Game developer David Braben creates a USB stick PC for $25

His solution is not to create his own course, but instead to manufacture a very low cost PC that can be given to kids for free and courses built up around their use. When we say low cost, we mean so low even the OLPC would be impressed.

Braben has developed a tiny USB stick PC that has a HDMI port in one end and a USB port on the other. You plug it into a HDMI socket and then connect a keyboard via the USB port giving you a fully functioning machine running a version of Linux. The cost? $25.

read more…


Microsoft’s free XP, Office 2003 support ends April 14

A quick reminder: Microsoft’s free support for XP and Office 2003 is going to end next week, on April 14.

If you have a Software Assurance licensing contract with Microsoft, you can buy paid support for those two flagship products from the Redmondians. But after April 14, the only support XP and Office 2003 users will continue to get for free from the Softies are security-specific fixes.

Even though Microsoft will continue to offer XP via downgrade rights with Vista and Windows 7, the free support for XP is still ending.


Windows 7 pictures – UPDATED

Windows 7 (formerly known as Blackcomb and Vienna) is the successor of Windows Vista. Windows 7 is expected to be released sometime in 2010.






















Google G1 Phone: Security Flaw Exposed

Android, Google’s open source software is based on outdated open-source components which had know vulnerabilities and were fixed. Google admitted that they did not incorporate the security fixes into Android.For Google´s G1 phone to become infected, a malicious developer would need to know what the flaw is and then needs to place this malicious code on a website.

Unless you are searching for suspicious websites that may be affected, the chances are good that you are safe from infection.
Google said it is developing a solution to the problem. “We are working with T-Mobile to include a fix for the browser exploit, which will soon be delivered over the air to all devices, and have addressed this in the Android open-source platform.
This incident raises concerns about potential difficulties that the Android community might face in the future. Because Google has adopted an open model with Android, many vendors and operators in the future may offer a variety of phones. If vulnerabilities are found in the future, phone makers and operators will have to determine if their version of the software is affected and then coordinate the distribution of a fix to all users.


Windows 7 will be more fast and easy, vows Microsoft

Microsoft Corp. said on Tuesday that regular PC users will be able to test out a “beta” version of Windows early next year. Windows 7, the forthcoming operating system, will let users choose to see fewer alerts and warnings from their computers.

Rampant notifications and pop-up windows alerting people to potential security risks have irked many users of Windows Vista.
“We had all the best intentions of helping to secure the PC platform even more, particularly for novice PC users who needed to be protected,” said Steven Sinofsky, a senior vice president in Microsoft’s Windows group.
Sinofsky didn’t back down from the major changes in Vista responsible for the rise in alerts, but he did acknowledge that Microsoft needed to work earlier and more closely with outside companies to avoid a similar mess in Windows 7.
“Despite the difficult change we introduced, we did move forward the ecosystem, making it more secure for end users,” he said. With Vista, Microsoft made some significant design changes to the way windows and icons look, and also to where certain features and functions are stashed in the system.
Windows 7 keeps some of those changes, but tosses out others. In an interview, Julie Larson-Green, a Windows vice president, offered one small example: Microsoft took the “add printer” feature out of the quick-access Start menu, but after users complained, the company is putting it back in Windows 7.

Larson-Green, who led the redesign of Office for the 2007 edition, said that some of the changes made in Vista’s design made sense to designers but weren’t fully tested on actual PC users.
With Windows 7, Microsoft is also making subtle but useful changes to the task bar along the bottom of the screen. The designers have taken out some redundant buttons that launch applications. And when users roll over the icon of a program in the task bar, it’s easier to see how many documents or windows are open, and switch between them.
Microsoft also showed off a quick way of organizing recently used files, Web sites or often-used program features it’s calling “jumplists.” The company also introduced a concept called “libraries,” which automatically finds similar files from a single PC, its external hard drive and even other PCs on a home network, then displays them together in a single folder. For example, that could be handy for organizing a family’s digital photos, Microsoft said.
The company also appears to be betting on a rise in touch-screen PCs. Windows 7 builds in more support for gestures so that even programs that aren’t designed specifically for touch-screen computers can be used to some degree by poking or swiping fingers across the screen.
Under the hood, Microsoft said it improved the speed of the system and cut the amount of memory it needs to run. Sinofsky held up a netbook – a low-cost, low-power laptop that would have a hard time running Vista – and said it’s working with Windows 7.

