Entries Tagged as ''

HTML Special Character Reference

ID Code Description
Á 193 Aacute 1 latin capital letter A with acute
á 225 aacute 1 latin small letter a with acute
â 226 acirc 1 latin small letter a with circumflex
 194 Acirc 1 latin capital letter A with circumflex
´ 180 acute 1 acute accent
æ 230 aelig 1 latin small letter ae
Æ 198 AElig 1 latin capital letter AE
À 192 Agrave 1 latin capital letter A with grave
à 224 agrave 1 latin small letter a with grave
8501 alefsym L alef symbol
Α 913 Alpha G greek capital letter alpha
α 945 alpha G greek small letter alpha
& 38 amp C ampersand
8743 and M logical and
8736 ang M angle
å 229 aring 1 latin small letter a with ring above
Å 197 Aring 1 latin capital letter A with ring above
8776 asymp M almost equal to
à 195 Atilde 1 latin capital letter A with tilde
ã 227 atilde 1 latin small letter a with tilde
Ä 196 Auml 1 latin capital letter A with diaeresis
ä 228 auml 1 latin small letter a with diaeresis
8222 bdquo U double low-9 quotation mark
Β 914 Beta G greek capital letter beta
β 946 beta G greek small letter beta
¦ 166 brvbar 1 broken bar
8226 bull P bullet
8745 cap M intersection
Ç 199 Ccedil 1 latin capital letter C with cedilla
ç 231 ccedil 1 latin small letter c with cedilla
¸ 184 cedil 1 cedilla
¢ 162 cent 1 cent sign
χ 967 chi G greek small letter chi
Χ 935 Chi G greek capital letter chi
ˆ 710 circ D modifier letter circumflex accent
9827 clubs S black club suit
8773 cong M approximately equal to
© 169 copy 1 copyright sign
8629 crarr A downwards arrow with corner leftwards
8746 cup M union
¤ 164 curren 1 currency sign
8224 dagger U dagger
8225 Dagger U double dagger
8659 dArr A downwards double arrow
8595 darr A downwards arrow
° 176 deg 1 degree sign
Δ 916 Delta G greek capital letter delta
δ 948 delta G greek small letter delta
9830 diams S black diamond suit
÷ 247 divide 1 division sign
é 233 eacute 1 latin small letter e with acute
É 201 Eacute 1 latin capital letter E with acute
Ê 202 Ecirc 1 latin capital letter E with circumflex
ê 234 ecirc 1 latin small letter e with circumflex
è 232 egrave 1 latin small letter e with grave
È 200 Egrave 1 latin capital letter E with grave
8709 empty M empty set
8195 emsp U em space
8194 ensp U en space
ε 949 epsilon G greek small letter epsilon
Ε 917 Epsilon G greek capital letter epsilon
8801 equiv M identical to
Η 919 Eta G greek capital letter eta
η 951 eta G greek small letter eta
ð 240 eth 1 latin small letter eth
Ð 208 ETH 1 latin capital letter ETH
ë 235 euml 1 latin small letter e with diaeresis
Ë 203 Euml 1 latin capital letter E with diaeresis
8364 euro U euro sign
8707 exist M there exists
ƒ 402 fnof I latin small f with hook
8704 forall M for all
½ 189 frac12 1 vulgar fraction one half
¼ 188 frac14 1 vulgar fraction one quarter
¾ 190 frac34 1 vulgar fraction three quarters
8260 frasl P fraction slash
Γ 915 Gamma G greek capital letter gamma
γ 947 gamma G greek small letter gamma
8805 ge M greater-than or equal to
> 62 gt C greater-than sign
8660 hArr A left right double arrow
8596 harr A left right arrow
9829 hearts S black heart suit
8230 hellip P horizontal ellipsis
í 237 iacute 1 latin small letter i with acute
Í 205 Iacute 1 latin capital letter I with acute
î 238 icirc 1 latin small letter i with circumflex
Î 206 Icirc 1 latin capital letter I with circumflex
¡ 161 iexcl 1 inverted exclamation mark
Ì 204 Igrave 1 latin capital letter I with grave
ì 236 igrave 1 latin small letter i with grave
8465 image L blackletter capital I
8734 infin M infinity
8747 int M integral
Ι 921 Iota G greek capital letter iota
ι 953 iota G greek small letter iota
¿ 191 iquest 1 inverted question mark
8712 isin M element of
Ï 207 Iuml 1 latin capital letter I with diaeresis
ï 239 iuml 1 latin small letter i with diaeresis
Κ 922 Kappa G greek capital letter kappa
κ 954 kappa G greek small letter kappa
λ 955 lambda G greek small letter lambda
Λ 923 Lambda G greek capital letter lambda
9001 lang T left-pointing angle bracket
« 171 laquo 1 left-pointing double angle quotation mark
8592 larr A leftwards arrow
8656 lArr A leftwards double arrow
8968 lceil T left ceiling
8220 ldquo U left double quotation mark
8804 le M less-than or equal to
8970 lfloor T left floor
8727 lowast M asterisk operator
9674 loz E lozenge
8206 lrm U left-to-right mark
8249 lsaquo U single left-pointing angle quotation mark
8216 lsquo U left single quotation mark
< 60 lt C less-than sign
¯ 175 macr 1 macron
8212 mdash U em dash
µ 181 micro 1 micro sign
· 183 middot 1 middle dot
8722 minus M minus sign
Μ 924 Mu G greek capital letter mu
μ 956 mu G greek small letter mu
