Thursday, December 31, 2009

So disappointed...

So, Snow Patrol's Chasing Cars is song of the decade.

Yes it's a great song, but where's the Gilmour-esque or Rothery-esque searing guitar solo it so NEEDS?????

Security Theatre

An excellent blog post has been made here:

However I think an important point is missing. This attempted bomber was KNOWN to the authorities. But not enough that anything was done about:
* A subject known to the authorities as a risk
* His father warning said authorities
* His 2 week flight to the USA without any hold luggage
* The timing of his moves from Yemen (home to quite a number of threats) to Nigeria to The Netherlands to the USA

It seems to me that we do not need any new security measures - it would be better if we actually used the information we already have and make sure that potential threats are properly acted upon. If all the warning signs had been acted upon, the bomber could have been put through special, targeted security measures. Like El Al use.

Theatre may make people FEEL safer, but proper intelligent use of information MAKES us safer.


PS Why are we only worried about the bomb going off in the last hour of flight? Surely the terrorists would rather take out a plane mid Atlantic than not at all?

#WinMo what I'd like in the next Pocket Outlook

Outlook on the road is essential for me, and the search server and OOF setting in Exchange 2007 and WinMo6 were great improvements, but... ...with the advent of 100's of MB's or even GB's in the latest phones mean you can realistically keep all your email on the phone. So there are now a number of things missing that really start to hurt:

1. An 'unread messages' view on any folder i am viewing. I use rules and subfolders extensively and unread items are 'not yet dealt with'. But some can be quite old so to scroll down through many emails to find the unread one from last month can take a while. This can be tiresome...

2. An 'all unread emails across all folders' that i can sort by date/subject/... as per any other folders - i use this view on Outlook most of the time to keep an eye on incoming mail that will have been moved by rules to subfolders. Without this on the phone i have to keep a mental count of unread emails in key folders when i browse through them.

Please Microsoft!

Monday, December 28, 2009

@EddieIzzard - just a few reasons why I think you're wrong on Labour

Eddie, I adore your comedy and have immense respect and regard for your charity campaigning this year. But i think you are wrong to mix these with political campaigning on the same platform as your comedy/charity platform. That's why I reacted so immediately and (frankly) angrily to your tweet today about the fox hunting ban.

I spent just 10 minutes on the list below. They are my opinions, no one else's, I'm not acting as anyone's proxy. I am not a member of any political party.


1. More time spent on debating the hunting ban than a great deal of much more important and impacting legislation

2. Blair's repeated lies and innuendo about Lords 'voting down' hunting ban - they did not. Oh and Blair never got to vote for it did he?

3. An illegal war

4. Lies about intelligence before an illegal war

5. The Bernie Ecclestone money back guaranteed policy change

6. Higher unemployment than when they came to power

7. Northern Rock happened in Winter 2007-8, and collapsed in Feb 2008. Fannie and Freddie went in summer 2008, Lehman Brothers Autumn 2008. So chronologically the bank failures started here not the USA (unless you are called The Doctor or have a spare TARDIS).

8. Higher debt than when they came to power

9. Failure to get even close to child poverty targets, and accept responsibility for so doing.

10. Failure to understand that income poverty targets as a % of average income can NEVER be achieved. Do the maths.

11. A government habit of redefining targets to appear to have succeeded.

12. The selling of billions of gold reserves at a near all time low

13. An all-time record national debt that will exceed £1.4 trillion, and still spending months talking about investment and not the now accepted cuts and tax increases.

14. Failure to govern and accept responsibility, just setting targets that do NOT mean anything will definitely improve and just allow a civil servant to get the sack instead of a minister.

15. Accepting responsibility now meaning someone else gets sacked (the video will be on youtube somewhere)

16. A Home Office unfit for purpose

17. Inadequate prison capacity so that crooks are on the streets and not locked up

18. Failing to manage our borders so that illegal immigration is rife

19. Failure to deport foreign crooks

20. Failure to manage terrorists by (amongst other actions):

21. A Human Rights implementation (good idea) that ignores the general Human Rights of the entire population (Asimov's zeroth Robot Law)

22. 24hr drinking that leaves city centres a wasteland not fit or safe or comfortable for the average citizen

23. Crooked nationalisation of Network Rail

24. Using govt spin doctors to act against individual, powerless citizens

25. The massive growth in spin and its costs

26. A complete failure to understand that Government bodies and civil servants do not create economic wealth. Yet they now have better terms of employment, pensions, and rewards than the wealth generating private sector.

