Category Archives: Musings

Coming soon: do-it-yourself armed drones

I recently finished Daniel Suarez’s excellent thriller Kill Decision. The major plot point: parties unknown have been releasing autonomous, armed drones that are killing people in a variety of ways. The drones are capable of insect-level intelligence and swarming behavior, and of autonomously finding human targets and bombing or shooting them. Suarez asks a fairly provocative question: would America’s love affair with drones change if other countries, or criminal syndicates, or even individuals had them and used them as freely in the US as we use them elsewhere? Great plot, well-written, and solid characterizations– by far the best of his books so far. Highly recommended.

Anyway, with that in mind, I saw an article on the Lawfare blog about a guy who equipped an inexpensive commercial drone with a paintball marker. This video shows it in action, hitting targets easily while maneuvering slowly. The video’s a little fear-monger-y, but the narrator is right: “it seems inevitable” that these drones will be used in ways the manufacturer didn’t anticipate.  I sent the video to a couple of coworkers, one of whom asked “I wonder how hard it is to shoot accurately with it?” That got me to thinking… so off the top of my head, I jotted down a few factors that would affect the accuracy of a firearm-equipped drone. Note that here I’m talking about an autonomous UAV, not a remotely-piloted, man-in-the-loop drone. 

  • What’s it for? What kind of range and endurance do you need? It would be easy to build a sort of launch rack that would launch a drone to check out a target that triggered a tripwire, motion detector, etc. It’d be a little harder to build one that could autonomously navigate, but definitely doable– as Paul proved with his Charlie-following project. See also: the Burrito Bomber, which can follow waypoints and then deliver a payload on target.  Drones to sneak into somewhere and snipe a single target would have different range/payload requirements than a patrol or incident-reponse drone. This drives the weight of the drone (since more range requires more fuel).
  • What’s it packing? The purpose of the drone dictates what kind of firearm you want it to carry. Some of Suarez’s drones had short-barrelled .38 pistols, which are plenty good enough to kill from close range but wouldn’t be very accurate past around 35 feet or so. A longer barrel and a heavier round would provide better accuracy, at the cost of weight and size.
  • How much range do you need? A sniper drone that can shoot targets from 1500yds is definitely feasible— use a .50 Barrett, for example. It would be heavy and range-limited, though, unless you wanted to make it bigger. In general, heavier bullets are more stable and give you better accuracy, but they’re heavier to carry and shoot.
  • How stable is the drone? A light drone that’s sensitive to wind, etc. will be harder-pressed to make accurate shots. Gyrostabilizing the gun platform would help, but it would add a weight and cost penalty (including for power for the gyros, plus the gyros themselves). The bigger the drone, the more sensors, power, and ammo you can carry… but the more noise, infrared, and visual signature it creates. A small sneaky drone may be a better deal than a large, more powerful one.
  • What can you see? In other words, what kind of sensors do you have for aiming? How good is their resolution and range? Do they have to be automated? If so, you need to be able to either fire at the centroid of the target or track interesting parts, like wheels of a truck or a person’s head), using machine vision. 
  • Where are you pointing the gun, and how accurate can you be? What kind of angular resolution does the gun-pointing system have? If you’re willing to slow to a dead hover, or nearly so, you can be very accurate (as in the video above). If you want to go faster, you’ll have a more challenging set of requirements– you have to be able to point the gun while the drone’s moving, and changing its aim point means fighting inertia in a way you don’t have to worry about in a hover.

There are lots of other more subtle considerations, I’m sure; these are just what I came up with in 5 minutes. Any engineer, pilot, or armorer could come up with a couple dozen more without too much effort. Of course, you could just buy a pre made system like this one from Autocopter. Isn’t it great to know they’ll lease you as many UAVs as you need? Just for a ballpark figure, Autocopter quotes an 8Kg payload on their smallest drones– figure 3Kg for a cut-down M4 and that leaves you a reasonable 5Kg for sensors, guidance, navigation, and control.

