James O'Neill's Blog

August 6, 2008

Microsoft Virtualization User Group

Filed under: Events,User Groups,Virtualization,Windows Server,Windows Server 2008 — jamesone111 @ 12:57 pm

I think I can claim a first for the UK, we have a Microsoft Virtualization User Group.  I’ll wait and see if anyone from another Microsoft subsidiary corrects me and says their has been running for years. When we recording our Podcast, Jonathan told me that there is a well established VMware user group. 

Their web site has just gone live and they are advertising their inaugural meeting , which  will be at the Microsoft office in London (not Reading, London) on the evening of September 24th. You can register on the site, or by mail. I’m hoping to make the meeting available through live meeting for those who can’t attend in person – if that sounds like something you’d want please use the registration process to let us know.

Many congratulations to Patrick and Mathew for getting this up and running.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.


June 20, 2006

Vista security tips

Filed under: Real Time Collaboration,User Groups,Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 5:00 pm

I promised Arthur that I would tell people about the Microsoft Unified Communications and RTC user group, UK, which goes by the Snappy name of MucUgUK , it’s early days for the user group, but if you’re interested in RTC or Unified Communications that’s the place to go.


Arthur also sent me a collection of tips that he has collected for Windows Vista: again the serendipity fairy has been waving her wand because earlier on I was reading some user comments which were about the same area.

First off the most frequently asked question in Vista, is Where did the Run menu go. You’ll find if you press [Window key] & [r] the run dialog appears. But You don’t need the run menu, type in the Search menu as if it is the run menu and see. If you start to type a path in the search box Vista will help you fill it in (just use the arrow keys when the bits appear in the menu area and \ to navigate to the next level).
If you really feel lost without run, then right click the start button, choose properties, and on the start menu tab click customize, and one of the many options is to turn on Run.

Secondly, and perhaps we should have foreseen this, power users testing Vista get a bit annoyed by the number of User Account control dialogs. You should have heard the Mantra

  • Secure by Design

  • Secure by Default

  • Secure by Deployment

Hopefully you agree with it as a principle, even if you if you want to exempt yourself from the practice, by changing the default. Arthur’s tip sheet refers to a useful tool called MSConfig (just type it on the search box !). You can control a lot of what goes on at start-up with this program, and on its tools menu there’s a useful collection of shortcuts. Enable and Disable UAP (which is now called UAC – user access protection vs user access control) toggles the right value in the registry (under HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System ), but this isn’t the tool I’d use …

Also in Arthur’s list was the registry hack for the Application consent, this too is found in HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System but again I’d use a different tool.

Which tool ? Group Policy. If you Start MMC and click file, add/remove snap-in, and choose Group Policy Object Editor,and tell it you want to manage the local machine. Now Navigate to the Computer Configuration, Windows Settings, Security Settings, Local Polices, Security options. You can see the range of settings we have grouped together under User Access control. You can turn off “Detect Application Installations and prompt for elevation”, or make administrators put in the credentials for elevation (or have elevation silently approved). And 101 other things. Incidentally, one page I saw of 20 minor irritations with vista listed “You can’t turn on the Admin account”. What’s at the very top of security option ? Accounts: Administrator Account Status. By default this is enabled in XP and disabled in Vista.

People who are OK with their systems unsecured are the people who can change the defaults. The reverse is not true. Hence Secure by default .

P.s, You can read more about the elevation messages and why they are the way they are on the UAC Blog


This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

April 18, 2006

Passion: or "What the hell am I doing here ? "

Filed under: About me,General musings,User Groups — jamesone111 @ 8:00 am

I’ve been on holiday for a few days. Before I went, I met a visiting school group. I was asked to talk for 10 minutes on “Why software is exciting” and – let’s be honest here – not everyone thinks it is exciting. What I could  talk about was why software excites me and why being excited matters.
One of our placement students was also meeting the school, and answering a question about desirable qualifications, he said that when he was interviewed it was more useful to talk about how he’d worked at an orphanage in Ecuador. I jumped in – it’s passion. Top of the Microsoft values list is honesty and integrity; once we’ve established that the person we’re interviewing isn’t a crook, next on the list is passion; if a candidate don’t give a damn, it doesn’t matter how well qualified they are.

My session contained 3 quotes: one was the give-a-damn meter I’ve quoted before. One was from the cover of Robert Townsend’s book “Up the Organization” my favourite book on business which I first read 25 years ago.
“If you’re not in business for fun or for profit, what the hell are you doing here ?”
Actually this is from the book’s section on excellence. “Things should be done excellently. Otherwise they won’t be profitable or fun. And if you’re not in business for fun or profit what the hell are you doing here”. But what do you need for excellence ? Passion ! If you don’t give a damn why go beyond OK ? [I must talk about Honda’s “OK factory” advert some time].
Of course we want profit and fun – you can’t really enjoy something you don’t care about – even if it is done excellently. I wanted to show how passion, fun and excellence are all linked.

My last quote was from Hugh Macleod’s “Hughtrain
“Merit can be bought. Passion can’t.
The only people who can change the world are people who want to. And not everybody does.”

This matters to Microsoft. We have the resources that would let us hire everyone who got a first class honours degree in computer science. That’s buying merit. We have to select for passion. It makes business sense: if you care about you’re work you’ll do it better and for less money than someone who doesn’t.

Hugh Macleod is interesting – he draws great little thumbnail cartoons and is pretty free in his use of the “f” word, but a lot of what he has to say turns on the idea that people don’t want to buy a product based on cost and benefit alone. They also want to believe in brands. That means companies have to know what they believe in, and articulate it. Like Microsoft’s current  “Potential” ads compared with the old “Agility” ones (both made for us by the same people). Like Microsoft giving some of its people (like me) time to talk about it in blogs, to schools and so on.

Macleod has got something to say on one of my other interests – why people write drivel; either they don’t have passion for what they are talking about or they can’t express it.

“Being creative” is not the hardest thing in advertising. That’s easy. Being able to write about the client’s product with conviction, with passion, with genuine humanity is far harder. Most copywriters can’t do it. If you can do it, there’s always going to be a market for it. Be excited.
Most copywriters “can’t do it” for one of three reasons:

  1. They’re hacks. Hacks cannot write. Not really write. They can futz around, make it look fancy and professional, but they cannot inject it with any resonant human spirit, for they lost all that themselves years ago.
  2. Their clients are idiots and won’t let them write properly. Any time they try to write like a human being (as opposed to a whipping-boy-for-cash) their client kills what they do and sends him back to his cube for a re-write.
  3. Fear. Also commonly known as “practicality.” It’s a competitive world out there, so to minimize risk and avoid conflict with their paymasters, they pre-emptively rid their work of any human quality, and replace it with dry, blathering, meaningless corporate-speak instead. If you do this often enough, it starts to feel normal.

I’m kind of hardcore about this. I think if you’re writing meaningless drivel, it’s your fault. You chose to work for this guy, you took his money, you cashed the check. It’s not his problem, It’s your problem. All writers are responsible for their own experience. “The client won’t let me” doesn’t cut it.
The thing to do is only work with people whose vision and character excite you.

This last sentence hadn’t registered when I spoke to the school group, I told them the same thing in my own words. “Seek outlets for Passion and work with people who share it”. That’s what I’m doing here.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

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