Friday, 27 June 2008

Is OneNote a Cul de Sac?

There has been a lot of buzz around the office recently about Microsoft OneNote 2007. For the uninitiated, this application is basically a collection of notebooks for jotting down information. Notebooks (e.g., Work, Personal) have sections (imagine dividers in a traditional notebook) which contain pages. It's possible to create free form text, drag and drop image, links etc.

All in all, a very nice application that I'm looking forward to getting stuck in with.

My only reservation is that it uses a proprietary file format to store the notebooks, and it appears to be very single-user focused. There are ways of sharing notebooks, but these seem to be limited to placing them on file shares.

In some ways, it's a bit like SharePoint - easy to setup and load stuff into, but more difficult to untangle yourself from should you decide to migrate away from Microsoft. Perhaps that's the plan...

Zoho has a Notebook application on the cloud which is very advanced, but I'd be more reluctant to trust a small company with my data than managing it myself.

If only someone could come up with an application that does everything OneNote can do, but in a true client/server model, with offline capabilities, web access, and an open source licence. Any takers?

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

A week of interesting technology

Last week I had the opportunity to use a number of interesting technologies and applications. I've already blogged about the Cisco Network Assistant, but that was only the beginning.

We were running a VMware Server virtual machine that was not performing correctly. The physical hardware was not up to the job, so we wanted to migrate the VM to our ESX server. The VM was configured to use a virtual IDE disk which prevented us from importing it directly into ESX. Enter VMware Converter. This piece of software allowed us to step through a wizard where we selected the source VM files, and then entered the server name we wanted to save the machine. A few other options later (selecting the destination datastore and similar), and the conversion process started. Twenty five minutes later it was all done. The converted VM had been streamed into place and was ready to go. Really simple and worked first time. I was impressed!

The end of the week gave me the opportunity to experiment with Sun Logical Domains (LDOMs). This hypervisor based VM technology can be found on the Coolthreads range (using the new sun4v architecture). Unlike Containers, LDOMs allow different Solaris versions to be installed. We're testing the performance of the machine to run as an Ingres server, so I'll most probably update the blog later this week with more information.

This week looks equally promising - Apple's WWDC was yesterday, although I haven't watched the keynote yet. The 3G iPhone isn't unexpected, but is now quite tempting, even with a £35/month contract as I can't think of a better mobile web browsing device. And then there is the announcement of "MobileMe" (aka, "Exchange for the rest of us"). It's certainly something to look into to...

Monday, 2 June 2008

A day with Cisco Network Assistant

Today I spent a significant amount of time using the freely available Cisco Network Assistant. This tool allows you to probe your [Cisco] LAN and identify the topology. This proved very useful as although I had a rough idea of how the network was wired, the software highlighted a couple of issues that I need to resolve. Once identified, you can directly interact with the devices, renaming switches, creating VLANs, enabling and disabling ports. Really, really nice - especially for the price.

The reason I'm doing this is that I want to get the topology accurately mapped before starting my Nagios deployment for network monitoring.

The only downside was discovering the SFP modules we bought for server interlinking were not "Cisco Compatible", so we'll have to spend double to get the same thing!