8711 nabla M nabla
  160 nbsp 1 no-break space
8211 ndash U en dash
8800 ne M not equal to
8715 ni M contains as member
¬ 172 not 1 not sign
8713 notin M not an element of
8836 nsub M not a subset of
ñ 241 ntilde 1 latin small letter n with tilde
Ñ 209 Ntilde 1 latin capital letter N with tilde
Ν 925 Nu G greek capital letter nu
ν 957 nu G greek small letter nu
ó 243 oacute 1 latin small letter o with acute
Ó 211 Oacute 1 latin capital letter O with acute
Ô 212 Ocirc 1 latin capital letter O with circumflex
ô 244 ocirc 1 latin small letter o with circumflex
Π338 OElig O latin capital ligature OE
œ 339 oelig O latin small ligature oe
ò 242 ograve 1 latin small letter o with grave
Ò 210 Ograve 1 latin capital letter O with grave
8254 oline P overline
ω 969 omega G greek small letter omega
Ω 937 Omega G greek capital letter omega
Ο 927 Omicron G greek capital letter omicron
ο 959 omicron G greek small letter omicron
8853 oplus M circled plus
8744 or M logical or
ª 170 ordf 1 feminine ordinal indicator
º 186 ordm 1 masculine ordinal indicator
Ø 216 Oslash 1 latin capital letter O with stroke
ø 248 oslash 1 latin small letter o with stroke
Õ 213 Otilde 1 latin capital letter O with tilde
õ 245 otilde 1 latin small letter o with tilde
8855 otimes M circled times
Ö 214 Ouml 1 latin capital letter O with diaeresis
ö 246 ouml 1 latin small letter o with diaeresis
182 para 1 pilcrow sign
8706 part M partial differential
8240 permil U per mille sign
8869 perp M up tack
φ 966 phi G greek small letter phi
Φ 934 Phi G greek capital letter phi
Π 928 Pi G greek capital letter pi
π 960 pi G greek small letter pi
ϖ 982 piv G greek pi symbol
± 177 plusmn 1 plus-minus sign
£ 163 pound 1 pound sign
8243 Prime P double prime
8242 prime P prime
8719 prod M n-ary product
8733 prop M proportional to
ψ 968 psi G greek small letter psi
Ψ 936 Psi G greek capital letter psi
34 quot C quotation mark
8730 radic M square root
9002 rang T right-pointing angle bracket
» 187 raquo 1 right-pointing double angle quotation mark
8658 rArr A rightwards double arrow
8594 rarr A rightwards arrow
8969 rceil T right ceiling
8221 rdquo U right double quotation mark
8476 real L blackletter capital R
® 174 reg 1 registered sign
8971 rfloor T right floor
Ρ 929 Rho G greek capital letter rho
ρ 961 rho G greek small letter rho
8207 rlm U right-to-left mark
8250 rsaquo U single right-pointing angle quotation mark
8217 rsquo U right single quotation mark
8218 sbquo U single low-9 quotation mark
Š 352 Scaron O latin capital letter S with caron
š 353 scaron O latin small letter s with caron
8901 sdot M dot operator
§ 167 sect 1 section sign
­ 173 shy 1 soft hyphen
Σ 931 Sigma G greek capital letter sigma
σ 963 sigma G greek small letter sigma
ς 962 sigmaf G greek small letter final sigma
8764 sim M tilde operator
9824 spades S black spade suit
8834 sub M subset of
8838 sube M subset of or equal to
8721 sum M n-ary sumation
8835 sup M superset of
¹ 185 sup1 1 superscript one
² 178 sup2 1 superscript two
³ 179 sup3 1 superscript three
8839 supe M superset of or equal to
ß 223 szlig 1 latin small letter sharp s
Τ 932 Tau G greek capital letter tau
τ 964 tau G greek small letter tau
8756 there4 M therefore
Θ 920 Theta G greek capital letter theta
θ 952 theta G greek small letter theta
ϑ 977 thetasym G greek small letter theta symbol
8201 thinsp U thin space
Þ 222 THORN 1 latin capital letter THORN
þ 254 thorn 1 latin small letter thorn with
˜ 732 tilde D small tilde
× 215 times 1 multiplication sign
8482 trade L trade mark sign
ú 250 uacute 1 latin small letter u with acute
Ú 218 Uacute 1 latin capital letter U with acute
8657 uArr A upwards double arrow
8593 uarr A upwards arrow
û 251 ucirc 1 latin small letter u with circumflex
Û 219 Ucirc 1 latin capital letter U with circumflex
Ù 217 Ugrave 1 latin capital letter U with grave
ù 249 ugrave 1 latin small letter u with grave
¨ 168 uml 1 diaeresis
ϒ 978 upsih G greek upsilon with hook symbol
υ 965 upsilon G greek small letter upsilon
Υ 933 Upsilon G greek capital letter upsilon
ü 252 uuml 1 latin small letter u with diaeresis
Ü 220 Uuml 1 latin capital letter U with diaeresis
8472 weierp L script capital P
ξ 958 xi G greek small letter xi
Ξ 926 Xi G greek capital letter xi
ý 253 yacute 1 latin small letter y with acute
Ý 221 Yacute 1 latin capital letter Y with acute
¥ 165 yen 1 yen sign
ÿ 255 yuml 1 latin small letter y with diaeresis
Ÿ 376 Yuml O latin capital letter Y with diaeresis
Ζ 918 Zeta G greek capital letter zeta
ζ 950 zeta G greek small letter zeta
8205 zwj U zero width joiner
8204 zwnj U zero width non-joiner

