Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A week with Windows Server 2012

It has now been a quite a pleasant week with my new and Upgraded 2012 Microsoft Windows Server.

As previously commented I was lazy and chose the upgrade from Microsoft Windows 2008 R2, not  clean install.

Before proceeding further, let us talk money.  Choosing the Server 2012 OS has meant expenditure of

What I'm saying therefore is that the cost of this little exercise was about 600 GBP  (920 USD).

So what did I get for my money?

The upgrade was moderately painful.  I documented the work arounds here

Start Menu - Au Revoir (--)

Yes ,to compound to idiocy of Windows 8, they removed the Start Menu from Windows 2012


This really is unacceptable and judging by the re-appearance of the Start Menu for Windows 8.1  I can assume it will also be back for Windows 2012.

I can get by because this Server is installed with ONLY the absolute minimum applications needed to do its job as file, virtualisation, communications and Media centre.

The Metro Interface therefore is therefore workable.

However Metro concept, i.e. one interface from phone, tablet and desktop PC: well it is just not so convenient.

A WORD to Microsoft: If this is the standard of your corporate decision making, please call me immediately.  I'm sure I can work for you and not screw things up this badly.

Flat User Interface (--)

To me, another stupid move.  Maybe this no frills, early 2000 interface devoid of eye candy, special effects will please some people   (pensioners?)   I am not sure however this was really the target audience.

With some degree of cynisism to me it as if User Interface designers have gone for the easy life and headed back to an interface that ignores the advances of the last decade.

What I do know is that Microsoft and now Apple are both on the GUI simplification bandwagon.  Do they all drink at the same bar, one has to ask?

Shutdown (!)
So if I said I had to Google how to shutdown my computer for the first time.  Well, what can I say about the user interface!   Basically hover the cursor to the bottom right corner of a screen to enable a sliding Popout menu from which clicking on the cog gives the above choices.

NB: Of course ALT+F4 on the desktop still works of course, but I want to do things the /new way/

 Explorer Tweaks (+)

When I copy or moves files, and believe me I do a lot of that, I get a wonderful fancy new graphical interface showing speed and copies.  Fantastic

 After 5 years of remembering the ALT key sequence to create a folder now there is a button to do it.  Small but wonderful.

 Task Manager / Resource Manager  (+)
 You can still populate it with your favourite extra columns

Resource Manager can still display more detail about your running system such as network traffic or TCP ports, packet loss and latency.

The New base CPU Performance screen has clearer presentation

Network Seems Faster (+)
I'm using an Intel i340, 4 port Gigabit card, and 2x1 Gigiabit backup links talk to the outside world.  You need to reinstall the Intel PROset drivers but now I can say

  • I do > 90MB/sec sustained network transfer speed to satellite NAS storage
  • My Crashplan backup (uplink to WAN) seems to have increased from 4M Bit/sec to over 7M Bits/sec sustained. [This might not have anything to do with the MS 2012 WAN drivers though!]
So pretty happy here.

The Intel PROset drivers support Link Aggregation, Hot Standby, Load Balancing, VLAN all directly for Windows 2012.  There are no native Linux drivers.

Things still work (+)
Nothing really stopped working.  And by that I can confirm:

  • Remote desktop still works to remote MS computers
  • VNC still works to remote desktop to remote OSX computers
  • The core applications I use all the time, namely Chrome Browser, VMWare, VLC media Payer, SyncBack file replication, irfan view screen copy, total commander, Skype, AVS converters - all work great.
  • Multiple screen support still works fine

  • Full MS keyboard and mouse support e.g. visuals when you change volume, CAPS works fine

Overall then
The Windows 2012 server is usable and my applications still work.  When the Start Menu comes back, things will be just tickety boo

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Global Population

(Click to enhance)

So a plea really.   

To prevent world wide chaos, you know, things like war, famine, that sort of thing, then:

Will the countries on the above chart who plan on dramatically increasing their population, also come up with a credible plan on how they propose to house, clothe, feed and take care of their new demographic.