Microsoft gave copies of a “pre-beta” version of Windows 7 to programmers attending a conference in Los Angeles, and announced the early 2009 target for the general-use beta.
The Redmond, Wash.-based software maker promised deadlines it couldn’t keep when it was developing Vista, and the company is trying hard to avoid a similar debacle this time. Sinofsky said there is no date yet for the next milestone, a “release to manufacturing” version of Windows 7, and reiterated that the system is set to go on sale in early 2010.

Windows 7 touch and multi-touch gestures demonstrated on video


Check out the video that gives a better idea of what it might be like to manipulate icons and images on a desktop display in Windows 7. Microsoft’s goal is to enable “most applications,” out of the box with simple multi-touch on day one of the Windows 7 launch. Individual apps can then be optimized to improve performance and offer a greater degree of touch and multi-touch control.

Are these your problems with Windows?

Assuming most of the desktops in your current enterprise are installed with Windows XP (SP2/SP3) or Windows 2000, here is a list of problems you (administrator) might be facing with them.


1.      The users on most of the desktops use administrative accounts to work on their PCs. This is usually done so as to enable to users to do all the common tasks on their PCs themselves, but this may pose problems like:

a.      Users can install software themselves. Once installed, software can compromise the overall health and control of the PC, as well as introduce security and data compliance issues. With every new piece of unknown software installed, desktop performance, security, and supportability is gradually compromised.

b.      No asset inventory control or license management. This can leave you in a position where you don’t know what has been installed and whether or not you have a license for the software.

c.       Important data files are often changed or deleted. With administrator accounts, users have full access to the system and can often delete files that are required for system stability and reliability or even booting into the operating system, running applications or performing other day-to-day tasks

d.      End users are able to change core system configurations. Users with admin rights can install drivers, change firewall settings, deactivate services, or deactivate anti-malware software, and add additional user accounts.

e.      Users are not restricted from attaching devices to their PCs. With unauthorized storage devices connected (such as USB drives and MP3 players), users can easily lose or steal important data, load malware onto PCs, or misuse company assets with personal devices.

f.        Systems cannot be centrally managed. In many cases software is not centrally distributed or tracked. If that is the case, computers will require manual setup and configuration.

2.      Many applications are written to require admin privileges. This is often because software developers tend to develop as local administrators. Many applications are designed to assume that administrative privileges are present.

3.      Applications can save their data (installation files, registry keys, and runtime data) to random locations. Applications written this way are difficult to support, because each application functions in a different way. If something breaks, it is difficult to troubleshoot the problem. For example- applications may store unknown file formats in “Program Files’ folder during installation.

So what is the ideal way in which the Windows systems must be managed and how can that state be achieved?

Read my next blog on what should be done to tackle these problems proactively, and the third one in the series on how can it be done.

Launching Windows Essential Server Solutions

Microsoft is launching it’s new series of small and midsize server solutions on 12th of November. The two products which are part of this launch are Small Business Server 2008 and Essential Business Server 2008. For more details check this out link.

Virtual TechDays – September 2008 – Managing Virtual Infrastructure

Hi, this is Ravi Sankar ( ) again from the TechNet India team. This is the second blog post I am writing in response to the questions we received as part of virtual tech days ( ). This time I am answering the questions from the session “Managing Virtual Infrastructure”

Q1: Is virtualization suitable for big corporations only? Or is it useful to small and medium enterprises also?

A1: Very good question. Virtualization technologies are useful to organizations of all sizes. Let me explain this with the help of an example.

