James O'Neill's Blog

April 30, 2009

Now available on Technet and MSDN – RC of Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2

Filed under: Beta Products,Windows 7,Windows Server 2008-R2 — jamesone111 @ 5:15 pm

Hopefully the title is self evident. The servers are taking a real pasting right now, so you might find it best to give it a little while for things to calm down

Now if you want to install machines quickly you can copy the contents of the DVD to a BOOTABLE USB stick (disks should work too) and I posted instructions on how to make one bootable for vista back in 2006 and the same steps seem to work

  • select disk 1 {or the number of your USB key, be careful !}
  • clean  {Like I said, be careful ! This erases the disk}
  • create partition primary
  • select partition 1
  • active
  • format fs=fat32 {see below}
  • assign
  • exit
  •  

    Although the instructions above say FAT 32 I’ve formatted my stick as NTFS so I can store files on it – someone was kind enough to send me a 16GB with a bunch of VHDs on it, I’m not sure if any of the WIM files in Windows 7 / Server 2008 R2 are too large for the stick. Update: you can specify recommended instead of FS=fat32 and this seems to work – again I haven’t checked but this may use exfat which wasn’t around in 2006.

    Once you have a bootable stick you can put Xcopy the DVD files to it and use it to speed up the installation if you are trying to build multiple boxes.

    I’ve been copying files I use for installing software off this machine, and the next step is to run the easy transfer wizard to whisk my files off the machine so I can bring them back quickly …

    image

    (It says don’t use your computer, so here’s hoping that making a blog post doesn’t break anything)

    This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

    Now available on ebay … I’ll have a slice of that !

    Filed under: Internet Explorer — jamesone111 @ 11:36 am

    I’ve been pretty enthused about IE8 since it got to Beta 2. Yes there are some sites which need to be put into “Compatibility view”, which would be better called “IE 7 view” as it renders sites correctly which rely on IE7’s departure from standards. There is an argument for saying “Stuff what the standards bodies do, we’re the biggest browser, that makes us the the standard”, but it’s not really a sustainable one, and very “old Microsoft”. Falling into line with the standards will cause pain whenever you do it, so the sooner it’s done the sooner it’s over. I like the accelerators (see this post from February about customizing them)

    “Web slices” are something else which looked interesting, and e-bay had a trial of this going before release, but I was looking for an adapter to attach something to a new lens for my camera and hit this

    image

    Notice the little green icon on the right click it and this box pops up

    image

    and a pull down appears list on the main tool bar for all the items on the page.

    image

    And then it a “slice” shows up on my favorites menu, not quite a gadget, not quite a preview it’s a little bit of the page which lets me check on what’s happening with an item, without the need to sign into ebay.

    image

    There is a web slice gallery and I can see some great uses being fount for this

    This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

    April 27, 2009

    XP mode for Windows 7

    Filed under: Uncategorized — jamesone111 @ 12:05 pm

    Sometimes I feel I’m an old man longing for some golden age which only ever existed in my memory… and I felt like that over the weekend when I heard about “Windows XP mode” for Windows 7. This seems to have gone out through members of the media before the product team blogged it.  The feedback we’ve been seeing for Windows 7 tells me that the “Under new management” approach of product team is paying off: but part of that approach is less information is shared inside Microsoft than I remember. If that is the price for getting a really great product then so be it.

    No doubt Redmond watchers will dissect every word of the blog post for special meanings. 

     

    Update: Someone from Redmond asked me (politely)  not to speculate about this. So I’ll wait until I’ve got some more solid facts before saying anything else.

    This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

    April 23, 2009

    Warming to Action Center

    Filed under: Beta Products,Windows 7 — jamesone111 @ 3:52 pm

    Click for larger versionOne of the paint point of running any Beta OS (including windows 7) is that one or two drivers can be a bit … flakey. With Vista I blamed a lot of trouble on Nvidia’s drivers during the beta and they only seemed to come right just after release. By comparison their drivers for Windows 7 are an order of magnitude better; though I’ve had issues with my screen going black even though the machine was still responsive on the network.

    I recorded a video recently about Windows 7 and I mentioned in it that I like the new option to hide items in the “system tray” as we used to call it or the “notification area” to use its proper name. I said in passing that I had hidden the new “Action Center” and one of the people reviewing the video said “oooh , you shouldn’t really hide that, it’s a really useful tool” . It is, because it gives an easy route to a whole slew of security and maintenance is  including newly discovered fixes. Fine, yes, but unless it has something I want to know it gets banished. I’m starting to change my mind about whether I want Action Center hidden after I missed something which said “update your nvida driver”. Granted the text here isn’t perfect, because it seems to be generic for all 3rd party drivers but I did what it told me to do and I went to Windows Update and well, well there is a new driver which only a few days old. I installed it via Windows update (see second picture) and so far, so good.

