Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Are Merrill Lynch Thieves?

In my early 20s, round about 1973, I received a phone call from Merrill Lynch – it was a stock broker who was looking for the ‘other’ Tom Lee. I lived in Michigan and there were two of us with the same name. I occasionally got calls for him. Anyway – while the call was not for me, I was interested. I was in my first job after university and wanted to start investing for my future. My great grandmother was a big fan of investing and told me I should do so as young as possible.

So following that call, I opened a Share Builder account and started investing. The idea was you sent them money and they bought fractional bits of shares and credited your account. Dividends were re-invested. It was sweet – I put a few dollars in on a fairly regular basis and slowly my portfolio grew. It was a nice programme and I invested consistently.

In 1975, I moved to the UK – but mail does get here from the US, and I managed to organise change of address with no problem. With currency control in effect at that time, I was unable to invest more – but was happy with the growth due to dividends. I hoped, one day, to be able to invest more.

In 1981, I joined what was then Arthur Andersen (now Accenture) and was forced to sell all my shares – except for one that I did not sell. I had a few shares of IBM and wanted to keep those. I was successful.

Since then, the shares just grew – each quarter, the dividend bought more bits of shares and, along with a few stock splits, I ended up with around 320 shares by last year. And although IBM has gone through a rough time – this is to me a lot of money that I planned to use in my retirement. I reached 65 last summer and was considering what to do with these shares. I did not need the money urgently so was happy to wait.

But then Merrill Lynch ‘helped’ me. In December 2015,they took all the shares, closed my account and now they refuse to talk to me. They claim they tried to contact me in August 2015, but I never received any communications. They have been utterly unhelpful at tracking down my missing IBM shares.

They claim the money has been given over to the state of Delaware under an escheat scheme. Well – Delaware has no record of any money or shares given over. And Merrill Lynch have refused to talk to me saying I should talk to Delaware.

Bottom line: I have lost 320+ shares of IBM (worth today roughly $47k). They refuse to help – and just refer me to Delaware ( Having spoken to the folks in Delaware – they know nothing about it.

What can I conclude but that Merrill Lynch are thieves and crooks? Maybe that’s strong language. But what do you call a firm of bankers who take your money and in effect laugh in your face and tell you to get lost? I am gutted to have lost that much money due to bankers who seem to be able to get away with it.

If you know any one at Merrill Lynch, feel free to point them to this blog post.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Windows 10 Build 14328 – Two Interesting PowerShell Changes

I’ve just updated my text Windows 10 test VM to the latest Insider build, 14328. Needless to say, one of the first things I did was to open up PowerShell and look at $PSVersionTable. And when I did so, there are two interesting changes. Here’s what I see:


Note there are two interesting changes:

  • First, the $PSVersionTable variable has a new property: PSEdition. On my VM, as you can see, this is set to Desktop. The Latest Windows Server 2016 has an older build of PowerShell, and this property does not exist, nor does it exist on my main workstation (running 5.0.10586.122).
  • Second, note that the PowerShell Version number has changed to 5.1!

Taken together, it looks like Microsoft will release an updated version of PowerShell with the Windows 10 Anniversary edition. And at a wild guess, I suspect MS will ship that version of PowerShell in Windows 2016 when that ships.

What remains are two questions: what is new in 5.1 (or what WILL be new when it’s ‘released’), and what’s up with the PSEdition property? It also somewhat begs the question around what is the ongoing strategy surrounding version numbers? What is the effective difference between 5.1 and 6.0? I’d just like to understand the PowerShell team’s version numbering strategy.

So far as I can tell, there’s nothing I can see new in this build of PowerShell (aside from the additional property. But I’ve only had this new build up for an hour. More fun later today, no doubt!

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Bash on Windows– 10 Things I Learned Today

I’ve been playing today with Bash on Windows 10. I blogged earlier about how to install it. Now to getting down to use it. I spent a few hours today as a NEW to Bash user and found some differences. If you know Linux,  you may find some of these obvious but they do represent a difference new to Bash folks will find.

1. BOW is case sensitive  LS is not the same as ls. Windows is not case sensitive, so LS and ls are the same.

2. Getting help for a command is different and inconsistent between commands. In some cases it's <cmd> -h, some times <cmd> --h, or <cmd> --help, etc. Each command has its own way of providing help.    

3. The Unix MAN help system is alive and well in Bash. Type man <cmd name> for help. However, this takes you into a pager, from which you type q to escape.

