The Latest on SOPA Ireland

Tonight was the big “debate” on Sean Sherlock’s special instrument (a way in which a government minister an change law without a parliamentary vote).  Sherlock put forward his usual lines which gloss over the fact that the European Courts of Justice say this type of block are illegal, that users & pirates can bypass a block in 5 minutes, and that the text is so open ended is relies on judges (not the elected parliament) to define the details of the law.

Every opposition party objects to this new law.  Two representatives, Willie O’Dea (Limerick – Fianna Fail) and Stephen Donnelly (Wicklow – Independent) offered excellent arguments against this rush to a new law without due diligence and consideration.  I didn’t know Donnelly, and O’Dea has a certain “reputation” at the national level, so this was quite a pleasant surprise.

However, as expected, Sherlock (North Cork) announced he was ploughing ahead with his plans to shirk his duty and not allow our democratically elected parliament define this law that is critical to our ailing economy.

Note: the proposal is that judges can pass injunctions against ISPs or content hosters to block websites that a plaintif claims contains copyright infringements.  Anyone with 30 seconds of Internet experience can tell you that this can be bypassed, or that BitTorrent was designed to defeat this by using infinite seeds.

To make things worse, a Fine Gael TD, Jerry Buttimer (@jerrybuttimer, Cork South Central) claimed that he was inundated by emails by anarchists and keyboard warriors.  Oh the misery!  Well frak him!  We’re letting this bog hopper (I am a culchie but this moron’s performance was a shame on our nation) know what we think.  If you’re from Ireland, then tweet out

My name is <insert name here> and #IAmAKeyboardWarrior

We want these people who think they know better than us to know that we are watching, we are legion, and we are not anonymous.  And we vote.


Some people question why I do all this stuff.  Blogging consumes a lot of time.  Writing whitepapers more so.  Writing even a few chapters for a book is massive exercise and trust me, it’s no way to get rich.  I enjoy it.  And every now and then I get an email, a blog comment, a tweet, or I talk with a reader after an event that changes my mood for the rest of the day from my usual grumpy default.  Thanks for that, and thanks too to those you who have bought books and other items via links on my blog.  It’s no way to make a living (I do have a normal day job) but it pays for a couple of ebooks from Amazon every month.




There’s been a lot of conversation and about the presence, or lack thereof, of the Desktop in the Windows 8 build for ARM processors.  If you’ve given Windows 8 Developer Preview just a few minutes of your time then you know it’s still required and there should be no debate. 

Let’s keep it short and simple.  I hate wasting time on something that isn’t in the wild yet.  There is a Control Panel in the Metro UI.  It allows you to simply and quickly configure some essential settings.  But try to do anything beyond that … and well … you’re sent packing to the traditional Control Panel that runs in desktop.  The same goes for just about any system tool. Debate over.  The rights and wrongs of it are nothing but contributions to the carbon footprint.

IMO the desktop will be with us for quite some time.  We’ll likely see a Windows 8 R2 in a few years, and maybe Windows 9 might be the one where the desktop could become an optional feature.  That’s all guessing so who the hell knows.

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Carsten Rachfahl has done it again.  Carsten attended the Hyper-V.nu event in Amsterdam a few weeks ago and recorded the presentations.  The quality of his work is impressive IMO.  Thanks Carsten!



Altaro (admission: they are an advertiser on my blog), creators/publishers of a Hyper-V backup solution, have launched their own Hyper-V blog.  The first post is on Hyper-V Dynamic Memory explanation and recommendations.  It’ll be worth your while adding this feed to your list.

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Here in Ireland, we get a “show” debate on Fine Gael/Labour/Sean Sherlock SOPA next Tuesday at 6pm in the Dáil (parliament).  It’s mere window dressing as one TD (Dáil member) said to me by email today.  They’re going to blindly push through with this crap unless we make it clear that we’re very angry, and we’ll make them go the way of the Dodo bird … kinda like we did to the PDs in the last elections Smile

The media are refusing to cover this story.  Those 1 or 2 mainstream outlets that do, are burying it way down.  So if you’re in Ireland, tell your friends, tell your colleagues, tell your family, and get them to visit http://stopsopaireland.com/ and to sign the online petition.  We need to keep the pressure on the government on this one.

And for everyone everywhere, you need to be aware of ACTA.  It’s SOPA on steroids, and every major country seems to have signed up to the treaty.  You need to fight this one, and that includes you folks in the USA.  Learn about it and contact your local representatives to voice your protest if you disagree with this treaty.  Here in the EU, you can voice your objections with this petition.

BTW, I am actually the victim of having my hard work pirated and I’m against these acts.

Sorry if you came here for Hyper-V or System Center.  I hope you understand the importance of this subject.


