Professional Geek
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  • Are you working today?

    It’s 29th February today…It’s just another day right?

    I just got off the phone to a supplier who said

    “If you call after three i’ll be in a meeting but there will be no-one else here. I’ve sent them all home early. As it’s a leap year they don’t get paid for today”

    Interesting point of view. You could argue the month is a day longer every four years so why should i spend that day at work?

    Very generous of the guy!

    But most of us get paid weekly, four weekly or monthly right?

    A week is still seven days, leap year or not and if you get paid monthly you don’t have the 31st off seven months of the year?

    No real point here but it made me smile!

  • Find a data center

    Can’t remember how i found this but thought i’d share anyway

    Someone has mashed together google maps with location data for worldwide data centers

    http://www.datacentermap.com/

    Each data center has contact details with links to the website etc

    Probably a bit useless for most but i found it interesting

  • One less mapping site

    Online mapping is great. Even if i’m using GPS software i like to check out the route before hand so i’m not blindly driving around

    I blogged a while ago about how i used a mixture of Multimap and Live Local Search depending on what i wanted to do.

    This changed when Google Maps gave you the ability to drag your route around a customise it (i thought i’d blogged about that but i can’t find it!) and i use that 90% of the time

    So where am i going with this?

    The latest edition of Technet Magazine  (UK edition) dropped through my door yesterday and i noticed a very small piece that mentioned Multimap had been aquired by Microsoft

    So i went to the site and found no mention of it other than a press release from December last year annoucing the takeover

    Old news now but it suprised me i’d hadn’t heard it sooner and i don’t quite understand what Microsoft gain from this as it’s pretty similar to Live Local.

    The opinion on other sites is they are buying the user base……

    Well i thought it was interesting anyway ūüôā

  • UK Microsoft Partner Community

    I heard about this a little while ago and wasn’t sure if i was allowed to share but since it’s on the Microsoft partner blog i figure it’s public now!

    Emma Richardson introduces the Partner Community here

    Cross the partner portal, with a bit Facebook and throw in some Microsoft partners and have an interesting way to interact with lots of people online.

    It’s still in the alpha stage and invite only but it has potential. Emma’s post says you can ask for an invite so you can get involved now

    There is a West Midlands network in there too so get yourself signed up! You know who i’m talking to ūüėČ

  • More SBS 2008 Thoughts

    So the dust has settled a little after the SBS 2008 announcements last week

    I’ve twice “complained”(here and here) about how the two server option feels to me that we’re “loosing” SQL as wasn’t sure how much of my client base would go for a second server

    I also talked in that post about how i always sell the premium edition as it has positive effects in the long term

    It was this post by Susan that has made me re-think my initial viewpoint

    Susan talks about how the additional Windows 2008 license gives you more flexibility (“wiggle possibilities”)

    I think i possibly got so caught up with the “second server” that i never gave any thought to the fact the SQL server could still go on the SBS.

    If this is a support option then this makes my premium only stand-point still valid, in fact it makes it better

    As before, the customer buys premium, when they grow they already have SQL Server as needed but they also have the added bonus that when they do get to the second server stage for a terminal server/application server/whatever they already have an operating system license ready to use

    You could even virtualise this second operating system so it all runs under the same hardware.

    Also (as Susan mentions) a lot of my SBS 2003 client wont move to 2008 until they are ready to replace hardware. However, a lot of the servers we use a pretty decent machines so could be re-used as this second server.

    As long as the SQL server is supported on the first server (not seen it mentioned either way on the official information) I’m pretty excited about the flexibility. Especially with the virtualisation possibilities with the price of Quad Core servers and RAM dropping all the time

    There have also been one or two hints dropped there is more to come in the way of SBS annoucements so i’ll look forward to that

    Only thing i’m worried about now is those Standard and Premium CALS……

  • SBS 2008 – Officially Essential

    I saw various blog posts pop with morning with news of some announcements from Microsoft

    Dave Overton has some posts with some good info

    “Windows Essential Server Solutions family of products” announcement

    Windows Essential Business Server Announcement

    Small Business Server 2008 (formally known as Cougar) announcementThis officially places SBS and EBS directly under the same umbrella.

