Keith Combs' Blahg

Ramblings from another nerd on the grid

March, 2007

  • PowerShell in "every" version of Windows Server?

    PowerShell is hot.  The Windows PowerShell team announced that PowerShell is going to be in Windows Server code named "Longhorn".  In the same post they also exclaimed, "That's right, every version of Windows Server will ship with PowerShell!"

    Huh?

    Several of the readers of the blog picked up on that and asked the question that immediately popped into my head...  Is PowerShell also going to be installed by default or as an optional feature installation for Windows Server code named "Longhorn" Core?

    Server Core (which is much easier to say) is the version of Longhorn server that doesn't have all of the shell UI installed.  Prior to Beta 3 (which isn't done yet), when you install Server Core, you get a cmd.exe console when you login.  That's it.  No Start button, no GUI.  It's easy enough to install roles, promote a core server to a DC or RODC, etc.  Remote administration is a snap.

    But what about PowerShell?

    It's interesting that the blog entry hasn't been corrected and it's been over 24 hours.  It was posted early Wednesday morning and now it's early Friday morning.  Frankly, I'm hopeful it doesn't need to be corrected and would like to see PowerShell in Server Core.  What about you?

    [UPDATE]  As expected, the PowerShell team made an edit to the post and it now says, "That's right, Windows Server will ship with PowerShell!"  <grin>  Last time I checked, Windows Server Core was part of Windows Server so although an edit was made, it's still ambiguous but I think we know it isn't going to happen.  Now it's time for the PowerShell team to drill down on the explanation of why not.  I'm sure they'll get to that on their blog.

  • Dell will begin offering Linux

    Apparently Dell has decided to start offering desktop and laptop machines preinstalled with Linux.  The models have not been announced.  The Linux distros that will be tested and certified have not been announced.  They actually used the word certification at http://www.dell.com/content/topics/global.aspx/ideastorm/ideasinaction?c=us&l=en&s=gen.  I'd like to know what that means.  I know what certification means to me.

    Anyway, this is going to be interesting to say the least.  I have been watching from the sidelines, as usual, to see how this shakes out.  It would appear from some of the comments I've seen, that the Linux advocates expect a pretty significant price drop if they select Linux versus Windows.  It will be very interesting to see if that's true.

    Competition is good.  I really believe that.  It will make Windows better, OS X better and Linux better.

  • Break VoIP Barriers with Office Communications Server 2007

    Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007, the next evolution of Live Communications Server, delivers streamlined communications for your users so they can find and communicate with the right person, right now, from the applications they use most – like Microsoft Outlook. Without expensive infrastructure and network upgrades, your organization can deliver these benefits on an extensible VoIP foundation. At the same time, your IT department can deliver these enhanced capabilities and provide operational control alongside your existing Exchange and Active Directory infrastructure.

    Microsoft Office Communicator is a unified communications client that helps people be more productive by enabling them to communicate easily with others using a range of communication options, including instant messaging (IM), voice, and video. Office Communicator 2007 Public Beta introduces a wide range of new features, most notably enhanced presence and enterprise voice capabilities, enabling users to place computer-to-computer calls and to place outbound calls to, and accept incoming calls from, traditional (PBX/PSTN) phone users. Office Communicator 2007 Public Beta also introduces robust call-forwarding features, support for USB audio devices, automatic setup of audio and video devices, and the ability to add Active Directory Domain Services distribution groups to your Communicator Contact List.

    Office Communications Server 2007 Public Beta is available for download in two editions: Enterprise Edition and Standard Edition.

    Office Communications Server 2007 Enterprise Edition Trial Version
    Downloadable file name: OCS_EE_Eval.msi
    Consists of a one or more Enterprise Edition Servers connected to a separate, shared Microsoft SQL Server database that form an Enterprise pool providing IM, conferencing, and audio-video functionality. This two-tier architecture, delivers substantial improvements in availability, scalability, and performance over the Standard Edition.

    Office Communications Server 2007 Standard Edition Trial Version
    Downloadable file name: OCS_SE_Eval.msi
    Consists of single, standalone server together on the same computer with an SQL Server Express Edition database for storing user data and providing IM, conferencing, and audio-video functionality. Standard Edition Server is the appropriate choice in small or pilot deployments where enterprise-level capacity, availability, and performance are not required.

