SCX Evolutions

During the beta of the Cross-Platform extensions and of System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2, the product team had promised to eventually release the SCX Providers'source code.

Now that this promise has been mantained, and the SCX providers have been released on Codeplex at http://xplatproviders.codeplex.com/ it should be finally possible to entirely build your own unsupported agent package, starting from source code, without having to modify the original package as I have shown earlier on this blog.
Of course this will still be unsupported by Microsoft Product support, but will eventually work just fine!
This is an extraordinary event in my opinion, as it is not a common event that Microsoft releases code as open source, especially when this is part of one of the product it sells. I suspect we will see more of this as we going forward.

Also, at R2 release time, some official documentation about buildilng Cross-Plaform Management Packs has been published on Technet.

Anyway, I have in the past posted a number of posts on my blog under this tag http://www.muscetta.com/tag/xplat/ (I will continue to use that tag going forward) which show/describe how I hacked/modified both the existing MPs AND the SCX agent package to let it run on unsupported distributions (and I think they are still useful as they show a number of techniques about how to test, understand and troubleshoot the Xplat agent a bit. In fact, I have first learned how to understand and modify the RedHat MPs to monitor CentOS and eventually even modified the RPM package to run on Ubuntu (which also works on Debian 5/Lenny), eventually, as you can see because I am now using it to monitor – from home, across the Internet – the machine running this blog:

www.muscetta.com Performance in OpsMgr

Or even, with or without OpsMgr 2007 R2, you could write your own scripts to interact with those providers, by using your favourite Scripting Language.

After all, those experimentations with Xplat got me a fame of being a "Unix expert at Microsoft" (this expression still makes me laugh), as I was tweeting here:
Unix expert at Microsoft

But really, I have never hidden my interest for interoperability and the fact that I have been using Linux quite a bit in the past, and still do.

Also, one more related information is that the fine people at Xandros have released their Bridgeways Management Packs and at the same time also started their own blog at http://blog.xplatxperts.com/ where they discuss some troubleshooting techniques for the Xplat agent, both similar to what I have been writing about here and also – of course – specific to their own providers, that are in their XSM namespace.

Disclaimer

The information in this weblog is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights. This weblog does not represent the thoughts, intentions, plans or strategies of my employer. It is solely my own personal opinion. All code samples are provided "AS IS" without warranty of any kind, either express or implied, including but not limited to the implied warranties of merchantability and/or fitness for a particular purpose.
THIS WORK IS NOT ENDORSED AND NOT EVEN CHECKED, AUTHORIZED, SCRUTINIZED NOR APPROVED BY MY EMPLOYER, AND IT ONLY REPRESENT SOMETHING WHICH I'VE DONE IN MY FREE TIME. NO GUARANTEE WHATSOEVER IS GIVEN ON THIS. THE AUTHOR SHALL NOT BE MADE RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY DAMAGE YOU MIGHT INCUR WHEN USING THIS INFORMATION. The solution presented here IS NOT SUPPORTED by Microsoft.

Esha Tizafy

Esha Tizafy

Esha Tizafy gets born in Madagascar. She leaves her island when she's only seven years old with her parents, who arrive in Sicily, in Palermo, where she still lives.

Author, composer and singer, she follows a musical path that helps drawing a bridge across cultures.
Her research grows from tradition and modernity at the same time.

I had heard her in 2007 in a previous concert in Rome and she had found on Flickr the pictures I took in that occasion. Therefore she asked if I could take some new pictures next time she would hold a concert in my area. This occasion has been on the 9th of August, in Rome.

I hope that her record will be ready soon, because she really deserves to be heard! I also suggested she registers on last.fm and share something there. For now you can contact her on MySpace.

A Rant about Openness

It is interesting to see that a bunch of open source projects written on and for the Microsoft platform grows and grows, and also nice to see that a lot of Microsoft employees are very active and aware of the open source ecosystem, rather than being stuck with only what the company makes. Phil Haack, in a post about an interview to Brad Wilson,  wisely writes:

"[…] What I particularly liked about this post was the insight Brad provides on the diverse views of open source outside and inside of Microsoft as well as his own personal experience contributing to many OSS projects. It's hard for some to believe, but there are developers internal to Microsoft who like and contribute to various open source projects. […]"

In fact, being made by Microsoft people or not, the list of open source software on CodePlex keeps growing too. Mentioning CodePlex and interviews, another interesting one is that of Sara Ford, Program Manager for CodePlex posted on Microspotting. But Microspotting is awesome in general. My favorite quote by her:

"[…] Hey. My name is Ariel and I'm the person you thought would never work at MSFT […]".

