Rob Sanders

IT Professional and TOGAF 9 certified architect with over 16 years experience, 14 in commercial software development and 8 years in IT consulting. Check out the "About Rob" page for more information.

Apr 162014

i7It’s been a few years – more than I’d like to admit – since I hand built my current server/workstation.  It was way back in 2008 when living in Brisbane that I ponied up the cash to procure the appropriate hardware.

Fast forward to now, in 2014, the current rig is still functioning, albeit the hardware is very out of date. 

The Quad Core processor is a pre i-Series Intel which does not support Second Level Address Translation (SLAT), and therefore does not support the next generation Hyper-V/hyper virtualization technologies which are standard today.

It has come time to invest in a new server platform, so that I can hand test the current OS specifications and anything coming down the line.  As I have an existing (and fairly new) NAS, I don’t need a solid set of storage – I need memory and CPU grunt.

Here’s what I’m proposing (to myself):
Intel BX80633I74930K Hex Core i7-4930K 3.4Ghz 12MB LGA 2011 CPU
Asus P9X79-LE LGA 2011pin/8XDDR3/3XPCI-E/SATA3/USB3 ATX Motherboard (Supports up to 64GB of RAM)
Kingston HyperX KHX16LC10K2/16X or KHX16C10B1K2/16 16G kit DDR3 1600 RAM x2 (32GB total)

Now that’s not a bad start.  The idea would be to expand memory to the full 64 GB in due course.  This box doesn’t require an intensive GPU/graphics capability, and I’ll go with a moderately priced PSU, HDD and Graphics card.  The motherboard isn’t the cheapest, but when I compared it to more expensive models, I couldn’t see the benefits in the “TUF” style boards.

Intel i7 Family Comparison Table

I’m keen to see how the hex core processor responds to load (say, from SQL Server) and what the efficiency of the memory will be for non-persisted (in memory) operations – particularly with SQL Server 2014.

If you have any opinions on the spec please leave a comment.  Note that I’m on a budget, and I expect this rig to cost around AUD $1700.

Lastly – I think it would look pretty wicked in this case from Corsair:


Your thoughts?

Apr 092014

Hi All.

The Law Society are hosting an interesting seminar later this month in Sydney and the topic is about privacy in the era of modern technology – a.k.a the digital age.

This is a very timely and appropriate topic for review as we are faced with brand new moral, legal and privacy issues brought forward by the adoption of near-ubiquitous technology in our daily lives.  This is an important topic for a wide audience – technology practitioners, lawyers, consumers and public and private sector employees as well.

Whilst the seminar is likely to be heavily focused on the legal ramifications of technology and recent and upcoming changes to legislation, the presence of Vivienne Thom no doubt provide some interesting insight into the role our intelligence services play within this spectrum of policy.

This isn’t a free seminar, there are costs for members and non-members of the Law Society (see below), but even for those nominal fees, this is an excellent educational opportunity for those handy to the Sydney CBD.

More details follow.

Privacy in a digital age

Drone imaging, data mining, and surveillance by CCTV are ubiquitous. They raise issues of privacy, security, and freedom. Have we given up on privacy as a social norm? How far does the interest in national security extend before our civil rights are infringed?

Angela Merkel has said: “when we do everything that is technologically possible, we damage trust; we sow mistrust. Millions of people who live in undemocratic states are watching very closely to see how the world’s democracies react to threats to their security”.

Join the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Vivienne Thom, the President of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, Stephen Blanks, and leading privacy lawyer, Gordon Hughes, in conversation with Professor Ben Saul.

Wednesday 30 April 2014
Time: 5.00pm – 7.00pm
Venue: The Law Society of New South Wales, Level 3, 170 Phillip Street, Sydney

Members: $66.00
Non-members: $81.00

Registrations: Please complete the online booking form for members or non-members.
Contact us for further information.

About the presenters:

Ben Saul – Facilitator

Dr Ben Saul is Professor of International Law at the University of Sydney. He is a barrister whose cases have included the Israel security wall, Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks, the Balibo Five war crimes inquest, security deportee Sheikh Mansour Leghaei, and 50 refugees indefinitely detained for security reasons. Ben is internationally recognised as an expert on global counter-terrorism law, human rights, the law of war, and international crimes. He has taught law at Oxford, the Hague Academy of International Law and in China, India, Nepal and Cambodia, and was a visiting professor at Harvard Law School.  

Vivienne Thom – Panelist

Dr Vivienne Thom is the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security. In this role she reviews the activities of the six intelligence and security agencies, conducts inquiries, either self-initiated or at the request of government and investigates complaints about the agencies. Vivienne has broad experience in public administration in a number of senior executive positions. She has been Deputy Ombudsman with responsibility for the oversight of law enforcement, immigration, taxation and defence agencies. Prior to that appointment she was the Chief Executive Officer of the Royal Australian Mint and previously, Commissioner of Patents at IP Australia.