    Download @ http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=F7D34DF9-29CF-4BFC-824F-7A382CE8BA8B&displaylang=en

  • Internet Connectivity Evaluation Tool RTW's

     

    The Internet Connectivity Evaluation Tool checks your Internet router to see if it supports certain technologies. You can use this tool on a PC running either the Windows Vista or Windows XP operating system. If you're planning to run Windows Vista, this tool can verify whether your existing Internet router supports advanced features, such as improved download speeds and face-to-face collaboration using Windows Meeting Space.

    The tool is intended to be run from a home network behind a home Internet (NAT) router. Running this tool from behind a corporate firewall or on operating systems other than those specified above won't produce accurate results. This tool requires administrator privileges to run.

    The tests can require up to 10 minutes to complete and do not make any permanent changes to your router. For the most accurate results, your computer should be connected directly to your Internet router, using a wired connection.

    Note Although it is unlikely, testing might interrupt your Internet connectivity or cause your router to stop responding. If you require uninterrupted Internet access at this time (for example, if you are in the middle of downloading a large file, bidding on a time-sensitive Internet auction, or playing an online game), you should wait and do this testing at another time.

    A Brief Overview of the tool

    The tool is downloaded and installed as an ActiveX Component and can be invoked through the tool specific web pages.  It runs through 6 basic connectivity tests consisting of, basic ipv4 connectivity, NAT-type determination, Vista TCP options (ECN and WS), UPnP Support and Concurrent TCP streams. 

    The complete test should take about 10 minutes. 

    We recommend running this from a machine directly connected (via Ethernet) to your router at home.

    Download @ http://www.microsoft.com/windows/using/tools/igd/default.mspx

    [Note] :  Be sure to check out the detailed report after it runs.  Network nerds need only apply. :)

  • Camtasia v4.01 ships for Windows Vista

    There are a number of tools on the market to capture screen input and produce demonstrations and courseware.  When you start looking at tools, you'll obviously evaluate them against a number of criteria like performance, features you need, and the operating systems supported.

    During my teams testing, we discovered TechSmith's Camtasia v3.x was an excellent product and we have been using it pretty extensively for the past couple of years.  Most of that testing was exploring what types of demos work well from blogs and other publishing media server types.  Camtasia v3.x worked great with Windows XP and our virtual technologies so it became our preferred tool for capturing those demos.

    Well, Windows Vista side tracked our focus a bit and also threw a monkey wrench into our plans.  Camtasia v3.x wasn't compatible with Windows Vista and the version 4 product had some issues as well.  However, I am happy to announce TechSmith has released a Windows Vista compatibility update. 

    You can download the trial from http://www.techsmith.com/download/camtasiatrial.asp.  If you purchased Camtasia v4, you can download the trial and use it to update from v4 to v4.01 and pick up the Windows Vista fixes.

    Several members of my team have tested the v4.01 beta versions.  I just installed the v4.01 RTM product and thankfully I thought ahead and brought my headset to Orlando.  I'll be doing some demo captures over the next couple days so I'll let you know if I hit any snags.

  • Motion Computing's LE1700wt lets you touch Aero

    For those of you interested in a cool new tablet PC, check out the latest model from Motion Computing.  The LE1700wt uses a pen or lets you flick on the touch screen capability.  This looks like an excellent platform for a variety of interesting applications.  Here's the blurb from the motioncomputing.com website:

    The LE1700WT Tablet PC combines all the features and power of the standard LE1700 Tablet PC with our new WriteTouch™ technology. WriteTouch from Motion Computing® is a dual-mode display which allows the ease and convenient use of capacitive finger touch and active digitizer pen and inking capabilities combined in a single tablet PC. With WriteTouch, you no longer have to decide between a touch screen and an active digitizer – you can have both. Use the digitizer pen for signature captures, extensive handwriting, notes, and ink-to-text conversion. Use your fingertip to drag and drop with ease, take advantage of Windows Vista™ flick gestures and quickly and easily navigate the web, forms-based and button-driven applications, and your system applications.

    Looks like the loaded Windows Vista model at http://www.motioncomputing.com/buy/buy_le17wt.asp is a cool $3248.  They have some interesting options like the Field Case which integrates a keyboard nicely.  See the high rez pics at http://www.motioncomputing.com/about/news/image_bank_le1700.asp

  • MMS 2007 - I wonder what's going to happen

    The Microsoft Management Summit (MMS) starts next Monday in San Diego.  I'd love to be there, but I'm headed to Orlando for TechMentor and Windows Connections.  It should be interesting to see what gets announced next week at MMS.  I'm guessing there will be a lot of information on System Center Operations Manager, System Center Data Protection Manager, and System Center Configuration Manager

    If you are a mid sized business you might want to review the information on System Center Essentials 2007.  Essentials 2007 is a new management solution in the System Center family of IT systems management products specifically designed for midsized businesses. Essentials 2007 provides a unified management solution that enables IT professionals in midsize organizations to proactively manage their IT environment with increased efficiency.  Marketing... gotta love em.

