David Overton's Blog and Discussion Site
This site is my way to share my views and general business and IT information with you about Microsoft, IT solutions for ISVs, technologists and businesses, large and small. I specialise in Windows Intune and SBS 2008.
This blog is purely the personal opinions of David Overton. If you can't find the information you were looking for e-mail me at admin@davidoverton.com.

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  • I’m taking a break from Microsoft

    Hi, I’ve always been open and honest on my blog and it is time to share broadly the news that I’ve left Microsoft.  I’ve been considering my career and a few things became apparent. I wanted a break .  When I joined Microsoft over 12 years ago, a sabbatical was part of the deal.  While this changed during my employment, I’ve decided to take one anyway, so I’ve been putting my feet up over the last few weeks and will continue to do so into the new year.  Obviously, I’m not sitting at home completely idle, but it does mean that I’m generally here when my girls get home from school and cannot say a pressing piece of work is keeping me from spending time with them.  This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while, but not been able to do so while in full time employment.  Playing The Gunstringer (includes Fruit Ninja Kinect) with Lizzy or visiting the Royal Institute with Molly tonight for the filming of the Christmas Lectures are just two highlights. Finding a new passion .  Looking at this blog, you can tell that the things that made me passionate, that I can share in public, have reduced as has the time to blog on them.  Well, I want that to change, so I’m considering the options for a new adventure out there.  I think cloud is going to grow beyond the expectations of many of my former colleagues along with BYOD, traditional desktops and on-premise server technology.  I’m focusing on something that can light one of those passions again in a way that I can publically share. What about Windows Intune and SBS I may hear you ask?  Well, I think Windows Intune will continue to grow and fill a broader set of needs, reducing some of those that were previously filled by SBS.  The SBS marketplace has changed with many finding an e-mail solution in the cloud more than meets their needs.  For some, the pricing needs tweaking, however I feel that this is becoming more of a commodity, so the SBS license + servicing costs are moving towards the fee paid by the cloud...
  • Getting my Nokia Lumia 800 to work with Virgin Mobile UK MMS settings (and trimming the SIM too)

    I recently fell of the back of a boat which resulted in my faithful Samsung Omnia being written off.  Since this was a personal phone, I decided to upgrade to a Nokia Lumia 800 as it looked like a fab phone.  I have so far not been disappointed, however I hit two problems. The first was that my SIM was not a micro-sim. I contacted Virgin who told me they were very soon to launch a micro-sim, but not yet.  I bought a 30-day sim from Vodafone in the short term, but then discovered that I could trim the current SIM to fit by following the detailed instructions at http://www.solutios.com/simcutting/ .  All has been happy until my wife asked about sending MMS pictures from her phone.  When I tried to do it from mine, I discovered that it kept on failing with an error and asking me to try again.  This has been the second challenge that I have had with the phone! Searching the web found many frustrated people, some who had resorted to resetting their phones to factory defaults to get things working.  I definitely did not want to do that.  After pulling together information from a number of sources, this is what worked for me.  I should thank John at Virgin's support desk as he also gave me the final piece to "enable" my account for MMS. As a note, I got the APN and MMS settings from the Virgin Mobile pages for an android phone - here for 3G and here for MMS. Here is what I did: Download the Network Setup tool for the Lumia 800 (I suspect it is also available for the 610/710/900).  If you don't have it, you can get it from http://windowsphone.com/s?appid=b95840dc-a542-42a6-bee4-7d1a12f62d2c Ran the tool, selected Virgin as the Operator Pressed the "+" at the bottom to select add apn Entered the following details Connection name: Virgin2 Under Internet APN Access point name: goto.virginmobile.uk Proxy address: Proxy port: 8080 Username: user Password:                 ...
  • Finally got all the Christmas Lights up for 2011 on the new house

    Hi all, I thought I would share my Christmas lights – I do love them David
  • Christmas lights - Stage 1 of new home lighting

    Hi, I love Christmas.  I’m not religious, but I really enjoy the happiness it brings people and the fact that everyone seems to spend time not working, with their families or unwinding.  One way I do this is through putting a stupid number of lights on my house.  For the last few years it has looked like this: I moved to a new house this year, so things are a little different.  I’ve not finished yet, but this is what I have so far.  The "train” is hidden and once it is all completed, I will share the final picture.   Just sharing my little pleasure (although I think my electricity supplier likes me doing this as well!)   David
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  • Snow around the home

    It appears to be a snowy time for many people at the moment, so I thought I would share a few pictures from chez Overton.             I hope your enjoying the weather and not freezing.   take care David Technorati Tags: Snow Personal
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  • Late post on the Christmas lights on my house for Christmas

    I was late putting the lights up for Christmas due to an operation on my hand, however they made it.  You can see them here - http://davidoverton.com/media/p/12744.aspx and http://davidoverton.com/media/p/12743.aspx   and Thanks and Happy New Year David Technorati Tags: Christmas , Christmas lights , personal
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  • David Overton on Channel 4's 3 minute wonder - Crisis - my depression!

    It seems like an age ago that I spoke with a film crew about my daughter's at Microsoft's nursery and about the depression that first came visiting over 3 years ago now.  As a result they spent some time with us as we put up the Christmas lights on the house .  This is always a cheerful time of the year for me, but as the video shows I am still very aware of my unhappy side and the understanding my family, especially Melanie show towards me. This simple 3 minute video aired mid-August on Channel 4, but until now was not legally available on line.  Martin, the producer has made mine and the other 7 videos available at http://vimeo.com/channels/microsoftbabies .  All the videos show how the families of Microsoft employees live, work and look after their loved ones.  Mine, shockingly titled Crisis is embedded below: CRISIS from Martin Hampton on Vimeo .   I hope you get to see the very human side of the people that make up Microsoft UK.   thanks   David
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  • It has been a while on the blog

    Well hello again, I've been away for quite some time - work has been very time consuming and two members of my family have required some dedicated attention while they have not been feeling well (and no, no swine flu). I'm hoping to start finding more time to "do" the blog and potentially a "tips and tricks" section for SBS 2008 based on my learning's to date. I do still have quite some work backlog, but I'll try to post some of the blog backlog too - I have hundreds of items to post!! See you soon - and keep the questions coming. David
  • SBS 2008, Installing, migrating and configuring BOOK now available to pre-order

    [updated 2nd May 2009] Hi everyone. My SBS 2008 book is in now available to order. Details below. If you want to ask questions once you have the book, go to http://davidoverton.com/r.ashx?13 . To order the book click http://davidoverton.com/r.ashx?1M Small Business Server 2008 – Installation, Migration, and Configuration David Overton Set up and run your small business server making it deliver big business impact · Step-by-step guidance through the installation and configuration process with numerous pictures · Successfully install SBS 2008 into your business, either as a new installation or by migrating from SBS 2003 · Configure hosted web sites for public and secure information exchange using Office Live for Small Business and Office Live Workspaces · An illustrative book for people with basic technical skills and no SBS background In More Detail Available April 2009. Order now! Cover price £24.99 Packt Special Offer £22.49 save 10% Multi-buy Discount £20.49 save 18% Hurray David Technorati Tags: SBS 2008 , Small Business Server 2008 , Book , Personal , If you only read one blog today , SBSC , Microsoft
  • How to upgrade (migrate) from SBS 2003 to SBS 2008 on the same system without using a swing migration

    Someone posted this question on a discussion group at work and it got me thinking. If you bought a nice new system over the last 2 or so years in preparation for SBS 2008 (Cougar as was or even SBS v.Next) and had it installed with SBS 2003 you've probably heard that SBS 2003 to SBS 2008 is a 2 box migration and needs the Swing technique to do an on box migration. I've come up with a much simpler solution, but your hardware might need some additions to make it work. So here is what you need: Box with 6GB of RAM minimum (4GB for SBS 2008, 1GB for SBS 2003 and 1GB for Hyper-V server). 1 new disk for SBS 2008 system disk and 1 disk to hold Hyper-V (which could be small if desired or temporary) System that meets the minimum system requirements of Hyper-V ( http://www.microsoft.com/servers/hyper-v-server/system-requirements.mspx ) You need to ensure your hardware is really up to spec and is fit enough that you want your new SBS 2008 system to run on it for the next 2+ years, otherwise this may well be a false economy. The process in outline is below. If you need more detailed information, let me know and I'll knock something up (as well as this may possibly end up in the book) Take a full system backup before starting Take existing system and add RAM and 2 disks Install Hyper-V Server onto 1 disk Install Hyper-V manager onto a client PC ( see here for details ) Configure the network to all nodes can connect to a real physical network that has your internet router and firewall on it Configure a virtual machine with pass-through disks that point to each of your SBS 2003 disks. To make a disk visible in Hyper-V console as a pass-through see here . Only configure approx 1GB of memory as you only need it to run well enough to perform a migration. Start and boot the SBS 2003 VM. Check that all services start (or can be started if there is a timing issue) and that all data is available. Install the integration Services Setup disk, run the setup and reboot when asked Create another virtual machine with 4GB of RAM that...
  • David Overton's first book - Installing and Configuring SBS 2008, including migration from SBS 2003

    [updated 5th May 2009] Hi, If you are interested in ordering a copy, click here and you will be taken through to the Packt Publishing ordering page, with a choice of electronic (e-book in for form of a PDF) or Softback traditional book or both available for immediate shipment . If you are interested in other locations, click here . For a small amount of information on each chapter, see the items below. Introductions Introduction to SBS 2008 Preparing to migrate from SBS 2003 Installing SBS 2008 and connecting to the Internet Migrating systems and settings from SBS 2003 Migrating email from Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2007 Migrating the CompanyWeb SharePoint site Migrating users and data from SBS 2003 Configuring your services Securing your server Managing users and their computers Working with SBS Services as a user Introduction to SBS 2008 management The chapter flow is well described by this picture: To order the book click http://davidoverton.com/r.ashx?1M Small Business Server 2008 – Installation, Migration, and Configuration David Overton Set up and run your small business server making it deliver big business impact · Step-by-step guidance through the installation and configuration process with numerous pictures · Successfully install SBS 2008 into your business, either as a new installation or by migrating from SBS 2003 · Configure hosted web sites for public and secure information exchange using Office Live for Small Business and Office Live Workspaces · An illustrative book for people with basic technical skills and no SBS background Cover price £24.99 Packt Special Offer £22.49 save 10% Multi-buy Discount £20.49 save 18% The book has many screen shots in it to keep things clear. I'm also relying on a group of people to help me keep it on track. They are (in alphibetical order): Alex Stanier - IT 4 Business - http://www.stanier.co.uk/ Gavin Barkey - EJC.IT - http://www.ejc.it Ian Watkins - Oxbridge Technologies - http://www.oxbridgetechnology.co.uk/ Leslie...
  • Microsoft job cuts: thousands of UK staff at risk - ComputerWeekly.com - What a load of old rubbish

    [updated post MS announcement on 22nd January 2009] I hate bad journalism and this is a really good prime example. Microsoft job cuts: thousands of UK staff at risk Author: Cliff Saran Posted: 11:08 05 Jan 2009 Rumours are spreading on the web that up to 3000 staff at Microsoft UK could face redundancy. Up to 30,000 jobs worldwide could be at risk, as the company battles with the economic crisis, which has led to businesses spending less on software Microsoft like any other business is facing financial pressure, so I'm sure there will be a squeeze, but there are less than 3,000 employees at Microsoft UK, so cuts of 3,000 staff would remove Microsoft UK from the map. Maybe someone lent on the keyboard too much and put an extra zero or two on the end. I'm absolutely not in the know, but this is clearly (I hope) bull writing at it's best. New people join and others leave Microsoft all the time, just like any enterprise. In the past the balance has been tipped so that more people join than those who want to leave and perhaps the balance will tip the other way, but if this did happen, I suspect it would be the same as many, many other companies. There has already been speculation about this, at http://www.networkworld.com/news/2008/100308-microsoft-denies-hiring.html for example. If there are redundancies it will be very sad and is never nice for those involved, however I don't expect 3,000 of us to go! Just to be sure, I've checked this morning and my pass is still valid! [update] Microsoft have just released the quarters financial statement as well as the redundancy information. While it is unfortunate that some jobs will go, the immediate impact is just 5% of that reported in the article. As I said earlier, reporting a UK figure that is greater than the whole UK company is just plain silly and should never have happened. I appreciate that this was based on rumours, but surely some checking of the facts, such as how many employees actually worked in the UK before they reported every one of them being...
  • Steve from Sytec saw me …

    Steve sent me this earlier in December, but I thought it was worth sharing. Here is the photo he took: ttfn David Technorati Tags: David Overton , Overton , Personal , UK Train Stations
  • Christmas season arrives at the Overton Home, except Yipp Productions for Channel 4 TV were there!

