Thursday, November 30, 2006

Romeo and Juliet in XML

At TechEd IT Forum in Barcelona, Jeffrey Snover used an XML version of Romeo and Juliet. You can download it from It makes a great file  for demonstratating PowerShell's XML features.

Launching a UK PowerShell User Group

In an earlier blog post, I posed some questions surrounding a PowerShell User Group for the UK. After talking about this with Richard Siddaway and a few others, I have some initial answers, set out below. The good news is that we are moving ahead to form a UK PowerShell User Group.

It's important to note that what follows is just the starting point for the group and is a way of getting it going. Nothing is set in stone, and all the decisions can easily be changed if that's what is wanted.

Who are we?

Keeping with the PowerShell approach to naming, the group is called Get-PSUGUK. Get-PSUGUK is a user group open to anyone with an interest in PowerShell - including administrators and developers. The group should be broadly independent of Microsoft, but closely aligned.

Who runs it?

Richard has assumed the role of Chairman and I'm acting as vice-Chairman. We are trying to keep the user group informal, which means no legal status, at least at present!

We are also hoping to keep the group free to members, through the generosity of sponsoring firms, including Global Knowledge, Microsoft, and Perot Systems.

What do we do?

We meet every couple of months, midweek after working hours to discus PowerShell. We may also run some on-line events if this is something members want. The group will also have a web site, and if we can find someone to take it on, a newsletter.

Where do we meet?

We've decided to hold the first meeting on January 24th 2006 at Global Knowledge's office in Wokingham starting at 18:00. There will be a bit of beer and pizza, sponsored by the PowerGadgets people. The meeting will be free, but open to the first 25 members who register. Future meetings can be held at Microsoft (Reading, London) and Perot Systems in Nottingham - plus anywhere else we can get free meeting space.

How do I join?

To become a member, just send a mail to with your name and a working email address. Currently there is no fee to join or to attend meetings.

Our First Meeting

As noted, the first meeting will be at Global Knowledge on 24th January 2007. The draft agenda is:

  • Discussion on organisation (15 minutes max)
  • Discussion of installation and configuration of PowerShell and install fest (60 minutes max)
  • Beer pizza (30 minutes)
  • A presentation on PowerShell tools (TBA)
  • Round up and planning for the next meeting (25 min max)

Be sure to bring your laptops along and we'll help you to get PowerShell up and running for you.

Next Steps - Call to Action

  • If you are a UK PowerShell fan, then send an email to and become a member.
  • Mark the 24th of January in your diary and plan to turn up. You'll need to send mail to to register for the event.
  • Please comment on this blog if there's anything else we've missed.

PowerShell on Vista

For legal reasons,PowerShell RTM on Vista RTM is not yet available. However, for an enterprising techie, hand installing is not a big deal as this blog post shows. Basically, you copy over code from and XP system and do some registry hacking.

Naturally this is NOT supported, nor is it particularly recommended even if it does work!

And if you are a PowerShell Fan in the UK, pencil  in the evening of January 24th. More  details to follow.

Office 2007 Compatibilty

I've  now upgraded to Office 2007, and I'm finding some minor compatibility issues when I send documents. The issue, recipients are using Office 2003 which does not have native support for the new document formats, is resolved with the Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 File Formats You can download this 27mb program and run it to enable support for the updated document formats within Office 2003.

And while writing, You can also get an add-in for Office 2007 that supports Save as XPS and Save as PDF (or one download one that does both).

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Network Monitor V3 is Released!

Microsoft has just announced the release of Network Monitor Version 3. I wrote earlier around the beta which rocked. But now the team have released it and it's FREE. Get it now!!!

For more information, take a look at the Nework Monitor team web log.


Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Wait for the WAIK is Over!

Yet another part of the EVO story, the Windows Automated Installation Kit, has now been released. The WAIK, says Microsoft "helps you to install, customize, and deploy the Microsoft Windows Vista™ family of operating systems."

