Sunday, January 31, 2010

Obama Kills NASA

In some seriously saddening news, considering the Space Shuttle program was terminated (last flight in September, 2010) to be replaced with the Constellation project (by the Dubya administration), the Obama administration is now aiming at canning the Constellation project which seemed to be progressing well.

It looks like the US Government is willing to give the entire space program over to Brazil, Russia, India and China and step down from having any part in Man's future in space.

This truly is a sad day for the US and for NASA.  A once great player in the Space Race, the people who first landed humans on the moon, the builders of the only reusable space vehicle that's been the *one* reason we (as in humankind) were able to build the ISS, has decided to step away from what is an inevitable part of humanity's future - venturing not only into near-Earth space, such as the ISS and the Moon, but deeper to other planets and moons as well as outside our solar system.

Now, as the US SuperPower status is slowly getting eaten away by BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and will be overtaken in the foreseeable future and then the US will be relegated to being a former superpower, this sort of thing is bound to happen.  But then, not now - making a pre-emptive strike against your own power and status by eliminating one of the most publicly successful areas of your government (sure, NASA's not a government body like the Australian Broadcasting Commission isn't) is just asking for people to start seeing this demise starting to really take shape.

Of all of these emerging SuperPowers, I see Brazil being the most able to step up and take over from where America (soon) once was - they've had quite steady growth since around 2000 and don't look like being adversely affected by the GFC, at least not to the point the world's current major economies are.  China's just too restrictive - they don't want anything to take their enforced Communism away - they can't afford for their people to see what it is like in the rest of the developed world for fear that their government will be undermined by people who can think for themselves.  Communism and religion alike fear free thinkers.  India's just not stable enough themselves to take a lead role and Russia is now less capable than they were in the Cold War days, but they are growing.  So, right now, Brazil looks to me to be the next SuperPower and they bring along a developing Space Program unlike the USA who is looking to mothball their own.

So, Obama killed NASA.  That won't stop Man's move into space, however it will mean that the US and western countries take a smaller and smaller role in this move.  That's extremely sad for me - a huge supporter of the Space Shuttle program and someone who was (and still is - even more so now) extremely sad to see it being ended.


The Outspoken Wookie

Friday, January 29, 2010

iPad Misses

If the iPad is the best Internet device (as claimed by Apple), then why won't it have Flash?  Why doesn't it have a camera?  Why won't it multitask?  I don't know about you, but running Skype and other IM clients (such as Fring) on an iPhone is almost good - as soon as a phone call comes in, these connections are dropped as the phone call takes priority due to the ridiculous decision by Apple not to allow 3rd party applications to multitask.  Even WinMo can handle this - one of its very, very few wins over the iPhone.

How annoying is it that when you receive a phone call, your iPhone GPS exits and when the phone call is completed, you have to rerun the GPS application and then make your way back to where you were supposed to be because due to Apple closing your GPS application down, you didn't go where you should have?

And no camera?  I mean, really?  On a device today that's being touted as being the best Internet usage device?  OK.  Interesting omission there...

And the lack of Flash for the iPhone is simply annoying.  The lack of Flash for the iPad will make it simply unusable on a great many websites.  So how's that the best Internet experience available today?

It seems - and this is the first time I've been honestly able to say this - that Apple doesn't understand how their users use the technology they are targetting.  Over the years, Apple's limited user base has meant that they can target its limited understanding of computers and get away with it.  Even the iPod was OK as it was (originally) just a music player.  Over the years even the iPod gained Wi-Fi, web browsing and camera capabilities - Apple moved with the times.

Then came the iPhone.  The first one worked on only one carrier and was CDMA, meaning that places like Australia couldn't use it at all and a great many people couldn't even use it in America.  The iPhone 3GS is available on multiple carriers and is a 3G/HSDPA device, meaning it is a useful device (except for lacking Flash, multitasking and a few other things).