    This year, like all others for the last 10 years we’ve decorated our house with Christmas lights.  We have at least 3 different religious views in our house, which is amazing considering there are two adults and two children, aged 8 and 2, however we love the smiles the lights bring to ours and others' faces, so each year it gets a little grander (or kitch or tacky!). The pictures from this year can be found at http://davidoverton.com/media/g/doverton/tags/Christmas/Personal/default.aspx .  Below is what the outside of my study looks like! So, why Yipp for Channel 4 this year?  The house is “well lit up”, but not enough to make the news, however being a working dad who has had some trials and tribulations, and very much being in the right place at the right time meant I was asked if I would mind being filmed and having a chat about life.  Yipp recruited Martin Hampton to come along, ably assisted by Katie.  You should be able to hear about my life in a very short film clip next year, so alas the lights will not be on “telly” for Christmas!   Let me know if you do silly things at Christmas to make it more special !!   ttfn David Technorati Tags: Personal
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  • I’m a PC and I’m a school governor

    Microsoft’s campaign now has David (UKSBSGUY) in it!! I love PC’s, I love freedom to choose between a PC, a MAC or anything else, but I CHOSE PC’s. I love SBS 2008 and I love small businesses that make the world go round. I also love my family and I’m amazed by the people at my local infants school, so I give back by being a school governor. If you want to know more about the school, go to http://www.yateley-inf.hants.sch.uk/index.html . David Technorati Tags: imapc , Personal , Microsoft , uksbsguy , Windows
  • Star Wars Clone Wars and Robot Chicken both rock

      and  This weekend I finally got to see Star Wars The Clone Wars and while my Star Wars sensibilities were offended for the 1st 5 minutes (the voices are different and my eyes had to get used to the new visuals), but once I had done so both Molly and I really enjoyed the film. If you like simple fun, then you should also look at the Clones Vs Droids Game at http://www.clonesvdroids.com/ .  It is very simple, move your troops around, plan your shots and then see if your shots work, assuming your opponent moves too.  I have to say it took a few goes to master when playing against real opponents as first they moved than I had expected and then they actually jumped onto my “side” – something I was not prepared for!  Have a go, it is fun!     Finally, on my Star Wars-tastic adventure there is Robot Chicken.  This short DVD is based on the former works of Robot Chicken – the stop motion animation group take their normal themes and apply them to Star Wars.  I really, really enjoyed the scene where George Bush battles Lincoln with light-saber or where the Emperor is shouting at Vader on the phone for not being able to “protect a little 2 meter exhaust port” until he makes him cry.  Anyway, have a look by clicking the picture below.     Enjoy! David Technorati Tags: Personal , Star Wars , Clone Wars , Robot Chicken
  • Watching Pink at in Atlanta

    Just thought I had to add a quick post to explain why I have a bunch of Pink photos on the blog site. While at an internal Microsoft event the final day treat was time at Six flags with Pink. I’m a great Pink fan, although not all Microsoft employees were, which meant that when Pink tried for audience participation she didn’t quite get the reaction she was hoping for. Anyway, some of the thumbnails are below and more on the link above. ttfn David
  • 4 painful days while davidoverton.com transfers ownership and gets powered up again

    Well, this is one of those “I should have called support earlier mails”. I’ve been trying for about 3 months to get my davidoverton.com domain transferred from one vendor to the vendor I use for all the others. All attempts failed, so last night I phoned Australia to try and get it fixed and now the transfer is underway. However, the transfer has a 4 day “cooling off” period, so the domain is in limbo. Most people still access via uksbsguy.com, so most traffic will get through, but expect a few problems!! ttfn David Technorati Tags: personal , uksbsguy.com , davidoverton.com
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  • What software could you not live without – tell Windows Vista Magazine?

    I’ve just noticed this blog post on the Windows Vista Magazine - What software could you not live without? We’re searching for the 100 best programs for Windows Vista – and we need your help! By James Stables on 08 July 2008 In our October 2008 issue we will be compiling a list of the 100 best pieces of software which power up Windows Vista. These are the pieces of software you would never run Windows without, which make a difference to your everyday life and that you would recommend to all other readers. We want to hear your ideas to make sure no stone goes unturned and no program is left out. This is a great opportunity for the Windows Vista Magazine community to share the combined experiences and knowledge that help make this one of the most diverse magazines on the market. Leave us a comment saying what should be in our software top 100. I’ve just left my list, which to be complete is also below: My core products: Vista Office 2007 - for my work Live Writer for blogging Live Messenger to communicate To tweak my UI experience: Stardock – Winblinds Stardock – DeskScapes Stardock - Tweak Vista Stardock - Logon Studio Other utilities I love: EzDetach for Outlook to save space on inbox Live Mesh for sharing files Speedfan to help manage temperature Thanks David Technorati Tags: Windows Vista , Vista , Software , Windows Vista Magazine , Microsoft
  • Vote for me in the ComputerWeekly.com IT Blog Awards 08

    Hi, so I made it – thank-you to those who nominated me – now it’s time to vote for me!! If you like what I do, help me to show Microsoft that my blogging and style is the “right” style. Click on the picture and vote for me in the Company Blog shortlist. Click the picture above, or go to Company blogs: ComputerWeekly.com IT Blog Awards 08 | 30 Jun 2008 | ComputerWeekly.com thanks David Technorati Tags: Microsoft , personal
  • Do you like my blog? If so, why not nominate me for the Computer Weekly IT Blog awards?

    [update - I missed the nomination deadline, so don't vote for me!! double update - I've been accepted - so DO vote] I was browsing Steve Clayton’s blog today and noticed these awards. While I’m not one to play copy-cat, I’d like to think my blog posts are useful (well, enough people read them). So, there appears to be a bit of a competition – if you like what read hear, consider nominating me :-) You can read more about this at http://www.computerweekly.com/blogawards.htm . Nominate me in Company Blogs Thanks David Technorati Tags: Personal , If you only read one post today , blog
  • Welcome to readers of Windows Vista Magazine as I'm now a contributor

    Some of you might know that I used to write for Windows XP Magazine, but having used Windows Vista during the beta cycle I eventually had to give it up as I was writing about an OS I was not using. Well, that has all changed - I've been using Vista for over 3 years now and I've now got a technical spot back into the Windows Vista Magazine. My 1st articles are about identifying Vista performance issues and then will continue on to understanding system crashes and then solving some common Office 2003/7 and Vista problems. I'd love to hear about topics you would want me to cover - just leave a comment or e-mail at admin@davidoverton.com . If you want to only see my Windows related articles, click onto this link - http://davidoverton.com/blogs/doverton/archive/tags/Windows+Vista/default.aspx Please feel free to ask questions on the site, or even on this blog post. ttfn David Technorati Tags: Windows Vista , Windows Vista Magazine , Personal , Vista
  • Where in the world has David been?

    I’m really sorry that everything has been so very quiet on the blog front – work has just been maxing out and I even took some personal time out – I’ve now been married for just over ten years and to celebrate Mrs Overton and I visited Niagara Falls for the weekend. It was a wonderful time and worth the break, however I now need to get my skates on. Niagara Falls from our hotel room American and Honeymoon Falls from hotel room Before that I was planning and helping an ”EBC” or Enterprise Briefing Center with a number of UK ISVs. The trip gave insight to these Partners and an opportunity to discuss next steps on working together. It certainly helped me in my conversations with COA Solutions: This week I will be working on SBS 2008 materials for publishing when the technology preview becomes available. I also have a back log of other information to share about Microsoft, SaaS, ISVs, partners and more. ttfn David Technorati Tags: Personal , ISVs
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  • I know I shouldn’t, but the EU is beginning to make me wonder what they are playing at .. is it personal and how is it better for the people in the EU?

    It is strange that I have come to accept that we live and work in a global economy quicker, it appears to me, than the EU. I accept that we can’t be the best at everything in the EU and we have to work out what our value is to others – true for every business. However, the EU seems to have an anti-non-EU feel to it. It also seems to want to create competition, even when no-one wants to compete – just to stimulate the industries, rather than because “punters are asking for alternatives”. This week I’ve seen two things that I wanted to share that raise concerns in my mind. Oh, in case you weren’t sure – this is a personal rant – nothing to do with anyone else but my own opinion! First was the Intel vs AMD piece which talks about requiring Intel to raise prices to avoid being nabbed for anti-competitive practices - disco-tech | Discovery Institute's Technology Blog: EU vs. Intel : Since Intel can't possibly know what AMD's cost of production is, we either have to accept collusion or accept that Intel will attempt to avoid further legal trouble by setting its prices in a safe zone, which is likely to be well above its costs. These are some of the reasons antitrust law doesn't protect less efficient firms, since to do so would saddle consumers with higher prices. Competition law as practiced by the EU provides far more scope than our own antitrust jurisprudence for enforcers to intervene in the market in search of perfection. Yet Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes’ds summation of her own philosophy is consistent with our approach, My own philosophy on this is fairly simple. First, it is competition, and not competitors, that is to be protected. Second, ultimately the aim is to avoid consumers harm. Trouble is, the EU is trying to make Europe more competitive without making it more efficient Then from InternetNews Realtime IT News – EU Parliament Member Wants to Ban Microsoft Bids I see that the competition has seen the EU as a way to attack Microsoft, rather than competing in a more traditional way....
  • How UKSBSGUY.com and DavidOverton.com use Dynamic DNS and why it broke the site … anyone have a better provider?