Your population == your responsibility

Monday, July 29, 2013

You Must Sleep

I am not sure if I inherited the famously optimistic Computer Phrase from my parents in the 1980's

Darling, I'll just be about 10 minutes finishing off this Computer Program.

But in the second decade of the 21st century I am proud to be able to state the the Internet and Computer Technology are equal opportunity sleep deniers for both Men and Women.

As IT consultants we are both ideally prepared to undergo long periods of sleep deprivation.  And that is quite fortunate.  You see, very  shortly we are going to attempt a long run.  Now I mean a really, really long run.

And so I would announce that this week leading upto this August weekend Marcus and Agata have instructed each other to


Because in just a few days we are going to try desperately 

Not Giving In (Newman/ Clare)
Faithless Insomnia 2010 unreleased
Insomnia Mix

In a last desperate attempt to prepare my legs, having not run any distance for over 3 weeks,  I resumed the morning footing  (instead of the lazy cycling)

At /ultra/ race pace i.e. plod.  The essentials of course are

  • Take enough, but not too much water
  • Take Music
  • Take anorak  (and it rained!)

  • Run Slowly: No prizes on the day for completing half the course

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Monday Sermon: At the Copacabana

This is the time of the year for religious festivals of course.

I am personally eating my way through the holy month of Ramendan.  My stomach has never been so full of Pasta.

But meanwhile the Christian Catholic faithful have been lining up in Brazil to hear Pope Francis.

Here is the full text transcript (World Youth Day)

I did read the full article.  

But you know, when I think of Copacabana but heart, mind, body and soul instinctively jumps into another more joyous direction

At the Copa

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Sunday Sermon: Don't Leave Me This Way

More than just occasionally the British National Radio Channel, Radio 4 publishes programmes which are beautiful, touching masterpieces.

Here is just another example

Don't Leave Me This Way

Series 16 Episode 4 of 5
Don't Leave Me This Way was written in the early 1970s by songwriters Huff, Gamble and Gilbert who were the composers behind the famous black American Philadelphia Sound. It was first performed by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, featuring Teddy Pendergrass on lead vocals, and later became a hit for Thelma Houston and the Communards. As the title suggests, the song is all about longing, yearning and loss. Remarkable stories in this edition of Soul Music reflect the pain expressed in this soul classic, including one told by Dr Dan Gottlieb, a quadriplegic therapist who befriended Teddy Pendergrass after he became paralysed in a car accident. Sharon Wachsler recalls dancing to the version made famous by The Communards in 1986 before a devastating illness left her housebound and reliant on her beloved service dog Gadget, who gave her a reason to keep going. When he died, the song was the only way she could express her grief over his loss. The Reverend Richard Coles, formerly of The Communards, talks about the significance of Don't Leave Me This Way as a dancefloor anthem for young gay men in the 1980s that was later to become associated with the AIDS epidemic that took so many of their lives.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Hot and Hotter

Air Conn

I think the final straw was driving in Lausanne and noticing the temperature at 21.00 was still

a staggering 30.5 degrees Centigrade.  We don't often get the Emergency air conditioner out of the basement but the study and computer room is simply overheating.

Some moments later the Air conditoner, last used 2 years ago is installed into the Study.

A domestic Air Conditioner  (AC) has a coolant which has two states gas and liquid.   When it moves from liquid to gas it absorbs heat and at this point a fan blows your over the cold evaporator coils  you get cold air out.   The gas is then pumped and compressed in a condenser into a liquid.    Another fan blows over the hot condenser and this hot air needs to exit your window. 

If you leave this hot exit air blowing into your room,  the overall temperature in your room will of course GO UP!  Think about it, the air conditioner needs energy and so assuming the hot exit air of the conditioner is cancelled out by the cool air conditioned air, you also added via your electricity, work done to compress the gas into a liquid.