27. Failure to resolve the West Lothian question

28. Stealth taxes by the bucketload

29. The surreptitious and undemocratic regionalisation of England to a hidden EU agenda and with unelected regional authorities and bodies

30. The broken promise on the Lisbon Treaty

31. The cowardly 'will he/won't he sign in public, with the others' Lisbon Treaty episode

32. The failure to properly arm our forces in Afghanistan

33. The failure to keep the Military Covenant

34. The devaluation of political debate

35. The cowardly assumption of a moral high ground to which Labour have no right, and have not earned

36. The failure to honour the Gurkhas until shamed by the wonderful Joanna Lumley into respectable action

37. The wholesale destruction of one of the world's best pension cultures and value to the point where basic rate tax payers have no proper financial incentive or security. Ten years ago our pension system was a model to the outside world

38. The expansion of the guilt by assumption and Big Brother culture world leading to councils misusing stealthy and subversive anti-terror legislation against innocent citizens

NB Updated 29th December to enumerate them so that comments can argue the toss more easily :-)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Contented Christmas Cat!

Will improve contrast after i get to a computer :-)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

My favourite Christmas memory

Apologies: After my mother (who was in the choir as well) reviewed this, there are a number of corrections I need to make!

In the late 70's, and by now I'm singing a solid bass in the church choir; and it's Midnight Mass. The choirmaster's son Thomas Simon and I were the juvenile bass singers, and the other bass singers were all pensioners (or so it seemed!). To add to the mix the choirmaster was also my confirmation sponsor, and a close family friend.

So to the end of Mass and the choir gets going on O Come All Ye Faithful. We reach the penultimate verse, and Thomas Simon and I exchange looks in the knowledge that there we had forgotten that (correction) there are real sopranos in the choir, and thought the descent wasn't going to happen.

So... we hit the descent solo loud proud and in full falsetto. Choirmaster (John) looks at son and me in horror, but we hit the notes OK. Then we remember what John has already realised; that the descant climbs quite a few notes to levels theoretically impossible for us. It's all going to go horribly wrong and embarassing.

To boot this is a choir only song and several hundred people down below (the choir were in the loft) are listening to this. And we started so loud we have to finish.

But that's only through the "Glory to God" section. But then the "O Come... ...Christ The Lord" section follows which gets just a tad higher. We share a quick glance, and just go for it, and we hit every, single, note. I don't know how, but we did it, we really did. I think I remember actually squeezing my vocal cords to help at one point.

Never, ever again. But the look on John's face, and feeling straight after is still with me nearly 30 years later. A wonderful Christmas celebration moment. After all, at Midnight Mass it's got to be done properly :-)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Welcome Ollie James!!

My first [AFAIK :-)] Great-Nephew

Sunday, December 20, 2009

#BPark - complete a Christmas Carol

The Holly and the Ultra
When they are both full grown
Of all the codes that are in the war
The Ultra wears the crown
Oh the rising of the WRENs
And the running of the Bombes
The playing of the Herivelismus
Sweet decryption with the cillies

Alright, but can you do better - please do so via the comments!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Simon Singh's Newsletter 38 -

Simon has my full support on this. Please consider joining it too.
Newsletter 38
Please sign up at
15 December, 2009

I am hoping to send out a proper newsletter later this week, but in the meantime I have an urgent and important request.

It has been 18 months since I was sued for libel after publishing my article on chiropractic. I am continuing to fight my case and am prepared to defend my article for another 18 months or more if necessary. The ongoing libel case has been distracting, draining and frustrating, but it has always been heartening to receive so much support, particularly from people who realise that English libel laws need to be reformed in order to allow robust discussion of matters of public interest. Over twenty thousand people signed the statement to Keep Libel Laws out of Science, but now we need you to sign up again and add your name to the new statement at:

The new statement is necessary because the campaign for libel reform is stepping up a gear and will be working on much broader base. Sense About Science has joined forces with Index on Censorship and English PEN and their goal is to reach 100,000 or more signatories in order to help politicians appreciate the level of public support for libel reform. We have already met several leading figures from all three main parties and they have all showed signs of interest. Now, however, we need a final push in order to persuade them to commit to libel reform.

Finally, I would like to make three points.

First, I will stress again - please take the time to reinforce your support for libel reform by signing up at:

Second, please spread the word by blogging, twittering, Facebooking and emailing in order to encourage friends, family and colleagues to sign up.
Third, for those supporters who live overseas, please also add your name to the petition and encourage others to do the same; unfortunately and embarrassingly, English libel laws impact writers in the rest of the world, but now you can help change those laws by showing your support for libel reform. While I fight in my own libel battle, I hope that you will fight the bigger battle of libel reform.

Thanks for your continued support.

More #Trafigura nonsense

RT iaindale: RT @AlbertoNardelli: BBC removes Trafigura story after threat from Carter-Ruck #Trafigura; Let's put it on our blogs

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Global Warming Hacks

A couple of things....

1. There is a whole world of difference between denying climate change and arguing against Anthropogenic Global Warming
2. The world has naturally changed temperature many times over the millennia
3. The use of the words "climate change denier" are fascistic in tone and intent. If I am to be equated to a Holocaust Denier because I have doubts about the anthropogenic input to the changes in climate; then that equates me to someone who denies the Nazis exists, so does that the make the Anthropogenic Theorists the Nazis? That question is rhetorical, and I am NOT saying the warmists are Nazis.
4. My view is that the planet would be warming with or without the input from human activity since the industrial revolution.

