Sunday, September 25, 2005

Updated Version of Monad coming soon

During PDC, Microsoft released Beta 2 of Monad. I documented where to get Beta 2 in a recent blog post. However, at PDC, MS also relased an updated version of the CLR - which is incompatible with Monad B2. The good news is that an updated drop of Beta 2 is appaerntently being prepared that will target the updated CLR. No idea when this version is going to be going to a general release - but I expect is going to be coming to downloads soon.

Tweakiing Microsoft Windows Vista

Although Microsoft Vista (aka Longhorn client) is at least a year away from release, there are already sites to help you tweak Vista. has hints and tips to help you tweak Vista. Of course, many of these are tweaks are not supported. But given how poorly the current version sof Vista run on my hardware, unsupported tweaks that get Vista working are most welcome.

The Tweakvista softare is donloadable from:

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Office 12, so far

I have been searching this morning for more Office 12 information and came across Niklas’ blog and a post titled "Microsoft Office 12, so far". It's a good look at the cool things coming in Office 12. I've seen some of these features demonstrated, and I like most of them, particularly the PowerPoint improvements. As in an earlier version of Office, it'll be PowerPoint that will be my killer excuse for upgrading. And while Outlook looks nice, I'm still sticking with Turnpike for now as my main mail client.

Niklas also mentions the lack of any sort of Classic mode for the UI, and his bet with a journalist friend. While I do think that most power users can get used to the lastest Office UI, I can see an initial loss of productivity, and/or the need for some training. And of course, some of the older add-ins are not going to work as nicely as they did in the current versions of Office. It remains to be seen if this initial productivity drop and loss of features is a real issue, or just another up front cost worth paying for productivity down the line.

I'm also not sure how I'll feel, once I get over the newness, about all the added eye-candy (the floating menus, ribbons changing, etc) particularly on my older and slower systems. This makes for a very cool demo, but I wonder whether this is just more flashy eye-candy that gobbles system resources, or a valuable paradigm shift delivering greater productivity. We'll see. I'm sure keeping an open mind on the overall value, even if I can not escape the view that more conservative corporates may find a Classic Mode desirable.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Really, Really - Thank you Dell^wGetronics

Further to my Dell saga - just after 9:00 a nice lady rang my mobile to say the Engineer would be there today. Half an hour later another call and I was told the engineer would be there by 5:30. Just after 1:00, the engineer, from Getronics, turned up and in 8 minutes changed the keyboard, confirmed he sees an awful lot of this sort of problem with the 'desktop replacement' type laptops, and was off.

Summary: over an hour on the phone to get a call booked, but 8 minutes to get the problem fixed. Once again Getronics guys do a really great job. Shame about Dell India.

Office 12 Makeover takes on 'feature creep'

CNET has a story about Office 12's radical makeover. Last week at PDC, MS took the wraps off the new Office 12 UI, showing it both in private and public sessions. Many of the innovations in O12 are stunning. I am already in love with PowerPoint 12. But as I was forcefully reminded today, as an MVP, I am not the 'normal' office user.

The CNET story concentrates on the new ribbon bar. The CNET story may not be clear that O12 also loses drop down menus. Thus many of the custom add-ins as well as the product itself, will work differently. It's a radical change that even MS admits is going to take users up to 2 weeks to get comfortable with the new UI. For some power users, this is going to be wonderful - there are a ton of new features that wil make my life richer!

My only question: where's the Classic UI mode? Just like there was a Word Perfect for Word mode in earlier versions of Office, and like the ability to turn XP's theme service off to look like Windows 2000? It would appear that there is no intention to have such a mode - and if so, I feel this could be a mistake. I'd like to be proven wrong and really am looking forward to being able to use stable code to find out for myself.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

No really - thanks Dell

I reported earlier my disapointing experiences with Dell's Laptop support in Europe, currently outsourced to India. Much to my surprise and with only a few minutes to go before I had to leave for the day, another supervisor from Dell actually rang back with some good news!

