Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Another Cool PowerShell Related App - ShinyPower

ShinyPower is an application that you can use to browse PowerShell's help files. A cool app - but it'll need updating once PowerShell's RC2 ships!

Blog Comments Return

I've turned comments back on this blog. They had been turned off, but when I resumed blogging I'd forgotten to re-enable them. I'll turn on track-backs too, in due course.

Microsoft Learning Killing Off MOF Training

In one of the dumber moves by MSL (and that's saying something), I've just learned that the existing Microsoft Operations Framework training it to be killed off.

The official statement says: "Microsoft Learning is retiring Microsoft Official Courseware "Course 1737: Microsoft Operations Framework Essentials" and "Course 1787: Microsoft Operations Framework Changing Quadrant." Both courses will be retired on December 31. Until that time, you can order both Student Workbooks and Trainer Kits normally. However, these orders will not include the simulation that was previously provided in the Trainer Kit. This simulation is no longer available through Microsoft Learning. The Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF) is not being retired. Only the existing courseware is being retired. After January 1, 2007, we will place the Microsoft Operations Framework curriculum for both courses for Free Download on the MCT download site. This will include both Trainer and Student books (not the simulations). "

Words fail me.

Browser Market Share

I watch the stats for this blog site using Site Meter. One interesting aspect of these stats is the Browser Share report which shows which browser types are used to access the content here. While the exact numbers vary, I can see some broad trends.

Almost to be expected, FireFox 1.x is used for 28% of hits, IE7  23% and IE6 at 45%. Mozilla, Netscape 5 and Netscape 4 each have 1%. From time to time, I also see Opera and Safari although today these don't show up. The interesting one is "Google 4.X", at 1%.

In terms of trends, I see two: first FireFox is slowly growing - A year ago, FF was at under 10%. The second is that while IE as a total is declining (due to FireFox growth), we can see the transition from IE6 to IE7.

Ryanair - Putting the fun back in to flying

I suspect this is not going to catch on - but it would certainly be one way to fly and would certainly be interesting.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A PowerShell IDE

Now this is cool - a decent IDE for PowerShell. For some great reasons, Microsoft has chosen to restrict PowerShell to being hosted in the old console (which means it's pretty sub-optimal as an IDE).

However, an enterprising MVP, Dr Tobias Weltner, has develop a really simple and neat IDE - PowerShell IDE 1.0. This is at present free ware, which is even cooler.

Tobias is also the author of a cool commercial product called System Scripter. This also supports PowerShell. One really useful feature of System Scripter is WYSIWYG editing of .HTAs.

Pretty much as predicted, PowerShell has provided inspiration to a huge eco-system. While I know that that is what folks like Jeffrey Snover hoped for, but I think the reaction has exceeded even Jeffrey's expectations.

Pay Pal is NOT Your Pal?

Matt Hartley writes for Lockergnome and has had a recent run-in with PayPal. Matt's problem was minor, but the feedback from other LockerGnome readers has been somewhat surprising.

I would have hoped that any respectable business, reading this feedback would pretty quickly clean up their act. PayPal seems, thus far at least, oblivious to the issues.

Use PayPal at your own risk seems to be the only answer.  Not a very good one, however.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Pain in Aid of Charity

As some readers know, my daughter has epilepsy. In her case, it's a condition that's been around pretty much since birth, and thus far, has not been completely resolved with drug treatment. Since the beginning of the year, we've put Rebecca on the ketogenic diet, a specialised diet for children with epilepsy. While the diet has not, yet. "cured" her, Rebecca's condition is much improved - fewer seizures and a reduced drug load.

We'd never have been able to do the diet without the help of a small local charity: Matthew's Friends. The folks there have been a constant source of help, inspiration and hope. A fantastic site, but one you'd probably never come across.

Recently (well a few months ago really), the firm I used to work for, QA, had a "Dress Down Day" to raise a bit of money to support Matthew's Friends. As part of the day's entertainment I agreed to have my legs waxed. Much to my surprise, and genuine delight, two of my colleagues agreed to take part as well. I've put up 4 pictures at The pictures are kind of big, but the last is perhaps the best!

The day was fantastic - as you can see, the folks at QA all had a lot of fun. It was, all in all, possibly the best day I ever had at QA (now sadly defunct after being taken over by InterQuad). We had a lot of fun, and managed to raise a reasonable sum for a truly great charity. Can it get much better?

Microsoft Turns SUS off

Microsoft's first attempt at Internet based Software Update Services (SUS) was a basic, but useful tool for Windows syadmins. Replaced by WSUS, SUS has now being killed off, according to a report on the Inquirer.

I'd have hoped that most admins would have, by now, migrated up to WSUS - a much better product. If you are still using SUS, upgrade soon!

SharePoint Team Blog

Today seems to be a day for finding new blogs - I just found the Microsoft SharePoint Products and Technologies Team Blog.There is much more there than I can possibly read and use (until someone invents a much longer day!).

