Thursday, July 31, 2003

A Group is its own Worst Enemy

I came across a very interesting article written by Clay Shirky entitled: A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy. It's about 'social software' - software that that supports group interaction. Clay's article looks at some of the issues surrounding social software - it's worth a read.

Saturday, July 19, 2003

Joining Up MSF and MOF

Microsoft have two great framework methodologies Microsoft Solutions Framework (MSF) which helps teams envision, design, develop, and deploy a business solution, and Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF) which is all about you operate the solution. These two frameworks are based on proven practices - things that have been proven to really work. MOF, for example, is based on ITIL, recognised world wide for it's value in the service management arena. They also fully incorporate risk management in a highly structured way

Every organisation can make use of both MSF and MOF, and woud benefit from using them together. However Microsoft's current positioning of them is to make them as diferent as possible. It looks like he two framework teams are in different buildings and just don't talk together much. While the web pages may look similar, that's where the divergence begins, Any Microsoft Certified Trainer can teach the MSF course, but wolud have to go through extra hoops to teach MOF. You can get a MSF course at any Gold MS CTEC, who are required to have an MCT on staff certified on MSF, but not MOF. The MSF course is MOC, which means it can be used by partners, sold to third parties, etc. The MOF course isn't. Etc, etc, etc. These differences hold back adoption

If MS wants to do big joined up stuff with MSF and MOF, then, they should:

1. Make the 2 MOF courses MOC and include them in the MOC curriculum. Enable them to be ordered in the same way as we can order all other MOC. MS training should be delivered through one channel - MOC, not many different, inconsistent ones.

2. Make MCT requirement of MOF consistent with MSF - namely any MCT can teach (although as for MSF recommend the MSF practitioner exam). It would be good to insist on the practitioner exams for MCTs, but that might be pushing it. If an MCT is good enough to teach MSF, then he should be good enough to teach MOF.

3. Create a MOF Practitioner exam similar to MSF exam (this time please use VUE too!). The two frameworks should have similar levels of certificationf requirement.

4. Drop the requirement in MOF for the external ITIL certification. Don't get me wrong, ITIL contains a great deal of great information, but there should be no need for an external certification. MS should create a MOF Practitioner exam that means something and covers the ITIL underpinnings of MOF. ITIL should very heavily 'recommended' - but it should not be mandatory.

5. Include MOF and MSF exams as electives for MCDBA, MCSD and MCSE. If you want to build ground-root support, then make it part of the MCP path.

6. Create a public microsoft.public.mof newsgroup and select MVPs for .mof and .msf groups. Again, make MOF equivalent to MSF in terms of support.

7. Require Gold CTECs to have MOF and MSF practitioners on staff. This really is a no-brainer!

8. Ensure every MOC course, MSDN book, and every related MS Press includes some mention of solution design (using MSF) and solution operation (MOF). Evangelise the frameworks

9. Ensure MSF/MOF exams appear on MCP transcript and on MCT CEC section. MSF and MOF certifications should be part of the MCP programme and included on the transcript.

10. Sit back and watch adoption of these two key frameworks grow.

I've now published these ideas in the private MCT newsgroups and the public MSF newsgroup. Everyone I know who's read the ideas think it's a good idea. One MS Product manager said 'good input'. Thus far, nothing's actually been done.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Demon and Payments

It's nice to see Demon are living up to their clueful reputation again (or is that still). Years ago, I had a Demon business account. It lasted for a year then itw was moved. For some reason, they think I still owe them £57.95. They've never invoiced for that amount, and have never explained the charge. Oddly, I still have a Demon account and pay for it regularly.

We've been trying to tell them that for a couple of years. Each time we do, we get a 'we will sort this out'. For a while the statements stop, but then they re-appear. We keep ignoring them. However, now they've called in the credit folks, in the shape of 1st Credit. They don't have a web site, but their address is Bancroft Road, Reigate Surrey, RH2 7RP.

Anyway-talking to the folks at 1st Credit this morning, all I got was waffle. They and I have no idea of what is what or why this amount is owed. I'm almost looking forward to this going to court! Although this is unlikely - even Demon wouldn't be so silly as to take someone to court for something they do not owe! Or would they?

Where does he get the time?

I've been looking at a number of on-line web logs tonight. Some utterly boring, others more interesting. It's a phenomenon that is most interesting. As someone who is keeping a web log - I wonder if there really is any point. Will the scholars of the next century look back on this in the way we look back on the Egyptians, and paper scrolls?

One web log (by Robert Scoble of Microsoft) is huge. Yesterday's entry, for example, runs to over 1500 words, which seems his normal daily length. My monthly Windows column for ESM Magazine runs to about this length. This often takes a day or more to create!

Much of Scoble's web log is really pretty boring stuff. Lot of references to other bloggers (who also seem to reference him a lot!), and lots of other self-important sounding stuff (is he really the 'we' in all the 'we are doing xxx'??). One thing he says, however, makes me somewhat angry. He says "as an MVP I had access to the Windows source code " which is patently untrue since the programme for sharing source to MVPs had not begun when he was am MVP. I assume he's confused.

I can't help wondering where guys like Scoble get the time from. If he worked for me, I'd be asking him to spend a little more time doing what he's being paid for, and a lot less time playing the stage and taking credit for being in charge of Microsoft. If he worked for me, he'd be spending his time making my products better, not making himself look important.

But I'm just grumpy today.