Section Description
P General punctuation
A Arrows
1 General characters
C Controls and basic latin
S Miscellaneous symbols
D Spacing modified letters
T Miscellaneous technical characters
U General punctuation (special characters)
E Geometric shapes
G Greek symbols
I Latin extended B
L Letterlike symbols
M Mathematical operators
O Latin extended A

AT&T U-Verse – Internet

AT&T offers three separate services through their U-Verse branded advance communications offering.  This post will deal with high speed internet.

Essentially AT&T U-Verse internet is DSL broadband — though at much higher rates that you’re likely used to… the particulars of the speed offering depends on the package you pay for.

  • Max Turbo – Up to 24 Mbps downstream Starting at $65/month
  • Max Plus – Up to 18.0 Mbps downstream Starting at $55/month
  • Max – Up to 12.0 Mbps downstream Starting at $45/month
  • Elite – Up to 6.0 Mbps downstream Starting at $43/month
  • Pro – Up to 3.0 Mbps downstream Starting at $38/month

Upstream bandwidth increases with downstream, and is generally much more generous than AT&T’s older ADSL plans; though the pricing of the lower bandwidth U-Verse services aren’t as attractive as the older AT&T ADSL plans (particularly with the promotions you can probably still get for the older ADSL combined with voice or even “naked” DSL plans)..

Not shown on their ordering information is a 30 Mbps downstream plan to be offered later this Summer that will ahve a 5 Mbps upstream.

Remember from my earlier post — you must use the AT&T residential gateway.  The gateway is a descent piece of consumer technology, though I’m not sure it’s a very high performance internet router.

My tests of it show that it’s definitely capable of sustaining the advertised bandwidth of your connection (and you really get the bandwidth your order); however, my tests also show that the router isn’t capable of sustaining a large number of simultaneous connections without rather dramatic performance degradation.

Which mean in plan old English — if you’re going to do Peer-To-Peer file sharing, the AT&T residential gateway will not be your friend… you’re probably going to end up having to reset it every day or two to keep it running well (I’ve noted that simply shutting down the connections doesn’t seem to help — but that could be that other P2P nodes are continuing to bombard your IP address).