He started by insisting that keyboards are not covered under the warranty - at least that's how I understood what he was saying - I continue to have great difficulty hearing and understandging. However, he said that since I am such a valuable customer, and just this one time only, and never to be repeated they'll get me the keyboard tomorrow. GREAT!/p>

But then came the news that they expected me to fit it myself. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a dangerous man with a screwdriver in my hand. And as for power tools or usign tools near power, let's not even think about going there. I patiently explained that I was really not competent to do the work. After several more explanations of my utter incomptence, eventually, he relented. An engineer is ordered up (but they can't tell me when it will arrive) and a keyboard is to be delivered.

But before the call finished, the chap did his obligatory Dell customer satistaction speach. You know - Dell are going to be sending me a questionaire and he wanted me to know how important it was, blah blah, blah. Then he started asking me a bunch of satisfaction questions as an oral survey. I really fealt obliged to say whatever he wanted to hear.

So how do I really feel now? I'm sure glad the computer is going to be fixed, but it has not happened yet. That bit is good. But I sure don't feel very good about Dell as a company.

I became a Dell customer in 1988, and must have purchased 50 or more systems for my home/business/family over the years. I was at one time a Dell VAR. I've always rated their systems - and this Inspiron was no exception. Given my extensive use, keyboards tended towards needing replacing on ocassion but I can live with that. And given the importance of the laptop to my work, I am only too happy to pay for the extended warranty. If Dell has it's figures clost to right, then they are making a profit on the warranty too. Good for them - for me the extra money is trivial in comparison to the peace of mind. Dell seem to have forgotten how imporant that is to folks like me and that is a shame.

Thanks a Lot Dell

I have a Dell Inspiron Laptop. It's a couple of years old, is well used and well worn. It was bought for me by QA, my employer via a dealer (as oppsed to me direct). On Monday, the "N" key popped off and I am at home and trying to get a service call booked to get a new keyboard. I started this entry after haning on for 20 minutes.

The first hurdle is that I do now know who the dealer was that my IT group bought the laptop through - it was two years ago! The first Dell person spoke to, "Trisha", was unhelpful. Unless I knew all the details of where we bought it, they won't service it. This was odd - as it was not a problem in the past. When they replaced the keyboard for the same fault, or when they had to replace the mother board and inernal power supplies, or when they had to provide a new screen, or when they replaced the NIC.

So then I got through to an Indian chap who insisted on a PIN number. Which I've never heard of. Unless I told him the ping numer, the original order numer, or the name of the person who placed it he could not help.

I then spoke to a supervisor. He reported the same story. He also claimed that there hand been never been a service call on this computer. Which is clearly wrong. After a discussion, he offered to conference in Cusomer Care - where we could get the tag info sorted so then he could help me. It seemed a sensible move. Except he transferred me to a woman in the Home Computer department who could not help - and she forwarded me to Dell India's main help desk who then transferred me back to Ireland.

Back to the start in 40 minutes. While holding on, I used my mobile to phone our IT manager, who was quickly able to give me the name of the dealer and so I was able, 45 minutes later to start the whole thing again. The Eire Reception were happy with the name I provided, and I then settled down again to lisetn to the recorded "we are having alot calls it will take time time...." Finally, I got to an Indian tech, "Ram", who was very hard to understsand - I had to repeat everything to him 2-3 times so he could understand me, and I had to get him to repeat things too. After a few more minutes, going through the the whole thing again - he tells me keyboards are not covered under the warranty. I then got passed to his supervisor who tells me that since it's only one key that's broken, it's my problem.

I've re-explained to the supervisor what the probelm is. I've offered to send him the phone camera pix. He's ended the call with "let me call you back" which I fear is Dell speak for no further action until I call again.

So here I am - after 54 minutes on the phone, and less than two days from an international trip and my laptop is stuffed and the manufacturer refuses to honour the warranty. Dell - I hope you are listening. This is no way to treat your loyal customers. This is my 5th Dell laptop - and it looks like being the last.

A JetBlue airliner makes an emergency landing at LAX.

What a Landing! In case you are unaware aqbout what I'm on about, here's a link to the video. Amazing flying skills!!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

jaMSH - an interactive shell for Monad/MSH

I just discovered this new shell for Monad. Called jaMSH, it has a bunch of features missing in MSH. These include rich and flexible command-line editing, Emacs and VI modes,session history, as well as rich completion. jaMSH also provides run-time loading of Cmdlets and Providers and offers higher configurability than MSH. Oh - and it's freeware!

