James O'Neill's Blog

March 26, 2008

Remote Server Admin tools for Vista

Filed under: How to,Windows Server,Windows Server 2008,Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 4:46 pm

Hard on the heels of the news of management tools for Hyper-V , I find that the folks in Redmond chose a UK public holiday to release all the Admin tools for Windows Vista to manage Servers.

The package is described in KB941314 – which doesn’t seem to be live yet, but you can go straight to the 64bit or 32 bit downloads

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

Manage Hyper-V from Vista

Filed under: How to,Virtualization,Windows Server,Windows Server 2008,Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 12:28 pm

I nearly leaked this ahead of time; as part of the Release Candidate for Hyper-V we have released a version of of the management console to run on Windows Vista SP1. (No, to the best of my Knowledge we don’t have plans of a version which runs on XP or Server 2003 – this is Windows “6” only. )

Jeff has posted some screen shots to the Virtualization team blog

Vista x64 Edition: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=450931F5-EBEC-4C0B-95BD-E3BA19D296B1&displaylang=en

Vista x86 Edition: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=BC3D09CC-3752-4934-B84C-905E78BE50A1&displaylang=en

If you want to run on Server Core  this means you can have the tools to manage it on a workstation without needing to install one full server machine to get them. To avoid confusion, the 64 bit Version of Vista and the x86 versions of Vista and Server CAN’T run hyper-V but CAN run the management tools for it.

Update: A new version is now out for RC-1 See http://support.microsoft.com/?id=949587 

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

March 24, 2008

VMware and Powershell

Filed under: Powershell,Virtualization,Windows Server,Windows Server 2008 — jamesone111 @ 3:57 pm

Fair’s fair. I’ve taken VMware to task when they, or their bloggers, post something which I think is false. Or the more blatant I think falsehood, the more outspoken my condemnation. Although it’s might make a for a simpler view of the world to be attacking VMware the whole time like any organisation reality is more complex.

Over on the Powershell blog Jeffrey has been keeping an eye on the work VMware have been doing with their VMware Intrastructure (VI) Toolkit. Now it’s in beta it has its own blog. I’ve got to have a play with the Out-Form function that Jeffery Points to.

With SCVMM already implementing one set of Powershell CmdLets for management, and people putting others together to work with WMI in Hyper-V, and then VMware’s contribution as well it’s going to be interesting to see if things get standardized.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

March 22, 2008

Powershell Tab expansion

Filed under: Powershell,Windows Server,Windows Server 2008 — jamesone111 @ 9:36 pm

One of the things which annoys me about Powershell is that having (in effect) extended the available commands with functions and filters, Tab expansion doesn’t find them. I was aware that people have done some clever things extending Tab-expansion (Power Tab being the obvious example), but they seemed like overkill for the one little thing I wanted.  Looking at the Powershell Community Extensions I noticed that they also change tab expansion, and a little bit of digging found there was already a function called TabExpansion. (The is also one called prompt.)

To paraphrase a line Arnie got in Predator "if it’s a function I can re-program it " So I had a look at the code for TabExpansion, Type function:\TabExpandsion | clip  and it basically goes

param($line, $lastWord)

& {
    switch -regex ($lastWord)
        # Handle property and method expansion...
        'RegularExpression' {Script block}


       # Handle variable name expansion...
        'Regular Expression' {Script block}


        # Do completion on parameters...
        'Regular Expression' {Script block}     } }

So all I needed to do was to put in some code for functions. The only complication I had was that cmdlet and file expansion is handled back the shell itself if TabExpansion() doesn’t return any results. So if I ONLY check for functions I won’t get all the things I want – e.g. typing st [tab] will return the "Start-Demo" function but not the cmdlets Start-Process Start-Service,  Start-Sleep, Start-Transcript; nor will it find stuff.csv. So I had to put some lines in to do that. What I ended up with a regular Expression {scrip block}  to go into the switch as follows.

