Windows Home Server – first impressions


Well, it’s excellent – in a word…..

I have to say it’s a very impressive bit of software – the most stable and functional piece of Beta 2 software I think I’ve ever used. I got my invite 36 hours ago – an overnight download, and an install the following night have got me to this post….

The install was painfully simple – pop the DVD in, boot and about 5 (possible more like 3) clicks later – it’s done…. so simple even my dear old Mum could probably manage it!

The initial user experience is good – it’s a very simple desktop – think stripped down Windows 2003. The console connection is clear and easy to use, and overall it’s a doddle.

My only complaint so far is the keyboard “support” there’s no option to choose what keyboard you have – so it defaults to US…. not a huge issue I hear you say – but it’s a PITA when you use @ or ” in your initial password – they’re reversed on UK / US keyboards – so logging in from a UK laptop later means you think you’ve gone mad for a couple of minutes 🙂

There’s also no obvious way to change the administrator password once you’ve set it – so if it’s compromised – you’re SOL as far as I can see at the moment – I’ll do some more testing on this one tonight and post more if I find it.

PC Backups are very cool – you install the connector software, it automagically finds the server, gives you a link to the shares and the console software and you can then setup the backups from the console in a matter of minutes – pick what you want to exclude – rather than what you want to backup – novel idea – and quite nice I think…. means you’re less likely to miss something important (and it automagically removes stuff like your pagefile and temp directories – very clever) The backup then kicks off – and it looks pretty fast – I don’t have an exact time as I got booted off the PC – WAF still counts for something 🙂

I’ll post more in the coming days as I try to work out how to migrate my data across (4 drives in a Firewire enclosure) – should be fun 🙂


What everyone’s talking about…


Well, I’ve been added to the popular gang – I’ve been invited to join the Windows Home Server beta!

I’ve grabbed the software and got my key – I just need to juggle some disks around to get myself some hardware – I’m just short a big disk… so it might be an EBay job – I’ll just have to see if I have enough free space to move data and pull one from my array – if not a 500Giger from EBay sounds tempting 🙂

 Lots more details and info to follow I’m sure as I start testing and playing around with it.


Windows Home Server – read this grasshoppermind!


I was chatting yesterday with my former boss – a nice fellow – he’s now doing ¨consultancy¨ for small businesses and SBS install etc – we were chatting about this and that and I mentioned WHS…. Cue blank look from Rob….. tut tut – working for in the SoHo realm and not knowing about this? Shame on you…… more shame on you for not blogging since August – and I thought I was slack!!

Still the point of this post it to try and get Rob up to speed – so here’s the links to the most important thing Microsoft have done in a long time (I’m biased as my Vista laptop has just died and I’m back on XP – and I think I prefer it to be perfectly honest!)

Beta 2 of WHS is out now – Sign Up here

Forums are here

Team Blog here

Requirements for WHS Beta 2 (and a blog you should read)

Get reading, learning and inwardly digesting….. Enjoy….


Now for the things I’m NOT excited about….

MacWorld – usually a love-fest for Steve Jobs, and all things IPod…. has proved that apple fan-boys are even more full of shit than I thought they were….. where’s the innovation in this?

  • Music Player – been done.
  • Touch Screen – see it before.
  • E-Mail – yep, got that. Web Browser – yawn…..
  • Ooooh, hang on – oh…. no it’s EDGE (not  a lot of use in the UK) – not 3G / HSDPA – so not worth having for data really in this day and age…..

Where’s the “Breakthrough Internet Device”? All I see is a bunch of things my Ipaq 3970 could do with my bluetooth enabled phone 3-4 years ago – OK so it’s all in one piece of hardware now – but it’s not exactly NEW….. My E61 will do all of the above – and it’s 3G…… 🙂

As for the AppleTV announcement – can I be any more underwhelmed? It’s not 1080i – just 720i so it’s not Hi-Def enough for my liking…. and it’s all DRM’d up – the usual Apple “Fairplay” bullshit – so I can share the content with 3 TV’s in my house – big fuckin’ deal – I still need to cable them together somehow as far as I can see…. what use is that?

Steve – I’m sorry to say this – but I just don’t give a shit…. I’d LOVE a MacBook Pro – running Vista of course….. 🙂 but OSX would be nice to play with now and again…. but the whole “I-<insert random name here>” thing fails to get my juices flowing…. I like to rip my CD’s to MP3 without DRM and be able to move them around and put them on whateve device I like – I HATE the idea of being tied into a bullshit ecosystem that means that I can’t change to the device that I like….

</rant> 🙂


I want one….. please let me beta test this?

I’ve NEVER been as excited about a Microsoft announcement as I am about this one.

Charlie, I’d more than like to test this – I’d LOVE to…… I think I’d be a perfect example of what you need to test it – data syncing using a combination of Foldershare and SyncToy and a bunch of batch files / ftp’s etc. 