Third Case of Theft at Microsoft

The Register reports another theft at Microsoft. Another case of somone ordering software internally then selling it on the outside. I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry. I can see how it happens, but it hurts when I think of all the very honest folks at Microsoft.

Every time things like this happen, security gets tighter and tighter - which makes things harder for everyone.

Oh well.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Does anyone actually read this stuff?

Folks writing blogs spend all that time and effort, typing stuff in, looking at it as it's published, updating it, fixing the spelling mistooks, re-drafing stuff that's unclear, etc, etc, etc. But then what? Does anyone ever read this blog? If you do, mail me at - I'd be interested if anyone at all is reading this!

Fixing Those Old Passport Blues

Over the past year or so, I've started having to use Microsoft's Passport to get access to various web sites. Like many users, Passport is far from trouble free for me. The solution offered is usually to delete all your cookies. Now we all knew that while it works, it's really a pretty drastic step - assuming you use cookies! And I do

At last someone at MS has worked out the underlying problem and a sensible KB article has emerged;en-us;274776. This KB is aimed at Money, but the passport is the same no matter which site you use (and so is the fix)! A decent solution at last. Horray!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Things that impress me

I get a daily email newsletter, Paul Thurrot's WinInfo Daily Update. At one time, this newsletter was something he did off his own bat, but then he joined Windows 200 Magazine, as it was then, and now writes the newsletter as part of Windows &.NET Magazine's. It's not a bad newsletter, although I don't always agree with his take on things.

Like for example, his report in his 11th July Short Takes edition, when he reported Microsoft's donation to Iraqi war relief. He writes: Microsoft--or, as I like to think of it, "The Great Philanthropist"--announced this week that it's donating $150,000 toward the Iraqi relief effort. Microsoft presented the gift, which will support the Iraqi people and alleviate the humanitarian suffering they endure in the aftermath of the recent war, to the UAE Red Crescent, which is analogous to the American Red Cross. "We greatly appreciate the kindness and generosity shown by Microsoft," a UAE Red Crescent representative said. "The donation will be used to increase the level of medicines and medical aid, as well as ensuring the delivery of food parcels to families throughout various locations in Iraq. Don't break the bank, Microsoft. "

Thinking about the value of this cash donation - I was impressed. It was one of those things that Microsoft really did not have to do. It's a very generous gift. Paul's reporting up till the last sentence was nice. Then had to go ruin it. :-( One wonders how much Paul's donated to help to rebuild Iraq? Microsoft's kind donation was something that impressed me. Paul's somewhat mean-spirited reporting didn't. No matter you look at it, the last sentence of this report really was uncalled for.

Sunday, July 13, 2003

Patching is Broken - Shock horror - Film at 11

In early May, I had the opportunity to meet with Steve Ballmer and I told him that patching was just too hard. And because it was so hard, people did not do it. I asked him to make it easier.

I'm glad to say he, and Microsoft was listening! I'm doing research today for an article for ESM magazine. I came across a statement from Scott Charney at Microsoft made at TechEd inDallas in June. He he states: So I started looking at it, and what I realized was patch management was broken. It is broken

Wonder why he started looking at it? :-)

But luck over timing aside, what I find slightly amusing is his reasoning as to why this problem exists. Charney says: And one of the interesting things I learned is the things that make Microsoft a great company is also what made patch management unworkable. ... our company is very decentralized, very end-user empowered and very Darwinian. You can have a group over here that says, "I have a good idea and I'm going to build something," and a group over here that says, "Well, you know what, that's not a bad idea but we can build a better mousetrap over here and we're going to build ours," and another group will say, "We're going to build ours." And what ended up happening, of course, is today there are eight different installer technologies within Microsoft.

I guess I'm glad that, at long last, MS understand this and is working to fix it. But what I'm currently keeping my eye on is his statement that: "By the end of the year, instead of eight installer technologies we will have two, one for operating systems and one for applications. "

I'm watching...

Friday, July 11, 2003

Security Training

I've been looking at security training today and there sure are a lot of certifications and certification programmes!


1. Security+ Certification from Comptia

2. The MCSE:Security and MSSA:Security certs from Microsoft

3. CISSP and SSCP from ISC

4. etc, etc.

With all this security training, why isn't security a non-issue?

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Google Tool Bar Updated

The new Google Toolbar - it's still only in beta but it helps to turn stuff into blog entries. I suppose that's a good thing. It's got some other cool features like being able to block pop-ups which is a really good thing!

Back From Teched

Teched was, for the 3rd yuar running, in Barcelona. Barcelona may be a great city to play in, but tough to do business in. Getting around is hard - traffic is appaling. And for those of us who like to enjoy ourselves in the evening, taxis are hard to find late at night. Then there was the venue that was miles away from 'downtown' combined with the transport arrangements. Next year it's in Amsterdam again (Horray!).

But TechEd was a heck of a lot of fun. I met a bunch of really smart people, and was able to combine a bit of business with a bit of pleasure. The RD group was invited out to the Restaurant Barcelonetta. It's in the marina, and we had a table open to the water. It was a fantastic view, and the food was excellent. I recommend it!

One of my highlights of Teched was our MS and Open Source talk. It was very interesting and it certainly was very topical. As soon as I get permission, I'll blog the comments we got.

I also spent time on the Ask the Experts stand - answering questions on Windows 2000/3 and Active Dierctory, plus fielding questions about Virtual Server. It was fun - and interesting to hear real customer feedback.