James O'Neill's Blog

November 25, 2008

Safe on-line part 2 (in praise of John Lewis)

Filed under: General musings,Security and Malware — jamesone111 @ 7:27 am

I’ve talked about brand values and somewhere along the line I sure I said that I choose to shop at Waitrose instead of Tesco or Sainsbury’s. Since Waitrose is part of the John Lewis partnership I have had one of their credit cards for a while (my local Waitrose was one of the first where you could scan your own shopping as you collected it, but you needed to have one of their cards to logon to the scanning system).

We have a project in the office for which needs some large hard disks, and I got approval to go out and buy them and expense them back. For at least the last 10 years been using Scan for this sort of thing, and they had the right disks at the right price; so yesterday after I had finished my part of the unplugged , I went on-line and ordered them. I was impressed with what happened next… before Scan’s website had sent displayed the order confirmation page my phone started to ring. I grabbed it and ran out of the session which was going on. It was the fraud prevention people at John Lewis checking that the transaction was legitimate. HSBC – who run the card for them – must have a team who just get fed with one transaction after another which needs checking: that sounds like a pretty miserable job to me, but the person who called me was friendly and looked after my interests with the minimum of fuss and bother. I talked about the HSBC’s first direct subsidiary being “people ready” a little while ago and it’s another example. And as for Scan … well they mailed me with progress of my order as the picked and despatched it – and I know it’s waiting at the parcel depot a few miles away for delivery on Monday. That’s pretty people-ready too.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

November 20, 2008

Road-show materials.

Filed under: Events,Windows Server,Windows Server 2008 — jamesone111 @ 11:46 am

I’ve had a couple of requests for the slides and related information from the”Unplugged” tour

My Keynote slides

My Hyper-v Cluster setup and Jose Barreto’s blog post on getting Storage server for iSCSI 

Matt’s slides on Management and SCVMM (these are in a Password protected zip, the Password is Password 123)

Clive’s Slides on Management and SCVMM

My slides on Terminal Services


I’ve given the link to Jose’s post for iSCSI in the list above, but there are other iSCSI solutions – I normally mention Nimbus but I forgot to mention it in Monday’s session. Thanks to Dave for the reminder.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

November 18, 2008

Get Safe Online ‘08

Filed under: Events,Security and Malware — jamesone111 @ 3:02 pm

The First time I ever worked with Steve was on GSOL the first year it ran. It’s become an annual event, and I hope that no-one who regularly reads this blog needs to be told too much about on-line safety. It’s pretty simple stuff.

  • Keep your machine patched
  • Use Anti-virus Software
  • Use a firewall
  • Be careful what you click on.

The BBC had a story that Spammers only get one response for every 12 Million mails … and as part of GSOL we have a poster up with the top 5 email scams

  1. Fake lottery wins
  2. Fake requests for payment details
  3. Updating On-line service details
  4. Notice of an inheritance
  5. Foreign aid / Charity payments

The BBC had another story about IDs being sold.

So, do your bit and spread the message to those less IT savvy than yourself. Don’t scare the life out of them, just make them aware of what a scam looks like. You know you didn’t even enter the lottery that mail says you’ve won, and you know if you gave your mail address to a lottery. You know that your bank would address you by name and tell you to go to their main site and follow a setup of step if they really needed you to do something and so on. That kind of thing, and send them to http://getsafeonline.org 

By the way… I think a lot of things are said to be in the name of “protecting children” are actually humbug, but I heard a good story at tech.ed in Barcelona that one security person got his young son to create a fake on-line persona – he was a 70 year old man with a wooden leg, or something like that. “So Dad …” the son asked “does that mean other people on the internet aren’t who they seem to be ?” . Far more effective than “Don’t talk to Strangers” which is what I grew up with.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

November 14, 2008

Server 2008 R2 – Server Core changes.

Filed under: Beta Products,Powershell,Windows Server 2008 — jamesone111 @ 2:43 pm

As I said in my last post I have a whole stack of things to talk about in the aftermath of Tech.ed in Barcelona. One of those is the changes made in server core.

