# James O'Neill's blog

Windows Platform, Virtualization and PowerShell with a little Photography for good measure.
Posts
• #### The scientific reason why social networks don't do it for me.

Somewhere in my school science lessons we were introduced to something that I know as the law of sheer cussedness  (Cussed, [Kússid] causing annoyance and anger, especially by being uncooperative). Basically if a chemical reaction which emits heat has reached equilibrium cooling it down makes it react more. The current that flows in a spinning dynamo wants to make it a motor spinning in the other direction... and so on. I thought it was Gay-Lussac's law but it turns out that it wasn't so I went to look up Scientific Laws named after people on Wikipedia. Skimming down by field I saw "Computer Science" against Bradford's law. This was a new one on me. So I looked it up

Bradford's law is a pattern first described by Samuel C. Bradford in 1934 that estimates the exponentially diminishing returns of extending a search for references in science journals. One formulation is that if we sort journals in a field by number of articles into three groups, each with about one-third of all articles, then the number of journals into each group will be proportional to 1:n:n². There are a number of related formulations of the principle.In economics this pattern is called a Pareto distribution.[Known sometimes as the 80:20 rule]

This explains so much. Why TV is rubbish for example, or why my supermarket carries 200 kinds of mineral water would be another. And why I know instinctively that facebook et al are of no interest to me.

Here's how Wikipedia puts it.

Suppose that a researcher has 5 core scientific journals for their subject. Suppose that in a month there are 12 articles of interest in those journals. Suppose further that in order to find another dozen articles of interest, the researcher would have to go to 10 journals. Then that researcher's Bradford multiplier bm is 2 (ie 10/5). For each new dozen articles, that researcher will need to look in bm times as many journals. After looking in 5, 10, 20, 40, ... journals, most researchers quickly realize that there is little point in looking further.

Why my supermarket carries [many] brands of [something] . Everyone knows there are only 2 kinds of bottled water: with bubbles and without. If they only sold their own brand of locally bottled water they might sell to 100 customers. Introduce Perrier, Evian, Ty-Nant and 5 more to put 10 kinds on the shelf, and they sell to 200 customers. That's a Bradford multiplier of 4. Want to sell to 300 customers ? They have to add 32 more kinds (that's 42 in total). You see where this is heading...

Why TV is rubbish.  my favourite TV channel might serve up 4 hours of (what I consider to be) really good TV over the 30 hours or so I might watch during a week. The other 4 "main" UK channels might serve up another 4 hours between them. That gives me a Bradford multiplier of 4. Another 16 channels from cable/satellite/DTT might give me 4 more good hours. The amount of good TV doesn't increase linearly with the amount of number of channels. The proportion of so-so and "crud" increase exponentially. Ever heard of Sturgeons law ? "Ninety Percent of everything is crud" - it was a defence of Sci-fi made by Theodore Sturgeon who accepted that "Ninety percent of science fiction is crud" but that's because "ninety percent of everything is crud.".  If you take a large enough sample, that's probably true. Give me a another 64 and another 256 channels of TV so I have 1+4+16+64+256=341 channels and I only find 20 hours of good TV out of 10,000. 0.2% is good. 9.8% is so-so. 90% is crud. Maybe it's not a 90:10 rule but an 80:20 rule (see Pareto)  and 19.8% is so-so but the principles are the same.

Blogs, mailing lists and social networks.  What's true for TV works for other media. If my top ten blogs/lists/forums/other sites produce a dozen items worth the time it takes to read them each day, it might take another , it might take the next 20 to produce another dozen worthwhile items. The next dozen items might need me to read 40. Hugh Macleod coined Hugh's law  "All online social networks eventually turn into a swampy mush of spam."  Robert Scoble talked about it here

Out of 1,048 items on my link blog in the past 30 days only 490 came from the top 35 blogs.
So, more than half of the value of that link blog came from the B, C, D … Z list of my 772 feeds.

So Scoble got 490 linkable posts from the first 35 blogs and 558 from the other 737. That's close enough to saying 500 from the first 35 and the next 500 from the next 700 (less than one linkable post per feed/month). That gives him a Bradford multiplier of 20 ! If Bradford's law holds he'd have to read 14,000 more blogs for a month to find another 500 decent posts

Of course anyone who writes a blog with any noticeable number of regular readers (I include myself here) would do well to remind themselves from time to time that those readers have decided the blog is part of the small percentage of stuff out there which isn't crud. Thank you, whoever you are.

• #### Tales from a weekend of PowerShell: Get-Needle -haystack ...