    There is also a brand new web site covering lots of detail for SBS here and EBS here

    The product overview gives a glimpse of some of the software with a couple of screen shots of the management console (which is still labeled cougar!) and the new remote web workplace

    Also mentioned is “integration with Office Live”. Very vague but i’ll be interested to hear more about this

    When you buy SBS you’ll also get a years subscription to ForeFront and OneCare. This takes the “all-in-one” solution a bit further on. If the re-newal price point is good this could get interesting in the A/V market

    I¬†understand the need to bring all this together under¬†a single “family”¬†of products and i like how SBS and EBS are interchangeable depending on the size of your customer and their needs. I have client who from a user size perspective (about 35 users) and should really be using SBS but their technology usage means they have currently have four “regular” windows servers. EBS would fit really well here

    My initial question is, since this is all under the same family will we be able to move up the products as the client grows

    If an company starts with SBS 2008 standard,grows a bit. Adds premium server for the SQL capability, grows a bit more and decides they need EBS. Will they be able to scale up? or is this a transition/migration job?

    I commented before on how i was initially disappointed that we were “losing” SQL to the second premium server. I still think this but i’m now only disappointed from geek “i want everything” perspective. Looking at my client base, (sharepoint aside) very few of them are currently using SQL so to make this premium and move onto another server makes more sense to me know

    Can’t wait to see more of it!

    Microsoft press release information here:

    http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/presskits/serversolutions/default.mspx

    http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2008/feb08/02-20EBFamilyPR.mspx

  • Running at higher DPI

    A couple of days ago i spotted a blog post by Daniel Moth called 10 Tips on How to Setup Your Laptop before a Demo

    10 pretty solid tips but what caught my eye was the second one.

    “Run at (120) High DPI.Task Subject¬†Start Date¬†Reminder Time¬†Due Date¬†In Folder¬†Categories¬†
    Expo Bespoke¬†None¬†None¬†None¬†Tasks¬†To-Do¬† I cannot stress this enough. If you are on Vista this requires a reboot but give it a try now and you’ll never look back (all icons suddenly come alive)”

    Since I’m so easily influenced ūüôā¬†i decided to try it out

    It wasn’t immediately obvious (to me anyway) where to do this but eventually i found it

    Goto to control panel, select the personalization option (or just click start, and start to type personalization). On the left hand side of the windows, under tasks you’ll have an option “Adjust font size (DPI)”. You’ll need admin rights to change this

    Change from the default setting of 96DPI to the larger 120 size¬†and reboot your PC. You can set a custom setting if you want but i wouldn’t recommend it.

    So why did i do this?

    Well i’m firmly in the multiple monitor camp and consider it a serious fetish of mine where bigger and more is better! I’m currently running two 19 inch screens. I’d love to get a couple more screens and up the sizes to 22-24inch but money and office space are sort of stopping me at the moment.

    I digress.

    I’m running both screens at 1280 x 1024 so anything to make the most of those pixels is good in my eyes (pun not intended)

    As daniel mentions in his blog the icons look great and a lot of text becomes much more readable. Outlook almost looks like a completely different app!

    However, there is a downside which means i don’t quite agree when Daniel says “you’ll never look back”

    The problem is that applications have to be “DPI aware” (as i understand it)

    This means Outlook, Word, etc all look fine

    Web browsing is a different matter.

    I’m currently typing this in a form field on the wordpress site. The control itself must be DPI aware as the text it’s in the larger font size i’ve seen over the last few days. However the rest of the site is rendered normally. This means i have lots of small text in amongst larger text. If i visit the BBC website after reading some emails it throws the eyes slightly as your switching between the text sizes

    Also some sites render “correctly” in the new large size as they must be DPI aware. This seems to throw the layout all over the place and sites don’t always display as expected.

    Vista sidebar items¬†also stays it’s normal size so my gadgets are tiny in comparison

    I’m sure this will improve over time as screen sizes are getting bigger and prices are getting smaller so applications will need to be more intelligent

    I decided to run in this mode for a couple of weeks as the stuff that does work, works really well so i might be happy to sacrifice the little annoyances

    Note: Couple of good posts explaining this more

    Nice visual demo of how it looks in different DPI settings here

    Some screenshots of how to change the settings with some good developer information

  • So Long and thanks for all the Hi-Def fish

    I’m sure you have read some recently about the imminent¬†death of the HD-DVD

    That was my first line when i started to write this post. As i was looking for the link for the official HD-DVD page i found this article¬†with the “breaking news” that today February 19th is the day Toshiba finally threw in the towel and discontinued their HD-DVD business

    I’ve blogged before about how i wished the “format wars” would just pack up and go home so i’m glad this has finally been sorted

    I’m just disappointed i’ve picked the loser! Though to be fair i only picked HD-DVD because it fitted in well with the XBox 360 as my gaming machine of choice. I would never have spent hundreds of pounds on a stand alone player (in either format) with the chance it could be a useless very soon

    I currently own 8 HD-DVD titles

    Average cost for a HD film is between £20-25

    I got the player cheaper than usual but this was still £100 (plus the time it took to actually get it)

    So total loss is between £260-£300..ouch!

