Archive for March, 2009

Super Mario visits Earth

Matthew Dominick has decided to take video editing to the next step. He’s used the warp whistle to help our Nintendo friend Mario make it in to the real world.  Check this out:

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Is the computer lab a thing of the past?


Is this something of the past or will it soon be?  When I got my degree, quite a bit of my course work required me to spend endless hours in the computer labs.  Finding a free computer, making sure it was open lab hours, saving things here there and everywhere (on the 3.1/NT 4 network!), submitting homework and then going back to the dorm to reconnect to my DOV (data over voice – early days of ADSL) box to finish off what I needed "internet" or campus net to do.

Interestingly enough this year, the University of Virginia have done research and have found 99% of their incoming students have arrived with laptop in tow.  As such, they have decided to start phasing out their computer labs one at a time until 2011, when no more labs will exist.

Why are they making this bold move?  Well, according to the survey 95% of the software used is already on an arriving student’s laptop – web browser, PDF reader…the rest, well they can easily get by being a student at a drastically reduced rate (or heck maybe even include a license fee in years to come).

This brings up some interesting questions, especially when we’re starting to now see technology changing – ergo Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2.  The biggest question is how do students get their work on the campus network and how do campuses keep their "network" secure.

Enter NAP and DirectAccess.  The first is proven technology and something quite a few people know about…essentially gives your machine a health check before allowing it on the network, but the more interesting one is that ability for students to be part of the campus network anywhere, anytime.  Only a matter of time will tell what happens and how exactly the campus computer lab is converted (or even the computer lab at your local K-12 school!).

What do you think?

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What happens when a data centre gets hit by a 6.7 magnitude earthquake?

blackbox If you haven’t been watching the IT industry and trends lately, you’ve probably missed Sun’s Black Box project.  What is Black Box you ask?  It’s what they’re calling a modular data centre.  Essentially your server room on wheels.  Hook it up to the back end of a lorry and away she goes.  Portable, easy to use, easy to set up, convenient, quick – and it even has its own cooling and ventilation.

What is even more interesting is some of the testing Sun have recently undergone in getting this thing prepared for the real world.  Sun’s corporate headquarters is located in Santa Clara California – a state which is renowned for earthquakes.  So, what have Sun done to make sure the Black Box is stable and sturdy?  They rolled down state to the University of California San Diego (UCSD) and put it through a simulated 6.7 magnitude earth quake.  Really cool, check it out!!!

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"Laptop Hunters" – I’m a PC

In Microsoft’s latest attempt to try gain momentum in the laptop market – meet Lauren.  She’s has a set of defined goals:

  • Laptop
  • 17" screen
  • Under $1000

What’s she do?  Visits the Apple store and finds a 13" macbook which meets two of three criteria, however not all three.  So, head on down the street and have a look at the PC market…Wowzers, choice – larger hard drive, more memory…Sure most Mac aficionados will always go Mac, but this is about the average consumer in a market like today, especially during times like these.  Take a look at Lauren’s adventure and see just why Apple is now on the defensive:

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Are you a student? Want free software? DreamSpark is here!

dreamsparklogo DreamSpark is an initiative set forth by Bill Gates to get school students involved in developing and to do that, he’s giving the software away for FREE!!!




What products can you get from DreamSpark?


Read the FAQ web page which contains a good summary of the programme, and how to activate it for your school. Basically, somebody in the school registers, and they receive product keys to distribute to students. But students just download the software they want directly from the website – you don’t need to get involved in distribution.

Watch more information on Bill’s Channel8 Video

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Building a Hyper-V SQL 2008 Cluster

The guys over at SQL Server Troubleshooting have come up with a brilliant article on how to install SQL 2008 on Hyper-V clustered.  If you use SQL and want to virtualise, I’d suggest shooting over and checking it out…Definitely worth a read:

How to build a virtual SQL Server 2008 clustered environment with Hyper-V

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Hyper-V Snapshot FAQ

There have been a lot of questions about how Hyper-V virtual machine snapshots work, and what considerations you need to take when using them.

This details things like: How are snapshots stored?  What considerations do you need to be aware of?  Why is my virtual machine going into “paused-critical” state? and more.

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Want Microsoft to build your Hyper-V VM for you?

Recently released is a new set of VHD’s for your arsenal, created by Microsoft, for you.  Sure they come with 60 day evals on them, but they’re pre-built Windows Server 2008 images.  x86 and x64 flavours.  REMEMBER though – if you plan to go to Server 2008 R2, it will only be 64 bit…

Hyper-V based Windows Server 2008 virtual machines with an evaluation period of 60 days are available here:

  1. Windows Server 2008 Standard x86 (full install)
  2. Windows Server 2008 Standard x86 (core install)
  3. Windows Server 2008 Standard x64 (full install)
  4. Windows Server 2008 Standard x64 (core install)
  5. Windows Server 2008 Enterprise x86 (full install)
  6. Windows Server 2008 Enterprise x86 (core install)
  7. Windows Server 2008 Enterprise x64 (full install)
  8. Windows Server 2008 Enterprise x64 (core install)

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SCVMM 2008 R2 Beta

System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 Beta is now available!