So just consider this. If the warming is largely non-anthropogenic and we are diverting massive amounts of economic effort to 'fight' all this, then what future for the economy...

My final thought. If the warmists continue to use language and pressures that stink of fascistic attitudes so that I cannot reasonable ask and question the difference between natural and unnatural global temperature changes without being shouted down, then the whole concept of peer review science is being denied and any proposal from that side of the argument is weak and feeble.

Rant over.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Gee, thanks Peterborough Railway

"cheapest single to Kings Cross"
"fast or slow?"
"what's the differrence?"
"about £3"
"OK, fast"

On arriving at platform all slow trains cancelled (no drivers), and all slow tickets valid.

What a bunch of $£€#$%#€@@s

Friday, November 27, 2009

#TEE09 You know Tech*Ed is finally over when...

you delete the WiFi settings from your phone.... :-(

Monday, November 23, 2009

Global warming

I have never been with happy with the the soothsayes who claim all gobal weather change is down to man. It does not explain previous ice ages, the mini ice age in the late medieval period, and many other things.

That does not mean i oppose cleaner energy, more self generation and so on. Just oppose the wholsale 'we're all doomed' philosophy.

And I have NEVER beleived that it was anthropogenic, and detested the vilification of any voices objecting - that's just scientific fascism. If you cannot bear to engage in proper argument, then your case is probably rubbish. I hope the details linked below will start to expose things for what they really are

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Why hasn't anyone invented...

A cover for my steering wheel that is also a drum machine so I can join in with the music?

Monday, November 16, 2009

A return to reality #TEE09 #marillion

En route back to Blighty from Berlin and one of the better Tech*Ed of the last 16 years.

But it's tinged with immense sadness, for I return to a world without Jayne. Her funeral was last week and I already said how I feel about that.

On the plane I'm listening to tracks that were played at her funeral, and those to which I have a great emotional attachment:
The Great Escape
Made Again

And now a dose of King Crimson
These might get back into a less docile frame of mind.

Neverland is the live recording from the fanclub warm-up of 30th April 2004. The date's important because it carries with it my strongest memory of Jayne. Early that year I'd started an all or nothing diet that enabled me to lose about 4 stone or more. Jayne and Mark were at the gig (Aylesbury Civic Centre), but we'd not yet seen them. All of a sudden there came a loud shriek from across the bar area and blue jumpered and long black haired blur ran up to me shouting "OH MY GOD - WHAT'S HAPPENED TO YOU!!!!!", immediately followed by an enormous hug (both arms reaching round and meeting <g>). It was Jayne. It was the greatest possible affirmation of what I'd achieved, and really welcome.

Sadly, thanks to adverse reaction to statins, that achievement of mine is temporarily lost, but that happy memory of Jayne lives on.

So, to home, and a Yes gig tonight in Birmingham, boy am I going to be knackered in the morning :-)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The text for the Enigma not at #bpark

Twitpic downscaled this. In case blogspot does...

"Enigma coding and deciphering machine
With the Enigma texts could be encrypted by means of several interchageable rotors and additional plug settings. The extreemely high number of potentials coodes meant Wehrmacht messages almost impossible to decipher at first"

There's quite a bit to modify/correct here, but #bpark can probably do it better than me.

I'd have liked to see a reference to Bletchley Park with it...

I think Alan Turing and #bpark might have a view on this...

Blimey! #bpark #tnmoc

8 bit East German computer, one of only 21,000 made in the 80's.

Twin floppy and everything!

Wonder if there's one at The National Museumn Of Computing in Bletchley Park?

And in the German Hostory Musem... #bpark

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

It really is amazing #TEE09

Eileen has blogged ( about how much goes into preparation for Tech*Ed. As ever it's a mammoth operation, and if you really stop to think about the implications of everything it is truly staggering.

That the 'noises off' about issues are so relatively muted is a real testament to the team that does it. I've had my share of complaints over the years, and I do always try to find suggestions for improvements rather than just bitch - at times it might not come over like it, but I really do care for Tech*Ed and it really pleases me to see it still here after all these years, and running so well.

This year's Tech*Ed has to have been that bit harder as it's the first time it's been to a new country and city in 7 years.

It's easy to complain, but I cannot think of any conference/event I've been to that caters as well for it's delegates, even ones 1/100th the size.

I challenge anyone to do as good a job as FITCHlive and Eileen. Hats off to you all.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Britain to go all Stasi in their eyes

Disappointed that once he turned up and spoke (despite his attempts to get away from his Jonah reputation) the rebuilt Berlin Wall fell down exactly 20 years after the original; it is now clear that before catastrophically losing the next election Gordon Brown intends to set up a tribute act to the Stasi in the UK.

