Santa came late this year, and brought me a new Dell Latitude 820. Nice. Two 64-bit cores, a 1900x1200 screen and for the first time I have integrated Bluetooth - which works nicely with my new mouse. I put Microsoft-IT's standard build of 64 bit vista on, and all the components seem to work just fine, along with my mouse, Microsoft Lifecam NX6000 (who comes up with these names) and USB headset. My new Pentax DSLR looks like any other USB storage, however my older compact camera works with one of the built in drivers but needs an INF file to persuade Windows it. 32 bit Vista and Windows PE recognize it, 64 bit does not. All in all I have a working laptop. Since I'll lose the the second drive for my un-loved Toshiba, once I got the Dell set-up and I needed to make a backup.
When I ran backup it tells me "Your backup configuration is not valid" and gives me an error code 0x81000029.
I hate errors like this. The fact it ends 29 tells me there are 28 other errors I don't understand, and how can my configuration invalid ? All I've done is follow the defaults.
A quick search led me to Microsoft-Tech.com.
Some machines come with a partition for utilities - often labeled as and EISA config , and it's marked as the Active partition. Vista will happily work in this configuration - it puts it's boot code onto the EISA config partition. However this breaks backup. Fixing the problem requires re-instating the boot code on the other partition, so it's not for the faint hearted and you need either the Vista install disk or another way of getting into the recovery environment. If you have this then you can go into Manage Computer, go to disk and set the C drive to active. Then repair the start-up environment - otherwise your machine won't boot.
For more details see the Microsoft-tech article
A week or so ago I wrote about daft voices, and I feel like this should be in the voice of Sean Connery. (Which ish eashy to do. You jusht shubstitute mosht of the esshh shoundsh ....) I was given a new Wireless Presenter mouse 8000 - and it seems like one of the Gadgets Q branch come up with in the bond films. We've got some of these to give away as prizes at the roadshow. I didn't know until I talked to Andrew who is responsible for these things that we have 24 different Mice and sell over a million in the UK alone in a year. What's so special about this one. Well here's how Q would explain it to 007.
Now pay attention. This looks like a perfectly ordinary mouse ... But there are no Wiresh !
If you'd let me finish was coming to that. It uses Bluetooth, using this little dongle which will connect other devices as well. Fashcinating.
On top a normal mouse with two dimensional scroll will and extra buttons for a magnified, but turn it over ...Extra buttonsh.
You can use it to move slides forward or back and as a volume control. Concealed in the body isA lasher beam.
A Laser pointer, so don't try cutting with it. And the whole thing goes in this neat little case so there is no excuse not to bring it back in the condition which you were issued with it.
I'm quite taken with it. You can read more information here. I don't know which Bluetooth profiles it is meant to support but I had it working with my GPS puck in no time.
Bluetooth and GPS would have been science fiction to Connery's Bond. But laser beams weren't.
Do you expect me to talk ?No Mister Bond, I expect you to Present
A little culture to lead into the weekend. A quote from Voltaire no less.
I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: "O Lord make my enemies ridiculous." And God granted it.
Someone sent me a link to story "Rivals Attack Vista As Illegal Under EU Rules".
We've heard of the self styled "European Committee for Interoperable Systems" before. It includes IBM, Nokia, Sun Microsystems, Adobe, Corel, Oracle, RealNetworks, Red Hat, Linspire and Opera (note the European nature of its members. The interoperability track record of IBM, Oracle, and Real networks is less than great, even Adobe blocked the inclusion of PDF support in office 2007). My guide to FUD pointed out the first step was, broadly establishing credibility. If you are arguing in the domain Science or Engineering position yourself as wise and expert, if it is the solution of Social problems, position yourself as "New", and if it is one of competition position yourself as Open and Interoperable. "American IT lobbying against Microsoft" would be truthful, but not help when the goal is to lobby the European Commission. I've written before that they equate "pro-competition" with "pro-Microsoft competitors", so it's pretty fertile ground for this group.
Any statement from that group should be examined for signs of FUD, and they'll usually be found.