So the air conditioner is on,  the computers are pretty happy again and I'll monitor the outside temperature, and when it gets below 25 degrees (!!) I can switch off the AC.

In News Speak: Phew! What a scorcher

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Cellphones and Profits

After the Q3 earnings call Apple stock has been rising.  How much of that increase is due to synthetic demand from the Share buyback scheme, well I am too polite to comment! 

But as I will argue, if logic has anything to do with it, a long term stock increase is still questionable.

As you can see revenue is now heavily tied to iPhone sales.    Apple should first be congratulated.  It is a mere 6 years since iPhone gen1 launched and now the iPhone is, for better or worse the SmartPhone platform against which all others are compared.

That is really something!

The Cool Things about having an IPhone

  • Still the coolest phone - well assuming you have the latest model 
  • A well defined yearly upgrade cycle.  Users  of modest means can plan ahead of time what other sacrifices to make to allow purchasing room for a new phone
  • More apps than the competition - Writers code Apple first then maybe Android and then the others
  • Most people don't hate Apple / iPhones - so it is a safe choice for Corporates
  • Compact - No enormous screens and bodies, so it fits well in the pocket
  • Runs with iTunes , which the dominant and arguably best way to listen to your downloaded music, apple purchased music or Podcasts

iPhone Disadvantages

  • I have to keep upgrading the phone! There are only so many siblings to whom I can unload (for free) my old iPhones
  • The screen is annoying small to watch movies on
  • Proprietory SIM slot/ size is a bugger to change SIMS with
  • Camera is a bit average
  • Some super techy features missing like NFC communication, waterproofing

The premium
For me it mostly comes down to ethical questions or irritations.  I am actually offended at Apple margins.

But for most non Computer Professionals it comes down to the Apple premium.

Is it worth it to have that cool iPhone?  When Android phones are almost as cool? And really a lot cheaper. And now often with hardware technologies outstripping Apple?

To me future Apple prosperity will be tied more to an entry, and domination/ significance in, any market other than Smart-Phone technology, we will indeed see.

Boy George

In view of recent worldwide events let us entertain a small musical celebration of the dancing kind:-)

Remixed naturally .  .  .


Love Generations

Amazing Grace


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Shower Horizon Metric

One of our not so top secret plans and ambitions is a stint (let us call it at least a year) exercising our way across  North America/ Canada.

Naturally we have been doing research on how we might achieve this and it seems likely that we would use a Recreational Camper Van  (RV)

But after yesterdays extremely self inflicted sweaty experience I think that one of the minimum fitments we are going to need is a


Lausanne is currently experiencing a  28+ degree Centigrade climate and so I have invented a new metric

Shower Horizon (SH) = Number of hours post exercise you can bear to wait before a shower

For me it is about 0.5 to 1.0

If I make some serious exercise and have to wait more than 1 hour post exercise I almost freak out!

In recent testing:

Morning Run.   SH=0.5

Lunchtime Lake Swim.     SH=0.2

Evening Lakeside Exercise Training   SH=2

After my training session I nearly went crazy.  I would like to apologise profusely to the passengers in the bus then the tube subjected to sweaty me.  It was totally unacceptable!

Tracker FB Introduction
Fiat Ducato

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Buying Software

This is an email about not being mean!

It always amazes me how people expect and demand things to be free.   I would distinguish this from a non material human right, an example the freedom to practise your religious belief, or absence or religious belief without persecution so long as it does not harm others.

Yes, as a results of several decades of bizarre marketing computer users worldwide now expect much computer software to be provided for free.

In fact, when a charge is proposed knowledgeable users often start a set of arguably illegal activities to obtain the software or license codes for free.  Here are some of the justifications users put forward:

  • The software is too expensive
  • I don't use it that much
  • I paid for an old version but it does not work on my new computer OS
  • Nobody else I know pays for software
  • Software should be free
  • That company stole the idea for product X anyway, they don't deserve to be paid
  • I'm only using it for a test

From my perspective some of the worst culprits are Computer professionals, however I'd like to proudly excuse myself from that list.