    Next week is going to be a great week on the management front.  While I'm thinking about it, make sure to check out our webcasts in May.  We are doing a boat load of System Center content.  They aren't posted yet on http://www.microsoft.com/events/webcasts/upcoming.mspx.

  • Process Explorer v1.1 released at Sysinternals

    Process Monitor is an advanced monitoring tool for Windows that shows real-time file system, Registry and process/thread activity. It combines the features of two legacy Sysinternals utilities, Filemon and Regmon, and adds an extensive list of enhancements including rich and non-destructive filtering, comprehensive event properties such session IDs and user names, reliable process information, full thread stacks with integrated symbol support for each operation, simultaneous logging to a file, and much more. Its uniquely powerful features will make Process Monitor a core utility in your system troubleshooting and malware hunting toolkit.

    Process Monitor runs on Windows 2000 SP4 with Update Rollup 1, Windows XP SP2, Windows Server 2003 SP1, and Windows Vista as well as x64 versions of Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 SP1 and Windows Vista.

    See http://www.microsoft.com/technet/sysinternals/default.mspx for more information on the Sysinternal tools.  Get the new version of Process Explorer directly at http://download.sysinternals.com/Files/ProcessMonitor.zip

    [UPDATE]  Wes Miller has published a nice article in TechNet magazine.  See http://www.microsoft.com/technet/technetmag/issues/2007/03/DesktopFiles/default.aspx for more information on the "Ps" tools.

  • Planet Earth looks kewl

    HDTV is interesting.  Especially when watching the Discovery channel in HD.  It's all to easy to just veg out and watch the splendor.  Maybe it's because this planet is pretty spectacular when we aren't screwing it up.  I mean come on, mother nature rocks.  If you are into nature and the world around you, you'll probably want to check out the "Planet Earth" series that starts this Sunday at 8pm EST.

    Here's the description of the series:

    More than five years in the making, PLANET EARTH redefines blue-chip natural history filmmaking and continues the Discovery Channel mission to provide the highest quality programming in the world. The 11-part series will amaze viewers with never-before-seen animal behaviors, startling views of locations captured by cameras for the first time, and unprecedented high-definition production techniques. Award-winning actress and conservationist Sigourney Weaver is the series' narrator.


    PLANET EARTH airs on consecutive Sundays from March 25 through April 22, 2007, on Discovery Channel and in high definition on Discovery HD Theater. Get an email reminder!

    That isn't all.  The folks at Discovery have a Planet Earth Game so check it out.  And if for some reason you don't have cable tv and don't get the Discovery Channel, you can always buy the complete Planet Earth BBC HD DVD set at amazon.com or the regular DVD set at the shopping.discovery.com website.

  • ADMX Migrator download

    Now that my team is cranking up the air cover for Windows "Longhorn" Server, the topic of Group Policy, Central Store, ADMX templates and such are going to come up more frequently.  With that in mind, I'll start posting relevant information, even if it's something that happened a few months ago.  For instance, back in November when football, beer and turkey were popular, we released the ADMX Migrator.

    The ADMX Migrator enables you to convert ADM files to the ADMX format and take advantage of the additional capabilities that it provides. The new XML-based format includes multilanguage support, an optional centralized datastore, and version control capabilities.

    You can select multiple ADM files for conversion. The ADMX Migrator creates a unique namespace which you can rename and will display a warning if a collision is detected due to duplicate names. Also, any items that cannot be validated against the ADMX schema are preserved in an Unsupported section. Please note that any annotations in ADM files are removed during the conversion process.

    Additionally, the ADMX Migrator provides an ADMX editor with a graphical user interface for creating and editing Administrative Templates. You can select settings from menus rather than entering them manually in a text file, speeding template creation and reducing the chance for error.