    Hi, My site is hosted by me on the end of a dynamically changing IP address (well, it could change, but has not for about 18 months). To get round this I have bought a number of domains, but they are all changed and updated by a magical piece of software that sits on my server that updates the DNS records for my domains whenever they change. This would be great, except for the fact that having had network/ISP trouble I now have Dynamic DNS trouble: When it works it is great, when not, it is very poor. In this case my provider is http://www.deerfield.com and I use their DNS2Go service – I’ve not found anyone better, so if you have a recommendation, let me know. One nice feature for these guys is that the 1 tool updates 5 domains ( http://davidoverton.com , http://uksbsguy.com , http://ukvistaguy.com are the main 3). If this all sounds a bit wondrous, here, in pictures are the steps: My basic architecture consists of my server, the Dynamic DNS provider, my Domain Registrar, you and the software provided: To set things up I had to register my domain and point the nameservers to the Dynamic DNS service providers servers: I then had to load the Dynamic DNS service providers software onto my server. Some routers also have this built into them, but then the service providers are limited: Then, in terms of how it works – my IP address will be changed by my ISP – at this point no-one will be able to connect to my server: The software will then update the Dynamic DNS provider with the new IP address – this is typically almost immediate which for me is just fine: Then when you come along with your browser, you can still get the correct IP address to find my site: Job done – this can be applied to almost any server!! ttfn David Technorati Tags: Personal , Dynamic DNS , ISP , Internet , UKSBSGUY.com , David Overton
  • Web site woes again

    Once again my internet provider and power company let me down at the weekend, causing the web site to be up and down – more down than up to be honest. Now, one of the hard disks has put it’s hands up from the abuse so that is failing too, impacting performance. Overall, until I find some more funds to sort the solution, it might mean the site is up and down for a few days … sorry. Normal Service will resume as soon as possible. ttfn David Technorati Tags: personal
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  • Added DavidOverton.com to the domains that get to UK SBS GUY. What do you think I should be?

    I’ve taken back control of this domain and will at some point be changing the site look and feel to reflect this. This does NOT mean that my focus on subjects around technology, small business, Microsoft and partners will be changing one single drop. It is just that my role at Microsoft is no longer as the UKSBSGUY and I thought about how to better reflect what this should be. This site is my outlet, along with a few others and already has several domains that point to it, such as http://ukvistaguy.com . What do you think – can you think of a better domain I should go for – feel free to comment or e-mail me!! Over time expect http://davidoverton.com to become the primary domain even though the old one will still work. ttfn David Technorati Tags: David Overton , davidoverton.com , Personal Technorati Profile - link for Technorati blog claim
  • David is finally Twittering as DavidOverton

    Well, it had to happen - another way to keep track of everyone and see what is going on in the world out there. I've joined Twitter as UKSBSGUY - Twitter / davidoverton . Always keen to learn more and get more feedback!! = was twiter/uksbsguy, but I have updated it to reflect the change to davidoverton.com See you "out there" or "out here" soon David Technorati Tags: Twitter
  • I've been called something's before, but this is the 1st time I've been call the "The British Scoble(iser)"

    I was at a Citrix event last week. It was a good event with my role explaining to people that "no", Microsoft and Citrix don't hate each other and in fact our technologies are very, very complementary. I'll post on the Microsoft, Citrix, Virtualisation (Terminal Services, Application, Desktop and Server) later, but part way through I got talking to Jon Silk from Lewis and we discovered that we both blogged to communicate with the world and have a conversation. I happened to mention the fact that I had 1.5M page hits last month and about 65,000 unique people (excluding search engines) visit the blog every month and look what he wrote... The British Scoble(iser) I met David Overton, ISV Partner Account Manager at Microsoft, at a conference today. We nervously circled each other over the bad coffee making polite comments. Then he let slip that his blog gets 65,000 unique visitors a month and I realised I was talking to the UK's answer to you-know-who . Check out his approach to blog design. We are at opposite ends of the spectrum... Even so, I'll be following him from now on (via RSS, where it can't hurt my eyes so much). Now, while this is very, very flattering I don't think I have quite the same outlook, access or sponsorship as Robert Scoble did while he worked for Microsoft, but I do get reasonable access to businesses of all sizes and tend to speak my own mind!! I'll try to live up to the brand... so as always, feedback is grateful!! ttfn David Technorati Tags: Scoble , Microsoft , UK , British Scoble
  • Happy Birthday to me .. thanks for the nice comments

    Since I've had a few mails and texts about this - I thought I would say thank-you for the kind birthday wishes. Yes, I'm getting older - now 37... luckily my daughters keep me young at heart David
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  • BBC NEWS - Machines 'to match man by 2029' says Kurzweil

    I've mentioned it before - Dr Kurzweil is a very interesting man. Wikipedia describes him as: Raymond Kurzweil ( pronounced /kɚzwaɪl/) (born February 12 , 1948 ) is an inventor and futurist. He has been a pioneer in the fields of optical character recognition (OCR), text-to-speech synthesis , speech recognition technology, and electronic keyboard instruments . He is the author of several books on health , artificial intelligence , transhumanism , technological singularity , and futurism . The BBC has picked up on an interesting article about the future and the challenges facing humanity for which Ray contributed. Machines 'to match man by 2029' By Helen Briggs Science reporter, BBC News, Boston Tiny machines could roam the body curing diseases Machines will achieve human-level artificial intelligence by 2029, a leading US inventor has predicted. Humanity is on the brink of advances that will see tiny robots implanted in people's brains to make them more intelligent, said Ray Kurzweil. The engineer believes machines and humans will eventually merge through devices implanted in the body to boost intelligence and health. "It's really part of our civilisation," Mr Kurzweil explained. "But that's not going to be an alien invasion of intelligent machines to displace us." Machines were already doing hundreds of things humans used to do, at human levels of intelligence or better, in many different areas, he said. Man versus machine "I've made the case that we will have both the hardware and the software to achieve human level artificial intelligence with the broad suppleness of human intelligence including our emotional intelligence by 2029," he said. read the rest, including the list of challenges at BBC NEWS | World | Americas | Machines 'to match man by 2029' ttfn David Technorati Tags: Personal , Off Topic
  • Life at Microsoft - another comical parody of life in the big machine!

    I saw this and thought I had to share. While not as funny as some, still worth watching. For the record, no-one has ever thrown money at me! Look for the Jedi master mind tricks (failing) at about 4 mins. Life At Microsoft - The Truth Revealed Life At Microsoft - The Truth Revealed People often stop me in the streets to ask "Hey Tina, what's life "really" like at Microsoft? Sometimes I can't even walk outside my house without somebody standing there with a giant neon sign that blinks "What is life "really" like at Microsoft"? Instead of answering every individual separately and so you can save your money on those neon signs. I decided to create a video that would answer that simple yet complex question. I want to throw out a special high-five to the following because without them and a lot of beer this video never would have happened. ttfn David Technorati Tags: Microsoft , humour , fun , Star Wars
  • Bill Gates one regret in life - from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

    Someone posted about a speech Bill gave and while it is worth reading / watching the whole thing, one thing stood out - his regret and how it is now a focus for his life and money: Bill Gates - Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation But taking a serious look back… I do have one big regret. I left Harvard with no real awareness of the awful inequities in the world—the appalling disparities of health, and wealth, and opportunity that condemn millions of people to lives of despair. I learned a lot here at Harvard about new ideas in economics and politics. I got great exposure to the advances being made in the sciences. But humanity’s greatest advances are not in its discoveries—but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity. Whether through democracy, strong public education, quality health care, or broad economic opportunity—reducing inequity is the highest human achievement. I left campus knowing little about the millions of young people cheated out of educational opportunities here in this country. And I knew nothing about the millions of people living in unspeakable poverty and disease in developing countries. It took me decades to find out. I find it humbling to know what inequalities exist in the world and if I am honest, my small moves to change it are really not enough, but Bill Gates and the foundation are doing the right stuff. I need to find a way for me to do more of the right stuff.. until then it will be sponsoring others to do it and my monthly charity payments, but it sounds like I'm paying to ease my conscious . The speech is very interesting and if you have seen Bill present without watching the video you will hear his voice and know when he pauses!! ttfn David Technorati Tags: Bill Gates , Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation , Harvard
  • Official Google Blog on Microsoft and Yahoo and David Overton's thoughts on it

    This is a personal rant. If you want to read on, please do so, if not, thanks for getting this far. Oh I love how people wave flags "for the greater good" when they really mean "for my own good". Today I saw something that just made me have to comment. Unless you have been in a bunker, you should be aware that Microsoft have made a bid for Yahoo. Google, who obviously care greatly about Yahoo decided to have a pop at it: Yahoo! and the future of the Internet The openness of the Internet is what made Google -- and Yahoo! -- possible. A good idea that users find useful spreads quickly. Businesses can be created around the idea. Users benefit from constant innovation. It's what makes the Internet such an exciting place. So Microsoft's hostile bid for Yahoo! raises troubling questions. This is about more than simply a financial transaction, one company taking over another. It's about preserving the underlying principles of the Internet: openness and innovation. Could Microsoft now attempt to exert the same sort of inappropriate and illegal influence over the Internet that it did with the PC? While the Internet rewards competitive innovation, Microsoft has frequently sought to establish proprietary monopolies -- and then leverage its dominance into new, adjacent markets. Could the acquisition of Yahoo! allow Microsoft -- despite its legacy of serious legal and regulatory offenses -- to extend unfair practices from browsers and operating systems to the Internet? In addition, Microsoft plus Yahoo! equals an overwhelming share of instant messaging and web email accounts. And between them, the two companies operate the two most heavily trafficked portals on the Internet. Could a combination of the two take advantage of a PC software monopoly to unfairly limit the ability of consumers to freely access competitors' email, IM, and web-based services? Policymakers around the world need to ask these questions -- and consumers deserve satisfying answers. This hostile bid was announced on Friday...
  • What Bill Gates said he will be working on once he stops his full time role - from 2008 Partner Pre-launch event

    I had the pleasure of attending this event today. The last item was Q&A with Bill Gates and there were a number of questions that you will be able to watch and listen too in the future. However, the one that I thought was most interesting was this one: "What will Bill be doing in his part time capacity with Microsoft and what will the Bill and Melinda Foundation focus on?" His reply was roughly (I made a few scribbled notes, so I hopefully have the gist, if not the words): Ray Ozzie and Craig Mundie will take care of the "one Microsoft and R&D function" Bill will focus on 3 areas: Search - still have lots to deliver from the various teams - we have just started to see the beginning of this - in both internet and enterprise areas Office - Bill has always had a keen interest in this area and it will continue. Things to be included are Modelling and declarative rules Natural User Interfaces - more voice, touch, gesture and general non-keyboard interaction with technology For the foundation: Healthcare systems - including disease management in poorer countries Malaria vaccine Use of mobile phones in disconnected regions to share skills, diagnosis and information Micro finance transactions to facilitate these operations Metrics to enable measure of success and targeting Would like to think that within 10 years had a big impact - reduce big diseases in poorer countries by having a vaccine / treatment for around 1/2 of the illnesses (could not say which ones as investing in many areas, but hoped for it to include Malaria) That was it - much more to follow (about the rest of the event) David Technorati Tags: Bill Gates , 2008 Launch , Partners , Gates Foundation
  • How to do mapping on a mobile device or laptop without GPS, earn money while contributing to the project and mapping the world using GPS, mobile cell and WiFi access points (Navizon Peer-to-Peer Wireless Positioning system is the product)