First to explain the title: Sooner or later I will stop banging on about hot-desking and the bedlam which is our office area - last week it did seem to plumb new depths with one team sitting round a speaker phone in the open plan office yelling into a conference call and another playing the flutes/recorders/penny whistles that they were giving away. Hot-desking only works if some people are deterred  from coming into the office, and with the summer holidays over and the house to myself again I can return to my pattern of coming into the office to meet people, and staying at home when I have work to do; and having at least one "car free day" per week.
Working at home, I find it quite hard to not have the laptop on my knee when there's something I'm only half interested in on the TV. And working to a deadline (like trying to get the PowerShell part of a book done in time for publication) if the laptop is there then work naturally takes over the time that you've got nothing better to do. Which is how most of my weekend ended up with PowerShell.

I've been doing a lot of work with WMI objects for this project - they have names like MSFT_SIPFederationExternalEdgeListeningAddressSetting  or MSFT_SIPLocalNormalizationRuleData

To try to keep some consistency I typically have functions which go something like this

• Get-OCSNormalizationRules - returns the all WMI objects for the class we're interested in.
• List-OCSNormalizationRules - takes the result of the Get and formats it nicely
• Export-OcsNormalizationRules - takes the result of Get and outputs selected fields to a CSV file
• Choose-OCSNormalizationRules - takes the result of the Get makes a menu (and returns the Wmi Objects, so that all the properties are available)
• New-OCSNormalizationRule - takes parameters needed to build a WMI object
• Import-OcsNormalizationRules - takes a CSV file and for each entry invokes New
• Update-OCSNormalizationRule - takes the same parameters as New, uses one to retrieve the WMI object, and the others to update fields in it
• Delete-OCSNormalization rules - uses the same parameter as Update to retrieve the WMI object and deletes it

Obviously some functions don't make sense for some of the objects. Choose-OCS Users wouldn't have an impossible menu. New-OCS ServerPool is done by installing the server, and so on.

One thing that plagued Live Communications server 2005 was mis-configured certificates so we wanted to be able to show what was being use. But where to go to get this information ? - there are a hundred or so WMI classes beginning MSFT_SIP - different ones exist depending on the server role. I'd already got a list potentially interesting classes with

`get-wmiobject -list | where-object {\$_.__class -like "msft_SIP*"}`

So. I thought, why not dump out all of the classes. It's a bit daft, but if I send it to a text file I can just search for CERT and I'll find it and here's the line it took.

`get-wmiobject -list | where-object {\$_.__class -like "msft_sip*"} | foreach-object {get-wmiobject -class \$_.__class} > temp.txt `

And hey presto 10 seconds in notepad had the reference I was looking for. What I had to do when I got that certificate was a whole other story, which I'll tell you all about some other time.

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• #### On Cartoons #2: Software / Services. Desktop and centre

Hugh drew this, and  Steve Clayton talks about it on his blog. I was going to post something about it here, but then I found myself saying something on an internal discussion (about when our Unified Communications offering competes with Cisco and when we co-operate). It was better than the post I had in mind, so I've adapted that here...

I have used the same theory for about 15 years and I’m not wiling to give it up yet.  IT companies (I suppose I should say ICT) companies are either Primarily desktop or Primarily datacenter.  Very rarely are they entirely one of these, but they can’t be equally both.  Is the client there to exploit a great service ? Or is the service there to facilitate a great client ? Sometimes the best customer experience will take the client from one company and service from another and make them work together. Where competitors end up cooperating (so called Coopertition) it's driven by that demand from customers. The "big ticket" items are centre/infrastructure ones; "law of big numbers" items are the desktop/client ones. But for a lot of organizations, the desktop is where business happens.

When I started saying this in the 90’s IBM and Novell (say) were about the centre (being mainframe and server companies they couldn’t be anything else), and Microsoft, Word Perfect, Lotus were about the desktop.  And after I the stuff I've said about phones and UC lately, I've never met a PBX vendor who said “We’re in the phones business – the PBX is just there to serve the phone” - so  PBXs are the new mainframes and desktop phone has become an evolutionary dead end - no better at helping business to happen at the desktop than they were 20 years ago.

Of course the Internet has spawned a new kind of centre company -which doesn't deliver over a private network but provides "services in the cloud".  Google - to name but one - are a “centre” company.

Microsoft is in the server business (big time), but at our core we are a desktop company (Windows client and Office). "Build back-end services to use the power of the PC" was as true for Exchange 4.0 as it is for Windows Live.