    Get it @ http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=0F1EEC3D-10C4-4B5F-9625-97C2F731090C&displaylang=en

  • Cure your fear of heights here

    Do you get a little queeezy when you are ten feet off the ground?  Well, cure your fear of heights at the Grand Canyon Skywalk attraction opening in a few more days. Skywalk is a partnership between the Hualapai tribe and entrepreneur David Jin of Las Vegas . The design team includes Las Vegas-based MRJ Architects, Lochsa Engineering, LLC and APCO Construction. The glass is being manufactured in Germany and Austria by Saint Gobain, a European company that specializes in designing architectural structural glass for unique building projects worldwide. The steel was manufactured by Mark Steel in Utah .

     

     

    See some pics of the steel being welded at http://mrjarchitects.com/MRJ%20Architects%20skywalk%20Alert.html.  Head on over to the website for a video and more information at http://www.destinationgrandcanyon.com/indexe.html.

  • Ultimate backgrounds for Vista lovers

  • Registered for Windows "Longhorn" Server Beta 3 ???

    COMING SOON - Windows Server, Code Named "Longhorn"

    Build your business on a solid foundation
    The next generation of the Windows Server operating system helps organizations maximize control over their server infrastructure with new management and configuration tools, task automation, and enhanced diagnostics. Security and reliability are also improved with hardened services and policy-based network access protection.

    Register to be notified when the Windows Server, code name "Longhorn," Beta is available and to get beta updates in your TechNet Flash »

  • Is your HD DVR important?

    I've been reading and participating in some interesting internal Microsoft debates.  I'm doing my own research and thinking on the subject of HDTV recording.  There are many questions and few answers.  One question that popped into my head is, "Does anyone care about their HDTV recording device?"

    Obviously some people care.  HDTV enthusiasts certainly care, but they don't count because until really recently, we weren't mainstream.  Tivo certainly cares, but they are in the business to care.  Tivo also knows that in order to survive, then need to sell more boxes.  Here's a question for you, "Is Tivo a Microsoft partner or competitor?"

    As you know, Microsoft produced a really kewl version of Windows XP called Media Center Edition 2005.  MCE 2005 has done really well from a sales perspective.  Of course it helps that many of the big OEM's offered it as the default OS for the machines they were selling.  But what percentage of those machines actually record a TV signal, much less a high definition TV signal for later playback?

    I would venture to guess that most people that own a HDTV, also have cable, fiber or satellite feeds of HDTV programming.  I think it's a fair bet that of those HDTV owners that have a subscription, many have a HD DVR of some kind.  A high percentage will be a crappy DVR from the local cable, telco or satellite provider.

    I use the word crappy for one reason... small hard drive size.  It's rare to see a HD DVR from the local provider that offers a large hard drive, or is extensible with an external hard drive.  Sure, some people complain about other aspects of the DVR like the menus, search, scheduling, etc. but the hard drive is going to become a focus for the mainstream very soon.  You see, as people get hooked on DVR capabilities, they get used to the creature comfort of having a couple of weeks or more of their favorite programming.  Several weeks is easy on most DVR's when recording standard definition.  Not with high definition bit rates.  Kiss that hard drive space good bye.

    When do people watch video?

    I took a look at Mark Cuban's blog this evening to see if he has an opinion on high definition recording and where the market is headed.  Low and behold, he has a post on online video viewing that struck me as interesting, but it isn't really the same question.  Or is it?

    Mark talks about peoples viewing habits, or more accurately how content providers might control that, and thus control advertising revenue. 

    That's precisely why DVR's are becoming more and more mainstream.  People don't want to be controlled.  They want more control.  That's also why the set top box is morphing.  Mark talks some about it in his post on the future of personal computing.

    So why the big debate inside Microsoft?

    Ok, big debate is a stretch.  But there are a lot of passionate enthusiasts on this subject.  Like all companies, we want to see a product or feature succeed and help make the product sell, thus generating a good revenue stream.  Enter from stage left, Windows Vista.  As you might imagine, we'd like for the product to be successful.  One of the features I thought would help drive that success is the OCUR feature.  You'll notice this link takes you directly to the area on the CableLabs website.

    OCUR gives Windows Vista the ability to record HD content from a cable or fiber optic feed.  There are strings attached.  CableLabs decides who can hook up to the various cable systems, and what type of device is allowed.  In the case of Windows Vista, you have to have a special machine only sold by approved OEM suppliers.  So far, the machines that have shipped with that capability are pretty pricey.  That's part of the concern and debate.  The other part of the concern and debate revolves around digital rights management (DRM).