    I've started looking at this application and found it better than I had hoped. It is simple - it triangulates your position using Wifi and phone cells and emulates a GPS should you need it for another application. It also uses GPS to capture the settings from the other two items and give them a more accurate placement, so learning information about masts, power etc. So, I've been using this to map my common routes and earn points (*which has just changed as a process), but in a week I've earn't 3274 points and I have not been driving every day and my trips have been short. Once I earn 10,000 points I get $20 courtesy of PayPal. I expect to get a significant amount of those points today on my 2 hours drive to a partner and back. I can also earn points by getting an award for signing people up and them doing the same as me. To sign up for this, go to http://my.navizon.com/Webapps/UserAdmin/register.aspx?referral_code=5D565A5E5C5E which includes my reference code (5D565A5E5C5E). Being referred by me does not decrease any points you get, just adds some to me as a nice way of saying thank-you for referring. You can obviously get your own referral code too. One last thing - to load the application onto my phone I had to unlock it to allow non-signed apps (or apps not signed by Orange to be more specific) to run. This was simple and is detailed at http://uksbsguy.com/blogs/doverton/archive/2008/01/24/unlocking-my-windows-mobile-6-device-htc-virgin-lobster-700tv-orange-e650-to-load-non-signed-applications.aspx ttfn David Technorati Tags: GPS , Mobile , Mapping , WiFi , Windows Mobile
  • How they said "Happy Holidays!" to Star Wars fans in 1977

    Well, it is now over 30 years since Star Wars made me realise that there is more to life and that doing the right thing was something to fight for. However, just as a bit of nostalgia, here is a little posting from the Community Pages sharing how Happy Christmas (non-PC version) was done 30 years ago "Happy Holidays!" Love, 1977 December 21, 2007 Thirty years ago next week, 20th Century Fox began running a newspaper ad for the 1977 holiday season which offered seasons greetings from several Star Wars characters. Even our favorite Grand Moff and Sith Lord offered their best -- we'll chalk that up to New Year's resolutions. Star Wars: Community | "Happy Holidays!" Love, 1977 ttfn David Technorati Tags: Star Wars , Happy Christmas
  • Kids TV Quiz, Original artwork and Times Online. Take the 15 question Quick and see who you are - I was Dangermouse and there is also the ability to win some Dangermouse original artwork!!

    I was invited by Russell Singler of the The Animation Art Gallery to go look at TimesOnline for a quiz and competition to win some of his artwork . I found a discount code for the next ten days that gives 10% off of his work and this fun quiz ( www.timesonline.co.uk/kidstv ) Good grief! You really are Dangermouse Have you been known to loiter around a particular post box in Mayfair? Your character bears a striking resemblance to DM himself, the Chief, the greatest super hero in the world, that most debonair of rodents with the mysterious eye patch. You're obviously as brave as a lion, or even a white mouse. You're as cunning as a cat, (or a white mouse). And you can even do impressive yoga poses while balancing on one finger. Whilst you may be the best thing in the secret service since 001, you're not shy in letting people know all about your dazzling skills. What you really need is a timid assistant to boss about – oh shush Penfold… For the 10% discount at Russell's store, which includes some of the Star Wars artwork I purchased, have a look at http://www.theanimationartgallery.com/ and use the code Jan08 for the next 10 days. ( View All 57 Products for Star Wars for the Star Wars artwork) ttfn David Technorati Tags: Star Wars , Kids TV , TimesOnline , Dangermouse
  • CES (Computer Electronics Show) is coming and Microsoft will be there. Want to learn more and watch the keynote...

    I love CES. Yes, it is not business oriented, but it is great to see what everyone / anyone is doing in the consumer end of the market. Microsoft have a little silverlight site for people to find out more: This site can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/ces/ :-) Notice the areas we will be talking about at the bottom of the screen shot - Windows Vista, Xbox 360, Zune, Office, Windows Live, Windows Mobile and Games for Windows... rock on!! You can find links to more information, more ways to view etc at http://www.istartedsomething.com/20080105/bill-gates-ces-2008-keynote/ ttfn David (still officially on holiday)
  • Happy New Year and 1tb drive failures

    I've managed to not blog for a week, which I think is a miracle for me and I am also enjoying the freedom of not working or doing anything too strenuous for the brain. I did think it was worth saying "Happy New Year" to you all and to say that I will be back. On the technology front I had fitted my system under my desk with an additional 1TB of storage to enable further file duplication, however this USB Storage Device has caused more system hiccups than it was worth, so it will be being resigned to another less strategic use in the home - I'm just not sure exactly what yet :-) Have a great New Year and see you when I get back to work on the 7th January. Its been fun doing this for another year. ttfn David
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  • Happy Christmas - see the Santa Cam to see where he has been

    I Love Santa Claus!! I was thrilled to hear Jonathan Ross announce that he had entered British air space. You can see all the Santa cam videos at http://youtube.com/view_play_list?p=26B9B2ACB4AAC849 . One that caught my eye was his visit to the International Space Station: ttfn and a Merry Christmas David Technorati Tags: Christmas , Santa Cam , Santa Claus
  • Silverlight, the UK PR company and Christmas greetings

    I'm enjoying the festive spirit at the moment - the home is well lit and I am officially off from work (officially because I still do a bit here and there). I'm off to the cinema with one of my daughters today and plan to spend some of the afternoon wrapping presents too. What more could one ask for? Well, how about Mason Zimbler writing their seasons greeting card in Silverlight? Well, if it was, then another of my Christmas wishes has been granted . It is quite nice to see a PR company taking the mickey out of themselves a bit, but they are British I suppose!! http://mason-zimbler.com/festivegreetings/ As always, enjoy the holidays David Technorati Tags: Silverlight , Christmas , Personal
  • Happy Christmas / Seasons Greetings - The Overton house is once again lit up for all to see

    I am lucky enough to have understanding neighbours and a family that understands that while I work hard all year, come Christmas I take time off and this includes the house being decorated in Christmas lights. To see them this year, have a look at the photo album - http://uksbsguy.com/photos/doverton/tags/Christmas/default.aspx . I will be posting some comments to the blog, but outside of that, have a GREAT holiday no matter how you celebrate it. See you in 2008. David and Family Technorati Tags: Christmas , Holiday , Personal , Christmas lights
  • Happy Christmas from Microsoft UK and me (ok, so it says Seasons Greetings, but I think we all can take it to be something about having a nice break if you choose to celebrate it)

    The card itself can be found at the site http://www.seasonal-greetings.com/ , but since this is a nice little Silverlight card I thought I would try my hand at embedding it too, so below is an embedded version of the card. If this gives you problems, let me know. If you feel inclined you can click the NSPCC link and think about how to support them (I do, but so could you) [updated to change Silverlight embedded card to a link since this is now post Christmas] ttfn David Technorati Tags: Seasons Greatings , Happy Christmas , NSPCC , Microsoft
  • Service Availability and what it mean, or have a consumer broadband line and get consumer availability (10 hours downtime)

    The UKSBSGUY.com server is on my home broadband connection and this means it does not get business availability. Last night I had another 10 hours downtime and 8 hours earlier in the month. This all sounds bad, but here is where you need to understand SLAs and what availability statistics mean. If I have a 24x7 contract and I want high availability then this is how much downtime I can have through the year: Availability 365 days 31 days 1 day 99% 3.65 days 7.44 hours 14.4 minutes 99.9% 8.76 hours 44.64 minutes 1.44 minutes 99.99% 52.56 minutes 4.46 minutes 0.14 minutes 99.999% 5.26 minutes 0.45 minutes 0.01 minutes From this you can see that I am somewhere between 99% and 99.9%. If I assume 24 hours downtime this year then I am at about 99.7%, which on a consumer service is pretty amazing. Now, if someone offers you a service rebate then you need to consider the service period. For example, if someone offers 99.9% every day and you have a whole days outage, that is 1 day in 365 that they have failed, so any rebate might be very small. Also bear in mind that if the service hours reduces (eg 9-5) then the amount of down time that is in spec reduces, but the service could be available or closed outside the service hours. Hopefully this helps point to what you need to know when offering or signing up to SLAs: Over what period is the availability measured (remember it is possible to offer 99.99% from 9-5 and then 0% outside this, so beware) What is the recourse that is offered if a SLA is missed and how does it fit in the bit picture What is the cost / impact of taking an SLA How do they manage with existing customers What are the exceptions (eg telling you 2 weeks in advance that the service will be down for 8 hours might exclude that service from SLA measures) that is it. Obviously there are a couple of SLA and managed services kings out there such as Karl - http://smallbizthoughts.blogspot.com/2007/09/final-thoughts-managed-services-in.html and the two PALs in the UK (Vijay and Gareth) ttfn David Technorati Tags: Service...
  • Susan B's article that just made me smile or I like to think of it as "how much money is being spent to help competition for no user benefit"

    I've been ranting a bit recently about wanting everything for nothing and then I saw Susan's article - http://msmvps.com/blogs/bradley/archive/2007/11/29/so-how-much-money-has-been-wasted.aspx - and it just goes further to say how much time is spent not moving forward, but going backwards. I thought I would add to the list with the Microsoft-EU debate about Windows Media player. As a Microsoft employee, to comment directly would be very, very bad - apparently the press might think I was expressing a Microsoft opinion and then either me or my employer could be in hot water. So I won't really comment except to state some already published facts and that a huge effort went in to build a version of Windows without Media Player. That is definitely spending money for the user to get less, but if that is what the user wants, then it should be built..... however it was announced that this version has sold well ... 1 in every 15,000 copies of Windows. That version that has cost millions and was the centre of a multi-million case has been used by nearly 0.0066666666666666666666666666666667% of the purchasers of Windows... wow!! Oh, and this is either my very personal opinion, or facts that are already published, so hopefully no law suit to follow. ttfn David Technorati Tags: Windows , Microsoft
  • Is Vista really that bad or do we have rose tinted glasses - How well was Windows XP accepted in the early years

    I have had a bit of a rant with Vlad over at Vista SP1 vs. XP SP3 Performance Stats: Flawed Samples or Market Reality? and the comments are good - the communication is very worthwhile, but I thought I would share some of the "what was it like with Windows XP" reality. That does not excuse the issues people see, but rather highlights the fact that with XP, it took some time for things to bed down and hopefully what you are seeing with Vista is a more responsive Microsoft and partner eco-system. Complaints about Whistler (Windows XP and 2003) come in the form of performance, adoption rates, application compatibility, relevance - all things people are complaining about today with Windows Vista. I will say it again - ONLY DEPLOY VISTA IF IT MAKES SENSE FOR YOUR BUSINESS. What is more, only deploy Windows XP on new machines if there is a compelling reason to NOT deploy Vista . Remember that if you buy Vista Business / Ultimate and downgrade you can then re-load Vista at a later date without having to re-buy the OS. Buy XP and you will have to purchase the OS too. Performance Vista does many things to improve performance, but there is a limit as to how much juice you can squeeze into a firmly boxed space. 1GB of RAM is now a minimum and with multi-core coming along, scaling sideways is not a more important trick that raw performance. Vista has many things under the bonnet to improve performance, but in some scenarios it still does not work like XP. Just look at the "fix" that Alistair found for his Dell - Alistair likes Vista and found out that the Dell SATA drivers were making is go slow ENT Review: Windows XP - I feel I could be reading a Vista review For IT organizations that have already standardized on Windows 2000, however, the rationale for upgrading to Windows XP is altogether less clear cut. <snip> Speed and Performance Considerations We deployed Windows XP on a 1.4-GHz Athlon system (512 MB of RAM); a 1-GHz Toshiba Tecra 8200 laptop (256 MB of RAM); a 500-MHz IBM Thinkpad 570E laptop...
  • Photos, photography, JPEG XR, Photosynth, the future of photography and Seadragons - why all the excitement?