Monad at PDC

Monad-MSH was well represented at the PDC with a variety of things happening. In no particular order:

Monad Mentioned in Bob Muglia's keynote - this was perhaps the key event - once a VP announces a technology, it rarely gets cancelled.

Monad Track Lounge - there were some tables, chairs, sofas, plus net access and power, in the middle of one of the huge halls, where the Monad guys (and a few others) hung out and chattted. The sofas were incredibly comfortable, and it was fantastic talking to the Jeff, Lee, Jim, Bruce, and Jeffrey - undersanding their thinking and listing to their plans. I'd like to think that there was some good feedback too! The guy behind the really cool product called SystemScripter was there showing his latest beta - hopefully he's going to produce a Monad version soon!

Monad Hands On Labs - there were three Monad HOLs. One on scripting, one on cmdlets and the last on providers. I am hoping we can get these labs published more widely - they were pretty good and I'd like to play more with the provider and cmdnlet labs here at home!

Monad and E12 Demonstrated - as I blogged during PDC, Vivek, an Exchange guy, showed me the Monad tools for Exchange 12 - WOW!! There was also great talk on the E12 APIs where more of monad was shown. This was very refreshing to see!

Jeffrey and Jim did a Monad Talk - and this too was awesome. Not sure what the scores were, but the room was fairly full. There was a rumour going around that the session was to be repeated, but sadly it did not happen.

Language Panel - Bruce took part in a dynamic languages panel, but I was unable to get to that. :-(

Ask The Experts - more hanging out with the Monad guys, eating and drinking and enjoying the company.

It was a good week for Monad!

Monday, September 19, 2005

A Funny Thing Happend at PDC

PDC this year was a blast. Some great technology (more of which in later blog posts) and a lot of fun. On particularly amusing incident occured on the Monday, I was attending a Regional Director side meeting, with around 50 RDs from around the world, being briefed on a variety of things by key MS folks. A very useful day, but I digress.

Anyway - at one of the late morning breaks, who should show up, but Miguel de Icazza, the guy behind Mono, and now a Novell Vice President. He was handing out leaflets for his Mono off-PDC session. He had offered a Birds of a Feather session, but it had rejected. So there he was, handing out Mono stuff to the RDs - perhaps MS's best independent supporters and advocates! You had to admire his cheek. But it was done with a great sense of humour.

A litte bit later, the RDs assembled for the traditional group mug shot - Miguel tried to blag his way into the photo. And he nearly got away with it. The pictures tell the rest of the story. I take my hat off to the guy!

Microsoft Desktop Deployment Planning Services

I've just had notice that Microsoft are rolling out more partner training around Desktop Deployment. They plan to offer a course, known as Desktop Deployment Planning Services (DDPS). This training is aimed at partners servicing Microsoft Select and Enterprise Agreement customers. The DDPS course, which I understand start in November, is four days long - we're running several in both Swindon and London. The first three days are self paced Hands-on-Labs drilling down into latest version (version 2.5) of the Business Desktop Deployment Solution Accelerator. This is followed by a final day providing more details of the overall deployment programme, as well as details on how to create the lab envivironment in which do demonstrate the deployment solutions to a customers.

Microsoft says the course "has been developed to train partners to successfully deliver these pre-defined service offerings to our customers. It will help partners understand the business value of upgrading and how to assess costs of migration for customers. They will see the latest tools, technologies, and best practices for deployment including the zero-touch deployment solution. They will learn to create a lab-based setting for the customers to demonstrate the solution. In addition, they will learn how to create a high-level desktop deployment plan for customers to help them upgrade to the latest version of Windows and Office.

This should be a lot of fun, as well as useful to the partners doing deployment. So if you are a MS partner elegible to attend, please book early as these are likely to get filled up fairly quickly!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Google Blog Search is released

The guys at Google have just released another cool too - Google Blog Search. It does what it says - it searches blogs. Google has also added a blog search capability to blogger. It's in "beta" now (whatever that means these days), but it seems pretty good. And it's fast

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Wireless networks could get a boost reports on a new set of wireless chips that can transfer data at a rate of up to 240 megabits a second. Even after factoring in wireles overhead this data rate is still faster than the typical home network using 100mb Ethernet.