Now, because of the iPod's and then the iPhone's success in taking market share from Microsoft, and because Apple's desktop share, thanks almost exclusively to Windows Vista, has more than doubled since before Vista was released, Apple has a much larger target audience.  They don't understand how this audience works.  I don't want a device that will close my IM chats when it wants to.  I don't want a tablet device that I can't draw on with a pen/stylus and bring those drawings into a client OneNote document (or Evernote document, but Evernote definitely isn't OneNote yet).  I don't want a web browser that can't run Flash (or can't access RWW, for that matter).  I don't want a tablet device like this that fails to include a camera for conferencing.  I want a tablet device I can use, and unfortunately, at this point in time, Apple hasn't made any revolutionary, magical not even truly useful technology available in a tablet format.

One revolutionary thing is that they aren't charging 3-4 times what it is actually worth, like they do with their Mac computer releases.  The iPad is priced right about where it should be, well, where it should be if it was actually going to be a useful device.  Maybe iPad 2.0 will have these functions after an OS upgrade to allow multitasking and hardware refresh to add back the camera they forgot...


The Outspoken Wookie

Thursday, January 28, 2010

iPad - Proof There's No Women In Apple's Marketing Department

This is on the iPad website: “... in a magical and revolutionary device”. What – like no-one ever came up with Tablet PCs before? Like the Toshiba M200 I used for this blog post (and that I write a number of my emails on)?

And “... when something exceeds your ability to understand how it works, it sort of becomes magical” (Jony Ive, Senior Vice President, Design). Now, just because you’re so stupid you can’t understand how the product you helped design actually works, doesn’t make it magical. It makes you stupid! ;)

I mean, FFS, quotes like that just prove that Apple is still using their “feed them with so much BS that they’ll become baffled and then keep feeding them until they look at you like a god, then nothing you need to say needs to have any basis in reality, as this is now a religious experience” marketing style.

The Outspoken Wookie

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Bernard Tomic Needs To Grow A Pair

A 17 year old complaining that they have to stay up late  FFS - when 90% or more of us were 17, we were TRYING to stay up as late as we could.  And then look at the normal body clock of a 17 year old that isn't the same as a 27, 37 or 47 year old and you *really* have to wonder why Bernard was crying and moaning to the organisers.

He needs to realise that he's a number - he gets a draw, like the rest of the players, and needs to learn to play when and where asked.  If he doesn't like that, he can always withdraw from the competition on the grounds that it interferes with his beauty sleep.  Or he can grow a pair and play like a professional.


The Outspoken Wookie

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Time To Bone Up On Some History

Well, it seems that the translators have incorrectly translated one fairy tale that many of us have heard over the years and according to Ziony Zevit, he's got the translation correct.  His forthcoming book aims to set the translations of the myth straight - you can't get a fairy tale wrong - it only confuses people.

It's like saying that Peter Pan didn't fly!  :)


The Outspoken Wookie

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Map of Tassie

This was the Letter of the Day in The Australian:
If internet porn filters have caused Canadian magazine The Beaver to change its name after 90 years (Strewth, 14/1), what is Stephen Conroy going to do about the map of Tasmania?

Peter Wall, Ascot, Qld
 Now, why aren't we paying people with intelligence like Peter Wall's to be the Communications Minister instead of Stephen Conroy who is utterly clueless and stubborn when anyone with a brain is telling him his "let's make Australia like China" Internet filter will not achieve anything of what he claims it will - including numerous child protection agencies.


The Outspoken Wookie

Friday, January 15, 2010

SMB IT Pro - Sydney - Migration Workshop

Just a heads up to those who may be interested in an SBS 2008 Migration workshop being held by the SMB IT Professionals - Sydney group.

This Workshop will be held on Saturday 6th February, 2010 from 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM (Sydney local time, AEDT - GMT + 11:00).  The actual touchy-feely, "smell the presenters" places have all been sold - even after moving it from the Microsoft offices to a nearby RSL Club!  That's excellent news.