If Marillion made beer

It'd taste a lot better than Carlsberg.

This day gets stranger #20jmf

19 years ago I was in Berlin for the first time. Angie and I had gone to see Roger Waters fulfill his promise to play The Wall again only if the Berlin Wall came down.

After an amazing day: starting at the Reichstag; then some incredible scenes at the Brandenburg Gate (Russian and East German uniform on sale) to a brilliant concert in Potsdammer Platz we ended up back at the hotel, put on the TV and found the concert being broadcast.

Now, having come back from the Mauerfall commemorations from the Reichstag and striking scenes at the Brandenburg Gate and then back via Potsdammer Platz the Mauerfall is on BBC World in my hotel...

Monday, November 09, 2009

Microsoft #success #tee09

Microsoft, please, please, please keep Tech*Ed to 1 week.

It's great having the mix of presentations, and i like having blue or orange content to stress the choices i have to make, but it's better still have devs and pros together.

You may view us as two communities to talk to, but in the end we are one community back at the office.

Never ceases to amaze me #TEE09

When Tech*Ed starts i have in mind a few people i want to catch up with.

Yet again by close of day 1 I've bumped into them without even trying!!

I was there! Day 1 of Tech*Ed 2009 #TEE09

What a day.

Tech*Ed kicked off in full and it was a mixed day - as usual it difficult to predict how the sessions are going to go. I should pick out John Craddock who was predictably great on 2008 R2 AD improvements.

Emerging into the dark, very wet Berlin night I (and a couple of friends) made our way to Friederickstrasse Bahnhof, and walked down to the Reichstag building to join what I now find was a crowd of 100,000 people stand in the freezing rain to listen to the current leaders of the four former occupying powers, Angela Merkel, Mikhail Gorbachov, and local dignitaries make speeches; Jon Bon Jovi sing a song; and then watch the 1000 wall dominoes tumble to the ground.

As the dominoes followed the course of part of the wall is was not a bad way to commemorate the events of 20 years ago, and I'm pleased to say "I was there".

(I might have to rotate one or both of these photos when I get back)

Now for a hot bath to quench the shivering...!!

Oh dear, Tech*Ed keynote #TEE09

As I type people are leaving the keynote in significant numbers. It seems rude, but I can understand.

Keynotes at Tech*Ed have declined in power as the suits take over. Back in the old days <bg> keynotes were fun, silly, energising, and had a lot of WOW. And the smartest thing worn was a relatively fresh golf shirt.

This feels like the conclusion of the past few years. The Microsoft speakers are in suits and ties for heaven's sake; and the whole thing has a serious business to business tone, rather than techie to techie.

It might change in the next 50 minutes but I'm not hopeful. When you think of the opportunity:
Exchange 2010
Office 2010
Sharepoint 2010
Sql Server 2008 R2
Windows 7
Windows Server 2008 R2
Visual Studio 2010
Powershell 2
Project 2010
Forefront TMG 2010
That could have filled many hours of WOW demos.

Is it because Tech*Ed is in the early winter instead of the summer?

Ah, at last!!!!! Julia White is on after 45 minutes doing an exchange 2010 demo, but unfortunately a lot it's stuff that's been in the public domain for a while.
The biggest cheer was for the OWA demo using Firefox :-)

Now we've got 2008 r2 tools and eco being evangelised.

Overall I feel this keynote has been written by Redmond to sell to suits and to people watching on the web, not by techies to wow techies... Honestly - how many techies get excited by the bottom line?

#TEE09 Tech*Ed and feeling guilty

Over the years I've had several reasons to feel guilty whilst attending Tech*Ed. For many years the conference co-incided with both my wife's birthday and our wedding anniversary - I missed 7 or 8 of those. Although on others she came to Amsterdam or Barcelona to celebrate there.

Many years ago I declined a request to be someone's godfather because the christening was whilst I was at Tech*Ed. But to be fair it was also because I thought they were desperately seeking a Catholic (much lapsed as I am), and I have 1 special godson, and I wanted to keep it 1:1 special.

But this year scales new depths of guilt for me. Just over a week ago a special woman, a friend and fellow Marillion fan (along with her husband Mark); Jayne died. Today, Monday is her funeral, and I won't be there. I've spoken to Mark quite a bit since, he knows why, understands and thinks I should be here too.

But I feel such a shit for not being there. Mark knows I am there in spirit, but...

Jayne's favourite Marillion song Beautiful is being played at her service. I'll be listening to that a few times today. If you are reading this do me a favour - hop over to Spotify or iTunes or or whatever, find Beautiful (from Afraid of Sunlight) and hit play. And say a prayer for Jayne and her husband Mark. He'll be having a really shit day today - and I can't help feeling guilty for making it just a smidge worse...