Now Steve says we want to be in the middle of this ... whilst I don't think anyone can be absolutely central, we don't have to be out at the extremes either. Look at X-box Live. A great service to enable a great client experience (and to my surprise the extra live bits on Xbox 360 have been the biggest difference from original Xbox). Look at Apple. No one could say that the iPod was built just be a client of the iTunes Music Store; it is a great client in its own right. Yet, for many users the store service maximizes what their device delivers. Even examples like writing a blog post ... It's far easier to use my PC to help with the process using Windows Live writer than it is to do compose in text box in a browser. There are some things which only need the software on the desktop and others which are almost entirely in the cloud (with the Browser in place of the VT220 terminal)  - the outlying edges on Hugh's drawing, But the interesting ones - where we want to be - are towards the middle the combination of Good software on the desktop & Good Services in the cloud.

• #### On Cartoons #1

I've told the story before about introducing myself with the words 'I work-to-bring-about-the-Kingdom-of-the-anti-christ-on-earth'

And I've shown my "Blue Monster" business card using one of Hugh's Cartoons.

Well it looks like Hugh has another cartoon that might end up on a cards - I guess Steve will want some as he spends more time with  Open Source community than I do.

I have to admire people who can keep producing cartoons. I drew a handful last year and it's so difficult to keep doing it (much as some people find their blog dries up after the first flush of enthusiasm).

#1 A Cartoon for Dr Who fans

#2 Channel 9 Park  South Park style meets channel 9 substance. A confusion of Ozzies here is just priceless.

#3 Bug bash -  Monday mornings are a little better when I see the (1) beside bug bash in my "RSS Feeds" Outlook-folder.

• #### Virtualization on tour, SCVMM Released and a peek at WSV

I remember the first time I saw the comedian Eddie Izzard perform live, he walked onto the stage in Oxford, and looked around the audience. There wasn't a single empty seat. He said "I've sold out! People always say 'Stay true to yourself and never sell out' but I say NO!!! "  Somehow I managed not to blog that we're on road when the news first came out. George announced it and Eileen blogged it, and in no time flat most of the venues were fully booked. Anyhow Steve and I are going to be doing "Creating and Managing a Virtual environment on the Microsoft Platform"  On 20th September in Manchester ,  on  21st September in Reading (TVP), on 25th September in Newcastle, 27th September in Falkirk,  3rd October in London.  George is working on have more places next time to improve the coverage - having got involved in this a little it's a far more complex business than I thought We might keep on Selling out.

We're showing Windows Server Virtualization on the tour, and in preparation Steve and I have both been trying out a Microsoft internal build.  I've used my second internal hard disk (£28 from Scan, or over £100 from Dell with a small piece of plastic attached). Of course that means the disk with everyday work on is out of the machine when I'm doing Virtualization. Outlook web access is very useful at times like that.

What I can say about WSV is limited right now. It's not my baby, and it's for its parents (the product group in Redmond) to talk dates and features. But, from the first build we had, they've been happy for us to demo it. Stuff posted to the Internet can take on a life of its own, I don't want to describe something which is the correct today and have it quoted in 6 months when it's no longer the case.  Steve and I both used WSV yesterday for a presentation of some other stuff to an audience of 30-40 people. It worked well. Actually a minor networking issue I had with a VM on virtual server went away in the move process.

On the road-show, we're also going to show System Centre Virtual Machine manager, which has just been released after a fairly long beta. We want to talk about managing a virtualized environment so we're going to show this technology working with Virtual Server 2005. You can read what the product manager for it has to say about the launch and the future - the SCVMM team are looking to the next release syncing up with the release of Windows Server Virtualization (which is due within 180 days of Windows Server 2008), and it will also manage VMWare and Xen virtualization. The Xen product uses the same virtual hard disk (VHD) format as we do and we have tools to migrate physical machines to virtual ones.What worries me at the moment is that with SP2 Windows Server 2003 seems to be fussier about changes of hardware needing re-activation, so moving platforms may have an extra step for some cases.

• #### A stapler on every desk and in every home

Not everything about working for Microsoft UK is perfect. I've mentioned some of the daft e-mails we get (The ones which use great streams of long words to convey nothing. The "I'm pleased to announce improvements to X" kind, which list 10 things which are now worse about X. Or the ones which are sent with all the accuracy of an unattended fire-hose.) I've mentioned what I call the hindrance desk. And the thing that I loathe above all is hot-desking. The worst thing about hot desking is it makes sense. It reduces the office space we need, which saves money, reduces pollution ... yada yada yada. It also is a great way of making people feel they don't belong in the office. And it means that things like Hi-liter pens, post it notes and other stationary that you want aren't at the desk you sit down at. So every time you want, say, a pencil you go to the stationary cupboard and get one. You might shove it in your bag at the end of the day, but the chances are it will migrate home and stay there. I once rounded up 30 mechanical pencils at home and brought them back to work - it's useful to have a couple but that many was getting silly.