Hyper-V is the server virtualization technology from Microsoft. By using Hyper-V in a data centre, a large organization can consolidate their server infrastructure into fewer number of servers. This will result in savings in terms of rack space, cooling, power, management cost etc.

The above advantages are applicable to a small and medium sized business organization (SMB) as well. Since SMBs face additional constraints in terms of quality infrastructure and skilled IT man power virtualization can offer them a more optimized IT solution by requiring less infrastructure and better server management technologies (backup, high availability, provisioning etc.).

Q2: How does System Centre Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) handle applications which are not cluster aware to provide high availability (HA)?

A2: SCVMM does not handle applications directly but through virtual machines. Hyper-V is cluster aware and can be configured to provide HA for all the virtual machines running on it. The applications running in these virtual machines may or may not be cluster aware. SCVMM can manage the failover of such virtual machines from one server to another server running Hyper-V.

Q3: What is template creation in System Center Virtual Machine manager (SCVMM)?

A3: Templates are virtual machines created and stored in SCVMM library with specific virtual hardware, OS and application configurations. Templates are created for frequently used virtual machine configurations so that it is easier to provision new VMs. It also allows automation of VMs through scripting.

As one of you said it is a one time activity

Q4: Is diagram view of virtual and physical machines created automatically in System Center Operations Manager (SCOM)?

A4: Yes, once SCOM is configured to monitor a Virtual Server or Hyper-V based computer it can generate a diagram of physical machines and associated virtual machines automatically

Q5: Is Hyper-V a Type-1 virtualization product?

A5: Yes, Hyper-V is a hypervisor based Type-1 virtualization product. Hyper-V is available either as part of Windows Server 2008 x64 editions or as a standalone product ( ) for bare metal implementation

Q6: How many Hyper-V based servers are required to virtualize my xxx number of servers?

Or How can I size my Hyper-V deployment?

Or How much memory is required to virtualize xxx number or servers?

A6: As an answer to all these questions I request you to visit the following URLs and read things related to virtualization. 

Q7: How powerful is Hyper-v?

A7: This is a very subjective question and it can be best answered with the help of some real customer  case studies given the following link

Q8: Is it possible to manage VMWare infrastructure from SCVMM?

A8: Yes, SCVMM allows the integration of VMWare into its console. Details can be found here.

Q9: Can Hyper-V run on 32 bit hardware or 32 bit OS?

A9: Hyper-V runs only on 64 bit hardware and requires 64 bit edition of Windows Server 2008 in the parent partition. However some of the remote management tools for Hyper-V runs on 32 bit OS. Also Hyper-V supports 32 bit virtual machines.

Q10: What kind of drivers used by virtual machines in Hyper-V?

A10: Hyper-V supports two different types of devices viz. emulated and synthetic. Emulated device drivers are used for backward compatibility with older operating systems whereas synthetic drivers are supported only in newer operating systems like WS2008 but provides better performance. To know more about emulated and synthetic devices please refer to the following links.,289483,sid94_gci1312278,00.html

Q11: How do I provide high availability for virtual machines running in Hyper-V?

A11: There are many articles available on Microsoft’s website on providing high availability to a Hyper-v environment. Here is one of them

Q12: What makes the rapid provisioning of virtual machines possible in a Hyper-v environment?

A12: Libraries, templates, PowerShell based scripting and self service portal features in System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 make the rapid provisioning of virtual machine possible in a Hyper-V based virtual environment.

Q13: What are the minimum system requirements to run Hyper-V?

A13: The answer depends on whether you are running a bare metal Hyper-V server, server core based Hyper-V and Hyper-V with full installation of Windows Server 2008. Here is the system requirements for running Hyper-v server

Q14: Where can I get a free copy of Hyper-V?