You can download it from the Microsoft Download Centre. Interestingly, you are not required to  register or do the WGA thing to get this 829MB download.

And thanks to CA for pointing me in the right direction!


Counter Glitch

As you can see, I have a hit counter in the right column of the blog. Its a free counter provided by Last week, I noticed the counter had hit 50,000 - but suddenly it's dropped to 49,000. A quick look at hits/day graph, at shows a huge drop - with zero hits over the past couple of days. And the summary shows the averages have been reset, or something.

NO  idea what's up


Now the counter is not displaying here and the statistics are empty. :-(


PowerShell User Group - Next Steps

In a recent article, I posted about a UK PowerShell User Group (UKPSUG?). I was hugely gratified to see the comments that readers posted. There have been 13 comments thus far, which is awesome!

Based on the great feedback here, and support in email, we can move forward - so thanks for your input. Culminis is also being highly supportive which should make it easier to get the user group off the ground - they have offered to supply some web space for the group as well as lots of support. Thanks!!

Richard and I are meeting this week to discuss details, but I am hopeful we can get organise an inaugural meeting for sometime in January. My firm, Global Knowledge, has kindly allowed me to use the canteen at our Wokingham offices (and I am hopeful that I might be able to twist some arms to get them to supply the beer and pizza), at least for the first meeting. We can hold 20-30 people which is probably as many as I'd expect at first.

I've also spoken to Microsoft, who are happy to get Jeffrey over to talk to the group once we get it up and functioning - so that's pretty cool. We'll probably need a bigger space for Jeffrey's talk, but we can cross that bridge when we come to it. If you work for a company that can offer the group space for an evening meeting, and better yet the beer/pizza, please let me know - all offers most welcome.

Once we agree on the date for the first meeting, I'll post it here and anywhere else we can find to do so, along with details on how to join in the fun.

Feel free to leave comments to this post concerning what you'd like to see at a UKPSUG meeting, what you'd like to see/do, what information you might like to see on the web site, and any other comments you might have around the activities of this group. Here a set of areas in which comments are most welcome:

  1. What sort of an organisation is this?  By this I mean  what is it's legal status if any? Does it even matter?
  2. Who runs it?  How should we organise ourselves? Should we have a committee, with a committee chair, and a couple of other officers? Or do we need some other organisational structure?
  3. Who pays for it? A user group does cost something to run-if only to pay for the beer and pizza. And of course the second you start to talk about money, the first two points above take on much greater importance. With money comes governance, etc.
  4. Where, when, and how do we meet? What do folks what? Monthly seems ambitious, but with enough extra volunteers to help out it could be done. Maybe once every two months? I'd also suggest we meet in the evenings, mid week in a space to be provided.
  5. What does it actually do? I see it as providing a community for PowerShell users in the UK. That would include regular meetings, some web space, and a strong pointer back toward the MS PowerShell news group (where the product team and  MVPs hang out).
  6. What does it offer and to whom? I see it providing some help and support to anyone in the UK that wants to get more out of PowerShell. I'd hope that members will come to the web site, come to the meetings, and come to the newsgroup to share problems, solutions and fun.

There are probably more things to think about - so comments are most welcome.


Sunday, November 19, 2006

UK PowerShell User Group Anyone?

I got talking at IT forum to Richard Siddaway, a consultant with Perot Systems. We discussed his great idea of a UK PowerShell Users Group. We also chatted to the folks at Culminis who were highly supportive and to a few folks at Microsoft UK. It sure seems a great idea to start up a user group around PowerShell - focused on both developers and admins.

As a teaser, Jeffrey Snover, Powershell's architect (and a very smart man!!!), has agreed to come to and speak to us, if we can get the group going. And I am hopeful we can both get Microsoft interested (Eileen - are you reading this blog??) and can hold some events at Global Knowledge's offices in Wokingham.

Do YOU want a UK Powershell user group?? If so, either drop me a line or post a comment here. Once we get to 10 people saying "YES", we can kick things off.