I’ve been doing some on-site work this week with System Center Operations Manager.  The customer has some XenApp servers they wanted to monitor them.  Due to lockdowns, we had to do manual agent installations (with approval done in the OpsMgr console).  The management pack is a free download from Citrix via the MyCitrix site.  We also found the management pack files in a subfolder on the root of ISO.  The import failed with this error:

Citrix Presentation Server Management Pack could not be imported.

If any management packs in the import list are dependent on this management pack, the installation of the dependant management packs will fail.

The requested management pack was invalid. See inner exception for details. Parameter name: managementPack.

The solution is simple enough.  Increase the size of the OperationsManager database transaction log file from 100MB to 1,000MB, and then reattempt the import.  It worked for me.

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Two nights ago I blogged about Sean Sherlock, Labour and Fine Gael introducing an undemocratic change to our laws in favour of the likes of EMI.  Via a “special instrument”, where a minister can introduce new laws without debate or vote in parliament (how dictatorial!) Sean Sherlock means to allow any company to censor what Irish people can see on the Internet.  In other words: SOPA.

As of this morning, over 56,000 people had signed a petition in the last few days to protest this move by Sean Sherlock, a TD from Cork.  Sherlock (a Labour party minister), spent 2 days flicking each of those voting citizens the bird.  IT experts have voiced their concern saying that (a) this would be ineffective at stopping piracy (they’re right), (b) would be abused for online censorship (do you know that we have blasphemy laws now, and they’re trying to introduce prohibition too!?!?!), and (c) would scare away major online employers (and tax revenue) from Ireland such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, and so on.

Meanwhile, Irish media has by and large decided not to cover this story.  Yes, I’m looking at you RTE, Irish Independent, and Newstalk 106-108.  It’s clear that these so-called journalists are in favour of censorship.

After 3 days of pressure we have the following happening.

Sherlock, overnight, announced that he would allow a debate in parliament on this issue.  Uh-huh … and where is the free vote for each sitting member?  And even if there was a vote, government party whips would force members to vote with their minister.  It seems to me that corporate interests of EMI have been given more importance than our rights as citizens.  Rights, by the way, that the European Court of Justice said we had recently in a case where it was ruled that it was against human rights to block internet content at a national or ISP level.

The No SOPA Ireland campaign tweeted this overnight:

@NoSOPAIreland: Looks like some TD’s are just closing the doors to people’s emails. Rather sad considering they do this BEFORE the debate this wk #Bullshit

Are they filtering our emails protesting against Sherlock’s special interest?  Who the frak do these people think they are?  Don’t they realise that they work for us, the voters and tax payers of this country? 

Oh, by the way, if you are thinking either “SOPA is nothing to do with our country” or “SOPA was stopped in the USA” then think again.  Your political leaders are doing their masters’ bidding.  A similar international treaty was signed by the USA, Canada, Australia, Japan, and the EU yesterday.  The interesting thing is that the guy the EU employed to research it resigned in protest over how ACTA is being forced on us.

I for one, welcome any damage that Anonymous decides to inflict on the organs of the state at this point.  As for their promised to hear us out … words are wind.  We know what a politician’s promise is worth.  If your enemy brings a knife then you bring a gun.  Talking is getting us nowhere and its damned time that the political class of this country learn their place.


The crew at hyper-v.nu have posted the decks from last week’s presentations.  My own deck, on the networking features of Windows Server 8 Hyper-V as announced at Build, is available to view on slide share:


SOPA was an American bi-partisan bill that presented itself as an anti-piracy law.  In fact, it was a hell of a lot more.  It was promoted by Hollywood, who has refused to change their ways to reflect how Internet business can work (see the possibility of Netflix), and by companies such as GoDaddy who allegedly had something to gain from it (hosting for redirected URLs).  The law was really about uncontrolled censorship that was in the control of the rich and powerful.  They could shut down your web site with absolutely no possibility of defence on your part.  There was a popular revolt in the USA, and SOPA (and the equally bad PIPA) were crushed before they came to vote.

Enter the Irish Government made up of Fine Gael, Labour, and a bunch of unknown government mandarins, all supported by the likes of IRMA, the recording industry which has also fought fair e-business at every turn.

Blacknight’s (the hoster of this site) Michele Neylon issued a press release overnight and posted on his blog.  Thank you Michele, because it seems like our “free” press took a snooze on this one … or they decided to silently support it.

Sean Sherlock, who’s details I’ve shared below, is a Labour party government minister and is trying to introduce this law by ministerial order.  That means that there would be NO VOTE BY OUR DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED PARLIAMENT.

If you are in favour of a free democratic Republic of Ireland, then check out the StopSOPAIreland site, sign the petition, and let Fine Gael, Labour, and Sean Sherlock know what you think of their treason.  In my opinion, this puts them in the same place as Fine Fáil and their “independent” supporters of the last government that sold our country’s future down the toilet for their banker & construction friends, and the irresponsible bond holders of Anglo Irish.