Monad and Exchange 12

While it's a bit early to be getting overly excited about Exchange 12, I've just had a quick demo of the MSH components in E12 from Vivek, an Exchange guy. It's pretty much what you'd expect - lots and lots of cmdlets, that work like, well, they work like cmdlets! Awesome! As I said to Vivek, this could make me enthusiastic about Exchange!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Windows Vista version of ISO Recorder

ISO Recorder is a cool too that enables you to copy a CD/DVD to an ISO file, as well as to burn a CD/DVD from an ISO file. The author has now created a version for Vista, which is now available from

This is an early build with its share of issues, but it can burn DVD images. There are both 32 and 64-bit builds.

And thanks to Mark Allen for finding the error in the earlier version of this post!


I'm at PDC - attending a side meeting prior to the PDC. Really looking forward to hearing details of new stuff - Sparkle (if you believe Mary Jo) is dead cool, and we'll be getting a new build if Vista, and one that may actually run on my laptop. Of course there will be some cool MSH sessions.

But as seems all to common at large MS conferences in the US, the wireless connectivity is poor. I've been trying to get enough connectivity to send this mail for nearly 3 hours now. I've tried 4 separate wireless cards, including an Orinoco card with an external antenna - all to no avail. The good news is that there appears to be a bunch of Ethernet cables around the place.

Additionally, the reverse lookup on MS's conference gateway has not been setup - thus my ISP rejects my attempts to send mail. I tried to mail this blog entry into Blogger , but no joy Apparently this is a "security" measure. Security trumps usability yet again. :-(

Finally, and to add insult to injury, we've just lost all power in the conference room, the whole conference centre, and , parts of the city as well.

This is going to be an interesting week.

PDC - lot of new stuff coming

I've been in a largely-NDA meeting today hearing about the new things that MS are planning on revealing this week. We've hard about Office 12, Vista, as well some new technologies whose code names are still under NDA. If you are an IT Pro,or a developer, watch out for the post-keynote blog entries! There's a TON of really cool technology coming to a PC near you.

The best news thus far is that an updated Vista build is going to be handed out to PDC delegates tomorrow. I hope this one is able to be loaded and run on my laptop.

Monday, September 12, 2005

MSH Beta 2 Relased

Microsoft has just uploaded the new release to Download Center and the bits are now live! For x86 go to: and for x64:

Questions or comments to the newsgroup nntp://

Sunday, September 11, 2005

New Version of MSH Coming on Monday

To coincide with the Professional Developer's Conference in Los Angeles, Microsoft is going to be shipping a new updated version of MSH. Major new features from Beta 1 include COM Interoperability (which means you can now interact with COM directly from the command line!) plus support for script signing. More details will be available on Monday.

I've been playing with this new version for a few days and it's great, although I've not done too much with COM interop yet. I will be posting new scripts up to page.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

PDC and Monad

I'm at Heathrow, about to leave for PDC. As I'm about the board the plane, I see that MS has announced a new build of MSH to be deliverd soon, which has COM support. There will aslo be some other Monad-MSH things at PDC. If you are at PDC, watch your Commnet Desktop/Mailbox {grin}.

Well, the boarding call has come and it's time to logoff and head to the aeroplane. See you at PDC!

Friday, September 09, 2005

Vint Cerf returns to his roots at Google

In an article on reports that . Vinton Cerf, the `Father of Internet' returns to roots with new Google job.

Mr Cerf is just the most recent hires into Google. BEA Systems Chief Architect Adam Bosworth joined in last year, and in June, so did AltaVista search engine founder Louis Monier. A slew of well-respected engineers from Bell Labs, once one of the premier research labs in the country has also joined, and just last month, so did Andy Hertzfeld, one of the original Apple Macintosh developers.

At one time, Microsoft was the company that folks grew up wanting to go work for - now it looks like Google is taking that honour! It'll be interesting to see what Mr Cerf takes on at Google!

