Keith Combs' Blahg

Ramblings from another nerd on the grid

September, 2006

  • Halo Wars

    Halo Wars

  • Karma

    Experience teaches us a lot.  You tend to get a sixth sense about certain situations.  I started to feel the bad karma about ITPROADD-62.  It’s a massive SQL Server session where we show how to build a clustered SQL Server environment inside Virtual Server VM’s.

    It all started when I realized the session never shipped to anyone… interesting.  I requested the disks, but of course I wouldn’t be able to look at the session until I get off the road last Friday.  You know how Friday’s are, you’re lucky to get anything accomplished.  I did however manage to unpack all of the images to an external drive.  22gig worth of VM’s. 

    As usual, work is eating into another weekend.  I think that has happened far too often the past nine months.  Guess what?  I’m getting ready to go dark on the weekends.

    During the Virtual Server R2 setup for the VM’s I notice we are using shared SCSI bus devices.  They are required but this also means you cannot use UNDO disks.  So I know I need to make another copy of the 22gig.  I copy to another external drive.  My test runs work fine but I offer some feedback about the session, length, speaking points, etc.  Mr. Baker disagrees with some of my assertions.  More karma.

    So I go to copy my master Vm’s from the repository drive to the demo drive.  The repository drive fails after a couple of attempts.  This happens about 15 minutes before webcast number one today…  Karma

    Fortunately, I have three machines running at the time, so while I am delivering a webcast on SMS troubleshooting, I am also feeding another machine the DVD set again, and unpacking the VM’s to a personal drive.  That goes well.  Good Karma?

    During the 30 minute break between the two webcasts, I start the copy of the freshly minted VM’s from my personal drive to the demo drive and head to the bathroom for a quick shower.  I come back and observe the copy is progressing nicely and will finish in time for pre-webcast share testing.  More good Karma?

    No way man…

    So I start things off and am feeling pretty proud of myself for pulling the rabbit out of the hat.  I get through demo one and start into demo number 2.  At this point we’re configuring the first node of the cluster and I notice the wizard doesn’t create the quorum disk correctly.  I think this is odd because it has worked perfectly on the three practice runs I did. 


    My sixth sense is going wild.  The giant mushroom cloud forms over my house in Texas.

    So I continue and start setting up node number 2.  I configure the wizard settings and click NEXT to start the real work.  Nothing.  Nada.  My machine locks tight.  So tight in fact, the only recovery is what I like to call the “disruptive OS failure”.  Or, more commonly referred to as a hard power off and back on.  


    So I login real quick on another machine and start driving the slides while I make a feeble attempt to reboot, restart virtual server, start the VM’s and see if they are in a state that will allow is to move forward…  You can guess the rest.

    So after four years of doing this job, and never having had to cancel or interrupt an event due to a software or hardware failure, the ITPRO Murphy’s Law Bad Karma Genie finally caught the kid.

    <From the imortal words of Khan>

                   No... You can't get away... From
                   hell's heart I stab at thee...
                           (amid the pain)
                   For hate's sake... I spit my last
                   breath at thee!
  • Silence is Golden?

    Everyone loves the Windows Vista startup sound, right?  Well, if you are in the hate camp, the latest builds now allow you to turn off the startup sound that occured during boot but before login.  I'm still hopeful we'll make is slightly more configurable before we ship Windows Vista. 

    For instance, in the current builds it's either on or off.  I would much prefer to set my own audio sound.  I think the idea of the sound has merit, especially if it indicates all services are up and running properly.

    Initially I was TOTALLY against it, but as a diagnostic tool I like the idea.  Hit the power button and do something else.  If sound is good, do normal stuff.  If sound is bad, investigate event logs.  You get the idea.

    More information at

  • Windows Vista Post RC1 build now available

    If you are living on the edge and are already done testing the RC1 5600 build, head on over to and see about the latest published 5728 build.

    Please heed the following advice from the site:

    "This build (5728) has a number of improvements and updates from RC1, but has not been put through the same internal testing process as RC1 and therefore may be unstable in certain installations. We are making this release available for a limited time only (and only by download) in order to get broad distribution and testing in a variety of PC configurations. Please note: This build may not have the same level of support or servicing via Windows Update, and you may not be able to upgrade to the final version of Windows Vista."

  • Zune details emerge... YEAH baby!!!

    Cesar Menendez at has released some details on our upcoming holiday offering.  I am really happy that in addition to playing music, it plays video.  With a 30GB hard drive, I would imagine I'll be able to add some kewl movies to it for my frequent travels.

    For the press releases, pictures, logos and all of the fun stuff, see

    There are documents describing the Car Pack, Home A/V Pack, and Travel Pack.

    Now that the details are out, I know what my teens are going to be wanting for Christmas from Santa Claus...  assuming Santa Claus can get three.  Otherwise, Santa Claus may get greedy.

    UPDATE:  Check out the juicy details on the supported audio and video formats in the Engadget interview with Microsoft Corporate VP J Allard at

    This product is going to ROCK!!! 


