WordPress 4.3 “Billie”


WordPress 4.3 “Billie” has arrived.

I was on my blog admin pages doing something else and I noticed the update was available before the auto-updater kicked in and updated the site automatically, so I gave it a nudge and now I’m upgraded.

Like most of the recent WordPress updates, there is little new that interests me, but it’s always a good idea to be up to date, so whatever… :)



WordPress 4.2.4


wordpressBy the time you read this, you are probably auto-magically running on WordPress 4.2.4. :)

It’s a security release. You can read about the changes here.

Have a good time sitting back and doing nothing while it takes care of itself! :)



The Proliferation of I.T. Voodoo…


When I say “voodoo” in this context, I’m really talking about bullshit explanations for things based on guesswork, rather than reasoned argument built using facts and investigation.

It’s really easy for voodoo explanations to proliferate when people are starved of facts. There are several ways this can happen, but a couple of them that spring to mind and really piss me off are:

  • A user reports a problem. You fix it, but don’t give a meaningful explanation of what you have done. As a result, the user is left to “make up” an explanation to tell their superiors, which then becomes part of the folklore of that department. When you fix a problem, you need to provide a technical explanation of what you have done for those that can cope with it and a more layman friendly version for those that can’t. If you don’t do this, you are starting to dig a really big hole for yourself. Users will make shit up that will haunt you forever. Next time you want to process that big change it will be blocked because, “Bob says that we always have a problem when you reboot the payroll server on a Tuesday if the parking barrier is locked in an upright position. Today is Tuesday and the parking barrier was locked in an upright position this morning, so we don’t want to risk it!” Once this shit takes hold, there is no going back!
  • A user reports a problem.  You don’t do anything, but it mysteriously “fixes” itself. You need to make sure all parties know you’ve done nothing. You also need to suggest someone actually finds the root cause of the issue, without trying to start a witch hunt. Unless you know why something has happened, people will make up bullshit explanations and they will become department folklore. etc. See previous point.

For so long I.T. has had a poor reputation where user engagement is concerned and it *always* generates more problems for us than it actually does for the users. Get with the flippin’ program!



PS. Can you tell I’m pissed off about something? :)

Password Manager Woes


I read a post this morning and it hit a raw nerve or two.

As followers of the blog will know, I use KeePass for all my work and personal passwords. I’ve come across a number of sites that prevent pasting passwords for “security reasons” and it drives me nuts. Fortunately, most of the them can’t prevent the auto-type feature, so at least that’s something…

This attitude goes beyond websites though. The policy at my current employer is all passwords should be strong and unique, but you are not allowed to use a password manager. Why? Because if someone installs a key-logger on your PC and gets the credentials for the password manager, they will have access to all your passwords. WTF? I think this attitude is moronic. I am not capable of remembering hundreds of unique, strong passwords. Using patterns is predictable, so that is also a fail.

I have seen the way some of my colleagues (past and present) deal with passwords and it is farcical.

  • One password to rule them all.
  • Kept in a text/word document on the desktop.
  • Kept in a text/word document on a network drive.
  • Kept on a piece of paper in their desk draw, that is never locked.
  • Freely shared amongst colleagues, so they can “test something using my account”.

For someone to step in and say we can’t use a tool that generates random, strong, completely unpredictable passwords and stores them in an encrypted format makes my blood boil.

Flippin’ morons!



Learn it or don’t. The choice is yours.


glasses-272399_1280-smallTechnology is scary for a lot of people, but the biggest problem I see out there is denial (It’s not just a river in Africa! :) ).


For people who are new to technology, the biggest problem I see is they refuse to actually read what is on the screen. I’m not talking about those stupid End User License Agreement (EULA) screens that nobody reads. I’m talking about basic instructions. If a screen says,

“Enter your username and password, then click the Login button.”

I don’t think that should be a taxing problem for anyone, but for the less computer literate, if something doesn’t go *exactly* as they expect, they go into total melt down. People just have to take a deep breath and read what is in front of them.


The situation is not always much different for many techies when they are faced with learning new skills. All those lessons you learned in your core skill-set seem to go out of the window. Things like:

  • Read the manuals.
  • Check the log files.
  • Check the vendor support website.
  • Google it.
  • Raise a support call.

Instead, people throw their toys out of the pram and decide the product/feature is rubbish and give up.

This is exactly what happened to me when I started playing with the Multitenant option. I was in total denial for ages. When I finally made the decision to sit down and figure it out it wasn’t so bad. It was just different to what I was used to.

Learning is not a spectator sport!