    It's funny working in an industry where if you are not going at 50,000 miles an hour you are considered to be standing still. One area where Microsoft is speeding along is photography. In this post I will explore the announcements, the demos, short and long term products and then the future that lots of people are beginning to see. For me, the fact that people are already seeing such a future and its possibilities is very exciting (both the visions and the fact they are having them without drugs!! (humour)) Look at the recent events: Raw photo support in 2005 - Microsoft and Imaging Industry Leaders Unveil Support for Digital Photo HD (which some people thought was a JPEG killer.. tut tut) - HD Photo - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia JPEG XR - JPEG committee supports Photo HD as next gen JPEG TrustedReviews - Official Jpeg Successor Is Microsoft's HD Photo Now this is all very nice, but so what - a better format for bigger pictures, that could be a bit like FAT disks getting FAT32 format, but it is not. Now read about Photosynth and Seadeagon and you realise that people are not just seeing a HD future, but a future where seeing details and accessing them is much, much easier: The demos by themselves are awesome - Chris Koenig : Seadragon and Photosynth If you haven't already seen Seadragon or Photosynth , then you need to watch this video from TED 07 . The speaker, Blaise Aguera y Arcas , is an Architect at Microsoft, and responsible for the Seadragon product. This is AMAZING technology - absolutely unbelievable what they've been able to do here. You can try out Photosynth for yourself today, but Seadragon itself is not publicly available (I can't wait to get my hands on this Seadragon demo)! The short term future is described by people like Pete: Microsoft & Photography - Pete's Eats I've been a heavy Photoshop user since v2.5 now but thought I'd do some research at Microsoft to see what kinds of things we have to offer too. I have to say, I was pretty surprised at the content...
  • When digging holes in the garden, watch out for suspicious objects... it might mean you have to get the bomb squad out!!

    It was a rare weekend, I had agreed to do some digging in my parents garden to put up two arches. Some of you will know my dad - Derek Overton from various SBSC events. They live just over the way from a piece of MOD land that used to be used for all sorts of things and bangs were not unusual. Anyway, we were drilling into the ground when we hit something that should not be there - it was tubular and metallic. Having joked a bit that "who knows what it could be when around here" Dad decided to call the police. They arrived, examined it, decided since one of them used to be in the army that it could be dangerous, so calls were made to the bomb squad. The bomb squad said it sounded potentially hazardous, so came for a visit :-) The neighbours were obviously quite interested when we had 2, then 3 police cars out the front of the house and finally the bomb squad van and army folk. Finally, several hours after the 1st phone call the object was declared safe and that it had not ever have been a threat, but was shaped very similarly to some known ordinance, hence the concern. Right, back to work and life. David Technorati Tags: Personal , Bomb Disposal
  • Steve Clayton: Geek In Disguise - his new gig - no longer being my boss and now a servant!!

    Steve describes himself as my loyal blogging servant... how the tides have changed from when he was my boss. Ahhh!! Not my servant, but yours... post blogging edits are a wonderful thing. Well Steve was my boss, not bad really :-) Anyway, he is now a good part of the Software+Services drive in Microsoft and that is a warning bell for anyone ignoring Microsoft in this sector - Steve normally drives success!. My new gig 05 November 2007, 19:11:43 | stevecla01 "This transformation from software to software-plus-services is a very, very big deal for our company," - Ray Ozzie Today I started a new gig at Microsoft that has a lot to do with the image above. Hugh kindly drew this a few months back and I was quick to snag it as I knew it would become my new card. Basically I'm working in a part of the organisation known as Microsoft International and helping to shape how we talk about Software + Services internally and externally. It's a big new adventure and I'm really looking forward to it. It means I'm no longer managing the PTS team which I'll miss as they're just a great bunch of guys doing outstanding work, but the opportunity to be involved this deeply with S+S was something I couldn't pass up. I'll have involvement in a few other projects I can't talk about but S+S will be my main schtick. Steve Clayton: Geek In Disguise ttfn David Technorati Tags: Software plus Service , Steve Clayton , Microsoft
  • Microsoft lands itself as India's best company to work for!!

    I'm against anyone who gets too xenophobic or protective of "jobs in my country". Jobs should be filled according to the needs of a company and all aspects that lead to the definition of "needs" should be taken into account. While I am staunchly loyal to the UK, if a job is better filled outside of it then I see that as a problem with the UK if it can not justify that job being offered here rather than any other country. if another country can offer a company a better package, then that is good for that country. It could be Wales, Ireland, France, India, USA or Australia (surely that is why Robbie has gone back home). This means, in my opinion, those who work outside these shores and deliver some service back to the UK were picked because they are the person for the job, especially when they have to deliver to multiple countries!! Working for Microsoft has made me realise just how multi-cultural the world is and how diverse the talent pool can be. In my job I have worked with people from all continents (except the very cold icy one) and I have been greatly impressed with their ability to work across boundaries. I've received plenty of complements for these people and a few thanking me for the "local" person who turned out to be in another country after all. Providing quality is good, I think the "needs" bit has been answered. Now, not every job outside the UK or the US is "taken" from those countries, although I hear plenty of flack about it in the two countries. So, how nice was it to see this headline "The best companies to work for in India - #1 - Microsoft" at Business Today - Beta - India's leading business magazine . The best companies to work for in India Microsoft India - A vista unlike any other The software giant from Redmond makes a stunning entry into BT’s Best Companies to Work for in India list at #1. Quite a feat for a corporation that runs six different units in India. Microsoft’s secret sauce Leadership development : The company...
  • Back from holiday, blog site mails and comments being processed today / tonight. 1st step of upgrades done, Windows Home Server to serve pictures

    I'm Back!! I have a stack of e-mails, posts and comments to respond to (434 e-mails that require a response left). I hope to do this today / tonight. I upgraded my Windows Home Server from Evaluation to RTM over the weekend which was the cause of the planned downtime. I also took the time to write the process of moving the blog from one machine to another, so I am now fully prepared should I have to do that again. Holiday was fab as was the location. I have uploaded a few photos to http://uksbsguy.com/photos/doverton/category1167.aspx and to show off the home server and a add-in called Whiist - http://overton.homeserver.com/lakes07 Unlike last year where Lizzy meant that I did a bit of sleeping (see the UKSBSGUY site logo), it was nice to get out. You can see the how nice the scenery was: Nice walks with the family Anyway, that is a quick extra add-in for Home Server and a few piccies from my week off. Now, back to those e-mails. ttfn David Technorati Tags: Personal , Windows Home Server
  • EU Pundits Want Windows-less PCs - I just want options

    I saw this and just thought it was very silly. I do need to point out that this is a personal opinion and not one that represents Microsoft or that of its employees. However I do think that this idea ranks right up there with "everyone should write their own software" which an certain Open Source advocate once said to me. So let me get this right, the reasons why people like pre-loaded software are: Machines can be turned on and used OEM supplied software is supported by the same people who supplied the hardware, so one stop show OEM software is great value and often less than retail software Drivers and add-on software are all provided in the box so no searching around to set the system up More tools in the box from 3rd party vendors No technical knowledge required to set up machine The reasons why OEMs like pre-loaded software are: Machine will be usable as soon as turned on making happy customers Easier to support a known installation configuration Financial incentive from some 3rd party software packages to pre-load their software The reasons why some people don't like pre-loaded software are: They might get something they don't want Removal can be cumbersome Now, if we remove all pre-loaded software and make it all the end users responsibility, then the pain of what works, how it is supported, how to get the drivers, pay retail prices and potentially higher prices for the hardware if the 3rd party subsidisation is removed. Of course OEMs are starting to answer the two dislikes with more PCs being available with either plain Windows, a.n. other OS or bare. To prove just how silly an idea this is, look at Windows N - that "much sort after" item by consumers. Recent figures suggested that 1 in 15,000 copies of Windows in Europe is the "N" version that does not have Media Player - that is just 0.0066667% of the consumers when given the choice said yes, yet the market owned by non Windows Media Player products is higher I am sure, so did the idea of removing the options for consumers...
  • Changed web site style again which might upset how the blog looks

    Following on from people who wanted a quicker blog, I have moved to another theme by Nick at http://www.nbdev.co.uk . If you are seeing the blog "messed up", then you need to set your site options to Athena by clicking Edit Profile in the top right corner: and then selecting the site options and choosing your theme: thanks David
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  • Comically bad 24 hours in the Overton household ... how you know Monday was a bad day

    I just had to share with you the back end of my weekend and why it made Monday such a disaster. All was well on Sunday, I went sailing, then about 4pm my back decided to jump back into the land of extreme pain. OK, so 1 member of the household down. About 8pm Lizzy, my 1 year old, started throwing up... not good... and it carried on through the night. One rug in the bin, 5+ changes of night clothes for her and more. All with me unable to do much due to back pain and my wife phobic about people being sick. Two members of the household down. Next morning, we get some quality sleep from about 6am until about 7:30am when Molly, my eldest, tells us she is not feeling well and she has an upset tummy and a temperature. We decide that she is not faking it, so off from school for her and now food for a while. Three members down and one left standing. About 7pm Mel, my wife, goes to put something in the bin, trips over the rug and slips. "Ouch" she said (and a few more colourful words too), took off her rings (wise move) and demanded ice. 15 mins later, having spoken to the local nurse we decide Accident and Emergency is for her, so off she trots. It turns out that she has chipped a couple of bones and did a good job of trying to pull the tendons off too. She now has a very tender hand that is wrapped up for safe keeping. That is it - all four members down and out! Work has been a nightmare as I missed a couple of important steps and all in all, Monday was written off. Now for Tuesday... computers are still working, so what will the rest of the week throw at us? ttfn David (still in pain)
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  • David and others, slightly drunk, speaking poetry on the South Bank

    This is just a silly post, but thought I would share: Of course, not wanting to do it alone, many others also joined in. Did I mention that we were standing on our chairs at a bar under the bridge with a lot of confused people around us? - Matt Brady was very animated in his performance - Stephie shows us that the Scottish have romantic hearts - Danny picked the shortest poem. but picked on people as "characters" - Steve Clayton decided to do a duet with Stephanie who found it all a bit too much
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  • The Open XML Vote (OOXML) and why I hate politics

    This is a rant and it is my opinion and does not reflect that of Microsoft or others - It is my Opinion! From 1992 to 1995 I had to write document converters - I had to pick apart binary file formats and translate them to another format. It was hard work and I JUST WISHED people would create a largely encompassing standard for documents that was documented so I did not have to do all the work myself. Role forward to today, Office is still the prominent document format (which is now documented on http://msdn.microsoft.com ), but there is a new kid in town that encompass everything that an Office document is and more. This is the Open XML document format. People have cried for years that they wanted the Office Document standard to become more than a defacto standard, they wanted it to become a format an open standard. It was always going to be large, but to cover all the features and functions available in Office, it would have to be. There is no point in the standard being something different to that used in Office as it would be useless. Today, something like 600 million people use the Office document standard and Open XML format is growing too with tools existing for previous versions of Office prior to 2007 to make the use of the ECMA standard seamless for users. So what happens, Microsoft submits their file formats to the standards bodies and while it is accepted by ECMA a HUGE POLITICAL effort is made to stop it becoming an ISO standard. I don't mind people saying they want more documentation, but the only reason I can think why people want to stop it becoming an ISO standard is because they don't want it to be easier for people to use Office documents - they want it to be hard, to make use of Office harder for developers, not easier. This means that those who said "make it a standard" really meant "don't use it because it is not a standard and that is the only weapon we have as to why you should not use it". You may disagree with me, but a while ago I tried to enter the discussion...
  • Latest web site stats for UKSBSGUY.com and a chance to tell me what you do and don't like.