For most people P2P isn’t a requirement, and certainly most people won’t be doing P2P much — and if they do, they certainly understand how to discontinue P2P services and reset the connection (remember it affects voice and video when you reset) when they need high speed connectivity for something else.

My gut tells me that the equipment is operating as designed — and intended to enforce a “fair use” policy by penalizing individuals who try and do P2P (after all — unlimited really doesn’t mean as much as you want, it means as much as your provider is willing to let you have).

And my gut feeling about the router operating as designed is further re-enforced by the fact that a great deal of though has been put into the design of the software and interface for the router… it will do pretty much anything any use will need for it to do (don’t think along the lines of a Cisco router with IOS, think along the lines of a prosumer / SOHO router).

Overall, my feelings are that the AT&T U-Verse Internet is a good deal, that it performs well, and at the high speed levels (well, not at the highest — I think there you’re getting gouged) it’s a reasonably fair price, and a very solid technology.

U-Verse Internet is really all I wanted from AT&T; and it’s the one service I will keep.


ASUS has release a series of “thin client” devices that they call the Eee PC, it comes in three basic models (the Eee PC Surf and Eee PC look identical, but the Surf versions apparently aren’t easily upgraded; and then there’s the Eee PC 900 which has a larger display).

The Eee PC Surf is available with either 2GB or 4GB; the Eee PC is available with either 4GB or 8GB — both have a 7″ screen.

The Eee 900 is available with either 12GB (Linux) or 20GB (Windows) and has a 8.9″ screen.

All of the use Intel processors… for more information just go to ASUS, and I’ll save you the pain of going through their cute presentation:

Eee PC  Eee PC Surf & Eee PC

Eee PC 900  Eee PC 900

Media Com

OK, so I thought Comcast was bad…

After I first moved I had Cox Cable — and it was great.  The installation happened exactly as they promised; I consistently got 15 mb/s down stream out of the 20 mb/s down stream burst they promised, and it was at a fair price.

Then, of course, I bought a house and moved in, and Cox didn’t service my new address — Media Com ( mediacomcc.com ) did…

So I went to the office to order service since there didn’t seem to be any way to do it online.

When I got to the office, and stood in line for about half an hour, I came to find out that they couldn’t setup cable service for me since the address had never had cable and wasn’t in their database and the person who added addresses would take two to three days to complete it.  But I was told that they would call me as soon as my address had been entered.

Never received a call… so I stopped back by the middle of the next week.

My address had indeed been ordered; and I was able to order Internet service (actually TV plus Internet was $0.10 cheaper than Internet alone, so I got both — not that either option was what I’d consider a fair price).

The installer arrived within the window provided; but didn’t actually have everything to complete the installation (no outside box — so he just wired the splitter up with no protection from the elements and promised to come back within a couple days to install the box).

There wasn’t a problem bringing up the Internet (it was a self install) — I can’t tell you anything about the TV service since my TVs (to this day) still remain in the boxes from the move.

The first thing I noticed was that the connection was slow (we’re talking very slow); but I didn’t panic right away and call technical support because I knew that on many system the modem might take 72-hours to provision correctly.

After a few days I started to run speed tests… they consistently showed that I was getting around 400 kb/s down stream out of the 8 mb/s advertised (but, of course, not guaranteed).  I might have been happy with 4 mb/s, but less than 2 mb/s meant that the connection would not be usable.

I placed a call to technical support and of course had to wade through all there attempts to deflect the problem as something I was doing.  Finally they decided that there must be a problem and scheduled an appointment for a four hour window the next Monday (almost a week in the future) with a 30 minute notice call.

Sunday evening came around and their automated system called me to confirm my appointment.  I pressed the button on my cell phone and the appointment was confirmed.

Monday I’d arranged my schedule to be around the house all afternoon… fifteen minutes before the close of their window (fifteen minutes after their notice period had expired) I called technical support.

The first thing I heard was… “we still have fifteen minutes” — then I pointed out that no, since I’d been promised a call 30 minutes before the service technician arrived that they’d officially missed the window.

A little more checking and they discovered that my appointment had been cancelled by the local office because they’d determined the problem was with the head-end and not in my home — of course no one had bother to notify me that I didn’t need to be available.

Immediately the technician offered me a credit for the missed appointment — I ask to speak to a supervisor.

The supervisor assured me that I should have been notified; but he was unable to provide me any information about when I could expect a resolution to the problem — so he committed to have someone call me back within 72-hours.

