Friday, November 10, 2006

View of dinner

And afterwards, this is the view of the restaurant from ground level.
This was really to test whether i could email pictures from my mobile phone.
Sadly, not....

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

View from dinner

At Tech*Ed in Barcelona this week and having a free night, i found this restaurant on top of the Dali museum or was it Picasso?

Anyway, this was the view!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


A sneaky trick create an HKLM\Software\Microsoft\WHOS key in your registry; restart the machine; let windows update run...

It picks up an upgrade (that will not install until I shutdown and upgrade for some reason).

Power on, plug in phone HALLELUJAH!  Phone is syncing again (with a very small bit of setup work).

Wunderbar.  Now Im more content!

Well, I made it

Ive transitioned my production desktop to beta.  Vista RC1 (although RC2 was released this week L) and Office 12 B2TR.  Its been an interesting ride, I chose in the end for a clean install of both after a failed install (because I left the machine in the OU that delivered Office 2003 by GPO!). 

My next challenge will be to upgrade the old XP SP2 world when I am ready.

Whats wrong right now?  Well the main crippler is itd be nice to use my Windows Mobile 5 phone on the system apparently the ActiveSync upgrade is still dogfood only for MS right now.  So the old XPSP2 world has to live on for a bit.  Oh and the ISA 2004 client is running in XP mode too.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Back from the South

Over the past few weeks I've been working for a sizeable commercial bank down 'sarf'.

They’ve a computer setup that had been giving cause for concern and I was in to help them rebuild it onto new hardware.  As is usual this was interesting (in the Chinese sense!) but also rewarding, however we did get tripped up by an interesting dilemma.

The system was based in part on a an old SQL Server Cluster from which we needed the databases.  This was MSDE running on Windows 2000 Server.  The new environment is SQL 2000 running on Windows Server 2003.  The DBA's out there might know where I am going with this already… The original system was fragile and still running the original RTM version of SQL Server 2000.  The new system had to run Service Pack 3 as a minimum.  So late one day just as we went to do the restores and leave things running we hit a snag.  We could not upgrade the live system to SP3, and we could not run the new system on RTM.  We had to backup and restore the entire system including Master, MSDB, and Model databases.

So we resorted to an intermediate server - Windows Server 2000, SQL Server 2000 RTM and then restored the data, then we upgrade the server to SP3, backed it up, and restored to the new system.  A few extra hours at the end of a long day.  But a great gotcha!

The reason why - well Microsoft changed the Schema on the Master database in SQL server between RTM and SP3 and therefore the master database cannot be restored onto any machine running a different service pack.


Friday, August 18, 2006

At last - proper customer service!!

My wife and I have had both savings and a mortgage with Nationwide Building Society for over 25 years. Recently we had cause to complain about their customer service and made appropriate representations.

To our surprise we received a well written, thoughtful understanding of our concerns and an apology for treating long standing customers like us badly.

It's a shame that this is such a surprise, but in the modern era it is comforting to know that there are firms out there that understand the proper meaning of customer services.

Another obvious example, and a regular shop for us is John Lewis

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The further insanity of the Home Office

Some recently revealed statistics ...

  • Home office to spend a few years, and many millions of pounds building 8,000 more prison places
  • Home office does not know how many prisoners are actually people with mental health problems who should not be in prison; but some estimate that it runs into 10's of thousands
  • Home office admits to 10,000 prisoners (out of a population of 74,000 or so) are illegal immigrants awaiting deportation.

Go figure...

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

R.I.P. the crazy diamond

So Syd died yesterday.  Having seen Roger and David live quite recently some of his material, notably Arnold Layne, has been in my conscious rather than subconscious.  What surprised me was the attention it got in the media - headline at the 5 o'clock news on Radio 4, front page mention of the Telegraph.  As a fan of a band or artiste it can be quite difficult to get a perspective on the relative significance/importance of your idol; so it was pleasing to see that the rest of the world thought he was important.

I just fear the speed with which EMI will 're'-release your material, or someone cover a song of yours.

So Syd, so sorry to hear you died, but you'll not be forgotten.

Thursday, July 06, 2006


Believe me, I've nothing against bikers.  In fact if it were not for a back injury sustained at school I would probably be one.  But I wish they would do the 'do as you would be done by' school of driving.

Earlier this week we were on our way west, we ended up amongst a group of bikers.  To keep up with his mates, one overtook us, leaving about 1-2 feet between him & us, and a further 1-2 feet between him and the oncoming (60mph area) car.  He then pulled in in front of us, with only about 5-6 feet to spare in front; and then stayed there at 50mph when there was plenty of space ahead so he could have gone at 60 easily.  I hooted, he gave me the finger.  I later overtook him.

Now if I were to overtake a car with motor bike oncoming and give him 4-5 feet of road to work in (at 60mph), or overtake a bike and pull in nearly grazing their front wheel they would be justifiably angry with me.  So why the hell can't they drive to their own standards?  It's happening far too often these days, and one day there will be an accident, and some poor driver is going to feel guilty for being an innocent participant in the death or serious injury of a biker.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The modern shopping experience

Today it's generally acknowledged that shops have to offer service to survive, and whilst they are not at American service levels, the British high street has made some progress, or so I thought.