Downloading of Vistga/Office is Choking

Microsoft released Windows  Vista to the MSDN and Connect sites on Friday of this week. I managed to kick off my download Friday morning (Barcelona time) and finished it off by Saturday Morning UK time. It would have downloaded faster had I not been travelling, but for me it did not really matter as I'm simply to jammed to actually install it.

However, it looks like Microsoft has underestimated the load that the download would create. It appears that the X64 edition as been temporarily pulled, and some MSDN customers say they can's see the X86 version either.

It would be easy to point out the MOF Capacity Management SMF (ITIL has a simlilar SMF), but it would be unfair. I suspect that no matter how much bandwidth/servers MS chucked in, the load would still be high. And besides, this is the first time so much software has been released via the web all at once.

Hopefully, the uber-geeks will have their copies by Monday when the corporate MSDN customers come in to work and want to resume the download.

As an aside, I saw around 10 people yesterday in Barcelona (IT Forum) trying to download. It sure would have been a good idea to have placed an MSDN cache in the IT Forum communication network.

The only question I have is: where's MOSS???


Friday, November 17, 2006

Vista RTM on MSDN, etc

It's early in the morning in Barcelona after yet another late night party at TechEd. While I slept, Microsoft flipped the switch and Vista RTM is on the MSDN site, as well as on the Connect site (for beta testers), and probably elsewhere.

Being the guy I am, I immediately hit MSDN and the DVD is being downloaded now. I'm in the hotel, using the 'b' wireless and I'm getting download speed in the region of 150-175 KB/Sec. Not shabby! I wonder just how much bandwidth and how many download servers MS has dedicated to this download?

So where's MOSS??

Technorati tags: ,

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Windows Powershell Team Rocks!!

This post was supposed to have been posted Tuesday night...

As I reported in an earlier blog post, Microsoft launched Windows PowerShell earlier today at IT Forum in Barcelona. The PowerShell team (well that part of the team that was in Barcelona) was kind enough to host the PowerShell MVPs to dinner tonight at Posit in Barcelonetta - where we got a cool USB stick complete with the RTM code. Naturally, the first thing I did when I got back to my room was to try to install it!

But as I took the cab back to my hotel, I realised that we've seen something a bit special here - a product team with a real difference. Over the 3 years since I first saw Jeffrey Snover demonstrate PowerShell at PDC 2003 (I was the guy in the middle of the room waving a US$20 bill and shouting "I'll buy it NOW!!"), the product has changed a great deal as it has made it to RTM. But throughout the entire time, there was one thing that remained constant - the team's approach to the community and to the beta testers.

To my mind, every team at Microsoft should be like the Powershell team. The team's members are open, decisions are being made in an utterly transparently way, and community input is both welcomed and acted on. Almost since day 1, the team went out of their way to seek community input - they asked for input and responded when it was offered. The beta newsgroups had some of the most intellectually stimulating discussions I've ever seen in any beta product newsgroup. When there were hard choices to make, the team often asked the beta testers what they thought. Sometimes the beta testers provided a better answer, but sometimes not. Irrespective of which side was 'right' the team always took the best answer. And throughout, the goal was very clear - to make PowerShell a great product. I believe that is precisely what they did!

So after over three long years when, at times, I wondered if this puppy would ever ship - they finally did. They've shipped a great product that pretty much every Windows admin will be using sooner or later (sooner in the case of Exchange 2007). Of course this is just one stop in the longer journey - more versions are no doubt being planned just now!

So thanks Jeffrey, Leonard, Arul, for a great dinner tonight, and thanks too to every member of the Powershell team. Thanks for doing such a great job building such a great product. Thanks for taking the time to listen, and respond. And thanks for being such a great example of how to run a dev team. I can't wait for the next beta!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

PowerShell is RTM!

COOL - Jeffrey Snover was in today's IT Forum Keynote announcing that PowerShell has been released. I can't find the bits yet,  but hope to have them soon.

PowerShell Rocks!!