What could you do with such drones? The mind boggles. Imagine that, say, your favorite Mexican drug cartel cooked up a bunch of these in their machine shops and used them to guard the pot farms they run in national forests. Or say the white-supremacy militia guys in Idaho built some for sovereign defense. Or suppose you built 100 or so of them, staged them inside an empty 18-wheeler with a tarp over the top, then launched them into Candlestick Park during a 49ers game. There are all sorts of movie-plot-worthy applications for these drones, to say nothing of the ones Suarez wrote about.

Meanwhile, the February 2013 NASA Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) newsletter is full of safety reports filed after drones got into airspace where they weren’t supposed to be… and these were piloted, unarmed drones. How careful do you think these hypothetical armed drones would be about respecting the National Airspace System? I think I’ll be extra careful when flying around… that smudge on the windscreen might turn out to be an armed autonomous drone.

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Thursday trivia #77

  • The boys and I are headed for New Orleans this weekend to see my mother and, not incidentally, to hit the Voodoo Music Festival. Of the bands there, I am most excited about seeing Metallica and Skrillex, but there are a few other gems; hopefully we’ll make it there in time for Thomas Dolby on Friday.
  • The law surrounding workplace privacy in California is really, really interesting.
  • I’m really intrigued by two new devices: the iPad mini, because it’s the perfect size for use in the cockpit; and the Microsoft Surface, because it looks like a better device for some of the most common tasks I do on the road. I’m not quite ready to order either of them just yet, though…
  • Candy corn on the cob. What will they think of next?
  • So far season 3 of The Walking Dead is excellent. I am actually enjoying it more than season 2 because I’m watching it in HD on my AppleTV instead of in crap-o-vision from AT&T’s Uverse, which had terrible picture quality on AMC.

Bonus: if you like airplanes (and, really, who doesn’t?) then this video of Endeavour flying over southern California is priceless. Watch it in high-quality and full screen for maximum enjoyment.

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Thursday trivia #76

A special search-query edition of Thursday Trivia! Here are some of the search terms people have used to get to my blog over the last couple of months:

  • how is reading used if you’re a marine: probably not often enough.
  • fried fish harmful: for the fish, yes, it certainly is.
  • what about airwork: as for me, I highly recommend it.
  • s tripit pro worth it: yes, 100%. I also just signed up for CLEAR (thanks to a 4-month trial offer from Living Social for $18) and will report back on how well it works.
  • stupid allergy warnings: now you’re talking; I am definitely allergic to stupid too and sometimes I wish there were warnings, like the pollen forecasts that the Weather Channel does.
  • everyday carry pouch: hello, Mr. Kangaroo.

The top five search terms that have brought people here since I moved to WordPress: “conversation action settings”, “paul robichaux”, “autodiscover.xml”, “outlook auto discover”, and “the last psychiatrist.” Guess I know what I should be writing about more.

Tomorrow’s post will be titled “how Paul Robichaux used autodiscover.xml to find the last psychiatrist’s conversation action settings folder.”

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Thursday trivia #74

  • On my last trip to Huntsville, my American flight from Dallas to Huntsville arrived more than two hours late. Consequently, when I booked my flights for October, they’re all on Delta. This letter from a pilot to former AA CEO Bob Crandall, and his reply, are well worth reading.
  • Replace Alice and Bob? Never! You can have my standard cryptographic personas when you pry them from my DPAPI storage.
  • I have a lot more I want to say about MEC, and I will, but for now the BLUF: fantastic show, great content, and a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with my peers. I saw probably a dozen people that I hadn’t seen in five or ten years, and met maybe another dozen with whom I’ve collaborated and corresponded without ever meeting face to face. I’m already eager to sign up for the next one.
  • General James Mattis, a Marine’s Marine.
  • The Illustrated Guide to Criminal Law. Sounds like a fun read.

