Saturday, September 24, 2011

LOB Vendors - The Bane...

Why is it that Line Of Business Vendor support (sic) technicians (sic) who barely know even a little bit about how computer networks (especially Windows AD-based networks) operate and should know a lot about how their product functions always insist they know more than the system admin about the network (until they eventually have to agree that they don't understand much at all) and even more annoyingly keep showing that they don't know a great deal about their own product?

Not to mention that if these guys actually administered a network, all firewalls, anti-virus and anti-malware would be disabled permanently and more than likely, all users would have the same password: "password".


The Outspoken Wookie

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Office 365 - The Sep 8th Outage Explained

According to information released recently, a configuration update on the tool that Microsoft uses to load balance network traffic failed, causing the load balancing to fail, taking out services such as Windows Live, Hotmail, SkyDrive and Office 365.

This was the latest in a long line of service disruptions for Microsoft's online services - especially of BPOS and Office 365 - which leads to the question: Just how stable are Microsoft's hosted solutions, really?

With all the emphasis Microsoft is placing on their online services, wouldn't you think that they'd be testing things like configuration updates to critical infrastructure before deploying it to soon find that it takes out their "we're all in" cloud services moments later?

Now, whilst I agree that online solutions are appropriate in some situations, they are most definitely not a panacea.  Issues like this that result in thousands (or orders of magnitude more) of their clients being taken offline with no access to their data only goes to show that this is a technology in its infancy and running on technology that's still being stress tested.

If you have moved your data to "the cloud", what happens when your cloud hosting provider breaks or closes down?  How do you get access to your critical business data?  Backups are at least as crucial for cloud-based data as they are for on-site based data - and a proper backup/restore/alternate access regime needs to be worked out with any potential hosting partners well before your data is moved from on-site to the cloud.


The Outspoken Wookie

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Windows 8 Tablet PC Part II

So, after spending a little while using Windows 8 x86 on this Tablet PC (Slate) I have started to restore the Windows 7 image backup I took before installing Windows 8.

The *main* issue I have is the seriously reduced functionality of the "Desktop" in Windows 8 - there's no Start Menu any more and clicking on what appears in place of the Windows 7 Pearl just takes you back to the (currently - this is pre-beta) almost totally non functional Metro UI.  If this is what Microsoft relegates the desktop to, then I can't see anyone except personal (home) users and tablet users looking at Windows 8 - Enterprise and SMB clients will not be able to function in a barely usable desktop environment as I can *guarantee* you that very, very few of the LOB vendors out there will release their apps through the Microsoft Win 8 App Store as full-screen (Metro-style) apps.  And the "just use search, not the Start Menu" response Microsoft gives is a crock - especially on a Slate!

Obviously, as all of the tiles in the Metro UI are place holders except "Explorer", "Desktop" and "Control Panel", it is next to useless right now - however that aside, it *does* seem to be an interesting way to handle a Touch UI and I'm sure when devs start releasing apps that will work, it will become quite nice.  Right now, however, there's nothing useful in it at all.

So, back to Windows 7 I come.  This is disappointing as this is the fastest I have ever returned to a previous OS when starting to beta test the next one.  :(


The Outspoken Wookie

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Windows 8 Tablet PC

Well, I just (as in just) booted my no-name Chinese Slate PC into Windows 8 (Developer Preview) x64 and it seems to be basically working - most of the hardware was detected and seems to function.  Of course, the 3DSP BT/WLAN card didn't function and the Windows 7 drivers supplied with the tablet are only x86 drivers, however I found x64 drivers at Syntek Semiconductor site - but they also didn't do the trick.  So... back to x86 I go!  :(

The Slate PC (Tablet) I have can be found here at DinoDirect - however don't bet on it being shipped with a functional 3G device - mine's totally non-functional.  That aside, I'm pretty happy with the rest of it.  Obviously the 3DSP Bluetooth/Wi-Fi card is a bit of a pain and I may well look around and see if I can find a card with functional x64 drivers - though it works fine in x86 (as supplied with the Tablet).

As to Windows 8, well since most of the Metro style buttons are only there for show and as the older Windows 7 interface is pretty much only partially functional, I don't know how long I'll be able to run with this on my Tablet for now, but soon, no doubt, things will be picking up speed with Windows 8!  :)


The Outspoken Wookie

Windows 8, Hyper-V And Power Saving

Well, it seems that the updated version of Hyper-V that will be included in x64 builds of Windows 8 will allow the PC to sleep and hibernate, unlike that in the current Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 version of Hyper-V.

That's great news as it means that people who want and/or need to run Hyper-V guests on their desktop can now do so and retain the power-saving functionality built into the operating system - something I've been a little concerned about since I started running WS2K8R2E on my desktop to gain access to Hyper-V functionality.

Hyper-V in Windows 8 will also support Wi-Fi NICs - as this blog post details.


The Outspoken Wookie

Hyper-V - Failed To Compact VHD - File System Limitation

If you find yourself wanting to compact a Hyper-V VHD file and see the error message "The system failed to compact disk.vhd. Error Code: The requested operation could not be completed due to a file system limitation" you may find the information below handy.

First, check to see that there are no VSS backups on the VHD by running a "vssadmin list shadows" command in an elevated command prompt.

Second, delete any VSS backups that are present by running "vssadmin delete shadows /all". If this fails to delete the VSS backups, you may need to resort to the "DiskShadow" utility in WS2K8 and WS2K8R2.  (There's some more information on DiskShadow here (free registration required) and also here.)

Finally, defragment the drive to enable greater compaction.  I'm using MyDefrag in this example, but I also use Defraggler and UltraDefrag at times.

After this you should be able to compact the VHD without any issues.


The Outspoken Wookie

Saturday, September 10, 2011

ABC and its News, News and News Policy

Are you concerned with the direction ABC is taking by dropping sport, arts and pretty much anything not news or current affairs? Well, speak to your State and Federal members of parliament to have them take this up for you.

Bowls Australia has an online petition available at[tt_news]=4602&tx_ttnews[backPid]=1&cHash=4abf12dc0e

Microsoft's Office 365, Hotmail and Skydrive Go Down Again

It seems that in an effort to one-up Google again, Microsoft's major online "cloud" offerings went offline again this week for around 2.5 hours.  This was a global outage, not the more common localized outages we've seen, and was apparently caused by a DNS issue.

One additional issue is that Chris Jones of Windows Live said that "We have completed propagating our DNS configuration changes around the world, and have restored service for most customers" whereas anyone with a good understanding of both English and DNS knows that DNS records do not propagate.


The Outspoken Wookie

Google Explains This Weeks' Docs Outage

Google Docs went dark on Wednesday this week for around an hour.  Google's Engineering Director, Alan Warren, posted this explanation of what happened and what Google's doing to ensure these sorts of issues are both less likely to happen and if they do happen, quicker to detect and recover from.


The Outspoken Wookie