What's even more excellent news is that I'll now be travelling down to Sydney to (attempt to) provide a webcast and recording of this event so that other folks can participate in what should be a decent day's learnin'.  Now we all know that there's going to be a fair few factors determining whether the webcast will work, so for those interested who pay ahead, if there are issues preventing the webcast from happening from our end, you will all be joyfully refunded.  Now, you can't get a better offer than that!  :)

So, if you're interested in participating in the webcast on the day, please make your payment of AU$45 (no GST as SMB IT Professional - Sydney does not charge GST) to:

SMBIT Professionals Sydney Incorporated

Westpac Hornsby
BSB – 032 285
Account – 335715
PO Box 683 Turramurra NSW 2074
Contact – George Nade (
PLEASE make the bank deposit obvious as to whom it is from!  :)

For those interested in the event but who cannot attend either in person or via the webcast, assuming all goes well a recording of the event will be made available for AU$30 (again, no GST component) and payment can be made to the above bank account.

Typically the day will be about SBS 2003 -> 2008 migration however we want to explore general migration concepts like Microsoft vs Swing Migration, Exchange fork lifting, and generally any other issues with migrating systems. As most of us deal with SBS everyday this will clearly be the focus of workshop however we’d also like to entertain novel migration concepts of upcoming products like BPOS as well if there is a demand. We are looking for people to contribute their experiences and apprehensions around any form of IT migrations.

The day is arranged around being an interactive group sessions where all participants contribute their ideas and experience as we work through a typical migration scenario.

PLEASE NOTE that to participate in the webcast, you will need the Microsoft LiveMeeting Client installed (available from this page) and then to test that it is working.
If you have any questions, please either contact myself or Robert Crane (President, SMB IT Professionals - Sydney).
The Outspoken Wookie

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Hyper-V in SMB

OK, I've been asked more than once by a few people about hypervisor-based virtualization (in general) and Hyper-V (specifically) in the SMB world.  The options that are viable for SMB are really Microsoft's Hyper-V R2, VMWare's ESXi, Red Hat's Enterprise Virtualization, Novell/SUSE's Linux Enterprise Server and Citrix' Xen Server.  By viable I mean both affordable and supported by Microsoft as per their Windows Server Virtualization Validation Program.  These systems must all be on supported hardware that is Certified for Windows Server 2008 R2 - with the caveat that one of the possible problem isolation steps a Microsoft Support Engineer may need to do is to determine if the problem also exists when the Windows Server operating system is executing directly on the hardware platform, which requires certified systems.  That caveat can be a killer!  :(

With that caveat looming on the horizon, in the SMB world where there's not so much money thrown at solutions and there's little room for error (because there are generally no clustered server farms with off-site redundancy), we need to really look at a solution that's going to be easy to manage, easy to deploy, easy to maintain and easy to support.  That - at this stage - really leaves us with Hyper-V R2 (and, to a slightly lesser degree, Hyper-V).  If you have Linux skills in house, then we can add Red Hat's, Novell/SUSE's, Citrix' and VMWare's solutions back into the mix.  In this post I'll be talking about Hyper-V R2 and Hyper-V.

So, you want to get your virtualization skills up to date with Hyper-V?  First, have a read of the Microsoft Hyper-V R2 home page where you'll find their glossy brochures and glowing propaganda on why it is so much better than any of the competition.  Take what you read in that vein with a grain of salt, however as a hypervisor-based virtualization platform for SMB, it's not that bad - even the first release of Hyper-V was pretty decent - and that's gotta be a first for Microsoft!  :)

Before we get too far into this, let's cover the main differences between Hyper-V and Hyper-V R2 as far as we're concerned in the SMB world.

  1. Hyper-V R2 has the ability to hot-add/remove virtual hard drives (.vhd files)
  2. Hyper-V R2 has the ability to hot-add/remove pass-through SCSI disks
  3. General performance improvements including networking enhancements
That's about it. Really. But these improvements are definitely worth considering when you're looking at your own or your clients' requirements.  Hyper-V R2 is an easier to use platform especially because of the ability to hot-add/remove .vhd files from a virtual guest - it is something that we do here occasionally and it saves us having to shut down a virtual guest just to add/remove a virtual hard disk.

Now, having gotten that out of the way, there are a few more things that you can have a look at that will help you learn more about Hyper-V and how to use it to your advantage in the SMB world.  There are a number of Microsoft White Papers available.  There are quite a number of Microsoft TechNet Webcasts on Hyper-V available here - the Level 100 webcasts are the introductory webcasts.  Using Hyper-V with Windows Small Business Server is a worthwhile read.  As is the Microsoft Best Practices for Using Hyper-V with Windows Small Business Server 2008.