BTW, here’s how to contact Sean Sherlock, TD (Cork East TD, Labour Party, Minister of State for Research and Innovation):

Why don’t you take some time to contact Seanie-boy and let him no what you think of treason.  Am I fired up?  Yup, definitely.  This chiselling away of our hard fought for democratic rights must be stopped.  Do and say nothing, and you’re no better than Sherlock is, and it shows how little you really care.

EDIT #1:

Breaking news.  The “hacktivist” group Anonymous tweeted about this a little while ago:

@YourAnonNews: NEW: Ireland gets its own #SOPA law | http://t.co/hgtk0Rom | http://t.co/tD7iLOqw | #OpIreland #Anonymous

@YourAnonNews: Ireland has angered the hive, we will be reporting all attacks through this account | #OpIreland #OpMegaUpload

*Evil laugh*


I rebuilt my Asus ultra-slim laptop over the weekend.  I’ve never been the biggest fan of OEM builds because of the 3rd party stuff that gets included.  On went Windows 7 Ultimate with the intention of migrating from my Latitude which will probably be rebuilt with some Hyper-V version (it has more RAM and eSATA).

After dealing with the drivers (conveniently placed on the hard disk by Asus) and putting on the usuals (thanks to ninite) I installed a few bits of the Asus software, including power stuff and a boot accelerator.

Some info:

  • The power stuff customises the power options.  The battery saving one boosts Windows 7 battery life to around 7 hours.
  • The machine starts in around 2 seconds from cold, then hits the boot loader.
  • A cold boot & logon takes 24 seconds, with things like Office 2010 installed.
  • Wake from sleep (open the lid) is less than 1 second.  The hardest bit here is finding the gap between the lid and the keyboard because the machine is so thin.

All this will only get better with Windows 8.  I already see that on my old netbook and the DevPrev release from last September.

Glad I didn’t toss the Asus packaging yet – I found two dongles:

  • A USB one for adding a NIC
  • A micro VGA converter for connecting a VGA lead. 

Some manufacturers have native VGA and NIC ports in the chassis but have to sacrifice thickness to fit them in.

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I wasn’t able to keep up with my usual feeds and sources of news and gossip during the week with all the meetings I was attending, travel, presenting, and catching up in the office.  But one thing I noticed was the re-emergence of some Linux people moaning about secure boot, and more comments (positive, negative and speculation) about Windows 8 ARM tablets.

On ARM tablets, other than the fact that we’ve seen them at Build (behind glass cases) and that they will eventually appear on the market, we know nothing else.  There’s no end of pointless speculation.  We can’t criticise them because we don’t know what they are.  If you are knocking them then I’d love to learn about your hands on experience with these Windows 8 devices … mainly because the manufacturers haven’t put any on the market or released any specs yet.  So shut the frak up!

As for the Linux folks, I don’t always agree with him but Paul Thurrot got it right on.  When Apple make it easy for you to install Linux on an iPad or on an iPhone, then come talk to us.

The truth is that Windows devices are changing.  When I got in the business in the mid 90’s it was the norm for an IT person or an enthusiast to not buy a home PC.  Machines from Gateway 2000 (their abandoned factory in Dublin is still sitting there, with the alleged drug rehab clinic inside!) or Dell were so restrictive and overpriced.  Change was happening at incredible rates.  In Dublin we would have gone to a place like Peats to buy a case, motherboard, and all the other gubbins to build a machine to meet our requirements.  Later we’d order from Komplett.  But most gamers switched to the PS2 (and PS3) or Xbox (and Xbox 360) to get consistent and easy to access games.  Switching out graphics cards every year to be able to play the latest game was not cool.  In fact, I felt like the price of a custom build went up and way beyond the factory PC.

Customisation seems to be dying.  Take the slate PCs (the “flat laptop with a touch screen” precursor to the Windows tablet that) that are on the market now.  The one we got at Build 2011 has a small SSD.  I’ve love to upgrade it but I can’t.  The chassis is sealed.  There’s no obvious way to open it.  It’s probably a safe bet that if it was a retail model, even opening the chassis would void the warrantee.  The new ultrabook I got is similar.  It has tiny screws that require an Allen key that you’d find only in the best of PC toolkits (lucky I got one from MSFT a few years ago) or a jewellers.  But again, opening that chassis will probably void the warrantee. 

I think we are moving from the customisable Windows PC era to the era of the Windows device.  Most BSODs I have encountered have been caused by device drivers.  If Microsoft can dictate device specifications, as they do with Windows Phone, then they can improve the user’s experience of Windows stability.  That’s one of the things Apple gets praise for, but they can control the hardware, driver, and OS to guarantee a better experience.  Microsoft has to deal with an incredible breadth of internal devices and drivers, made of manufacturers of varying skills and professionalism. 