    Hi, This is a bit of blowing my own trumpet, but I thought I would share the latest figures for my web site. As best as I can tell, about 61,000 people visited my site last month and about 17,000 bots (those are people, not page views). While the site peaked in June, it is still doing nicely, so thank-you for continuing to read the site. As always, if there is more you would like to see, let me know, in fact, this would be a great time to write a comment on what you do and don't like on the site, especially after all the changes. The most popular pages are still those associated with Vista and Office (together), be it the Office Assistance or problems having both loaded on a system at the same time. Peoples interest in my fingers has also slimmed down, but that can only be a good thing. Let me know what you think and thanks for the interest - hopefully it has helped to put a more human face to Microsoft and my role. ttfn David (back from holiday and reading lots of mail)
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  • David, holiday, comments on posts will not get approved unless you sign-in

    OK, so this is really simple. I'm off on my holidays for two weeks and I won't be updating the site (I do have some posts that will appear, but nothing will be topical as I won't be writing anything during that time). If you want to make MY life easier and have your comment posted for others to see, before you post a comment to the blog, go create an account, sign in, and then post a comment - unless it comes under scrutiny from the spam or rude word filter it will get published. Thanks - I hope you all have a lovely time on your holidays this summer (is it summer??). ttfn David
  • Site Updated as opinion of Government body said the site was too Microsoft

    I know I work for Microsoft and never hide the fact, but this site is not about "Isn't Microsoft Great", it is about offering tips and advice on technology and how it impacts ISV's and small businesses. The opinions here are mine and NOT MICROSOFT's. So I've changed the background and removed the SBSC logo (as much as it hurts me as I have earned it privately outside of Microsoft) and stated up the front that this is not an official site. I hope you like the new look -the background is a paint effect of one of my Antigua holiday photos and the graphics on the top left are simply a PowerPoint set of graphics saved as a png file. Amazing what you can do with PowerPoint. Anyway, hope the site looks OK. ttfn David
  • Nano-tech to use old mechanical designs to implement technology rather than simply copying silicon

    One of my University lecturers help at the London Science Museum to build the Babbage difference engine around twenty years ago. Engines like this which is very mechanical based are obviously simple ways to implement functions of modern cpus in nano technology. It was a a nice surprise to see the article " Antique engines inspire nano chip " where we see that this is progressing. “The blueprint for a tiny, ultra-robust mechanical computer has been outlined by US researchers. ”What we are proposing is a new type of computing architecture that is only based on nano-mechanical elements,” said Professor Robert Blick of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and one of the authors of the journal paper. “We are not going to compete with high-speed silicon, but where we are competitive is for all of those mundane applications where you need microprocessors which can be slow and cheap as well.” ttfn David Technorati Tags: Nano Technology , Babbage , Difference Engine
  • My RSS reader

    I subscribe to a lot of blogs and reading them all can be a bit of a pain. If you want to see who I read, have a look at http://uksbsguy.com/files/folders/files/entry4501.aspx to get the OPML file. I store and read some in Outlook, but the rest need something bigger. The tool I seem to be using a lot at the moment is RikReader. It is not perfect, but it works nicely for me. RikReader FAQ "Codename: RikReader" is an RSS Reader which complements the RSS Platform delivered by Microsoft in Windows Vista and Internet Explorer 7 . The RSS Platform makes it possible to share feed subscriptions and items between multiple applications. "Codename: RikReader" provides only reading and searching capabilities. To manage your feed subscriptions, it's recommenced that you use Internet Explorer 7. What does RikReader offer over Internet Explorer 7? A unified view of all your feeds: See all your items in a single view. "Codename: RikReader" collapses the hierarchy of feeds and folders into a single list of items ordered by date. A dynamic interface: Any new items or changes to the feed store will automatically show up in the current view. Full-text, indexed searching: Perform advanced searchers over all of your items, instantly, in one go. It has several views and search facilities and ties into the Internet Explorer RSS engine, which is where Outlook gets its info from. Below is the standard, searching and multi-column views: Things I would like to see added are: UI when it is working so you know how far it is progresses in its thinking Better filtering options so I can do more than just last day or last 7 days Sorting of results - by blog, by date, by unread entries in that blog I don't consider the lack of these features a big problem today. ttfn David Technorati Tags: RikReader , RSS , Reader
  • Star Wars art work from Celebration Europe

    While I was at Star Wars Celebration Europe I managed to spend quite a bit of my unearned bonus on bits of "art". Some I will put pride of place on my wall, others will go in a tube because I don't have enough wall space. Here is what I bought (I just photographed them and then used a tool to remove the perspective from the photos, but don't expect print quality images): From Steven D Anderson the "Dark Avenger" poster, signed by him and one of 250 (11 / 250) and the little post card of the two ladies with blasters. Next up was Joe Corroney - I love his work especially since he also does some of the Star Wars comics. He has a web site http://JoeCorroney.com and his Star Wars blog can be found at http://blogs.starwars.com/joecorroney/70 . As you can see from the pictures on the left, I was lucky enough to not only get number 20 of 250 from his collection, but also the ORIGINAL PENCIL drawing that made this great poster. WOW, amazing and top. This is my best treasure from this event. For my sins, the next stand I never actually bought anything, but is easily worth a mention, which is Jake Steel - http://www.jake-art.com . I will be hunting down something from this man soon! Brian Rood had some fabulous posters, one of which was double sided. I liked his work so much I bought 3 sides (2 posters). The New Hope Posters are 39/250 (on both sides) and the think the Where Science Meets Imagination posters are un-numbered. Russell Walks had a couple of pieces there, one referencing Cell Block 1138 which I did not buy, but his other ones was very nice - showing characters from all 6 films. He signed his work and posed for a picture with Molly too . We also bought a couple of pencil sketch pieces from him. One of the nicest things about the Boba Fett one is that it was drawn for a celebration with Disney, another passion of mine, so he is carrying a Mickey Mouse autograph book - something truly original. Jerry Vanderstelt 's Yoda was eye catching, so much so that after much deliberation I went...
  • Star Wars Celebration Europe - How I got to re-shoot the Imperial storming of the Tantive IV and the final movie

    OK, so still need to do a all up post, but before I do, here is how I got to re-make the video. One item at the event was part of the set for the Tantive IV. The nice director and actors explained how shooting from different angles and by swapping bits out the set could be made to look even bigger etc. They then asked for 6 volunteers to be the "rebels" who die in this shoot. I was lucky enough to be picked, so off I went to wardrobe (yes, a proper costume maker, costumes and props). I quickly put on my rebel uniform with my 5 hapless colleagues and off we went to be briefed. We had to shoot 3 scenes and then these were to be edited into the original film, Scene 1- Running down the corridor toward the place we expect the imperials to board. while we are running, an explosion will rock us back (you have to act the explosion) and then on we go. Scene 2 - Run into position, line up your sites, then look above and back as you hear a noise and wonder what it is, then focus again on the big door. We had all been given numbers (I was 4) and when you number was called, your time was up. Die, but be careful to do so without falling into the middle as the Stormtroopers (who were volunteers from the 501 Garrison I think) could not see down well and would fall over you and get hurt if you got it wrong. Scene 3 - Play dead while Darth Vader comes to get you Unfortunately there was no way to take the final product home with us, so it was then a phone recording to keep afterwards. Since my little face is hard to see, I have some key shots below and then a link to the movie I recorded very badly at the end. Scene 1 - David runs on Scene 2 - David is wearing a heavy hat and all you get to see is the back of him Scene 2 - that "get your face on the screen" moment, but this short person and the pro actor behind me make my "face on the screen" when looking back, not very "me" Scene 2 - your death scene - hmm, can you see me... nope!! Scene 2 - remember that don't fall into the middle - well...
  • Thanks Karl and Vlad in the international scene - both good guys, both staying on small business and both very sweet

    They are like chalk and cheese when you 1st meet them. I'm not going to say how, but read their blogs and I know that you will know what I mean. Both have good business sense and both are nice to people they like (I count my self in this camp most of the time). Vlad is a little more outgoing with people he doesn't like , while Karl is more of an organisation basher when they do bad (I'm just sorry it was Microsoft). Both are amazing people and business people (yes, both, not just one or the other) and since they are over the pond, I am less likely to see them with any frequency compared to the many, many, many people this side of the pond. There are others, Susan B, Dean and even Jeff although we never got much time to talk. I hope to personally say "bye for now" to people in the UK. Karl recently said some amazing things about me and I wanted to publicly say thank-you. If you have met him, you will know that his is not the loudest man in the room, yet has insight enough to make everyone listen. Farewell to some Great British Friends Three major players in the SMB space have moved on recently. People come and go all the time, in our business and every other part of life. Part of being in a community is to take note of these changes. We don't just let people wander off without a fond farewell. Three very successful people have been tapped for additional success in G.B. (More, I'm sure, but I will note the movement of these three particularly.) David Overton ( uksbsguy.com ) is moving to evangelize ISVs and to feed them Microsoft Kool Aid in large drums. I pinged Dave before the WPC and he told me that he wouldn't be there because of the "pending" change. I've bumped into Dave in London, Amsterdam, and the U.S. Always a good guy. Always willing to help. Always has a positive attitude. I met Robbie Upcroft during a fateful SBS User Group meeting at SMB Nation a few years ago. I introduced myself so I could apologize on behalf of the entire United States of America for the...
  • Personal Well Done - Nigel Fennell is now in the world top ten

    I have to shout about this, Nigel who lived just down the road "popped" off to Calgary a couple of weeks ago to compete in the World Championships Blacksmiths . This competition is hard work - doing something most of us computer people never really experience - lifting a heavy hammer and beating red hot iron into the shapes required (horse shoes and many others) over a blisteringly hot fire for hours on end. I'm not saying that we don't work hard, but this is physical endurance that you should not have to experience when installing SBS!!! Anyway, so off went this Brit, where the end result out by a 3 mm would mean disqualification, and beat his way through many rounds to be ranked number 10 in the world!!!!! I've seen the work Nigel does, from special shoes for lame horses to sausages on a BBQ and the result is always perfect. His achievements managed to make BBC news - http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediaselector/check/player/nol/newsid_6290000/newsid_6293700?redirect=6293726.stm&news=1&bbram=1&bbwm=1&nbram=1&nbwm=1 I just had to tell everybody that we have one of the world's top ten best blacksmiths working right. ttfn David Technorati Tags: blacksmith
  • Live Earth Concerts - playback available, plus the "how it was made with MSN"