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Thursday trivia #73

  • All that cotton you see when flying into the Huntsville airport? That’s money.
  • MacObserver did a comparison test of battery life on various versions of OS X. They document what I’d noticed anecdotally: significantly lower battery life in 10.8.
  • Great summary of a student pilot’s first solo… in Cyprus.. at age 69.
  • Hmmm. iPhone 5, or Lumia 920? I am trying to decide simultaneously whether to upgrade and/or bite the bullet and move over to Verizon. I am unhappy with AT&T’s coverage both in the Bay Area and in Huntsville; I barely get signal in my house, which is no more than 2mi from an actual AT&T store. This decision is complicated by the fact that the boys’ phones are additional lines on my family plan, and they couldn’t use their existing phones if I move to VZW– plus I’d have to eat cancellation fees on some of the lines. Verizon’s shared data plan for 3 smartphones + 1 dumb phone is $240/month; compared to the $220 I pay now for the same 4 devices (5GB for me, 2GB for Tom, unlimited for David) this is not a compelling deal.  StraightTalkis an option, except that they apparently cap data at 2GB/line/month. I might just move Dave and Tom to StraightTalk, then keep Matt’s feature phone and my existing AT&T line. Or not!
  • Single guys, watch out: there are women out there who will pull off your prosthetic leg and then beat you with it.
  • I mentioned in a meeting today that VMware’s new vSphere client is based on Flash. That mention was greeted with much incredulity, but it is, in fact, true.
  • The other day I saw a tweet that put it very succinctly: if Obama wins the election it will be because of his campaign and in spite of the economy; if Romney wins, it will be in spite of his campaign and because of the economy.

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Thursday trivia #66

  • I always thought of nutria as being primarily a Louisiana problem, but it turns out they’re elsewhere– including the Delmarva Peninsula. Even the New York Times says so.
  • Batman tonight! David and I are headed to see all 3 movies, back to back. (Don’t tell anyone but I may take a nap toward the middle of Batman Begins.)
  • This is a really interesting article about the design process behind how Microsoft supports touch in Office 2013, but I agree with what Gruber said: users don’t care about design, they care about efficacy.
  • So AT&T now has a shared data plan… that would actually cost me more than what I pay now for the same amount of data on the same devices: 10GB on 3 smartphones and 1 dumb phone (that currently has no data) would cost me $240, a $35 increase. Thanks, guys, but no thanks.
  • Tony weighs in on the multi-mailbox search licensing changes. I hope Microsoft takes the opportunity in Exchange 2013 to fix all of the scripts that count ECALS, etc., including the one that gathers data for the organizational health summary. Still no word, of course, on Exchange 2013 licensing. Experience suggests that license terms and requirements will be one of the very last things Microsoft discloses.
  • How to sell an airplane. First, of course, you have to buy one.
  • The McLaren dealership was every bit what I hoped it would be, at least as far as cars are concerned. What beauties.
  • Oshkosh is next week, but I can’t go. I have high hopes for next year though.

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Thursday trivia #65

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RIP Exchange UPDATE

I am sad to report that I just got an e-mail from the lovely and talented Amy Eisenberg, executive editor at Windows IT Pro, letting me know that they are ending the publication of the Exchange UPDATE newsletter that I’ve been writing since 2002.

  The original UPDATE was delivered only via e-mail, and it was advertising-supported so that it made money for the magazine. Over time, the market shifted, with a much greater emphasis placed on delivery via RSS and a sea change in how advertisers spend (and how media outlets package and sell advertising.) Because of these changes, it doesn’t make sense for Penton to continue to publish Exchange UPDATE, so it has been moved to the great folder in the sky (and, no, I’m not talking about SkyDrive.) It’s a business decision, and not one lightly taken, but I understand the reasoning and don’t bear the magazine folks any ill will.

