{Year} of the {Hero}

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

I don't know who thought of it first, but it looks like if you're running a conference or product launch this year, you need to include "Hero" in the title.

Microsoft have been running their Heroes Happen {here} launch of Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008 and Visual Studio 2008 over the last few months.

Now I've just received an email from IBM telling me about their Rational Software Development Conference - "Where teams are R-Heroes" (no, I'm not making this up).

And like Microsoft, IBM Rational have names for their R-Heroes too.

I think this just goes to show how bad things can get when the marketing guys have too much spare time.

And what's up with those curly braces? If we had some VB events, should they have named it "Heroes Happen Begin Here End Here" ?

Things I need to learn more about

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Following on from a conversation I had yesterday, I realise there are some areas of .NET that I don't understand as well as I might:

You usually know what you know, but it is helpful to know what you don't know too.

Ziova CS505

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

I don't think my next-door neighbour Phil would mind me describing him as a videophile. He was one of the first people I know to get a digital settop box (and confirm that it made a huge difference to the quality of the TV reception in our area).

Phil doesn't have Internet access, but he'd heard about the Zensonic z500 high definition network DVD media player, and asked me to print out some specs for him to review. While doing that I discovered that Zensonic had changed their name to Ziova, and also had released a new model, the CS505.

So yesterday Phil dropped around and told me he'd gone ahead and bought a CS505. He still had a couple of questions though:

Can you save videos to a hard disk via the USB port?

It looks like the answer is "No". You can use the USB port to upgrade firmware (more about that shortly), or you can play movies from it, but it looks like the CS505 is only a player, not a recorder.

Can you update the firmware?

"Yes", though it is a little involved.

After reviewing the device settings, Phil's machine had shipped with firmware version 1.1.1. To get access to firmware updates, you need to register your device (I did this on Phil's behalf). First register with the Ziova Support Forums then use the same login for My Ziova, where you need to enter your device details (make sure you get the serial number and both MAC addresses correct!)

Once that is done, you'll see that there's a firmware upgrade to version 2.0.1. Don't be fooled by the text that says "use the recovery CD" though! The only way to upgrade from version 1 to version 2 is to use a USB 2 device (flash drive or hard disk). Trust me, I tried to use the CD, and (like others found), that doesn't work.

I was a bit worried (especially as this wasn't my device!), and I didn't have a USB2-capable flash drive on hand (they are quite specific that it needs to be USB 2). Then I realised that I'd recently received a 75Gb external drive from Microsoft (with lots of training material for the 2008 product launches). 10 minutes later, I'd copied all the content onto my home PC. Follow these steps to get the external drive setup correctly:

  1. Download and extract the Recover Version 2.0.1 zip file.
  2. Remove the external drive.
  3. Run RecoveryUSBMaker.exe
  4. Re-insert the external drive
  5. RecoveryUSBMaker.exe should now detect the external drive and offer to reformat it.
  6. Wait for it to finish, then you're good to go.

You can then plug the drive into the CS505 and restart the player to being the firmware update process. It does take a few minutes, so give it a while.

Did it make a difference?

The first thing we noticed was that the menu "theme" had changed. It seemed a bit smaller, but as I said to Phil, that might be because they've added more options to the screen. It all seemed to be ok, so I said goodnight and we left it at that.

This morning Phil dropped by again. Had something gone wrong? No, he was over the moon! He wanted to thank me for my help, as he assured me he could see a noticeable improvement in the video quality and was now extremely satisfied with his purchase.

It's nice to have a happy ending :-)

Some light reading

Monday, 17 March 2008

I've just placed my first ever order with Amazon for the following books:

The first three came about by reading recommendations from the old alt.net list, the new altdotnet list and the Alt.Net book list.

The fourth will hopefully help me pass the 70-547 exam. I did consider the Microsoft Press book, but the reviews weren't inspiring.

If they arrive as predicted, they might end up being a nice birthday present next month.

Not a culture of blame (or what UniSA could have done better)

Friday, 14 March 2008

Another thing I've learned from Jane is the phrase "not a culture of blame". The idea is that you might achieve more, improve things and make progress better if you don't just focus on finding someone to blame.

So trying to keep that in mind, I'd like to comment on a couple of things I think UniSA as an institution and senior management in particular could have done better with the restructure of the FLC, in the hope that the next time they might not repeat some of these mistakes. You be the judge as to whether I've managed not to blame anyone.

Don't take your staff for granted

There also seems to be a lack of understanding of what staff actually do. I suppose if those staff end up leaving, you'll probably find out pretty quickly though :-)

A new role isn't actually attractive if it is perceived as worse than the old one.

Don't assume that staff will willingly want to leave a fantastic team that provided them interesting, varied work, flexibility in work hours, supportive and understanding managers, ability to work from home, support to attend conferences, seminars and training events, in a reasonably convenient and pleasant location - to move somewhere else that they believe doesn't.

There is a world outside of UniSA

I wonder if senior management have considered the risk of causing staff, that they hoped would stay in the new structure, to discover that the commercial sector desperately wants their skills and is willing to reward them significantly better for them.

Sell us your vision

If you do need to change or restructure an area, then tell us (the staff affected) why! Tell us your vision of what you want to achieve and how this will help the organisation - and do that in person, not just as an impersonal email.

There are times when email is an appropriate medium for communication, but I believe this is not one of them.

Ideally, "in person" would be just that, but this is the unit that set up Centra and streaming video for the University, and either of those would have been an improvement.

 

As far as how the actual managing change process is progressing - the latest is that the NTEU lodged a dispute with the University on March 3rd, so we now have to wait for that to be resolved before anything else happens.

On a more positive note, I've got a few weeks of leave starting next week, so that will be a nice break. I'll have some time to make some more hot cross buns, and get ready for G3's arrival.