Keith Combs' Blahg

Ramblings from another nerd on the grid

September, 2007

  • The Halo 3 Badges of Honor

    Fear the Pink Mist - Killed 5 enemies with the needler in a ranked free for all playlist or in campaign. I must admit I didn't put 2+2 together when I was awarded the most prestigious of awards, the coveted "Fear the Pink Mist" award.  It popped up and of course I said, "What the ..... ?"  Scratches head.  I tucked that away and figured I'd look it up later.

    So I was checking out my friends progress at then decided to look back over my stuff.  I noticed the glorious pink badge and the description.  KEWL !!!

    Now I'll be trying to earn more of those badges.  I like the Used Car Salesman award as well.  This is what makes the game, Halo 3, really great.  Not only is the gameplay fun, but look at all of the other stuff surrounding the game.  Screenshots, video playback, stats, multiplayer matches, etc.

    Can you possibly imagine the sheer amount if data generated each and every day between now and about January 3rd when everyone goes back to school?  It's a SQL Server dream or nightmare (depending on your responsibilities). 

  • Kewlest Halo 3 desktop wallpaper ever!


    Just making sure you are properly focused this week... click the pic above for the big version.

  • Windows Vista DreamScene is no longer a dream

    We shipped the Windows Vista Ultimate extra known as DreamScene.  See the details of the announcement at

    I'm glad we shipped.  Shipping is a feature.  Please read the announcement since it was written by Barry Goeffe - Director, Windows Vista Ultimate.  Here's a snip from the article :

    "On a different topic, as the broad beta for Windows Vista SP1 nears, people have noticed that the screen which welcomes customers to Windows Ultimate Extras has changed. Our intent in making this change was simply to broaden the definition in anticipation of a broader range of Ultimate Extras being available in the future—that do  not necessarily map to the original, narrow definition.

    While I can understand how community sites and bloggers may have read the new definition and assumed that Microsoft is not shipping any more Extras, in reality the opposite is true. In addition to the remaining Language Packs, we plan to ship a collection of additional Windows Ultimate Extras that we are confident will delight our passionate Windows Vista Ultimate customers. We will shed more light on these plans once the Language Packs are finally dislodged from our delivery pipeline!"

    Now I would imagine this is going to be met with a fair amount of skepticism.  We'll see what the team delivers.  I'm pretty sure they are aware you are watching closely. 

    In the meantime, check out the free goodies at   

  • Spartan 117 is a MIT Alum


    Swiped from ROFL !!!

  • The bases are loaded and it's a full count

    PE4BoxShot Like many of you, I'm the forgiving sort of person.  I use a "three strikes" rule when I spend my money on products, services, food, etc.  If you aren't familiar with the terms, they are from the world of American baseball.  Basically, when it's your turn to hit the ball, you get three strikes or misses before you are out.

    I give restaurants the three strikes rule because some nights the server isn't good.  No need to penalize a good place for a bad waiter.  If on the second trip something else causes concern, then they are officially on probation and a third trip and strike means they move to my banned list.  Life is too short to eat bad food.  Sometimes a place strikes out on the first visit, but those are rare in the Dallas area.

    On the other hand, software and services can be a dicey game.  For instance, in my post about my X64 adventures, I complained that Adobe Premiere Elements v3.02 would not run on my machine with Windows Vista Ultimate.  There's actually more to the complaint than that isolated instance, but it was a biggee.

    My use of Adobe Premiere Elements started months and months ago with version 2.  At the time, I was still using Windows XP (32 bit) and was looking for a more powerful video editing tool.  I was actually looking for a tool that would allow me to use some green or blue screen techniques.  I was talking with Rory Blythe about his video work.  I had already identified Elements as a tool I wanted to try, and Rory's recommendation helped seal the deal.