Dave Sobel (MVP for Virtualization) has a Virtualization Primer book and also a CD Audio/DVD set available on his site.  I've not seen these yet, but knowing what I know of Dave Sobel, I'd say they are well worth the money.

There's also the SMB Virtualization Yahoo Group.

OK, so after reading all of that (and watching Dave's DVD presentation), if you need more, then read on...  :)

I published a post about Hyper-V Guest Licensing (including Hyper-V R2) back in December, 2009.  That post should clear up a large number of the Licensing questions involving Hyper-V.

Remember in SBS 2008 Standard, you *do not* have the right to install the Hyper-V Role on the SBS 2008 primary server instance - this has been explicitly disallowed in the EULA - however you can install SBS 2008 Standard under Hyper-V (or R2) or under a separately licensed Windows Server 2008 Standard (or R2) if you wish to buy this.  Windows SBS 2008 Premium comes with a second Windows Server 2008 License that can be used as the Hyper-V host, allowing both the SBS 2008 primary server instance and also the secondary server instance to run as virtual guests.  This is explained in the blog post referred to in the previous paragraph.

So, what would I do?  That depends.  If I have a client who needs to run SBS 2008 Standard and no SQL LOB application nor Terminal Server, I may run SBS 2008 Standard on hardware or under Hyper-V R2 Server.

If the client needed only a Terminal Server and definitely would not be using SQL 2008, then I'd buy SBS 2008 Standard and Windows Server 2008 Standard R2 and I'd virtualize both operating systems.

If they need SQL 2008 as well, then I'd either run just SBS 2008 Premium virtualized on the second server instance, with the second server virtual instance for SQL and Terminal Server (if money was tight) or I'd sell an additional Windows Server 2008 Standard R2 License and run this as the host and the virtual Terminal Server and then SBS 2008 primary and secondary server instances both virtualized with SQL 2008 in the second server instance.

Now, should you run Hyper-V Server R2 - the free product - or the full thing?  If you're new to virtualization, then run the full thing until you get up to speed.  Why?  The free version (Hyper-V Server R2) has no GUI.  Plain and simple.  Without a GUI you will need to configure it for remote access and remote management and you'll also need to make some firewall changes to your Windows 7 desktop PC to be able to access it.  If you RDP to it you only get a command prompt and the Hyper-V shell - to manage Hyper-V Guests you need to run Hyper-V Manager on your desktop PC (available as part of the Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 7).  When you're learning Hyper-V, this added complication is simply not going to help.

*After* you're used to Hyper-V, then, well, sure - I can't see any issue running Hyper-V Server R2.  We have 3 Hyper-V servers here in our office - two (including that running our production servers) run on Windows Server 2008 R2 and one runs on Hyper-V Server R2.

Of course, being the arse-about-face person I am (some may say arsehole, and I'll cop to that, too) I first ran Hyper-V Server here - the text-based free version.  It wasn't that hard to get running (after John Howard slapped me upside the head for not reading his article properly), especially with his HVRemote tool (now at version 0.7).  I've also been using various virtualization products since way back at VMWare Workstation 1.0 in late 1999 or early 2000 - I *think* it was late 1999 that I started using it.  I was using chroot jails on various *nix systems well before then - not really virtualization per se, but kinda sorta in a way.

Now, even though we don't really do a lot of server consolidation down here in the SMB world (we usually have only one, or maybe two servers), virtualization can still be quite useful for various reasons, least of all being disaster recovery.  If you have a virtualized server that is backed up regularly (of course) and the hardware decides to go tits up on you one day, you can restore the latest backup to a grunty desktop PC (preferably one you thought about adding more RAM to earlier), load your trusty Hyper-V Server R2 USB Boot Key, and have the server back up and running in a jiffy.