On the contrary– writing the UPDATE has been a terrific growth opportunity over the last 10 (!) years. When I first started writing it, I took over from the redoubtable Jerry Cochran, who had recently moved to a new role at Microsoft. At first I found the demands of writing a weekly column on Exchange to be almost insurmountable, but I soon came to realize that there’s always something going on in the Exchange world to write about. Companies introduce new products or leave the market altogether; Microsoft ships or delays products; interesting people create interesting things. This cycle will go on, of course, and I’ll still be writing about it here and for Windows IT Pro. Don’t be surprised if you also see some of my writing in new outlets as well, either…

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Thursday trivia #63

  • From the department of giant robots: an industrial robot with an industrial laser. I know what I want for Christmas.
  • They don’t make ’em like these guys anymore: Watson’s Whizzers.
  • Knolling: something I’d like to do with my toolbox. I wouldn’t dare attempt it with my desks at work or home.
  • This interactive chart of the top 10 causes of death in the US from 1900-2010 is absolutely engrossing. The killers of yore– tuberculosis, influenza, “gastrointestinal infections”– have been supplanted by heart disease, cancer, and airway diseases.
  • What I hope everyone who reads this blog understands: the military has people whose job it is to plan for every imaginable contingency, from Plan Orange to Plan Red to Iraq. So this article shouldn’t surprise you too much. Don’t take the fact that we have contingency plans for attacking Iran as evidence that anyone in the military wants to do so, or thinks it’s a good idea.

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Thursday trivia #62

  • Why are the Chinese investing heavily in commercial real estate in and around Toledo? (And no, the answer is not “because no one else wants to.”)
  • Got to take nephew Charlie to Fry’s Electronics for the first time yesterday. It was the quintessential Fry’s experience: wide-eyed wonder on the part of the first-time visitor coupled with surly-to-indifferent service from the floor staff, mixed in with a hearty helping of inaccurate information. (The cashier we had, bless her heart, solved the problem for us, though.)
  • The NTSB wants you to know that in-cockpit NEXRAD weather may not be as timely as pilots think it is. OK, fine. I’d still rather have old NEXRAD than none at all.
  • I’m very interested in Microsoft’s Surface products, but the timing of the introduction seems a little odd. Press reports say that no one was allowed to use the Touch Cover, one of the signature Surface features. That makes me think that it wasn’t ready for public handling– so why not wait until it was ready? One of the unique things that Apple’s done with their product introductions, and that Microsoft could easily copy, is having the product ready to ship the minute it’s announced. Imagine the impact of the Surface announcement if Microsoft had said “here it is, here’s what it costs, and you can buy one today” instead of “here it is; stand by for further details.”
  • If you wonder why Pixar’s films are so successful, wonder no more– this list of “story basics” neatly captures the things they think about when crafting stories– and make no mistake, the stories are what make their films so good, not the technology.
  • Switzerland as one giant booby trap. With fondue.
  • Dick Collins’ writing is always thought-provoking, but never more so than here: “The ultimate responsibility: thoughts on family flying“.

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In which I dispute Tony Redmond re Windows Phone upgrades

Microsoft just wrapped up the keynote for their Windows Phone Developer Summit. Following as it does on the heels of Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference, comparisons are inevitable… so let me succumb to the inevitable:

  • At WWDC, Apple announced iOS 6 and talked more about the forthcoming “Mountain Lion” release of OS X, which follows OS X “Lion”‘s lead by incorporating a number of iOS-like features. Many observers believe that Apple’s long-term plan is to provide as much of a unified core between iOS, OS X, and AppleTV as possible.
  • At WPDS, Microsoft announced Windows Phone 8 (“Apollo”), which will share a common core with Windows 8– thereby beating Apple to the core OS-integration punch. They also highlighted some nifty new Apollo features that will depend on their hardware device partners, including new higher-resolution screens and support for NFC.

As they normally do, Apple was mostly quiet about the device upgrade path for iOS 6. Microsoft, on the other hand, was up front about the fact that current Windows Phone devices won’t be getting Apollo. Tony has a beef with this approach:

I think this is a brain-dead decision that looks pretty feeble when compared against Apple’s record of making sure that new releases of their O/S run on older versions of iPhones. For example, the iPhone 3GS that I used before making the now-lamentable decision to try Windows Phone 7.5, upgraded smoothly from iOS 3 to iOS5 over the time I owned the phone.

