James O'Neill's Blog

July 31, 2008

Podcast on PowerShell.

Filed under: Events,Powershell — jamesone111 @ 10:52 am

At the last PowerSell user group kindly host by Dmity and his colleagues at Quest – Jonathan Medd asked me what we use to record Podcasts – and I raved about the Zoom H2. Jonathan is putting podcasts on his blog and to test the process he record the first one with my H2. He mailed me yesterday to say it is now posted. I haven’t had a chance to listen to it yet – I must set it up for the plane ride home. If I sound coherent, that’s good editing on his part – and if not …well it was obviously beyond the help of an editor.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.


UK Windows server user group

Filed under: Events,Windows 2003 Server,Windows Server,Windows Server 2008 — jamesone111 @ 10:44 am

The title says it all ready. Mark Wilson has created a group on Linked in to help get the ball rolling again – he explains why this was needed and what to do on his blog. Please take a look.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

July 29, 2008

Systems of belief … and Ray Ozzie.

Filed under: General musings,Working at Microsoft — jamesone111 @ 11:21 pm

My colleague Orlando has a thankless task. We have our big training event this week and Orlando has the job of pulling together the "summit" for evangelists the weekend before the event. Past summits have made it difficult to believe in the value of these events. No one wants to give up family time for an event which turns out to be all fluff. "It was worth giving up a Sunday with my family for that" is a pretty high bar to set. Orlando achieved that level by bringing in Simon Sinek, who was the best external speaker I’ve heard for ages (I don’t like to say "The best I’ve ever heard", but as I’ve typed and edited this post I’ve failed to think of a better one).

Simon talked about the idea that companies talk too much about WHAT our products do, and talk too little about WHY we created those products – the beliefs that underpin them. He did the thing that great teachers often do – taking two things that were already in your head and link them together in a new way. For example companies which have good leaders set an ethos which everyone in the company follows – if you don’t believe in the power of software to enable people to do more, for example, you shouldn’t be working for Microsoft. Apple has values and beliefs too – which are more about individuality and overturning the established order. If the leadership of the company sets a clear set of values which the whole company follows it buy into, and articulates that it attracts more than just the people who want the product (the what) but people who also share those values and beliefs – who will buy the product if it is more expensive or lacks a feature. It fits quite well with Hugh’s "The market for something to believe in is infinite". Simon used the example of an airline who thinks, because he has flown with them several times that he is a loyal customer: he loathes them, yet they spend money wooing him because he is a serial customer.  One of the questions that we threw to Simon was would Bill Gates passing the baton on make a difference to Microsoft’s standing  – and the answer, obviously enough, was  only if it results an change of values…

In Monday’s key note for the event proper, I saw Ray Ozzie for the first time. His session included some great product stuff which we’re not allowed to talk about – announcements will come over the next few months – but he didn’t just show the what. He took time to explain who he was and his own personal why. He did a long list of loves and hates, but this list of things the thinks that he put up was more direct.

1. Constraints are empowering

2. Accept threats as resignations

3. Never follow; either leapfrog or stop

4. Diversity means survival

5. Don’t tolerate intolerance

6. Strategy and architecture are inseparable

7. Short and direct earns respect

8. Delaying the inevitable inevitably backfires

9. A re-org will never cure what ails you

10. You needn’t be an #%@hole to get things done


And I looked at these, and thought,  here’s a guy who thinks pretty much like I do.  And I looked around the room and saw thousands  of people who were thinking much the same.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

What do people really think of Vista – Mojave

Filed under: Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 10:23 pm

Unless this is the first post you’ve read here you’ll know that I like Windows Vista, not because I work for Microsoft but on it’s own merits. (I’m sure I’ve said before I work for Microsoft because I like the products and the thinking behind them , not the other way round).

You’ll also know that I’m convinced that a lot (not all, but a lot) of negative perception about Vista is down to ignorance, and problems of a bad press.

Someone had a bright idea. Lets take people who don’t know Vista and ask them about their view of it. Then lets show them Vista and see what they think; but lets not tell them it is Vista. Lets tell them they’re looking at a future Microsoft OS codenamed …. Mojave.