    I think we see the potential for Windows Vista to be the killer HD DVR.  It already has the capability right now.  No longer are we stuck only recording over-the-air.  Now we can record a series like Rome or Entourage, or a movie off Showtime, HBO, etc.  This is also the reason CableLabs has the platform locked down.  They want to make sure you don't record a HD movie and burn DVD's for sale on eBay.  I don't blame them for that.  The restrictions do hamper you from building your own machine.  You cannot do that and use the OCUR feature with Windows Vista, unless of course someone hacks a way in.

    So do people care about their HD DVR?  How does Microsoft make money on it?

    Now that's the question...  Sure, we'll sell the high end version of Windows Vista and a few people will buy the pricey PC's that support the feature, but what we really need is a box sitting in the entertainment center that has a great interface like Media Center, a big fat hard drive, wired to the internet, and lots of other stuff like Xbox gaming.  We need the ability for you to get a kewl box like that at a great price (buy or rent).

    People will care about that.  They don't know it yet, but they will.  My current HD DVR gives me about 20-30 hours of HD recording space.  An OCUR based Windows Vista PC gives me unlimited recording space.  Get the picture? 

    The real question boils down to cost and a special purpose device versus a general purpose device.  How special is your HD DVR?  Do you care?

  • My new car gets 40mpg, how about yours?

    I went green.  Ok, not in the hybrid sense, but as in I'm saving lots of green.  I traded my high testosterone, high horse power, high payment, premium gas, low miles per gallon Infiniti G35 Coupe for a Honda Civic

    Ok, pick yourself up off the floor.  Before you tell me, as Charles has done, that I'm totally crazy, consider the following:

    1. The Civic will get twice the miles per gallon as my old G35.
    2. The Civic uses regular old gasoline compared to the premium gas required in the G35.
    3. I'm saving $400 per month on the monthly payment and will have the Civic paid off just a few months after what would have been the payoff date of the G35.
    4. The Civic is a kewl looking and driving machine.  Now granted it doesn't have 300 horse power and won't stick you to the back of the seat, but it isn't designed too either.  It has half the horsepower.

    Oh well, I thought you might be interested in how I'm spending my vacation time.  Spending money as usual.  Well, not really spending.  Besides, this will allow me to save some money for my next sports car...  :)

  • Claire is Jack's sister?

    Ok, the writers of "Lost" have obviously been on the island of Maui Wowee a little bit too long.

  • Help my Help

    Windows Help (WinHlp32.exe) is a Help program that has been included with Microsoft Windows versions starting with the Microsoft Windows 3.1 operating system. However, the Windows Help program has not had a major update for many releases and no longer meets Microsoft's standards. Therefore, starting with the release of Windows Vista, the Windows Help program will not ship as a feature of Windows. If you want to view 32-bit .hlp files, you must download and install the program (WinHlp32.exe) from the Microsoft Download Center.

    Download at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=6ebcfad9-d3f5-4365-8070-334cd175d4bb&displaylang=en.

  • Time - the most precious commodity?

    Time equals money.  Does it really?  As you IT Pros know, time is an extremely precious commodity.  You never seem to have enough time to do what you are supposed to, let alone what you want to.  With the pervasive influx of networking and IT into our lives, it's all too easy to burn time.

    So how do you deal with it? 

    I mean seriously, how many of you are actually able to work a 40 hour work week and achieve the objectives set by your organization and company?  If you are able to do that, I want to know how you manage.

    2007 has been a extraordinary amount of fun.  Huge product launches and the associated activity will do that.  But like many marathons, you run on adrenalin for a while.  I blogged about the hamster wheel before.  What happens when the adrenalin runs out?

    Reality sets in!!!

    Reality hit me about the end of January.  You see, I have this crystal ball that no one knows about and I can predict the future.  My crystal ball told me then that I was going to get hit with a TSUNAMI wave of stuff requiring my attention.  My crystal ball is never wrong.

    Ok, I don't really have a crystal ball. But I do have a sixth sense about such things.  I have years of experience working on small, medium and enterprise level projects.  Planning and forecasting was etched on my brain very early and those organizational skills come in handy.  The problem is, that those skills were honed around a 40 hour work week.  Starting to get the picture?

    I'm not complaining.  Microsoft pays me very well for what I do.  I have great managers and like all good managers, they do their best to provide the tools, environment, training, support, goals and stretch goals so that we can exceed expectation. 

    However, the last week was a pretty interesting eye opener.  You see, we have another quarter coming up that starts April 1st.  No fooling.  Time is marching that direction and although DST may make it zig a bit, it's still going to march on.  As the content lead for our Longhorn Server content, you might expect that I have some deadlines.  Shocker, right?