As someone who currently derives financial gain from Computer activities it would be Hypocritical in the extreme to believe that licensing laws and costs should not apply, especially to me.

If somebody has worked hard to produce some software then that effort should be rewarded and usually this means giving them money, not ripping them off.

If you are short of funds then just use the vast array of Freeware software or even Operating Systems like Linux that have zero upfront cost.

Why the rant?   Well after the upgrade to (my paid and licensed !) Windows Server 2012 I noticed that my favourite file synchronisation software Syncback freeware no longer works under Windows Server.

You need at least SyncBack SE, which costs 35USD

So although I could pirate this software:

  • My syncback schedules are used over 10 times per day
  • It reliably transfers over 5GB of data between primary and backup computers daily
  • I'd be lost without it
  • 35USD seems like a reasonable price to pay, especially since I've been using the Free version for > 3 years now!
  • The SE version actually has more features and vastly clearer visual presentation.

So it is bought and I hope the authors will get slightly richer at my expense.

Monday, July 22, 2013

New Boots

At great expense to Audi but thankfully not to us our TT RS now has some beautifully new disc brakes, and pads, and callipers.

Our TT is now about 2 years old and when researching the service options I contacted Audi Switzerland to find out if there was any way to fix our squeaking brakes.

They have squealed from day 1.   Very frustrating.

At low speeds, whilst coming to a dead stop the brakes screech.  It's intermittent enough never to have been witnessed by a dealer, but we know it to be extremely irritating.

Then I found from Audi Switzerland a recall 47L6 to exactly correct this problem.   Fantastic!  But ...

Audi Switzerland told me that their computer system did not see the need to repair our Audi UK (built in Germany) imported to Switzerland car.

I offered to write/ speak directly to Audi Germany, and then as if by magic Audi Switzerland called me a day later to tell me my car was covered after all.    

So  after a day at Audi Crissier, Lausanne, new Discs, Pads and Callipers are installed:

 Ah, so clean

Click to zoom in on those wonderfully new machined surfaces.

This makes rear brakes  (that were not changed) look positively ugly.

But let us just finish with another picture of the fronts, clean, beautiful and screech free!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Heatwave and the Mountains

(NB: As usual click on photos to enlarge)

Unusually for Marcus and Agata we have had a competition free weekend.   We decided to take it easy and do some relaitvely easy exercise.

Saturday Stick Testing
On some recent mountain marathons we have chosen not to use Walking Sticks.  Time for some testing.  So we headed to

the old fashioned town of Leysin.  We planned to walk/ run upto Berneuse

 Spectacular views, but it was hot at >28 degrees C

 Agata and Magda relaxing at Berneuse

 Agata as usual makes my heart skip

And finally, we did hike it back down

A mere 12Km but still quite tough.  Our sticks helped, but we are certainly not yet proficient in their use.

Sunday Afternoon 20K 

We recently installed the Ville de Lausanne smartphone application and it is good for finding local activities.  Hence we came accross the 5/ 10 or 20Km walking course just up the road at Chalet a Gobet ..

We studied the map, but turns out the route would be excellently signed, no chance to error.

Most other walkers seems to have finished already and are busy eating.

Let us start in earnest.  It is almost 30 degrees C so Chalet a Gobet is unusually practically deserted.

 There were 4 control points, this is the first

Marcus found a non Black top to wear!

Towards the end it became clear that if we wanted to get back for the 3 hour suggested time  (by the race organiser) we might have to jog/ plod the last few kilometres!

And so we finished 

The stamps to prove it !

20.25Km  in a mostly walked 3.25 hours.  Now it is time for tea :-)


9th Walk Populaire Chavornay

Postscript: From the dawn of today to the the exercise class this evening I have realised that this weekend whilst performing the above I have been bitten by some horrible insects all over my body!   I have more itches than a Chickenpox sufferer.   A heavy price to pay :-(