I stressed to him that if Media Com couldn’t honor simple commitments that I would switch my service to AT&T ADSL.

The week passed, and no return call – so I called in again, go a promise of a call back… and to this day I’ve never received a call back.  I also filed an online support ticket that’s never been answered.

The day after I had AT&T ADSL installed (which gives my consistently 5 mb/s downstream out of the 6 mb/s promised) I returned the equipment to the local Media Com office… and was ask why — I recanted the story so that everyone waiting in line could hear it.

The woman didn’t seem to be the list bit surprised, and never offered an apology.

The following week I called up to make sure that my account was closed and to insure that the 30-day money back guarantee was honored… the person I spoke with just happen to be a supervisor and was actually the first person who genuinely apologized without me needing to underscore how pathetic their customer service had been.

I could have lived with the poor Internet service for some period of time had I believed that the company was actually customer focused and that they would honor their commitments.  Further, I would have been far more willing to work with them had their customer service actually apologized right off, and made me feel that mine was the exception and not the norm.

BUT… 400 kb/s — come on… my cell phone does better than that!!!

Domain Registrars and Hosting Companies

All domain registrars and hosting companies aren’t created equally…

If all you need from your domain registrar is just to get a domain, then find the absolute cheapest (and many have discounts for some TLDs from time to time)… but in general you might want DNS services, web redirects, email, etc… or even a full blown hosting plan — so it’s work looking around.

My domains are registered with, and hosted by 1and1.com — do I think they are the best… NO, but I do think they have a very good price for the services I happen to want, and their system works reasonably well.

But before you make a decision, you really need to decide what services you want, and look to see who offers what.

Ask your friends, a personal recommendation is one of the best ways to narrow the field.  Remember, though, not everyone wants the same services, so make sure you ask what services your friends get from the various companies, any problems they’ve had, anything they particularly like or dislike — and ask if they chose it because of a special promotional price.  The best deal today, won’t always be the best deal tomorrow.

Do you need your hosting company and your registrar to be the same?  Well, no you don’t…  Often though you’re going to find you get a better price overall by having the be the same.  That said, if you’re looking to move your domains from one place to another you might want to “try before you buy”.

I’d say the only requirement that a company has to have for you to consider them is a “money back guarantee”.  You can look over the information, play with their dummy control panel, etc all you want… but you won’t know if you like it (and it does the job) until you actually try to use it.

Most reputable hosting companies provide a 30-day money back guarantee.  I certainly ended up taking advantage of that at an “unlimited” hosting company.  And that’s something you just need to be sure they have.

The other thing to look at is what the contract term is for a reasonable price.  Some companies want you to sign up for three or four years to get a good price.  My advice is go with someone who gives you a competative price for thee to six months, and maybe even is offering a promotional package that extends the time you pay for.  Never sign up for more than a year unless it’s some incredible price, and then consider whether the company is likely going to be in business for the duration of the contract — and make sure they have a money back guarantee — and pay by credit card.

What if you only need domain registration?

Well, look at the prices charged, and any extra fees imposed.  You can check what the ICANN fee is currently, and contrast that with what the company is providing.  Odds are, though, you do want more than just a domain registration unless you do your own DNS, eMail, web, and blogs…

Here’s a partial list of feature you will probably want to consider:


  • DNS (types of records you can create — additional domains, secondary domains)
  • email (POP, IMAP, SMTP — SSL/TLS — how many domains, how many accounts, forwarders, responders)
  • web (PHP, ASP, PERL, dot NET — how much storage, how much transfer, additional domains, secondary domains)
  • web applications (blogs, web page editors, etc)
  • database (MySQL, Postgress, Oracle, SQL Server — how large, how many)
  • access (FTP, Telnet, SSH, SFTP, SCP, WebDAV)

Here are a few companies to get you started:

  • JustHost
  • 1and1
  • NameCheap
  • Dotster
  • GoDaddy

And do an internet search on hosting companies – that will return quite a few.  Be mindful, many companies do business under multiple names.  I don’t generally consider this a very ethical practice; but not all companies who do this are dishonest.


One final personal note.

If NameCheap had more competative prices for hosting packages, and provided IMAP email I’d probably still be using them.  They do charge a little more than say 1and1, but they provide users the ability to control most every aspect of their domains.

