Cool Blogs v 1.5

Measuring up

We’re working on the next round of improvements to Cool Blogs – and we are looking for feedback.

First we are looking to add ‘threaded comments’ – you know the kind of thing – nested comments so that relevant comments can be kept together.

The second piece we are looking to add is ratings for each post. This way you – our loyal readers – can do the right thing and vote with your mouse. More popular posts will be marked such. Maybe good bloggers can get T-Shirts… maybe the T-Shirts belong to the good comments…

The third piece we are working on is improved information about the Cool Bloggers themselves. Afterall – it would be interesting to read a little more about what these people actually do.

The final area we are working on is to aggregate posts from other Novell Cool Bloggers own Blogs. This is an interesting area of work; essentially Cool Blogs will become a centralised blog for lots of Novell people an their information and posts.

[Edit – I’ve also been asked about improved RSS – including Atom and better feed data – that’s on the list too.]

As always – comments welcome.

Written at: Draper, UT

Airport Wifi – closer to home

Salt Lake City International Airport has WiFi access – powered by Sprint.

It kinda sucks right now – it needs Internet Explorer to sign in. Firefox just barfs.

Microsoft Windows Vista – part 2

Laptop Dispair

A short while ago I wrote about Windows Vista and some of the implications it has for organisations.
Since then there have been several developments. At the start of May 2006 the analyst firm Gartner mooted that Vista will ship en masse in the second quarter of 2007

A research note released this week from Gartner Inc. predicts that Microsoft Corp. will miss its target to ship Windows Vista on PCs by January 2007. According to Gartner, Vista won’t be broadly available to customers until the second quarter of 2007

InfoWorld, 2 May 2006

The report document is here; there is a fee for the original.

There has also been a lot of commentary from many bloggers – from Robert Scoble to MiniMicrosoft – and a lot more.

All of this commentary – from analysts, press and bloggers – is having an impact with CIOs and their teams. I am seeing a lot more customers planning to refresh to Windows XP SP2 during 2006 and stay on that new platform for ‘a while’. The general impression is that Vista is still a ‘moving target’ – not helpful for planning purposes.
Written at: Calgary, Alberta, Canada

I promised in my last post on Windows Vista that I would comment on on large area of any desktop refresh – application refresh and validation.

In the last six or seven years we have seen several phases of this process – moving from DOS to Windows 3.1; moving from 16 bit Windows 3.1 to Windows 95 or NT4; and moving from NT4 to Windows 2000 or Windows XP. Each of these desktop OS changes introduces a fresh round of application testing.

Here is the typical process – one that is being followed my most organisations.

  • Select a new standard desktop OS
  • Most customers are at Windows XP professional or are rapidly re-standardising on this platform.
  • I have recently seen a wave of ‘third generation’ Windows XP refresh projects – for deployment in 2006 and to be in place until 2008-2010
  • Usually a combination of SYSPREP, ZENworks Imaging and ENGL tools are used to create a universal image.
  • Inventory the current list of supported and deployed applications
    • We see more usage of tools such as ZENworks Asset Management helping here
    • Most organisations have ‘hundreds’ or ‘thousands’ of applications
  • Pragmatically evaluate whether there is a consolidation in applications possible
    • Aquisition and expansion historically means that applications are duplicated
    • Lax standards and non-centralised, departmental purchasing also leads to multiple solutions being in place
    • Consolidation can lead to license savings and more financial muscle in negotiating a better deal
  • (re) package applications
    • Many IT organisations are now squarely focussed on packaging applications as Microsoft Installer (MSI) packages
    • ZENworks includes the Macrovision Installshield Admin Studio – this is really helpful – and can move NAL snapshots (AOT/AXT) to MSI packages
  • Test
  • The next post will cover the re-packaging and test phase of this process – one of the largest areas of time expenditure – but also one of the most vital. I’ll talk about how good process and procedures will really make this successful.

    Notice how nothing so far has been ZENworks specific? Everything here is really for any customer deploying XP and refreshing their standard desktop. My final post will be to tie this all together with ZENworks glue and magic – and show how we can make it very, very efficient and cost effective.