    Critical Success Factors

    I love that phrase.  Lets dissect it.  Factors critical to our success.  Factors can be in or out of our control.  Success can be measured numerous ways.  And critical has all types of meaning.  Life threatening, it's a prerequisite, etc.  As the content lead, it's critical I review the content coming from our corporate developers and assess the quality and messaging for you, my audience.  This is a leveraged role meaning it's critical I do this so that my other peers don't have to.  It saves man hours (time) and thus saves money.

    In this quarters scenario, my crystal ball said back in January, "Danger Will Robinson".  My sixth sense was itching and that isn't good.  As it turns out, the content was late, lacked the quality I wanted, and was based on old builds of Longhorn Server and Windows Vista.  Now I could have said screw it and we could have had the discussion based on the old builds, or I could fix things.  How the hell am I going to fix things?  I received the content the end of the week of 2/12, I have launch events the week of 2/19 and 2/26 and vacation scheduled for the week of 3/5 and 3/12.

    Time is the most precious commodity

    Anyone out there figured out how to get more than 24 hours out of a day?  No?  Me either.  That being the case, I am going to need some time to fix this problem.  A week of vacation gets sacrificed.

    To give you an idea, leading up to that decision meant I had to unpack close to 60GIG in virtual machines (11 of them), setup the execution environment, and go through the demos for six different sessions.  It's equivalent to doing six webcasts or two live TechNet events.  My peers know exactly what I am talking about.  And for new products and technology, you can't just blow through it at break neck speed.

    The assessment took some time.  Being the detailed person I am, I documented my likes and dislikes with the content I received.  I put on my IT Pro hat and decide if I were you, would I want to see this?  My verdict was to toss the VM's.  That meant a rebuild.

    So last Saturday I started building a new set of virtual machines.  I consolidated the eleven vm's to three.  They are based on the Windows Longhorn Server Feb 2007 CTP and Windows Vista Enterprise.  There were a number of learning hurdles as you might expect.  After all, the new "Core" server doesn't have a GUI.  I worked pretty long hours this week.  Longer than usual and people that know me know I am not understating that effort.

    Something has to give

    The end result is that we have some really fun content to demonstrate.  It should drive a very healthy discussion with you, our audience.  Unless I made a serious error somewhere, my peers will be happy with the content and their ability to learn from it, and deliver it.

    However, today is essentially the last day I'm going to work on Microsoft business for a while (until about 3/19).  I am wrapping the demo script and slide deck today, then I pull the plug.  I have vacation scheduled next week, and I'm taking it.  I have a lot of stuff I want to do around here.  Sleep is one of them.  :)

    So, I have about 30 unanswered emails that came in directly or via my blog.  Sorry.  I have stuff my manager(s) wanted me to do by yesterday.  And I still have requests for my time coming in by the minute from other people and organizations. 

    Time marches on and it doesn't care about your plans...

    Don't think for a second this is a cynical or mad post.  It's quite the opposite.  Spring is my favorite time of year and I am going to enjoy it for the next few days.  Time to get out and get a good whiff of the pollen, clean the pool, do stuff for my honey, ride the Harley, drink margaritas with Mongo, etc.

    See ya when I get back... 

  • Is the ballot box stuffed?

    I've been watching http://www.dellideastorm.com/ for the past few weeks to see what bubbles to the top and what action Dell would take.  As you know, Dell has sold a couple of Windows machines since the company was founded in 1984.

    I'm interested because the lion share of the ideas are pro Linux and anti Windows Vista.  So I guess I'm wondering why that is?  Maybe that's the wrong way to view this.  I'm assuming from looking at the posts that people simply want a check box when purchasing a machine as to what operating systems they want.  It might be more accurate to say they want to buy a machine with no operating system at all.

    So what happens when your Mom buys a machine and forgets to check off Windows or Linux and it arrives exactly as ordered?  If you were Dell, would you force at least one operating system to be installed and shipped so the machine at least boots and connects to the internet?

    I'm sure Dell is weighing their options carefully.  For instance, lets say they decide to put a check box for Linux.  Which Linux do they decide to sell and support?  I would imagine the top three or four distros might make the list.

    This is going to get interesting.  Competition is good.

  • I have seen the light and it is fiber optic

    I'm back in the speed zone.  Thank heavens for Verizon Wireless EVDO Broadband as an interim solution. I have successfully transitioned from a static business fiber account to a residential dynamic account.  This was no small undertaking and it included shutting down my Small Business Server (SBS).  So what benefit was derived from all of this?