And, almost no desk has a stapler. This means that those people who have a desk will hide their stapler because if it will quickly stray if left out in the daylight. And anyone trying to attach receipts to an expense claim has embark on an epic quest that would make a self-respecting Hobbit flinch. Back in my days in the dark lands of Mordor Microsoft services, one of my colleagues announced he was a mission to see a stapler on every desk.  That was sufficiently close to the original company mission that it was soon parodied as "A stapler on every desk, and in every home: and that stapler using Microsoft Staples" .

To anyone transferring to the UK from the US ,as Viral has done recently to join our team, the idea of not having a desk to call your own must seem pretty alien. And judging from the title of his blog, so does the idea of not being able to find a stapler. Of course those of us who have remarked on his sartorial elegance think it should be called "DUDE, where's my stapler"

Welcome, Viral.

• #### So long Compact flash: a new camera

It's amazing to see a technology to go from "new"to "Obsolete" in half a dozen years. I remember buying an IBM Microdrive in 2001 - a power hungry and rather unreliable device it was, the jacket for my iPAQ would take CF type II cards. A year later my first digital compact camera took CF but only Type I so I spent £70 on a 64MB card. (Today I can buy four cards, 4GB in capacity for that)  In 2003 first digital SLR also took CF. Both cameras came from Pentax; I loved the SLR but was indifferent to the compact. Pentax have gone totally SD since, so my updated SLR takes SD cards, my last 3 phones have used SD or a derivative of it. My previous laptop had SD support and I've added SD support to the Dell. Since the secondhand value for the compact was close to zero I put it in a scuba housing. But it wasn't great. Its short-life proprietary batteries mean I have to take a charger and a second battery on dive trips. The Screen is small, the shutter lag dreadful.

I began to cast around for a new camera and the newer Pentax models don't have dive housings; which meant changing brands: no great loss in compacts. My requirements didn't seem so very tough.

• Dive housing available
• AA Batteries
• SD Memory

I didn't have any megapixel requirement -I'll repeat something I've said before more megapixels means the image formed by the lens is recorded with greater fidelity. The lenses on most compacts don't justify the pixels the marketing folk won't the put behind them.  I wanted a shorter shutter lag -but what we put up with in 2002 wouldn't sell today. A bigger LCD seems to be standard too -that makes things easier underwater.

The list shrank pretty quickly. This brand uses proprietary batteries. That brand used memory stick. These other Brands didn't have dive housings. But Canon's Powershot A570IS ticked all the boxes, with the bonus of a dedicated Underwater mode and Image stabilization. I've been robust about Canon FUD that in-body stabilization doesn't work, it does. Canon SLRs just don't feel right in my hands; brand loyalty to Pentax isn't absolute, but it's stronger than any Brand antipathy I have for Canon. As it was, over the bank holiday weekend Canon were running a £50 cash-back promotion, a bit of checking found that the camera - (list price £220) could be shipped to my door for £140 - £90 after the cash back. Decision made.

It's amazing to see how compacts have come on in 5 years.

 2002: Pentax Optio 430RS 2007 Canon Powesrhot A570IS Cost ~ £400 ( List price £600) ~ £100 (List price £220) Display 1 sq inch (1.2 x 9: diagonal 1.5") 3 sq inch (2.0 x 1.5 diagonal 2.5") Shutter Lag Intrusively slow Tolerably slow USB 1.0 requires driver (mini-b connector) 2.0 plug and play (mini-b connector) Apperture f/2.6 or f/5 (wide)f/4.8 or f/9.2(tele) f/2.6 - f/8 in 1/3 stop steps (wide)f/5.5 - f/8 (tele) Zoom range 3x in 6 steps  (38-113mm equivalent on 7.2 x 5.3 mm sensor) 4x  in 7 steps(35-140mm equivalent on 5.8x4.3mm sensor). Megapixels 4 7 ISO 100,200 80,100,200,400,800,1600 Video 320x240 14 fps (Mute) 640x480 30fps with (surprisingly good) sound Other Image stabilization, Facial recognition auto-focus,Voice notes, underwater mode,  Rule of thirds grid, stitch assist mode, Red eye removal

As I said I don't see the greater pixel count as giving me higher resolution pictures. The Canon's imaging chip is only 2/3 the size of the Pentax's one, I doubt if it's lens is any better - but to give those pixels the same amount of detail to digitize it needs be much better. It's capturing an inferior image with greater fidelity.  More pixels in a smaller area and higher ISO rating mean Canon need to be aggressive with noise reduction, which reduces detail.

When I care about quality I've got my SLR, with a couple of fantastic Pentax prime lenses. The new compact's job is to get pictures that the old one missed, in places where the SLR won't go. And I'm happy it will do that.