    So I used PE2 as it's called happily for several months creating DVD's for my wife.  Then along comes Windows Vista.  About that time Adobe released PE3 and I blindly purchased the upgrade.  It worked well on Windows XP but not on Windows Vista.  Strike one.  They of course fixed PE3 with Adobe Premiere Elements v3.02.  PE3 now works nicely on the 32bit version of Windows Vista.

    Then the next generation laptops start shipping which are uniquely suited for 64 bit operating systems like Windows Vista, Windows XP, Linux, OS X, etc.  I decide to make the plunge and order a machine that will use 4GB of memory and run my application mix.  However, Adobe Premiere Elements v3.02 will not run on the 64 bit version of Windows Vista.  Strike two.

    So I decided to check the Adobe site today and see if they have released a fix.  Much to my surprise, I spy Adobe Premiere Elements v4 is now out.  Wow, that was fast.  I don't think version 3 was out a year.  So I check out the system requirements, datasheet and other online documents to see if there is any dire warning about running it on a 64 bit OS.  Nothing mentioned.  That's promising.  Time to call the sales desk.  They claim it will run now, but that it isn't a native 64 bit application.  I also learn about their 30 day return policy which is impossible at places like BestBuy.  So I order my upgrade and take one more chance on a product I like.

    The bases are loaded, the count is full and here's the pitch...

    [UPDATE 10/2/2007]  Adobe knocked it out of the park.  PE4 installed pretty cleanly on my x64 Windows Vista machine.  I was able to cut through a DVD project in one evening for my wife.  Something I have been struggling with for days trying to use MovieMaker, Roxio 9.1 and NERO 7.  Let's face it, single purpose software rocks and sometimes it pays to fork over the cash for a category leading product.

    Premier Elements 4 is just much more intuitive and powerful.  I slurped the video off my camera, edited the scenes, added transitions, marked those scenes for the DVD menus, picked a nice theme and burned a disk before my wife got home from work.  I think she was pretty shocked I got all of that done from about 6-9pm. I hit a few bugs along the way, but nothing that prevented me from losing work or getting the job done.  Seems stable enough for me, and I look forward to updates down the road.

    I also noticed that this product handles HDV camera input.  We're getting ready to see.  I sent the first HD camera I ordered back.  Hated it.  Loved the 100GB hard drive, but little else.  I also ordered Sony Vegas Platinum with the new camera.  I've heard good things about Vegas.  Basically, Premiere Elements and Vegas are supposed to be the top dogs.  We'll see if Vegas is as cool as Elements.

  • The US Evangelism Team locks down our demo platform

    HP 6910p I'm part of a team known as Microsoft Across America (MSAM).  Each year we work with a sponsor to come up with the platform we'll be using to demonstrate Microsoft products during our live events and seminars.  Last year it was Lenovo and this year we'll be using a HP laptop.  So what laptop was selected?

    The HP Compaq 6910p Notebook PC

    We have a bunch of 6910p notebooks on order.  They'll likely arrive mid October and you'll be able to see them in action at the beginning of November.  Check out the detailed specs or the marketing datasheet for all of the information on this model.

    The US TechNet team I report into will of course be running a variety of server operating systems and demos from these units.  Chris Avis has taken over the role as TechNet Hardware Czar and worked with Michael Murphy (MSAM Operations) to communicate our needs to HP.  Unfortunately he didn't get an eval unit to assess before we needed to pull the trigger and get the bulk order into the HP build pipeline.  We're pretty confident there will be no show stoppers because we have other Microsoft employees running these machines already.  When I get my unit, the first order of business will be to install Windows Server 2008 RC0 and test Windows Server virtualization (WSv).

    Since I don't have one of these baby's in my hands yet, I can't offer any initial impressions.  Based on prior experience with other laptops of this generation (the "Santa Rosa" machines), we should have some fun with these.  With an x64 operating system, we'll be able to address 4GB of memory.  This will be helpful when running virtual machine demos.  I would like more USB ports and an ExpressCard slot, but I can work around those if needed. 