    Now that I am on Verizon FIOS (residential), I also have FIOS TV.  With that change, I have twice as many channels as I did before.  Ok, it may not be exactly twice as many but I do have many more channels than was offered by the cable provider I previously had.  The standard def assortment of premium movies channels is mind boggling.  The biggest benefit came from the HDTV channels I now receive via FIOS TV.  I have several new HD channels like the NFL network, National Geographic HD, TNT HD, MTV HD, TMC HD and Starz HD. 

    And wouldn't you know, before I knew what happened, my wife grabs the remote and switches to the new Starz HD channel and starts watching, "The Shaggy Dog".  Grrrrrrrrr.  :)

    What's next?

    Now I am all set for some exciting new Windows Vista developments, some of which are already announced.  First, my connection and programming will allow me to use the new digital cable PC tuners from ATI.  I may need to purchase a new machine with the supporting BIOS.  We'll see later on that.  I expect to have that running in the next two to three months assuming Dell, HP, etc. get their goodies out the door.

    I have a few other things up my sleeve but I won't spill the beans on that until later...  lets just say I'm wondering if I have enough hard drive space.

    The Net Net on my Outages

    I had set my cancellation date for my business account to be 3/2/2007 (Friday).  Verizon canceled my service on 2/27.  I assume to sync with the billing cycle.  Of course I was out of town and it impacted the family.  The planned and actual start date for my residential service was 3/5.  The installer arrived on time and we were done very quickly.  It helps to already have all of the hardware in place.

    I took an unexpected outage on my voice over IP provider.  I neglected to check it before the installer left (bad doggie).  Apparently the ATT CallVantage telephone adaptor is incompatible with the Verizon FIOS ActionTec router.  No measure of port forwards and DMZ action would solve that.  ATT confirmed they were aware of it.  So, I released the ip address on the ActionTec WAN interface and plugged in the trusty D-Link router I received two years ago on my original FIOS install.  This of course worked but since I didn't have the needed FIOS TV NIM, I placed a call to VZ and opened a trouble ticket.

    I called this trouble ticket in at about 9pm yesterday (3/5) and they said the next available appointment time was for 8-10am today.  Huh? Could you repeat that?  Yea, next morning arrival of a tech and NIM. 

    Anyone skeptical that would actually happen?

    Low and behold, at about 9:30am, knock knock.  A very nice VZ tech comes in and assesses the situation.  He hands me the NIM and we start plugging stuff in.  A quick firmware update to the D-Link and we're in business.  Data, video and voice are all working included on demand and pay per view.

    Rock and roll !!!

  • Is Viridian like Kryptonite to Superman?

    Everyone is familiar with the fictitious element of the planet Krypton.  Strangely, this element is poisonous to a native of the planet.  But what about Viridian?  What is it?  Is it powerful? 

    First of all, Viridian isn't a fictitious element.  It is in fact a color or city in Pokemon.  I find that amusing.  Pokemon freaks in the Windows Server product group... who would have guessed. <grin>

    Viridian is also the project name for the Windows Server hypervisor technologies now on display. 

    Display?  Where?  

    During the Microsoft geek/nerd training event known as TR4, a number of technologies were paraded out.  One of the more fascinating demonstrations was conducted by Jeff Woolsey of the Windows Server Virtualization team.  You pretty much need to see the demo for yourself.

    Head on over to Arlindo Alves blog post at http://blogs.technet.com/aralves/archive/2007/02/28/longhorn-hypervisor-demo.aspx since he scored the video first.  Very kewl stuff.

    Is Viridian powerful?  Judge for yourself...

  • Should you upgrade a system to 4GB of memory?

    Many users of desktop operating systems have been happy with 512MB, 1GB and 2GB memory configurations.  As memory prices continued to drop it was typical to see someone bump their memory from 1GB to 2GB.  Many laptops have been sold with 2GB RAM configurations.  Considering the cost of a 2GB SoDIMM, this was a reasonable trade off.

    Now that laptop memory has started to become even more affordable, loading up a laptop or desktop with it's memory capacity seems to be in vogue.  For most desktop and laptop configurations, this means 4GB of memory.  The thinking is that the added memory will improve performance and provide a better user experience.  The problem is, that most people are in for a rude awakening when they do this.

    Why?