Step 2 in the guide to FUD. Make assertions which will go unchallenged. e.g. "Microsoft is dominant in the market. Anything Microsoft does is intended to increase or cement that dominance". So that article tells us"Vista is the first step of Microsoft's strategy to extend its market dominance to the Internet," the ECIS statement saidTo borrow the famous Mandy Rice Davies quote "They would say that, wouldn't they" But "the first step of Microsoft's strategy" ? Gee, the Internet's been around for a while and we - this powerful player committed to expanding our dominance - are only just getting round to the first step of a strategy ...
On to Step 3. Extrapolate form your assertions. So what would expect ? IBM can see a commercial opportunity in "Open Document Format" standard while Microsoft is on the side of the Office Open XML standard which is backed by ECMA. According to this news story "Bob Sutor, who is vice president of open source and standards at IBM, confirmed that IBM voted against adoption of OOXML at the Ecma general assembly". IBM have been arguing for ODF and against OOXML in any way they can.. There have even been accusations that they stooped to putting false information into Wikipedia*. So what did they their mouthpiece tell the EC according to the article"They said a so-called "open XML" platform file format, known as OOXML, is designed to run seamlessly only on the Microsoft Office platform."
So the real story is: IBM having lost at ECMA is trying its luck at the EC, through a Front Organization.
Have they finished ? No. So that article tells us Microsoft's XAML markup language was "positioned to replace HTML", the industry standard for publishing documents on the Internet.Microsoft's own language would be dependent on Windows, and discriminatory against rival systems such as Linux, the group says.
It's the most ludicrous kind of scaremongering. Microsoft somehow getting everyone on the Internet to abandon HTML at all, never mind in favour of something closed really deserves to be laughed at. The scary thing is that the European Commission seems to be full of people who fall for this stuff.
* Before I leave this there's been a bit of a storm about what's on Wikipedia about Office Open XML. Pro OOXML people have accused pro ODF people at IBM of using Wikipedia to spread disinformation. It got to the point where someone from Microsoft asked an independent expert in XML, to have a look at it. This story has been turned into "Sneaky Microsoft Spin machine pays people to falsify Wikipedia". When I first heard the story I thought the person behind it should be fired (especially when I see luminaries like Dave Winer saying we absolutely wrong). Then I read the page where the story was broken by the guy who did/would have done it. And the mail asking him to do it was posted here. I changed my view, I'd encourage anyone else to read those two pages and make up their own mind.
Somewhere in my "Pending" file is a blog post about working for Microsoft provisionally entitled things that "Rock and things that suck". In the "things that Rock" column. I have to put something about how approachable a lot of our senior execs are. Case in point Christine Betts is senior director of IT Professional Audience Marketing. Christine came to tech-ed IT forum in November in Barcelona and agreed to do an interview for "Talking Microsoft"". In the "things that suck column" are the downsides of being a big company - one of which is the hoops you have to jump through to get a video on any "official" Microsoft site. I wonder how Robert Scoble managed when he was here - I'm sure he wouldn't spent months trying to stuff hosted hosted in different places as I have. I'm painfully aware Talking Microsoft got off to a false start, but eventually I got the nod to put it on Soapbox. I have some more items up my sleeve for Talking Microsoft which I hope will get things going properly
When I moved into evangelism Eileen sent a "tell the world" mail and I got a very nice mail from Christine. When she was at a couple of dinners that I was at in Barcelona she reinforced the impression of being "nice" but added interesting. She joined Microsoft UK back in 1983, and I was rather surprised to find that the only reference I could find to her on Microsoft.com was when the company celebrated it's 30th Anniversary and they talked to the "20 year club". She was happy to share some personal things at the Barcelona Girl geek dinner and again on video - I had to ask her afterwards if she was happy with that and she was.
Doing these interviews I think of Michael Parkinson's style. I trying to get the "guest" to talk it in their own way about something you know is interesting. Which means making questions as open as possible. Parkinson wouldn't ask "You met Elvis didn't you ?" [The only answer is yes] - "And what did he say to you" - which is test of the guest's powers recall. He'd say something like "You told me a great story about meeting Elvis". A technical interview becomes a test of recall if you ask "What are the 3 top features of Vista" - but if you ask "What kind of things will get people excited" it's an open question." which let people take the idea and run with it. I'm pleased with the way that side of things worked out here.
Both audio and video are on Talking Microsoft. You can Subscribe to the Talking Microsoft RSS Feed and receive the audio only for future pieces. Or you can just hop over to Soapbox to watch the video.