My desire to customise has reduced over the years.  Buying components by myself is expensive.  The likes of Asus or HP can bulk buy and sell on to me as a part of a machine at a much better price.  Maybe I’m alone in this but I like this change.  A simple, pick it up and just use it appliance is what I want.  And I really don’t care if it can’t dual boot Linux.  Let the penguin shaggers go buy Linux devices instead Smile


Mary Jo Foley mentioned on TWiT Windows Weekly that Dave Cutler, the Microsoft man who helped create Windows NT and Windows Azure, had moved to Xbox along with a senior hypervisor architect.  Why would Microsoft want that to happen?  My mind went racing and one of the live listeners thought the exact same thing as me.

There’s not been much innovation in the life of the gaming console in it’s long history.  We went from twisting paddles, to joysticks, to controllers.  Not something big.  We went from cartridges to DVD.  Not a huge leap either.  Wii and Kinect really were big changes but I feel we’re only at the start of that evolution.

An interesting thing happened sometime in the last couple of years (don’t ask me when precisely).  A service called OnLive kicked off.  It was a cloud based game streaming service.  The game executes in a remote data centre and the gamer connects to it via their local machine.  The restrictions are based on latency, meaning that the gamer must be relatively close to the data centre, e.g. not playing in London with a data centre in Sydney.

What I instantly thought when I heard the above was that maybe Xbox Live was thinking of doing something similar, but by taking advantage of the Microsoft Global Foundation Services data centres that are located globally and host services such as Windows Azure, Office 365, and so forth.  Imagine it, games running in optimized virtual machines on specifically designed gaming virtualisation hosts.  If you could design the hardware and write the hypervisor from scratch, and take advantage of a network of globally dispersed data centres with huge bandwidth capabilities, well you could do something cool.  Then combine that with technology similar to Windows 8 RemoteFX (design for the WAN) and the availability of Xbox Live on Windows Phone, Xbox, and Windows 8 … hmm … and throw into the mix the reported incredibly high numbers of people who subscribe to Xbox Live Gold.  This could be really interesting. 

Imagine the possibilities.  You finish up work.  On the bus or train you take out your Windows Phone, you start up a game that is streamed from a “local” data centre.  You arrive at your stop and pause the game.  In the sitting room you power up your Xbox, connect and un-pause the game.  You want to go upstairs so you wake up your Windows 8 tablet and transfer the game connection to there.  Seamless. 

At this point, the gaming device becomes less important.  It’s all about the service and the subscription.  Actually, that’s kind of true right now.  Xbox is sold at a loss or cost price so you can get the machine, subscribe to Live Gold, and buy the games.  It’s the “attach” that Microsoft makes money from.  If Microsoft could take the Xbox out of the mix and focus entirely on the service then they can remove device churn from the equation and eliminate consumer hardware as a limiting factor to gaming/entertainment  innovation.

That’s my mad theory on it anyway.  It could be really cool if something like this happened.


I was listening to TWiT Windows Weekly on the drive this morning and Mary Jo Foley declared a book to be the best book about Microsoft company history around.  I was intrigued.

Showstopper is by G. Pascal Zachary.  It tells the story of how a team developed Windows NT, the original version of what would become Windows XP/Vista/7/8. 

I’ve just bought it and sent it to my iPad.  I’m in the middle of reading another book at the moment.  This one will be next on my reading list.


If you read this blog or you follow me on Twitter then there is a very strong chance that you also read Hyper-V.nu and follow the crew from there on Twitter too.  They run a great online community that covers Hyper-V and System Center in the Netherlands.  A few months ago they asked if I would come over to speak about Windows 8 Hyper-V Networking at a day-long event they were hosting in the Microsoft offices in Amsterdam.  Well, of course I would.  They’re good guys and Hans Vredevoort was the tech reviewer on Mastering Hyper-V Deployment and is a major contributor to Microsoft Private Cloud.

The guys advertised the event, and within 2 days they’d filled all the seats.  Registrations came from the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and UK, and there might be other countries I don’t know about.  It was a good day with technical content, demos, and laughs.

Jaap Wesselius and Peter Noorderijk kicked things off with the keynote, touching on some of the highlights of Windows Server 8 and the history, growth and success of their community.  Then it was me. 

Hans did a good session that went into detail on a small bit of the storage story.  There’s a lot to that story!  His demo was brave and it worked.  With a mix of PowerShell and GUI, he provisioned a storage pool and some spaces, demod a active/active file server cluster, created and permissioned a share, created a VM on a share, and did a live storage migration of a running VM from one share to another. 

Ronald Beekelaar did a deep dive on disk deduplication, talking about this new storage feature, explaining along the way the different methods and technologies that have been used up to now to get more data on disks.  “Chunking” seems to be the way forward!