Sunday, November 08, 2009

What a time to be in Berlin! #TEE09

I arrived early for some prep work. The last 2 evenings I've spent some time wandering around the Reichstag to Potsdammer Platz area.

Nineteen years ago when I first visited Berlin the Wall had only just come down and Roger Waters and a stellar cast were performing the classic Floyd album The Wall in Potsdammer Platz. A year earlier we'd have been shot just for being there; a few weeks earlier we might have been killed or maimed by the many landmines that had yet to be cleared. Instead nigh on 300,000 fans had quite a day.

This part of town is now a bundle of high rise smart office and shopping complexes and you'd never have known the Berlin Wall used to be there. Except you do. To celebrate (commemorate?) the 20th anniversary of the fall of the wall the authorities have closed the roads and set up 100's of 'wall blocks' 8 feet high or so as a new wall. But this time the wall is not solid, they are setup like dominoes, and tomorrow night they fall! I will be there, and if you are at Tech*Ed, then you should be too.

And now as I write, there's a program on BBC World all about it.


PS is it a cultural thing, but i wonder why it's the 20th that counts. I'm sure at home in England it would have been the 25th that was the big one?

One thing I'll never do again!!!! #TEE09

I blogged that I did some filming yesterday for a Tech*Ed 101 session for people who are attending for the first time.

Being free just now I thought I'd attend one of those sessions.

I feel ill. Watching my ugly mug about 6' wide on the giant screen and all I can see is the stuff I don't like (me!)

Strangely the better clips were the ones that were hardest to do and took the most takes. I can now see the 2 I thought were OK were in fact rushed.

And the thing I won't do again? Watch any film with me in it, I'll do the recording again (if they want me that is!).

What's the best thing about using #TEE09?

I've been to loads of conferences, and in recent times organisers have used Twitter hashtags to monitor feedback. Most #fail as all they do is tweet you later with a follow up.

But Tech*Ed is different. Use #TEE09 and the organiser WILL read it. And if they can, they will act on it. I can guarantee it, because I know from personal experience that it happens. Even better, they'll engage with you to find out more - name me another conference on this scale where that will happen?

Every year Tech*Ed is changed by it's delegates; and that's avgreat thing to experience.

So, go ahead. Use #TEE09 and get YOUR conference improved. It feels good :-)

Day -1 at Tech*Ed #tee09

Updated 12th Nov: I've been made aware that some people have taken this post as an overall criticism of Tech*Ed 2009 and it's organisation.  It most definitely is NOT.  Having been many times there are plenty of things to be positive about, and the list below is only those things that I thought could improve.  A posting on what was good, would go on for ages :-)

Registration but also some sessions. But despite the usual high standards some worrying #fail issues:
* no feedback forms on the website
* no ppt slidedecks on the session details, i evaluate sessions by the number of slides, this seriously handicaps me
* the session rooms I've seen so far feel small. I am worried this will turn into Hamburg '95 again when you ended up queuing for 30 mins before, or missing out. It seems there were some full sessions (there always are!), but not like '95
* S-Bahn station walkway to the venue was locked
* session rooms are all to one side of the venue, therefore there's no natural transition via CommNet or the Exhibition (or the coffee facilities)
* the schedule tool does not load the speaker name, so if you've selected a session because of the speaker you cannot see that in your calendar
* the website sucks on a mobile phone. Because of java and stuff i cannot use it to plan sessions. This is a bigger issue as in the past we've even had a mobile app that had ppt and sessions abstracts to browse offline !!!

Good changes though:
* Not Barcelona again!
* no wasted water bottles, instead we get a jerrycan and use water coolers
* i'm back in a comfort zone

Don't get me wrong, I'm not upset or angry, just disappointed that my start to Tech*Ed was harder than it should have been

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Well. I've done the site safety briefing

That's a novelty for an delegate :-)

Fire is internal 110, suggest delegates don't call that!

I particlarly like the "power off electrical equipment" in the event of a fire. How's that going to happen with about 4GW of computing and presentation equipment powered on!!!

Tech*Ed number 19...

New venue, new (well revisted) format, new manager, new content.

Off to film some inserts for the Tech*Ed 101 sessions (tomorrow for you Tech*Ed virgins) with Hyper-T and Hyper-D

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Windows Mobile

Mary and Simon have just blogged about 6.5 here What changes Windows Mobile into a Windows phone?.

I've used mobile windows since 2000 (the first Compaq iPAQ 3630 - launched at Microsoft Tech*Ed 2000 in Barcelona). A second iPaq and then I moved from Nokia to 5 orange WinMo phones in succession to the current HTC Touch Pro2.

Of the 5 only the Pro2 deserved a true quality rating, but I've been willing to live with WinMo because of the close MS infrastructure integration. From Exchange 2003 SP2 and push email onwards why would I want a RIM server and handset?

OneNote mobile (with a real keyboard I take all my notes at TechEd each year), Voice Command (broken on TyTN II, but wonderfully working again on Pro2), multitasking (I need to switch between concurrent apps) are all great things. But all these are a tad overwhelmed by poor battery life.

