Vista and VMware Server…

In some recent posts I wrote about my troubles with using VMware Server with Windows Vista as a host operating system. After some abortive efforts I gave up and bought Parallels instead. Howard Rogers had mentioned he’d used Parallels on Vista with no problems, so I thought it was a safe bet. Sure enough, it seemed to work fine.

I’ve been having an assortment of networking issues with Vista, one of which is my virtual machines can’t get to the internet when I’m using a bridged connection in Parallels. Out of frustration I reinstalled VMware Server for one more go and it worked!

I have no idea why it didn’t work originally, and as a result I have no idea why it has now decided to work. This is quite cool because now I can use some existing virtual machines on may NAS… If only I were able to connect to my NAS from Vista…

So now I have two options when I want a virtual machine, unless I want a Vista guest operating system, in which case I would have to use Parallels… Probably…



Fame, Fortune and Random Things…

Fame and Fortune

Someone just mailed me to say I’m in the Peer-to-Peer section of the latest Oracle Magazine, with two guys nobody has ever heard of… πŸ™‚

I’ll use this as a stepping stone to get my first movie role, then branch out into a music career, quickly followed by a clothing line and a his/hers aftershave/perfume line. Then, after becoming a billionare I’ll start to doubt my own ability and turn to drugs as a way of hiding my insecurities. During this time, I’ll probably do a little shoplifting, just as a cry for help. Finally, after making a number of failed attempts at rehab, I’ll clean up my act, do a comeback tour and win an Oscar for playing a has-been star who’s trying to kick a drug habit. And to think, it all started with one mention in the Peer-to-Peer section of Oracle Magazine…

Random Things (Like it could get any more random than the last paragraph…)

I nearly got wasted by a big white van this morning. On my way to work I have to drive through Spaghetti Junction and at one point, a sliproad merges into the main carraigeway on a curve. The white van driver obviously wasn’t looking, because he pulled right across and nearly smashed me into a concrete wall. Fortunately, I slammed on my anchors, and just before we were going to hit he noticed me and jerked back onto the sliproad. I felt like I needed a defibrilator for the next few minutes. They say you should do something that scares you every day. That’s today sorted! πŸ™‚

I got the Checkpoint Secure Remote beta software installed on my Vista laptop. It seems to work fine, so that’s a relief.

I’ve bought Parallels as a replacement VMware Server, which currently doesn’t work with Vista. There are a couple of cosmetic things I don’t like about Parallels, but it works and it’s cheap. I don’t know if I’ll stick with it, or switch back when VMware get their act together.

I’m having a love-hate relationship with Vista so far. I’ve not spent that much time using it yet, but I can tell you a couple of things:

  • The searchable menu is great. It doesn’t just search the menu, it displays executables and sub-options of groups like Control Panel or Computer Management. Once you start using it there’s no turning back.
  • The amount of confirmation dialogs required for simple tasks is nuts. I use a login with an account type of Administrator, yet when I want to delete a folder I get the regular confirmation message, followed by one telling me I need Administrator privileges to perform this action, and asking me if I want to proceed. Finally, I get the User Access Control (UAC) confirmation, which blanks the screen when it pops up the dialog. This last one looks a bit like the machine has crashed at first. I tried turning off the UAC, but this makes the red shield appears in the task bar and bubbles constantly pop up saying “Danger Will Robinson”, so I turned it back on. It seems a little over the top. Perhaps I will figure all of this out once I use it a bit more. πŸ™‚
  • The networking on Vista seems a little funky. Connections to Samba shares and other windows machines seem eratic, or impossible. I’ve seen some posts on the net about it, so I’ll have to spend some time reading and playing. So far, I’ve not got a connection to my NAS, which is a pain.



The WOW starts now…

I got my new laptop this morning. They attempted to deliver it yesterday, but I was at work, so it got taken back to the depot. I wasn’t expecting it for about another five days. I guess it’s been about 3 days from ordering to arrival. Well done Dell!

So this morning I’ve been having fun with Windows Vista. Here are my first impressions:

TheΒ  good:

  • It looks great. There are lots of bells and whistles. It’s certainly better than the Telitubbies theme of XP. It could be said it’s a little over the top in the flashy stakes, but I like it.
  • The dynamic menu is cool. Much quicker than the old menu, or having to select the Run option.
  • Rolladex (Windows+Tab) is a fun gimick, but I doubt I’ll ever use it again now I’ve tried it. The Alt+Tab version is still present and is a bit quicker.
  • I’m using Vista Ultimate, so I have no idea what the other versions are like.