Vista Security Blog

Windows Vista Security is a blog, oddly enough, that discusses Vista Security. It's a good read! The recent post on Kernel Patch Protection is a great explanation!

Jesper to Leave Microsoft

It's not a particularly NEW item, but sad too - Jesper joins the brain drain leaving Microsoft. Jesper Johannsen is the Senior Security Strategist in the Security Technology Unit at Microsoft, and an all around nice guy (and smart too!). I have learned a lot from Jesper and am very sad to hear he is leaving.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

UK Partner Blog

I stumbled across the Insights in the Partner Programme blog this morning. The blog has two aims. The first is to enable MS to post information quicker and provide insight into Partner Programme.  The second is to highlight ways to interact with the interesting people at Microsoft UK.

If you work in the MS Partner Channel - this is a useful blog to watch.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Boeing to Hang Up it's Connexion

In an arcile in the New York times, entitled "Boeing to End Its Service for Using Internet Aloft ", the demise of the Connextion service is spelt out. I'm not sure whether th laugh or cry.

I travel a fair bit, around Europe and to the US. With my new job, I'll be on planes most weeks. Being able to connect to the office to pick up mail, etc is ueful, especially on longer flights. At the same time, I'm not so sure I want to sit next to someone Skyping for 8 hours.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Vista Mag - Freelancers needed too!

In a recent blog post, I mentioned Windows Vista Magazine was hiring. Turns out they are also looking for some freelance writers!

Microsoft for Office "inevitable" - or so says IT Week

In an article posted today,that venerable IT rag IT Week quotes OSDL's Stuart Cohen that "Microsoft will release a version of Office to run on Linux within the next couple of years.""  Cohen believes that since MS did this for Apple they'll do it for Linux. While it's a nice theory, I can't see it happening for many reasons:

1. The underlying platform is different. In writing Office, MS has leveraged the best from Windows. To port Office to Unix, MS would need to re-implement a lot of lower level code in Linux, or do some massive re-writes (leading to 2 code bases).

2. There's more than one Linux. And that means MS (or someone) do the testing and creating installers on multiple platforms: Suse, Mandrake, etc, etc, etc, etc. The more SKUs MS has to produce (and test), the more expensive it becomes.

3. Taking on a new platform is also expensive. To support such a beast, MS would have to acquire a core of Linux support skills, across the many variants of Linux that MS chooses to support.

4. People may not want to pay (enough) for it. It's all fine and well for Cohen to ask MS to invest millions of dollars to produce such a product - but would people actually pay for it? And would that total market make investment sense.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying MS won't produce such a product. But based on today's market, I'm not sure it would make good business sense. Having said that, I'd bet money that someone is sitting in Redmond and running the numbers on this near-daily. It there was a serious market, where MS could make a decent ROI, then they'd be there in a shot.

The reality is that the market probably isn't there, no matter how rose-tinted Cohen's glasses. We'll see.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Windows Vista Magazine

The new Microsoft  Vista magazine is hiring. At present, it appears that the positions are full time only - maybe later they'll have some freelance journalist slots open.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

PowerShell and Security

A few weeks ago, the press were all agog with the latest "virus/worm" to attack PowerShell. As Ars Technica points out, it was a pretty lame bit of malware (see Microsoft's assessment of this worm to find out more). But besides that, the basic issue seemed to be that PowerShell is somehow an attack vector. I suppose that any sufficiently powerful tool can be misused and any tool that can't be misused is unlikely to be of much interest to the malware writers.

The developers of PowerShell have taken extraordinary steps to avoid that misuse. Although some of the design decisions complicate initial setup and configuration. The admin has to do a bit of work before getting PowerShell up and running- but that seems a fair tradeoff.

For a good description of the issues - take a look at a recent blog posting by Leonard Chung which lays out the PowerShell security model in action. He shows how hard it would be for the ordinary user to be infected by this worm. As Leonard summarises: a user truly has to go out of his or her way to be infected". Which isn't to say that this won't happen - just that it's not a problem with the product.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Lebanon/Israel Wine Tasting Canceled

I'm a keen wine drinker and have for may years admired the ability of folks in both Lebanon and Israel to make good wine. Ch Mussar from Lebanon is a fantastic example! But most of the other good wines are rarely seen here in the UK.

A few days ago, I got a mail from Robersons about an upcoming Lebanese and Israeli wine tasting. I was quite excited about the chance to taste some of these wines, and perhaps find a source for some of these wines. 

Sadly, today, I got the news that it's been canceled. The full details are on a forum page at zero forum

Very sad - at this time, I'd have thought such a tasting might be a good thing.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Windows Live Writer - Blogging Tool (part 2)

Well, I've just downloaded the beta of Windows Life Writer, and this is my first post with it. It works well - complete with a spelling checker. A neat feature is that WLW downloads the blog style sheet, thus real WYSIWYG!

The WLW tool is simple and easy to use and passes the Ronseal test (It does what it says on the tin).