    On Saturday, 7/07/07, MSN sponsored Live Earth, The Concert for a Climate in Crisis . This 24-hour global event featured more than 150 of the world’s top bands performing on all seven continents, with concerts in Sydney, Tokyo, Shanghai, Istanbul, London, New York, and other cities around the world. There have been many, many critics of the Live Earth concert ("all the pop stars traveling leaves a huge carbon footprint" , "there was not 2 billion people watching", "why should we believe the pop stars", " climate change is not real, not even the scientists can agree "), but even if the world is not about to blow up, surely being better to the planet is good for us, great for our children and sometimes a matter of survival for other people and animals in the more extreme climates. If you have missed everything that Live Earth was about, go have a look at the SoapBox video here . An interesting blog on the whole should we shouldn't we explore these types of events can be found at A great review of what it is all about can be found at http://bettinathenomad.wordpress.com/2007/07/09/rocking-it-the-green-way/ . Now that all the concerts have been played out, they can be viewed from the http://liveearth.uk.msn.com/ site. At the Live Earth site, in addition to streaming the performances, the MSN team has posted an extensive collection of interactive media and content that is designed to entertain, educate, and inspire all of us to work together to create a more sustainable environment. For your personal reading I can recommend http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17950339/ which has some interesting stories about businesses and the community and pledge section on http://liveearth.uk.msn.com/ has some great tips on doing your bit. My Personal Carbon footprint include a broken boiler last year which meant that I was burning gas through the night and had electric heaters in my house, yet I still seem to fall under the national average for a household, even though we have 2 children and lots...
  • David Overton moving on to pastures new

    With a tear in my eye the time has come for me to move my stick hut somewhere new. I have loved working in and with the small business community and with a set of awesome partners who can complain and nag, but normally with good cause and that are more willing to say thank-you and "good job" when the time is right. To you all I take my hat off for making me feel so welcome. As a legacy we now have SBSC up and running, partner groups that support themselves, a voice into Microsoft from the smaller end of the partner community and a better understanding of the motivations of both Microsoft and our partners. We also have a new level of engagement with customers. I wish I could take credit for all of this, but I am just a figurehead for a great team of people inside Microsoft. A nice chap called Mark in the OEM team will be helping to drive Cougar knowledge through the community when the time comes (no, this is not the time yet, trust me), SBSC has been supported by Jen as many of you would have seen from the e-mails and SBS has a product manager who cares in the form of Sonal. Finally campaigns like Mr Busy prove that while we still have some implementation details to improve on, the ideas are getting better and better and the team responsible for these will continue to push forward on this front. They say you can take the boy out of the small business, but not small business out of the boy and this will be true for me - the blog will continue and I will still try to be a voice of reason and rant as I feel appropriate and pass on comments to the right people internally within Microsoft, just realise that I have less time to do this now. This points to the fact that I will still be with Microsoft. My next challenge is to help those ISVs (Independent Software Vendors) who wish it to move further along a path with Microsoft to do so, whether they already work with us today or not. This should be a fun challenge - viewing all of the Microsoft world as a platform rather than a solution, but this is something I have...
  • Susanne Dansey (UK SMB Girl) off to make Westcoast even better as she broadens her horizons

    Congratulations to Susanne on her impending job move. She is the best UK SMB Girl out there :-) She often keeps Microsoft straight with her views and I will always be grateful for her honest conversation and being a good friend. Anyway, as always you can go to her blog, but here is an extract. Note, she is still the UK SMB Girl and not just a Westcoast employee, so remember to treat her as a person and not just a support line for Westcoast. But you can’t take SMB out of the girl! July is going to be a busy time for me, I’m off to the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference to speak at the Small Business Symposium (hope to see you there!) and I’m also off to pastures new in terms of my career. After being with Readycrest for seven years (well really since I was 13 when the sales office was my bedroom!) I’m taking a change in career and will be working with Westcoast Distribution as their Microsoft Channel Development Manager with a specific focus on the SBSC community. I’m not going to talk much more about Westcoast on this blog unless I feel it is appropriate as this site is independent of who I work with/for UK SMB Girl » You can take the girl out of SMB… ttfn David Technorati Tags: community , westcoast , partners
  • The BBC has been using Microsoft research technology to do some AMAZING photo "things" with Photosynth

    No point in me buttering this up, but if you want to see what can be done in 3D with a "bunch of snaps".... I've been really excited about Photosynth since it was first publicly demo'ed about a year ago. But now you can go and play with it yourself and explore some of Britain's most striking buildings along the way. Photosynth is (for my money) the most exciting thing to happen to digital photography in a long time. And to show it off Microsoft has teamed up with the BBC to offer the previews at http://labs.live.com/photosynth/bbc/ . Prepare to be amazed! It's eerily good. The UsefulTechnology Blog: Photosynth in all its glory ttfn David Technorati Tags: Photosync , bbc
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  • Google Checkout downchecked by UK users (The Register) and Google doesn't mind not asking about Privacy

    I'm obviously in a little bit of a carefree mood as I am going to offer my personal opinion on one of the Internet greats. Google has built an amazing advertising business through search, but their company slogan of "Do no evil" seems to be more "deny any evil doing". Lets be honest, Google is a business, like any other who's primary aim is to live longer, grow bigger and feed shareholders. I have seen a few things that Google do that I don't like. I don't like them reading my e-mails, the meta data of the documents I have, my every browser move. These have been discussed by others many times before, but this week I have seen two storied that smacked of "sorry we got it wrong... its not our fault". I remember the reaction when I said sorry on the blog and it seems that a little bit of that humble pie is needed elsewhere (and more at Microsoft obviously). The two areas I am thinking about are their Checkout tool and their mapping tools. The Register, who I have had the pleasure of doing interviews with personally wrote: Or maybe not. Here are a few emails we've received from UK Checkout users: Google checkout is having major problems transferring money into people's bank accounts. They are ignoring emails and refusing to do comment or acknowledge the matter. I myself have 14,500 pounds stuck in google since the 21st of May and i am not alone. a quick look at their forums shows it's quite widespread. Other users of the Google forums agree . And there's more: The [Google Checkout] affiliate program offered by Ebuyer stole my money! I used the Google checkout function, which enticed me with the offer of a £10 discount. The system refused both of my cards, saying they were declined (they both had plenty of credit). I decided to shun my £10 discount and just use Ebuyer's standard checkout system. My order went through without a hitch. Two days later, Google Checkout sent me an email saying that they were sorry about declining my card as this was a fault of...
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  • The price of Vista in the UK - some really, really bad maths

    OK, so this has really got my goat - I read that there is a £100 difference between the UK and US prices for Vista Premium Edition, so I thought I would add my PERSONAL view on this. Microsoft does not set the prices, the resellers do - some offer products at a loss to bring you in, some add plenty of margin because they believe the market can bear it When comparing prices we need to do so on as close to a level playing field as possible - so no VAT & state tax etc There is some difference due to the unusually high exchange rate - and using the market exchange rate rather than a normal punter exchange rate does not reflect the man on the street pricing The figures stated don't seem to bear out in reality in my opinion I found a typical story here : UK customers face disparity and confusion over the pricing of Microsoft Windows Vista , Computing Which? has discovered. Windows Vista Home Premium has a recommended retail price of $240 (£125) in the US. But to buy the same software in the UK would set consumers back £220 – almost twice as much. The process I will use is very simple: Lets take an example - Vista Home Premium - I'll use two retailers I know online (I found cheaper in both countries) www.dabs.com price - £182.30 inc VAT, so £155.15 excl www.bestbuy.com - $239 excl taxes Thomas Cook currency rate 1.87 dollars to the pound. This gives us numbers to put into our equation - The Best Buy product converts to £127.80. So there is a difference between the two products - £27.35. Add shipping, local cost differences etc and all of a sudden it becomes a much less important question as to where the money goes - VAT and other local costs soon make the real difference. The £100 becomes just £27 once tax and a real price is taken (since the RRP is not actually provided by Microsoft in either country). The best prices I found in both countries (using Pricewatch and Kelkoo) led to just a £11.55 difference before VAT. Shopping around can make the difference. ttfn David
  • Back from Holiday - lots to do, holiday snaps

    Hello everyone - I'm back, as they say. I managed to fill my inbox while away, so stopped getting mail on Friday. I do have lots still to process, so it will be a little slow. If you want to see the photos, pop along to http://uksbsguy.com/photos/sailing/default.aspx ttfn David
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  • Help to make the Office 2007 document type a standard (Open XML) - click the link

    I love standards - they make life easier. TCP is one, ODF is one, SNA is one, ASCII and EBDIC are. Even PDF is one. It just makes life easier. In this connected world standards are a good thing and sometimes more than one standard is very good. Microsoft has offered the Open XML (Office 2007 document format) as a standard too. We can have it as a standard in a short time frame or a long time frame. I want you to sign the petition to help it happen in the short time frame. Even Novell are supporting this as they see it as just making their customers lives easier. Go here and sign the petition to help move things forward in the short time frame. If you want to see how developers could use the standard have a look at http://openxmldeveloper.org/posts.aspx . You might wonder why I am asking you to do this. Well I've read the text at the microsoft.com site on Open XML and I like the idea of this being a public standard that people can write to without having to pay for the right to do so and the knowledge that writing to the standard will give them good interoperability. My 1st three years after University was writing document converters, including those for Microsoft Office and Open XML would have made my life MUCH MUCH easier. To aid interoperability, XML-based file formats can unlock data in documents and help integrate front- and back-office processes. Recognising these benefits, Microsoft has implemented XML-based formats in successive releases of Office. Both public and private sector customers have expressed their preference for making Open XML an open standard so that they have broad rights to use, without cost, any Microsoft patents necessary to implement all or part of the format. Responding to this, Microsoft and others called for the standardisation of Open XML. On 7 Dec 2006 Ecma International, a highly respected standardisation body, approved the adoption of Open XML as an international open standard. The strengths of Ecma Open XML are clear: Ecma Open XML was developed through the collaborative efforts...
  • The hunt for Jim Gray has not turned up the man yet, even with the best of science looking for him

    Now I have never been good at expressing things that get under my skin, so if this seems awkward, so be it. There was once a man who helped invent the modern day database. In doing so he gave me a career in computers that has changed my life, and countless others. I have had a couple of meetings with Jim and was always in awe of the thoughts and processing that went on in his mind. He could stretch from super computing problems to how data should be made more useable in small businesses. In the one day we spoke about the complete database needs of the UK for all health matters - diagnosis through to information sharing and then discussed how data should be shared and sliced in a 6 man business - and he still ran rings around me, even though 8 years ago I was designing and benchmarking databases up to 170TB and I have been focusing deeply on small business needs for the last four. If you don't know about Jim, have a look at 426 documents that reference him in the acedemic search or read what he was looking at on his site ( Jim Gray, Microsoft Research Home Page ) and you will realise that muchof your IT life has been touched by him. Recently he went to sea on a personal trip and did not return. However, such is his impact on people that the boundaries of traditionally competing organisations did not stop the sharing of information in the effort to find him. Jim helped build the map searching tools we all use now, so both Microsoft and Google brought their communities to bear on examining the raw satellite images in an attempt to find his craft. Several research and prototype search tools were used in an attempt to find his boat, or its remains. Not all searches were electronic - some people hand examined unprocessed images for hours on end. Volunteers flew sorties to attempt an extensive search by air NASA allowed one of its "non-military" spy planes to be used to continue the search There are so many stories of how people from all over have helped to try to find this man it is touching to know as a community that...
  • I'm sorry - I am not perfect and nor is Microsoft. Sometimes it is our fault