    We'll see soon enough how speedy the ATI Mobility Radeon X2300 video chipset is.  I'm assuming that is what was ordered.  This machine has a 14.1 inch widescreen LCD panel.  I don't know yet if it was ordered with the 1280x800 or 1440x900 native resolution screen.  I'm hoping it's the latter.

    The HP 6910p comes with a variety of networking options and our units will have either the EVDO or HSDPA cell connectivity option and allow us to connect to ATT, Sprint or Verizon.  Having an Internet connection wherever you go is nice.  It sure makes looking up information at an event handy.  I have not heard yet which carrier we'll be using with these machines. 

    So in about another month or so I should be able to give you some first impressions on the HP 6910p.  It looks like a worthy little machine so I'll beat up on it for a week or two and let you know if I find any glaring issues.

  • Windows Server 2008 Enterprise Release Candidate - download now

    ws2008 Windows Server 2008, with built-in Web and virtualization technologies, enables you to increase the reliability and flexibility of your server infrastructure. New virtualization tools, Web resources, and security enhancements help you save time, reduce costs, and provide a platform for a dynamic and optimized datacenter. Powerful new tools like IIS7, Windows Server Manager, and Windows PowerShell, allow you to have more control over your servers and streamline Web, configuration, and management tasks. Advanced security and reliability enhancements like Network Access Protection and the Read-Only Domain Controller harden the operating system and protect your server environment to ensure you have a solid foundation on which to build your business.

    Built for the Web

    Simplify Web server management with Internet Information Services 7.0, which is a powerful Web platform for applications and services. This modular platform provides a simplified, task-based management interface, greater cross-site control, security enhancements, and integrated health management for Web Services.

    Internet Information Server (IIS) 7 and .NET Framework 3.0 provide a comprehensive platform for building applications that connect users to each other and to their data, enabling them to visualize, share, and act on information.


    Virtualize multiple operating systems - Windows, Linux and others - on a single server. With virtualization built into the operating system and with simpler, more flexible licensing policies, it's now easier than ever to take advantage of all the benefits and cost savings of virtualization. Want to see a screencast video on this feature?  Check out my post and video on the subject at

    Windows Server 2008 provides you with the flexibility to create an agile and dynamic datacenter to meet your changing business needs.

    Terminal Services Gateway and Terminal Services RemoteApp are designed for easy remote access and application integration with the local desktop, enabling secure and seamless application deployment without the need for a VPN.


    Windows Server 2008 is the most secure Windows Server ever. Its hardened operating system and security innovations, including Network Access Protection, Federated Rights Management, and Read-Only Domain Controller, provide unprecedented levels of protection for your network, your data, and your business.

    Windows Server 2008 helps protect against failure and intrusion for servers, networks, data, and user accounts.

    Network Access Protection gives you the power to isolate computers that don't comply with your organization's security policies, and provides network restriction, remediation, and ongoing compliance checking.

    Federated Rights Management Services provides persistent protection for sensitive data; helps reduce risks and enables compliance; and provides a platform for comprehensive information protection.

    Read-Only Domain Controller allows you to deploy Active Directory Domain Services while restricting replication of the full Active Directory database, to better protect against server theft or compromise.

    A Solid Foundation for Your Business Workloads

    Windows Server 2008 is the most flexible and robust Windows Server operating system to date. With new technologies and features such as Server Core, PowerShell, Windows Deployment Services, and enhanced networking and clustering technologies, Windows Server 2008 provides you the most versatile and reliable Windows platform for all of your workload and application requirements.

    Server Manager accelerates server setup and configuration, and simplifies ongoing management of server roles via a unified management console.

    Windows PowerShell is a new command-line shell with more than 130 tools and an integrated scripting language that enables an administrator to automate routine system administration tasks, especially across multiple servers.

    Server Core is a new installation option for selected roles that includes only the necessary components and subsystems without a graphical user interface, to provide a highly available server that requires fewer updates and less servicing.