Although this post may be a bit of a dog's breakfast (wow, it looks and feels like my brain!), I hope that this collection of thoughts and links about Hyper-V is somewhat helpful - if there's anything that needs clarifying, holler and I'll clarify it (by editing the post, posting a comment or maybe redoing it as an article on our website).


The Outspoken Wookie

I just *have to*

We're a little less strict with our staff than Border Express seem to be.  We'll accept D cup and even some C cup employees and we rarely require a strip search.  Of course, we'll always ask and people who gladly agree will be more likely to get the better positions.  Its only fair for an equal opportunity employer.

And we spell "Careers" here in accordance with the dictionary, which saves us having to have so many aliases configured in our mail server!

(And here is the explanation of this after the confession of the bloke who hacked the page.)


The Outspoken Wookie

Green Sea Slug Is Part Animal, Part Plant

Now this is cool - an animal that doesn't just host microbes inside it (like pretty much any animal does - look at the normal flora of your intestine as an example) or just have special places to hold them (such as coral does), but this is an animal that eats algae, preserves the chloroplast organelles in the cells in its own digestive system and then - and this is the amazing part - has taken on some of the photosynthetis-related genes from the algae it eats and can produce its own chlorophyll to feed these chloroplasts!

Sure, gene exchange like this happens a lot in the microscopic world, but this is the first example of it that we've seen in the macroscopic world. 

Nature truly is awesome enough that there's no need for superstition and mythology to try and hide its awesome awesomeness.  Awesome!  ;)  (Of course, the Flying Spaghetti Monster isn't mythology - he says he's real, so he's real.  That's totally different.)


The Outspoken Wookie

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Births and Deaths on Jan 8th

Well, the Thin White Duke (David Jones, aka David Bowie) had his 63rd birthday on Jan 8th and Elvis Presley would have been 75 on that day.

Gumby's creator, Art Clokey, died on Friday, aged 88. I must say that of all forms of animation, stop motion clay animation is by far my favorite. Were it not for Art's pioneering work, we'd not have the likes of Gumby (obviously) but also Wallace & Gromit - my all time favorite animated characters and Shaun the Sheep. (Sure, some of this is CG now, but it is still based on the look and feel of stop motion claymation.

And the computer game "The Neverhood" which was a claymation game released by Dreamworks in 1996 was an amazing game.


The Outspoken Wookie

Google Superphone or SuperShaft?

The Register definitely doesn't mind biting the hand that feeds it - they even use this as a tagline.  Proof of that is in this article which questions Google's ability to play fairly in the level playing field they constantly claim they are creating.

It is an interesting read and I encourage you all to have a read and a serious think about this.  (Out of interest, the link to the Rosenberg "sermon" on page 2 is broken (and I reported it as such, so it may be fixed by the time you read it) and it should point here.)

One very interesting point to note regarding this El Reg article - nowhere does it even consider Windows Phone as a player in this market.  Yet more "proof" that as I claimed back on June 4th, 2008, Microsoft has all but abandoned the market.  They had it in the palm of their hand (pun intended), but then let their product stagnate to the point of it going putrid.  How many IT folks who used to own, use, recommend and sell Windows Mobile handsets have now bought themselves an iPhone and are now recommending these to their clients?

Thanks to Vijay Riyait for bringing this article to my attention.  :)


The Outspoken Wookie

Thursday, January 07, 2010

ABC2 - The Colbert Report

OK, so how can the ABC take a show like The Colbert Report, shot in widescreen HD and turn it into a cropped POS that looks like it has a bitrate approaching double figure Kbps (but not quite getting there)?  The quality is approximating that of 4th generation VHS tape.

I was looking forward to watching this, now I'm rather disappointed to see then effort they failed to put into this.  :(


The Outspoken Wookie

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

AASFSHNR Jan 2010 Loan-a-thon

Just to let you know that the AASFSHNR January 2010 Loan-a-thon on Kiva resulted in the following:

New Members
Loans Made
Dollars Loaned

Unfortunately, we're not able to pull the figures on how much of that $30,325 was in new money (ie, not repayments that were reloaned) but from the responses in the mailing list, it seems that quite a bit of new money was injected by many of the AASFSHNR members where they could.

