Eileen has made here own pick of Gimundo's "What I've learned" page (oddly termed the URL is "Thankful"... ) - though for pity's sake clicking through 700 plus thoughts 5 at a time (140 clicks) must mean she's read all the Christmas books. (Maybe next year I'll buy some people in the management chain Up the organization - or just led them my commemorative copy , that and Plain words)
When asked to contribute anything to these I usually joke that the four words on my tombstone will be "None the bloody wiser". Or send people to the "All I ever needed to know I learned from Blake's 7" which has gems like A man who trusts can never be betrayed, only mistaken.
At this time of the year I like to go back to the Mayfly project - sum up your year in 24 words. It's quieter this year than in the past and I'm finding it hard to write something myself. Just a few hours left of the year to do it. ...
* The title is a corruption of something in one of Anne Clark's pieces
Another day comes to another endingAnother kiss seals another goodbyeWe'll retrace our stepsOnly separately nowYou spoke so enchantinglyYet you let me smother your words with kisses .
For me there has been more to feel "up" about this year than feel "down" about. The new year has promise too. According to Amazon the OCS Resource Kit is out on January 19th, and I can *just* make out my name on the cover. Then we have Server 2008 and a raft of other new products due, the best times at Microsoft are always when we're shipping products. And outside of work, 10 weeks today I'll be on my way to go Scuba diving. Whatever would make a Happy new year for you, let me wish you that as well.
I'm not a winter person. Things which one would normally take in one's stride become the end-of-everything at this time of year. There is nothing for it but to remind myself that the solstice is coming and read my Tennyson* to think on how things turn around with the obituary being written for one year and the birth notice drafted for another.
I've had to get through a couple of "time to quit blogging" episodes, most recently when someone important in Redmond told me off by mail for my earlier "Virtualization futures" post. He said
You should not be communicating product roadmap and futures... this post has created significant harm for us with press, analysts, partners and customers.
You should not be communicating product roadmap and futures... this post has created significant harm for us with press, analysts, partners and customers.
Ouch. My poor, sore ego did take some comfort from fact that Uncle Tom Cobley and all seem to read my postings. But significant harm ? I thought of the Microsoft legend of the country product manager for windows who blurted out a date for the release of Windows 95 (some versions of the legend have 3.1, some have Windows 98). He then answered his phone to the Chief Financial Officer calling from Redmond to explain the exact impact this had on everything from stock price to cash flow.
I went through that post line by line and could find places where just about all of it was public (for example we've published end-of-life dates for Virtual Server 2005, and Virtual Server 2005 R2). Jeff Woolsey, who often posts to the Virtualization team blog, keeps us informed internally either with "Microsoft confidential" in large friendly letters or "You may provide this information to customers." at the start of any news. That covered a load more. But not everything. I do get asked about future versions of Virtual PC ... a typical question being "Will there be a desktop OS with a Hypervisor" (a sort of "Hyper-vista"). I don't know. Those people who do know aren't ready to say. One thing I do try to do on this blog is distinguish between "I don't know" and "I can't say", and I'll only get into either if I'm being asked, or in my audiences position I'd be jumping up and down wanting to know. So what possessed me to round up rumours I'd heard about System Center Virtual Machine Manager ? It is public knowledge that the next version is to support Hyper-V. It doesn't need Sherlock Holmes to work out that the SCVMM don't want a big gap between Hyper-V's release and their own.. after that well it's guess work really.
I didn't know until recently, that Rakesh Malhotra, a principal program manager for SCVMM and has a blog. The post SCVMM and the Hyper-V Beta, is well worth a read, it explains the situation with SCVMM releases far better than I could hope to. There's some other very good content on that blog so it's the first new one I've subscribed to in a while.
* Footnote. "Ring out Wild bells" is from In Memoriam, it's poem 105 of about 130, all to the same meter. At the Race of Champions over the weekend, during the tributes to Colin McRae the line "Ring out the grief that saps the mind, for those that here we see no more" wouldn't leave me.
I blogged about Tafiti before, it's had a "Halo 3" skin applied since, but you can still see the Original - It's a very nice Silverlight front end for searches done in live search.
We've announced that we are releasing the Tafiti Search Visualization source code to CodePlex, which means any developer can download, modify, and resell the code (see MS-PL License for all the details).
