Bring Your Own PC

And by PC, I’m talking generically (possibly even including smartphones), not specifially Wintel devices.

But there’s something I’m missing. I’m just reading a Gartner paper (aimed at one relatively new, well known device in particular) that basically says “just go with the flow, allow people to use whatever, you’ll have to at some point” (I’ve read similar material from Citrix and so on).

The thing is; I’m employed to manage intrastructure, not to set up arbitrary multiple systems so there can be a technological free for all. I might be seeming a bit luddite here, but the more knee-jerk we are to as regards new devices (and it is new devices, not new technology; the new raft of touch-screen tablets appearing aren’t new, they’re just refinements of relatively old technology- touch screens have been around a long time) the more likelihood there is of: theft, loss, data synchronicity problems, inability to back up key documents… and so on and so on.

If I think back to my final year (my dissertation was on the use of ICT in distance learning) it always boiled down to why use technology? What does technology x bring over paper? Or the classroom? All of a sudden this justification has gone. We are now simply consuming technology for the sake of it- it is now the end, not the means to an end. We have to use this thing because…well… er… it’s important. Does it really bring any benefits? (Or worse- is it actually a step backwards, as has happened recently; some devices either connect badly or not at all to our email system?).

As an early edition of the “Illustrated Computer Dictionary For Dummies” explained, this is all just smoke and mirrors (and possibly bells and whistles). Having always-on email delivered constantly, 24*7 to device x hasn’t made the majority of people more efficient, just more always-at-work (but of course this is the clever bit- people don’t feel like they’re working so while it’s actually degrading their life, they’re happy with it and the employer gets more time for free).

goodbye gsm

looks like the mobile companies are giving up on gsm, which is a shame because if nothing else it makes batteries last longer. I’m frequently finding that my 3/3.5G signal is far superior which is a nice surprise compared to a few years back.

Strange VMWare Server 2.0.2 error

After the VMWare “cloning” experiment (posted yesterday) appeared to work, I’ve finally got the cloned Windows 7 VMWare machine files onto an offline (non-networked) Server 2008 R2 machine… registered it…  and the vm went into perpetual reboot (but no “Launch startup repair”… options). F8 didn’t work. I could get into the BIOS, but that was no help. So- after seeing an error in one of the VM’s log files about Virtualisation not being enable in the host machine, I rebooted, turned Intel VT on in the BIOS, waited for the server to boot and started up the Remote Console for the previously faulty machine. Now it started giving automated startup repair options, but then said it couldn’t repair the guest. So… after giving up on any form of repair, I rebooted the guest and it booted fine… except that it started configuring updates.

The only 2 things I can think that could fix a similar situation are: (1) turn any host virtualisation technology on in the BIOS or (2) don’t try cloning a machine that is waiting for automatic updates to be configured after rebooting from update installation.


Wel… I’d be interested to see & try one, but “the norm”?

(1) Is internet access ubiquitous and reliable (i.e. always on)? Nope. (2) Will it ever be? No. (3) Do I want all my data stored in the cloud? No (see point 1). (4) Am I likely to buy a laptop-sized web-only device when I can already have a tablet-sized we-only device? No.

I think these may become one of many computing devices, but can’t really see them becoming “the norm” because of limitations (what happens when I want to edit “cloud-storage” photos with a high-powered graphics package- I’m talking PhotoShop, not Picassa- when there’s no internet available?)

And in case you think I’m being cynical about internet access, Virgin’s cable service went off intermittently a couple of months back over a 24 hour period (except of course there was nothing wrong, no really…). So excuse me for not thinking that 3G/ Wi-Fi is going to be any better.

Severe facebook blues.

Why is it FaceBook has it’s user data spread across several pages? This is so irritating; I’ve just checkd that my profile is “clean” (which it is) but then have to seperately check my account and Privacy settings. Keep it simple! Why can’t the profile page just add “Privacy” and “Account” links on the left? I know this is probably done intentionally to confuse people, but they really should make everything related to the person easily visible on one page.


Vmware (light) blues

It seems that just to be awkward, VMWare have deliberately taken the cloning function out of the free VMWare server to force you to buy the bigger version. Which is a pain.

However I think I might have found a fix; it seems you can clone over a mapped drive with VMWare WorkStation (in this case 7.x). So what I’ve done is shut down a VM Server 2 machine, then typed in (on my non-domain joined host):

vmrun clone “X:\xxxx\xxxx.vmx” “Y:\Virtual Machines\Clones\yyyy\yyyy.vmx” full

Where X: is the remote (server) mapped drive and Y: is a local PC drive. What I don’t know yet is whether- when I import these machines back into an offline VMWare Server 2 machine- it won’t read them because it was cloned with Workstation 7.x. I’ll update this post accordingly…


After a convoluted copy process, it seems you can use the above method to clone VMWare Server machines. However, I’ve put another post up here (“Strange VMWare Server 2.0.2 Error”) ‘cos it didn’t exactly go smoothly…

Social media

I agree with this article:

as there are obvious dangers of posting your entire life online. However, I would stay away for an entirely more mundande reason; most of it is just utter junk. Imagine a scanrio where the world falls back in to the dark ages and nobody could rescue the twitter, facebook servers etc. What would we lose? Probably nothing much; it would have the polar opposite effect to the destruction/ loss of the Library of Alexandria. How important can hundreds of millions of bits of text saying “just got back from the pub” be?

Automating Windows Server Backup

Irritatingly, it seems you can’t use Windows Server Backup to schedule a backup to UNC paths. HOwever, the following command:

wbadmin start backup -backupTarget:”\\someserver\someshare\somefolder” -include:C: -allCritical

should enable you to use the normal “Task Scheduler” (Administrative Tools) to back up to a UNC path on a regular basis.

The full cli options for “wbadmin start backup” can be found here:

The command I’ve written above will basically back up the whole server to the specified UNC path (notice you don’t need to specify file names as wbadmin uses the server name). Also, this is specifically for 2008 R2; 2008 has more options (which probably actually make using wbadmin more confusing).