Earlier this week our digibox for Freeview decided to revert to factory condition, and I spent about 10 minutes setting it up again.  Then it did it again, and again and again....  So it was to be replaced.  I decided that given HD and Freeview HD and HDMI connections and so forth are imminent for the Bryant household, it's not yet right and so something better than a digibox, but not a full Windows MCE machine or a full recoding DVD/Hard Disk recorder was called for.  A bit of research later and I was interested in the Ivnerto Hard Disk record with 2 Freeview tuners from the Superfi web site was interesting, and they had a store in Coventry very close to where we were going a few days later.

When we got to the store and made our request to see the unit we were told that it was a web only thing.  Great.  So "why not put that on the web site?" Erm, possibly...  On the way out we say a very similar unit in the window.  We did not go back in...

So to the Sony Centre, they had a nice sleek, functional, slightly more expensive unit on display.  Knowing that Sony were a good brand, we decided a few extra quid would be worth it for reliability and quality.  Oh were we wrong...  The unit makes more noise than a rewinding video recorder, ALL THE TIME EVEN IN STANDBY MODE!  it is definitely not fit for purpose.

So it's going back.  But hey, despite the "if you have a problem you can go to any Sony Centre" answer - I cannot.  Sony Centre's are not 1 chain, they are franchises and I am supposed to drive 4 1/2 hours there and back to the town of purchase to get my money back.  Alternatively if I ship it back they'll pay for half the postage.  And what's more, when I rang Sony they were neither worried about the unit being noisy, nor about me being misled by the Sony Centre Shop; they say they have nothing to do with them, even though the Sony name is above the door, and they only sell Sony products.  Apparently I should have noticed the small sign on the wall behind the tills telling me all this.

Well I didn't, and I told Sony I didn't, and I no longer regard Sony as a reliable brand, and I told them.  And they don't care.  Enough said, it's going back.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Human Rights

With all the fuss over human rights legislation there seems to be a trick missing.

In his Robot books Isaac Asimov postulated 3 laws of robotics:
1. A robot may not harm a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

3. A robot must protect its own existence, as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Eventually in another novel (The Caves of Steel) he realised that there should be a zeroth law:
0. A robot may not injure humanity, or, through inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.
A condition stating that the Zeroth Law must not be broken was added to the original Laws.
(reference -

So, is it simply not the case that any human rights actions should take on board a simple zeroth Humanity Rights law as well?

Friday, June 02, 2006

David Gilmour

Well some rumours were (W)right!  Rick Wright was there for all three nights, although having seen him on the R2 broadcast a few weeks ago that was no surprise really.  However the first night was a real surprise with David Bowie on Arnold Layne.  Mica Paris appeared for the next 2 nights for a 'not my cup of tea'  version of The Great Gig in the Sky.

But, cue drum roll, the best bit was Nick Mason appearing for Wish You Were Here and Comfortably Numb on the final night.  Well worth getting home at 2am for!  Sadly Kate Bush did not appear, despite many expectations that she would.  Another time eh?

Overall - the new album finally grew on me by night 3 (I'd not been a big fan so far), and I was disappointed by the complete absence of any material from the earlier Gilmour solo efforts.  We deserved Mihalis at least!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Windsave - a PPS

I don't know what the bill for Tony's brand new nuclear power stations is likely to be, but I'd guess that it's going to be quite a few billion (or maybe more).
So what if instead every house got a windmill?

The CIA World Fact book reports that UK electricity consumption in 2003 was 346,100 GWh. So that's about 39.5GW of generating power. If everyone in the country has a windmill then that'd be 60GW of production.
Now I'm not saying that everyone should have a windmill, nor should we expect them to work 24x7 all year round. But if everyone in the country had their own capability to produce 1KW then we'd certainly not need any new nuclear plants (and therefore no environmental arguments to overcome). With combined heat/power, and all sorts of other personal electricity generation, maybe small is the new nuclear. And with a Windsave only costing £1500 or so, even 60m of those would be cheaper than all those nuclear stations!

Concorde - a PS

I'm English - shouldn't it have been Concord?

Friday, May 26, 2006

Murphy's law 2 (Maguire's law)

A client went live yesterday with a new version (1.1.5) of their software. Whilst 1.1.3 and 1.1.4 had been tested, they had never gone live. This morning, urgent phone calls - "we cannot change items in the database, 3 users have got problems".

After a hours frenetic activity it turns out there was a bug in 1.1.2 (installed nearly 3 months ago), that had lain in wait for us.

Honestly, what are the chances of a 3 month old bug being found within 1 hour by three different people the day after another new version goes in?

Maguire's law - he said Murphy was an optimist! I'm off to buy a lottery ticket, i've got to win something with that luck.

Murphy's law 1

A couple of weeks ago we got a ceiling fan and light for the bedroom. We'd had these fans in the hotel on holiday recently and thought them really good. It took a few hours (finding a joist under the boarded attic floor was entertaining!), but the job was done, and done well.

I hoicked up the air conditioner to my study/bedroom too, so that I can cool down all the computers running in there.