You can see the results of this experiment here http://www.mojaveexperiment.com/ 

CNET had a teaser about this story last week , but the website has only gone live in the last few hours. IT Wire has the story, so does Daily Tech.


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This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

July 27, 2008

Where Microsoft went wrong with Vista

Filed under: Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 1:57 am

As I mentioned in my last post I’ve made my way to Microsoft HQ with a Visit to Canada on the way; this meant flying out through Heathrow Terminal 5.

T5 got off to a bad start, and we made contingency plans for lost luggage, delays etc. The reality: the easiest taxi drop-off I’ve seen at a UK airport, very short queues to check in in, lower security hassles than most airports, and as pleasant a place to wait for my flight as I’ve found; and baggage arrived successfully at the other end. The story is doing the rounds that the initial problems weren’t just teething troubles, but were down to BA not training its staff on what was new… I understand that they showed up for work on the morning the terminal opened and had to work out where they were supposed to park and go on from there…

Now one of the things that has come up in the meetings I have been in is that we’ve done a lot of survey work around Vista. 94% of PCs sold via retail have Vista on them. In our recent financial statements to Wall street we said we’d sold 180 Million licences. Corporate customers are buying Vista licences faster than they are deploying, but the same happened with XP, and the rate of deployment of Vista is about the same as XP was at the same point in its life. But Vista is not getting the good press it deserves.

click for full size image. 2 years ago, at every meeting I went to someone would try it plug their laptop into a projector to show their slides. And it wouldn’t work "Press Function F5" someone would call out "No, this one’s a Dell , F5 is for the HP" another would say. "Oh… try F8" .  People would slip out of the room to get a coffee or make a quick call. By the time it had been sorted out 5 minutes had passed. It’s a very conservative estimate to say I lost 10 minutes a week this way. Over a year that’s a whole working day. 

Then Vista came along and it has the Mobility Center. Press [Window key] [X] and up it Pops. Click connect to display and WHOOSH the presentation is on the screen. That’s a day saved: and knowing what Microsoft consulting Services used to charge for my time, that’s worth more than cost of the upgrade licence, and the deployment cost and so on.

I brought this up in the group meeting this morning when someone said something about "people not being able to use PowerPoint because of Vista".. The betas of Nvidia’s Vista driver 6 months before launch didn’t work when a monitor was plugged in, but 3 Months before launch that problem went away. I must have sat through upwards of 500 PowerPoint presentations since Vista came out, and I’ve never seen a problem related to Vista. If the battery fails in someone’s slide clicker what I hear is "That’s vista for you", if the projector won’t focus "It’s vista". That’s wearing a bit thin. What shocked me was someone at the same table leant over after I’d said all that and asked "What was the key combination for that ?"

Earlier in the session, a senior Microsoft person said she’d really valued the training everyone received on XP, and how she missed that with Vista. Anyone can switch from XP to Vista without re-training. You get security benefits, a better network stack, easier deployment  but it takes a little time to show people what can be done. How you get the best out of search, use tagging and previews in explorer, turn off the sound for one irritating application without turning them all off. The list goes on. We didn’t teach people those things. And not everything about a brand new OS is positive.  Some hardware isn’t up to the task – I will tell the story of my Home PC another time, but the short form is it needed me to spend £40 on RAM and the 5 year old graphics card doesn’t support Glass; it works better and does more than it did under XP. Some things won’t have drivers in the early days. The number of drivers available at launch was a creditable 30,000 but that’s increased by over 150% (77,000 at SP1). Some applications don’t work on a new service pack never mind a new release: not everyone has got to grips with the Application Compatibility Toolkit which has helped to provide an environment where some real horrors can be persuaded to run. And user account control annoys IT Professionals like the seat-belt alarm in my car annoys drivers. I don’t need to be told I’m manoeuvring the car with my belt off. I do want to know if my children undo their belts when we’re driving down the motorway. I hope the safety parallel is obvious.