Maarten Wijsman wrapped up the technical side of things with VMM 2012, talking about the pillars, creating a bare metal host, and explaining some of the features of service deployment.

Robert Bakker of Microsoft Netherlands wrapped the formal side of the event up talking about System Center 2012 and the licensing that was announced on Tuesday.

For me, the best bit was meeting a lot of people I’d not met in person before but “talk” to regularly on Twitter, and spending some time with some of the European community at dinner the night before.  I also got to meet some interesting people and heard what they are doing and experiencing.  That’s the great thing about community events … it’s content and people.  All in all, an excellent event.  I’m sure the guys will do more – you should register as soon as you can!


Back in December 2011, I blogged about the variety of Intel-based Ultrabooks on the market and how they offer a cool, slim, light, and still powerful Windows based alternative to the MacBook Air.  I had hands-on with the cracking (that’s good) Toshiba Z830 and Sony VPCZ21M9E.

Yesterday, as I returned from the Hyper-v.nu event in Amsterdam, I made my way into the electronics store near the E terminal, often a place with bargains (compared to Irish costs).  And there I found the i5 version of the Asus UX31E (also comes in i7).  After a quick double check online of the spec on airport’s the free Wi-Fi, I decided to buy it for the price (under €1,000).

It’s a 128 GB SSD, 4 GB RAM, HDMI out, USB 3.0, 7 hour battery life, very slim machine.  It is silent.  It boots up so quickly.  It wakes from sleep instantly.  The chassis is brushed aluminium and it looks very classy.

My main reason to get it was to get a light normal usage machine.  It’ll fit beautifully in my camera bag without adding bulk to prevent the bag being carried onto a flight.  With USB 3.0 I can strap on an external drive for additional data (photos) and do Windows To Go for Windows 8 beta and RC when they come out.  RTM will go on immediately to further extend battery life.

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Now you have pre-ordered your Microsoft Private Cloud book *cough*, you’ll want to figure out the licensing for System Center 2012.  Those details were announced tonight in the “transforming IT” webcast.

The good news: licensing for System Center is getting easier:


A big change is that you cannot buy individual SML products by themselves.  You must buy SML suites.  To be honest, people who run virtualisation have been typically buying a System Center Management Suite because it was cheaper than buying individual “2007” management licenses (MLs), so this isn’t a big deal (or a little on either).

You will now license it using one of two System Center 2012 suite editions, Datacenter and Standard.  They are referred to as Server Management Licenses or SMLs.  Datacenter gives you unlimited management rights for licensed hosts.  That’s perfect for virtualisation and private clouds.  The Standard edition is aimed at very small virtualisation deployments or physical servers. 


It is per-processor licensing based on physical (host) processors.  You can over-license a host, e.g. assign multiple Standard SMLs to a host.  You can see some examples here:


All System Center licensing with SA can upgrade to System Center 2012 SMLs.  Note that the System Center Management Suites include SA. 


Remember that you can also manage clients with System Center.  There is new licensing for these as well:


Microsoft has published a datasheet on System Center 2012 licensing.  There is also a System Center 2012 licensing FAQ.  Please contact your reseller, distributor, or LAR if you have any questions on this licensing.


Considering that Microsoft has just started their Microsoft Private Cloud/System Center 2012 campaign with their “transforming IT” production, it was thought that this was the perfect time to announce a new book, Microsoft Private Cloud Computing:


“Written by a team of expert authors who are MVPs and leaders in their respective fields, this one-of-a-kind book is an essential resource for IT administrators who are responsible for implementing and managing a cloud infrastructure. You’ll quickly learn how cloud computing offers significant cost savings while also providing new levels of speed and agility. Serving as a how-to guide, Microsoft Private Cloud Computing walks you through building a secure, internal cloud and delivering it as a service to your company suing Microsoft Windows Server Hyper-V and Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012.

  • Discusses fabric management with System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM)2012
  • Examines how to provide network and storage with VMM 2012
  • Looks at the VMM library configuration
  • Discusses private cloud and cloud service management with Microsoft App Controller

Microsoft Private Cloud Computing is a must-have comprehensive resource that covers all aspects of implementing a private cloud”.

And just who are these “expert authors”.  Let me introduce them to you:

There’s a long story behind the book.  It started out with one concept that was talked over initially via email and a chat.  Then when we started to get to grips with the concept … well … everything took a left turn at Dundalk and went a different direction.  The size and complexity of the project literally blew up as we figured out what we really needed to write about.  That’s when we needed to add more expertise … and boy did we do that in style! 