This is clearly a situation where Apple is right… well, except that they’re not.

It is true that iOS 6 will run on older devices. For example, my not-yet-two-year-old iPhone 4 will run iOS 6, as will all models of the iPad; even the relatively ancient 3GS will get the upgrade.

However, there are a number of iOS 6 features that will not work on anything older than an iPhone 4S. Among these: FaceTime over 3G and turn-by-turn directions in the mapping app, two features that exist either as App Store apps or hacks that can be applied to jailbroken devices.

Apple hasn’t said why they won’t ship these features for iPhone 4 users. It might be due to technical limitations (though I doubt it in the case of turn-by-turn directions), but I suspect it’s more likely to be as a tactic to drive sales of new devices. After all, Apple’s profit on iOS devices come from the hardware (and to a lesser extent, the attach rate of purchases from the App Store).

Microsoft, on the other hand, makes no profit on WP hardware except to the extent that they collect a license fee per handset. That raises the question of what Microsoft should have done with Apollo. You could argue, as Tony does, that at least the shiny new Lumia 900 should get the upgrade, and that ideally older devices should as well. But this approach poses some really interesting tradeoffs for Microsoft. They get to choose between two options, to wit:

  • spending a large amount of money and engineering time to get Apollo running on older WP7 devices, such as the HTC Surround or the original Samsung Focus, from which they will never derive any additional revenue and for which carriers may decide not to give their customers the upgrade anyway? or
  • spending money and effort on polishing Apollo to take full advantage of new hardware, sales of which will drive carrier efforts and directly put cash in Microsoft’s coffers?

I don’t think that Microsoft’s choice was a very difficult one. If you look at the list of Apollo features, some of them (such as NFC, new resolution support, on-device BitLocker encryption,  and the new DirectX) require upgraded hardware. Some of them (such as deep VoIP integration, which I dearly wish Apple would copy, the new Nokia map experience, and support for native C++ code) do not, and could feasibly be backported, but only to the extent that they don’t depend on the new Windows 8 common kernel. Some of the new features, in fact, are actually apps, which means that Microsoft could potentially ship them as separate standalone updates in the future.

When Tony says

After all, we’re dealing with software here and surely a few IF… THEN… ELSE conditions could be incorporated into the code to support older devices?

I’m reminded of our earlier discussion about the pros and cons of requiring an Active Directory version update for Exchange 15, in particular the observation that the test burden of software changes is a lifelong obligation. Adding a feature isn’t always hard, but once it’s added you must test it on every device and configuration for as long as you support that feature– and that is even more true here when you consider the size of the WP test matrix, which contains dozens of devices and dozens of carriers. If I were Terry Myerson, the corporate VP at Microsoft who owns Windows Phone, I wouldn’t spend the money on backporting the core, even if it were technically possible. It doesn’t make sense as an investment, nor is the ongoing cost burden supportable.

(nb. Myerson, you may recall, is the fellow who made the at-the-time extremely unpopular decision that Exchange 2007 would require x64 hardware. This was widely hailed as being an arrogant and ignorant move on Microsoft’s part, but it was actually one made for solid technical reasons, and in retrospect it has proven to be the right decision; the scalability and performance benefits of that move have been critical improvements to Exchange 2007, 2010, and 15.)

While Tony thinks of Microsoft’s move as being a “sad and arrogant indication” of Microsoft’s contempt for its mobile customers[1], I instead see it as a realistic acceptance of the fact that even the mighty Microsoft has limits on what they can feasibly accomplish. They are fighting hard to stay relevant in the mobile device market, and they’ve apparently decided that their effort is better spent on net-new development work. Based on my outsider’s view, I can’t disagree.