We didn’t give our own people the skills to talk about these things. And our own gleaming new state of the art product had a "Terminal 5" experience. SP1 for Vista was a milestone which gave people the feeling they could go back and have another look at Vista (in fact almost all of key changes had happened before SP1). I wonder how long it will be before people stop trying to avoid T5.


Update. Fixed several typos. Jet lag. Grrrr.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

July 26, 2008

Vista start-up times

Filed under: Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 12:59 am

I’m in Redmond at the moment, after a quick breather over the border in Canada, I’ve got over my jet lag and I’m ready for an 8 day stint in darkened rooms with 5 or 6 thousand slides, and catching-up with my Microsoft colleagues from round the world. I’ve been told two or three interesting things already with a comment "We’re expecting to start talking to customers about this at Tech-Ed EMEA" – if you’re thinking about going and haven’t booked your place yet, what are you waiting for.

When a lot of us get together there are a couple of pairs of questions which come up every time:

  • Why can’t product X include feature Y ? and Why can’t the next release of product X be out sooner ?

These questions come from different parts of the room and it gives us some idea of what the product managers out here have to go through when setting their priorities.

The other question-pair is

  • Why can’t we make PC manufacturers do X – or Why can’t we stop them doing Y ?

People with any length of memory will remember the trouble we got into for leaning on companies not to install Internet Explorer and not Netscape. The EU told us we had to offer Windows without media player to give Real Player a better chance.

The problem this has made for us – and for our customers is that today’s PCs are loaded with all kinds of crap. There’s even a product the PC DeCrapifier* to get rid of all the junk: it’s simpler than my advice to reformat any PC you buy and reinstall a clean version of Windows.

Eileen has a great post "Why does Vista Take so long to Start-up ?"   – which should be subtitled "and what can I do about it ?", because she answers that question. If you’re running Vista you get to the same functions through defender, but the way Eileen puts forward with MSCONFIG is more direct.

There is another question though … Why are you restarting Vista ?  Vista has really good power management, it will slow the processor when it doesn’t need to be running flat out, sleep can be managed by group policy, or you send the machine to sleep at will. If you need to power down completely, then hibernate is still better than shutting down and rebooting every day. If you let the machine sleep it can wake up and run jobs – like making the shadow copy used for previous version – if you boot the machine each morning not only does the OS have to load, repopulate caches, logon , load user settings, and then start the programs Eileen was talking about, but then it needs to run those jobs.

One of the statistics I’ve seen today is moving 10PCs with CRT Monitors to Vista with Power Management is environmentally equivalent to taking a car of the road. I know this is vague, and since it comes from the US where the average car uses more fuel, it might take more PCs to be upgraded back home to equate to one car. I’m going to try to find where the numbers come from.



* I haven’t used it, I just know it’s out there. Other products to do this may exist.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

July 23, 2008

PowerShell and checking management rights.

Filed under: Powershell,Virtualization,Windows Server,Windows Server 2008 — jamesone111 @ 5:59 am

Something which has come up more than once with the builds I of my PowerShell Hyper-V library has been that by default PowerShell doesn’t ask Windows to elevate it’s privileges – which, for example, the Microsoft Management Console does. By default it needs admin rights to see Virtual Machines and people running with an Account in the Administrators Group, but not the built in administrator account default to running non-elevated.

Now I wanted to test to see if an instance of PowerShell was running elevated or not, and I decided to do this by looking at something in the registry which only an privileged process can see; I picked the branch HKEY_USERS\S-1-5-20

Initially I wrote it it as  

Function test-Admin

{$Local:ErrorActionPreference = “SilentlyContinue”
new-psdrive -name HKUSERS -psp “registry” -root “HKEY_USERS” | out-null

dir  hkusers:\s-1-5-20 | out-null
($error[0].exception -notmatch ‘registry access’)

Remove-PSDrive hkusers | out-null

Many Powershell users know that there is a variable ErrorActionPreference , but not all of them realise that it can be scoped Just to a function. The next line Maps a “drive name” to the  “HKey_Users” branch of the registry , the function then tests to see if it is visible.