Fortunately Andrew over at the Windows Server Core blog has saved me a job, his post has more detail,  but the major change is a subset of .NET framework for core. This allows two really important things. PowerShell 2 and ASP.NET. Today Server core has no .NET framework support so that means ASP or plain HTML pages, but no ASP.NET.  ASP.NET is a obviously a step forward because you shouldn’t really have to care if a web server is on Core or on Full Windows when you decide what it will serve up. But PowerShell ? I keep telling people that you manage Windows Server Core remotely. You don’t logon to the console and fire up PowerShell….but with PowerShell 2 we have much richer remoting, and remotely managing a machine with PowerShell means you run the shell on Machine A and specify that you want to run a command on Machine B.

We also have File Server Resource Manager support, and the ability to add Certificate Services. Finally. Server 2008 R2 is 64 bit only, support 32 bit application will be available but the plan is that you will have to choose to install it, to keep the footprint as small as possible.


This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

November 13, 2008

Back from tech.ed

Filed under: General musings — jamesone111 @ 10:40 am

I’ve had a busy few days: after Tech.ed we had some internal training in Barcelona over the weekend, and I  flew back from Tech-ed to a concert in London on Sunday night. I have quoted a line or two of Anne Clark’s on this blog: I saw her in a TV programme about a book called “Hard lines”, and they said she had a Album out. That was 1983 (or possibly 1982), and I’ve got just about everything she’s done since; but she hasn’t played in Britain for years and its taken me a quarter of century to see her live. Just brilliant. But I didn’t get home till 1AM.

Tech.ed seemed better than last year – at least to me, and I’ve got a long pipeline of posts about Windows 7 which will follow this one. My one complaint is that the shirts we given as speakers were cheap polyester ones and I’ve had some kind of skin reaction to them. When I got home It was a quick change of clothes in my bag and then jumping on a flight to Edinburgh for a virtualization event there. I forgot to take the anti-histamine cream with me, and so was itching like mad on stage for the day. Not good. Back south for a a quick team meeting and then off again for another presentation in London, home, re-pack and then I’m in Cambridge tonight, and presenting there in the morning. 

I have a ton of posts to write on Virtualization, PowerShell and some of the more interesting stuff about Windows 7/ Server 2008 R2 which now public and some other writing to finish which I’ll talk about here when it’s done.

The flight to Barcelona clashed with Brazilian grand prix, and I’m carrying the Media center recording of it with me, hoping to get a chance to see it in a hotel somewhere soon. I called home as soon as the ‘plane landed and got the news from my 8 year-old daughter (one of the world’s most passionate Hamilton fans) that Hamilton had won the championship, and it hinged on passing Timo Glock (though it was the following morning that I found out what a close run thing it had been). Because I’ve talked about F1 and some of the nonsense which has come from the people who run the sport on this blog, a lot of people at tech.ed started conversations with me about F1 and the race. One person has even mailed me to say he was looking forward to reading my take on how things finished and was bit disappointed not to have seen it yet. So… in the end justice was done. Massa benefitted from some very iffy Stewarding decisions (Hamilton’s penalty in Belgium, giving him a win and 6 point benefit, his own lack of penalty for a dangerous pit release in Valencia letting him keep a win which would have gone to Hamilton, and giving him extra 4 points, and not Penalizing him for going off the permitted track to overtake Webber in Japan giving him 2 more points, which only have been one had Vettel not received another dubious Penalty). Had Massa won people would have been saying for years that he shouldn’t have been champion (they would have ignored the fact those points were cancelled out by the teams error in Singapore which cost him a win and gave Hamilton an extra point).  On the other hand Ferrari – who always seem to be the beneficiary of these decisions – won the constructors’ championship. Reverse out the bad decisions and Hamilton would have won the drivers’ title by more (and had 7 wins to 4  for  Massa), and Ferrari would have had won the constructors by less, but the result would have been the same – the gap between the second driver in each team was greatly in Ferrari’s favour.

