Archives for: "June 2008"

Hyper-V released

Windows Server 2008 Hyper-VMicrosoft have released their new visualisation package, dubbed Hyper-V. This effectively replaces Virtual Server 2005. Originally due to ship with Windows Server 2008 earlier this year, it needed a few more months in the oven, but it was available for download in beta and later as a release candidate form.

The IT industry often gets flak from environmental groups, when you've got companies like Google adding I'd assume thousands or even tens of thousands of servers to their data centres every month, maybe they've got a point, even more so when you see statistics like the average CPU utilisation in a data centre is something like 10%, ouch that's a lot of waste.

Putting 10 virtual servers on a single physical machine, and scrapping the other 9 physical boxes would sure save a lot of energy, and time. Now if a server fails all you have to do is copy the virtual machines off the hard disks, and boot them up on another machine. There's no worrying about getting identical hardware to boot the system on, or trying to find images suitable for different types of hardware, all virtual machines run on the same virtualised hardware and so can boot anywhere.

I run two servers at home, Windows Home Server, which acts as a file server and backups all the machines on the network and is actually running on the metal, and virtualised on it Windows Small Business Server 2003, which handles Exchange for Catherine and myself. If it wasn't for that I'd have to have another physical machine running dedicated to Small Business Server, and if the hardware fails, I can just copy the virtual machine to my desktop computer and run it on here until I can get a replacement server.

Heck even my server I've got hosting these websites on is virtualised; it just makes so much sense.

Virtualisation has long been dismissed by some as being too slow, sure Virtual Server 2005, which I use at home a virtual machine will probably get something like 75% the performance of the machine it is hosted on. Not great, but hardly a deal breaker especially considering the amount of free CPU cycles and disk I/O so many servers have.

Hyper-V improves on this dramatically, SQL performance is something like 97% that of a physical machine, and disk I/O something like 99%. Essential this release ends the performance argument? 1% slower? Pfft who cares.

Microsoft have had 25% of the servers running virtualised for weeks now, and that's a website that gets something like 15,000 requests per second, they aim to have 50% of the server virtualised within a couple of weeks and be completely virtualised in a month or two. MSDN has been fully virtualised since March time now on Hyper-V.

There's no doubt in my mind that most technology companies will have their servers virtualised in five years, and probably most servers in the world within ten.

Virtualisation also has its place on desktops; Windows Vista already virtualises the file system and registry for some applications to help with backwards compatibility. In the future, I definitely see virtualisation providing most if not all backwards compatibility, which will allow the OS to move forward at a faster rate as the developers wouldn't have to waste time worrying about backwards compatibility. Which also means it can be an optional component, so people like myself who have no desire to run an application from the 17th century won't need the extra stuff on the machine in order to run it. Already we've got things like Virtual PC which saves developers having multiple physical boxes, or dual booting different operating systems and browsers - I'd go insane doing web development having to boot into another partition on this machine or get another PC and dedicate it to running Windows XP and IE6.

Even with a conservative estimate, virtualisation could half the number of servers in the world, having a quarter the number of physical server probably isn't that far off the mark either. No doubt in my mind that in 20 years virtualisation will be seen as something as import as the Graphical User Interface, or even the microprocessor.

Stop performing to the Daily Hate's (not a typo) readership

Enough playing to the Daily Mail's readership and their imaginary "middle England". If I hear another politician saying "hard working families who play by the rules" I am going to get annoyed.

Most of my work colleagues and myself aren't married nor have children. I guess that means we're all stuffed. Unemployed? Heck they don't work hard you must be stuffed. Pensioners, they may of worked hard all your life, but now you don't, I guess they're stuffed too.

What's wrong with saying working class? Remember them Gordon? The people who have to work for a living.

I got the NEC election ballot through my door today, with it a message from Gordon. Susan rightly dissects the language used in it.

Fairness means, yes, we will address poverty. But fairness also means we are always on the side of aspiration and ambition. (Read: the rich).

Over the coming months we are rolling out our Australian-style points-based system for immigration to make sure that only those who can contribute to Britain can come in. (In other words, if you are an asylum-seeker, poor, defenseless, financially vulnerable, forget it).

When is the Parliamentary Labour Party going to act?

Good question Grimmer, just when are the Parliamentary Labour Party going to act to stop the relentless march of the Labour Party to electoral oblivion in 2010?

So where did Gordon get it wrong?
1. Ensuring there was no contest for the leadership
2. Ensuring there was no-one in the cabinet from the left-of-centre
3. Inviting Tories like Digby Jones and Quentin Davies into his "big tent" and excluding the left-of-centre
4. Not facilitiating withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan
5. Abolishing voting at Labour Party Conference
6. Dog-whistle politics on immigration and border controls
7. Macho posturing on 42 days, nuclear power, civil liberties
8. Further triangulation to the right and more Blairism
9. Public sector pay
10. 10p tax fiasco

Right on Susan.