    '^(\w+)$'{             $Commands = (get-command -type function,externalscript,alias,cmdlet "$lastWord*") +  
    (get-command "$lastWord*" | where {$_.name -match ".exe"}) 

              if ($commands -ne $null) {$Commands
get-childItem "$lastWord*" | % {$_.name} } break;             }    


This returns 3 kinds of data firstly st [tab] returns start-demo [Function] and  Start-Process Start-Service,  Start-Sleep, Start-Transcript [Cmdlets], the second Get-Command allows no [tab] to find notepad.exe (without returning lots of DLLs). And the Get-ChildItem ensures Stuff.csv is offered as well as the various starts. Originally I returned all 3 regardless but I found this replacing the expansion of filenames with something that worked less well – it didn’t put quotes round names with spaces in for a start. So I only return filenames from the function if there are also commands to return, otherwise I let the shell find files for me.

So far this is working quite well, but I’d be interested to know what other people use.

Technorati Tags: ,

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

March 20, 2008

We could be heroes … just for one day.

Filed under: Events — jamesone111 @ 2:38 am

I wish I could swim, like dolphins... Today’s launch event was one of the best I’ve been to and the feedback from everyone I spoke to seemed to be the same. I’m typing after midnight that at end of … well not exactly a perfect day. Besides leaving my camera at home, fatigue and the effects of my cold, my PowerShell session not going to plan still annoys me. It was supposed to close with PowerShell tagging some pictures by matching their EXIF date-time tag to my dive-data, and showing the pictures. Would people have got it if I had said that I wish I could swim, like Dolphins, Dolphins can swim. The chance to be that corny is rare, and I blew it.

I think the natural British reaction to the the HEROES happen {here} branding is to think of it as a bit … corny. Someone from Redmond sounded out a group of us a while back with his idea of how IT people should be seen, he described aspects of what they do in a way that led some of us to say "What your describing is closer to a TV detective or doctor" – i.e. order has been disrupted (a crime, someone is sick or injured), the hero puts the pieces of a puzzle together, has to cut through distractions (all TV detectives have stupid bosses, hospital dramas are full of politics or romance or both), and at the end order is restored (the sick are healthy and the guilty to go to jail). In the case of IT the "order/disorder" part might be something really mundane: e-mail’s down – it’s dangerously close to the Monty Python "Bicycle repair man " sketch – it’s on YouTube if you don’t know it.

Then something happened.


Stuff this stupid argument I’ve been having about VMware.

Powershell can take care of Itself.

I don’t want to talk technology for a bit

Left in the speaker lounge were some copies of the Heroes happen {here} BOOK. It’s a collection of photos of IT folk and their stories. Beautifully produced, and the photographs are a great documentary collection. It made me think of documentary sets like the famous one Dorethea Lange did for the farm Security Administration.  The name on the cover, Carolyn Jones meant nothing to me. But when I checked inside the flap I knew examples of her work. Great photography [as opposed to great camera operation] shows you aspects you had not seen in things you thought you knew, and changes how you feel about them. This is that kind of photography. Some of the subjects are groups, some individuals. Some colour, some black and white. Some were caught in motion, some posed in a interesting way, some just sat or stood. Some brought a possession, some brought family or friends (at least one brought pets), some dressed up, and others just came as they were.  There’s very little to unify the photos – the lighting is similar, Jones seems to use wider angle lenses than most portrait shooters,  and she likes here subjects to make eye contact with the camera. In a collection this size there should be a dud or two, but I couldn’t find it; whilst the pictures are individually good, the collection is one for which the cliche "the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts was made".

It doesn’t look like this book will go on general sale, and so I’m assuming it’s a "when they’re gone, they’re gone" thing. Viral wanted to get a box of them to give out to all and sundry, but I doubt if we’ll get that many (I live in fear of being told "pick your top n people to receive a copy" how do you face the person ranked at n+1 ?) . Unless I’m wrong – in which case check it out in a good book store -  snap up any copy you see being sold secondhand. I’d love to see giant prints from the book on the walls in Microsoft offices.