I just moved all my domains from NameCheap to 1and1 when I decide I wanted to outsource my email, web, and blogs…

ASUSTek Computer Inc (Asus)

This is from one of my friends, send to Teresa Perdue ( tsd@asus.com.tw ) of ASUSTek Computer Inc ( http://www.asus.com.tw/ or http://usa.asus.com/ ).

I’d considered buying an Aus Eee PC… but I think I might be happier with a sub-notebook from one of their competitors.

I’ve removed the personally information (except for Teresa’s).



Thank you for informing my that my motherboard is out of warranty and that you will not replace then fan.

In my opinion, this is not a warranty issue.  Warranties generally protect one from a product that happens to be bad.  Most reputable companies replace any item that is poorly designed or has an unusually high failure rate regardless of the warranty period.

I would like for you to know that I am very disappointed with Asus.  On your website you even say that the original fan did not work properly.
Also, there are numerous forums on the Internet that talk about the problem s with the AN8SLI chipset fan.

I have already had one Asus motherboard fail because of a chipset fan that failed.

I have probably built about 100 computers in the last ten years almost all of which used Asus motherboards.  It now seems that you are having quality control issues and that I will have to use a different brand of motherboard in the future.

I have just ordered two fans from your eStore.

Please understand that it is not the cost of the fans that is an issue.  My total charge, including shipping, is $22.00 which is insignificant.  What is significant is that I have learned that I cannot rely on Asus to replace faulty products.  I am unwilling to risk purchasing products from a company that doesn’t stand behind the quality of their workmanship.

This email is being copied to all of the other system builders with whom I work and will be copied to all system builder forums to which I belong.



Credit or Debit

When you use your check card bearing a VISA or Master Card logo at a merchant to pay for a transaction you’re given a choice of how the point of sale transaction will be settled — and that’s generally presented to you as “credit” or “debit”.

Should you care which?


Most merchants would prefer that you choose to settle the point of sale transaction as a debit; and the reason is very simple — money.  Most any merchant will make more from a debit card transaction than a credit transaction (but remember, they’ve built in the credit card charges to their pricing – so you’re not benefiting in the least).  Plus, the funds will be removed from your account almost instantly.  Also, when you choose to do a point of sale transaction as debit, you’ll have to enter your PIN (just like when you use an ATM).  While you might think having to use your PIN is far more secure, in point of fact you’re exposing sensitive information in a public setting — numerous times criminals have compromised merchant networks and obtained both customer debit card account numbers and their PINs.  Keep in mind, even if you can show that your number was used fraudulently, it will take a great deal of effort and time to get your money back — and that might just be the beginning of the nightmare.


When you decide that your transaction will be settled through the VISA or Master Card network (just like a credit card would be) by hitting the “credit” button you will get all the protection that would be afforded to you had you used a credit card.  Federal law protects credit card users; but both VISA and Master Card go beyond the scope of law with their zero liability programs; and if somehow your account is compromised having funds conditionally credited back to you is a simple phone call (and perhaps notarized affidavit) away.  Sure, it might cost the merchant more money for the transaction; but it doesn’t cost you more.  Plus, while the funds to cover the transaction might be placed on hold, they will remain in your account (earning interest perhaps) for several days.  Additionally, if your financial institution has a rewards programs, generally you only earn points in it with credit transactions (that’s because your financial institution makes more money when you choose a credit transaction as well).  Finally, since the transaction settles through the VISA or Master Card network; the fraud prevention systems of VISA or Master Card, in addition to any your financial institution come into play.

Why on Earth would anyone choose to do debit card transaction (using a PIN) when a credit transaction is much, much safer for the individual, and simpler (though you can argue if you have to enter your ZIP code you’ve typed one more digit than your PIN)???

Bottom line — choose wisely; choose credit!

VISA Master Card

NOTE: For debit cards issued by non-US financial institutions; or cards not bearing the VISA or Master Card logos, please contact your issuing financial institution or consult governing laws in your jurisdiction.

Windows Symbolic Links

I really hate to use drive letters; that’s the one thing Windows has inherited from DOS that should have been eliminated a very long time ago; or at least made into an “alias” and deprecated as a “fixture”.

NTFS has supported reparse points for a fairly long time; you may well have seen the type “<JUNCTION>” when you did a directory list from the command line.

Reparse points are a fairly generic phrase for a set of features that have grown in NTFS over the years, and they’re effectively the same as *nix link (both hard and soft).

Here are some interesting things you can do with reparse points using the MKLINK tool that ships with Windows 7.