Clearing up some Internet Explorer 8 nonsense

When Microsoft announced that it would ship Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2 in August, the IE team also reminded web developers to ensure their stuff works by then, and supplied a couple of quick-fixes that can be used to tell IE8 to render a page in IE7 mode, which can be specified per-page, or even server-wide.

This was done so that web developers could maintain their normal development cycle, so they wouldn't have to re-engineer their websites based upon IE8's release, they'd just need to add one line of code on any pages that might be effected, or change a setting on the server. Five minutes work, tops.

Simple right, we get a decent browser with good standards support, and an easy way to maintain compatibility, everyones happy right?

Wrong. A quick look over the comments on Mary Jo's article on ZDNet shows something quite different.

Ballmer, fire the IE team... Super-standard mode may be silliest thing IE team's come up with and will make IE lose more market share. IE7 has broken many websites and irritated many site designers. And now IE8 seems to do more. People love simplicity and do not care standard compliance. They hate doing unneccessary work to tweak their well-working website.

Super-standards mode, other than the super name is just standards mode, IE8 rendering a page as close to the standards as possible. Like every other browser, Firefox, Opera etc.

I don't think IE7 "broke" many websites, maybe your websites perhaps. IE7 was a good step forward and fixed many of the layout and positioning problems that plagued IE6. If you fed IE7 the standard-CSS instead of doing what I suspect you did, feeding it on the non-standard-CSS that was hacked for IE6 there wouldn't of been many issues at all. IE7's standards support was good enough so everybody could switch over to using CSS, although of course it was by no means perfect or complete.

Web developers are fed up with having to do all kinds of hacks for older versions of IE. IE8 because it will support the standards as well as any other browser out there will save so much time, we won't have to waste time writing all these different versions of the site for different browsers.

7 versions of windows now 3 different settings in IE, why make life so hard for users?

This doesn't effect end-users. Only developers need to worry about how IE will render a page.

Quirks mode, how Internet Explorer 6 and below browsers rendered pages.
"Standards" mode which I call IE7 mode, which renders things like IE7.
Super-standards mode which renders it like any other browser.

Originally the Doc Type was used to determine how to render a web page, if a browser saw no Doc Type, it would render in quirks mode, if it saw a Doc Type it would render it according to whatever specification was in the Doc Type.

However Doc Type has been poorly used, and often websites are written against completely different specifications than what is in the Doc Type. So IE7 mode tag has been introduced, as a way of telling future browsers to render like IE7, like I said before its a quick-fix measure that should be phased out by developers on their next version of their website.

It isn't complicated, and should be common sense for any web developer. End-users don't need to know what's going on under the covers.

Again MS shoot themselves in the FOOT. Why do MS keep changing the standards (there thanks to MS NO standards NOW, just MS shifting the goalposts.
When will they learn the more they annoy cleints the more they loose to other platforme as on writer said...

Microsoft don't keep changing the standards, they're not Microsoft's to change. Microsoft are giving Internet Explorer 8 decent support for CSS 2.0 and 2.1, fixing the problems previous versions of IE had with them.

Everyone's testing against Firefox right? Just feed IE8 the same code you would to Firefox.

This is crazy! I don't know what the IE team is smoking. This is going to blow up in MS' face like a thermonuclear bomb. You don't screw around with backward compatibility and not expect blowback from users / developers. MS should go back to its original position, and require developers to place a tag on their web site, to get super standards mode in IE8. Don't bow to the pressure of an overly vocal minority, and cause a gigantic upheaval on the web. Besides, it's not like these guys are going to like you anyway.

Actually web developers who keep tags on things and keep track of what's going on with browser development went thermonuclear on the IE team last year when they said they were going to make "super"-standards-mode opt-in.

Which in my opinion is holding the future to ransom over a couple of minutes of pain now. If you're using a Doc Type in your page, it is opt-out. Like it should be, IE8 will assume it will be getting standards-complaint code.

Gigantic upheaval on the web? Does Firefox or Opera cause gigantic upheaval on the web? No. People are already writing against the standards, they just need to give IE8 the same code as Firefox and Opera instead of all the hacks they're giving to IE6 and the like.

In the wake of the Counter-Terrorism Bill

Well it's been an interesting few days in the aftermath of the Counter-Terrorism Bill.