    Download @

  • Archos 605 WiFi added to my PMP collection

    ARCHOS605 Monday and Friday of last week was like Christmas.  On Monday I received a HD video camera.  On Friday I received the Archos 605 WiFi portable media player.  I bought it for a couple of reasons.  First, my wife was feeling like a second class citizen because she doesn't have one.  And second, because I wanted to. 

    The Screen, Size and Feel

    The Archos 605 I purchased is the 80GB, 4.3" widescreen model.  It's slightly thinner than my Zen Vision W.  I took some pictures of it next to some of my other players for comparison.

    Comparison to the Sony PSP

    Comparison to the Apple iPod Video

    Comparison to the Creative Zen Vision W

    Pictured using built-in stand

    The 4.3" screen is a touch screen.  As a result, the screen does not have a glossy finish like the Zen, PSP or iPod.  The screen itself seems rather rigid.  I hope that means it's going to last a long time.  So far I haven't found a big need to touch the screen much.  You can do nearly everything with the menu button and directional keys. Because the screen is big, the unit isn't small.  The native resolution for the screen is 800x480 pixels with 16 million colors.  That's about twice the resolution of most of my other players and a bunch of colors although I haven't counted them all.

    The actual size of the unit is 4.8'' long x 3.2'' wide x 0.75'' thick.  It weighs 9 ounces which is twice what my 80GB iPod Video weighs.  If you look at the pictures at, you'll notice the unit looks gray metallic (beaded in the close ups) with gray keys.  Those pictures must have been an early prototype because my unit is slightly different.  The keys on mine are white and the unit itself doesn't have the polished stainless steel finish like you see in flash animation on the main page.  That's fine with me because I like the finish my unit has.  It doesn't show fingerprints and it is easy to hold. 

    Video Playback and Battery Life

    Out of the box it plays most if not all of the Windows Media Video and AVI files I have.  I haven't tried any WMV HD.  There are some optional plugins to add support for H.264 or MPEG-2 with AAC and AC3 respectively.  I doubt I'll purchase those plugins.  I'm ripping everything I have to DivX AVI or WMV and it plays them great.

    I'm getting 5 hours of continuous video playback with default brightness and contrast settings.  That's also with 2500k bit rate video.  I'm wondering if I produce different video bit rates if I can reduce I/O to the hard drive and thus extend the battery life more.  I don't think it's a big deal so I'll probably just continue doing what I'm doing.  The last time I went to Hawaii, two movies was plenty so this should be sufficient.

    Disk Capacity

    The Archos 605 I have has the 80GB hard disk.  To give you an idea, I already have 35 movies on it and the hard drive isn't even half full.  To bring this into perspective, I can load the complete Harry Potter movie set, all of the Star Wars movies, the extended Lord of the Rings set, all of the Matrix movies, all of the Indiana Jones movies, all of the Aliens movies, and about 30 other movies.  I'm in the process of doing that right now.  Impressive eh?  Let's see the 16GB Apple iPod Touch do that.  No possible way.

    In case you were wondering, the typical two hour movie is ripping to about a 1GB disk file.  So I'll end up having about sixty to seventy movies on the disk when I'm done.  The Creative Zen Vision W I have will hold a little less.  Basically either of the devices will hold a killer collection of pictures, music and video.

    Archo605Tilted Other Features

    The Archos 605 comes with an assortment of other features.  Some of those features are uninteresting to me, but might come in handy for other people.  For instance, the 605 has a DVR Station option that allows you to record television programming.  I already have HDTV recordings via my TiVo and Media Center PC so I don't really need yet another source of programming.

    My player comes with WiFi and several networking options.  For instance, I could purchase Opera and load it on the 605 and turn it into a cute little coffee shop surfing device.  This is mildly interesting to me, but since I don't have a nationwide hotspot plan, I don't have a big need for this. 

    It appears the Archos 605 is running Samba or something to allow network browsing of shares on my homelan.  According to the docs and features, it's also supposed to have streaming capabilities.  Again, all of this stuff is kewl and all, but I'm using my 605 as a standalone portable media player.