    But for Action Center I wouldn’t have looked in optional updates – I just leave windows update do its thing, so maybe I’ll let it have the jealously guarded space on the notification area. 

    All we need to do now is get Redmond to understand that some non-US English locales spell it Centre. That might be a lost cause though.

     

     

    Click for full size version

    This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

    April 22, 2009

    Things that work with Win 7 which didn’t work under Vista

    Filed under: Beta Products,Windows 7 — jamesone111 @ 5:23 pm

    Though the beta of Windows 7 we have been telling people that if something could be made to work on Vista, expect it to work on 7. Obviously this is not a guarantee – some things break with service packs never mind version changes, but as an expectation its a good one; and as rule of thumb it works both ways.

    A little while ago I needed to print something off at home and hooked up my old Epson. I keep meaning to sell it, and not getting round to it. Now this particular printer has a PCMCIA slot so you can plug memory cards into it – and you get an idea of the age from the fact is PCMCIA (with a supplied adapter to CF, and no SD in sight). This never worked on vista. So I was a bit surprised when the install dialog came up looking like this.

    image

    Houston we have storage support ! This seems odd to me , because surely people have alternative card readers which work at faster speeds than PCMCIA over USB 1.1 why bother putting it back ? (The only answer must be it annoyed enough people having a non working device showing up). I haven’t been back to see if support for the storage device got added to Vista.  Say… I wonder if the drivers for my HP scanner – which don’t support transparency mode – have also been updated/added to windows 7.

    This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

    Resource monitor again – how fast is a broadband connection

    Filed under: Uncategorized — jamesone111 @ 5:10 pm

    image

    I like the resource monitor in windows Vista, but in 7 it has a number of tweaks (not least, with the new less intrusive UAC you don’t have to OK starting it every time)

    One of the nice things about gives the information which was in the old (Vista / Windows Server 2008) version  on the the OverView tab but with the addition  of the little checkboxes beside the processes  down the side so you can see only what is being used by one process. Much quicker. Then you can drill into network, disk, Memory or CPU and get a couple of detailed panes for each. So here you can see TransferMgr downloading an image from the Microsoft Connect web site , and it pulled 31.4 MBytes in the last minute (beating the 4Mbits per second – my connection is rated at) allthough the traffic is a bit spikey – in the last second the speed was actually 9MBit/sec, that’s not bad at all considering my (9 year old) cable modem is only supposed to be able to manage 10Mbit/sec.

    This is quite a common thing in Windows 7. There’s nothing NEW here , all the numeric data was available through Performance monitor, and the other things like the TCP connections were accessible through various tools. The difference in 7 is that it’s so much easier to get to the data.

    Now, obviously, you might want different things and that’s where performance monitor, command line tools, and even little bits of PowerShell come in. But for me, this quick view between the simple bits of data in Task manager and the sophistication of Perfmon is ideal.

    This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

    I need a human chkdsk to beat Murphy’s law.

    Filed under: Uncategorized — jamesone111 @ 11:06 am

    As I mentioned in my last post I’ve been having laptop problems, and like my (once) trusty Dell D820 is going back for a 3rd time. Yesterday morning as I was rehearsing the demo I was to do for a large audience in the afternoon the fan span up to “turbo” mode , there was a click and … silence. I stared at a blank screen. Changing the motherboard hadn’t fixed its keenness to power off.

    I couldn’t risk using the machine for the demo: although the second D820 is not identical internally, with Windows 7 (and indeed with Vista) I can swap the disks between the machines with reckless abandon. The OS sorts out the differences in network adapters without even bothering to tell me it’s done it. So I switched my disk from one chassis to the the other. I grabbed my bag, and in went two power supplies, a lenovo (a T61p which runs server 2008 with hyper-v for the other bit of the demo), a dell , USB sticks and my travel cable packs. Out of the front door and off to catch the train.