Update. Eileen says I have "a natural engaging, non threatening style " in these inteviews. I know at least 2 readers who will laugh at that.
One of the Interesting things about this job is getting a new point of view on how Marketing and PR work - and applying it things I see away from work. I've seen Microsoft accused of spreading "Fear Uncertainty and Doubt" and I've seen FUD used against Microsoft too. I've recently seen a textbook example of the FUDer's art in the photography world... It might be instructive to look at the main techniques away from the IT world, and show why my group in Microsoft try to stay away from FUD.
Here's the backgroundShake limits the shutter speed you can use when hand-holding a camera. Longer focal lengths amplify hand shake and need faster shutter speeds to get a sharp picture. Nikon and Canon SLR cameras have had lens based systems to reduce the effect of hand shake which for years. Nikon call theirs "Vibration Reduction" (VR) and Canon use the term "Image Stabilization" (IS); and they allowed film cameras to get 2 or 3 shutter speeds below what was otherwise possible. Digital offers the possibility of stabilization by moving the imaging sensor. In 2006 Pentax and Sony introduced models with such systems. Sony inherited "Anti-shake" when they bought Konica Minolta's camera business. Pentax call their system "Shake reduction" or SR, and their K100 and K110 models are identical except one has SR and one doesn't - the price difference is $100 US.Samsung re-badge the Pentax and call the system "Optical Picture Stabilization". The web seems to be awash at the moment with Pentax owners (including me) showing the incredible results they're getting with SR. Names aside, the downside with an in-body systems is that the image recording system is stabilized, but the viewfinder isn't. However the big win is every lens is stabilized. The Canon IS system has only 16 lenses, and only a couple come in under $1000 US. The IS and Non-IS versions of their EF 70-200mm f/4L USM sell for $ 1,060 and $ 545 respectively. The difference is more than the cost of a Pentax body with SR. And with IS in the lens the customer buys stabilization again and again with each lens.
Now for the FUDCanon recently took out an advert in "Outdoor photography" magazine, not for a new camera, but to make the case for their IS system, and its 16 lenses . Here's my Fud-spotters 101 with examples from their Ad
Actively spreading Fear Uncertainty and Doubt about a point where competitors are beating you on one specific feature.
If you catch me doing it, then you have my permission to ridicule me.
Update: Thanks to Alain D who pointed out I must have been cross-eyed when I read the prices of Canon's IS lenses.
One of the things I learnt in the run up to last week’s BETT show was about licensing. I often joke that I have a degree in computer science, 40 Microsoft product certifications and 20 years industry experience but that doesn’t fit me out to understand licensing. The thing I learnt is that schools have volume license agreements too. So it wasn’t surprising that some of the questions we got on the stand were about the activation of Vista. People kept asking about some Scottish bloke called “MacKey” or rather MAK keys. And at this point we need to dive into the rabbit warren which is vista activation.
We have more than one kind of volume licence key. We have a “Multiple Activation Key” (MAK) or a “Key management service key”. The best place to learn about this is the Vista Volume Activation Page. Here is a precis, and let me up front and say that this is a shortcut to understanding the other information which is available: if any errors have crept in please remember this blog is subject to the caveat 'This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights.'
Vista has different keys for different versions sometimes called SKUs (stop Stock keeping units) , and for different channels of supply. The installation media is the same for Ultimate, or business or home basic, but the keys are different. Business has a different keys depending on whether it is purchased Retail, or pre-installed by an OEM, or as part of a Volume license agreement.
Retail keys can only be used on one computer. Volume keys allow a single key on more than one. All copies of Vista need to be activated. Depending on how you count the methods there are 3 or 4 ways to activate.
KMS seems useful for organizations who need to transfer licences to newer machines, and whose users connect to the corporate network at least every 209 days (after 180 + 30 day grace period the machine won't be usable), it only works when there are more than 25 clients, below that MAK needs to be used.
I've summarized the information in a mind map (click for a larger version)
As I said before the definitive source for this is the Vista Volume Activation Page. This has detail about how keys are obtained, and entered into the installation process, more detail about the choices between MAK and KMS and so on. If you find any differences between that page and this one, it is correct (but please let me know).
