extra bags so flights FROM there still have the one-bag rule but flights TO there can take two. Budget airlines are sticking to one bag, but don’t seem not to care about weight. BA will only allow me 23KG, but it can be spread over two bags.  Although there is agreement no bag can exceed  56 cm x 45 cm x 25 cm (22 inches x 17.5 inches x 9.85 inches) BA’s guidance on the other is “a briefcase or laptop sized bag”. So no risk of confusion there then !

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

ScreenCast: Unboxing Server 2008 and Hyper-V

Filed under: Blogcasts,Virtualization,Windows Server,Windows Server 2008 — jamesone111 @ 10:23 am

Jason Langridge often links to “Unboxing” videos: the idea is to take a new gadget show it and what comes with it by filming the process of getting it out of the Box.

Over the Christmas holidays I recorded 4 Windows Server 2008 screen casts, the first of which was to show Server 2008 as near as possible to straight after installation, set-up the Hyper-V role and create a virtual machine.

You can do everything in the video simply if you have your own trial copy

Watch in a new window using Silverlight (13 Minutes 31)

Right click here and choose “Save target as” to download video (~45MB WMV)

Tomorrow, I’ll post part 2. Hyper-v network and Disks.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

January 2, 2008

Inspector Morse is dead, alas.

Filed under: General musings — jamesone111 @ 1:02 am

My respect for Inspector Gadget wavered just a fraction when he appeared to question whether the Police need to follow the law – at least when it comes to searches. His post drew a lot of comments, many saying “of course they do”. We give the Police the job of invading our privacy on occasion : someone else must decide if a given level of invasion is excessive or is justified.  “Section 44”, explained in the BBC story which Gadget picked up, is there to ensure that happens.  

What about other invasions into our privacy ? I’ve fretted public about government bodies keeping Stazi-like files on all of us; although the British government can’t keep the police on side which would be seem to be step one in creating a Police-state. Their competence to hold information about us is called into question frequently these days, one party leader has long been against ID cards on cost grounds, and another is calling them “invasive” and has made campaigning against them his priority for 2008. The government uses the word Terrorism as an ace against these arguments – (one that it is trumped by “Explain how they would have prevented any past terrorist bombing”) – but “not giving in to terrorists” means not being scared into a national loss of liberty… see We’re not afraid.

Talking of not being afraid I’ve got to hand it Benazir Bhutto’s son. Politics led to the deaths of his grandfather and two uncles before his mother (Gadget has a professional perspective on that).  National loss of liberty is one thing, but family history is a major factor in life expectancy: in his place, I’d one look at that information and vow to spend many, many years quietly studying actuarial sciences.  Not him – he’s chosen a life as one of the worlds top assassination targets. But he’s going to finish his studies at Oxford university first.

Oxford’s famous policeman, Morse, was a fiction, of course. There may be Oxbridge dropouts on the force, some may do crosswords or love opera. These days I doubt many could afford a 1960 Jaguar, never mind drive one on Police business. If nothing else Morse’s view of paperwork would have meant he couldn’t live in a modern Police force. I pass by Oxford Police station most weeks, and I doubt the reaction on hearing the news from Pakistan was a metaphorical “send for Morse”…  Thames Valley Police have more appropriate experts anyhow, with Chequers and Windsor castle on their patch; but those locations are properly secured. Monarchs and Prime Ministers have a protection budget; conjuring up what is needed to protect Bilawal Bhutto is a tall order. Doing the job in a diverse city like Oxford without intruding on the public unreasonably – not searching everyone of Asian ancestry “just in case” … that’s a bind too. And I think the complex dance between the state and the citizen that characterises modern democracy is where I came in.



Update. A spooky thing. Gadget has re-posted his post “An Army of one“, read it. Then read his post The rich girls are weeping. When you’ve done that, assuming you’re an IT professional, ask yourself if the ID-cards scheme is (a) Great because that’s work for you putting in the kit to ensure your company complies with the law, or (b) A waste of money that could be used to honour the Police’s pay award.
Don’t just carry on reading here, click those two links.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

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