    Name: Zune™ Home A/V Pack

    Overview: Designed exclusively for use with Zune, the Home A/V Pack includes everything you need to amplify your Zune experience. This set of five products integrates Zune with your big-screen TV and the best speakers in your house. And the wireless remote puts you in control from virtually anywhere in the room. When you buy the Zune Home AV Pack, you’ll get the AC Adapter, AV Output Cable, Dock, Sync Cable and Wireless Remote. All items in the full line of Zune accessories are also available individually.

    Kit Contents: Here are the five products in the Zune Home A/V Pack:

    • Zune AC Adapter
    • Zune A/V Output Cable
    • Zune Dock
    • Zune Sync Cable
    • Zune Wireless Remote with Lithium Battery (CR2032)


    Name: Zune™ Travel Pack

    Overview: Designed exclusively for use with Zune, the Travel Pack includes everything you need to travel with your Zune device in style. This set of five products is designed to keep you and your friends and family entertained while you travel. When you buy the Zune Travel Pack, you’ll get the Dual Connect Remote, Premium Earphones, Gear Bag, Sync Cable and AC Adapter. All items in the full line of Zune accessories are also available individually.

    Kit Contents: · Zune Gear Bag

    • Zune Premium Earphones with storage case
    • Zune Dual Connect Remote
    • Zune Sync Cable
    • Zune AC Adapter


    Name: Zune™ Car Pack

    Overview: Designed exclusively for use with Zune, the Car Pack includes everything you need to hit the road with your Zune device. With AutoSeek, setup is easy, and you can enjoy your music on the go and charge your device at the same time. When you buy the Zune Car Pack, you’ll get the FM tuner with Autoseek and the Car Charger. All items in the full line of Zune accessories are also available individually.

    Kit Contents:

    • Zune FM tuner with AutoSeek
    • Zune Car Charger
  • 2007 Microsoft Office System Beta 2 Technical Refresh - now available for download

    Today we make available to the world an update to the 2007 Microsoft Office System.  You can head right on over to and signup to receive a mailing of the disks, or start downloading the bits right now.  There is a small fee associated with each.

    If you want to look at all of the documents associated with this refresh, check out the search results from

    My experience with this release and Windows Vista RC1 has been very good.  I hope you find in your testing that this is the case as well.  As always, please report any issues so we can work on getting them fixed.


  • Microsoft Texas Technology Summits 2006 featuring Unified Communications and Collaboration

    Annually, the Microsoft South Central District hosts a multi-track event to show off our latest technology.  This year, the events are happening on October 3rd in Dallas and October 12th in Houston! This promises to be a great way to get the latest information and direction on our upcoming technologies. We've put together a full agenda, spanning a number of products and lined up some of your favorite presenters.  There will be a wide variety of breakout sessions along with our Forrester keynote discussing Enterprise Collaboration Strategies. 

    Track topics include:

    • Unified Communications & Collaboration: Simplify Working Together
    • Customer Relationship Management
    • Enterprise Search: Interacting with Structured Data using the Business Data Catalog
    • Collaboration End-to-End
    • Optimize and Secure your Core Infrastructure
    • Secure Messaging
    • Get Ready for Windows Vista
    • End-to-End Business Intelligence Platform
    • Foundations of Business Intelligence
    • "Show me the Numbers" Business Intelligence
    • Enterprise Development with Team Foundation Server
    • Developing Next Generation Windows Applications


    Dallas, October 3rd - Hotel Intercontinental

    Houston, October 12th - The Westin Oaks

    You'll also notice the Dallas event is happening the same day I present in San Antonio so I'm going to miss that.  We are also having a mandatory team meeting on the Houston date so I'll miss it as well.  If you go, tell em KingCobra sent you.  Should freak them out.  :?)

  • Dell Rocks - a new machine for mom-in-law

    My mother in-law has been getting hand me down machines for about five years.  When you are on a fixed income, the luxury of a new PC or laptop is a bit far removed.  This time however she wanted a new machine and kicked in a couple of hundred bucks.  So I kicked in a few myself and decided to take advantage of a Dell deal on a new Dimension.

    She's getting a 5150, Dual Core 2.66GHz, 1GB RAM, 80GB hard drive, 19" flat panel monitor and 3 year warranty for $549.

    Oh, and I ordered it Sunday afternoon while the Dallas Cowboys were getting beat.  It arrives today and that's with free shipping.  Ordered Sunday, shipped Monday and arrives Tuesday.

    Not bad eh?

    UPDATE: It just dropped another $50 to $499.  See for details.  Expires 9/13.

  • VZAccess EVDO Update for Windows Vista RC1

    As you'll recall, a few months ago I posted instructions on how to use the Verizon PC5740 pcmcia EVDO modem.  At that time, there was an incompatibility with the VZAccess software and Windows Vista.

    I'm happy to report VZAccess v5.8.2 for my PC5740 works very nicely with Windows Vista RC1.  If you need to download VZAccess, see  Keep in mind there are different versions of VZAccess associated with different cards or chipsets.

  • Where can I get those TechNet USA live seminar slide decks?

    One of the questions that comes up frequently during and after the live events my team delivers is, "Where can I get the PowerPoint slides?"

    Easy answer...  Go to  Enjoy!!!