    I can be abrasive sometimes and whether it "is my fault" or not, I don't always understand others' point of views. To this I would like to say "It is my fault". Now, if you have got up off the floor, let me give you a few examples. I say "contact our customer support" and you say "I don't have time". Before I rant - OK, I understand this, if you could share the bug at some time, we will try to fix it. We haven't been able to identify it yet, so need your help I say "There is no OEM media, get over it" and you say "I need OEM media to do my installs". OK, I can't fix this one. I do understand where you are coming from. If I were to share the fact that in the UK, which is a low piracy country, our tests so far have shown between 10-15% of all copies of Windows are pirated and many come from Action Packs and other OEM keys, does that help understand why this is such an issue? I do wish I could give you back OEM media, but I've been told it is just not possible. While Microsoft did publish the changes coming, I now get the impression that many did not realise that this was linked to the change in qualifying an upgrade, making the process different to Windows XP The list goes on, however why did I even start this? Well a man I respect lots is Joel. I started reading his latest filing: "Now I was fuming. Squiggly lines were coming up out of my head. I was a half hour late to work and had to go to the locksmith for a third time. I was tempted just to give up on him. But I decided to give this loser one more chance." "Seven steps to remarkable customer service http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/customerservice.html It then carries on: I stomped into the store, ready to unleash my fury. “It still doesn’t work?” he asked. “Let me see.” He looked at it. I was sputtering, trying to figure out how best to express my rage at being forced to spend the morning going back and forth. “Ah. It’s my fault,” he said. And suddenly, I wasn’t mad at all. Mysteriously, the words “it’s my fault” completely defused me. That was all it took...
  • Blog abuse - how to comment on my blog

    I have quite thick skin, but a few things really get my goat, so it is time I published my rules This my blog, not Microsoft's or for that matter, anyone else's Comments posted to the blog should respect me and others posting here, otherwise they won't get published As to no.2, that means talking to me and referring to Microsoft as Microshaft or M$ will stop your comments being published - I have added them to the spam engine as high count spam words Comments should refer to the blog or previous comments - it is not to share YOUR view of the world, industry or your life Comments should not be used to advertise products, your website or other places you want people to go to for your advantage (a link to more information that is informational is OK) Posting to tell me that I missed and apostrophe is useful, but I failed English 1st time at school, so the odd grammar mistake is to be expected - this is not some polished communications vehicle that is managed - it is the dribble that extends from my brain, down my often traveling and tired fingers I have recently not published several comments based on the above, which I had assumed was obvious to all, but now I felt the need to publish this to get it in the open. Have a great day David
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  • The Windows Vista and Office Consumer and Small Business Launch - 30th Jan, The British Library, London, UK.... and some demos you MUST run to understand what ISVs will do with Windows Vista.. and a couple of case studies

    Finally the day has come and the rest of us (well, you - but I felt that excited anyway) without a Volume License (or if you work at Microsoft) could get and use Windows Vista and the 2007 Office System (known as Office from here on in). The British Library was chosen as two Leonardo De Vinci codices were being brought together for the 1st time in over 500 years. One was owned by the British Library and the other by Bill Gates, who appeared in person to launch the event. These books, plus other treasures from the British Library can be accessed and downloaded from http://www.bl.uk - I've put some info on how to demo it at British Library Demo of Vista and the Windows Presentation Foundation and the Windows Vista Magazine have put their copy in the same format http://wpf.windowsvistamagazine.co.uk/ttpdownload/browserapp.xbap . As always I would like to thanks everyone involved - the partners and their customers who helped to shape and deliver Windows Vista and Office and the Windows and Office teams who put up with my rantings and demands and finally (still) invited me to the launch event to see it all so close up. Anyway, the day in pictures (clicking on the thumbnails will bring up a larger version - some will go "massive" as they quailty is better on those) The day started with a discussion between the customers, Doug Richard , the customers, the partners and Microsoft - think of this as a "what I'm going to ask you, so don't be scared... unless a great insight grabs me, and then I'll ask you something different" session The characters includr Richard Abel, with a great reference at http://www.bcentral.co.uk/products/accountancy-firm-aggarwal-profits-from-windows-vista-and-office-2007.mspx?xid=sbissues_020207 then the man in the blue shirt with the beardy is Mike Haigh - Windows Client Supremo for Small and Mid-Market customers. Next to Mike is the man who runs Bradley Photography and who said on stage "Using these tools has saved me time and will result in me saving 2 months in every 12) - his story can be found...
  • Problems with Girlfriend 1.0 (&1.2), Fiancee 1.0 and Wife 1.0

    Again, this was sent to me by my good lady. This was sent to me by my wife as 2 of 2. The other one can be found at http://uksbsguy.com/blogs/doverton/archive/2007/01/16/problems-with-boyfriend-5-0-husband-1-0-and-nagging-5-3-humour.aspx Dear Technical Support, 18 months ago, I upgraded to Girlfriend 1.0 from DrinkingMates 4.2 , which I had used for years without any trouble. However, there are apparently conflicts between these two products and the only solution was to try and run Girlfriend 1.0 with the sound turned off. To make matters worse, Girlfriend 1.0 is incompatible with several other applications, such as LadsNightOut 3.1 , Football 4.5 , and Playboy 6.9 .Successive versions of GirlFriend proved no better. I tried a shareware program, Slapper 2.1 , but it had many bugs and left a virus in my system, forcing me to shut down completely for several weeks. Eventually, I tried to run GirlFriend 1.2 and Girlfriend 1.0 at the same time, only to discover that when these two systems detected each other they caused severe damage to my hardware. I eventually upgraded to Fiancée 1.0 , only to discover that this product soon had to be upgraded further to Wife 1.0 . While Wife 1.0 tends to use up all my available resources, it does come bundled with FreeSexPlus and Cleanhouse2007 . Shortly after this upgrade, however, I found that Wife 1.0 could be very unstable and costly to run. Any mistakes I made were automatically stored in Wife 1.0's memory and could not be deleted. They then resurfaced months later when I had forgotten about them. Wife 1.0 also has an automatic Diary , Explorer and E-mail filter , and can, without warning, launch TurboStrop and Multi-Whinge . These latter products have no Help files, and I have to try to guess what the problem is. Additional problems are that Wife 1.0 needs updating regularly, requiring ShoeShop Browser for new attachments and Hairstyle Express which needs to be reinstalled every other week. Also, when Wife 1.0 attaches itself to my Audi TT Convertible hard drive, it often crashes...
  • Problems with Boyfriend 5.0, Husband 1.0 and Nagging 5.3 (Humour)

    This was sent to me by my wife as 1 of 2. The other one can be found at http://uksbsguy.com/blogs/doverton/archive/2007/01/17/problems-with-girlfriend-1-0-amp-1-2-fiancee-1-0-and-wife-1-0.aspx Dear Tech Support: Last year I upgraded from Boyfriend 5.0 to Husband 1.0 and noticed a distinct slow down in the overall performance, particularly in the Flower and jewellery applications, which operated flawlessly under Boyfriend 5.0. In addition, Husband 1.0 un-installed many other valuable programs, such as Romance 9.5 and Personal Attention 6.5 and then installed undesirable programs such as: Football 5.0 , Rugby 4.3 and Cricket 3.0 . Conversation 8.0 no longer runs; it simply crashes the system. I've tried running Nagging 5.3 to fix these problems, to no avail. What can I do? Signed, Desperate ************************************************************* Dear Desperate: First keep in mind, Boyfriend 5.0 is an Entertainment Package, while Husband 1.0 is an Operating System. Try entering the command: C:/I-THOUGHT-YOU-LOVED-ME to download Tears 6.2 , which should automatically install Guilt 3.0 . If that application works as designed, Husband 1.0 should then automatically run the applications Jewellery 2.0 and Flowers 3.5. But remember, overuse of the above application can cause Husband 1.0 to default to Grumpy Silence 2.5 , Happy Hour 7.0 , or Beer 6.1 . WARNING: Beer 6.1 is a very nasty program that will create Snoring Loudly. CAUTION: Whatever you do, DO NOT install Mother-in-law. This is not a supported application and will crash Husband 1.0 . In summary, Husband 1.0 is a great program, but it does have limited memory and cannot apply new applications quickly. You might consider buying additional software to improve memory and performance. I personally would recommend Hot Food 3.0 and Lingerie 7.7 . Good Luck, Tech Support
  • A bit late (from me, not the team), but Happy New Year

    Our nice Partner Group in the UK wanted to say Happy New Year.. http://blogs.msdn.com/ptstv/archive/2007/01/04/partner-tv-happy-new-year-from-the-uk-partner-group.aspx ttfn and have a great year. David
  • Finger improving - stitches removed

    I am not one who likes to dwell on things, but the doctors have said I can drive and this is in part to the progress of my finger. I am off the big pain killers too, so the mind is less numbed, although I do now feel like I want my drugs back - they made the world a more smiley place. To see how I did this, go to here . For those who like the gross things in life, once again, some links to the gory detail: Finger from above before the stitches were removed Finger from side before the stitches were removed Finger from above after the stitches were removed ttfn David
  • Great Weekend sailing that ended with me in A&E and St Mary's Hospital on the Isle of Wight

    I seem to be able to find trouble at the moment. I attended part 1 (3 of 5-days) of a competent crew training course designed to get me on the ladder to bigger and better sailing experience and finally teach me what the wind has to do with sailing. Over the three days we started with the basics, like how to make a distress call, only ever abandon a boat when you will be stepping up into a life raft, clothing, life jackets and how to use a toilet on a boat. We then progressed to the basics of sailing, so the naming of the various parts of the boat (I have real trouble remembering the shrouds). Finally we got on with the sailing and had some awesome days learning to sail in all weathers. As should be the way with sailing, each night was spent with much merriment and drinking, but as many of you know, I don't drink, smoke or swear ever, so I was always 1st up :-). We also arranged it so that the 3 men on the boat all had cabins and the 2 ladies shared the communal area - this might sound mean, but the men managed a snoring symphony, so being behind doors was good for everyone. On the second night we stopped at a lovely location - The Folly Inn in East Cowes and even managed to berth alongside the Inn, something most of the skippers and experienced sailors had never done before. The time here was spent having great food, some nice drink and watching the wedding party and two stag groups having fun besides the 6 sailing boats that we had brought. Bindi found an amazing dog that she brought out to show us, so we decided to set her a challenge of bringing us one of the stag boys and in less than 10 seconds, she bounded back with one as shown on the picture on the left. On the final day we had started late and had been sailing for about 2 hours when we decided to anchor up for a warm lunch before sailing back to Port Solent. We had already experienced a very rude Wight ferry that tried to run us down as we dared to sail the solent, even though they have the maneuverability and are supposed to avoid sail boats, meaning...

(c)David Overton 2006-13