My worry now is that Hamilton will become as dominant as Michael Schumacher was and we’ll be in for seasons of very dull racing. From a purely sporting perspective the Senna’s untimely death meant we never had the spectacle of the rising Schumacher taking on the Senna as “old master”. Schumacher’s retirement means we don’t see him race Hamilton, and I don’t see him being temped back. But against that fear is the hope that with Vettel, Kubica and Alonso (who scored more points than anyone over the last 8 races) as well as the two Ferrari and two Mclaren drivers winning races this year we could be at the start of a new Golden age. I remember the days when Mansell, Piquet, Senna, and Prost were competing – hopefully there will be enough good cars to go round, and any one from half a dozen drivers and 3 or four teams could win. I’ve been a Williams fan since for even longer than I’ve been an Anne Clark fan, and Keke Rosberg was one of my favourite drivers. Two sons of great drivers have won championships in Williams’  cars. I still hold out hope that for a third.

Since I’ve been anti-Ferrari for decades (they were getting the benefit of bad decisions when James Hunt raced for Mclaren, and against Williams in the 80s and 90s) I should make my last planned comment on Motor racing for this year an acknowledgement that they can do something good – the FIA’s idea of all the teams using standard engines has to rank as one of the worst I’ve ever heard. Ferrari took a stand against it and helped drive down the cost of engines for non-works teams. Near identical cars which are the limiting factor – rather than driver skill -  is what has made American single seat racing so boring. So a tip of hat to the team in red for killing that idea.

And now, back to that large pile of posts …

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

November 5, 2008

Slides and scripts from Open XML / PowerShell reporting Session in Barcelona

Filed under: Office,Powershell,Windows Server — jamesone111 @ 2:36 pm

I’m going to spend the next two or three Posts explaining what I did in this session for those who weren’t there but, for those who were I promised the slides and scripts would be downloadable

You can get the zip from my skydrive

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

November 2, 2008

Virtualization videos

Filed under: Powershell,Virtualization,Windows Server,Windows Server 2008 — jamesone111 @ 2:52 pm

I mentioned I was presenting on Virtualization a week or so ago, and Matt was presenting another of the sessions. Without wanting to make a big deal of it, but since I’ve got to know Matt, I’ve come to value his opinion and he used my library from codeplex. to  demo building VMs from a script, he had some really nice things to say about, which did my ego a power of good. 

John Kelbley is a chap I know less well, but it’s always nice to have people who work in the product team telling you that you’ve done a great job. John pinged me a mail to say his discussion from the US tech-ed with Alexander Lash about script-based management for Hyper-V, including a discussion of PowerShell and WMI where they use my library was posted. It’s available for download.
WMV High res version
WMV Low Res version
MP4 Version
MP3 Version

I’m going to be recording at least one video session on PowerShell at Tech-ed Barcelona this week, and with a bit of luck we’ll get one together on Virtualization as well.

Bonus Link, before my ego gets out of control, thanks to Matt for the link to a great Silverlight demo of System Center Virtual Machine Manager.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

Internet connections and People ready businesses

Filed under: General musings,Mobility — jamesone111 @ 2:50 pm

I’ve been “on Holiday” for a few days. My mother-in-law hasn’t been enjoying the best of health so we took took the family off to visit her over the half term week. To a rented house with Satellite TV – because it is in a DVB deadspot – but no broadband, and no 3G reception. It’s been a lesson in just how much we take connectivity for granted.

The 3G part was interesting: Microsoft provides me with a phone  its due for replacement in a few months (hopefully with one of these), for me the candy bar form factor with slide out qwerty keyboard is perfect, and when I got my current one the only 3G option was a touch screen PDA. I’ve shut up about the iPhone, it doesn’t work for me nor do the Windows-powered touch screen phones. They work for lots of other people. Fine: we’re not all the same.  So I went shopping for a Pay as You go 3G service in Oxford – where half the shops now seem to be phone shops or coffee shops. I asked each provider to check my destination was covered, all of them could check, and had to admit it wasn’t To be fair, Orange’s web site suggest they have coverage but that they don’t offer Pay As You Go 3G. I wanted to check both things, but their Oxford shop was being refurbished, so I thought I’d go to a mobile phone shop when we arrived.  Reading this piece on Mark’s blog I realise that this will soon be considered suspicious (The Times reports Everyone who buys a mobile telephone will be forced to register their identity on a national database under government plans to extend massively the powers of state surveillance.) . I like the fact that my phone isn’t registered to me: if it was at a crime scene it could be traced to me in 5 minutes flat. The same is true of my (leased) car.With no way to look up my phone or my car, its hard for someone to go on a fishing trip about me. I’m nervous that a computer somewhere in the Home Office would spot my purchase of a 3G dongle far from home and send someone to check things out. As it happens, there was nowhere to buy one anyway; this is a town with no mobile phone shops, no McDonalds with free WiFi, no Starbucks. A single Cafe had internet access – at 5p a minute! Once the home secretary catches up with the notion of VoIP, I guess we’ll have to produce Biometric ID to use cyber-cafes. 