    A recently published support article at http://support.microsoft.com/kb/929605/en-us does a great job of describing the issue.  You'll also notice in the article, that various chipsets supporting 4GB and higher are documented.  Here's the punch line from the article:

    For Windows Vista to use all 4 GB of memory on a computer that has 4 GB of memory installed, the computer must meet the following requirements:

    • The chipset must support at least 8 GB of address space. Chipsets that have this capability include the following:
      • Intel 975X
      • Intel P965
      • Intel 955X on Socket 775
      • Chipsets that support AMD processors that use socket F, socket 940, socket 939, or socket AM2. These chipsets include any AMD socket and CPU combination in which the memory controller resides in the CPU.
    • The CPU must support the x64 instruction set. The AMD64 CPU and the Intel EM64T CPU support this instruction set.
    • The BIOS must support the memory remapping feature. The memory remapping feature allows for the segment of system memory that was previously overwritten by the Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) configuration space to be remapped above the 4 GB address line. This feature must be enabled in the BIOS configuration utility on the computer. View your computer product documentation for instructions that explain how to enable this feature. Many consumer-oriented computers may not support the memory remapping feature. No standard terminology is used in documentation or in BIOS configuration utilities for this feature. Therefore, you may have to read the descriptions of the various BIOS configuration settings that are available to determine whether any of the settings enable the memory remapping feature.
    • An x64 (64-bit) version of Windows Vista must be used.

    Like I mentioned in some previous articles, the desktop and laptop configurations coming in a few months will be specifically designed to support 8GB of memory.  So should you upgrade your memory right now?  If you have some available memory slots and are sitting at 512MB or 1GB of memory, then the answer is probably yes.  This will certainly allow more head room for Windows XP and of course any upgrades to Windows Vista will be happier as well.  I would not consider going above 3GB on a laptop or desktop until you've confirmed support for 4GB of memory.  If on the other hand you don't have any available slots, then the decision gets even tougher.  It would mean pulling existing working memory for newer higher capacity memory.  I really hate to do that.  You end up having a memory grave yard like I do.

  • Get your Daylight Savings Time (DST) answers real time

    Join members of the daylight saving time team who will be online to chat with you about your specific questions February 24 - March 13: 06:00 A.M. – 06:00 P.M. Pacific Time.

    Join the chatroom at: http://www.microsoft.com/businesssolutions/chatroom.aspx.

    I logged in a little while ago and it appears to be a very lively chat area right now (for some reason).  There are lots of Microsoft support personnel helping to answer your questions so check it out!!!

  • I am in the dark

    After two years, my fiber connection is dark.  Verizon is switching my account from business to residential so this is one of the steps toward that end.  My cable provider has also been canceled and they picked up my television set top boxes.

    So I am without a cable tv feed or high speed internet access for the first time in over eight years.  Insert video of Keith twitching from withdrawals...  :)

    Don't worry, I have backups of course.  I have my Verizon sponsored EVDO wireless card for posting witty blog posts and if I need a high speed fix, I can go to my honey's retail store and use her DSL connection. 

    TV isn't totally cut off.  I still receive the over-the-air high definition signal to my media center pc which records the major networks.  Of course after that happens, we can view the HD goodness on the DLP HDTV via the magic of Xbox360 integration.

    All is supposed to be fixed Monday.  Verizon is supposed to re-light my fiber and install FIOS HDTV. 

    Ok, you can start the snide comments about me being in the dark now.  :)

  • A new world record for blog posts...

    I was on the road this week delivering the final Windows Vista/Office 2007/Exchange Server 2007 launch events.  As I'm catching up on email, I shifted gears to blogs.technet.com to see what my peers are up to.

    Low and behold, I spy a new blog was created at http://blogs.technet.com/dst2007/default.aspx.  Someone, in their infinite wisdom posted 2 posts on Wednesday (probably a test), then posted 213 posts on 3/1.  It pretty much dominated the RSS feed for the day and I don't know about you, but I hope they back off soon.  If someone from the blog reads this, you might consider turning on commenting.  Blogs are more fun that way...

    See, told ya I was opinionated. 

    [UPDATE] I spoke with Anthony Tsim about his blog.  The 213 posts is supposed to be a "one off" so I don't think we'll see him trying to best the record.  I also asked for the comments to be turned on.  All of this was done to promote the DST chat room at http://www.microsoft.com/businesssolutions/chatroom.aspx.  If you have questions on DST, check their chat room out.  I logged in easily with my Passport account.