For all the people I met today, (from the two chaps in the car park first thing who’d driven a long way south to be there right up to the southerners as I was heading for home) allow yourselves the self indulgence to feel you’ve been a hero now and then and  thanks for today

You made me forget myself
I thought I was someone else,
someone good

Oh, it’s such a perfect day*
I’m glad I spent it with you



*An approximation, but hey…

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

March 19, 2008

Powershell in Birmingham

Filed under: Events,General musings — jamesone111 @ 6:20 pm

For those in the audience, the files needed for this demo are in my skydrive folder (link on the left of this blog in the "NEWS" box or use this link ).  Unfortunately having run through the demo for the last time I moved 3 files from my desktop (instead of copying) when I made the ZIP to upload there which was why things code broke at the end.

The final bits that were lost because of this were

  • Showing what’s in an NMEA format GPS Data file, and filtering out the diagnostic data from it
  • Adding a Header the NMEA text file and importing it with IMPORT-CSV.
  • Using SELECT-OBJECT to get a reduced set of fields, and using a calculated field to merge seperate date and time
  • Showing how ConvertTO-HTML can make this data into an HTML file in one line
    Finally, and what I’d been trailing in the demo
  • Using a development of this to tag information onto photos (the data to be used in the tagging had been moved as well).


NOTE TO SELF. Place files on the internet for attendees after the session. Not before.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

Hyper-V Release candidate officially announced

Filed under: Virtualization,Windows Server,Windows Server 2008 — jamesone111 @ 2:29 pm

A few minutes ago, in Clive’s session at the UK server launch event, our UK product manager announced that later today the Release Candidate of Hyper-V will be available for download.

We committed to "within 180 days of the RTM of Server 2008" for Hyper-V; when we released the Beta before christmas – and ahead of Server’s RTM I thought "3 months to RC then"  and told people on the date I’d bet on for RTM if pushed. Well the first part has been disturbingly accurate… But the forecast RTM date is a secret known only to a few (and I’m not one of them) and I’m not going to stoke up rumours by saying  "I think it release on …" (probably a Wednesday !)

RC is a big milestone. It’s when all the bits are in, the performance is pretty close to final. It’s when claims and counterclaims get proved and disproved. I’ll post some more details about the update process later on, but the critical thing to search for is KB949219


(Update: John Howard has some instructions and download links but they’re not live yet
Update 2: The KB is  LIVE)



This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

Vista SP1 now on Windows update.

Filed under: Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 10:20 am

I’m in Birmingham for the Windows Server 2008/SQL Visual Studio Launch. We British Microsofties tease our American colleagues for saying that they are "Super-Excited" about things, but I even I’m feeling the excitement – or maybe it’s a combination of nerves and cold remedy.

For the last few days I’ve been obsessing on my presentation so I missed the news that Windows Vista SP1 has been released to Windows update.  The Vista team blog has the details.

Rumour mills have being going into overdrive about other things which may be announced today. I’m not going to add any detail to those 🙂


This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

March 15, 2008

Building dangerous things into products.

Filed under: Virtualization,Windows Server,Windows Server 2008 — jamesone111 @ 1:19 pm

In the comments an earlier post, "PMunro" raised an interesting point, and I mentioned it when talking to [a well known firm who visited us this week].

Back when I had my first had my grubby mitts on a copy of "Windows Server Virtualization" – now "Hyper-v" it was a build which supported over-commiting memory and dynamically adding processors. This, on my newly arrived Dual Core laptop was a great wheeze*. The demo went like this

  • Start a VM with on processor
  • Run task manager in the VM – show one processor and Close task manager again
  • Go to machine settings and change processors from one to two.
  • Re-run task manager – ta-da Two processors.