In fact, just as I do, she is running that blog on WordPress, posting her photos on Flickr, using a RSS feed on Feedburner and in general using a bunch of things that are out there that might be seen as "competing" with what Microsoft makes. In fact, this attitude towards other products and vendors on the market is what I am mainly interested in. Should we only use flagship products? Sure, when they help us, but not necessarily. Who cares? People's blogs are not, as someone would like them to be, a coordinated marketing effort. This is about real people, real geeks, who just want to share and communicate personal ideas and thoughts. I had a blog before being at Microsoft, after all. Obviously I had exposure to competing products. My server was running LAMP on Novell Netware in 2002 – after which I moved it to Linux. It is not a big deal. And if I try to put things in perspective, in fact, this is turning out to be an advantage. I am saying this, as the latest news about interoperability comes from MMS (Microsoft Management Summit): and that is the announcement that System Center Operations Manager will monitor Linux natively. I find this to be extremely exciting, and a step in the right direction… to say it all I am LOVING this!!! But at the same time I see some other colleagues in technical support that are worrying and being scared by this – "if we do monitor Linux and Unix, we are supposed to have at least some knowledge on those systems", they are asking. Right. We probably do. At the moment there are probably only a limited number of people that actually can do that, at least in my division. But this is because in the past they must have sacrificed their own curiosity to become "experts" in some very narrow and "specialized" thing. Here we go. On the opposite, I kept using Linux – even when other "old school" employees would call me names. All of a sudden, someone else realizes my advantage.  …but a lot of geeks already understood the power of exploration, and won't stop defining people by easy labels. Another cool quote I read the other day is what Jimmy Schementi has written in his Flickr profile:

"[…] I try to do everything, and sometimes I get lucky and get good at something […]".

Reading on his blog it looks like he also gave up on trying to write a Twitter plugin for MSNLive Messenger (or maybe he never tried, but at least I wanted to do that, instead) and wrote it for Pidgin instead.  Why did he do that ? I don't know, I suppose because it was quicker/easier – and there were API's and code samples to start from.

The bottom line, for me, is that geeks are interested in figuring out cool things (no matter what language or technology they use) and eventually communicating them. They tend to be pioneers of technologies. They try out new stuff. Open Source development is a lot about agility and "trying out" new things. Another passage of Brad's interview says:

"[…] That's true–the open source projects I contribute to tend to be the "by developer, for developer" kind, although I also consume things that are less about development […] Like one tool that I've used forever is the GIMP graphics editor, which I love a lot".

That holds true, when you consider that a lot of these things are not really mainstream. Tools made "by developer, for developer" are usually a sort of experimental ground. Like Twitter. Every geek is talking about Twitter these days, but you can't really say that it is mainstream. Twitter has quite a bunch of interesting aspects, though, and that's why geeks are on it. Twitter lets me keep up-to-date quicker and better (and with a personal, conversational touch) even better than RSS feeds and blogs do. Also, there are a lot of Microsofties on Twitter. And the cool thing is that yo can really talk to everybody, at any level. Not just everybody "gets" blogs, social networks, and microblogging. Of course you cannot expect everybody to be on top of the tech news, or use experimental technologies. So in a way stuff like Twitter is "by geeks, for geeks" (not really just for developers – there's a lot of "media" people on Twitter). Pretty much in the same way, a lot of people I work with (at direct contact, everyday) only found out about LinkedIN during this year (2008!). I joined Orkut and LinkedIN in 2004. Orkut was in private beta, back then. A lot of this stuff never becomes mainstream, some does. But it is cool to discover it when it gets born. How long did it take for Social Networking to become mainstream? So long that when it is mainstream for others, I have seen it for so long that I am even getting tired of it.

For some reason, geeks love to be pioneers. This is well expressed in a digression by Chris Pratley:

"[…] some of them we will be putting out on officelabs.com for the general public (you folks!) to try so we can understand how "normal" people would use these tools. Now of course, as we bloggers and blog-readers know, we're not actually normal – you could even debate whether the blogosphere is more warped than the set of Microsoft employees, who comprise an interesting cross-section of job types, experiences, and cultures. But I digress. […]"

But I have been digressing, too, all along. As usual.

reportr – Show your Flickrness!

reportr - Show your Flickrness!

