Archive for May, 2007

What's on at the WPC Small Business Symposium

The breakout sessions at the Small Business Symposium, the pre-event to the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, has been finalised. After a survey conducted of the attendees, the following sessions will run

1. “Secure your Customer. Secure your Business” (Small Business Server & Forefront)
2. “Selling Services into SMBs”  (Windows SharePoint Services)
3. “Working Title”  (Exchange)
4. “Solving Customers Accounting Challenges” – (Dynamics & Office)
5. “Find, Win and Manage Customers” (CRM & Live)
6. “Extend your service model with Office Live”  (Microsoft Office Live)
7. Technology Innovation:  “VOIP, the next big thing for SBSCs” (Response Point)

I’ve asked Andrea Russell (see for a video of Andrea as she runs the Worldwide Pogramme) if these sessions will be available as online content after the event, as I’m sure others will be interested. The SBSC Group still remains the largest group on the WPC Connect site and here are some comments from Andrea from her blog on the site talking about the Small Business Community

…hats off to you for being so engaged and communicative.

…so many Product Teams here at Microsoft want to talk to you that it was literally a fight to the finish.

Vista hotfix for file copying issue

I had to copy a rather large file from the network to my Vista laptop and it just stuck at saying “calculating time remaining”. I then recalled that this had been mentioned on a couple of blogs and that there was a hotfix for it. So, I obtained the hotfix for KB931770 which has resolved the issue. The hotfix is available for free by phoning Microsoft.

Vista Performance

I was worried today about the performance of my Vista laptop, I even emailed Dave Overton and he kindly replied probably thinking that I was just being stupid. What I learnt that I have to understand Vista better because it’s doing things which I don’t fully understand. It’s not entirely my fault as it is a completely new operating system with a lot of clever stuff in it. What I did find regarding the performance of Vista on my laptop is that Trend’s PC Cillin seemed to be a resource hog and surprisingly the standard Vista sidebar gadgets are as well. The sidebar was peaking up to 50% cpu utilisation over short periods of time. I’ve just exited the sidebar and uninstalled PC Cillin.

Vista has a number of things which can make your machine seem like it’s treading treacle sometimes. The VSS feature takes snapshots of files, the search indexing is running and the prefetch is also in play. The other observation is that performance improves significantly over time after first switch on. The Reliability and Performance tool is great and gives some detailed information on CPU, Disk, Network and Memory. There are a load of services running which it is difficult to know which ones could be disabled without losing major functionality?

The Books you Read

They say that the books you have say a lot about you. I haven’t read a non-technical or non business book in many years I’m ashamed to say. I have a varied collection of books from history books, poetry, political, fiction (black writers and classics such as Dickens). Here are my favourite books (off the top of my head) :-

1. Wild Swans by Jung Chang (real life story of Jung Chang and three generations of her family in China going back to her grandmother who was a concubine and life through Maoist China – the only book to make me cry. Amazing, amazing story! She left China and is now an academic in the UK. The book has enjoyed incredible success.)

2. The Collector by John Fowles (better known for the “French Lieutenant’s Woman” but this story is a disturbing story of a man’s abduction of a young woman and an insight into each of the character’s thoughts)

3. Anything written by Fergal Keane, “Season of Blood” and “Letter to Daniel” (Fergal Keane is a correspondent for the BBC and has written on Rwanda, South Africa and other things – he’s my personal hero, the person I would most like to meet above anyone else bar none! A man of absolute integrity and humanity. His broadcast “Letter to Daniel” on BBC 4’s “From Our Own Correspondent” about the birth of his son generated a huge response – hugely emotional and personal – listen to it here)

4. The Crossman Diaries by Richard Crossman – a seminal work from Richard Crossman, Secretary of State for Housing in the Harold Wilson Government in the 1960’s which blew open the inner workings of Government and the Civil Service – it’s what “Yes Minister” and “Yes Prime Minister” were based on. He was never forgiven by his colleagues for writing his diaries right up to the day he died.

