Some light relief from the ongoing debate on management consoles – a real blast from the past – from the days of SYSCON.

Here is SNIPES. It’s fifteen years old this year.

You can download your own copy of SNIPES from Novell – it’s part of the NetWare Lite 1.1 update. Now doesn’t that make you feel warm, fuzzy and old.. Just download and run the NLSNIPES.EXE binary. 18k of DOS goodness.


Written at: Draper, UT.

Cool Solutions Wiki


Several articles on this blog have referred to the Cool Solutions Wiki –

If you have not used a Wiki before – you may wonder what this weird and wonderful sounding thing actually is.

I’ll try and give some background – and finish with a plea for content!

Written at: Toronto, ON, Canada


Put simply (again – quoting Wikipedia – itself a wiki)

A wiki (IPA: [‘wi??.ki??] or [‘w?.ki??] [1]) is a type of website that allows users to easily add, remove, or otherwise edit all content, very quickly and easily, sometimes without the need for registration. This ease of interaction and operation makes a wiki an effective tool for collaborative writing. The term wiki is a shortened form of wiki wiki which is from the native language of Hawaii (Hawaiian), where it is commonly used as an adjective to denote something “quick” or “fast”.

The Cool Solutions Wiki is a central spot for all of that ‘other important information’ that should be shared across the community. Sometimes created by Novell people; most often by you – our customers, partners and developers.

The content is as good as the community. Like one large ‘pot luck meal’ – if we all bring something good we’ll have a feast. The vast majority of wiki sites become the body of knowledge for the broader community – I’ve already plugged Wikipedia – but other sites as diverse as the WordPress Codex to Science of Spectroscopy use the Wiki structure to facilitate rapid and broad information sharing.

Sounds like a public information film eh? All very co-operative and liberal.

Take a look at the Novell Cool Solutions Wiki – and think for a moment. Do you have a morsel of information that can be shared? Can you spare a minute or two to jot it down.

I’ll especially plug the ZENworks part of the site – I’m just writing a lab guide or ‘Cook Book‘ on ZENworks 7 Linux Management. I’ve also created a ‘Call for Content‘ – where you can take the lead and start sharing your information. It’s a work in progress; a living body of documentation.

Let me know your comments, feedback and whether the Cool Solutions Wiki is useful. I’ll see if I can whistle up some ‘Evil ZEN Scientist’ T-shirts for the best few articles that get written as a result of this post. Bribery always works.

Written at: Toronto, ON, Canada

The Prisoners’ Dilemma puzzle

Here is an interesting find:

Prisoners’ Dilemma is a game which has been and continues to be studied by people in a variety of disciplines, ranging from biology through sociology and public policy. Among its interesting characteristics are that it is a “non-zero-sum”game: the best strategy for a given player is often one that increases the payoff to one’s partner as well. It has also been shown that there is no single “best” strategy: how to maximize one’s own payoff depends on the strategy adopted by one’s partner. Serendip uses a particular strategy (called “tit for tat”) which is believed to be optimal under the widest possible set of partner strategies.

There is an online version here:

The small print

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Last updated – 5th May 2006

Lily Allen – LDN


This has been rattling around my head for the last week or so – since I first had the link sent to me.

In a true “Memes don’t exist – tell your friends” moment – take a listen to LDN by Lily Allen; currently no download – just streaming.

[Update – it’s everywhere – featured on, b3ta and a load of others.]

Mobility – and how it changes you

Paradise Beach

I’m on vacation – blogging. Don’t tell my wife!

You may have read the post by Bill Pray talking about GroupWise Mobile Server and how that changed his way of working. I wanted to share a few words on my experiences on how bandwidth improvements have made me more productive.

Written at: Watching the Ocean, on vacation.

First some context. When I first ‘got online’ – like many of you it was via CompuServe and my primary reason for this – Novell patches. (I discount the previous online workings at University – Unix mail across the UK JANET academic network. Gopher, telnet and ftp.)

My first modem was 9600 baud; I went through the speeds – 14.4k, 28.8k, 33.6k – and over time added a PPP dialup account via a couple of early UK ISPs. I even had a ‘web site’ (static content) as early as 1993.

At the time these speeds were fine; content was small – and being in the UK I was billed by the second for all calls. Remember – local access isn’t free in most parts of the world!

Email was the main productivity tool; in one of my first roles – as a consultant working for a Novell VAR in the UK – GroupWise via dialup was fine; mainly text emails, no spam, no massive attachments. Patch downloads were small – remember this was before the gigabyte service packs! Dialup was ‘just fine’.

I evolved over time to dual channel ISDN – 128k data connection – and VPN tunnel into Novell. Better – but as of 1999/2000 this was starting to show limitations. Attachments grew in number and size, patches fattened up, product downloads (ISOs and betas) were starting to show up.

Fast forward to today.

My main work location is ‘on the road’. That is outside Novell’s main office, often on my home DSL line, a WiFi connection at a hotspot, working from a customer site or even accessing data via GPRS. Even on vacation my holiday home had 54MB WiFi thrown in!

High speed access seems pretty much everywhere. Even on recent trips to Europe wireless internet seems to abound, many customers have good quality fast internet connections; even my family now have 2MB DSL connections.

As a result I am productive. I can do my email (GroupWise via the GroupWise Client in Caching Mode or via Web Access), I can access Novell resources via the Novell Innerweb (powered by a multitude of Novell services and products), I can VPN into Novell and work with other services.

The end result – I am ‘always available’. Good for Novell, sometimes good for me.

The real challenge – as pointed out by Bill – is the concept of ‘presence’. Appropriate messaging and appropriate content – based on policy and location awareness. When I’m on the beach I really shouldn’t be doing email.. I do care if I’m an IT administrator and my datacentre has a critical problem and I need to start disaster recovery efforts. The same is true for any systems management processes.

I’m interested in your experiences – are you ‘tied to the network’? What are our comments on an ‘always on infrastructure’? Are you in the US and getting multi-megabit connections via cable or DSL – or are you trying to figure out connecting offices across the globe using expensive, slow, intermittent connections? Leave your comments here.

Written at: Watching the Ocean, on vacation.

Open forum – management consoles (a little fun)


My friend Ron Tanner really opened the proverbial can of worms when he talked about ‘the single console‘. So far the most commented upon blog entry.

I figured it was time for everyone to comment – and to even get your design hats on.

I’m not going to run the wrath of our developers or UI people – what I’m looking for are fun and interesting concepts about managing ’stuff’. Show us what you want and what works for you.
Get going – I don’t care whether it’s done in The Gimp, Photoshop, Paint or mocked up SYSCON )

Put your comments here on the blog – and mail any attachments to me –

I look forward to yor comments and visual treats.

[Disclaimer – any submissions may be posted on this blog; submisssions become the property of Novell; do not expect to see your ideas in any Novell product]

Written at: watching the ocean, on vacation, Maui, HI