And then the product group took the feature out. I was cross. Then I had a conversation with one of them

ME: "What did you take that out for ?"
HIM: "Were you just showing a new proc in task manager ?"
ME: "Yes. It was a GREAT demo ?"
HIM: "Have you any idea what Oracle does when you do that ?"
ME: "Well…. no".
HIM: "Neither have we "

The point being that Hyper-V is expected to run critical software from all vendors. Without some kind of application validation programme you don’t if they these kind of things are safe or dangerous. What will an application do if you add a processor ?  Or if an application requests that Windows allocates memory for it from the non-paged memory pool, how does it perform if you over commit-memory and the virtualization stack pages that same memory out to disk ?  Is it worse to over-commit memory and have the virtualization stack do paging than to have an VM do it’s own paging ? (Yes, if applications try to use memory they see as "unused" for caching … they’ll read stuff from disk to cache only for it – or something the app thought was still in memory – to be paged out again) Over committing really delivers when virtualization is able to detect identical pages of memory in multiple VMs and share them; so for any given combination of machines what proportion of pages are common ? 0.5% ? 5% ? 50% ? 90% ? And the answer to all these questions is a resounding "It depends"

As I’ve mentioned, back at IT forum we pre-announced the "Server Virtualization Validation Program" and I hope this is going to bottom out some of these questions before we put these tools in peoples hands. I remember Active/Active clustering in Exchange 2000 only too well. People wanted it, we gave it to them; but it was only safe to use in such a small set of circumstances that one of the product group said to an audience I was in "For the love of God… Don’t use active/active". Hopefully this won’t be a repeat.

Technorati Tags: Windows Server 2008,Windows Server,Virtulization,Hyper-v,VMware

* Footnote, after reading this post of Sharon’s I should say this in the sense of "a good idea or clever plan" not "noisy and difficult breathing"

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

VMware – running hot enough to cook the figures

Filed under: Virtualization,Windows Server,Windows Server 2008 — jamesone111 @ 3:38 am

It’s quite amusing to see the VMware blogger (Citrix’s blog names him as Eric Horschmann) has come back with a screen full of algebra to try justify it the post I commented on yesterday

  VMware VI3 foundation VMware VI3 enterprise Free Hypervisor
2 way Server, 4GB Ram $6000 $6000 $6000
Windows Licences $5998 $5998 $5998
Virtualization licences $995 $5750 $0
Total Cost $12,993 $17,748 $11,998
VMs 14 (with 2x overcommit) 14 (with 2x overcommit) 7
Price per VM $928 $1268 $1714.

They look convincing, don’t they ?  He’s right only if you fixed the amount of RAM in the serverBut when was that ever a fixed point ? either you want to run 14 VMs on the box, or the budget per box is $17,748. Who ever yelled "Screw the budget, Screw the workload. Keep the memory constant !" ?

Needless to say if your product is adding cost, you want the other figures beefed up to keep the proportion due to you as small as possible. I said the cost of the box was suspiciously high. And would you run 0.5 GB VMs (was that why they chose an out of support OS) . If you were only running 1GB VMs you’d get 3 on the box and use the cheaper Enterprise edition of Windows rather than Datacenter. That would reduce the cost of the Microsoft system, perhaps to the point where it was as cheap to run two small Microsoft boxes as one larger VMware one. 

So lets try those figures again shall we ?  This time we’ll build a server to support 14 VMs. The only cha

  VMware VI3 foundation VMware VI3 enterprise Free Hypervisor
VMs 14 14 14
2 way Server, 4GB Ram $6000 $6000 $6000
4GB extra RAM Not needed
(with 2x overcommit)
Not needed
(with 2x overcommit)
Windows Licences $5998 $5998 $5998
Virtualization licences $995 $5750 $0
Total Cost $12,993 $17,748 $12,493
Price per VM $928 $1268 $892

Who’s cheapest now  ?

Now if the customer is prepared to $5,750 (plus support, training, and extra management tools) on VI3 enterprise… what would they get if they spent that on RAM

  VMware VI3 enterprise Free Hypervisor
Total Cost $17,748 $17,748
Windows Licences $5998 $5998
Virtualization licences $5750 $0
2 way Server, $6000 $6000
VMs 14 (with 2x overcommit) 63
Price per VM $1268 $281

Who’s cheapest now ? Oh look it’s Microsoft again.