I didn't know it, but we've had "Windows Live quick apps", on codeplex for a while, this is version 5... Angus Logan has more on his blog. , but he tells me that this post on LiveSide has the best information.
**Warning** Neither I nor Microsoft will take any responsibility for what happens if you follow these instructions. I am not recommending this, just reporting my experience.
For ages now I've had a bookmark for a hack to make a "USB Battery". I wrote ages ago about making up cables to power things from USB... but and I have both mains to USB and car cigar lighter to USB power Adapters. But what if I'm stuck miles from either. I prefer devices rely on AA batteries and SD cards to minimize the risk of being stranded. But what about my USB dependant things, like my phone. Wouldn't it be good to be able to plug in a standard PP3 battery.
I thought I would do something equivalent so went to my local Maplin and bought the following (stock codes in brackets)
I stripped some of the insulation off the negative lead from the clip to solder it to the ground pin on the regulator. I clipped the positive lead off and soldered the two parts to the in and out pins on the regulator, and then the free ends go onto the USB connector: A check of the voltage showed I'd soldered them back-to-front initially (see the pictures below), so having fixed that and clipped off the USB data pins from the socket I just needed a wrap round with insulating tape to protect everything. I Plugged my smartphone in and hey presto I can charge it. One more home made gizmo for the travel pack.
Left to right - first attempt to connect the socket, Second attempt, with the pins clipped off. I wrapped it once with tape, and then folded the leads back on themselves and wrapped round again. The regulator is taped to the PP3 clip, and you can see how the leads are connected to it. These also got wrapped in tape. In Final frame, the adapter is finished and charging the phone ...
**Repeat** Neither I nor Microsoft will take any responsibility for what happens if you follow these instructions.
I've blogged about this twice already, but now it's on my system I have one bug-fix to report.
I read every thing in Outlook. I don't go to blog sites to see if they have posts, I subscribe to RSS feeds, which get brought into folders in Outlook. In fact if something doesn't come to me via outlook, it probably won't get read. Web forums ? Forget it.
I have my feeds offline, searchable, accessible from anywhere (although only updated when my PC is online). For reasons I never got to the bottom of Outlook dated all the posts on some feeds 1st Jan 2007 or 31st Dec 2006.
That behaviour is fixed in SP1 - though I've not seen that recorded anywhere.
I've re-created some of the affected feeds. to force them to re-date the last few dozen posts, and life's better already.
In the UK we take the Mickey Bliss out of the Americans for saying they are super-excited. For once I'm super-excited myself , in another Window I'm watching the build of Server 2008 WITH BETA HYPER V download from an internal server. The news is out. The following is straight from the press release
REDMOND, Wash. — Dec. 13, 2007 — Microsoft Corp. this morning delivered a holiday surprise for customers and partners, unveiling a public beta for its hypervisor-based server virtualization technology called Hyper-V, a feature with some versions of Windows Server 2008. Customers and partners today can download Windows Server 2008 RC1 Enterprise with the beta version of Hyper-V to evaluate the new technology, test applications and plan future consolidation, business continuity and high-availability projects. The beta was previously expected to be ready in the first quarter of 2008 with the release to manufacturing (RTM) of Windows Server 2008. The beta is available for download at http://www.microsoft.com/ws08eval.
However at the time of writing, the original RC-1 build is the only one linked to at the WS08Eval URL. 6001.17051 is the original RC-1 with the CTP. The build with the Beta will be 6001.171xx. There is a separate link from that page to the new build, which is 6001.17119
Mike Neil, the GM for virtualization has posted a lot more detail to the Windows Server Team blog in the last few minutes. He's also announced a web cast next week which should be well worth attending, and has been clear about which OSes have integration components today, and that there are more to come (exact OS revisions still to be decided) . When it comes to what is happening with System Center Virtual Machine Manager, Mike plays a very straight bat, and leaves it to that team to announce what their plans are. When they have news I guess it will appear on on their blog.
