Saturday, October 29, 2011

As I am now, officially, an old fart.

This is what my wife gave me for my birthday. With my full approval.

Not the camera that took the photo you fool!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

This is turning into a fine morning #Fail #TalkTalk #BT #Microsoft #TechDays

IE9 will not download the live meeting bits so that I can attend the TechDays event online (and yes, I KNOW there are other browsers out there – but I stick with IE to experience what my clients experience. Pain.)
So over to Firefox, and that won’t even open the meeting link.  FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE IT’S ONLY AN ONLINE MEETING HOW HARD IS IT SUPPOSED TO BE?????
TalkTalk Business is convinced I owe them money despite:
  • Transferring to someone else
  • The line ceasing on the 17th
  • Their billing thinking I had service to 24th
  • Their inability to transfer calls between departments without cutting me off
They also reckon that I will pay the bill, well I shall deduct costs for my time chasing them methinks. That should even things up a bit.
Oh, and BT cannot explain why I cannot call 0870, 0800 and mobile numbers from my landline (nor can they simply enable them)
Microsoft – if you would like me to attend the sessions, best to send me URL’s that work.
The support number for the TechDays is an 0870 number.  Join the dots above.
Oh, and it’s supposed to be a special day in the calendar for me.  Like &^% it is.
<very serious grump>

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What did this man just say!!!!!

Actually, I cannot remember now, but he was rude about someone!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I'm going, are you?

North v South really should be a cracking game!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

To All Blacks fans, it's not all glory for you I regret to say.

Congratulations to the All Blacks on their second win of the Rugby World Cup, but I think there are some sobering facts for you.
* you only won by 1 point
* against a team that lost 2 pool games (the first team to have such a poor pool record and still reach the final)
* against a team that arguably did not demonstrate it should really be there.
* on home soil
* you failed to make the game yours.

I was "off the grid" today, and tuned in to the intertubes to find it was only 5-0 at half time, so had to make some alternative arrangements to find a way to see the last 10-20 minutes as I'd expected NZ to be 20-25 ahead by then.

So I don't think the choker tag has been dispensed with, NZ really need to win the cup away from home (better still Northern Hemisphere) and by demonstrating a really powerful and distinguished team all the way to the win. I just don't feel that they did that this time.

Morning coffee perfection!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

#VMware #vSA appliance, the stupidest pricing decision I've seen in a long time...

On the face of it the VMware Storage Appliance is a really good idea.

Many installations of virtualisation have a bunch of servers, but no separately installed network storage on which the VM's can be stored.  This means that VM's are tied to the host on which they are running.  Amongst other disadvantages, it means that if the host fails, the VM's go.  It's a bit like the old physical days, lose the server, lose the service.

In a decently configured SAN setup, HA will cause any guest servers to be restarted on other hosts, subject to certain conditions - but in principal provided you have both a) the capacity and b) configured it correctly; then your network servers will be back quite quickly.

If you factor in Fault Tolerance (or guest server level resilience like Exchange DAG's) then users might not even notice an outage. Perfect.

The vSA gives the owner of servers without a SAN the benefits.  Internal storage on the host servers is consolidated into a single space available to all hosts.  In the event of a host failure, the other hosts still have copies of the VM guests and can bring them back quickly.

But the conditions/requirements attached to this are somewhat, ahem, interesting,
1. You must have RAID10 configuration for the internal storage.
2. Each server must have 4 GB Ethernet ports to provide triangulated connections to the other 2 servers (the vSA is aligned with the SMB editions and only runs on 3 servers).
3. Best practice is that the vCentre should not run on the vSA.  VMware staff at VMworld suggested it run on a separate box outside the cluster - how 2008!!

The consequences of this:
1. To provide (say) 3TB of usable storage the installation will need 12TB of raw disk space.
2. You need to re-use an old box (hardware support contract anyone? RAID support anyone? Driver support anyone?) to run the vCentre server. And don't forget, this "old" box has to be 64bit!!
3. You need to invest in 6 dual port NIC's (you could get quads, but better to spread the physical risk across 2 cards per server).
4. You should have a separate GB switch to link up the vSA so that there is no LAN traffic impacting performance, and your SAN traffic is secure.

You then get an under the covers SAN running across all the hosts and provisioning storage for your VM guests.
Lets's say £100 for each dual NIC card, and £200 for each of 12 1TB drives.  That's £3,000 in total.

The alternative of say, a NetGear ReadyNAS 3200 (other SAN's are available!) with 6TB raw disk space providing about 3.5TB available in a RAID6 style configuration.  This can be got for around £3,000.  I'd put a second dual NIC card in the SAN to give resilience for the SAN connections, and another 2 resilient ports for a network management interface; say £175 (it's special, it's for a SAN).  You'd need the switch still, and I'd certainly consider two NIC cards in the server for physical resilience.  So let's say will still get the 6 dual NIC cards for £600 total again.  You might also want a pair of disks in each server to provide a RAID1 mirrored boot drive, but as you can boot ESXi from USB I'm going to say no (we are in an economy drive after all)

This means the SAN is going to set you back about £775 more than the vSA cost (or about 25%).