  • Using Intel or AMD Virtual Technology with Microsoft Virtual Server

    For those of you buying the latest generation Intel or AMD chipset, you'll notice they now include virtual technologies. AMD Virtualization (AMD-V) and Intel Virtualization Technology (IVT) technologies are both supported in Windows Virtual Server R2 SP1 Beta 2 for both x86 and x64 Windows host operating systems.

    Virtual Server Beta 2 allows you to turn on IVT or AMD-V on a per VM basis.  But, how do you tell if virtualization is actually being recognized and used by Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 Beta 2?  At the moment, there isn't any UI in the Virtual Server admin website that shows you the status of such things.  However, you can use perfmon to query the Virtual Processor object (when a VM is started) to check.  Here's how:

    1. Make sure you've enabled hardware virtualization in the BIOS.  My Lenovo ThinkPad T60p setting is in the BIOS CPU area.  If is not turned on, turn it on, save the change and power down your machine.  Power it back up to pick up the change.
    2. Install Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 Beta 2.  You can get it from
    3. Add or create a virtual a machine using the admin website.  Don't forget if using Windows Vista RC1 (as I am) that you need to run an elevated instance of IE7 to access the admin website.  Elevation is easy.  Right click the IE7 icon and select the "Run as Administrator" from the menu items.
    4. In the configuration settings for the VM, go to the General Properties.
    5. Turn on the checkbox for "Enable hardware-assisted virtualization if available".
    6. Save the changes to the VM and start it.
    7. Now that the VM is running, start perfmon.
    8. Click the add counters plus sign button.
    9. Scroll down and look to see if you see the Virtual Processors object and select it.  One note on this, the counters don't always show up correctly the first time you launch perfmon so exit and launch it again if it is missing.  If you are using the Performance and Reliability Monitor in Windows Vista RC1, you'll want to click the down arrow to expand the available counters. 
    10. Select and add the "HVM-VP is in HVM mode" object. 
    11. Click ok and save the counter to the active monitoring.  If you see the value is 1 (true), the hardware assisted virtualization is active and working.  0 is bad news.

    Hopefully we'll add some nice UI to the Virtual Server 2005 admin website before we complete the R2 SP1 development cycle.  I have already suggested it but it would also be helpful for you to provide that type of feedback as a beta tester.  We'll have to wait and see if the Virtual PC team decides to add IVT or AMD-V support to the next version.

    Enjoy your hot new multi core server, desktop or laptop!!!

  • Windows Vista Security Guide coming - download and webcast information

    The Vista Security Guide will be released to Beta on September 6th exclusively through Microsoft Connect. It will be available to anyone who signs in with a Windows Live ID (formerly Passport) account at this URL: Beta period will extend for three weeks, during which we’ll be accepting and triaging bugs and comments.

    UPDATE: It's now 9/6/2006 and the invitation link and guide above are active.  I just downloaded the guide.

    Here's a direct quote from the product group:

    "To support this Beta release, the development and program management teams will deliver a LiveMeeting on Wednesday September 6th. Details are below. We want to welcome as many customers into the Beta as possible to gather the most feedback and ensure that we ship a customer-driven solution. With that in mind, feel free to forward this information to anyone you think might benefit from attending the session. We’ll be describing the guide, how we developed it, the best way to use it, and one really cool new tool that can save lots of time in the test and deployment phases. We will also take questions at the end of the presentation, so this is a great opportunity for customers to directly interact with the security guide team."

    Here's the webcast information:

    Topic: Windows Vista Security Guide

    Abstract: The Vista Security Guide in now in Beta! This session reviews the structure of the guide, discusses some of the old and new approaches for deploying security configuration, and demonstrates how the guide leverages some of the new security technologies built into Windows Vista.

    Presenter: Kelly Hengesteg, Mike Danseglio, Jose Maldonado

    Date and Time: September 6, 2006, 8 am – 10 am PT

    To join this Live Meeting up to a half hour before the session starts,  click


    Installing Live Meeting

    Install the Windows-based Meeting Console before your meeting:  You can also use the browser web console if desired. 


    Live Meetings are broadcast using Internet audio over your computer. Please ensure that you have Windows Media Player 9 or higher installed.

  • I'm sure glad my Xbox360 doesn't have a blog

    360voiceIn case you haven’t noticed, the current rage is to have your Xbox360 automatically blog about your gaming “performance”.  Of course, if you don’t use your Xbox360, it will also blog about what a pathetic loser you are as well.  Either way, it’s a really entertaining idea.  See

  • Has Scobleizer lost his blog power?

    There’s an interesting read at  No mention of Windows Vista hitting the RC1 milestone on his blog today.  Hmmmmm…  Coincidence?  You decide.  Must be a holiday weekend.
  • Windows Vista RC1 is complete - my download is in progress

    Windows Vista RC1 build 5600 is complete.  My download is in progress from Seattle and I’ll be flattening my laptop over the weekend to begin running this important milestone.  This will be available to TechNet Plus Direct subscribers next week BEFORE everyone else.  Warm up those fiber connections and DVD burners.

    See for a post and information from the Windows Vista team.

    Have a wonderful holiday weekend everyone!!!