(Shameless use of the title of Connor McDonald’s blog, which is in itself credited to D. Blocher.)

Learning stuff is all about time. The optimizer fairy didn’t visit Jonathan Lewis one day and tell him “the secret”. If you don’t spend the time, or you give up at the first hurdle, you are never going to get anywhere. You will probably start to make excuses. I’m too old. It’s too complicated. I’ve always been rubbish at learning new stuff. I don’t have time. My company doesn’t support me. We won’t use it for another 3 years, so I’ll leave it until later. The list is endless.

Next time you are sitting in front of the TV watching some trash, ask yourself what those “smart kids” are doing at the moment?

I don’t care what you do with your life. Your choices are no more or less valid than mine. Just don’t fool yourself. Be honest. If you wanted to learn it you would. The fact you haven’t means you really can’t be bothered. :)



WordPress 4.2.3 : Hurry up and … let it fix itself…


WordPress 4.2.3wordpress has been released.

It contains fixes for some pretty nasty stuff. Usually, the updates have to be manually triggered for a day or so before the auto-update feature picks them up. I was on the blog this morning and there were no “manually triggered auto-updates” available, so it looks like this one has been pushed straight out, which probably makes sense.

By the time you’ve read this you are probably up to date already, but if not, get on your blog and give it a nudge. :)

You can see the changelog here.



Why do people show Azure so much love?


cloudThe title of this post is taken from tweet I saw a few weeks ago and it keeps coming back to haunt me, so I thought I would comment on it.

Let me start by saying I don’t have any context as to why the tweeter thought people were showing Azure so much love. From my perspective, I kind-of like Azure and I think it is what my employer will end up using, but I’m not a crazed fan-boy about it. :)

Also, I fully understand a move to the cloud is not the right thing for everyone, so this post is focused on those people who do want/need to move to the cloud. Just because it is not right for you, it doesn’t mean it’s not right for everyone. So when I’m talking about running services on the cloud, it is not a recommendation. I’m not telling you you’ve got to. I’m speaking about cloud services to try to explain why someone might say something like the title of this post. I’m hoping this paragraph will stem the hate-comments that invariably come when you mention the cloud. :)


The Azure interface it pretty neat. It’s clean and reasonably intuitive. I’m a casual user, so I can’t say how I would feel about it if I were managing hundreds or thousands of resources, but from my brief time with it, I like it.

I don’t dislike the AWS interface, but it does feel a bit more cluttered and ugly than the Azure interface. I guess that could be enough to put off some people maybe.


Coming from the Oracle world, we tend to think of UNIX/Linux as being the centre of the universe, but if I think back to the companies I’ve worked for over the years, the majority of their kit has been Windows-based, with the exception of the bits I work on. :) Since most corporate desktops are still Windows-based, Outlook, Office and Active Directory tend to rule the roost. If you are thinking of moving those services on to the cloud, Azure seems the “obvious choice”. Am I saying they are the best products and Azure is the best place to run them? No. What I’m saying is it will be seen as the “obvious choice” for many people wanting to move to the cloud.

The same goes with SQL Server. I happen to like the AWS RDS for SQL Server implementation, but I’m guessing a lot of SQL Server folks will get a warmer and fuzzier feeling about running SQL Server on Azure. Lots of decisions in IT are based on gut instinct or personal bias of the buyers, not necessarily fact. I can see how someone will “feel happier” there.

Once the Oracle Cloud becomes generally available, we may see a similar issue there. People may feel happier about running Oracle products on the Oracle Cloud than on AWS or Azure. Time will tell.

What’s under the hood?

This is where cloud really turns stuff on its head. If I want to run a Linux VM, I can do that on AWS, Azure, Oracle Cloud, VMware vCloud Air etc. From my perspective, if the VM stays up and gives me the performance I paid for, do I really care about what’s under the hood? You can be snobbish about hypervisors, but do I care if Oracle are using less hardware to service the same number of VMs as Azure? No. Where infrastructure as a service (IaaS) is concerned, it is all about the price:performance ratio. As I’ve heard many times, it’s a race for the bottom.

Call me naive, but I really don’t care what is happening under the hood of a cloud service, provided I get what I pay for. I think this is an important factor in how someone like Microsoft can go from zero to hero of the cloud world. If they provide the right services at the right price, people will come.


Q: Why do people show Azure so much love?

A: Because it does what it is meant to do. It provides the services certain companies want at a price they are willing to pay. What’s not to love?

Q: So it’s the best cloud provider right?

A: That depends on your judging criteria. No one cloud provider is “the best”. For some people Azure will be the best option. For others it might be the worst.