Technorati tags: ,

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Sysinternals Tools for Download

Having acquired Sysinternals, Microsoft has now provided the full Systinternals suite of tools for free download. This is in addition to the recently released Process Monitor that combines several tools which is also available for free download.

Microsoft clearly has both a sense of humour - the BSOD screen has fooled more than one admin! But there are other really useful tools availalable, including Zoomit.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Live Writer Bug(s) Fixed!

In earlier posts to this blog, I highlighted some issues with Windows Live Writer and Google's Blogger Beta. I am delighted to say the issues seem resolved with a new build of Windows Live Writer, which I'm using to create and submit this post.

Thanks to the Live Writer team!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

.NET 3.0 Ships - the Wave Rolls On

Yet another part of the EVO trilogy has made it to release: the .NET 3.0 Framework has been released. This is a core part of Vista, and hopefully when Vista RTM this version of the .NET Framework will be included. And it's nice to see that no Windows Genuine Advantage (SIC) registration is needed.

A Blogger Beta Live Writer Issue Workaround

Those guys at the Live Writer team really rock!. After posting a thank you last night for their kind comment here, I got another blog comment to tell me about a work around for the problem. The workaround was first posted to and is nearly correct but with a bit of common sense works fine! At least most of the time.

The base problem appears to be in the registry keys used by WLW is not correctly set to point to the new blogger beta. The posted workaround asks you to edit a registry key and change two references from to The key you are asked to navigate to is shown in the workaround post as HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Windows Live Writer\Weblogs\2e27accf-425c-4996-9c2d-a075aad9307a. The last part of this key is a GUID, which would appear to be unique for each blog. I have two blogger beta blogs located under the keys HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Windows Live Writer\Weblogs\0eacb7a7-5f1f-46e1-b434-95075a39fb30 and HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Windows Live Writer\Weblogs\d11d04f4-ccb5-425c-98c7-272687d024d0.

The instructions should show the key(s) to edit as HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Windows Live Writer\Weblogs\[BLOG_ID] (where BLOG_ID is a GUID), as noted in the above post's comments! The remaining instructions work to the extent that they allow me to post to my blogs. After some testing, this post is written by WLW and if you can read it, has been posted properly.

There are two small issues with this workaround. First it does not fully resolve the issue with the web log update. If you click "View/Update Weblog Style...", WLW creates a temporary post in your blog and updates the style in WLW. This works, except that the temporary post is not deleted (although you can delete it manually).

Secondly, I am occasionally getting an exception error when trying to post. Here's the exception stack I just got when I tried to post this:

System.Net.WebException: The remote server returned an error: (401) Unauthorized at System.Net.HttpWebRequest.GetResponse()
WindowsLive.Writer.BlogClient.Clients.XmlRestRequestHelper.GetXmlResponse(HttpWebRequest request)
at WindowsLive.Writer.BlogClient.Clients.XmlRestRequestHelper.Send(String method, String uri, HttpRequestFilter filter, String contentType, XmlDocument doc)
at WindowsLive.Writer.BlogClient.Clients.AtomClient.EditPost(String blogId, BlogPost post, Boolean publish)
at WindowsLive.Writer.BlogClient.Blog.EditPost(BlogPost post, Boolean publish)
at WindowsLive.Writer.PostEditor.UpdateWeblogAsyncOperation.DoWork()
at WindowsLive.Writer.CoreServices.AsyncOperation.InternalStart()
at System.Runtime.Remoting.Messaging.StackBuilderSink._PrivateProcessMessage(IntPtr md, Object[] args, Object server, Int32 methodPtr, Boolean fExecuteInContext, Object[]& outArgs)

So I'm back to posting with WLW again and all is mostly well. Thanks to Joe Cheng and the team for the work around even if it's not fully working.