DVD-Only Distribution Planned for Exchange 12

I remember the pain of large numbers of floppy disks, and was so pleased when I could just use a CD. My first CD drive, which I bought during the NT 3.1 beta days, cost me something like £400. Today, the CD is common place. But with the sizes of applications and OSs rising, the CD is quickly becomming the floppy disk of our generation. R2, for example, requires 2 CDs, and the Longhorn/Vista beta builds are both as DVD images (No CD image). And now comees the news that Exchange 12 will be DVD only.

The message this sends to IT pros everywhere - it's time to start ensuring that all your new servers come equipped with a DVD drive.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Win Tweak Manager

Win Tweak Manager is a neat tool that helps you to tweak Windows. Fine more information here.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Hurricane Katrina

The hurricane has always been a drink I associate with New Orleans. I've been knocked out more than once by the drink in NOLA - as some who know me will attest to! But now New Orleans, and a large chunck of the surrouding area, has been devestated by another hurricane. The devestation is, frankly a bit beyond my comprehension - I've never lived in or seen at 1st hand a city 80% under water.

The relief operation is going to take a very long time and a LOT of money. So if you haven't already, consider donating to the relief efforts. If you blog - add a banner to your blog (just go to the Red Cross Site and download one.

Blog Spam

I've started getting blog spam on this blog again. To be clear, this is not welcome . Comments are deleted as fast as I can to avoid you reading this spam, and to avoid the spammers benefitting in any way from spam.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Monad bloggers

I've got a couple of pages at my site around Monad. contains pointers to more information about Monad and it's various aspects. contains a bunch of sample Monad scripts for you to work with and play with. Today, I've also done a couple of more things:

First, I've set up a Monad bloggers page at This page lists all the Monad related blogs that I currently know of. This list is based on the list of Monad bloggers at If you know more, mail me and they'll get added!!

Second, I've taken this list and created a feed at This page: has the latest blog entries from these Monad bloggers.

[28 May 2008] - I've noticed that Kinja is dead and thus this link is no longer v

NB: not all the entries at or the posts from blogs at are all going to be about Monad! The authors of the blogs do have other things on their collective minds (well some do at least). Enjoy anyway!!!

Soduko helps Blog Traffic

I've noticed a recent uptick in blog traffic, and on investigating, I'm getting a bunch of hits from search engine referrals, based on a recent post regarding soduko and how the SQL junkies had been working on an automated solution. To show the global nature of the soduko craze, today, I had a hit from a danish search engine: Jubii Søg - soduko. But what I find curious is that if you search for Soduku in many search engines my post gets a top or near top billing - the post is #1 result at MSN Search (! I just hope a few of the soduku junkies stick around and read this blog!

MSH Script-O-Matic

Raymond is a Dutch MCT and a pretty smart guy. I posted a comment in a newgroup to the effect that a MSH based Script-o-matic would be a really cool idea. Shortly thereafter Raymond mailed his attempt at producing one. After a couple of little issues, it now works. So head here to download this tool! I've also posted the link to the page.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Monad at the PDC

Lee Holmes has a blog post on what the MSH team is doing at this year's PDC conference. There are two primary presentations. The first is just Monad, the other is Monad as part of a languages discussion. There also a couple of Hands On Labs. Can't wait!

Finding QA Bloggers

Further to my recent post about our QA Community site, I have setup a blog list at I'll keep this list up to date as new blogs are added, etc.

I've also pulled these blogs into Kinja's aggregation service. To read the latest blog posts from ALL the QA bloggers, take a look at :

[28 May 2008] - is closed. And QA is no more, having been taken over by a rival some time back (and most of the key bloggers have left). Thus this link no longer works and would be no use even if had worked.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The Interdictor

The Interdictor is a modern survival story. Except it's not a story, it's real - and happening literally before our eyes in New Orleans. Words fail me.

QA Community Page

QA has launched our QA Community page, which links to blogs by people, plus white papers and presentations. Come on over and visit - and please provide us some feedback!!

Displaying Google Page Ranking

Mypagerank.Net are offering a service that enables you to display Google's PageRank for your site. PageRank is an exclusive technology of Google which evaluates the popularity of your Website's pages by a number between 0 and 10. You can display PageRank: either download Google's tool bar, or use the service at This site offers a couple of other Google tools too - one makes a site map for your site which can help Google determine what to index on a site and how often, and Google DC check, that checks page rank and paged indexed across Google's data centres.