Stephen Blanks – Panelist

Stephen Blanks joined the NSW Council for Civil Liberties in 1993 and became President in October 2013. He has given evidence to several parliamentary inquiries concerning privacy, including the 2012 Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security Inquiry relating to data retention. Stephen was admitted as a solicitor in 1985, and is an accredited specialist in commercial litigation. His small legal practice, located in Rozelle, Sydney, focuses mainly on litigation and commercial transactions. He appears frequently in the media commenting on issues involving privacy and technology.

Gordon Hughes – Panelist

Dr Gordon Hughes is a partner with Ashurst, practising in the area of information technology law, data protection law, electronic commerce, privacy and intellectual property rights. Gordon has authored leading texts on IT contracts and privacy law, and advised on e-commerce, procurement and data protection issues across the private and public sectors. Gordon has served as president of the Law Institute of Victoria, the Law Council of Australia and Lawasia. In 2010 he was elected a fellow of the Australian Academy of Law. He is an Adjunct Professor, and a part time member of the Commonwealth Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

Apr 042014

At the moment the annual Microsoft BUILD conference is currently under way in San Francisco in the United States.  This is a time when Microsoft typically unveils major changes to its platforms and other major products – this conference sort of replaces the old Platform Developer Conference (PDC) from ye olden days. 

A highlight this year (amongst many) has been the release of a major Windows 8.1 update which remedies some of the criticisms which have been levelled at the Windows 8 platform since its release.

From the associated KB article which compliments the update:


  This update includes the following new features and improvements:

  • Enables a more familiar mouse and keyboard functionality for modern apps and
  • Improves the web application compatibility of the Internet Explorer 8 emulation
           mode in Internet Explorer 11 F12 Developer Tools.
  • Increases performance and reliability when you use multi-display configurations for
           portrait-first device experiences.

Which doesn’t say a whole lot.. I’m going to try and find out more about what’s in the update.

The update is currently available to MSDN/TechNet subscribers but will be available to all from April 8.  The version available via MSDN subscriptions is actually a zip archive of a bunch of Windows Update modules, as you can see below.  There are also full ISOs that contain Windows 8.1 + the update, if you plan on a fresh install.


Installing them, one by one, takes a while – particularly the update which is over 700mb in size.

image image

Once you finish – after a reboot per module!  You should have the latest edition of Windows 8.1.  I only finished the installation process this morning, so I haven’t had much time to poke around.  The “boot straight to desktop” feature can be changed by right clicking the taskbar and opening the properties dialog:


I’m still not sure if this update is supposed to implement the rumoured new start menu or not – from my initial experience, the “star button” still brought up the old formerly-known-as-metro user interface.


One frequently requested feature — the return of the Start menu button — isn’t part of the new Windows 8.1 release. But it is coming back…some day. Microsoft said it is planning a future update that will bring back a more traditional Start Menu features, as well as the ability to run Modern apps in a window on the desktop.  – Source

So I guess we’ll wait a little longer for the return of the start menu.


A quick look at the version dialog – we’re officially running at Ver 6.3 (Build 9600) although the copyright seems out of date (2013?).

I’m also hearing of a term called “Modern apps” to describe Metro apps.  I’m not sure I like that term..

Further Reading

Here’s more on the Windows 8.1 Update:

The KB attached to the main update (KB2919355) can be found here.

Hints on how to verify you have legitimate copies of the ISOs/update modules.

Here’s some more info on the changes:

Mar 202014

The Open GroupWell, this has been a busy week.  Today, I finished day four of a four day course on The Open Group Architecture Forum (TOGAF)’s v9.1 Level 1 & 2 Enterprise Architecture certification.

The course has given me a very decent foundation of learning from which to build upon, and hopefully sit (and pass?) the Level 1 & 2 exams, probably next week.  It’s a tough load of work, and the framework specification is massive – even overwhelming.

In all honesty, I wasn’t expecting more than to be in a position to sit for the certification afterwards, instead I found an even bigger reward – some sense of understanding of several principles which have surrounded or underpinned various projects I’ve been involved with over the past 10 years.

The framework isn’t prescriptive to the point of telling you how to architect, but rather presents as a methodology and a set of processes to follow in order to approach business capability needs and strategic goals from an architectural point of view.

There will be more TOGAF insights to come – once my brain recovers from the intensive four day makeover.  So stay tuned.

Exam Update

Today I sat the TOGAF 9.1 Levels 1 & 2 exams (back-to-back) and I’m proud to say I achieved a score of 81, and passed.  This means I’m now TOGAF 9.1 certified, and at least in theory could start practicing TOGAF-style Enterprise Architecture.

The exam was, honestly, fairly terrifying.  The TOGAF 9.1 specification is very broad and contains quite a level of depth throughout the ADM, Enterprise Continuum and Governance Framework.  Therefore, Level 1 – 40 multiple choice questions – can theoretically ask almost anything.

To prepare, I spent about a day doing practice exams and then boning up on areas where I got the answers wrong.  Unfortunately, a lot of the online practice exams are based on older versions of the specification, and led me down the garden path a few times.

Level 2 is tough.  The questions ask you to apply your knowledge of TOGAF to correctly identify the “best fit” answer from four multiple choice answers.  The scenarios in the actual exam, I found, were a little harder than in the practice exams.

I’ll update this article with more insights into how to prepare for the exam in a short while.