Now, I mentioned the screenful of algebra and of course this is based on the same fallacious axiom that memory is the same for the two systems. This contains the same error as the first post
one line explaining the terms. MH  Physical server memory which of course is held to be the same on both systems. In practice, the Microsoft system would have more RAM and therefore better performance. I’ve reworked the equations allowing for MHV  and MHm  the memory on the VMware and Microsoft systems respectively , but keeping everything else the same.

CH Cost of server hardware
CM Cost of memory per GB
CVMW Cost of VMware virtualization software
CMS Cost of Microsoft virtualization software
COS Cost of operating system software
MHV Physical server memory, GB – Microsoft
MHM Physical server memory, GB – VM ware
MV Memory per VM, GB
r Memory overcommit ratio

The cost of the Microsoft system is CH + CM MHm + CMS +COS
And the VMware one costs CH + CM MHV + CVMW +COS

If CMS is zero and the systems cost the same then  CM MHm = CM MHV + CVMW

Solving this for memory we get  MHm = MHV + (CVMW / CM )
(In English if the cost of VM ware is $5000, and Memory costs $100 per GB, then a Microsoft system can have 50GB more memory for the same money)

The Number of Virtual Machines on VMWare is  r MHv / MV

And on Microsoft it is  MHm / MV

So to run the same number of VMs: MHm = r MHv
(in English if VMWare can run an overcommit ratio of 2 Microsoft needs twice as much memory, for the same VM count. In reality a ratio of 1.25 is more realistic, so Microsoft would need 25% more memory.)


Now we have two equations MHm = MHV + (CVMW / CM ) And : MHm = r MHv

So the break even point for VM ware comes when MHV + (CVMW / CM ) = r MHv

MHv =(CVMW / CM ) / (r -1)

if the cost of VM ware is $5000, Memory costs $100 per GB and r =2, then the VMware system needs to have 50GB of RAM and the Microsoft one 100GB of RAM: above that VMWare is cheaper, below that Microsoft is. If you think my figure of r=1.25 is closer to the real world, then the VMWare system would need 200GB of RAM (and in Eric’s scenario that means 400 VMs). Just remind me again what the memory and VM count limitations are with VMware….


Three closing points. First there are scenarios which do benefit from being able to overcommit memory (for example if you’re setting up training machines and need 100MB more memory than you’ve got)- we may have to cap the level at which it can be used to prevent customers getting themselves into trouble. But Bob Muglia has said internally and externally that the feature is needed. Whether "needed" means for tick-in-box feature comparisons or real-customer-need is open to interpretation, either way the feature will come back (it was in the Alpha versions).
Secondly Validation.Back at IT forum we pre-announced the "Server Virtualization Validation Program" personally I’m hoping that before we give customers the ability to overcommit memory or dynamically add CPUs and memory to running VMs we validate applications to give them confidence that these abilities are safe to use. If memory which a service has asked to be allocated from a non-paged pool is being paged by the virtualization stack, what will the impact be.
And finally. People tell me that VMware customers are using over commit rates of 2 or more in production the offer I made yesterday still stands. show me a customer who is running, in production, a VMware VI3 Enterprise system with a 2:1 memory overcommit ratio on all the VMs, where spending the cost of VMware on RAM wouldn’t remove the need to use overcommitment then I’ll give… lets say $270 to their choice of charity.


Technorati Tags: Windows Server 2008,Windows Server,Virtulization,Hyper-v,VMware,Fud

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

Reasons to go to San Diego.

Filed under: Events,Real Time Collaboration — jamesone111 @ 1:18 am

Eileen has already mentioned that she’s going to San Diego (there’s a song in there somewhere).  I’ve only been to San Diego once – the year I joined Microsoft – and it was jolly nice city for a conference, although after the flight back I asked our travel agents to make a note that I would rather fly Aeroflot connecting in Moscow, than fly with United again.

I fancy going back to San Diego, if for no other reason than I want to dive the Yukon – I’ve previously dived her sister ship the Saskatchewan and will probably be going back to her in the summer, but she’s in the chilly waters of British Columbia. Californian waters are somewhat warmer – Eileen’s a diver too, although she might think even Californian waters are a shade cool.