I love this product - and the team sure are proactive. Like I said yesterday, the folks running the MCT web sites could take a lesson here!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Microsoft Evaluation Virtual Machines

Microsoft has just released a series of virtual machine hard disks (VHDs). These VHDs are full evaluation products which are provided to help customers evaluate key MS products (including Windows Server R2, Exchange 2007 and SQL Server 2005). The VHD files are free, although not particularly small! What a great idea! And thanks to Chris Randall for the pointer. [Later] The Windows Server Blog has more details about this programme. Technorati tags: Microsoft, Windows, Evaluation, Virtual Machine

Microsoft Live Writer - What A Great Team!

Earlier today, I posted a comment on the Live Writer site. As noted in an earlier post here, Live Writer was broken by the latest Blogger Beta update. Just after the 10:00 News, I got a comment to this blog from the dev lead Charlie Teague apologising for the problem. Yes, they're aware of the issue and they're working on a fix and will get it out as fast as they can. I can't possibly ask more than that (although I would like a working Live Writer!).

Now this is good service. Other teams at MS should take notice. Particularly the team that runs the MCT sites.

Scattered Notes - Some Good Links

I've been reading the Scattered Notes blog. It has some very good references to e-books and other learning material that focuses on Windows Developer subjects.

NetMon Blog

In a recent article, I wrote about the new beta of Network Monitor 3. It's an awesome product that I'm slowly getting aroud to using and understanging. The Network Monitor team also have a blog which has some good articles on the new version of NetMon. If you are a network geek, get on the beta, download it, and start playing!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Blogger Beta Breaks Live Writer

I'm a real fan of Windows Live Writer a free blogging tool from Microsoft. I have been using this tool extensively since it was launched for both my personal blog and my corporate blog. You can download this tool at the Live Writer web site.

However, the latest version of Live Writer does not work with Google's new Blogger Beta which hosts my blogs). As described in a post in the Live Writer Blog: style detection fails and none of the posts you publish actually show up on the blog. A new build of Live Writer (the one noted in the above paragrah) has not solved the problem - in fact things seem worse. So if you are using the new Google blogging beta, you may want to hold off downloading Live Writer until the team issue a fix. Please fix this Microsoft - and issue an updated build. Please??

Microsoft Rethink Vista Licensing

In a fairly dramatic and last minute U-Turn, Microsoft has announced it is dropping some of the more draconian Vista licensing restrictions. In a recent entry on the Windows Vista blog, Nick White has revealed that plans to restrict licensed users to only being able to re-install Vista once have been lifted. Nick says "Our intention behind the original terms was genuinely geared toward combating piracy; however,it’s become clear to us that those original terms were perceived as adversely affecting an important group of customers: PC and hardware enthusiasts."

There are two aspects to this U-Turn, besides the welcome return of a degree of common sense in Redmond. First, the original idea would have simultaneously encouraged piracy and made Linux look even better which was probably not the intended result. Secondly, while giving way on the lunacy of restricting hobbyists and other PC enthuiasts, MS has NOT given way on the other tightening of Vista licensing. Some might argue that the original restriction was simply a stalking horse - to test the waters to see if the public would accept the tight restrictions. When public opinion, pretty much as predicted, went against the Redmond marketers, MS relented on this point, but not on the requirement for Volume Licensing copie of Vista to be activated (and regularly re-activated).

Product Activation is something prety much universally loathed by every sysadmin I know - and with that loathing comes a dislike of Microsoft (loathing by association, if you will). As one admin I know put it: "I dislike Redmond assuming I'm guilty until I spend a lot of time and effort proving otherwise. And sometimes, even when I'm not guilty, the anti-piracy code thinks otherwise!"


I see comments have been disabled on this article on the Vista Team Blog. I guess they've had enough negative reaction. Turning off comments is one way to prevent further less than positive comments.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Office 2007 Is Finished

I've just had word from a few Redmond pals - Office 2007 has been released to manufacturing (RTM)! Apparently the ship party was a good one.

This is great news! Although for reasons I'm not clear on, the news agencies have not picked it up. Even Mary Jo hasn't commented yet (at least that I've seen). I can't wait to get this on my systems!

[several hours later]

Mary Jo has indeed picked up the story.