Update. Thanks to Mark Parris for pointing out my Typo. a SKU is a Stock keeping unit. Even the most state of the rat spell chequer won't pick that up.
I seem to be able reduce the other members of the team to laughter with silly voices. I met up with an old friend last night and that subject came up and I explained to her that I had been known to sing Dido's "White Flag" in the voice of Winston Churchill...
When I got e-mail on the home computer from a fellow photographer, who obviously shares my warped sense of humour, and a few clicks later I was helpless with laughter at TheDoctorSings. BT have a service which reads text messages out to people on landline phones. And for a limited time they had Tom Baker as the voice. To most people over 35 Tom Baker is "Dr Who" - the BBC's "Dead Ringers" show made a series of radio sketches with one of the impressionists ring people up as Baker's Dr Who ... phoning Directory Enquiries and asking for a number on Galiphrey. Now with BT giving you the chance to get Tom Bakers voice to say pretty much anything you want the obvious thing was to mate this with some Karaoke CDs and hence TheDoctorSings. OK, maybe it wasn't the most obvious thing to do. And putting together a Duet with the voice of Stephen Hawking wouldn't be obvious to anyone with taste... Some people have altogether too much time on their hands. Now what could we do with Microsoft speech technologies, for example Outlook Voice Access....
As Eileen has already said our team spent last week at the BETT show. My first "proper" IT job after leaving university was working for RM who are the biggest supplier of IT to education and I did a couple of BETT shows when I worked for them; it's the main UK IT-in-education show and it's huge - 30,000 visitors over 4 days. I never thought I'd be doing another one.
I find stand duty at shows tiring - I need a bit of a push to do it, Eileen volunteered the team ... Once I'm there it's interesting to meet a different set of customers to those who come to our events, doubly so when the customers are a market segment like education that I don't deal with much day-to-day. My days at RM taught me that IT managers in education have a unique set of challenges - not least of which is the IT is managed by people who are teachers first and IT people second. In business we're used to the user-per-PC model; in schools PCs are shared. So a couple of people asked me a question which I got wrong.
"Can we limit the number of workstations where a user is logged on". Now here's the problem. Windows logs users onto a machine. It logs users onto file shares, web servers, RPC and terminal sessions. Domains allow a central pool of accounts to be used for those logons and granting permissions. And this hasn't really changed since OS/2 LAN Manager; we use Kerberos to do the job these days, but the idea remains the same. The service which authenticates you, and the service which you are using are different. So. You logon to your computer and it gets domain controller A to validate you; then you connect to a terminal server it it gets Domain controller B to validate you. The two Domain controllers don't share information, and they don't know when your session has ended. You can create a system which sets a central flag when someone logs on and clears it at log off, but this isn't helpful in a school - switching the machine off without logging out will prevent the next logon. You hear the cries of "Miss I can't log on" ... ah yes, something else for business IT managers to note. Your daft users break the system accidentally. In schools the smart users break it for sport.
So I had the bright idea. The SHUTDOWN command line utility has a "logout" option.... so why not write a batch file at logon ... so the logon script has 2 lines
Call logoff%username%.batEcho SHUTDOWN /m \\%computername% /L > logOff%username%.bat
Unfortunately the /L command won't log off a user on a remote machine. I don't think anything we provide [In the box] will solve this problem but I'm hoping someone will correct me. Update 1: Thanks to Richard who pointed out in a comment below that we do have a resource kit tool to do this. I can't say how sessions which are not ended gracefully are handled (yet).
Update 2: Thanks to Steve for his comment. The sysinternals command should do the job as I first conceived it ... now someone needs to test it to see if a non-admin user can log themselves off a remote machine. It will fail to log off anyone else.
There's lots of of information on the Technet Desktop deployment page.
To quote from the mail I had telling me that BDD 2007 was release:
BDD is the best practice set of comprehensive guidance and tools to optimally deploy Windows Vista and the 2007 Microsoft Office system. Many changes have been made to BDD to significantly ease the deployment of Windows Vista, including new out-of-the-box imaging technologies, XML-based migration scripts, new tools for image engineering (ImageX and System Image Manager), application compatibility (Application Compatibility Toolkit 5.0) and the new unattend XML format. Another huge breakthrough with Windows Vista is Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) independence and language neutrality; this means that our customers can get to a minimal number of standard images across multiple hardware types and languages.