    The Archos 605 WiFi is a solid player and lives up to its billing so far.  I purchased mine through when they went on sale (10% off).  I also had a $35 gift card and got free shipping.  I've only been playing with it a few days and so far I only dislike one thing which I plan to fix.  The supplied charge cord sucks.  The cord I'm talking about is the USB cord that allows syncing, charging or both.  It charges extremely slow via USB.  I need to find a quicker charging method.

    The screen is fabulous and will work in "torch mode".  In other words, you can really crank up the brightness and contrast.  If you do, you'll knock some of the battery life off.  For instance, I turned it up and it knocked the video playback time down to four hours fifteen minutes.  If I buy an extra battery or quick charge method, I'll probably run the brightness somewhere less than torch, but something higher than default.

    And in case you were wondering about my honey, she's getting the Zen Vision W.  So I'm loading it with all of the mushy chick flicks and some of her dance videos.  Shhhhhh, keep that a secret.  It's a surprise.

    You'll notice no comparison and only this brief mention of Zune.  My Zune is Microsoft owned and I gave it to Bryan Von Axelson.  He promised he was going to put it to good use.  I'm waiting for the next generation Zune to show up.

    BatteryDock [UPDATE]  I spoke with Archos Technical Support about the charge times I'm seeing with this unit.  It takes about eight hours to charge (when fully drained) if using the USB cord plugged into my laptop or desktop machines.  That is apparently the norm.  That doesn't really surprise me because USB doesn't supply that much power.  So I ordered the battery dock pictured here at right.  This little mini dock serves several functions.  First, it does a quick charge of the battery in the unit.  It also has a built-in battery which extends the video playback by another 4 hours (or so I'm told).  I should know if any of that is true by this time next week.  If so, it looks like I'm ready for a trip to an exotic location.  Tahiti anyone? 

    [FINAL UPDATE]  I received my Archos mini dock battery charger. sells them for $39.  It adds 4 hours to the playback time of the unit.  Nine hours of nonstop video playback is pretty killer.  Charging now takes less than four hours.  I have forty movies on my Archos 605 WiFi player, so far.  I think I am travel ready now.  Grin.

    FYI, I had to correct the link just above because apparently my source sold my battery doc for the wrong price then corrected the online catalog.

  • Key IIS7 trainings in October

    Chat: Windows Server 2008: Meet the people who are changing the Web at Microsoft

    Add to Calendar | Enter Chat Room

    Wednesday, October 24, 2007, 10:00AM-11:00AM Pacific Time

    Here's your chance to chat with two of the most influential people on all things Web at Microsoft. Scott Guthrie, General Manager - .NET Developer Platform and Bill Staples, Principal Product Unit Manager - Internet Information Services (IIS) Product Team have helped shape the way Microsoft thinks and executes in the Web space. Scott has been behind some of the big things and Bill is the man behind the transformation of IIS. Don't miss your chance to chat and ask some questions!

    Virtual LabUsing APPCMD Command Line or UI with IIS 7 in Windows Server 2008 Beta 3

    This is an on-demand virtual lab.

    TechNet Webcast: What’s New in Microsoft Internet Information Services 7 for IT Professionals?

    Tuesday, October 2, 2007, 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM Pacific Time

    Be one of the first to take a look at all the changes coming in the new, redesigned Internet Information Services (IIS) 7. This session focuses on new troubleshooting features, a breakdown of architecture and security improvements and the new IIS 7 configuration system. We also walk through demos showcasing IIS delegation administration control to non-administrators and new diagnostics tools. Also featured are the entirely new User Interface (UI) and configuration system