    At the Microsoft London office I fired up the Dell. MEEP MEEP “No Bootable Device Found”. What ? I went to press the disk fully home and my finger disappeared into a cavity. I checked in my bag -the disk had surely fallen out: No disk found there either. I looked at the lid of the laptop and the sticker there told me this was my chassis, not the spare with my disk in it. When was the last time I was so  stupid. After swearing, very nearly bursting into tears, wanting to smash the useless chassis into tiny pieces and even considering running outside and hurling myself under the first bus to come by (don’t ask me why it had to be a bus not a lorry – anyhow the buses don’t get much speed up along Victoria Street), the thought went through my mind of the Staines Air Crash where it seems someone pushed one lever thinking it was a different one and no one checked the positions of the two levers, and I hopped to the one question which you need to ask in any potential disaster. As Gene Krantz the flight controller of Apollo 13 put it (at least in the movie version) “What do we got on the spacecraft that is good”. OK I’ve got my server, I’ve got my USB sticks with the presentation I’d based the one for today on. I’ve lost some slides and some demo scripts. Deep breath, I can pull it back from here. No time to re-write the slides, and the demos might not be quite as smooth, but no need for me to die in front of the audience. If you were there yesterday and want the extra background to powershell slides, I’ve now put them on skydrive

    And since I referred to aviation accidents the I’ve always understood the Murphy after whom the law was named originally said “If it is possible for people to do things the wrong way, they will” – he said that, for example, if you made electrical connectors symmetrical with a sign saying “this way up” people would connect them wrong way (so connectors should not allow you to plug them in wrongly). [Wikipedia has more on this] I’m sure in my days as an air cadet I heard the rule “Don’t allow unserviceable equipment to be  confused with good equipment”  – don’t put dead light bulbs in the box you got the new one out of etc. I’ve learnt the hard way to the leave the battery door open while batteries are out of cameras, so they are obviously unserviceable. My near-miss yesterday was because I broke that rule.

    This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

    April 20, 2009

    Windows7 and batteries, revisited.

    Filed under: Beta Products,Windows 7 — jamesone111 @ 10:30 pm

    imageI blogged a few weeks back that you could check on the state of your battery from the command line in Win7…

    And I said  “I pinched this battery out of another laptop because when the original was 14 months old, and was getting about 30 minutes run time”

    My laptop has had to have its motherboard replaced twice recently. First a rather nasty pattern of stripes on the display told the Dell expert my machine had cooked its graphics card (a know issue with this model) and then when I got it back as soon as the machine spun its fan up to full speed there was a click and it powered off – as if it was rather too eager to protect itself from a second cooking. Since I still have access to the other chassis I swapped over the battery and hard disk and used that. All was fine and good, this morning I got my laptop back, popped in the hard disk and away I went  – with the machine on the dead battery. I noticed a red X superimposed on the battery/charge icon, and when I clicked it I got the dialog you can see on the left “Your battery is bad” – pretty sure I haven’t seen that one before. So time to run PowerCfg /energy from an elevated prompt ….

    “The battery stored less than 40% of the Designed Capacity the last time the battery was fully charged….  Design Capacity : 57720 ;  Last Full Charge:  21334 (36%)”

    What’s interesting is the battery I tried before had a design capacity of 86580 calc – exactly 50% more – which suggests 9 Vs 6 Cells and now in its rather second hand state at 55178 it is more or less the as the other one had when new. Also worrying is that looking round for 3rd party batteries, most of them only seem to be 4400 mah (at 11volts thats 48400 mWH) it would be worse than my existing battery.

    This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

    April 7, 2009

    Google Street View : photography and the breakdown of common sense.

    Filed under: General musings — jamesone111 @ 8:55 pm

    Working for Microsoft, and holding views on privacy which border on paranoia, you might expect me to to be doing a gleeful little dance at the news that Privacy International have lodged a complaint with the Office of the Information Commissioner about Google’s Street view, and the villagers of Broughton sent the Street View car packing. If you know that I’m a photographer you might guess that things are not quite so simple.

    Laws vary in different parts of the world, but in the UK the law gives almost no protection for the people in a picture. For example a wedding photographer owns the copyright in the pictures they were paid to shoot, and until the 1980s had complete freedom to re-use those photos for advertising.  Human rights law covers the “expectation of privacy” – you don’t have an expectation of privacy if someone in the street can see you, even if you are in your own home (it’s different if you can only be seen with binoculars, or by standing on a ladder – part of the Broughton issue was the height of the Google camera meant it could see over a high wall which otherwise gave privacy to one of the objectors). There is no law which prevents the taking of photographs – however anyone who allows you entry to private property can make a “no photography” a condition. The upshot is you can take and publish photograph of something which anyone could have seen – whether the person in the photo likes it or not.