I can’t really think of a fifth but have been meaning to read Meera Syal’s autobiography “Anita and Me” for a long time! Her parents are from the Punjab and she found out from the BBC Programme, “Who do you think you are?”, that her grandmother was a freedom protester in the days leading up to Indian Independence from the British. An amazing woman, writer, comedian and actress.

What are your favourite books and why?

Microsoft and Mono cooperating?

After all the negative karma around recently, here is a more positive story. Miguel de Icaza, of the Mono Project, has been down at Microsoft at a compiler lab meeting and being taken out to dinner by Scott Guthrie. You see, get a couple of techies in a room and they’ll quite happily work together, it’s the execs that get in the way! Scott mentions the meeting and dinner on his blog.

Looks like Miguel has started on the evaluation of being able to do Silverlight on Mono as well.

SBS 2003 R2 as a development platform

The Microsoft ISV Forum website has some presentations on SBS 2003 R2 and some videos from Drew Spencer, Director of Development, Microsoft SBS Product Team. There are overviews and a deep dive as well, so good reference material if nothing else. Nice to see SBS coming up in the ISV space and being pushed by Microsoft. There’s probably not enough ISVs considering SBS as a development platform considering all the great products it has in there including Sharepoint and SQL Server 2005 (which includes SQL Server 2005’s Reporting Services).

NxtGenUG FEST 07

The NxtGen User Group is holding its day long extravaganza down at the Microsoft Campus TVP tomorrow. I’ll be dragging myself out of bed at the ungodly hour of 5.00am for a 6.00am drive down to Reading. I hate early starts but this one will be worth it. I’ll be looking to come back with some swag! The event finishes at 5.00pm, so should give me enough time to get back and watch the Champions League Final with my son, as I’ve promised he can stay up and watch it! Dave and Rich really know how to run good events with a fun element as well.

Do you need Microsoft Support?

Following on from Karl’s post about the quality of Microsoft PSS for SBS 2003, I’ve seen a couple of posts which have amazed me. Apparently, there are some people out there who don’t ever need support from Microsoft and think anyone calling PSS is some king of incompetent fool. Apparently, if you follow all the best practices and generally go by the book nothing will ever go wrong. These people know so much about this product, that it’s a sign of mental weakness to pick up the phone and ask for help! In fact one such person hasn’t had to reboot one of his servers for about 1.5 years while still patching them! Wow, is he running Windows? Is he sure someone hasn’t sneaked in and replaced it with Linux? Maybe all these patches were applied using the Windows “hot patching” facility that we all use all of the time. I’ve noticed this kind of behaviour quite a bit in the IT sector, it’s a kind of machismo where you must assert your superiority (or pretence of it?). It’s the “I always do things perfect” or “my systems never fail”, so underlying this is people trying to say “I’m better than you” syndrome! Well, actually I live in the real world and know that complex IT systems (which IT system isn’t complex?) fail for many and varied reasons and being a software developer with 15 years experience with both development and test knowledge, I know no system is bug free. You just haven’t found the set of circumstances that will highlight the failure case. But, I guess these people could rewrite the Windows source code anyway, it’d only take them a weekend. What’s so hard about that? Can’t you do it?

So, of course we need Microsoft’s Support and need it to be of the highest quality. I can’t comment on Microsoft PSS myself, not having used it myself but I’m glad it’s there. However, if someone like Karl is pissed off then there’s a damn good reason for it!

My Open Source Presentation

I found a presentation recently which I wote back when I initially started the business giving an overview of Open Source/Linux. Having looked back over it, I think it’s quite a good overview and pretty even handed (even if I say so myself!), although you can judge for yourself?

Feel free to download it and let me know if you think it’s useful.

Microsoft Popfly Alpha is Released

Computer Weekly has reported that the Microsoft Popfly Alpha is out. I just logged in with my Windows LiveID and requested an invitation. Looks like they will be sending one out in the next batch they release, so won’t be straight away. I watched the Channel 9 video on Popfly and it looks really cool, creating Mashups without any code – just drag and drop blocks! It’s a Silverlight application.

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