How many times you have gone somewhere (public demonstration, event, concert, etc) where yo saw other people shooting photos and you though "some of them MUST be flickr'ers"…. but you never had the guts to go and introduce yourself?

Now it's time to show off that you are a Flickr'er, and let other people figure it out.

Polo:

www.cafepress.com/cp/customize/product.aspx?clear=true&am…

Cap:

www.cafepress.com/cp/customize/product.aspx?clear=true&am…
NOTE:

This is just an idea and it is NOT endorsed by Flickr itself.

Also, I do not get any money for it – those are just the prices imposed by the online shop used to create them. I just thought it was a funny idea and I wanted to share it.

Popfly Virtual Earth Mashup on Moonlight

Popfly Virtual Earth Mashup on Moonlight

Installed moonlight on Ubuntu from source by following these instructions (there are some typo's but they are understandable and correctable).

All in all, even being still under heavy development, what Miguel de Icaza has achieved (with moonlight, just like with mono) is amazing.

After I posted the above picture on Flickr, John Montgomery was amazed to see PopFly (his creature) working on moonlight, and he linked to me from his blog.

Of different digital expressions and Blogs

Pool

"I have not posted in a while" …well you certainly will have read tons of posts beginning this way, right?
But that's the truth. One of the reasons is that you can follow very well a lot of what I do and write elsewhere on the Internet by using my lifestream RSS feed, which includes much more than just what I post on this blog. Our minds are not stuck on one subject matter only, but our thoughs just go around in many different directions. I mentioned the integrated feed/lifestream in a previous post, but I found that the concept gets explained very well by Yongfook in this post:

"[…] We interact with various websites and create content on them – why should I then have to come to my own website and reconstruct, repost or repackage the same content? It already exists out there on the internet, and it’s grabbable and usable. This is not to say I think conventional blogging is dead. I do however think it is evolving. The pace at which we consume and create content – photos, videos, links etc – is getting faster, more frequent. If we wanted to republish everything manually on our blogs, we’d just run out of time. […]"

So at least even if this SITE does not get updated often you can see I have quite a busy digital public life on the web.

Very interesting to also read this post by Scott Hanselman on the subject. He rather just focuses on twitter/microblogging as an evolved form of blogging which was getting boring and time-consuming to people:

"[…] The rise of blogs brought conversations on the 'net more out in the open. Blogging enabled conversation via essay, but as blogs have matured, posts have gotten longer and longer and threads more difficult to follow. Now, most posts are jumping off points for the more interesting conversations that inevitably move to the comments. […]"

He then goes into more detailed/structured analysis of what you can or could do with Twitter. While his analysis is pretty good about the many ways you could use Twitter as a broadcasting tool (and in fact loads of companies do already), I rather use it as public instant messaging. Or maybe not just. I don't actually know and to be honest I am not too much into classifying things, really. For example, if classifying what this blog is… I really am not sure I know myself what this blog is. It has been very funny when other people have tried to classify it… one said it was about "programming" (that would be nice, if I really was a better developer!), other people said it was "personal", other thought it was just about "IT" in general… Heck, there is no classification possible I am afraid. Therefore, not knowing what this blog is, I at least think that I know what this blog is NOT:

  • it isn't a marketing blog
  • I am not here trying to sell anything
  • I am not promoting anything, anyone, or any brand
  • It isn't just focused on one subject, on one area of interest

…and so are all my other "expressions" on the Net. Just me. Sprinkles of me all around. No special industrial plan for it. Just be myself. You might like me sometimes. You might hate me. You might not care at all. It's all good, anyway. Sorry for wasting your time.

Role Playing | Technology

Role Playing | Technology

Role Playing | Technology, uploaded by Daniele Muscetta on Flickr.

I had not been playing Role Playing Games anymore for nearly 15 years. My wife recently thought that Joshua would be big enough to try, so I am trying to introduce him to the world of RPGs. This, as you can imagine, after all of that time, took back memories, ideas, and also made me think of how much the technology changed this all.