A fair chunk of my expensive internet time was spent arranging my hotel for Tech-ed – I don’t know why I left it so late; usually when I start procrastinating about everything it is a sign something is wrong. The travel coordinator gave me the necessary URL  but my chosen credit card issuer doesn’t participate in the site’s chosen verification scheme. So I mailed the coordinator back, explaining that I’m on holiday, I don’t have proper access, the web site won’t play ball, so here’s my credit card number, please book the room. Back comes a reply “we need a fax for security reasons”.  I reply “You want something with a signature on it … even though you can’t tell if it is really MY signature, that’s no security”. And who takes a fax and printer on Holiday ? Somewhat crossly I went back the next day to try another credit card, this takes me to “Verified by visa”, or “vilified by Visa” because I couldn’t get it to accept my details. What followed was actually rather wonderful. My phone rang, it was the bank’s fraud department, a  computer somewhere had spotted my failed purchase far from home and sent someone to check things out. With the transaction cleared the call got passed to someone in a totally different part of the bank, who knew what was going on, and walked me through the Visa system and hey presto everything worked. I’ve no idea what software they  use at first direct but when we ran commercials about “The people ready business” we meant the sort of thing they have been doing for years. And the Hotel bookers were the target to become people ready. [Side point. I have long had a theory that people get more choosey about where they place their business when the economy is bad “lots of you are chasing my custom, so I’ll go somewhere that I don’t have to put up with X.”. If you’re an IT pro and your projects don’t lead to delivering something better to a customer, what exactly are you doing ?]. 

On the subject of my procrastination leading to find out of companies are people ready or not, I nearly gave this post a risqué title like “Sucking big Julie dry” as I explained a couple of weekends back , “Big Julie” was the identity I floated for my new car from its registration “Sierra Juliet”, though that name just isn’t right. The last 4 Citroëns I’ve had were equipped with a trip computer showing range at about 20 miles the display would change to — meaning “I can’t guess any more. Fill up right now”. I try to avoid filling up until I absolutely have to, so I quite familiar with that display. With  Trip computer still indicating 22 miles range and a mile from where I planned to fill up something horrible happened. The engine stopped. I expect embedded computers and their sensors to be 100% reliable – which means if they are wrong they fail in the direction of safety. I wouldn’t accept my latop’s battery dying when the display said 10 minutes left: tell me I’m out of fuel with 20 miles left – not the other way round.
I called Citroën assist – “We can get someone to you in about an hour with some fuel” they said, “I can walk and get some in less time” I said “but does the engine need to be re-primed ?”. “No” said the guy at the other end. “Are you sure there’s no special procedure for a dry diesel engine” “Yes”. “OK I’ll walk”. 45 minutes later with 5 litres of diesel in the tank I was back on the phone – “The engine won’t start, the handbook doesn’t cover this engine, only the V6 diesel and there’s nothing about re-priming that”. “OK. We’ll send someone out – it will be about an hour”. Grrr. If I’d known, I’d have got them to send him in the first place. We called a taxi so the rest of the family could get home and I waited. I got a call and a text from the AA (that’s the Automobile Association, if you’re thinking of something else known as AA)to say they were on their way. Now here’s a tip. If you have a Peugeot or Citroën with a 2.2HDI engine (and according to Wikipedia possibly a Ford with the 2.2  TDCi as well)  and you run it dry, open the bonnet and look for a little black bulb with a fuel line coming from it, on the left near the front. The AA man squeezed that a few times, I turned the key and hey presto the engine sprang to life.  One of his easier jobs. On the one hand calling a number and having someone sort the problem out is great, but the computer at Citroën assist knew what model and colour my car is… so why didn’t it give that tip to the person on the phone ? It just didn’t come up to scratch on people –readiness.


Bonus link, Given where I was this story from Jason had me almost crying with laughter

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

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