    I’m cheating a little here though as i got five of those for free from a promotion Microsoft were running ūüôā

    I’m predicting Microsoft will release a Blu-ray add for the Xbox pretty soon. Imagine if the roles were reversed though. What if you’d bought a Playstation 3 and Blu-Ray had lost. Every single person who had the console would have paid a premium for being on the losing side. A least i chose to waste my money!

    Hopefully this will bring the price of Blu-ray players and discs down and we can see more widespread adoption of HD content.

    It will also mean there will be a ton of HD-DVD’s that suddenly lose a lot of retail value and end up in the bargain bucket.

    Who said i’d backed the wrong side? ūüôā

    Couple more links here

    Microsoft Calm About HD DVD Defeat

    Sony Wins High-Def Video Format War

    Sony’s Blu-Ray wins HD DVD battle

  • Vista Service Pack 1 – installed

    I don’t normally post about this sort of news as i haven’t exactly got the scoop on it and there is nothing worse than reading the same thing over and over again when your going through your feeds! But thought i’d post on this from a personal point view

    So as i’ve mentioned above, i’m sure your aware Vista SP1 is available to download if you’re a technet or MSDN subscriber

    I decided to go for it this afternoon and i can report the installation appeared to go smoothly. I ran the setup, let it do it’s thing and an hour later it reported a successful upgrade

    I plan to upgrade the home systems over the weekend and i’ll report back in about a week with my experiences

    I read here¬†(and varous other places) that the SuperFetch data will get trashed on installation so in some situations performance may seem worse for a little while until it’s figured out your “habits”

    I’ve got a performance issue with my home PC where the CPU gets pegged at 100% for about twenty minutes when i first turn the system on (task manager reports TrustedInstaller.exe, i understand this is to do with Windows Update) and i’m hoping the service pack will sort this out.

    I’ve been running with the service pack in the office for a couple of hours now and it does seem more responsive but i haven’t given it my usual hammering yet so we’ll see how i get on over the next week

    Have a good weekend!

  • February AMITPRO meeting

    I’ve been so busy the last few weeks that I just realised i haven’t blogged for two weeks!

    So next in an infinite number of SBSC related is the latest AMITPRO meeting

    This was our first meeting of 2008 and Vijay had quite a line up for us!

    Here was the evening panned out

    Dominic Gill (edit:Thanks Rich!) from Microsoft introducing a new business link pilot scheme aimed at getting local small businesses in touch with IT suppliers to help make better use of IT. Obviously Microsoft would like these suppliers to be small business specialists!

    The details of the programme were then covered by Derek Lote from business link.

    Next up was Ian Charles of Bull Terrier Systems who gave an interesting presentation on selling managed services

    This was followed by David Salzburg, fresh over from the US who is here to get the Autotask business up and running in the UK

    After this we had Emily Lambert and Emma Cockburn from Microsoft to talk about Windows Mobile and SBSC marketing and communications

    The evening was then rounded off by Eric Witham from acclarologic who very patiently waited all night to make us aware of an upcoming quality standard for network installation

    PHEW! It was a bit of a marathon session but i took away some interesting ideas.

    The business link programme shows some promise so i’ll be looking to get involved in that!

    I’m glad we’re getting an official Autotask release in this country as this type of product is sorely missing for the UK specific market. The only downside is that AutoTask Go! isn’t quite ready to be launched here but we were assured thats it’s on the way

    Also business link had drummed up some of their own support for their presentation so we had a lot of new faces in the room. Hopefully some of them will be tempted to come along next time

    If your the guy who had the blackberry and you happen to be reading this get in touch!

    Once again a lot of business value and some personal value

    If you didn’t hang around after with Richard,Vijay and myself to hear some of the Paul’s stories you missed out!