The Pro2 was a revelation - with the HTC flo interface I have something in my hand I can hold up against iPhone users with some confidence and pride. In fact no iPhone user has shown me something I later covet (doesn't mean it's not there, but...).

So, what I don't get is why Microsoft doesn't get the interface thing. Simon and Mary blogged about going back to flo, that fills me with despair. Flo fixes pretty much everything broken with the WinMo interface - it's so fat finger friendly, menus work, the weather looks great (even when it's raining!). With a tweak here and there, even Jon Honeyball might like it (see what he thought recently on twitter)!

So why don't Microsoft just buy Flo, apply their extensive resources to the last 10%; get the hardware guys to sort battery life out and then I'd have no complaints :-)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Not so sorted...

I reported recently I'd fixed my vSphere4 problems. Well I thought I had, but I hadn't. In general it seems OK, but there are some issues around Update Manager not wanting to continue running, hmmm.
I was putting together some notes and lessons (as it were), and will do so soon, but the sleep deprivation has been a tad severe recently, and I cannot face it right now!!

So, how do you value yourself?

Setting prices in a knowledge industry is difficult. You can calculate:
* what revenue you want in a year
* how many days you are willing to work for that (but be reasonable!)
* your overheads (the usual stuff, but don't forget the high costs of keeping your knowledge up to date and relevant)
Do a quick bit of maths, and hey presto, some sort of daily rate.

But, that doesn't take into account the value of the work you are doing. At times you can have an incredible impact on a business which is manifestly worth a lot more that your "daily rate" to achieve. But if you charge by results, how do you bill for work that "had to be done", but has no directly monetary value (you simply cannot charge them the profits they now make because they remain in business :-) )

So a couple of tales:
Picasso (apocryphal):
Was once taking a quiet coffee on the pavement in Paris. A woman sits down, joins him for coffee and engages him in conversation. After a while she asks if he could do a quick sketch for her. He obliges and after a few minutes' work passes her a napkin with a drawing on it. "That'll be £2,000* please"
"But it only took you a few minutes!"
"No madam, it took me a lifetime"
For proof of the concept see yesterday's Guardian:
*And yes, I know it would have been French Francs, but you see the point.

Jon Honeyball:
At a recent tweetup in London discussions turned to this topic. Jon came out with a great quote "never submit an invoice that does not embarrass you". I simultaneously see a) the point and meaning of this, and b) the potential for misrepresentation of the quote to clients!

But, the result.
My wife is also self-employed and was recently in a quandary about the rate to quote for some work for a client in a hurry. We threw some thoughts around and came up with a number, X. This just felt wrong, so I persuaded her to go to what felt embarrassing price of 1.5X. After a while, it actually felt OK, and not long after the client accepted without demurring. So should we have got to 2X?

NEVER underestimate your value to your clients...

Friday, September 18, 2009


After stealing all my spare time and more, I have a working (again) vSphere4 VC with VUM and Convertor working. It's been a nightmare of testing and experimentation (and my original updated VI3-4 VC is still hosed), but I have a working system WITH the database from the VI3 days.

Too late to go through things now, but more tomorrow.

'night all :)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Well, after leaving the vCentre4 to boil, and reduce down

For the last few hours. All the services are running, but it is horrendously slow. And Update Manager is still not available to the VI Client. I get an error, and then the Update Manager plug in is disabled, and I cannot re-enable it in the client.

So the separate SQL 2005 server experiment continues - although sadly (due to client work - the stuff that lets me eat :)) means there'll only be a few evening hours in the next few days.
More news as it comes!

Update 1 - SQL Server left to install and patch, and taking it's *&^%^% time.  Hopefully finish off tomorrow and report back then

more vSphere pain... (and education!)

Coming soon - an investigation into vCentre 4 (upgraded from 3.5) misbehaviour. vCentre and Update Manager services will not start after a reboot...

Update 1 - up until 2am this morning trying to get vCentre4 to work properly. it's a "fill your boots" install with Guided Consolidation, Update Manager, Convertor; and all on a local SQL Express (or MSDE as I still incorrectly think of it :-)). Anyway, last week the upgrade to VI4 went well, and over the weekend I upgraded the ESX hosts to 4 and patched them.

Then I rebooted the entire infrastructure - a kind of defence mechanism for me after changes of this nature to make sure it all works. And it didn't. ESX4 hosts were fine, but I could no longer access the vCentre4 box.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Valentine Warners wonderful recipe.

Slice left over new potatoes

Fry in oil/butter until golden and crisp.

Toss slices in a finely chopped rosemary/garlic/salt crystals mix.

Turn out, put fried egg on top

Dust with smoked paprika.


Thanks Valentine!!!

For heaven's sake...

We spend £16m investigating the MG Rover 5, and the £42m they took out of the business.