Visit the Connect Website and find it in the Server Category

New features in R2 include:

· Support for Live Migration: With Windows 2008 R2 adding support for Live migration, it’s now added as a new migration option in VMM R2. Live migration requires the source and destination host to be part of a failover cluster and that the VM is on a shared storage. Live migration means that there is no user perceived downtime; since the VM’s memory pages are being transferred, the hosts’ processors need to be the same (manufacturer and processor architecture). Our competition claims that Vmotion doesn’t require clustering but this only works for planned downtime and not for unplanned downtime. By combining Live migration and clustering, Hyper-V addresses both planned and unplanned downtime.

· Multiple VMs per LUN: VMM 2008 didn’t allow placing multiple VMs per LUN even though Hyper-V allowed it and the reason was that the LUN ownership was on a per host basis. This meant that migrating any VM on that shared LUN would result in all other VMs being migrated as well which can result in a confusing user experience (I’ve blogged about this at length). With CSV (Clustered Shared Volumes) in Windows 2008 R2, a single LUN is accessible by all hosts within a cluster. This enables a VM that’s on a shared LUN to be migrated without affecting other VMs on that LUN. As a result, with VMM R2, we’ll allow multiple VMs to be placed on the same LUN if CSV is enabled on the cluster.

· SAN related enhancements: We’ve done a number of SAN related enhancements in VMM R2.

o SAN migration in and out of clusters: With VMM R2, you can migrate a VM from one cluster to another or from a standalone host into a cluster or vice versa. Especially useful when you are deploying a VM from a test cluster to a production one.

o Multiple LUNs per single iSCSI target: VMM 2008 supported only initiator-based iSCSI target connection, which allows only one LUN per iSCSI target. VMM 2008 R2 adds support for masking-based target connections, which allows multiple LUNs per iSCSI target and expands VMM support for iSCSI SAN providers. This implies that we have better support for iSCSI products from Network Appliance and EMC for example.

· Network related enhancements:

o Network Optimization

§ Win2k8 R2 supports 2 types of network optimizations: VMQ & Chimney

§ During VM creation you can enable/disable network optimization

§ If enabled, VMM will configure the VM to use VMQ or Chimney, if available on the host

§ During placement, VMM R2 detects and shows availability of Network optimization on the host

o Some workloads such as Network load balancers need to be able to spoof MACs: There’s a new setting that allows admin to enable/Disable MAC spoofing on a per VM basis

o Ability to reuse port groups defined in VMWare VirtualCenter

§ In VMM 2008, port groups were always created even if the admin had already created them on the host.

§ In VMM R2, the admin is allowed to pick an available port group that’s already defined.

· Maintenance mode

o For servicing a host, VMM R2 allows host to be put in maintenance mode: When you do this, all VMs on that host that are running are live migrated off the host to avoid downtime.

§ Admin can choose to save state VMs if host is not part of a cluster

o During placement, a Host that’s in maintenance mode gets zero star ratings. This also p-prevents PRO from picking this host when migrating VMs.

o Maintenance mode is supported for Hyper-V, VS and VMWare ESX hosts

· Support for Disjoint domains: When a host has different FQDN in AD and DNS, it’s said to be in a disjoint domain. For example: server name is foo and FQDN in AD is and FQDN in DNS is For Kerberos authentication to work, SPN needs to be created for DNS Name

o VMM 2008 required custom SPN to be manually configured in AD

o VMM 2008 R2 automatically creates custom SPN for DNS name. (AD needs to be configured to give permissions to VMM for SPN read/write permissions)

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System Center Ops Manager R2 RC


The Release Candidate of System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) 2007 R2 is now available for public consumption:

Visit the TechNet site to get it

Operations Manager 2007 R2 introduces key new and enhanced functionality, including:

Enhanced application performance and availability across heterogeneous platforms

Delivers monitoring across Windows, Linux and Unix servers-all through a single console
Extends end to end monitoring of distributed applications to any workload running on Windows, Unix and Linux platforms
Maximize availability of virtual workloads with integration with System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008

Improved management of applications in the data center

Delivers on the scale requirements of URL monitoring of your business
Meet agreed service levels with enhanced reporting showing application performance and availability
More efficient problem identification and action to resolve issues

Increased speed of access to information and functionality to drive management

Faster load times for views and results
Improved and simplified management pack authoring experience

For those who are evaluating the Beta release, this Release Candidate offers a number of enhancements over the Operations Manager R2 Beta, including:

-New Power Management MP template (Monitored system must be Windows Server 2008 R2 or Win7)
-Updated branding across all User Interfaces
-Improved trace configuration tools on the CD to help support issues escalated to Customer Support (where applicable)
-Improved Run As Account Distribution Configuration
-Ability to run inline tasks for non-Microsoft servers
-Support for upgrade from Beta deployments to the Release Candidate
-New and updated documentation, including the Usage Guide, Design Guide, Deployment Guide, Upgrade Guide, Security Guide and Operations Guide

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