    In recent years the freedom for photographers to do this has taken knocks from many directions.  When I was 10 years old there was an old gentleman who photographed the swimmers in the club I belonged to. He had the approval of the club, and we saw and liked the pictures he made: I’ve no idea what motivated him but today he’d be branded a paedophile. Photographing your own children in a public park where there are other children is risky. “Child protection” is used as a reason to keep cameras out of school plays and sports days. There’s no logic to it: you don’t have to protect children from a stranger who doesn’t interact with them. Yet people can’t photograph children enjoying themselves in public in case the photographer has something in common cause with people who make pictures of children being abused behind closed doors. A minor freedom has gone because we don’t feel able to challenge illogical limits imposed in the name of “protecting children” , “saving the environment”  or  “preventing terrorism” –  anyone who spends time on photography discussion forums will have seen accounts of photographers being harassed for taking photographs of this or that building because they might be a terrorist on a reconnaissance mission.

    Google has less fear of being attacked than the casual photographer – writing in the Observer Henry Porter dubbed Google one of the internets WWMs “worldwide monopolies that sweep all before them with exuberant contempt for people’s rights, their property and the past”. OK so Google might be rude, (Porter also says he “detects in Google something that is delinquent and sociopathic, perhaps the character of a nightmarish 11-year-old” on Twitter Rory Cellan Jones  observed that Google is getting the kind of abuse which used to be reserved for Microsoft) , but Street view only exercises the rights any photographer has; though there are two crucial differences: scale and “indexabilty” I can find you only if I know where to look. A picture of you in the street outside your house doesn’t show much – I need to know what you look like to know it is you in the picture, and I need to know where you live, if I know that what do I learn from the picture ? If the cameras caught you doing something noteworthy it probably isn’t where I can find it, and someone who chances upon it probably doesn’t you. Something which might have been glimpsed by a few becomes an incidental part of a picture with a long life; but the chances of Google’s camera cars seeing something you feel is private are smaller than being seen by someone you know.

    On the other hand there are thousands of CCTV cameras recording us every day; while not exactly furtive, these cameras don’t draw attention to themselves, they don’t show you what they have captured (which is their objective, for Street View it is a by-product). It is said that “the average Briton is caught on CCTV 300 times a day” , and David Aaronovich embarked on a quest for the source of this figure, and found it dates from 1999 (when the number of cameras was lower than it is today) and it was not an average, but a study which said someone could be recorded by 30 different systems using multiple cameras (giving a total of 300) provided that they took a somewhat contrived journey. (Over at the Guardian Paul Lewis argues that if CCTV is ubiquitous, it doesn’t matter if you appear on 30, 300 or 3000 cameras). CCTV is is kept from us – a colleague was assaulted by a member of staff on Reading station after attempting to record the man being obstructive to customers, but the CCTV evidence wasn’t available to him. We accept CCTV cameras watching parks and open spaces without any idea if the people who watch it or voyeuristic perverts or conscientious public servants, we have no idea how long it is kept or what used it is put to. With the government wanting to gather facial recognition data as part of their ID cards scheme do we want to see the systems linked so our whereabouts logged as we go about our lawful business ? That’s not a society I want to live in,

    And yet that is exactly the society we do live in. I saw a quote recently “I don’t know what is going on with the UK, it’s like they’re using 1984 as an installation guide”. The information commissioner talked about our sleepwalking into a surveillance society for years and eventually concluded that we have. The Information Commissioner is a government official – I like to think of him as the governments conscience – and his office deals with issues like warning teenagers not to provide “Way too much information”, and telling organizations not to use the Data Protection Act to evade their responsibilities to supply information. Difficult to cast him as a paranoid crackpot then. Ditto the Joseph Rowntree reform trust – founded by the Quaker philanthropist and confectioner which came out with a report entitled “Database state”. It looked at 46 state databases and found 40 of them wanting, and said a quarter of them were probably illegal (Including the national DNA database , the National Identity Register, the ContactPoint system which tracks every child in the country , and the OnSet tool which predicts which children will be criminals rather than victims or witnesses.). It also called out the high rate of failure of government IT projects, described the benefits of data-sharing as illusory, and criticized the tendency to draw data to the centre.  Reports are called “damning” far too often, but this one deserves the tag.