Now you may have noticed if you a DIR (or LS or get-child-item) that PowerShell shows what your looking at in the form Provider::Path so I was able to dispense with Add- and Remove- -psdrive and simply test as follows

Function test-Admin  
{ $Local:ErrorActionPreference = “SilentlyContinue”
dir Microsoft.PowerShell.Core\Registry::HKEY_USERS\S-1-5-20 | out-null

($error[0].exception -notmatch ‘registry access’)

It seems PowerShell will accept paths in this form anywhere , which is useful if you don’t want to create or rely on a drive.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

July 21, 2008

How to annoy customers… e-commerce

Filed under: General musings — jamesone111 @ 10:32 am

In a few minutes I will be heading off to a Microsoft event in Seattle, and on the way I will be taking in some diving just the other side of the Canadian border. I already know that the hotel chain I’m staying with in Canada has complimentary Internet access, and the one booked for me in Seattle charges 4 times as much for the room and then wants to charge for Internet Access on top. Is it really asking too much for major business hotels to include Internet Access in the room rate ?

One of my American colleagues  introduced me to a term for this practice "Nickel and diming" , which doesn’t really translate to British coinage. But over the week end I came across a worse example. I’ve decided to take my family to the Red Bull Air Race in London. And went to their web site to order tickets.

. Click for full size view

Now, when I take my daughter to watch the British Touring cars as an under 16 she gets in free. As sports with engines go this is a pretty good deal. Red Bull want 80% of the ticket price for the over 6’s. Grrrr. When I book concert tickets I expect an agent to take a cut and increasingly they add a handling fee, postage etc. I don’t expect that from the venue. I can’t help feel that the principle what you see is What you pay should apply, but I’ve grown used to this.

What annoys me with Red Bull is that not only do they charge me a £3.50 processing fee , but they charge me an extra £1.20 to print my tickets myself, and then on top of those charges they charge an extra 3.5% for me to pay by credit card (which I think is outlawed by both Visa and Mastercard).  When the only way to buy the tickets is with a credit card it seems a bit much to charge for it.

Making the cost up to £77 this way makes me feel like I’ve been cheated. But with WYSIWYP charges of £30 for adult tickets and children at £20, I doubt that I would have grumbled at paying £80.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

Scaling Hyper-v.

Filed under: Virtualization,Windows Server,Windows Server 2008 — jamesone111 @ 12:01 am

A couple of Stories have been doing the rounds on our internal Virtualization discussions. One was headed "HOLY COW HYPER-V VIRTUALIZING MICROSOFT.COM!!!!!!" (and before anyone wonders if this is breaking something internal to the world, it’s already been described in detail on by Rob Emanuel on the Windows Server blog ). The MS.COM operations team have also produced an article on how they virtualized Technet and MSDN

Now… Microsoft.com is not your average home page. The statistics are staggering: 1.2 Billion hits per month, on average that’s over 4,000 every second, but at busy times it peaks at 4 times that. Its 7 million pages take up 300GB of space. It used to need 80 servers to deliver it, but the Ops team migrated it to Server 2008 and newer hardware and saw the opportunity to reduce the number of servers. What became apparent with modern CPUs and RAM sizes, the servers were disk bound Simply throwing more CPU cores and more RAM at the servers wasn’t going to reduce the number of boxes needed. Redesigning the site so it used more disk spindles would help – but the quickest win would be to take bigger servers and use Hyper-V to partition them, with each Virtual Machine getting it’s own disks that would double the the number of disk IOs available without breaking the site into parts on different disks. But could they use virtualization with out Hyper-V itself becoming the bottleneck. Deploying new servers into the array is involves sync’ing 7 million pages: would virtualizing the servers – even if they ran one VM per box – help deployment ? Even if Hyper-V could scale and wasn’t a drag on management and deployment , would it be reliable ?  And would running one Mega site on Hyper-V give the Microsoft.Com folks confidence to consolidate some of the smaller machines they mange. … incidentally Blogs.technet.com where this page is hosted is run for us by a third party.

If you read the post you find the detail behind why the answers to all these questions turns out to be yes.