    As always – I’m looking for your feedback and updates – comments welcome.

    Written at: Calgary, Alberta, Canada

    Land Rover faults

    The Land Rover is in the garage with “Low Coolant” and “Suspension Failure” messages.

    I’m sitting at the dealership – free wireless – and working.

    Land Rover of American Fork have great customer service; I just drove up this morning – and both parts causing the fault are being replaced – the coolant bottle and sensor and the suspension airpump. All under warranty, with no appointment and no hassle.

    TSA and shoes

    Some have called the TSA “Americas Gestapo”.

    The shoe removal policy is certainly one area where they seem unaccountable, uncoordinated and when questioned undeniably rude.

    Here is the word from the TSAfull policy here.

    TSA Shoe Screening Policy

    You are not required to remove your shoes before you enter the walk-through metal detector.

    HOWEVER, TSA screeners may encourage you to remove them before entering the metal detector as many types of footwear will require additional screening even if the metal detector DOES NOT alarm.

    Screeners will encourage you to remove the following footwear that is likely to require additional screening:

    * Boots
    * Platform shoes (including platform flip-flops)
    * Footwear with a thick sole or heel (including athletic shoes)
    * Footwear containing metal (including many dress shoes)

    I travel with similar shoes on every trip – Doc Martens with almost zero metal in them. The heel and sole are less than one inch in height.

    My experience is that there is no rhyme or reason on removing shoes. It seems that screening shoes is purely down to the whim of the individual TSA agent.

    Just in the last month I have seen that it’s 50/50 whether shoe removal is required. My shoes have never been screened in Europe or Canada.

    When you question the policy you get selected for ‘random screening’. That’s not random; that’s intimidation so that you always comply.

    When I ask the TSA duty administrator for guidance on the shoe policy I get referred to the above information; this is patently being ignored. Most frequent travellers I talk to are getting screened and ‘invited’ to remove their shoes.

    When I pressed further on this policy – I was told that although ‘shoe removal is not required, and that TSA agents cannot ask you to remove shoes’ – when you are ‘invited to remove shoes’ this clearly is an instruction. When invited and you decline you always get a full security search – 15 minutes of wasted time.

    There are many, many frequent fliers questioning this mindless policy. Even as far back as 2003 this was noted as being inconsistent.

    Rip off Britain – London Heathrow Marriott

    Hotels are expensive; hotel room minibars are the worst of the lot.

    However charging UKP2.50 for a standard can of Pepsi does seem excessive. Way over 400% markup. For US readers that’s a $5 can of Pepsi.

    Most US Marriott hotels have 24 hour vending; I can go get a can of Pepsi for maybe $0.75.

    The London Heathrow Marriott gets this trips award for the biggest ripoff.

    WM 2006 (World Cup 2006)

    Germany has gone football mad. (That’s soccer for those that don’t understand the subleties of the game).

    I’ve been in half a dozen cities this week – and everywhere is wall to wall World Cup merchandise and memorabilia. I got a nice world cup shirt in Trier today.

    I was listening to BFBS during my drive today – and heard a truly dreadful, yet stunningly simple England world cup song. The Tonedef Allstars are soon to release a single “Who do you think you are kidding Juergen Klinnsmann’. You have to be English to understand the genius at work here. Listen here.

    So many people have already blogged on this, it’s also been written up in all manner of media from The Sun to The Telegraph – it must be the ‘unofficial hit’ – just wait until England v Germany in the quarter finals; you’ll hear this on the terraces.

    For record – here are the World Cup songs – from this year and prior years. New Order’s ‘World in Motion’ is still the one to beat. I can’t believe that Stan Boardman has “the Germans bombed our Chippie” as a song.

    “This tastes just like Miller Lite”

    I am in a bar in the hotel in Duesseldorf.

    Three American gents drinking at the next table. They look at their small glasses of pils – and “This tastes just like Miller Lite”.

    Me and my big mouth, I got to use another legendary line: “Did they serve you a glass of chilled piss by mistake then?” We’re debating the merits of American “Beer” vs. German Beer.