    According to the Rowntree report, Automated Number Plate Recogniton cameras make 50 Million identifications a day covering 10 Million drivers, with the data being stored for 5 years. We have no idea who will use it, or how, a survey of local councils showed they had little respect for privacy, and every day we seem to get a new story of the government mismanaging our information. As the report puts it “This is a clear case of technology push; in the absence of evidence that the resulting privacy intrusion brings real crime-reduction gains, we have to rate ANPR as Privacy impact: amber.”  That term technology push is a good one, no government would order everybody’s letters to be read by the post office – it’s just not practical, but scanning all e-mails is something which technology allows, so it’s claimed as useful in the fight against terror. That’s Technology Push. Technologies like ANPR can be helpful, I can’t fill my car with fuel until it has been scanned by ANPR, yet when I come to pay with my fuel card the car’s number must be entered manually: it’s a good reminder that the technology isn’t for my benefit. ANPR doesn’t allow the UK government to see where you are every moment, but they are trying to revive the idea of GPS spy boxes in every car, not raising taxes or tracking people (no, no heaven forbid) this time in the cause of safety and the environment. The rate of road fatalities has stopped falling while the number of speed cameras has rocketed, so it seems we are to have a full time observer making us keep to speed limits. And the effective way to be green is to increase the cost of fuel, so even drivers of efficient cars think about driving less – or not being so heavy with their right foot; but price rises hit everyone which means politicians dislike the policy: instead the UK government opts to increase annual taxes on more polluting cars which doesn’t make them drive less.

    Sometimes it seems we choose to ignore the surveillance apparatus which surrounds us.  If we pay attention to it for a moment, Street view is very small beer indeed. In the same way I rate it as one of the smaller issues for which one can criticize Google. I don’t subscribe to Henry Porter’s view “Google is in the final analysis a parasite that creates nothing, merely offering little aggregation, lists and the ordering of information generated by people who have invested their capital, skill and time. On the back of the labour of others it makes vast advertising revenues …” one could make similar criticisms of banks, but we’ve discovered what happens when they stop working properly. No, the internet is  better for search engines, and if Google build a big business by being the default choice for lots of people I see nothing wrong with that – of course working for Microsoft I wouldn’t – BUT for a long time Microsoft didn’t get that with size comes responsibility, and I think that is a lesson Google still have to learn, especially in their attitude to privacy and their pursuit of information about you for behavioural targeting of adverts. But this piece is long enough already so I’ll leave talk of that for another time.

    This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

    Imminent Death Of Twitter Predicted: A case study, the Malaysian F1 GP.

    Filed under: General musings — jamesone111 @ 4:23 pm

    First to explain the title “Imminent death of X predicted” is a snowclone , and its entry* in the Hacker’s dictionary sticks in my mind

    Hugh Macleod proposed “All online social networks eventually turn into a swampy mush of spam.” as Hugh’s law, and a few weeks ago an article entitled “Can Twitter Survive What is About to Happen to It? “ – which could serve as a proof of Hugh’s law got a lot of attention, not least from the twitterati, it said “There is soon going to be vastly more content in Twitter, and too much of it will be noise.” Which fits the “Imminent Death” template perfectly.

    I want to call out one source of noise which that article missed: the “Blind retweet”. We had a good example of this among PowerShell folk recently – Hal Rottenberg posted a message asking people to “Please help me share the news of my #VMware #PowerShell book pre-order”. Over the next few hours 50 or so people reposted the message. Now, a re-tweet by someone widely followed of someone obscure is good. If you’re big in the PowerShell or VMware communities on twitter then telling your followers would be good. But Hal is widely followed: the re-posters are less followed that he is, and anyone interested in the book saw the post the first time, either because they follow Hal or because they watch the tags VMware and PowerShell. Those possible book buyers get a tide of messages repeating the same thing. It didn’t help Hal share the news, because that needed to be done by posting somewhere else, or at least long enough after the first post that it would catch people who missed it.

    So which sources of noise did the author of “Can Twitter Survive…” indentify ? One of them was

    • Hypertweeting. Some Twitter users tweet legitimately, but far too much. Or the content they tweet is just inane.

    This only becomes a problem when someone or something you think is worth following is swamped by a tide of posts with little worthwhile content. For an example lets turn to F1, and James Allen. As an F1 commentator people were divided into whether he was the best commentator since Murray Walker, or the worst commentator since Murray Walker**. His blog – shows the journalism skills he’s honed over the years. When the cars are on the track, however, his tweeting goes berserk, and because it is stream of consciousness stuff, those journalistic skills go out of the Window. On Sunday night I fired up my PowerShell library for twitter, and ran

        $JA= Get-TwitterUserTimeLine Jamesallenonf1 200
    

    $JA | select created_at  | clip

    And pasted the times of his posts  into Excel – during Sunday’s race he posted 102 tweets in 108 Minutes. In qualifying he managed 65 tweets in 68 minutes.  Twitter is a lousy medium for a running commentary : his useful insights don’t come through the deluge of stuff I could get more easily elsewhere.