As with any advancement in technologies, getting the maximum benefit requires understanding the tools and technologies. BDD 2007 provides the depth of guidance and tooling to make the Windows Vista and 2007 Office system deployment process predictable and scalable.
To learn more about this solution accelerator, visit the Overview page of the Business Desktop Deployment 2007 or download BDD 2007 now
I don't know what has happened between Steve Jobs' company and the one owned by the Beatles. It was always the case that the guys from Cupertino had to call themselves Apple Computer to keep themselves distinct. Not anymore.
Scoble got it from Om Malik who thought it was of the noteworthy part of Jobs' keynote. I couldn't face watching another whole Keynote at Midnight after watching Bill last night, but about 1hr 40 into the speech Jobs explains that they're not really a computer company any more, what with the iPod and the new iPhone and Apple TV (formerly iTV which wouldn't work in the UK. That device seems a bit weak I'm not the only one who thinks an Xbox does more.) . They've been the Mac company for 23 years - but their Computer has been eclipsed by their other offerings, so from now on they're just plain Apple.
Back in April I wrote
Apple is a leader in industrial design: which is why my wife has an iPod Nano - the iPods have a magic to their design which no-one else seems able to match. The number of things which borrow from the original iMac design shows how other designers admire it. I’ve just bought a new Samsung TV and I didn’t consider Dell’s offering but I'd look at an Apple TV. As well as design, Apple has brand kudos that Samsung, Dell and (yes) Microsoft lack, so the idea of Windows on Apple hardware is seductive.
iPhone has that magic. I've got to hand it to Apple: it's beautiful, even if it does less than my 3 year old smartphone - Jason's more neutral in his analysis.
Steve quoted some interesting numbers. 26 Million Games Consoles sold world wide in 2006. Robbie Bach said at the CES keynote that we'd sold 10.4 Million Xbox 360s. If those numbers are calculated on the same basis then Xbox 360 has a 40% share of the market. I don't know what the original Xbox sold in 2006, and what the rest of the non-Sony Market is. Steve compares this against 94M digital cameras, 135M MP3 players, and 209M PCs. And about 1 billion cell phones.
But iPhone is $499 US with a 2 year contract. Now I've no idea what the world market in $499 designer phones is, but it sure ain't a billion - and it doesn't look like it has the things which business users demand (like sync to the corporate mail server). I wouldn't buy a $499 phone any more than I'd buy a pair of $499 shoes. But Steve want's 1% of the whole market - 10 million phones in 2008. A man who wants to create a $5 bn market in it's first full year: what can you do but be impressed ?
Postscript. I might have guessed that Hugh would have something witty to say about this
Darren blogged about Bill Gates Keynote at CES, which I watched at home last night. In passing was they mentioned first 2 "Ultimate Extras" . Vista ultimate, has a section in Windows update for "Ultimate extras". The first two will be Motion Desktop and Group Shot. I've mentioned group shot before. The idea is that you take similar pictures taken from the same place and combine then together to give the best one. So you might take a family group 2 or 3 or more times. In each one, someone will have their eyes shut or be pulling a silly face. Group shot lets you overlay the pictures and get each person at their best. I like to use it to remove people and cars from a view; here's one I did on my new camera in oxford last week. As you can see in the frames down the side, it was a busy shopping day with lots of people walking down the street, and I was shooting with a wide angle lens. There was no way I was going to get a clear shot. Knowing I had group shot I shot 9 frames over about 30 seconds. Using group shot I combined the images to give me an almost clear foreground. I then used Digital image suite to a little bit more retouching. straighten the image, remove the fisheye effect of the lens, correct the perspective and create a toned black and white image.
It's quite impressive how many different sorts of backup we've put into Vista, and the launch of home server adds another one. You can:
Now there is some confusion about system protection. First if you turn on system protection (from the option on the left of the Computer/Properties or Control Panel/System dialogs) then a scheduled process will create a restore point at Midnight (or when the system is next awake) and every time it boots. Older restore points are moved off the system to make way for new ones. That's the version you can restore to: you can't restore to a version between restore points. Vista doesn't keep every version you save, but it does give you a daily backup.
Secondly Backups are listed on the previous versions tab whether the file has changed or not. However shadow copies only appear after the file has changed.