Here's the list of the Labour MPs who voted against the government; Diane Abbott, Richard Burden, Katy Clark, Harry Cohen, Frank Cook, Jeremy Corbyn, Jim Cousins, Andrew Dismore, Frank Dobson, David Drew, Paul Farrelly, Mark Fisher, Paul Flynn, Neil Gerrard, Ian Gibson, Roger Godsiff, John Grogan, Dai Havard, Kate Hoey, Kelvin Hopkins, Glenda Jackson, Lynne Jones, Peter Kilfoyle, Andrew Mackinlay, Bob Marshall-Andrews, John McDonnell Michael Meacher, Julie Morgan, Chris Mullin, Doug Naysmith, Gordon Prentice, Linda Riordan, Alan Simpson, Emily Thornberry, Bob Wareing, David Winnick and Mike Wood. Thanks again.

Jon Trickett, the parliamentary spokesman for Compass has been forced to stand down after Compass MPs caved into the government's demands. Compass members are undoubtedly more than a little annoyed at being betrayed by the likes of Trickett and Cruddas.

David Davis stunned everyone by not only resigning as the Shadow Home Secretary but also resigning his seat (Haltemprice and Howden), which has triggered a by-election. On which he will fight on a platform of civil liberties to try and bring about more public attention on the matter.

He's obviously come under assault from both Labour and Tory members, but its his decision in the end and it will bring the issue of our declining civil liberties into focus - at least for a while. Which is required. The Liberal Democrats have said they won't be standing against him.

It gets tricky for the Labour Party, how can we put up a candidate that supports 42-days detention? The political damage of that would be immense, Kevin Davis rightly points out that if we don't it'll look like we're running away, but that's better than the alternative.

According to Grimmer Up North though the Labour candidate there is against 42-days detention. So if he did decide to stand he would have the task of trying to break out of the single issue by-election, probably impossible.

However it has also just emerged that some Labour MPs have come out in support of David Davis. It'll be very interesting to see what sort of reaction this will provoke from the Labour Party machinery.

Red team really does win

Well it looks like the blues finally have an excuse to why they lose all the time, no it isn't just because they suck.

Red team pwns Blue team

In a study recently published in Cyberpsychology & Behavior it was found that out of 1,347 games of Unreal Tournament 2004 (not pictured above), the red team won 55% of the time. Mihai Moldovan a neuroscientist at the University of Copenhagen, hypothesises that the colour red is a psychological distracter, at least for men.

I must say I am somewhat disappointed, here was me thinking the last 10-15 years of my gaming life I was undefeatable, now I know it was all because I chose red - my favourite colour back in the old days.

Although saying that, it would seem to me that the opposite should be true in strategy games (which I probably play the most), as you would be looking at your own bases/cities/units etc more often than your opponents. I'd be interested to see any follow up research looking at a strategy game.

I think it's time to bind "I played red before we knew they won more you noobs" to a key, and find out a way to paint my armour red in World of WarCraft - well that's not likely, but at least my guild tabard is mostly red.

Would you please not undermine the union?

I was tempted to stick this under politics, but I think its too obvious for my political readers, and it is more of a rant than anything so it is going under general.

I was reading Phil Plait's (aka the Bad Astronomer) blog, as I do every day. One of his entries was titled "Wipe England off the map".

On a brief side note, I do wonder what sort of feedback he would have got if it said wipe Israel off the map. He goes on to say:

Here’s a bit of apocalyptic fun: simulate dropping an asteroid on the UK.


Too bad the simulator only uses a map of England, because obviously if this were to really happen in England the Doctor would save us.

Well he seems to be using England and the UK interchangeably, I have always found this extremely irritating, and it no doubt helps reinforce Welsh and Scottish nationalist sentiment, worse still is when some people refer to the whole of the British Isles as England.

Funnily enough one of the comments left on this entry tried to clarify what the United Kingdom was.

Just to clarify:

The United Kingdom is a combo of England, Wales, Scotland, and The Republic of Ireland

I'm sure the Queen would be somewhat confused having a republic as part of her Kingdom. Anyway...

What he's talking about this website here, which is based on a Java applet I ran across several years ago which would calculate the damage from an impactor upon the Earth. This new version has a couple of graphics, showing the size of the crater etc.

The best bit comes next....

Yes, it's not even a map of the United Kingdom, nor England. It's a map of Wales! Uragghh.

Here's the deal. Americans, sort yourselves out or else I'm going to start referring to the United States as the District of Columbia, and start calling you all Columbians, yeah you Wyomingians had better make sure them Columbian folk aren't taking you for a ride, no I mean the other Columbians.

I don't know what's worse, Americans who think a map of Wales is England, or the "Free" Tibet (how ironic) supporters not even knowing where Tibet is.

Update: The Bad Astronomer has updated his site with the appropriate corrections - thanks Phil.