I think (at least in the short term) most of the deployments of Hyper-V will be consolidating 5-20 servers into a single box.  It’s perfectly capable of running many more VMs than that – indeed we demonstrated hundreds of VMs on the old Virtual Server product – (more than VMware will support) but my own view is that the typical VM requirement, and the typical hardware capacity leads to a typical ratio of 10:1 (it could be 8, or 12 but I’m using rough orders of magnitude here) and the greatest most deployments will fall within half and double that. That’s not scientific, but that’s how I get to my own "gut-feel". I say servers, because I’m not a great believer in virtualizing the desktop OS – a thin client with a fatter server running your desktop as a VM doesn’t reduce hardware costs compared with, rich client and skinnier server architecture. It doesn’t reduce power consumption (in fact it probably increases power and A/C costs) and delivers an inferior service; don’t try video conferencing company events, or deploying a Voice technology from the the PC. Don’t try working off line either. Yet it has the management and licensing overhead of having many machines.  If there isn’t really a requirement for a PC , just one or two PC applications, then a terminal Service way of working is usually better.

So, I see Hyper-V most running servers and this case of running a single workload on under Hyper-V – even running multiple identical instances of the same workload is unusual. But if anyone tries to tell you Hyper-V doesn’t scale to take on the biggest workloads… well you know different.

In the same vein, QLogic announced Hyper-V can do 180,000 IOPs. That’s not a typo. It’s vast number of I/O operations per second. In fact some people find it unbelievable, Chris Wolf posted a critique of the test on his blog , the comments are interesting and I felt the need to join in. Chris actually sent me a nice mail afterwards, so I’ll repost what I said on in my comment.

The purpose of this benchmark is to prove – if it can be proved – that Hyper-V is not an I/O bottle neck. I read the numbers and said "What the hell kind of system can do 200,000 IOPs per second" it was plainly not the kind of system which is going be installed in many environments. It allows Microsoft people to shout "B.S." at the top of their lungs if anyone from VMware claims to have drivers which are much better than Windows ones. It also kills any suggestion that Hyper-v and Windows drivers are OK in small systems but don’t scale.

You’re right that if a Microsoft benchmark says "runs at 90% of the speed of RAW hardware" the intelligent question to ask is "is that better, worse or about the same as the competition". Is it "Faster than any previous benchmark on virtulization" because it got a better percentage of the hardware or because it kept on scaling when the hardware improved ? Either would be a win for Microsoft. Just saying "ya boo sucks … we’re faster than you " isn’t.

Would VMware spread disinformation ? Sure they would. These are the people who can title a section "VMware ESXi – The Most Advanced Hypervisor" and in the very next sentence say "VMware ESXi 3.5 is the latest generation of the bare-metal x86 hypervisor that VMware pioneered and introduced over seven years ago.". So a design that’s more than 7 years old and wasn’t designed to exploit the latest Intel and AMD technology is also the most advanced ? These are the people who can claim "Many VMware ESX customers have achieved uptimes of more than 1,000 days without reboots." which is pretty remarkable when you look at impendent analysis of VMware’s patch history. (follow the link and you’ll find a quoted interval of every 19 days… 50 sets of missed patches ! Don’t tell the boss). 

The Xen and Microsoft architectures rely on routing all virtual machine I/O to generic drivers installed in the Linux or Windows OS in the hypervisor’s management partition. These generic drivers can be overtaxed easily by the activity of multiple virtual machines

When I challenged VMware to find a customer who was in production with the over-commit ratios they claimed, they could only produce one who was thinking about it. So I think I don’t think I’m being unfair in calling it BS. Interestingly the post I linked to above repeats that claim.  So I really don’t feel bad calling their pronouncement on drivers BS. (I’ll wait to see if someone from VMware comes up with a reason why the sum of activity many small VMs is different from one big one. )

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

July 12, 2008

You know you have been doing too much PowerShell when you translate Macbeth …

Filed under: General musings,Powershell — jamesone111 @ 12:29 pm

When you wake up with Powershell in your head for things which are not scripting tasks, as I did this morning, you being to thing I need a holiday, or perhaps “Get-Vacation -days 7”