Credit where credit’s due, after the initial concept development and planning, I stepped back a wee bit and took care of the intro chapters.  I had a l-o-n-g period of writing in 2010 and I wanted to take a break from it in 2011.  The meat of this book has been written by Patrick, Damian, and Hans.  Technical reviewing is being handled by Cloud and Datacenter Management MVP, Kristian Nese (@KristianNese), helped by the fact that he has already published a book called Cloud Computing in Norwegian.

FYI, the cover that’s available now is a preliminary artwork … hence my cloning out the author listing. It will be updated to reflect the work done by Hans, Damian, and Patrick.

It is estimated that Microsoft Private Cloud Computing will be available on May 22nd, 2012.  And yes, I would expect there to be ebook editions – just don’t ask me when.


Due to popular demand and the massive success of the three Dublin events, Microsoft Ireland has decided to bring the day-long Hyper-V Immersion event to Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Come along and find out why; Hyper-V has grown up a lot over the last three years and now includes the core functionality you need to meet your business and technical requirements.

This session is a unique presentation that builds on your existing experience with virtualisation (regardless of hypervisor) and will equip you with up to date skills through in-depth, advanced, real world training that is not available anywhere else!

As a standalone, one day immersion into Hyper-V or as the first step towards certification from Microsoft Ireland, this is a not to miss opportunity!


  • A history of Hyper-V and a glimpse into the future
  • Hyper-V Architecture and Features
  • Building a stable and reliable Hyper-V infrastructure
  • Advanced topics: High Availability, Live Migration, Dynamic Memory & Linux Guests

Presenters: Aidan Finn (MicroWarehouse) and Dave Northey (Microsoft Ireland)

Audience: Infrastructure Specialists, IT Decision Makers, IT Generalists, IT Implementers, Administrators, Consultants, Technical Support.

Timing: We will run the workshop from 9.30am until 5.00pm – please aim to be there for 9:00 for registration, tea & coffee.

Location: BMC Titanic Quarter Campus is located in central Belfast on the banks of the River Lagan, within walking distance of the City Centre. The Campus can be easily accessed by foot, road and rail. Parking is available in the basement car park for a fee of £1 per hour.

Registration: http://hypervimmersion.eventbrite.com/

The 3 events in Dublin were interesting, with a lot of Q&A.  What I enjoyed was that the questions were very different from day to day.  I’ve no doubt that Belfast will be fun based on past experience.  There’s always a lot of back-and-forth and the audience makes it different for the speaker.  I’m looking forward to the day.

My advice: register early if you’re serious about attending.  The Dublin events booked out in near record time (only the Windows 7 launch events beat it, I reckon).

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My main e-mail was had been Gmail since I joined the beta way back when.  I never really used it for storing contacts because of how Gmail can figure out email addresses from the contents of the inbox.  My repository was the phone.  When I got an iPhone, it became phone & Outlook (synced by iTunes).  Then I got an iPod and it was in sync with them … when ever I would connect it up to the laptop (rare enough to be honest because I charge it separately).

Last night I made a big change to my email habits.  I switched from Gmail and Hotmail to Office 365.  I connected up Outlook and set Office 365 as my primary mail account.  This morning, I hooked up my phone to sync up some podcasts for the commute to work.  After work I came home, synced the iPhone again (which backed up the phone and erased the previous iTunes data backup), and I got a call (the first of the day).  No name came up … but it was my Mom.  Hmm, she hadn’t changed numbers or phone.  Why the frak did that happen.  Then I checked my contacts … well …  I checked the now empty repository of contacts.  Yoiks!

Panic stations.  No one likes every one of their contacts being blasted away and the lot being synced as zip.  Somehow, the Outlook switch over decided that my contacts should not merge my contacts between the phone and my new mail account, but should in fact reset them to zero.  Well I suppose it would be interesting to make a whole new set of friends and family Winking smile

I had an idea to rescue my contacts.  My iPad hadn’t been synced.  I fired it up and there were the contacts sitting pretty.  iCloud would rescue me.  I’ve never used it before.  I’ve never even tried it before. 

  1. Did an iCloud backup of the iPad.
  2. Configured iCloud to sync my calendar and my contacts.
  3. Logged into iCloud and verified that they were all there.
  4. Disabled iCloud sync on the iPad (to keep the data safe) and left the data on the iPad (no delete)
  5. Disconnected my iPhone, and configured it to sync with iCloud.  My contacts and calendar entries were back.
  6. Removed all trace of my now redundant Gmail account (IMAP) from Outlook and from the iPhone.
  7. Closed and restarted Outlook and iTunes.
  8. Disabled iCloud sync on the iPhone, leaving the data on the phone.
  9. Connected up the iPhone to the laptop and let iTunes sync with contacts (verify this is set up in the Phone – Info area).
  10. Dismissed the dozens of meeting alerts that appeared for past reminders.
  11. Checked Outlook Contacts and there they were … rescued.