I'm presenting (again) in a few minutes, and still have a link which my friend David sent me on my mind. (No doubt the Apple antagnophiles will pounce on the negative iPhone link on that page) Entitled How not to use PowerPoint it has a brilliant item embedded in it called "Death by PowerPoint and how to avoid it" - it looks like a flash movie, but it's actually a silent slide show. It starts:
And the rest is what you can do about it. Well worth a look... It points out that people use PowerPoint as Prompter, Handouts, data-dumps.... All true. I need to get away from PowerPoint decks which could stun an Ox. I'm already feeling sorry for this afternoon's audience But people ask for hand outs. Road-shows and similar events should always have the slide decks posted via http://technet.microsoft.com but not all my events fall into this category. So for those people who want the decks that I have used recently here are
If the link to skydrive below doesn't show up in your RSS feed it's http://cid-1efe2682bfbbd817.skydrive.live.com/browse.aspx/Presentations
It was an interesting journey to work. Between the fog, ice and roadworks and traffic police who seem to have become suicidal of late, I was listening to my e-mail through Outlook Voice Access. The time really has come to buy myself a Jawbone headset: OVA is perfect when I use the mobile handset (illegal in the car) but using my Jabra it can take 6 attempts to get words recognizable: "Next" sounds like "Help", or "Delete" sounds like "repeat", and "e-mail" is indecipherable. Reading works well and the mechanical voice read me this:
Microsoft announced publicly this week that Office 2007 SP1 is available on Microsoft Update for interactive, user-initiated installation, but will not be pushed for automatic installation for a few months. However soon after the release on Tuesday, customers began to report that the service pack had been automatically installed on some of their systems.
After thoroughly investigating the reports, we determined that the Office service pack was operating as expected on Microsoft Update but that some customers were confused about the expected behaviour of interactive and automatic updates on Windows Vista due to changes from the Windows XP functionality. We also confirmed that Office 2007 SP1 will automatically install on systems running a beta version of Windows Vista SP1 since those systems use a different Microsoft Update server for their updates and that server always pushes out all Important and Recommended updates to keep the beta products up to date.
Further public communications on this issue will be posted on the Microsoft Update blog at http://blogs.technet.com/mu/.
The Microsoft update blog has a post with more detail. Darren also has more on his blog.
When I put new words to the Blue monster, I used the way Terry Pratchett got one of his characters to write it. I have a shelfful of his books, including some very rare unsigned ones. I like his wit, and there are some great allegories to draw on.
There's a story on the Web site of Paul Kidby, who now draws the covers for Terry's books, explaining that Terry has been diagnosed with "a very rare form of early onset Alzheimer's"
In my OneNote notebook I have a section of quotes with a page of Terryisms e.g.
On work. If it wasn't for the fun and money, I really don't know why I'd bother.
On the fact that modern people are so miserable: You can't make people happy by law. If you said to a bunch of average people two hundred years ago "Would you be happy in a world where medical care is widely available, houses are clean, the world's music and sights and foods can be brought into your home at small cost, travelling even 100 miles is easy, childbirth is generally not fatal to mother or child, you don't have to die of dental abscesses and you don't have to do what the squire tells you" they'd think you were talking about the New Jerusalem and say 'yes'.
And guidance for interviewers - which I have in my head when I do them: Write a list of your main questions to fix things in your mind; Throw it away; Start the interview; Then LISTEN to what the guy is saying so that you can follow any interesting thread; Because if you don't, then what you'll get is a quiz, not an interview.
Having met him a couple of times and read him quite a lot, I have to say it's pretty typical for him to post this under the Title "An Embuggerance" , and to end by telling us that the news " should be interpreted as 'I am not dead'. " and "it's a very human thing to say 'Is there anything I can do', but in this case I would only entertain offers from very high-end experts in brain chemistry."
My carbon footprint has got worse: after the travel of the Road-show, I popped up to Leeds last night to talk to BCS. A round trip of 400 miles.
While I was there Dave threw me one of those questions... the kind where you know the answer. You know that you know it. But the harder you think about it, the more the answer refuses to come to you. And not remembering bothers you: it bothered me most of the way home. The question was simple. "One of my clients has poor sight and relies on Windows Magnifier. He managed to dock magnifier on the side of the screen and resize it down to zero width. He couldn't find the edge of magnifier to resize it."
Darn it, I know you can change the border size, on a window, it's useful if narrow borders don't work with your eyes or hands. And it makes it impossible to lose a window. But where's the settings ?
So today I dug the settings out in Vista, it's Control Panel, Personalization, Window Color and Appearance Classic Appearance properties, Advanced. In XP it's Control Panel, Display, Appearance tab, advanced. Then you can click the window border and set it to any size you fancy.