    TechNet Webcast: IIS 7 Diagnostics & Troubleshooting

    Thursday, October 4, 2007, 9:30 AM - 11:00 AM Pacific Time

    Ever want to know what's really happening inside your Web server? Like what requests are executing or what AppDomains are loaded in processes? Have you wanted to trace a request but only when it's failing? Come to this session to see how IIS7 is expanding its monitoring & diagnostics capability through features like Runtime Status & Control data that allow you to see not just which worker processes are serving which pools, but also what requests are executing in them and their current state (including what module they're in and how long they've been there!). We'll also be showing you a new feature called Failed Request Tracing that will allow you to configure IIS to trace requests for a specific URL and only flush those trace logs to disk if the request meets a failure condition that YOU define. Want to find out why your clients are hitting 401's? or why a request for a static file is taking WAY too long? Use Failed Request Tracing to view this data. Also covered is how you can instrument new managed modules and capture that tracing in IIS trace logs (like Failed Request Tracing), as well as how to route Page Trace events into IIS trace logs. Come to this session to see how IIS7 is enabling you to finally get under the hood and see what's really happening.

    TechNet Webcast: Securing and Tuning Internet Information Services 7

    Tuesday, October 9, 2007, 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM Pacific Time

    Come learn how to take advantage of the new, modular architecture of IIS7 and Server Core to build a web server that is highly customized to only the functionality that you need, without unnecessary components installed on the machine. We’ll walk through how IIS installs and works on Server Core. You’ll learn how to remotely administer an IIS installation on Server Core using PowerShell scripts accessing the new remoteable managed administration interface, or manage IIS locally using our new AppCmd command-line interface. You’ll be able to see different types of dynamic applications (ASP and PHP) working on a Server Core installation of IIS. Get a deep dive into this exciting new configuration for lower cost of ownership and greater security.

    TechNet Webcast: Deploying and Managing Web Farms

    Thursday, October 11, 2007, 9:30 AM - 11:00 AM Pacific Time

    Learn how to deploy and manage Web Farms using new features in IIS 7, like UNC support. When it comes to Web farms for shared hosting or enterprise, synchronizing your configuration across several nodes is the most important feature that you need. Come learn more about the new Internet Information Services 7 configuration system that replaces the metabase, and how it optimizes Web farm scenarios. Do you want to point your Web server configuration at a central location? Do you want to quickly add new nodes without painful replication and manual tasks? Shared configuration helps you accomplish fault tolerance, load balancing and fail-over. In this session, we outline the fundamental new changes and how to turn these features into a great solution.

    TechNet Webcast: Secure, Simplified Web Publishing using IIS7
    Tuesday, October 16, 2007, 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM Pacific Time
    Learn how web publishing is changing for Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS) 7.0. This session takes and in-depth look at the new FTP service for IIS 7, with demonstrations that showcase new features such as FTP over SSL, enhanced security features, and improved supportability options. We will also discuss Microsoft's plans for a version of the FrontPage Server Extensions for Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista, as well as a new WebDAV implementation for IIS 7.

    TechNet Webcast: Securely Delegating Remote Web Site Administration with Internet Information Services 7

    Thursday, October 18, 2007, 9:30 AM - 11:00 AM Pacific Time

    Remote administration and feature delegation—the coolest new features in Internet Information Services (IIS) 7. How do you enable low privilege users to connect to only their Web site or application without the nightmare of metabase ACLs? How do you allow users to change some feature settings but not others? How do you extend the UI so that new tasks can be accomplished easily? These are the types of solutions we show you. First, we review remote administration and how to use custom modules for enabling user scenarios. Then, we chat about how to give non-admins access to just their Web site and only specific settings like Default Documents

    TechNet Webcast: Windows Sharepoint Services and IIS7

    Tuesday, October 23, 2007, 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM Pacific Time

    Collaboration, Web application platform, and self service blogs and wikis are just a few reasons you should look at this role.  Security, performance, and management and more is why SharePoint on Windows Server 2008 is more than compelling.