Hopefully now his corrections will go on to further educate those Americans people (who may or may not be Americans) who don't understand what the UK is, nor Great Britain, nor what England, Wales and Scotland are and their relationship with Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (sorry had to add all that to further clarify what I meant when I used Americans, before I get more comments from my American readers), and to try and resist any further attempts at upsetting the Welsh nationalists by referring to their corner of the UK as England. Phew........ Right back to my inbox.

For the attention of TheDailyCreationism

For those who read my blog a couple of years back you no doubt remember a series of posts I did countering the mis-information spread by somebody who went under the handle thedailycreationism and bigbangisamyth, he ran a few different blogs and often moved around between them (I have no idea why). But after a while all the posts dried up, much to my disappointment as he was a good source to use for topics to write about.

Well I was searching for his name the other day and came across a post he had made on somebody else's blog back in 2006 saying he would like to arrange a debate with an atheist. Funnily enough I offered to debate him back in December 2006, but never had a response.

But after seeing his request, I'd like to remind him again that I am willing to debate him. I can make time in August onwards, and I'll debate anywhere that has good rail connections with Yeovil.

On a related note, I've had a couple of requests asking if I could debunk the film 'Expelled the Movie'. Well I can't yet, I haven't seen it, but when I do I'll write up something to address whatever points are made in the film.

Counter-Terrorism Bill passes by nine votes

The government won by nine votes. 37 Labour MPs rebelled (thanks comrades), I'm sure many Labour Party members will be keen to see which lefties caved and voted with the government on this.

Hopefully the Lords will chuck it out - I never thought I'd hear myself say that.

John McDonnell:

Any attempt to present this as some sort of victory for the Government will ring absolutely hollow. There will be widespread consternation among our supporters in the country seeing a Labour Government prepared to use every tactic available in its determination to crush essential civil liberties, which have been won by the Labour movement over generations.

This is no way to run a Government. Securing votes by threats, bribes and personal pleading demeans the role of the Prime Minister. Backbench Labour MPs from all sides of the Party have looked on in disbelief at how the Government has mishandled this issue.

Now some trade unions are talking about cutting funding to Labour MPs who vote against trade union policies, hopefully some Labour Party members will start thinking about deselecting their MPs who are caving into the leadership's demands. We need more reliable socialists in the Parliamentary Labour Party, who don't throw their principles out the window the second Gordon phones them up.

42-day detention and our civil liberties in general

I originally wasn't going to blog about this, my views are already pretty well known (major assault on our civil liberties over the last decade), but something just forced my hand.

It was a blogger on LabourHome.

I genuinely thought before now the people who supported the government on this issue in this party just didn't care one way or the other, and so they'd go with their party "loyalties". I never expected anything this extreme.

He starts off praising Brown's performance on PMQ's today, and saying Cameron looked weak... Sigh, who cares. It's the policies that count, not how well people can show off on TV.

Cameron looked weak harking on about civil liberties; well guess what - we are at war with radical islamic extremism

At war with radical Islamic extremism? I suppose radical Islam and Islamic extremism are separate and this is some sort of new strain which combines them both and is even more deadly.

Whatever... I'm not fighting in this war, I've got other extremists to deal with, ones who could actually destroy our civil liberties, and give the police the power to detain people forever (read: make people dissapear). Yes, that's what he said:

if the police need more time to question; then they should be granted all the time in the world.

Over my cold dead body. 28 days is bad enough. Another two weeks is insane, people shouldn't be detained for more than 24 hours, maybe the courts should be allowed to extend that in serious cases, maybe for a week but what we're talking about now is completely off the scale.

Presumed terrorists should be afforded no benefit of the doubt

I remember a time when people were innocent until proven guilty.

This debate about 6 weeks is laughable. Imagine if the enemy facing their trial for the liquid explosives managed to go through with the plan - we would not be having this conversation.

Of course we would be having this conversation, unless you're so extreme you think they're going to kill all 60 million of us.

I thought this would settle down over time from the initial "9/11" attacks which sparked all of this, but I'm getting increasing concerned by things like this.

Just a few months ago we saw some teenager arrested for carrying a sign saying that Scientology is a cult.

Yes that's right, he was arrested for carrying a sign with words on it.

Scientology is a CULT. I'm right with you dude.

We increasingly need a written constitution guaranteeing our right to freedom of speech, too many times people are forced to be quiet due to laws against "offending" (now there's a law open to interpretation) people, laws against upsetting these people, or those people. What happened to a good, open and honest conversation? Our libel laws also need to be balanced so the burden of evidence is upon the claimant.

Brown's been trying to buy off the Labour backbenchers from voting against the government on the Counter-Terrorism Bill. It looks like it is working, I've heard the Compass group of MPs have caved in. John McDonnell has now boycotted the Compass conference in response (good on you John).

Hopefully this bill will be defeated. Those lefty MPs who vote with the government on this should be hanging their heads in shame.

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