And Magnifier does respect the size of the border so now if it suffers the same mishap it's easy to sort out. Phew. That's one question off my mind, now to deal with all the other queries I got during the road-show.
The title says is all really. Details of what is in the service pack are in KB article 936982 and the download is available here. I've been saying I'd rebuild my PC once we have the release of office and vista SP1 so I haven't been running this one in beta, so I haven't got experience to share, yet .
Every now and then I get forewarned of some news, and with due warning not to be the one who breaks it. So I'm saying nothing, but Thursday morning Redmond time (late afternoon in Europe) I'm going to be watching these very closely
Windows Server Division blog
Windows Virtualization team blog
System Center team blog
and of course Press Pass
UPDATE The news is out. The following is straight from the press release
I got the news when the press release was mailed out 16:30 GMT: however at the time of writing, the original RC-1 build is the only one linked to at the WS08Eval URL. 6001.17051 is the original RC-1 with the CTP. The build with the Beta will be 6001.171xx.
Update 2, There is a separate link from that page to the new build, which is 6001.17119
When Steve and I were on tour talking about Microsoft Virtualization, we were asked similar questions about Server 2008's virtualization several times: "Since this is running on Windows, you still need to patch it, right ?". To which the answer is "Yes". If Hyper-V is running on server core there are fewer things to be patched; and we've reduced the number of patches which need re-boots. Windows VMs will need patching at the same time and with proper management the whole process can be streamlined. But there is no getting away from it. A few people seemed to think that VMware doesn't need patching.
Virtualization.info quoted me the a few days ago and I'd like to return the compliment. They have a story "Patch Tuesday for VMware" which explains how a couple of VMware experts realised that "it is starting to become a trend in some ESX environments; not all patches are installed by the admins" ... "this is VMware's ESX server! The product that we used to tell people didn't need patching that often since there wasn't much code to have to patch."
It makes an interesting read - so go read it!. Although they point a server built 5 months ago would have been patched 8 times (once every three weeks), the authors say they're not out "to beat VMware over the head for patching/updating their product." so it would be a cheap shot for me to do so. But I will observe that getting patching right for all the products you use is a key part of any IT managers job. Don't get to thinking there are any you can ignore, whatever their advocates might have you believe.
I guess I'm not the only person in Microsoft who thought that stopping software working when it seemed to be pirated was a good idea. To be honest, I still do. However, the process has to be infallible. If it's 99.9% correct and you sell 100 Million copies that's 100,000 people who get the wrong experience. There have been enough documented cases of the system going wrong to create worry in people's minds. In reality the risk of a legitimate system getting dumped into reduced functionality mode (and then only until you had called the activation line) was very small in indeed, but people felt like it could happen to them.
So it's changing... Here are two quotes from the press release.
All copies of Windows Vista still require activation and the system will continue to validate from time to time to verify that systems are activated properly. What is changing with SP1 is the nature of the experience for those systems that are never activated or that fail validation
Users whose systems are identified as counterfeit will be presented with clear and recurring notices about the status of their system and how to get genuine. They won’t lose access to functionality or features, but it will be very clear to them that their copy of Window Vista is not genuine and they need to take action
In other words if your system looks like it's pirated you'll get nagged until you sort it out.
The BBC picked up the story. Over at ZD-Net everyone seemed to be talking about it. Mary Jo had the story with some interesting quotes very early. Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, had a piece called See, complain loud enough and Microsoft will listen (people often think complaining to a huge company, Microsoft or anyone else, won't achieve anything. It can, but it takes more than person to do it). Ed Bott said "The case for Windows Vista Service Pack 1 just got a lot stronger" A lot ? my first reaction is that Ed's over-stating it. He is not the only person who calls the feature a "Kill Switch" either, he notes that "The Softies responsible for WGA, wince when they hear the term “kill switch.” They prefer a more benign description, reduced functionality mode". Ed does have a track record of knowing what he's talking about. I'd flag his recent piece Five secrets to faster Vista starts as evidence of methodical research and a knowledge of Vista (ditto his piece How green is your PC). So I'm wavering a little in my conviction that we had it right to start with. But if we can't convince legitimate customers that the system won't accidentally treat them as pirates, then we need to change.