Oh, but wait, i forgot something. The vSA licence costs money. A shade under $8,000, or say (and I'm being generous) about £5,000.  But hold on, if you're a new customer and buying VMware for the project, they'll give you a whacking 40% discount.  So let's call it £3,000.

Your 25% saving by not buying the SAN has just turned into a 125% premium cost.

What the %^]{ were they smoking when they came up with that idea???

Not only are you paying more but:
1. Your ESX servers are spending valuable computing resources managing a virtual SAN across themselves.
2. Your ES servers are also spending valuable computing resources handling data from the virtual SAN.
3. The setup is so intertwined (vSA is managed by vCentre, as are the ESX hosts themselves) that VMware recommend you host it off the cluster - so the vCentre server is more exposed to risk, and an additional cost and burden (which I've not coated)
4. By recommending a physical vCentre server VMware are exposing you to all the problems of a physical server - which they would normally rubbish.
5. If you hosted the vCentre on the VMware cluster then if everything was shutdown, you might not be able to start your servers up again.  No risk there then :-)

I am appalled.

If the licence was a factor of 10 cheaper then it might be worth considering. But for any business looking at new kit for a virtualisation project, steer well clear.

If (as VMware said in targeting the product) you are worried about managing another box then a) you have to in this model - the vCentre and b) get some training or good support for the SAN.  If you truly think managing the SAN is going to be a problem, then managing the ESX farm as well will be. So get someone in to do it for you.

VMware - I expressed concerns directly to you this week about your perception and targeting of SMB's.  This proves it to me.


PS all numbers in the article are top of the head recollections not Internet searched latest figures. But they serve to prove the point.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Later that same night.... #vmworld

#VMworld party, they're still channelling #TechEd...

If you were in Nice in 1996 for Microsoft's 3rd European TechEd then you may remember the indoor funfair (and Elton, ahem, Jack performing).

I've already tweeted that VMware seem to be channelling the fun, focus, excitement and energy of those events. So blow me, if they didn't get an indoor funfair at the Carlsberg centre in Copehagen too!

Fifteen years ago, and it feels just the same. Except I'm
• greyer (and there's less of it)
• wiser
• grumpier

hey ho!


PS. I might remember more of this one too. I recall some very cheap vino... The only time I did so at a conference party.

PPS just realised, and this is really weird - I think I'm wearing the same shirt - my (still very proud to have and wear) Windows 95 official technical beta testers golf shirt.

I could have sworn that said muggle spray...

#Success Yesterday I got angry with #VMware, at #VMworld but #congratulations are now deserved

Yesterday I blogged

Later that day, VMware proved they can be nimble and take out of scope decisions quickly, i have tired over recent years of large corporates telling me I have a good idea, but their policy/budget/manger/exec does not allow and that they are sorry that they cannot execute the good idea, so...

After the potential PR disaster of mistakenly telling a few hundred people at VMworld Europe they had won an iPod, VMware's initial response was simply sorry. Later that was upgraded to a free marketing t-shirt. Ho hum. I was not impressed.

So I wrote to them suggesting that for a few hundred quid (probably not even detectable in the budget for the conference!) they could have one extra iPod and hold a random draw for all those who thought they had already won one. It would not fix things, but it would at least give everyone a chance, and demonstrate that VMware understood the impact they'd had.

It's NOT about "compensating", it's about recognising the excitement and then disappointment that people will have experienced.

To my amazement, VMware not only agreed, but said they'd give me an iPod to say thanks for the idea. I don't often get the chance to praise big companies, but I am happy to do so here.

But, I stress, even if they'd not got a second for me, I'd still have written this post

Begin forwarded message:

Subject: RE: Suggestion, was: Re: Congratulations, You are a VMworld Survey Prize Winner


Thank you for the suggestion.

Since you came up with this suggestion, we will provide you with one.

Please come by meeting room xx in the Bella Center to receive your iPod.


Name removed

Subject: Suggestion, was: Re: Congratulations, You are a VMworld Survey Prize Winner

How about you put an iPod Touch into a draw for all the people who got the email?

Cost you a few hundred quid/dollars/euros and everyone who thought they had one, would at least have had a bite at one.

Not trying to be troublesome, just making a suggestion to overcome the loss of goodwill and the major disappointment felt all round. It wasn't *inconvenient* it was exciting, and then massively disappointing.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

#Fail #VMware "Congratulations, You are a #VMworld Survey Prize Winner"

Or in this instance. Not.

Someone pushed the wrong button and this email went to 'several hundred' attendees. Delegates were being severely disappointed in droves at the registration desk.

We all make mistakes, but having reported record Q3 results last night, and upped the expectations for Q4, maybe VMware could do something a bit more than say they're really sorry.


Begin forwarded message:

From: The VMworld Team <>
Subject: Congratulations, You are a VMworld Survey Prize Winner

Thank you for completing a VMworld session survey. You have been randomly chosen to win an iPod Touch for your participation.