It stated with the thought that Waiting for Godot could be one line of PowerShell

$characters=get-tramps -count 2 ; while ($characters -notContains “Godot”) { Start-sleep 1000}

Which is all very well. But it’s gone too far when you find you can do MacBeth in one screen of PowerShell


$Sisters = Get-Witch

$Duncan = Get-King

$Macbeth = Get-Noble | where{$_.titles -contains “Thane of Glamis”}

$Banquo = $Macbeth.Friends[0]

$Battle1 = New-Rebellion -leader (get-noble | where{$_.name -eq “MacDonwald”})

$Battle1.add $Macbeth, $Banquo

$Battle1.Leader | kill

$Macbeth.Kills ++

$Battle1 | stop-process -passthru | out-King

$Battle2 = new-rebellion -leader (get-noble | where{$_.titles -contains “Thane of Cawdor”} )

$Battle2.add $Macbeth, $Banquo

$Battle2 | stop-process -passthru | out-King

Get-Noble | where {$_.titles -contains “Thane of Cawdor”} | Kill

Set-location heath:

$sisters | forEach {$MacBeth.FutureStates += $_.prophecy() }

$sisters | forEach {$Banquo.FutureStates += $_.prophecy() }

$Macbeth.Titles += “Thane of Cawdor”

$Macbeth.State = “Amazed”

Set-location Hill:Dunsinane\Castle

$MacBeth.FutureStates | out-Hostess

$Macbeth.Wife.CreatePlot $Duncan $MacBeth [Weapon]”Dagger” Hill:Dunsinane\Castle\BedChamber

$MacDuff = Get-nobles where {$_.titles -contains “Thane of Fife”}

$Malcolm = $Duncan.Sons[0]

$Malcolm.Titles += “Price of Cumberland”

$Duncan.State = “Sleeping”

$Duncan | kill

Move $MacDuff Hill:Dunsinane\Castle\BedChamber

$Duncan.state | out-hostess

$MacBeth.wife.state = “Fainted”

$Duncan.sons | foreach {$_.visible = $false }

$MacDuff.Visible = $false

New-King $MacBeth

$Assassins = Get-Murderer

$Assassins.targets += $Banquo

$Assassins.targets += $Banquo.sons

$Banquo | kill -passthru

$Banquo.sons[0].visible = $false

$Banquo.visible = $True

$MacBeth.State = “Terrified”

$Banquo.visible = $False

$Sisters | forEach {$MacBeth.FutureStates += $_.prophecy() }

$MacDuff.Wife | kill

$MacDuff.sons | foreach {kill $_}

$MacDuff.daughters | foreach {kill $_}

$MacBeth.wife.State = “Mad”


Move-item Wood:Birnam -Destination Hill:Dunsinane

$MacDuff.Visible = $True

$Battle3 = New-Rebellion -leader $MacDuff,$Malcolm

$MacDuff.NaturalChildBirth = $False

$MacBeth | Kill

New-king $Malcolm

Richard, Jonathan, Jeffrey, Dmitry   what else can you come up with ?  Actually I’ll offer a “Heroes Happen Here” book* to anyone who doesn’t have one who can post a decent stab at this – doesn’t have to be Shakespeare (War and Peace might be a bit much)

What next Oscar Wilde in Perl ? Star-Wars in VBscript ?

(*While Stocks last. One Per house hold. Void where prohibitted. May contain nuts).

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This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

July 9, 2008

Viacom, Google and the long slow death of privacy

Filed under: Uncategorized — jamesone111 @ 7:44 pm

Eileen posted a link to a great YouTube video a few days back (words here – compare with Desiderata.) This post has been brewing for a few days – it started as one about stuff I find poignant or funny. In funny I had 2 more bits from you-tube

 The whale. I first heard someone tell the story in 1991 or 92, and eventually tracked the video down. But it’s what You tube was invented for. I know it by heart now, and it still makes me cry with laughter.

 The death Star canteen. Eddie Izzard. Need I say more ?  Apart from the issuing a language warning perhaps.

