What has happened to IPv6?
He has an understanding of Visual Basic for Applications, and so was trying to cobble together a scheme in which he would create a document that contains the full name (including path) to each file to be printed, and then on the point of leaving the office for the night he’d start up a macro that ran through this list of files and printed each of them, so they’d be waiting for people in the morning. I’ll confess that when I saw his half-built solution it took quite some time before I was able to stop raising “yes, buts”. His enthusiasm was infectious, and he needed my help with the handling of a particular dialog box, but in focusing on the solution using the tools he had to hand he’d managed to miss the completely bleeding obvious.
Ever since Windows NT 3.1, going back some 15 years now, the OS (and its descendants Windows 2000, XP and so forth) have all allowed you to have multiple print queues pointing toward the same physical printer. The converse is true, too – you can have one print queue that services multiple printers, preferably all identical to reduce the complexity. Making multiple print queues feed into one printer might seem a bit of a daft idea until you realise that a print queue has a property, which is precisely what my friend of a friend was looking for. The queue can be “always available” or “available from” and “available to” specific times… The solution to this chap’s problem was staggeringly simple: throw away all his beautifully hand-crafted VBA code for a start, then create a second printer queue, which we named “overnight”. This queue was set to point to the colour laser printer, and its “available from” was set to 6pm and “available to” to 6am. During the day, people could print either to the live “daytime” queue or to this new “overnight” queue. If a document is sent to “overnight” then it’s just spooled up waiting for that queue to go live, and at 6pm when the office is quiet the queue is started up and the documents are sent off in the same order in which they were received. The only other thing you need to do is to check that there’s enough paper in the printer and that the output trays are empty when the last person leaves the office.
Job done, a far more reliable and sensible solution that works every time. And better still, all their desktop machines can be turned off to save power and heat. Sometimes, these little OS facilities are overlooked by us all, but they can make a big difference.
Server 2008 R2 Virtualisation
The news that Microsoft is enabling many of the “missing in action” features of Hyper-V in the forthcoming R2 release of Server 2008 will mean that, in the eyes of many, the lead that VMware has enjoyed will be whittled down to nothing. The ability to do a live move of a server from one physical computer to another was promised for the initial release of Hyper-V, and then pulled in an embarrassing backpedalling by Microsoft. At the time Microsoft was bullish, claiming that few people used this function anyway and so it was okay to be late with it, but naturally this sounded like the schoolyard bully being found out as being a bit thick. There was no doubt, though, that Microsoft wouldn’t really let this matter rest. Indeed, at the time of the announcement Microsoft showed me Hyper-V doing live migration so the claim that it just needed more testing time was credible – the functionality was really there, not just some smoke and mirrors lash up.
Recently, Microsoft has made some changes to the licensing structure for virtualisation, all of which bring it closer to the real-world needs of users by removing limitations that frankly had no real place in a virtualised environment. However, there’s another set of changes that will soon be needed, and it would be nice if Microsoft were ahead of the curve this time, rather than having to be dragged into the modern world. I’m referring to the running of servers in the forthcoming Cloud infrastructures being offered by Microsoft, Amazon and the rest – if I’ve bought a server licence then I should be able to apply it to a Cloud instance just as to a local instance of said server. And the same applies to virtualised desktops for both applications and their OSes too. Clarity is required here, and is needed soon.