Having said that: yes, I’m disappointed that my two-year-old HTC Mozart (and the Lumia 800 I’m going out to buy this afternoon for a project) won’t get the Apollo upgrade.. but no more so than I am that my iPhone 4 won’t get the full flavor of iOS 6. In fact, I am probably more likely to buy a new device to run Apollo than I am to buy a new device for iOS 6. Why? Look at the delta in features; absent some major new hardware improvement, or some as-yet-hidden iOS 6 features, it doesn’t make sense to shell out for a new device just to get Siri, turn-by-turn maps, and FaceTime over 3G. But at the end of the day, this is a business decision, not one that Windows Phone customers should take personally.

[1] You know who really has contempt for their mobile customers? The carriers. Yeah, that’s right; the same ones who do things like block Windows Phone and Android updates. Of course, you can argue that as an OS manufacturer that doesn’t make its own devices, Microsoft’s customers are the carriers, not consumers. Apple’s in a different space because they sell devices both through carriers and direct-to-consumer, as do Google and the increasingly-irrelevant RIM.

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A tough travel experience

If you travel often, then you know something that more casual travelers often never learn: the law of averages always catches up with you in the end. Case in point: this weekend I went to Huntsville to visit the boys. I was scheduled to fly on American SFO-DFW-HSV on a Friday afternoon. My outbound flight was scheduled to leave at 2:20pm, and I had about a 40-minute connection for my DFW-HSV flight– the last one of the day.

This particular afternoon, SFO was windy– 31 knots gusting to 36. When I got to the airport, I noticed my outbound flight was delayed. Even though the airplane itself was there, the flight attendants were coming in on another flight, which had been delayed because of the wind. The delay was long enough that by the time the flight left, I would have missed my Huntsville flight and thus been consigned to spend the night in Dallas. The American gate agent helpfully offered to put me on a United flight SFO-DEN-HSV, so I let her and took off at a dead run for Terminal 3, where United/Continental’s SFO flights (mostly) leave from (some are now in Terminal 1, as I soon learned.) However, I only had about 25 minutes to exit terminal 2, enter terminal 3, clear security, and board the flight– clearly not possible. I found a helpful United agent who led me to the “additional services” desk. After a rather lengthy wait, which gave me a good chance to see how disorganized UA’s current SFO operations are, I spoke with an agent who told me I’d have to go back to American to get rerouted again… so I did. I ended up on the redeye SFO-ORD, which connected to a Huntsville flight that got me in about 10:20 the next morning– so only about 12 hours later than planned.

The flights were uneventful, but then when I got to Huntsville I discovered that my luggage was still in Chicago. Ooops. I gave the ticket agent a delivery address for my bag, picked up my rental car, got the boys, and went to the hotel. Later in the day, I noticed that large clouds of white smoke were coming out of the rental car whenever the engine exceeded about 3500 rpm. I called Avis and they quickly sent over a replacement, so that went well. It ended up being quite a good weekend, but it certainly reminded me that when you travel, you will occasionally, and inevitably, end up with a trip with a much higher than average hassle factor. Such is life. All things considered, this one wasn’t too bad; I was only 12 hours late and didn’t have any real major problems, just a string of annoyances. Hopefully now things will revert to the norm of trouble-free travel.

(Oh, and as I write this, I’m on an American flight DFW-SFO. It’s a new-ish 737-800, which means that it has in-seat power in coach. For some inexplicable reason, though, it does not have Gogo wifi. For some reason I always assume that such a new aircraft will have wi-fi. Delta has spoiled me in that regard, I suppose…)

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Thursday trivia #60

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What "supported" really means

If I had a nickel for every time I had had a discussion like the below…

<Customer> wants to <do something>. I don’t think it’s a good idea and tried to explain that to them. They want to do it anyway. Is it supported?