Music / Photo’s / Documents etc. on 3 Laptops and 4 PC’s, Firewire attached disks with loads of storage and multiple copies of all my data – I’ve probably got in the region of half a terabyte of backups dotted around my house (and with my parents for offsite storage) – all being updated (at least) once a day (if not in real-time) and weekly / monthly archives I’ve got for a final worst-case rollback…

Please, please, please can I it? I’ll test any hardware you like – it doesn’t need to be the HP kit – although it’s rather nice and might just have the WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor) that I’ve been looking for – the heat / noise / power use combo that my current strategy has is something of a problem on the WAF front – it’s not very popular – but probably not a Divorcable Offense like losing all of it!!

The Xbox360 is coming soon to complete the setup – and one of these to go with it would be perfect – it might just justify the 360 – anything that makes it easy to show off the wedding photo’s whilst streaming the music to go with them would be considered a “Good Thing” TM

The ideas that Rick has are excellent and to have voiced them a year ago is visionary, I have to agree with him that they could have done more – but for version 1.0 it’s looking pretty good!

So, if there’s anyone out there from the Windows Home Server team that wants to send me some test kit – I’d be more than happy to give it a trial run?


Money – apparently it makes the world go ’round

Silly me – I always thought it was some sort of gravitational phenomenon 🙂

Seriously though – whilst I do this “blogging thing” for a bit of a laugh – you can tell how seriously I take it by the frequency of my posts!! – it’s be nice to cover some of my hosting costs (currently a few $ per month with CrystalTech) so I’ve opened an Adsense account with Google – I’ll see how it goes – any comments good or ad gratefully received!!  Enough feedback and I may even turn them off – I’m jus intrigued to see what sort of adds they provide and if I get any hits!

Anyway… more posts to come – there things at CES that I REALLY like the sound of…….  


Back from oblivion….


As I hinted at here, I’ve been working on a mail related project…. Well it’s finally over and I’ve got some time to blog again… and it feels nice!

It’s been a busy few months, and December has been double-long (60+ extra hours in the first fortnight!!) but it’s been worth it. The new mail platform for is done. I have to pass much thanks on to the team at Mirapoint here in the UK – they have been consummate professionals throughout the project and the positive feedback we’re getting now is proof that it’s been worth the effort.

I was given the project early in the year (within a month of starting) and it was no small project either – webmail and POP3 / IMAP access for ~27000 people all of whom live within 1 hours drive of me! The existing platform was becoming increasingly flaky and customer complaints were growing by the day.

There was no margin for error – the migration had to work and it had to work first time. As I mentioned living as I do, on the Isle of Man – no-one is more than an hour away by car – so the potential for “feedback” coming and biting me was very real and slightly terrifying.

As it turned out, it all went very well, we had a few issues and I’m sure there’s a couple of our customers who might disagree with me, but all in all it was a very smooth changeover. I’d make a couple of suggestions to anyone who is considering a major platform change like this in future…..

  • Ensure you make sure your password policies are the same – so if your old platform is not case sensitive – make sure your new one isn’t! This caused a bit of pain…..
  • Make sure the rest of your infrastructure is ready to handle the increased load. A change like this makes a lot of people “test” the new system out – so make sure your call centre staff have been trained on the basics and that support services such as DNS are fully specced to handle the load.

Over-all it was hard work but extremely rewarding – and not a fortnight I’d like to go through again any time soon 🙂

I’d just like to name a few people who deserve extra thanks for making it all go so well…. Tony, Kev, Steve, Dickie, Sarah – you all deserve medals – and the rest of you (you know who you are) – I couldn’t have done it without you!

Finally – there’s one person who deserves thanks more than anyone – my wonderful wife Becs – without your patience and understanding I think I’d have gone mad!


Right – back to normal service now – I’m promising myself that I’m going to blog more in 2007 – it won’t be hard to do more than 2006 – but I’m going to work on it…… 😉


WordPress 2.0.4 Upgrade

Well, I’ve finally done it – I’ve upgraded to the latest build – and I’m doubling my chances of this all going a bit pearshaped by using Windows Live Writer to publish this post – the first time I’ve tried it…. so wish me luck!!

So far, I have to say that the experience has been good – the interface is nice and easy to use, it’s detected my blog settings (I hope) and it seems to allow me to create drafts easily – so I might actually post bits of interest more often – I’ll have to see how things go over the next couple of days…. if the integration with the Live toolbar works like I think it should, I should be able to flag stuff for posting later – save the drafts and write something meaningful about the link when I ahve time!

Anyway I going to try out a couple of the other features – such as images etc and see how it performs….

edit – images don’t work to wordpress – I think I need to do some more digging on that one…. bugger!

I’ve got some music reviews to do in the coming days – I’ve found a couple of great bands / artists that I want to get the word out about – so I’ll be testing the changes more in the coming days – in the meantime check out Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly! and YoYo Hearts – the YoYo’s are supporting GCWGF on the Island next month – can’t wait to see them both live…. There’s other stuff I want to review – but I need to find the links that lead me to them – so I can give “props” to the people who have pointed me in the right direction!