4. You don’t have a graphical text editor in Bash. But you do have VI, and you can easily install emacs (apt-get install emacs23).

5. The Linux and Windows file systems are different. Windows has no single root, but a bunch of volumes C: d:, etc. With Linux there is one unified filesystem '/' with everything underneath it. 

6. You can see the windows file system from bash /mnt/c is c:, /mnt/d would be d:, etc. But interop is limited. It would be nice to be able to edit, say, over in Windows but use over in bash. That doesn't really work fully. You can, for example, mkdir /xxx from the bash side, and that folder shows up in windows. But create a file in windows and you can't see it from bash. I suspect this is a work in progress.

7. No GWMI Win32_Processor, instead cat /proc/cpuinfo , or  grep Intel /proc/cpuinfo (nb grep intel /proc/cpuinfo fails! - see rule 1)

8. The error messages are quite different.

9. Type Man Man and you can see where PowerShell help ideas came from!

10. Type the wrong command and you can often be told which where to find it (eg, type lsf and see what it offers you)

And since I can’t count well,

11. Getting packages is different - You use apt-get. apt-get install emacs, for example. PowerShellGet is modelled on APT-Get, it feels!

This is fun!

Installing BASH on Windows 10

Well – I now have Bash running on Windows 10. Turns out to be pretty easy!

The first thing to do is to get the latest Insider build – you need 14316. This build is not yet available for ISO downloads (although I suspect that that will come soon), so you need to get the update. You just go to the Settings setting and change over to get the Insider builds (make sure you specify the fast ring) and let it download. Something like this:




After downloading the update and doing a reboot brings up the new build. After tuning on the developer features, you then go over to Control Panel and Select the Windows Subsystem for Linux ( Beta). Like this:


Once WSL is installed, you get the obligatory reboot, then just run Bash. The first time you run Bash, it lets you know that you need to load the Bash Shell itself:




Once that is done, you can start typing Linux commands:



But here’s is the screen shot I love (and a tip of the hat to Paul Adare):


Bash on Windows. Real Bash. And all the tools. Including apt-get. WOW – if I did not know better, I’d wonder if Hell had frozen over.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Bash on Windows

Hell has truly frozen over. Or something like that. At //BUILD this week, Microsoft announced Bash on Windows. I was listening to the keynote over the Internet and watching Twitter. As I listened to the keynote, I kept asking ‘why?’  Jeffrey Snover tweeted, to the effect that I’d get it eventually. As usual he was right.

I get it, now.

I read a great blog post ( and watched two videos today that helped. The first video is an overview to the feature, with Rich Turner and Russ Alexander ( It explains the feature well! The other one was a panel discussion from the BUild conference narrated by Scott. Get this at:  And here’s another good blog post from Canonical’s Dustin Kirkland:

So why does this matter and what’s the big deal.

Let’s start with how the feature is architected. When you run Bash on Windows, AKA BOW, you are running a pure Linux (Ubuntu) userspace. It is bit for bit Ubuntu, with the Linux kernel replaced by a new Windows subsystem that implements the Linux system calls. It looks like, acts like, and to all intents is Linux. On Windows. I find the solution quite elegant.

So who would want it? Well – Microsoft via UserVoice, concluded there were a lot of  developers who were developing apps for Linux server, for example a Ruby on Rails based web site.  They use Emacs and a variety of tools to edit the source code, check it into a repository (Git), and push it up to the cloud (azure). They use other tools to do the building, unit testing, etc. The open source environment is rife with tools that a canny developer can leverage.

These Linux server devs (I hesitate to use the acronym LSDs) currently use Linux client systems. WIth WOW, they can now use ALL the tools they used to, from a command prompt they know, leveraging the Linux package community as they always have – but you are running all that on top of Windows.

That enables a couple of things. First, it will simplify the management of the developer workstation. It can now be Windows (with AD, GPOs, etc, etc), but with the power to run the developer’s normal workflow unencumbered by Windows. But at the same time, the dev can Alt-Tab to Outlook, the Edge browser, leverage Office and that huge library of windows applications. The best of two worlds.

Another interesting aspect – it turns the developer’s desktop into a Windows License. Linux at the from door, Windows by the back door. Or something like kthat

I like the concept. It’s certainly NOT for everyone – but I can see there there is a market.  I suspect that, cool as this is, there is a lot more to come here.