    • Notification Overload. Another issue is the rise of Twitter bots from various services, whether benign in nature or deliberately spammy:
      • News and content sites are starting to pump updates into Twitter for every article they publish.

    I follow Autosport magazine on twitter, which is a classic case of pumping “updates into twitter for every article”  across all forms of sport they made 51 posts on Saturday and 33 on Sunday and I can’t filter those to just F1: I’m not interested in Moto GP or IRL; although Autosport does have “per category” RSS feeds. James Allen’s blog has RSS too. So the moral of that is, I suppose, Don’t follow on twitter what you can subscribe to via RSS. However unless I take steps to filter them out I still get the tweets in a search for F1…

    Back in PowerShell I thought I’d have a look at the last 1500 posts on F1 (the maximum twitter will allow)  – since I did this at 11:30 PM it didn’t cover the race or the immediate aftermath when James Allen and Autosport were at their peak– the oldest tweet I got came in at 3PM, some four hours after the race finished, yet lots of tweets say things like “Wow it is raining a lot in the F1”. Everyone who cared either knew already or was trying not to find out until they watched a recording. A tweet which reports a recording as if it was a live event  This PowerShell got me the people who had made more than 10 posts in that time. 

        $f1 = Get-TwitterSearch "F1" –deep 
    

    $f1multi = $f1| group author | sort Count -desc | where {$_.count -gt 9} | foreach {$_.name} 

    9 posters had posted 149 tweets between them – although that ignored ollieparsley of “Footy tweets” who announced the creation of a similar service for F1 using 37 different aliases which he controls – all 37 posts were made in the space of a minute, which I’d call deliberately spammy.  (He has registered F1_ and the names of all 10 teams and all 20 twenty drivers,  which I hope that gets him Another Cease and desist notice).  There was also the person who made 10 tweets to tell 10 people about a blog post.

    What were those multiple posters putting up ? I got the information into the clipboard with this line of PowerShell

      $f1 | where {$f1multi -contains $_.author}  | sort author,pubdate   |
    format-Table -a  title,author,pubdate | out-string -Width 300 | clip

    ALL these posters posted in great splurges (10 per minute or more) of links – to the same handful of stories data. Twitter’s 140 character limit compounds the problem because the links use shortening services (TinyUrl, Snurl, Bit.ly, is.gd and so on). The services don’t all return the same short URL for the same page (and even if they did different people might use different services to link to the same page) – so, without some client side processing we can’t tell when the same page is being linked to by multiple people. which means twitter can’t point to popular stories being linked to (which Digg, Technorati, stumbled upon del.ico.us etc can). Again, the widely followed person who links to something is useful to their followers. The person who posts links to pages we all read any how – and for the 10th time with a commonly followed tag – is just helping to turn it into the swampy mush of spam. 

    People often cite Metcalfe’s law – the Value of a network is proportional to the square of the number of users connected to it. The theory being that if 10 people are on a network each can talk to 9 others, so that’s 90 possible conversations, but if 1000 people are connected that 999,000 possible conversations.  The problem with Metcalfe’s law is that all connections are assumed to add equal value. Of course that is not the case – the fact that I can get messages from some people actual reduces the value of the system, so there is an optimum size for each individual on the network – the key is how to segment it. Telephone systems and e-mail are effectively segmented to the people you know, as for twitter… Well if I was developing a twitter client I’d concentrate on ways to do that filtering.

     

    Footnotes.

    * The entry reads: Imminent Death Of The Net Predicted Since USENET first got off the ground in 1980-81 it has grown exponentially, approximately doubling in size every year. On the other hand most people feel the signal-to-noise ratio of USENET has dropped steadily. These trends led, as far back as mid –1983, to predictions of the imminent collapse or death of the net. Ten years and numerous doublings later, enough of these prognostications have been confounded that the phrase “Imminent Death Of The Net Predicted!” has become a running joke, hauled out any time someone grumbles about the S/N ratio or the huge and steadily increasing volume, or the possible loss of a key node, or the potential for Lawsuits when ignoramuses post copyrighted material etc etc etc.  15

    ** For those who don’t follow F1 in Britain, Murray Walker was its first regular commentary on TV and continued until he retired, when James Allen took over. Many people loved Murray, and many thought he was an idiot; some even seemed to think both.

    This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

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