• My new laptop – A Dell Studio XPS 1645

    Dell Studio XPS 16 Black OpenOne tool that I was lacking in my new role as a Senior Consultant for LobsterPot Solutions was a laptop computer. Back in my UniSA days, if you needed a laptop for a presentation or a conference you just borrowed one, so it was never a problem. Post-UniSA I borrowed my Mum’s nice Toshiba, or more recently the small (but capable) HP Mini Netbook that I got from [Tech-Ed last year]/2009/09/tech-ed-2009-friday.html).

    Rob and I did a fair bit of research, compared brands and options (including the Sony Z-series which I see Nigel chose), and settled on the Dell Studio XPS 16 model. Being a “laptop-newbie” I particularly valued Rob’s good experience with his previous Dell laptop.

    The XPS 16 comes with:

    • Intel® Core™ i7-820QM Processor (1.73GHz, 4 Cores/8 Threads, turbo up to 3.06GHz, 8MB Cache)
    • 8GB RAM
    • 640GB HDD (will replace with SSD soon)
    • 15.6” Screen
    • ATI Mobility RADEON HD 4670 – 1GB
    • Backlit keyboard

    The CPU and RAM are similar to the [Hyper-V server I built]/2010/02/assembling-hyper-v-server.html) – though happily, while this CPU is also a Core i7, unlike it’s desktop cousin it doesn’t require a great whopping heatsink/cooler stuck on top (which could make shutting the lid a bit tricky!)

    Some nice things I’ve discovered so far:

    • It looks very nice, though the glossy surface does show up fingermarks very quickly.
    • You can do “two-finger zooming” on the touch pad – great for Google/Bing maps.
    • Windows 7 x64 runs very nicely.
    • Rob noticed you can disable battery charging when on AC power.
    • Doesn’t seem to get too hot (though the AC transformer does)

    After having a quick play I was pleasantly surprised to find that Dell had shipped it with the latest BIOS firmware - that is refreshing. Nevertheless, after a precautionary backup to my Windows Home Server, I did a clean install of Windows 7 x64 Ultimate and am proceeding to load up all the various “mandatory” applications (Office, SQL Server, Visual Studio, etc).

    I’m also thinking I might leverage Windows 7’s “boot to VHD” feature to have separate Win7 instances where I can try out pre-release/beta software without “polluting” my primary OS.

    Dell Studio XPS 16 Red We chose the red ones, because a) they go faster (obviously!) and b) it kind of matches the red of the LobsterPot logo :-)

  • Using PowerShell with SQL Agent 2005

    Today I needed to get a PowerShell script scheduled as a task in SQL Agent for SQL Server 2005. SQL 2008 natively supports running PowerShell, but all 2005 can do is run either T-SQL or CmdExec.

    My first approach was to copy the path of the PowerShell executable from the start menu shortcut  - “%SystemRoot%\system32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\powershell.exe”

    That refused to work giving a really helpful “The step failed” error message.

    Trying a few variations I eventually figured out that CmdExec does not expand environment variables. So either rely on the fact that PowerShell.exe is probably in the path, or specify the full path. My working version is:

    c:\windows\system32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\powershell.exe -file "c:\tmp\test1.ps1" -ExecutionPolicy Unrestricted

    If you need PowerShell to talk to Analysis Services, then Darren Gosbell’s powerSSAS (with versions for SSAS 2005 and 2008) might be useful too.

  • More WHS Backup options

    Some updates on options for [online backup of Windows Home Server]/2010/03/backup-for-windows-home-server.html):

    • For a brief period it looked like Mozy would be releasing a WHS client but that turns out not to be the case. I’d let my free trial with KeepVault lapse in anticipation of the Mozy product being released. Oh well :-(
    • Found Backblaze - ($US5/month unlimited) but doubt they work with WHS. Casey from the Backblaze team responded to an email query saying “..don’t have any plans for supporting Server OS like Windows Home Server”
    • Others have recommended CrashPlan, and certainly their prices are competitive with Mozy and Carbonite. Whilst it isn’t officially supported with WHS, at least it gets a mention on their support site. Poster “Scott” goes into more detail on how he got it working with WHS.