Did it have to cost that much? Wouldn't the £16m be better helping those who lost their jobs?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A good day

1. I took my vSphere4 VCP exam, and in a triumph of exam technique over a few areas of ignorance, pass

2. Much better though, Alan Turing's (at the time quite acceptable) rotten treatment by society and government agencies is seen as something to apologise for. How on earth did GCHQ types think it good to chuck out the best mathematical and computing brain of the century - surely. Despite all the 'risks' he represented, they could have found a compromise...
I am proud to have signed the petition.

Monday, September 07, 2009

vSphere4 Update

Even simple passwords failed. I reduced them to be shorter than 32 characters (a problem I've seen elsewhere), but nope. Install of Guided Consolidation and Convertor failed still.
So, on a hunch, I removed the spaces from the password (actually it's more a passphrase), and increased it beyond 32 characters (just for the hell of it).
It worked. I truly cannot believe this.
So if you want these enterprise tools on your network - create a domain account with a simple ASCII name, and a password that is as long as you like, but only contains digits, upper case letters and lower case letters. Just that - no special characters and definitely no spaces.

Yup, vSphere4 has the VI3 bug (well it's probably categorised as a known issue)

I've just proven the case by creating a new domain account that has a horribly simple password. The Guided Consolidation install worked perfectly with a simple password on the domain account. Now to experiment and find which occurrence (the credentials have to be entered in two different locations - one for accessing the domain, and one for updating the local computer). refers here, but only references VI3.4 and below - even thought the KB was last updated only a few weeks ago.

Actually judging by the article, both credentials (local machine use, and domain use) have to be simple. However I reckon... ...that just the domain "access user machines" account is all that's needed here, so trying that right now. Left the local machine upgrade to be a properly secure passworded account. Nope got that wrong, the local machine extension process needs a simple password too.

This does really stink though. Essentially what VMware want you to do is create domain credentials that will enable the service to connect to machines on your network with Domain Admin rights (or more properly speaking - local admin rights on the network computers being consolidated). And it's got a simple (well, not properly complex) password.

Will this stop me recommending VMware - of course not.
Does it annoy me? Yup.
Does it lower my respect for VMware's regard for security, yes - quite a bit. If it was an known issue in VI3, then it really should have been fixed in 4, or a clear reason not posted on the KB article.


PS if you experience this issue and then rollback the install as Guided Consolidator insists - it does NOT rollback the vCentre Collector Service install. When you come to install again, the ports 8081 (VMware vCentre Collector Service Port) and 8082 (VMware vCentre Collector Provider Service Port) are already registered, so it requests you to select 2 new ports. Recommendation - uninstall the Collector service and then all shall be well.

vSphere 4 upgrade/fresh install

Beginning to look like VMware has still not learned its lesson on the complex password requirements of the real world.

Back on VI3, if you added some infrastructure components the authentication credentials you gave the installer had to have a simple (no special characters) password. Naturally for any half decent data centres this is rubbish, and caused all sorts of administration problems as you set up a special account that circumvents password policy just to get the software installed.

Well, I'm in the midst of vSphere upgrades and it seems like this is still the case. Guided Consolidator and Convertor have not yet installed with good, secure passwords on the credentials. Experimenting with fixes (Google's not yet found an exact match to the errors).

I'll report back later, but if this is the case, then shame on you VMware.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

vSphere 4

2 days into the beta of the new vSphere 4 Fast Track course and I'm shattered. I did the equivalent course (the first in EMEA) 2 1/2 years ago (or so), and that was tough enough.

This afternoon was not helped by the failed install of VMware tools in a guest OS that caused cloning to intermittently fail. Still - good diagnostics testing.

Book 1 is finished, and a couple more 10 1/2 hour days to go, and I'll be done. Thank goodness it's bank holiday this weekend!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

When the showers stop, it's lovely!

Back in Scotland...

Same company, different subsidiary. This time day 1 despite starting awfully slowly finished on target.

Finish on time, time to explore !

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Back to 70's on Capital Radio

Listening to Kenny Everett from BBC7 this morning. Don't you think he would have loved Scissor Sisters and Mika?!

Today's had a mad Michael Aspel "coming soon" trailer. Apparently Michael is nearly 6' 8" and has a voice like honeeeyyyyy. :-)

National DNA database - let the misrepresentations continue

Today's Sunday Telegraph in the UK. Simon Reed - a spokesman for the Police Federation unwittingly makes clear his prejuced views on the database.

"Some of those unconvicted people will reoffend with serious offences."

Simon, just how can an unconvicted person REoffend? Even if some of them (as you go on to imply) go unconvicted because of witness knobbling; it is still wholly wrong to act as if all people who are found innocent should have been found guilty but for some failure in the criminal justice system. Or is he trying to say that the police never make a mistake.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

New organic food investigation

OK, so generally speaking the nutritional content of an organic X is not much different from 'normal' (but I prefer to think of as toxic) X. But did they (the people the UK FSA who commissioned the report) want to consider and report on:
* the long term impact of pesticide and other spray residues?