A better reason to go to San Diego in April is the the Interact conference. This looks like a great event, and there is a limited offer at the moment from Gurdeep – a free ticket to the US tech-ed or IT forum (he says 09 on his post, but I think it is this calendar year – but our Financial year 09).  If you were thinking of going to the European the saving on a free ticket would more than cancel out the airfare. So get your skates on and check out his post.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

March 13, 2008

Expensive Hypervisors – a bad idea even if you can afford them

Filed under: General musings,Virtualization,Windows Server,Windows Server 2008 — jamesone111 @ 2:20 am

There’s a saying in politics People will fall more easily for a big lie than for a small one*. I think someone at VMware has picked this up because they’re trying a really big lie.
VMWare doesn’t need memory.

Or to quote the post more precisely: VMware Infrastructure’s exclusive ability to overcommit memory gives it an advantage in cost per VM the others can’t match.**

They were able to start 40 instances of Windows XP to achieve the 40 VMs, with 512MB of memory on a machine with only 4GB of RAM – a 5 times over commitment ratio.  Of course they didn’t actually run anything in them, because if you and I fired up Outlook, and IE (with our own mail boxes and choice of pages)  you open word and I open PowerPoint very few memory pages will be sharable (I’ve got 47 pages open in IE right now, and it’s using over 300MB of RAM, almost all for data). That means a lot of paging will have to happen in the virtualization stack. Brace yourself for really poor performance.

When I read they were using Windows 2000 in the server test I got suspicious, why use an OS which is out of support ? to get better results of course. (As I understand it they don’t support Windows Server 2008 yet). To get as much page overlap as possible they ran identical OS, and application on all the VMs, and gave them only a little memory – 512MB for a server is pretty meager. That’s important because it ensures memory is occupied by OS and programs  rather than data. Programs will have a lot of sharable pages of memory: data and caches won’t.  Suppose they had done the same over commitment with 1.5GB machines and got 4  on their system to 2 on Microsoft Virtualization.  Spare memory will get used as a cache and this will have almost no sharable pages. Data is in from disk to fill memory which isn’t there and has to be paged out in the Virtualization stack – that’s two sets of disk I/O for nothing.

The writer then cooks the figures: a $6000 for a  2-way server with 4GB of RAM ? I went onto Dell’s web site, and got a quote for 2xDual Core Processors, 16GB of RAM and 2x500GB drives in an SC1435 for under £2,000. Given that the UK prices for hardware are always higher than US prices I’m very dubious of that server price. But let’s allow that. According to the VMware post their software costs an extra $5,750 (note that’s without support). Again I’m working from the memory upgrade prices on Dells web site, an upgrade from 4 to  32 GB upgrade adds £2,720 to the price. At today’s Exchange rate, and ignoring the cheaper prices in the US, that’s $5,440. So according to VMware a $17,000 system based on their software would have 4GB of ram and run 14VMs. On 4GB the system would run 7 VMs on Microsoft software. But the same money using Microsoft Software would buy 32GB of RAM, the extra 28GB which allows you to run 56 more VMs. That’s 63 VMs on $17,000 of system with Microsoft ~ that $270 per VM for Microsoft, against $1268 for per VM for VMware. And with physical RAM for every byte the VMs see, the Microsoft system will perform better.
(To save smarter readers from pointing it out, a $6,000 server might run out of steam between the 7 VMs initially supported, and 63 VMs. The VMware work assumed there would enough CPU, DISK and network resource and the system would be RAM limited. If 14 VMs is where CPU becomes a limitation then we’d be looking at a 4GB upgrade costing £260 /$500, so the Microsoft system would come out about $5,250 cheaper for the same VMs – that’s about $375 per VM.)

That’s the argument ? Over $5000 of VMWare software is a good investment because it saves $500  on RAM ?