The particular discussion that triggered this post was a conversation among MCMs concerning a customer who wanted to know if they could configure an Exchange 2010 server so that it was dual-homed, with one NIC on the LAN and another in their DMZ. There are a number of good reasons not to do this, most related to one of two things: the inability to force Windows and/or Exchange to use only one of the installed NICs for certain operations, or the lack of knowledge about how to configure everything properly in such a configuration. For example, you’d have to be careful to get static routes right so that you only passed the traffic you wanted on each interface. You’d also have to be careful about which AD sites your server appeared to be a member of.

The big issue for me: that configuration would add complexity. Any time you add complexity, you should be able to clearly articulate what you’re gaining in exchange. Performance, scalability, flexibility, security, cost savings.. there has to be some reason to make it worth complicating things. This is a pretty fundamental principle of designing anything technical, from airplanes to washing machines to computer networks, and you violate it at your peril.

In this case, the gain is that the customer wouldn’t need to use TMG or a similar solution. That seems like an awfully small gain for the added complexity burden and the supportability issues it raises.

You might be wondering why I’d bring up supportability in this context. The cherry on the sundae was this comment from the fellow who started the thread: “It’s not written that you can’t do it, so they assume that means you can.” This is a dangerous attitude in many contexts, but especially so here.

I’ve said it before (and so has practically everyone who has ever written about Exchange), but it bears repeating:

Just because something is not explicitly unsupported, that doesn’t mean it is supported.

Microsoft doesn’t– indeed, can’t— test every possible configuration of Exchange. Or Windows. Or any of their other products (well, maybe except for closed consumer systems like Windows Phone and Xbox 360). So there’s a simple process to follow when considering whether something meets your requirements for supportability:

  1. Does Microsoft explicitly say that what you want to do is, or is not, supported?
  2. If they don’t say one way or the other, are you comfortable that you can adequately test the proposed change in your environment to make sure that it only has the desired effects?

Point 1 is pretty straightforward. If Microsoft says something’s explicitly supported, you’re good to go. If they explicitly say something is unsupported, you’re still good, provided you don’t do it.

Brief digression: when Microsoft says something’s unsupported, it can mean one of three specific things:

  • We tested it. It doesn’t work. Don’t do it. (Example: a long list of things involving Lync device provisioning.)
  • We tested it. It works. It’s a bad idea for some other unrelated reason. Don’t do it. (Example: going backupless with a 2-copy DAG.)
  • We didn’t test it. We don’t know if it works. You could probably figure out some way to make it work.  If it doesn’t work, on your own head be it. (Example: the prior stance on virtualization of Exchange roles.)

OK, where was I? Oh yeah: if Microsoft doesn’t make an explicit statement one way or another, that is not an unconditional green light for you to do whatever you want. Instead, it’s an invitation for you to think carefully about what you’ll gain from the proposed configuration. If what you want to do is common, then there will probably be a support statement for it already; the fact that there isn’t should give you pause right there. If you believe the gain is worth the potential risk that comes from an increase in complexity, and you can demonstrate through testing (not just a SWAG) that things will work, only then should you consider proceeding.

(n.b. permission is hereby granted for all you Exchange folks out there to copy this and send it to your customers next time they ask you for something dangerous, ignorant, unsupportable, or otherwise undesirable.)

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Thursday trivia #59

  • I’ve decided to start journaling my flying lessons. Look for the first entry in the next couple of days.
  • This weekend I’m headed to see my first live professional MMA bout: the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix final. I’m pretty excited about it.
  • Diablo III: sorry, couldn’t care less.
  • If you’re thinking about attending MEC 2012, the early-bird discount for registration ends tomorrow. Get it while the gettin’ is good. (And if you’re not thinking about attending, whyever not?)
  • And speaking of conferences: I’m moderating a panel discussion at Hewlett-Packard’s Discover 2012 conference next month in Vegas. I would have included a link to the session but H-P’s event website is so encrusted with JavaScript that I can’t get the links to work properly.
  • Beautiful 1971 letter from Ronald Reagan to his son Michael about marriage. If you are married, want to be married, or know someone who is married, read it.
  • A volcano. In a trash can. That fires rubber ducks into the air. Yes please.

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