Wednesday, 29 June 2011


Had a quick play with Google+ and wanted to share my thoughts. I know it's early days, Facebook and Twitter have had a lot of time to get this right, but I think it's way short of features.

I would do that on there, but it's a bit of a lonely place right now, so here goes:

  • The notify button. It rules, it's all over Google stuff, perfect. It's got potential to be cluttered though, FB style different notifications for messages friends and news might be required if it gets busy.

  • Circles. Very nicely presented and I like the way you directly add people to a circle rather than just 'friending'. Means you might actually tidy your shit up from day 1.

  • Hangout. Looks nice even if it's just fancy google talk. Hate the name, what do you call doing it with someone. Lets 'hangout' isn't like 'skype me' in terms of clarity.

  • +1 button. Like the idea of it being all over the web, often see things that I want to 'like' but can't, but it has to be everywhere. A Chrome plugin would be cool here.

Don't like:
  • Stuff missing. No direct messaging and events is the biggies for me.

  • Lack of 'entity' following. I use FB and Twitter to track favourte things as well as people, companies, sports teams, bands..none of that seems to be in +

  • The 'share' button is misleading. It's not a 'share' button like reader where you share the thing your'e currently at, it's just a way of doing a quick tweet/status update. Everyone knows what a tweet or a status update is, and they think they know what a share is. This is neither.

  • Sparks. It's shit. It should be either like google news or like reader. It's like neither, just some weak news aggriator? Horrible.

  • Lack of sucking stuff up from other things. Why's it not grabbing my buzz follows into a group for example?

  • Picassa integration is weak. The face tagging is horrible. Click tag, drag the box, name it. It's shit compared to FB tagging. Where's the face recognition stuff picassa has? Why would you use this poor effort compared to picassa, it's crap.

  • Integration. Where's the rss sub for streams for example? Where's the notification's for different circles? Where's +1 in blogspot? Will this blog appear in Google+ like it does in Buz?

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Interesting that according to a recent report, Netflix has overtaken bittorrent to be the biggest source of internet traffic in the usa.

I've long been of the view that piracy isn't done just to get things free, it's done because often it's the most convenient way of actually consuming the content. Rather than complicated applications, drm, hoops to jump through, downloading a file and pressing play is just simply better. This is changing, with stuff like Spotify and Netflix making accessing digital media convenient, cheap and ubiquitous across many devices means people are prepared to pay for it.


Friday, 11 February 2011

The benefits of a robust patch test method

It's tempting to become lazy with patching. They're now a very regular occurance, they rarely cause an issue and can be installed and forgotten about. But if a patch does cause problems, and you've rolled it out to all users, the results could be an all-user fail.

The February black tuesday updates contained a patch that caused VMware view to fail, VMwares advisory can be found here:

VMware KB: Unable to connect from the View Client on Windows 7 to the View Connection Server after installing the patch in Microsoft Knowledge Base article 2482017 or 2467023

VMWare view is a client that connects users to a virtual desktop infrastructure. Potentially you could have auto approved this update to your network and prevented all users from connecting to their desktops. VMWare were very quick to respond with an update that fixes the problem, but applying View patches to all your machines might not be an easy task compared to rolling out Microsoft Patches.

As virtualisation and cloud computing spreads, the potential for this kind of failure multiplies. Test those patches!

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Zune Pass vs Spotify

New Dash update brought Zune Pass to UK 360's, so I thought I'd try it out.

It's essentially a spotify style subscription thing, but with downloading and music vids as paid extras. Bit of a mixed bag. The library is superb, there's a shitload on there including some notable stuff that's missing from Spot (eg Led Zep, Dylan). The interface is nice, all very visual with HD pics and a nice method of searching where you peck at letters along the top and your search results resolve below - they could implement that in the games store deffo. It's also reasonably priced vs Spot, £8.99 a month vs a tenner, and you get to 'keep' 10 tracks a month as downloads that will continue working if you can your sub.

Where it wins over Spot is platform support around the home. The zune client is on the 360 and the PC, and your pass works for both. The PC client is very nice indeed, less lightweight than spotifies but prettier and more feature packed.

The Zune software also does podcasts, spotify doesn't, although the Zune store is missing a load of stuff compared to itunes.

A big plus is that the Zune PC software hooks into Windows Media DLNA streaming whatnot on supported devices. There's some issues around DRM'ed stuff if your streamer doesn't support it (and it looks like my Soundbridge doesn't, bah), but this is still loads better than spotify's streaming support which works with Sonos or nothing. Spotify really need to go UPNP/DLNA here, if they could stream to more supported devices, they'd make a lot of people happy.

Downers are it's slow, very slow. Might have been because it's new and getting hammered alongside the dash update, but it was taking 30-60 seconds plus to search for stuff, then that time again to queue it up and play. Spotify's instant by comparrision. There's no free option with adverts, unlike Spotify but they will give you a 14 day free pass to try it out.

Worst part though is the portable support. Spotify isn't wonderful here, but at least their client works with iphone/ipods and android blowers. The zune stuff doesn't work on anything but Zune devices which aren't on sale in the UK or Windows 7 phones which nobody owns yet. I understand why they've done this, but it's a real shame to go from a device that's well supported by gadgets around my home to one that's very poorly supported when out and about.

The end result is, on both streaming library services we're still limited but in different ways. Spotify is fast and will let you sync to your android or iphone, but won't stream to your 360 or net radio device. Zune Pass is chuggy but works with more devices in your home, but won't work with anything you're likely to own outside the house.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Wizzy WSUS

Blog clearout! New start..

Want to get more out of WSUS? It's been a patchtastic few weeks, Adobe and MS both pushing out frequent updates that really must go out. If you've not got the budget for SMS you can leverage your WSUS to help out with non-Microsoft updates.

Local Update Publisher is an open source utility that will take an msi package, chuck it into the WSUS catalog and patch software on your workstations and servers alongside Microsoft Updates.

There's a couple of things you've got to know; the first is easy, WSUS will only ever show microsoft products in it's console, which means you're just going to have to check status of the other updates in LUP separately.

The second issue is a bit of a faff. Basically your workstations need to trust your WSUS server as a publisher for them to accept these new types of updates. To facilitate that you generate a certificate on the WSUS server using LUP, and sign the new update packages with it. The problem is getting this certificate out on the workstations to allow the updates to roll out. It's obviously less work to get Group Policy to distribute the certificate for you. Problem is, if you're using Windows XP consoles, Group Policy only contains one of the two certificate stores. So, you've either got to sort the second certificate store manually, or find a Windows 7 PC with the Server 2008 tools to do it from. The issues documented well on the LUP wiki.

The site and code seem to be actively maintained and supported by the author, go check it out.

Another thing I learned about WSUS this week was that disk cloning can break it, WSUS thinks both clones are the same PC and when one signs in, it knocks the other one out of the computers list. The fix is easy; just remove the SUS ID of the clone in the registry, go to HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\WindowsUpdate, delete SUSClientID, and Windows Update will create a new one on it's next refresh. There's a quick script for this on the patchaholic blog that'll do that for you.