Further Cooking the figures. If you have a Microsoft support contract Microsoft Virtualization Software is covered. One of my colleagues tells me that VM platinum support for 3 years, would add $3666 to the total cost. I haven’t checked this numbers but divided over 14VMs that’s $261 per VM for VMware support… yes you read the numbers correctly support for VMware costs nearly as much per VM as the hardware, software and for the Microsoft solution. That’s before you allow for training, maintaining a separate management infrastructure for the virtual world, and so on.

If someone can show me a customer who is running, in production, a VMware VI3 Enterprise system with a 2:1 memory overcommit ratio on all the VMs, where spending the cost of VMware on RAM wouldn’t remove the need to use overcommitment then I’ll give… lets say $270 to their choice of charity. ***

Update. Someone asked me to remove a term which is OK in British usage, but tends to offend other English speakers.

* Foot note 1. Yes I know who wrote that, and I’m not going to suggest that VMware have been reading him. Like me, someone there might collect books of quotes and aphorisms.

**Footnote 2. As one of the commenters to the post points out VMware’s published recommendation is  "Make sure the host has more memory than the total amount of memory that will be used by ESX plus the sum of the working
set sizes that will be used by all the virtual machines."
I.e. Don’t use this feature, if you want decent performance.

*** One offer only. Void where prohibited. Over 18s only. My cause drowsiness; if affected to not operate virtual machinery. etc.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

March 12, 2008

Looking after customers…

Filed under: General musings — jamesone111 @ 5:52 pm

I’m back from my holiday, and as usual after a break trying to get back into the swing of things …

Various observations seem to link together.

  • Connecting flights in Miami rather than Nassau saved me money but it wasn’t worth it. Miami International airport is purgatory. On the plus side it is nice to see that in the US people who would be institutionalised in other countries are given gainful employment in the immigration service – and the job of forming peoples first impressions of the country.
  • A nice piece of customer service from BA and American Airlines. Not only did BA 207 to Miami have a more helpful crew than usual (BA crews are often better than their company deserves) but, aware of the probability I would miss my connection, someone met me off the plane with the news that they’d got me a seat on a later flight with AA. 
  • A thought on airports… there should be an express queue with a sign in very small print. Which says "I know I have to remove my Coat/shoes/belt/watch", "I know to transfer objects which will set the metal detector off into my bag/coat" , "I know what has to come out of my bag for separate examination", "I have not put any documents which will need to be inspected (again) in my bag", "I take to the trouble to read the notices, so you don’t have to send me to the far queue".
  • On my return I found there was a bit of a fuss about the software we’re giving away at the launch events for Server 2008. It’s not a full-so-sell-it-on-ebay copy. One attendee complained that the time limited version he got "wasn’t much of a thank you for attending" a free event. The idea isn’t to get lots of people to come to fill up a room and have a free lunch – if we wanted to do that we’d just invite people in from the local homeless shelter. The idea is for us to tell (actual and potential) customers about what our software can do for them – which is to their advantage as well as ours, and to set them up so they can try things out. Hopefully if you’re attending any of our upcoming events here in the UK that’s what you’re looking for.
  • As I’ve mentioned before I’m a Pentax user (except when diving). On the Pentax SLR forum on DP Review one of the regulars – an Australian called Lance – coined a term to describe the near obsession many of us have for buying lenses – he called it Lens Buying Addiction or LBA. It’s widely used on the forum, and Pentax had some LBA stickers made which look like the country stickers for cars with "LBA" on them. Lance never really got any credit, until now. Pentax have recently put Ned Bunhill in charge of their US operations. I’ve got a lot of time for Ned because he’s more a photographer than an administrator, marketeer or accountant. On Ned’s blog today it says they’re giving Lance their new top-end camera body, and a new model lens (which is eye-wateringly expensive). Excellent. I’m pleased for Lance, but also really pleased that Pentax would do a thing like that.

Just as a side thought – we’re not in the business of giving away thousands of full copies of software to all comers, but we do reward people who make a contribution. If you’re one – or you know one, and you don’t think we know who you are, drop me a mail.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

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