But since I started that my view of You tube has changed.  And it’s because of a worry I have had for some time about their owners (Google) : what happens to the information they gather ?

Now, since Google is a competitor of ours I should say that I think it is naïve to automatically trust any large organization with your information. There might be a paranoid streak to this* but it is no more than the data protection principles on which the Data Protection Act is based; these say that personal data should be gathered for a purpose (not speculatively), the details gathered should not be excessive in relation to that purpose, and the data should not be kept for longer than is necessary for that purpose. So in any transaction with Microsoft, Google, Tesco, the Government etc I think people should ask:

  • What am I disclosing here ? and to Whom ?
  • What will they do with the information ? Will they disclose it to anyone else ?
  • When will they delete it ?
  • Do I trust them to do only what I have approved ? 

When you fill a form in it should be possible to know what the organization concerned will do with the data.Inside Microsoft "only doing what we said we’d do" is stuck to pretty rigorously, so I can’t e-mail everyone who came to a presentation because they didn’t consent to that when they signed up for. That can be a pain for us at times. If is collected by logging what you’ve bought, or where you have gone in the physical or on-line world things get harder. I don’t advocate the use of  Passport Windows-Live ID: a single sign-on for Microsoft Services is all well and good: but I hate the idea of one system knowing every web site I log on to. That’s why I find an idea  like Phorm  insidious: it tracks every site used, whether the reader logs on not.

Speculative collection of personal data gets my paranoia going. I’ve yet to see a justification for Government to put every citizen into a facial recognition database (part the of ID card scheme). In a country where we have 1 CCTV camera for every 14 people, adding facial recognition to say exactly who has been where, and when seems a step too far down the primrose path. And whilst that hasn’t come to pass (yet) our cars are routinely identified by Automated Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras. ANPR is finding a lot of uses, including the "Specs" average speed camera system. I’m all for Specs if it saves lives of Road maintenance workers (the evidence isn’t conclusive). But it shouldn’t erode civil liberties in the process. Passing through a set of "Specs" speed cameras last week, I remarked to my passenger that  vehicle details go into a database but ordinary citizens have no idea who keeps the data, for how long, and how it can be used – if we are aware that data on what we do is being collected at all**. 

Which brings me back to YouTube. Informed users know their PC has an address, and that servers keep logs. It’s fine for Google (or anyone else) to use anonymous data from these logs for statistical purposes – you’d expect them to know most popular search terms, broken down every which way or to know the most popular videos on YouTube  – but they have faced some justifiable criticism for keeping the data personal. It gets unsettling if they show everything you ever searched for. And if they hand over everything you ever watched to a third party that’s just plain wrong.

Now… the copy of Baz Luhrmann’s video that Eileen linked to is not the only one on YouTube. I’ve no idea if it was uploaded with the consent of Baz Luhrmann or if it is flagrant breach of copyright. The copy at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTJ7AzBIJoI was obviously recorded from VH1 – one of the stations owned by Viacom (who own Paramount, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, and are best known for MTV). Viacom, not surprisingly, isn’t too happy that people have been recording stuff from its stations and posting it on youTube; where Google, not Viacom gets the advertising money from, say, South park. So Viacom responded the American way: they sued. And won.  And the judge ruled that Google must hand over the entire log. Just hang on a minute… that’s exactly what I described as "Just plain wrong". They get the log of what every member has uploaded or watched while signed in. And to tell what has been watched from any given IP address. Even if the uploader and viewer were located outside the jurisdiction of the court, and even if the content has nothing to do with Viacom. If you follow the link to the story you can see that Google say they are "disappointed the court granted Viacom’s over-reaching demand for viewing history."  But who kept the history ?


* You know what happens to paranoid people ? They survive !.   (See Andy Grove)

** This Document from the Association of Chief Police Officers covers the data protection act and Human rights act aspects of ANPR, and says signs should be posted saying who is operating cameras and why. Every seen one ? Me neither.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

July 2, 2008

Backing up Hyper-V

Filed under: Uncategorized — jamesone111 @ 6:00 pm

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This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

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