The bad:

  • Β The first thing I attempted to install was Checkpoint Secure Remote, which I use to VPN into work. Unfortunately, it won’t install and they don’t have a production release for Vista yet. No support from this laptop!
  • Next I tried to install VMware Server, the freebie. I’d heard reports it didn’t work, but I thought I’d give it a go. The reports were correct. It doesn’t work.
  • I plugged in my webcam and it didn’t recognize it. I went onto theCreative website and downloaded a beta driver. Now it works. More of a “Phew!” than a Wow!

The ugly:

  • Nothing is really wrong with Vista. Much as I wanted to hate it, it’s pretty nice. Once all the drivers and software manufacturers catch up with this release it will be cool. It’s going to take a while to get into using the new interface. Everything it different enough to slow you down, but similar enough for you to know you’re going to get there in the end.

Remember, I’ve been using it for a few hours, so I reserve the right to freak out and hate it at any time. πŸ™‚



Another encounter with the law…

It’s been over a year since my last encounter with the law.

Last night I got stopped by the police as I drove out of a pub car park, and thus started my most recent encounter with the law…

The policeman explained he’d seen me pull out of the pub car park and wanted to breathalyze me. I knew I was OK, I’m not a drinker, but as I stepped into the back of the police car I suddenly started to get really paranoid. By the time I got the result I had convinced myself I was going to get banged up, where I would, “get raped in the showers by Mr Big who’s in with the warders” (quote from Rick Mayal in the The Young Ones). I was ready to confess to just about anything to get a lighter sentence… πŸ™‚

In the UK, the breathalyzers have four lights that show the results:

  • Zero
  • Pass
  • Warning
  • Fail

And my result was… Zero!

Hardly surprising, but a relief anyway. So I’m not in prison and I still have a driving license. πŸ™‚



Update: Based on one of the comments, I’d just like to clarify something. The only reason I was stopped was because I was leaving a pub car park in a car. In the UK, it’s perfectly normal to be given a Breathalyzer test if you are stopped by the police. They don’t usually bother making you perform a circus act to test balance etc. Just making sure people didn’t think I was driving erratically or failing to walk in a straight line. πŸ™‚

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 (RHEL5)…

I’ve been having a play with the beta 2 of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 (RHEL5).

Having seen the various Fedora Core versions released since RHEL4, I knew what to expect from RHEL5, but somehow I hoped for a bit more. If just feels like RHEL4 with a different theme.

I can see why Microsoft always add a bunch fancy new gizmos to every Windows release. They need something to differentiate the product, regardless of its usefulness, and people like me fall for it every time… πŸ™‚



Ubuntu 6.10…

A little over a year ago I blogged about installing Ubuntu 5.10. At the time I thought is was a nice enough distro, but not really anything to rock my world. In a fit of boredom I recently installed Ubuntu 6.10 (screenshots by SnagIt πŸ™‚ ). What a difference a year makes.

First off, it’s a live CD, so when you boot from it you can use Ubuntu straight away. I think that’s a really nice touch. On the desktop is an “Install” icon, which not surprisingly allows you to install the distro onto your hard drive. A handful of mouse clicks later you are presented with an installation progress bar and in no time you have a complete installation.

Now the distro itself still doesn’t rock my world, they’re all pretty much the same to me, but I think this is the easiest and cleanest Linux installation I’ve ever done, and I’ve done plenty.

Once again, this isn’t going to make me change my base distribution, I need an enterprise clone, but I certainly think it makes a good candidate for your average desktop, or people using Oracle XE…

Let’s see what it’s like next year… πŸ™‚



Forum Spam…

Until recently, my forum had become the center of the porn and precription drug universe. I was already using Captcha to protect user signup, but this proved useless. A few days ago I switched off Captcha and installed the Textual Confirmation mod. This allows you ask prospective users a question at random from a list, and only let them sign up if their answer is correct. Since making this change I’m not had a single spampost. Fingers crossed, it’s going to stay this way.



I’ve written before about getting screen shots in Linux, but recently I’ve been doing some screen grabs from Windows. I started using GIMP, which does a reasonable job of capturing and scaling them, then I remembered I used a tool called SnagIt when I was writing my first book. I’ve got a license for version 7, but I didn’t have it with me, so I downloaded the free trial of version 8 and within a couple of minutes I was grabbing like crazy. It allows you to select active frames and automatically scale them to size, so it’s just “grab and save”.

I used SnagIt to get the screen grabs for a RHEL5 installation when I was running a VMware client on Windows. It must have been the quickest set of screen grabs I’ve ever done.

I’ll have to dig out my version 7 license and upgrade it to 8. πŸ™‚