Mea Culpa

I know…. it’s boring reading posts from me (assuming I still have a reader….. you there Bobbie?) about how I’ve been a bad boy and not blogged for ages….. well here’s another one – but I kinda have an excuse….

“I’ve been busy” is a kinda lame excuse – but it’s valid this time… I’ve moved teams and house in the last 5 months – not to mention become a 2003 MCSA (I failed the second exam to become an MCSE last Monday… but I have the retake booked..)

Since Becs and I moved in together in our previous house (and especially since we got married,) we’ve been looking for a place to buy together – being a tennant has it’s advantages – but the time was right…. we started looking just after christmas, and found the ideal house in late March – it ticked everything on the “want” list and all of the “would like” list (downstairs loo – check, bigger kitchen – check, garden that faces “the right way” – check, utility room – check, garage / off-road parking – triple-check – 2 car dive & single garage!!)  I’ll post some photo’s once I get back and actually take some of the outside from the front! In the meantime, here’s one of the back of the house about 2 months before it got finished.


It’s a 4 bedroomed detached house – and we’re very happy – thanks for asking!!

As for work and the team move – it’s been on the cards for a little while, and I finally joined the Core IP Transit team about 4 months ago – so I’m now a part of a team responsibile for all of our IP traffic from POP’s in London to CPE / ADSL routers in businesses / homes. We also take responsibility for our MPLS NGN core network in the coming months – so you can imagine what it’s been like for me – I’m a “windows boy” I understand GUI – not Cisco CLI ….. the learning curve has been brutal to say the least. I have an excellent team to work with and ther’s no shortage of dedication and willingness to spread the knowledge – so I’m working long hours and learning a lot – a good combination – but the long hours don’t make Becs all that happy (until pay-day!)

The reason for this post? Well, I’m in London for a CCNA boot-camp to try and ge me up to speed with what I’m meant to be doing day-to-day…. so I’m planning to post something each night about the experience – we shall see…….

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Getting en-tangler-ed…. or where my life is about to vanish into :-)


My new friend dekrazee1 (no link as “commitment” to a blog is a bit too much for her at the moment!) and an old aquaintence Mick have been “good” enough to get me an invite into Tangler and I can feel that it could begin to suck my life away – taking every waking moment – but in a good way 🙂

It’s a chat site – but a bit different to IM or IRC – you can subscribe to conversations and topics – create you own, and generally involve a load of people you’ve never met – an interesting way to get feedback on a website / project / new geek toy / anything else you want opinions on….

I have the ability to invite some friends – I don’t know how many – but leave a comment as to why you should be invited to this very interesting beta and an e-mail address and I’ll get in touch!!


Want a MacBook Pro in the UK?? Under 4 Hours to go on mine…


I’ve chucked my MacBookPro up on E-Bay  – it’s a lovely bit of kit, don’t get me wrong – but I can’t justify it… it’s more than I wanted to spend on a gadget (at the moment anyway) and I really want an XBox 360…

Having WHS also gives me another excuse for an XBox – I can stream everything to it… hide the noisy PC in a cupboard somewhere and enjoy all of my music in the lounge….

Of course this means I won’t be doing my post on OS/X – but suffice to say – it’s going to have to get a lot better Mr Jobs if you’re going to convert me…. I’ve got my copy of Vista Ultimate and an new hard drive to put it on is on its’ way…. I think I’ll be staying Windows for the forseeable 🙂

Anyway – stop reading this and get bidding!!


Windows Home Server – the story so far…


As my regular reader 🙂 will know, I was invited to the WHS Beta last week.

To say I was excited would be a bit of an understatemnt, I’ve been want ing to play with this technology ever since Charlie‘s team announced it at CES! I immediately downloaded the software and documentation, requested my license key and burnt my discs.

The install process has been documented extensively by others who were invited to the party earlier, so I’ll skim over it – suffice to say it was a breeze on an old desktop machine that’s been gathering dust for 18 months – a P4? 1.7Ghz Compaq with ~700Mb RAM and a 120Gb Hard Drive – real bleeding edge stuff 5 years ago!! The only addition was a cheap “e-bay special” Firewire / USB card – no driver issues at all 🙂 The firewire ports are required to connect my additional drives in their external enclosure….. When WHS goes gold I might step up to the 8 bay version :-))

The process of adding disks was very smooth, I managed to clear a lot of data from one of my disks (removing old backups etc.) and moved the remaining data to other drives temporarily – probably the slowest part of the entire process… then I plugges the array into the server and the “issues” began……….

The server saw all the disks – that’s fine, but it re-labels them – so I couldn’t tell which disk was the “blank one” 🙁   So, I disconnected the drives again, and pulled the caddies that had “data storing” disks. Then, after a quick re-connect, I could add my blank drive to the shared pool. This done, I reseated the “full” disks one at a time, and moved data  around accordingly.

  • It’s probably worth pointing out at this stage a few little “features” of WHS and adding storage to the pool.

    1.   Disks must be formatted before they can be added to the pool.

    2.   Once a disk is added to the pool – drive letters in the conventional sense do not exist – they all form part of a big pot

  • 3.  In the console, the individual disks are “visible” (see the screen-shot below) but only for a status readout.


 This leads me to the biggest “issue” I’ve found so far (and at time of writing) the 2nd most highly rated piece of feedback on the Connect site (raised by yours truly!!) – the face that I cannot re-label my disks within WHS.  e.g. I’d like to be able to number my disks from 1-4 for the external disks – top to bottom in the external array. That way, if a disk goes “bad” – and it’s bound to happen – then I can identify it easily without having to pull the drive one at a time to see when the error goes away.

I see this as a VITAL faeture for the finished product – especially if Microsoft want this to become popular with non-techies – at the moment it’s in danger of falling through the cracks between enthusiasts (by not being feature-rich enough) and the “normal” home-user (because it’s too tricky to do the “easy” stuff). Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE this product, and it’s not going to be disconnected from my home LAN any time in the forseeable future – but it’s a way off being recommended to my parents for them to backup their digital photos etc!!

 There’s a very good write-up here from computerworld, and the reviewer seems to be of the same mindset as me when he sums it up with “For my part, now that Home Server is installed on my network, it’s not going to be unplugged”


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> 🙂