And finally, in preparation for warmer nights, we put the thinner duvet on.

Weather since then? Cold, breezy and wet. Lovely.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Airbus A380 - Concorde for the 21st century?

So the A380 has landed. I suspect that yet again, the European aeroplane manufacturers have got it wrong. In the 60's Concorde was the plane of the future at about the same time as Boeing came up with the 747.
Then the Concorde's proponents believed that speed of flight was all-important, and that customers wanted to get there faster; however Boeing got the bet right - with the oil crisis and the sheer cost of flights on Concorde the airlines went for volume (of passengers) instead of speed. Concorde languished as a rich man's toy. A crying shame as Concorde was gorgeous and it's disappearance from the skies should still be regretted.

Now in the 21st century Airbus believe passengers will be content to fly hub to hub, and then take connecting flights; whereas Boeing are betting the new 787 long range on passengers wanting to get to their destination in one hop Wiki reference. With the infrastructure changes necessary at airports to take the A380, it will never make it to smaller regional airports.

Having transferred flights a few times (and suffered the 'will my bags make it to the second plane' trauma) I'm firmly with Boeing on this one.
I think Airbus has made another Concorde decision, only this one has not even got the merit of being a fantastically wonderful design that changed the air industry.

and there's still a Concorde rusting at Bristol...

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Windsave - a PS

Did you watch the worthy BBC series "It's not easy being green"? Well their new windmill providing a lot of their power is a Windsave model.
If it's good enough for the BBC, it'll do for me.

Microsoft Sharepoint Services

Well that was a fun few hours. Decided I really should get it installed on a server. Regretably the only one around that might do the job (and was up and running) already has exchange server on it. I hate mixing roles, but needs must (etc).

So download the update, run the install, and oops no exchange outlook web or mobile access, but far worse - I cannot get my email to my phone. Sharepoint (understandably) takes some control over your IIS install, but (most definitely NOT understandably); fails to mention (when questioned!) that it will hose you Exchange IIS web site.

One might have expected a warning of some sort. Sometime Microsoft show they haven't changed that much!

So I really should go back to plan A - virtual machines... a quick install on an already committed server wasn't the brightest of ideas really!

Monday, May 15, 2006

At last - windpower!

I've been in touch with for well over a year. They've been promising to provide an installed wind generator for domestic use for a long time, but it's been limited to a few people.

In my inbox at the weekend - an order form! And it's quite a bit cheaper than we though it'd be (although it's still not cheap). What's more you can get a government grant… but that's the bad news. It's a 12 page PDF you have to download, 2 pages of form, and 10 of regulations and rules. They really don't want you to get their money do they? Did I say their money? It's OUR money!!!

Well, living in an area of almost constant winds, we really should do this - I'm off to sharpen my pencils!

The taxman's not really got it has (s)/he?

Last Friday was designated Tax Return 2005-6 day. I know, quite early in the cycle, but having only been self-employed for just over a year, I wanted to be sure what my tax bill was likely to be, so that I knew I had enough in reserve to go shopping ;-) or have to start saving some more :-(

So, log on to the server, hmm, takes a long time to eventually suggest there's a problem. You clear your IE cache, and try again. No good. It still says it's out of service - try the link to the service downtime - it says it should all be up.

Try the helpline then, they're normally good chaps. This time though - "unusually high volume of calls", get transferred "sorry too many calls, clear your IE cache and try again"; followed by a dialling tone. Yes they hung up on you!

Try emailing them, a quick reply comes back, however they promise a reply within 2 days. TWO DAYS!!! Are they kidding????


A few hours later, normal service is restored and all goes well.

A few days later, I finally get my reply - clear your IE cache and try again.

If a techie has this much hassle, how easy is it for a user to do a tax return online? Not easy enough I'd say.

PS oh and - good news, I have enough put by!

So you can email in a blog post

But you cannot email photos from the UK.


Monday, May 08, 2006

Sunset on Big Island

Our last evening in Hawaii was rewarded with a great sunset, and a great meal with our friend.

I really like this photo, in fact, I think I'll make it the profile one.

Digital Nikon takes a nice photo

Yesterday's rain settled nicely on the leaves in the garden. So i just had to experiment with depth of field.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Why is a phone upgrade is never quite straightforward?

You return from holiday, and find you can upgrade your phone for free - Hurrah! Better still the Orange SPV M600 has Wifi, 128MB RAM, and windows mobile 5 (over the M500) which means i won't need to carry around the wifi card, and can keep even more email on the phone.

However... ...when you changed your network so that your email server could be hosted by a mate a few miles away, you mucked about with DNS, DHCP, and ISA Server so that OWA would continue to work. Do you remember EVERYTHING you did - thought not.

So the phone does not work. BUt maybe it's the phone, or maybe it's the web site, or maybe it's OWA or maybe it's the proxy... about a day later: get out the old phone and plug in the SIM and that doesn't work. So fix it. Then maybe the new phone will work - it does! Eventually

Moral - When you are on a ship, you keep your feet on the deck, one hand on the boat and one for yourself. Likewise with computers - don't change more than one thing at a time - you can never be truly sure you know what's broken!