The blogs of Black Marble staff

Leeds Hyper-V IT Camp

Tuesday’s IT Camp in Leeds was great fun and introduced lots of people to Hyper-V.

The day itself was very different to the normal events that we’ve seen or been part of; I think I counted two PowerPoint slides during the entire event! The attendees were given the opportunity to try out Microsoft’s Hyper-V Server installing it on a VHD on the file system on their own laptops. We’d brought a couple of laptops along with blank disks so that others could also play and these were snapped up very quickly.

Rik installing Hyper-V Server onto a laptop

As is usually the case, not all of the demos went entirely according to plan, however nobody present seemed to mind too much. Andy and Simon did a marvellous job working around the problems and keeping the event flowing. There was lots of enthusiasm for more events in Leeds – we’ll keep you posted when more dates in Leeds become available.

The event in full flow!

There were lots of specific questions both relating to Hyper-V and on other subjects, which we were pleased to help with. I hope that everyone who attended left with knowledge about, and enthusiasm for Hyper-V, which is what the day was all about. A good many of the attendees seemed to enjoy getting stuck in with Hyper-V server.

Along with Rik’s recommendations, I have a few additional resources related to Hyper-V that I use on a regular basis:

  • To allow remote administration of Hyper-V from a Windows 7 computer, you’ll need the remote server administration tools for Windows 7. After installing the appropriate package from the link above, the remote admin tools can be enabled from the ‘turn Windows features on or off’ area of Control Panel. A combination of the remote admin tools and John Howard’s HVRemote allows quick and easy setup of administration of Server Core or Hyper-V Server.
  • Tore Lervik’s Hyper-V Monitor Gadget allows quick and easy monitoring of Hyper-V virtual machines from your desktop – this is an invaluable tool to keep an eye on your virtual servers and those of us who look after our Hyper-V servers at Black Marble recommend it!
  • The Microsoft iSCSI Software Target was mentioned a couple of times during the event; I’ve used it a few times to create the shared storage that is required for a cluster. It’s a quick and easy setup and turns almost any old computer into storage suitable for building a cluster on. It’s even supported in production, and is completely free!
Andy and Simon are running more hands-on IT Camps; a full list can be found at – if there’s anything on the list that you’d like to see, get registered and come along!

A bit of an edge case – Using Git-TFS to get the best (or worst?) of both worlds


Whilst at the Microsoft MVP summit there are a number of MVP2MVP sessions, these are similar to DDD style sessions with MVPs presenting as opposed to Microsoft staff. One I found really interesting was one by Richard Banks based on his post on using GIT with TFS. Now this was a usage of source control tools I had not considered, a mixture of Git and TFS (or could be Git to SVN, similar tools are available)

Why do you want this usage? Especially with local workspaces coming in TFS11?

The simple answer is it allows a developer to have the advantage of Git’s multiple local versions of a given file, that they can branch, merge and rollback to as required. All prior to pushing all the changes up to a central TFS server (as opposed to GitHub or a company central Git repository).

OK lets face it this is an edge case, and it is not helped by the usage being command line driven, as opposed to be integrated with the IDE (real developers don’t use a UI or mouse, so that is OK – right?). So to try to make life a it easier I would suggest also installing Posh Git.


So what is required to get this running, if you like me a fairly new to Git there are a couple of gotcha’s. Here is the process I followed

I used Chocolaty (think Nuget for applications) to install tfsgit, this handles the dependency for the Git client

cinst tfsgit

Next I install poshgit

cinst poshgit

It is essential that you edit your Windows PATH environment variable to point to both the Git and the TFSGit folders as this is how Git picks up the extra Tfs commands, it should be something similar too this

PATH= $PATH;C:\Program Files (x86)\Git\cmd;C:\tools\gittfs

Finally for poshgit  you need runs its install script (in a PowerShell windows with elevated privileges), so it can report the number of file changes in the command prompt (note the prompt only changes when you are in a Git folder)

c:\tools\postgit\..some version\install.ps1

So hopefully this will get you going, so you can try this interesting edge case.

For more general chat on Git and distributed source control try this recent Herding Code podcast

Installing the TEE11 Beta as an upgrade to the plug-in in Eclipse

The big news today is is that Microsoft released the VS11 Beta, part of which is Team Explorer Everywhere (TEE). (Oh they also release something called Windows 8 too – whatever that is)

Whilst upgrading my TEE instance in Eclipse (Indigo) I hit the same gotcha as I had when I originally installed TEE (in Eclipse is in your ‘c:\programs files’). On Windows, if UAC is enabled you have to run Eclipse as administrator to do the plug-in else you get the error message.


As soon as you start Eclipse as administrator the upgrade works perfectly, you can then restart Eclipse as normal and all is OK

My Boss has brought his iPad! Consumer devices in corporate networks

There’s a new term in town – Consumerisation of IT. All of us who work in IT should care about this because it’s going to have a deep impact on the approach many of us have taken when deploying services to our organisations.

I don’t profess to be a thought leader on this topic, although I find it interesting that I have been dealing with the ‘problem’ here at Black Marble ever since we started up many moons ago. I may well post more about what we deliver in terms of services and solutions within the organisation later, but this article is intended to drive your attention to two important places.

The first is Simon May’s great article that briefly summarises some of the technology that’s already out there to help you embrace ‘unmanaged’ devices that want to access your services.