Most of us are used to "off computer" backups, but not a "revert" facility that we can carry with us. Shadow copies aren't supposed to keep versions forever – the system will push out old backups to make way for new ones - and that kind of thing is best done with a true backup. However the is a security implication because if you lost your laptop a confidential document which you recently deleted may still be recoverable via shadow copy ... all the more reason to use technologies like bit locker.
With Home server we have an additional client which backs up any machines you have at home to the server. Flexibility is great, but I do wonder if we're creating confusion with all these options.
Now here's a thing. I was looking for somewhere to send you for more information. IT's Showtime has a video called "New Backup and offline files features in Windows Vista" It contains this "hockey stick" graph showing how we expect the amount of data in homes, and the average size of disk in use. And from that we estimate the demand for home file servers. Which brings us back to Windows home server....
Postscript. One of the teachers at my school was famous for throwing erasers out of the window of his classroom. He used to say if you can rub-out your mistakes you're more likely to make them. So this morning I managed to shift-delete a folder instead of a file... and shadow copy brought it back. I wonder if the mere act of thinking about Shadow copy made me careless :-)
I mentioned we had something big planned for the CES show in Vegas, and that something is Windows Home Server. There was a nice teaser site, The Center for Digital Amnesia Awareness which now has the information on it.
On 10 has a video which explains it; their summary
As a small, headless box that lives on your network and in your closet, a Windows Home Server can quickly grow the pool of storage from which all of your shared files for each of your users lives. The backup engine in Windows Home Server also silently backs up the entirety of each machine connected to it every night. And because the data is always online, using the built-in remote access abilities, you’ll also be able to access your data from any machine on the planet.
Charlie Kindel works on it - and he has a photo which shows the kind of ideas people have for machines that will run WHS, the Windows Server Solutions Group (which is also responsible for SBS - which Eileen mentioned recently)
One thing that seems have caused confusion is the "Personalized Internet address from Windows Live™ with no monthly service fees* " something I read says owners of home server will be able to get a name within a domain owned/managed by windows live. I'm guessing there will be a mechanism either for home server or the DNS Server to discover the machines true Internet address and register dynamically.
I'll post more as I have it
Update: There's a good five minute summary Video now on the MicrosoftAtCES site
The Consumer electronics show starts in Las Vegas on Monday. The internal rumor mill has been going crazy and we've been told not to blog about .... well I can't tell you what obviously.
Bill Gates is delivering a keynote speech on Sunday night - 6:30PM Redmond time, by which point most people working in Europe will have gone to bed. On Monday you'll be able to view it via http://microsoftatces.com/
They've already got some videos on the site. One is for the "Wireless Desktop 8000" . Lousy name, very cool product. When we look at Apple we see fantastic industrial design, which I don't see in my original X box, or the older Microsoft mice (look out for the very first MS mouse in the video - about 4:40-4:50). These days I have a Philippe Starke mouse at home, and design of the Xbox 360 is pretty good. This is the first time I've seen a keyboard that would inspire envy. I saw these before Christmas: they're not cheap but I have a plan to get my hands on one. As and when I do I'll blog about it.
Eileen mentioned something about Keyboard shortcuts on her blog, teasing me for not telling her about them, but forgetting that she and I both posted connected items in August. You can get a full list for Windows generally, Explorer, IE and Photo gallery in Windows help. Just type "Keyboard shortcuts" in the search box.
One of the keys that was mention was ALT-Space to pull down the "Window" menu. ALT-F4 for "Close" is listed on that menu, Windows inherited this through the relationship we had then with IBM; as well as command names like "Maximize" instead of "Zoom". One thing that changed around the release of Word 2 for Windows, and Windows 3.0 was the keys used for Cut, Copy and Paste. Ctrl+C was originally "Centre paragraph" in word. Cut was Shift+Delete, and insert was Shift+INS. Both of these still work by the way, and they're not on the list in Windows help - if you didn't know this and you have the kind of friends who'd be impressed by it ... no don't thank me.
Anyhow, some time about 1991 we began to change over to the keys we use now. Control + C for copy was obvious but why Control Z for undo. and control X for cut. (Why was X cut and C copy) why Ctrl V for insert ?
It's obvious when you look at the letters as graphic shapes.
Easy isn't it.