I am not at all referring to VIDEO or ONLINE games, even those that are marketed as being RPGs: most of them are not "real" RPGs anyway, they merely borrow some rules. I am saying that technology changed the way people ORGANIZE and prepare their role playing gaming experience (=the one played with real RPGs where you have to ACT a character), and how they interact with each other, and how the "knowledge" spreads.

When I was playing RPG a lot, in the 80's and early 90's, everything was paper-based, no Internet and technology in sight. For example, we photocopied a lot of stuff back then, as opposed to today when I just downloaded and printed a character sheet. But it was not just printed material that was being photocopied: in those years I remember myself handwriting my own extended set of rules, manuals, scenarios, description of places (I even kept and found back some of those!). Everything was handwritten: text, drawings, maps. A lot of work, very hard to mantain. But passion was driving me (and my friends at that time too). That has also been a big enabler in how I taught myself to read and write english: by translating handbooks that nobody had translated in italian. But I digress.

We use to go to a couple of highly specialized shops that were able to import and resell one or two copies of some rare handbooks of a strange game that would otherwise not sell at all. Sometimes even the specialized shops did not manage to get the originals of some of those rare books. Therefore, some of the expansions were sold as photocopies.
Some other times there had been some guy somewhere who did have one copy bought in the US and he took the effort to make an UNofficial translation and TYPEWRITE it in italian. Photocopies of this "product" was all that was circulating.

I am not talking or caring of copyright or "pirate" issues here. We were not "avoiding" the original stuff: if anybody would have told us that the stuff we wanted was actually available in its original format, we would have bought it. But it just wasn't available at all, and we wanted it. This kind of material was really close to impossible to get, with high costs, and all that us busy kids wanted was books with descriptions of imaginary fantasy worlds to place our characters in, and improvise and narrate our stories and saga's…

Also, all in paper format, what was circulating was a certain number of fanzines, also photocopies of an original, wonderful, "master copy" that someone had made with a typewriter and sticking pictures with glue on the paper. Desktop publishing was not that common nor easy yet. But the layout is not really what interested me, it was the CONTENT that was hard to spread.

At one stage, the thing improved slightly: I finally managed to convince my parents that I was allowed to get a modem, so I started using it to connect to various BBS. A couple of those BBS of the time were related to RPGs or had a related discussion area. I was interested in technology and in knowing how it was doing its magic, but most of all I was also pretty excited at the possibilities I saw for the technology as an enabler in connecting people. Just like I am now.
I have met some good friends on BBS's at that time. I'm still in contact with some of them, I've lost some other ones, like it happens in life anyway. But the possibility was showing quite clearly: those BBS were mostly text-based, with high connection costs (in italy were you pay every call, also local ones, per minute)… even in those circumstances they were managing to aggregate some people and were used as vehicles to spread the knowledge.
In Italy, thought, they were mostly local. International calls were prohibitively expensive. Of course we did hear of what happened to similar BBS in the US.

In fact, after pencil and paper, through a typewriter, the revolution started there: being able to type stuff on a computer and pass your file over to someone else made it easier for it to spread. But again, I am not talking about copyrighted material. I am mostly talking about self-produced material. I still remember I had troubles with digitalizing maps because I did not own a scanner… on some of the BBS people were sharing their works, and you could find good adventures and extra stuff on them. I also got to publish somewhere a couple of those I had written, and they even made it on a fanzine first, and then on a real magazine.

At one stage, though, I really got distracted. I probably thought I was "big enough", or I got too interested in the "serious" computing business, or I was too busy with other stuff. Probably a combination of many factors. So I sort of abandoned playing for a long time.

Now, looking back at that world, more than a decade later, I can see how it all changed: you go to the Internet, use any search engine and find dozen if not hundred of sites with forums, people playing online using Live Messenger, people sharing their adventures or their stories of the adventures they have played, other sites that collect all of the covers and information about all the booklets and manuals ever existed for any possible version of any game. Even the vendors are giving out stuff to play for free.

PCs and the Internet DID change the world, if anyone was still doubting. And yes, Role Playing Games and computing ARE related interests.

The world changed, yet it stayed the same: you still play those games with people, with the help of your imagination. It's the resources that are now at your fingertips.

Updated RSS Feed for this blog

I got tired of using FeedBurner, really. So I made a much more flexible and "Complete" integrated feed that includes posts on this blog, my photos on Flickr, my Status Changes on Facebook and Twitter. Please update your aggregator if you were using the old feed (which still works btw, but will keep having less information in it).