The second is to make you aware of the consumerisation-focused IT Camps that Simon May will be running, with the help of a few of the usual suspects (and myself). Simon’s plan is to take the same approach as we did at yesterday’s virtualisation camp – hand-on, grab the technology by the scruff of the neck and fasten together an example solution during the day. I’m really excited about this, because the area covers such a broad range of technologies, including Network Access Protection (NAP), Threat Management Gateway (TMG), Unified Access Gateway (UAG), Exchange, Forefront, System Centre and more. The first of those events is in Newcastle. Sadly I can’t make that one, but I will be at the Manchester event on May 9th. Take a look at the event series – there should be ones in a city near you. Register quick, though – they are filling fast.

IT Camp Leeds Roundup


Yesterday was great fun and I was really pleased to see so many Black Marble event regulars at the IT Camp. It was great to hear so many requests for more events like it in Leeds. We’re all keen to run more, but we need people to attend and give us feedback in order to be able to do that.

I hope those of you who were there took away useful knowledge from the event. Andy and Simon were very keen that it should not be a day of PowerPoint and canned demos and we certainly delivered that. Did we have technical issues that meant we had to change plans on the fly? Sure! Certainly nobody we spoke to seemed to mind. All of us from Black Marble thought the concept for the day – one of interaction, audience participation and trying to build systems on the fly – should be fun and we thought it was.

I believe that the TechNet UK folks were tweeting and posting links to some of the things we talked about yesterday but I thought it would do no harm to round some of them up here.

  • When we were talking about configuring remote management of hyper-v servers I mentioned HVRemote. This is a script written by John Howard that has been really useful for Andy and myself in the past. John’s blog has lots of really useful information about hyper-v and management, although he’s not posted for a while now.
  • Also a great source of information on hyper-v and virtualisation is Ben Armstrong (VPC-Guy).
  • The Virtualisation Team Blog is a good place for product info, announcements and knowledge.
  • Richard Fennell posts regularly on Lab Manager, which builds on Hyper-V and SCVMM to deliver great things for your dev and test teams. I thought either he or Andy had blogged about how we got Lab Manager 2010 working with a hyper-v cluster but it appears not. We’ll see if we can get something written up in that space.
  • Core Configurator  (currently at version 2.0) was something that was shown as a handy tool to control some of the settings on your Hyper-V server.
  • The Microsoft iSCSI Target is a free download. The Virtualisation Team blogged on it’s release.
  • For those of you who played with the Surface, we have some videos on YouTube of the Retail, Concierge and O7 game that were filmed at NRF 2012.

I’m really looking forward to other camps. Andy and Simon want to keep the hands-on approach so you can look forward to playing with an installed SCVMM solution in the follow-up virtualisation camp, and the consumerisation of IT camp should be wild as we try to cover how IT pros can deal with the variety of devices that our staff (and our bosses) want to use!

As always, the page of details about the events is here!

(Not) Using a Huawei E585 MIFI in the USA

I have an unlocked Hauwei E585 MIFI that I use around europe, avoiding roaming charges for my UK mobile contract. I buy a local pay as you go SIM for the appropriate country and off I go.

I thought I would try the same here in the USA, where I am for the MVP Summit. I bought a T-Mobile data SIM, but it did not work so well.

Basically the issue is one of aerials it seems. The E585 does not have the aerials it needs to connect for data in the USA, best it can do is a 2G connection, and even this seems to have issues, as mentioned in this post, that you need a phone SIM and not a data SIM. The bottom line seems to be the E585 is 2100MHz/900MHz UMTS only, AT&T are 850Mhz UMTS, T-Mobile will work on EDGE (2G) only. Verizon is CDMA. So it just just not going to work.

So next we tried it in other devices

  • In a LG E900 Windows Phone 7 it worked fine as a MIFI, but again only 2G/Edge so a bit sloooow, OK for email, but that was all.
  • Next it was a Samsung Windows 8 table form the Build conference, this was better, seemed to be 3G speeds (the icons did not mention the network type), but could not share its network connection

So the top tip? I think I need a US Mifi

Hands-on Microsoft IT Camps–we’ll be there and you should too!

Andy and I are really pleased to be able to help our friends at Microsoft with their latest idea for engaging with IT Professionals. Next week (Tuesday 28th February) sees the first in a series of new IT Camps taking place in Leeds. The idea is to run a full day event that is very light on PowerPoint and heavy on the hands-on, roll up your sleeves and install things as a group.

You can find information about the series of camps online. The magnificent Simon May and Andrew Fryer from Microsoft will be leading the camps, with support from myself, Andy and a range of great IT Pro MVPs. For instance Jon Noble, PowerShell MVP and NEBytes organiser will be helping with the Newcastle event.

Tuesday’s camp is all about Virtualisation and promises to be both engaging and educational. You’ll also find Black Marble faces assisting with a Virtualisation camp in Manchester on April 25th and also in Manchester on May 9th where the subject will be on consumerisation of IT and how we can manage mobile and desktop devices securely.

See you there!

TFS 11 and VS 11 Announcements

Microsoft have made a few announcements today

On Brian Harry’s Blog

  • In the TFS 11 range there will be a new download of TFS, called Team Foundation Server Express, that includes core developer features:
    • Source Code Control
    • Work Item Tracking
    • Build Automation
    • Agile Taskboard
    • and is free for 5 users (you buy CALs to add more)
  • Visual Studio Express will support TFS

On Jason Zander’s Blog

  • A sneak peak of details of the upcoming  VS11 and TFS 11 beta

For more details read the full posts I have linked to, and look out for the beta that will out on the 29th