So, as it stands at the time of posting this entry, the Kiva AASFSHNR lending team is at $1,399,650.00 in dollars loaned through 45,696 loans.  All I can say is that I'm glad to be a member of this team and be able to help out where I can without any need for superstition/theology being bundled with the loan.


The Outspoken Wookie

Monday, January 04, 2010

FreeBSD under Hyper-V

OK.  I'm playing with FreeBSD 8.0 under Hyper-V R2.  I looked at FreeBSD 7.0 under Hyper-V R1 about this time last year and without a kernel patch, it had issues shutting down (and starting, and running...).  Well, the shutdown bug and the starting bug and all others seem to have been addressed fully aside from one slight networking issue.  So here's the lowdown on this one remaining issue...

As there's no synthetic network adapter driver for the "good" NIC in Hyper-V for FreeBSD (nor OpenBSD nor Linux), then you need to use the "bad" NIC - the Legacy Network Adapter.  The issue with this is that it is slow - only 100 Mbps.  Under FreeBSD it is detected as a "de" NIC - the first one being "de0".

You can either configure this during the initial setup of FreeBSD using sysinstall, or by manually editing the /etc/rc.conf file and adding ifconfig_de0="DHCP" to that file.

There seems to be an issue with the way Microsoft built this adapter as under FreeBSD it doesn't properly obtain a DHCP-assigned address no matter where the DHCP server is - on a Windows box, a *nix box or a firewall/router/modem device.  Real, physical "de" NICs work fine.  At least there's a workaround that allows the DHCP-assigned address to work - you need to stop, start and re-acquire the DHCP-assigned address by running:

ifconfig de0 down
ifconfig de0 up
dhclient de0

Now, you can run this manually every time after you reboot the box, however that means that the box is offline until you log into it using Hyper-V Manager.  A better way to handle this is to create an /etc/rc.local file, add these commands to it, then chmod 755 /etc/rc.local to make it an executable file for root.

Obviously, once this has been done, a portsnap fetch then portsnap extract is a good idea.  (Or whatever way you want to keep your FreeBSD ports up to date.)  And then installing any updated portss that are available using ports, portmanager or portupgrade or whatever method floats your boat.


The Outspoken Wookie

SSD vs SSD vs SSD vs Velociraptor

OK, here's one of the best comparative reviews I've seen on any technologies in quite some time.  Tom's Hardware recently compared an Intel X25-M G2 160 GB SSD, a Transcend SSD25D 64 GB SSD, a Kingston SSDNow V-Series 64 GB SSD and a Western Digital Velociraptor 300 GB hard drive (running at 10,000 rpm).

Now, we all know SSDs have a number of advantages over hard drives, yet high-rpm hard drives have some wins over SSD.  So, this review won't stun you with the facts you already know, but it does give a good balance of synthetic and real-world benchmarks.  And the results, while not anything you'd not expect, are still well worth looking at.

So, if you're considering an SSD for your system, take a wander through this review before you drop cash on a card.


The Outspoken Wookie

Exchange 2007 SP2 and SBS 2008

Well, after 4 months of slaving over hot keyboards, the SBS team has managed to come up with 601 KB of code that works as a wrapper for the Exchange 2007 SP2 update that was released back on 29 August, 2009.  4 months to release a wrapper that we were initially told wouldn't be needed as SBS 2008 uses standard Windows and Exchange code - which obviously proved to be plain misleading (see, that was politically correct).

So, for anyone who didn't read my previous blog post and try to manually work through the steps to get Exchange 2007 SP2 installed on SBS 2008, now you can go to this site and download this wrapper.  Please be aware that you'll first need to have Exchange 2007 SP2 (x64) downloaded and extracted, then install and run this wrapper.

I've installed this on a number of SBS 2008 systems and so far, it has worked on all of them - just like the manual install did on some test installs of SBS 2008.

Don't forget to perform this update (like all updates, ESPECIALLY Service Packs) when there's nothing else happening - in particular, no backups being made!

Oh, and budget about an hour for the upgrade - it takes 40 minutes for the actual upgrade, not counting the extraction, stopping and starting of services.


The Outspoken Wookie