You can create a file reference in a number of directories; that only consumes a directory entry, the file only exists a single time on the disk… if you make it a hard link (the default is a soft link) the file isn’t deleted until all links are deleted.

You can do the same with a directory — make it appear in more than one location.

You can make references across file systems (including drives and the network) just as easily.

For me, I use it to create references to network resources so that they appear on a local machine (I used to use DFS mainly for this and map a single drive letter)…

Anyway, this is another seldomly used feature of Windows that can really help to make it a much more usable system — unfortunately for those it would benefit the most, it’s difficult for them to setup the symbolic links.

Microsoft WebsiteSpark

A program that offers visibility, support and software for professional Web Developers and Designers

If you company has ten or fewer employees, has been around for less than three years, and you provide services, support, and hosting to businesses that develop web sites and applications you might qualify for deeply discounted Windows Web Server and SQL Server Web Edition (like free or nearly free).

You can get more information at the Microsoft® WebsiteSpark page…

Microsoft® WebsiteSpark

Hyper-V Server

With the release of Windows Server 2008 Microsoft made a huge step forward in releasing thin, high-performance hyper-visor for machine virtualization – Hyper-V.

Microsoft has also baited the market by offering a free version of Windows Server 2008 specifically designed to be a virtualization host; Hyper-V Server.

I decide to play with Windows Server 2008 with Hyper-V and Hyper-V Server to get a feel for what it could do.

Installation is a snap; much the same as Vista.

With Windows Server 2008 with Hyper-V everything goes very smoothly and just works.  You can use the Hyper-V manager to setup virtual machines, run them, stop them, etc.  But one thing you want to while you have Windows Server 2008 up and running is figure out everything you need to do to remotely connect to manage Hyper-V and Server 2008 from your workstation because Hyper-V server isn’t going to allow you to do much from the console.

To say it’s a little complicated to get remote Hyper-V management working is an understatement; after I figured it out I found a tool that can help automate the setup — makes like much easier.

The one thing I never got working from Vista x64 was remote management of Windows Server 2008 – and you really need that as well (remember you don’t get much capability from the console).  I’ll probably play with that a little more; and certainly I’ll get it working before I deploy any Hyper-V servers (it’s not a huge problem if you have a Windows Server 2008 machine already, remote management of other Windows Server 2008 boxes just works).

Now after the headache of getting everything configured properly it was time to put Hyper-V through it’s paces.

First task, migrate a machine over from Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP2… piece of cake — copy over the VHD files, create a machine, hookup the disks (back track since Hyper-V seems to have a fairly set directory format for machines and disks — so if you create a new machine on Hyper-V first you’ll see the layout).  Boot the machine, connect, remove the virtual machine additions, reboot, install the new virtual machine files — asks to update the HAL (say yes), reboot, and finally install the new virtual machine files, reboot, re-generate the SID and rename the machine (I still have the old one, and I don’t want confusion)… and everything works great.  Shutdown the machine, add a second processor, start it up… and a dual processor virtual machine is born.

I migrated over 32-bit XP Professional; did a test install of 64-bit Server 2003… and every thing worked just fine.

Don’t get carried away just yet.

There’s a couple gotchas with this.

  • To effectively use the free Hyper-V Server you either need a Windows Server 2008 (full install) or you need to get the remote tools working from your workstation; that’s non-trivial.
  • To run Hyper-V Server or Windows Server 2008 with Hyper-V you need a machine with hardware virtualization and execute disable (which really isn’t that uncommon these days, just make sure your BIOS has those features enabled).
  • Once you migrate a machine to Hyper-V there’s no automated way to go back to Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP2 (sure you can probably do it — but it’s going to be a pain).
  • To get performance out of Hyper-V you really need to use SCSI virtual disks; right now Microsoft doesn’t support booting from SCSI disks in Hyper-V since they only support the para-virtualized SCSI interface.  So to get performance you have to have an IDE boot disk and run off SCSI disks (not exactly a common installation, so you probably won’t be converting any physical machines like that — and seems like it’s a nightmare just waiting to unfold).

Fortunately I’m not in a huge hurry to move to Hyper-V; I’m fairly certain since it’s a corner stone of Microsoft’s push to own the virtual infrastructure market I suspect we’ll see the issues that prevent it from being all that it can be resolved quickly.

And I’ll close with an up-note… WOW — the performance was very impressive… I really wish I had a test machine with lots of spindles to see what kind of load I could realistically put on it.