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To follow up on yesterday’s Gmail migration issues:

  • Attempt 1 was to connect the email account: works nicely for Hotmail migration but Gmail is another story because it doesn’t have real folders (using tags).  My mails were coming into the inbox as unread.  I quickly stopped and backtracked that.
  • Attempt 2 was to use the recommended IMAP migration.  My Gmail was set up for IMAP already so all was good there. I created the required CSV and started the import.  Or I tried to.  O365 refused to connect to my Gmail account, no matter what I did.
  • Attempt 3 was manual.  Outlook was already connected to Gmail.  I connected it to O365.  I then manually copied all of my folders and mails from one account to another, all 1.5 GB of it.

With the pain over, I can move on.  I use the OWA interface of O365 from the office, so I can keep it separate from Outlook which is connected to the Office Exchange server and mail account.  OWA works nicely.

I had a play with the SharePoint Internet website.  That was nice and easy to reconfigure.  To be honest, I doubt I’ll ever use SharePoint for my own stuff.  I have a Home Server and I use Live Mesh, along with Carbonite backup.  I can always get at my files either by a local replica or by browsing one of a number of sites.

Lync … hmm.  The DNS records are “interesting”.  I believe I’ve got them set up correctly.  My domain is with an ISP and I’m not moving it to MSFT.  I use it for a number of things and I want to retain control.  Lync has been a ropey experience.  I can’t say it’s as good as Live Messenger for staying in contact with people.  I can hook up with anyone on Messenger without Federation.  But Lync isn’t built to be that way.  In fact, all the instructions I’ve seen imply that you can enable federation to specific domains.  Not in the Office365 that I have: I can enable it or disable it and nothing more.  I’ve connected successfully to my Messenger account so I know it works. 

What doesn’t work?  Well, audio is just a wee bit important to Lync.  And it cannot find my audio device.  That’s despite the fact that I listen to music, watch Silverlight and Flash webcasts, and so on with absolutely no issues.  The Realtek audio driver is up to date … turns out others in the office with this model of HP PC (8100 Elite Convertible Minitower) have the same issue.

Anyway, my main reason to get O365 was email, and that’s now working fine.

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According to Redmond Channel Partner:

As with BPOS and other Microsoft cloud offerings, the payouts are 12 percent for net-add seats and 6 percent in annual recurring fees. The 6 percent fee starts paying in the first year, making the first-year fees 18 percent.

As a partner you will only get those fees if your customer registers you as the partner of record when they sign up.  Unfortunately, that is optional and not a mandatory of the sign up process.  In fact, it’s a link that is tucked away off to the side.

The customer will be asked for the Partner ID of the partner of record.  That’s not public information.  So here’s what might happen.  A customer wants to sign up after you’ve sold the concept of cloud computing.  They go to the site.  They go through the process.  Even if they see the link and understand what it does, they won’t have your Partner ID, they’ll likely skip it, and pay Microsoft without you becoming the partner of record.

My suggestions for the people selling O365 (yes; I’m talking to you, sales people):

  1. Have your partner ID handy.  Don’t make it public, because it is used for a few different things in the partner programs.  Know what the ID is.  Most MSFT partners have no idea what their partner ID is.  You can find it when you log into the Microsoft Partner Network website.
  2. When your customer agrees to sign up, go out to them (or remote assist them) and walk through the sign up process.  Think of it as “value added reselling”.  You know what your partner ID is and you’ll know to hit that register partner link.  If you’re not there, the customer is sure to miss it, or they’ll not be able to find/read your email containing the ID.

A customer can add or change a partner of record using the instructions on O365 online help.  I’ve just done it for my subscription … giving one lucky partner in Galway all of a few cents per month.

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Another post appeared on the Server & Cloud Platform team blog last night, describing the various ways we can install Windows to get different administration interfaces.  We’re getting:

  • Full installation: all the bells and whistles with a full GUI there all of the time.
  • Minimal Server Interface: there is a GUI that allows “most” local administration tasks.  You won’t have Internet Explorer, the desktop, Windows Explorer, Metro-style application support, multimedia support, or Desktop Experience.
  • Server Core: By default, no GUI at all, just the command prompt and PowerShell.

Microsoft Corporate is recommending (as always) that you use the Server Core installation by default (obviously not for RDS session hosts Smile).  We should be remotely managing the machines using the Remote Server Administration Toolkit (or whatever RSAT will be called when Win8 is RTM).  You probably know my thoughts on that up to now: phooey!  It’s a nightmare to do troubleshooting and we can do stuff quickly with a few mouse clicks in the GUI instead of googling for 30 minutes to find obscure command prompt or POSH commands, which we then need to figure out.  “Learn PowerShell” … yes, once I’ve learned Windows 8 server and desktop, the new Hyper-V, and the 8 or so System Center products that are on the way … and find some time to do the day job.  And learning POSH does nothing to use 3rd party hardware management tools on the servers themselves, e.g. hardware diagnostics that use IE.