Please stop by the Registration Queries desk during the following hours to claim your prize.

07.30 - 20.00 Tuesday
07.30 - 18.30 Wednesday
07.30 - 16.30 Thursday


The VMworld Team
© 2011 The Active Network, Inc.

In case you missed my tweets yesterday from the #VMware Licencing session...

Message from #VMware ref licencing 6. Look, honestly, did you *really* think you'd bought it?

Message from #VMware ref licencing 5. It's so complex, we've written an plugin for it!

Message from #VMware ref licencing 4. We've introduced a paradigm shift where software can alert you to the need to send us lots of money...

Message from #VMware ref licencing 3. We really thought hard about making it easy, but thought you should have to think hard too.

Message from #VMware ref licencing 2. You really need to reduce the RAM assigned to your VM's until the pips in the guest squeak.

Message from #VMware ref licencing 1. We really want you to pay for your test labs/spare VM's that you spin up. Best minimise your VM farm.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Wales, Warburton, tip tackles and red cards. One day later

Whatever your view of the tackle that led to Sam Warburton's red card after 17 minutes in yesterday's first Rugby World Cup semi-final; there is one clear fact. It unambiguously changed the game.
Whether for better or worse, Wales played their socks off and the tackle count (France 126, Wales 56) clearly shows who was making the game.

But whether you agree with the red card or not, whether you think the tackle was dangerous or not; it is clear that this decision likely caused a change in the game's progress more than any try could have.

It is deeply ironic (to me that is) that when there is barely any room for doubt, and both touch judges have agreed with a referee that a try has been scored that the ref can still ask the TMO to adjudicate with a clear question "any reason not to award a try" or "can you confirm that he was not in touch before scoring" or "can you confirm he was in control of the ball when it was grounded" etc etc.

So why on earth can a referee pull out and flash his red card in a few seconds without reference to touch judges or TMO and set a team back by 1 player for the remainder of the match.
It is clearly unfair.

I propose that for all red card decisions the referee should be compelled to get the TMO's agreement that the alleged offence justifies the largest sanction on the field.

How could anyone object?

Wales were robbed of their chance, and an unimpressive French side will meet New Zealand and, I hope, get thoroughly thrashed. Although New Zealand getting a second world cup result without having to play hard in the final would devalue the trophy, and not clear the Kiwis of their "chokers" tag; I'd much rather New Zealand won having had to play out of their skins - unlikely to be necessary on the evidence seen so far.

Yesterday I was Welsh, next Sunday I will be a Kiwi. I had hoped to be wearing and waving the cross of St George, but 30 uninspiring plonkers put paid to that...

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Enid & the CBSO. Time to rock and roll?

Probably not!

Much more refined than that!

Special thanks to Google for mapping the venue in the wrong place :-)

Saturday, October 08, 2011

An unusual war memorial - and I like it

Not only are the fallen recorded, but so too are the volunteers who returned.

Most commendable!

And this is the new bit!!

An antidote to English Rugby!

Honestly #Apple are you seriously not letting me control content on an iPad

I've had an iPad for a while, and it's my first piece of apple kit. It does what I want it to do really well, but I'm struggling to achieve a couple of things now it's been in use for a while.

1. The iTunes PC that it connected to is no more. So now iTunes insists that the iPad is managed by another computer and my only option is to wipe and start again. No thanks.
Yes I can push most of my data into the cloud with the majority of my apps, but there are some that are on the iPad only, and they don't expose their documents to the download feature in iTunes. So unless I email content to myself from the iPad, I may lose data.

What is worse, I've no way of identifying what I shall lose until it is lost. I now need to laboriously go through apps to check content.
But I suppose at least the app store now identifies what apps I've not installed.

2. Volume of content. Photos and music I have a-plenty, too much in fact. So I wanted to remove some. Seems I'm not alone in wanting to do this, and not having the means.
It seems insanity itself, that if away from the PC/Mac that "owns" the iPad then I cannot remove photos I no longer want, remove albums that are only copies of CD's I own so that I can create free space for new content. Instead my device can just run out of space and the only route is to delete apps, which by comparison is a piece of cake.
Nanny state gone mad.

Add those two together and you get a seriously frustrated user whose previous jibes at the fanbois are going to take on a much more serious edge now.

It's ridiculous that the owner cannot exercise sufficient control of their device.

Friday, October 07, 2011

We didn't find the pot of gold :-)

But I'm quite impressed with the picture from the WP7 Mozart.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Somewhat chilling poster

I was born in east London, and grew up just outside the area and the Kray name was known and regarded without much of a positive angle.

Indeed, at my school (which had relocated away from Whitechapel in the 60's) there was a persistent rumour of a Kray connection.

So in a pub, in Shropshire, this poster sits inoocuously on the wall until the curious punter notices the second row.

It threw me a bit. Not really sure why. They never really impacted on my life. No more than Jack The Ripper from nearly a century earlier. Must be the subtle approval by showing it that brings on my disapproval.

Stunnningly simple war memorial

Tuesday, October 04, 2011


Preseli Top.


20 yard visibility, tops.