WLW also lets you insert a map into a blog posting. Unfortunately, WLW can not upload the map to Blogger.

Microsoft's New Blogging Tool Windows Live Writer

In a post on the Writer Zone (the WIndows Live Writer Team blog, the team introduce a beta of Windows Live Writer. WLW is a desktop application that makes it easy to compose better blog articles. The interesting thing is that this new tool also works with existing blog services. I'll be trying this out once the MSI gets downloaded!

Aero: Is It All It's Cracked Up To Be?

In an article on the TechRepublic site, Deb Shinder takes a look at the advantages and disadvantages of Vista's new Aero Glass UI, and examines what you need to get the most out of it. Deb's summary is that while Aero Glass can make Windows look better and, in many cases, makes the user experience a more pleasant one, the decision as to whether it's worth it or not is very much a personal decision. For most corporate users, Aero will not be relevant since their hardware will not support it.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Moving on

As some folks will have gathered, I have resigned from QA-Interquad. It has been a really great ride - QA were a great company to have worked for. But they no longer exist (even though my QA shares have STILL not been paid for by Interquad!).

With the takeover (and please let's stop talking about this being a "meger"!!), I am moving on and will post details soon.

Performancing for Firefox

Performancing for Firefox is a Fire-fox add-on that provides a full featured blog editor that sits right within Firefox. Performancing works with all the major blogging software (this and all my recent posts were created using Performancing. It has a reasonablly good WYSIWYG editor, plus support for Trackback, and integration with both Technorati and The web site has an an overview of the features in Performancing, and a Guided tour.

Technorati Tags:

Saturday, August 12, 2006

The Second Posting about Power Shell Was Here?

According to a post to Abhishek Agrawal's recent blog post, this blog contained just the second posting about PowerShell. I thought mine was the first, but I'll settle for 2nd. I can certainly remember the Jeffrey Snover and Jim Truher show ("Let's see what you get for 7 lines of code"), as well waving a US$20 at Jeffrey Snover after his talk saying "I'll buy it now!!!".

25 Years Ago

August 12 1981. I was working for Arthur Andersen & Co Management Consultants as a newly hired senior consultant. I remember the day well - sitting in the classroom (I was talking the Systems Installation 1 class), getting ready for the day, and reading the Wall Street Journal. The paper had this huge write up about IBM's IBM PC (IBM5150). While it was a pretty puny system (both by today's standards and even the standards at the time), but it was something I just knew would be big.

The following Monday morning, I hot-footed it into the office to catch the AA Partner I reported to. I told him I thought this would change our business. His reply was curt - to the effect that if it was important, he'd know. And since he didn't know, it could not be important (and could you close the door on your way out). It was perhaps the only time in many years Keith Burgess was utterly and totally wrong.

The amusing side to this tale is that many years later, Keith became MD andn Chairman at UK training company QA (where I worked as Chief Technologist for 4 years), until the take over.

It's hard to believe that it was only 25 years ago - it seems like several life times!

Happy birthday IBM PC!!

Vista RC1 coming Soon?

I've just seen a blog article that cites Information Week suggesting that Vista RC1 is due soon. According to the Information Week article, also picked up by BetaNews, MIcrosoft will be opening the testing to more users. Betanews suggests that Microsoft has ignored it's testers advice to go for a real Beta 3 and are pressing on with the current schedule.

From what I have seen so far, I do not think Vista is any where near ready, but maybe MS has managed to pull it off. Certainly one way to get Vista out the door is to just close down bugs - and MS has been doing this big time of late. Certainly most of the bugs I've reported, while present in the latest CTP, are now marked as closed. It's clear to me that the Vista team are just closing bugs rather than fixing them.

My view continues to be that Vista RTM will not be a release any corporate is likely to want, and SP1 (which will most likely have to be released soon after release) is going to be worth waiting for. But we'll see how good (or bad) RC1 is once released.

Once interesting point - apparently Cusomers who participeated in the Preview Program for Beta 2, and otthers are to be given RC1.

Wireshark - a new name, but the software's the same

Last Thursday, I resigned from QA and with that resignation, I now feel I am now able to blog again. Horray! I'll be posting more deails about my next job during the coming week.

I was searching this morning and discovered that that well known Ethteral protocol analyser has changed its name to Wireshark. While the is new, the software is the same (and it continues to improve!).

Wireshark's powerful features make it a great tool for all serious network admins. I used earlier version in the development of my TCP/IP books. It's a great product all the more so since it's free to use. For more information about Wireshark, see the FAQ.

Wireshark was written by networking experts around the world, and is an example of the power of open source. It runs on Windows, Linux, UNIX, and other platforms. The latest version 0.99.2 was released in mid-July and contains a number of fixes plus new features. The updates also include a number of fixes to potential security issues. New features include improvements to the dissectors (protocol analyssers). This version also includes support for new protocls (e.g Bluetooth, Cisco WIDS, TiVo, etc) plus updatesto a large number of protocols.

You can download the latest windows version as well as full source code from the Wireshark site.