A14: Hyper-V is available to you when you purchase a copy of “Windows Server 2008 x64 edition with Hyper-V”. To download an evaluation copy of Windows Server 2008 please visit the following link

A full version of Hyper-V server can be downloaded free of cost from the following link

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Q&A: Performance Tuning Redefined with SQL Server 2008

I am sure you folks are enjoying all the Q&A posted by my fellow Evangelists on this blog. The intentions are very much there to give you complete information even after our webcasts have got over. If you didnt get to read the Part I Q&A I wrote around the DMVs session, dont forget to read them too. Let me next give you the links to PPT and Session for your offline viewing if you missed them. Next, moving to the unanswered Q&A from the session. Here we go:

Question Asked: can we run data collector on sql server which is having sql server 2005 ?

The management data warehouse can only be installed on a server running SQL Server 2008.

Question Asked: different collection modes available for data collector

The Data Collector Architecture ( explains the real backend work. Incidentally, this is an completely async process and uses a combination of SSIS, SQL Agent and SQL Relational engine magic. You can also manually collect and upload the data into SQL Server from the Management Studio.

Quesiton Asked: Could you plz tell something more about WMI event?

If you personally ask me, this is a super cool event one seems to miss-out from the SQL Server 2005 days itself. Anyways, check the complete documentation of WMI Events and SQL Server at: Infact, if you crank up your SQL Server Configuration Manager, it operates completely around the WMI Eventing Infrastructure. It is really powerfull and under-utilized.

Quesiton Asked: What is the Impact on Memory Usage and Performance of system of Data collection?

This my friend is a dicey question because the data collected is completely under your control. And everytime a collect and upload happens the runtime fires enough info into the database. Now when this happens is completely configurable and the purging is also configurable. Hence the stress on the IO and Memory is something in your hand. Moreover we use the SQL Server Agent infrastructure and it can also be configured to run at our specified interval rather than automatically every 10 sec or so.

Question Asked: Can we use data collector to pull the data from the the data provider or website that allows to fetch the data using webservices?

Though the question is vaugue I think if you get a chance to read through the Architecture ( in detail things will get clear. There is nothing like a webservice or sorts available.

Question Asked: can we have single data collector to collect information from multiple instance ?

If you have multiple SQL Server instances you could configure the data collection processes on each of your instances to use a central MDW repository. In fact, It is recommended you do this to minimize the impact of the data collection process.

Question Asked: Can the Monitoring data be Stored outside the server being monitored

Your question seems to be similar to the one asked in the previous question. You can raise the collection as T-SQL Collector, SQL Trace, Perf Counter Collector and Query Activity Collector. You can read on each at:

Question Asked: Does it upload the data to the warehouse db on its own or we have to do it manually?

As described before, you have all the flexibility here. You can manually do it or schedule it at regular intervals via the SQL Server Agent process.

Question Asked: how much frequently is the data fed to dataware house from cache ?

Same as the previous question. You can completely customize it.

Question Asked: we can use this data collector for maintain performance related data for application or database or Visual studio application

Though this is a nice thought, currently we are restricted for collecting perf data using the DMVs inside of a SQL Server instance only.

Question Asked: Say If I run this tool, every 1 hour, for 30 days, how much of data space will it take?

There is no straight forward answer to this question. It depends on how much data you will be collecting. I have seen with an interval of 10 sec for the past ~25 days the current size is close to 400MB for me. But I this happens on my laptop which starts and shuts down often.

Question Asked: WIll Data collector effect MSDB ?

This is a good question. We do use msdb for DW activities. The data collector uses msdb for storing configuration information, run-time information, auditing, and collection history information. This database must be present on the instance of SQL Server that runs the data collector. Using msdb provides the following benefits: a) All the data needed to configure and run the data collector is in one location. b) Data collection configuration can be deployed across several servers without having to use the file system. c) The data collector can use existing SQL Server security mechanisms to protect the data. In addition, database roles can provide granular security, and there is no need to implement cross-database chaining. and finally d) Since msdb is a relational database, it is possible to ensure the referential integrity of the configuration and run-time data.

Hope these clarified some of your questions from the session and hope to meet you all again in the next VTD scheduled on Nov 25th and 26th. And guess what we will have 8 fabulous sessions around SQL Server. Dont miss the action and dont forget to register.

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