* a taste test (organic chicken and pork are particularly good)

* the treatment of 'normal' food
water injected into chicken and pork
the appallingly cruel treatment of barn chickens
milk from cows that never leave the barn
beef cattle and chicken fed prophylactic antibiotics
Salad washed with strong chemical to clean them
Citrus fruit waxed and treated with stuff you should not eat and have to remove
Apples that should be peeled before eating becuase the skin is poisoned

With all the non-natural content in the food chain is it any wonder that asthma, allergies, childhood illnesses and so on have increased since the war and the industrialisation of the food chain.

As for GMO, don't get me started...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

My parents did the easy bit...!

My wife's birthday present from my parents. Delivered ahead of scheduled and intercepted successfully, but flat pack - so yours truly had to build it. All went fine except for the metal splinter :)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Why I go to Tech*Ed each year

(since 1994)

I go to Tech*Ed each year to:

  • be reminded about the things I know I should know or know I should be doing;

  • helped to do the things I thought I couldn't do;

  • and inspired to do the things I didn't know I could do.

Oh and have some fun too!

You should try it if you work heavily in the Microsoft space.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Dinner time

The treehouse restaurant at Alnwick. And very good food it was too. Shame no-one knew about the chicken and whether it was free-range or not.

No self respecting restauranteur or chef should be ignorant of their food sources (IMHO)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Back in Edinburgh

Staying a bit further away down the Royal Mile, so shank's pony down the hill to this. An intersting contrast!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Apologies for typos - the perils of mobile computing :-)

In my haste I let the mobile phone get away with some typos on the last post - I'll correct my English as soon as I get near a full keyboard and screen!!!


The jury's still out for me on this one. I've signed up (@pjbryant if you're interested) but spent a bit of time experimenting with a number of apps for Windows Mobile before settling over the past few weeks on Twikini ( Why?

  1. Well it was in beta
  2. It was therefore £0
  3. It actually worked (most of the time - it was beta!) unlike some I could name...
  4. It was visually simple,and had clean lines (as an example - see the image here)

It's allowed me to experimentwith the genre, but I'm still not sure what the point is....

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Monday, May 11, 2009

What is it with Italian coffee shops in the UK?

The look is good, the sound is good, the faux accents are good, the food is (generally) good.

But the coffee - overheated, scorched, mouth burning and weak to boot. I can do far better at home.

The chains may cost more, use inferior coffee beans, but their baristas can generally get the temperature right...

Thursday, May 07, 2009


Bob Quick will be organising an anti-terror raid on the Telegraph's office in a mo...

I don't get it

I'm not the most expensive consultant in IT, but i'm not cheap either.

I just don't clients that are wiling to have you sit around twiddling your thumbs for 2 hours whilst waiting for some credentials, whilst they go and do something.

Ultimately I don't mind being paid for nothing, but it devalues what I do, and is frustrating. And eventually everyone pays through unnecessary business costs...

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Inequality of treatment

About 9% (I think that's the latest figure) of road deaths are directly related to speeding. Yet policing of our roads is almost exclusively speed cameras now raising over £250,000 a day in fines (soon to go up 25% with a "victim levy").

Cameras don't catch insurance cheats, bald tyres, unsafe cars, unlicensed drivers...

Now I read that violent assault victims have gone up by 50% in terms of hospital admissions. Of these about 50% are alcohol related. Govt/police action - nowt.

Time to call time on our 24hr drinking experiment? Time to make sure kids aren't drinking? Time to stop the growth of alcopops that encourage children to drink sweet flavoured alcohol?

Sunday, May 03, 2009

1918 flu

I'm sure I remember reading a few months ago that scientists were disinterring a few victims of the 1918 Spanish flu to genome type the virus that caused that outbreak.

Hope they didn't send samples to Mexico for analysis...

Oh, and whilst i'm on it..

Howcome it's always taxpayers' monies that are saved, but Govt money that is spent?


For quite a few years the Govt has (pretty much) imposed house building quotas on unelected regional assemblies (that cost the taxpayer a fortune); these then get foisted on elected local govt, and anger or upset residents.

Today I read that there are 960,000 empty houses (mostly rural) on which VAT would be due if renovations are done (whereas new builds are VAT free). Where's the sanity in keeping nearly a million homes empty and building more instead. Let whatever money is swishing around help fix these homes, and if jobs need to move out (or more telecommuting) then let it. Rural communities have taken quite a battering from Nouveau Labour over the years, I don't suppose they'll change, but...

Monday, April 27, 2009

'nuff said

Government increase in spending since 1997 OVER inflation £219billion.

Government borrowing 2009-10 £175billion.

So if spending had stayed in line with inflation, we'd be in a budget surplus...