I’m not a shouting-at-the-trees-crazy-man vocal minority on this one.  Most people I know who have tried Server Core switch to full installations very quickly, as I did (my first Hyper-V cluster pilot was Core).  And to be a bit more scientific, the Great Big Hyper-V Survey of 2011 backs me up:

  • Hyper-V Server: 15.93%
  • Full Windows Server installation: 71.08%
  • Server Core installation: 12.99%

So there’s a compromise (an improvement) in Windows 8.  Apparently, with a command (probably a PowerShell cmdlet) and a reboot we can install a GUI (looks like either Minimal Server Interface or the full Server Graphical Shell if I’ve read the post correctly) on Server Core.  OK, that isn’t a bad start.  I’d like to see the reboot replaced by a logoff/logon.  But it’s a step forward to making Server Core more acceptable.  I’ll hold off judgement until the beta comes out (end of February) and have a play with it but it’s a good step forward by the looks of it.


Time Flies …

I was convinced that I’d been using Gmail since around 2000 … until I was corrected on Twitter and I checked.  Gmail has only been around since 2004 and in that time it has become a common piece of our lives as white bread.  It isn’t exciting (at least not since the days when invites to the beta were limited and much sought after), all it really does is e-mail.  I feel like I’ve been using it for much longer than I obviously have.


I set up my first trial of Office 365 last year during the beta.  It was a pretty smooth process for E-Mail, requiring an MX and confirmation.  I didn’t really care too much about SharePoint.  Lync … well … Lync requires a lot of DNS stuff, none of which was possible to do myself in my registrar’s control panel.  For a trial, it wasn’t worth getting them to set up the records for Lync manually.

Before the Christmas holidays, I signed up for another trial, this time choosing the P plan for professionals and small businesses.  The 25 GB mailbox was tempting … I’ve a number of email accounts (personal, MVP stuff, Microsoft stuff) and it’s been annoying for me to use, and some folks I know just send 1 email to all of them to get me – my clear delineations weren’t clear to others.

Problem: Partner Selection

This morning I decided to subscribe to the P plan.  Payment was easy.  The issue I had with the signup process was from the channel point of view (I work for a distributor).  Way off to the side, almost invisible, was the option to Add Partner.  This was where I could optionally choose to add a qualified Office 365 partner.  I thought “I’ll do that and choose one of our customers (a reseller) that has signed up with our O365 distribution channel”.  Up popped a screen and it asked me for the partner ID of the reseller.  Huh!  I’m pretty sure folks in Microsoft think that every MSFT partner lives in the Microsoft Partner Network website and can shout out their numeric partner ID like a soldier does their serial number.  Not quite!  When faced with this, I did what any customer will do – I clicked cancel and completed the payment without specifying a partner. 

Email Setup

First thing was to get my email address configured.  The MX was set up last year.  But my account (the default administrator) was set up with a damned onmicrosoft.com address.  I configured my sign-in to use my domain but the sent email still used the MSFT domain.  I edited my account in Admin –> Users –> <Select Account> –> More –> Change Mailbox Settings, and removed the “other address” from Email Options.

Email Migration

I wanted to import a Hotmail and a Gmail account.  Hotmail was smooth and easy.  I went into Options – See All Options –> Account –> Connected Accounts.  Here I added the details of my hotmail account.  All the folders and email were imported nice and smooth.

Gmail is a different beast.  You have to enable POP access in your Gmail account (Settings –> Forwarding And POP/IMAP).  That beast is importing 1.5 GB of email right now, and it appears to have 2 issues:

  • My 10 year old folder structure in Gmail is being ignored.
  • Read emails are being marked as unread.

Both are very unhelpful.  And no, I was not going to set up mail rules – why the frak should I have to do that to recreate a 10 year old folder structure?  I’m in the midst of trying to find a realistic alternative.  No, I won’t be installing Exchange to do this (COME ON MAN!).  This seriously impacts the migration of customers from Google Apps to Office 365.  Try tell any user that you’ll only import their Inbox, their folders will be lost, and all their email will be marked as unread.  You’ll be lucky if your not flayed alive.


It appears that the only option I have (that doesn’t include paying for a 3rd party tool) is to configure Outlook to connect to both Gmail (to create an IMAP connected PST) and O365.  Then I can import the Gmail PST into O365.  That will take a wee while (1.5 GB of email).  So much for cloud computing easing my bandwidth demands during migration.  MSFT has been talking up a “soon to be released” PST Capture tool since October 2011.  It is not available yet.

Remember: Office 365 primarily sells to small and startup businesses.  They don’t have Exchange.  They probably have nothing or are on Google Apps.  Office 365 seems to have forgotten that.

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