    TechNet Webcast: Automating IIS7

    Thursday, October 25, 2007, 9:30 AM - 11:00 AM Pacific Time

    Tired of spending long nights doing the same tasks over and over? Save time and get your life back though automation. Come take a look at all the new ways to automate tasks within IIS7 by using Powershell, our revamped WMI provider, APPCMD.EXE and the new managed code administration API all from the command line!  We’ll show you how to use the command line by automate common tasks to complex configurations. Some of the things you’ll learn include how do unattended installs of IIS7, setting up thousands of sites in a matter of minutes, and managing installations of IIS on Server Core. This is a must see for any Admin!

  • The Secrets to Halo 3 Success


  • New Forefront Server Security Management Console

    One of the security gurus on my team, Shawn Travers, has posted some information at about the new Forefront Server Security Management Console (FSSMC).  Shawn has some pointers to the general features and an upcoming webcast. 

    Download FSSMC @

    I really think we need to put some pressure on Shawn to download the console, install it, then write another blog post and screencast on FSSMC.  I mean after all, we got Sean to figure out his blog password again... we might as well get him to use it.  grin

  • Firefox Loves Silverlight

    One of the questions I get asked all of the time when I demo something in IE is, "Will this work in Firefox?"  It's a really good question especially when using technologies like OWA, web access to admin tools, etc.  Recently we shipped a new set of visualization technologies on Silverlight.

    Matt Hester recently recorded a screencast on Silverlight and one of the highlighted applications is Tafiti.  In his initial recording he spoke about the fact Silverlight will run on other platforms and browsers so I suggested he re-record the screencast and add a demo of Silverlight running inside Firefox.  Matt did a great job on that.

    Check it out at

  • Throttle Your Users

    Catchy title eh?  We are of course talking about networking.  I knew you were thinking that.  So how do you control the bandwidth users are consuming on your network?  Well, Chris Henley demonstrates network QoS policies in his latest Windows Server 2008 screencast on the subject.

    Head on over to and check it out.

    You'll also notice this screencast is now posted to as well.  What am I, chopped liver?  Don't answer that.

  • System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) now available for download

    System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2007 is a comprehensive solution optimized for the management of Microsoft Windows Server operating systems running in the virtualized data center. Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) enables easy and fast consolidation of physical machines onto virtual machine infrastructure and rapid provisioning of virtual workloads. VMM enables increased physical server utilization, centralized management of virtual machine infrastructure, and rapid provisioning of new virtual machines by the administrator and certified end users. When used together with the rest of the System Center family of products. VMM provides the best solution for leveraging existing IT administrative skills and processes for managing the virtual and physical environment.

    Download @

  • Virtual Machine Manager PowerShell Cmdlet Reference released !!!

    System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) 2007 is a server application used to manage a large number of virtual machines. As an alternative to using the Administrator Console for administering your Virtual Machine Manager environment, you can use the Windows PowerShell - Virtual Machine Manager command shell, which is an administrator-focused command-line shell and scripting language. This document provides the Windows PowerShell help topic for each Virtual Machine Manager cmdlet.

    This list of cmdlet help topics is sorted by noun groups and contains the same help about each topic that you can view in the Virtual Machine Manager implementation of the Windows PowerShell.  Please report any comments/issues to Tony's blog at

    Download @

  • Windows Server 2008 screencast - Virtualization 10 Minute Tour

    Windows Server 2008 is going to ship its next public release candidate very soon.  Inside that release will be a CTP of Windows Server virtualization (WSv).  WSv will be setting the stage for a whole new wave of technologies so with that in mind, I thought I'd give you a quick peek at the product via a screencast video I created.


    ws2008 I love that name.  It's catchy and kewl.  It sounds like a supervisor for hyper space or something.  It does of course refer to the new thin layer that is installed on Windows Server 2008 also know at the virtualization parent partition.  It's also a a term used industry wide so when you hear the term, it doesn't just refer to the Microsoft implementation.

    Our hypervisor, code named "Viridian", is an installable Windows Server 2008 role.  After installation of this role, you can start installing one or more child partitions in which to run your virtualization workloads.  Installation of those virtual machines is fairly straight forward although there are some things you need to be aware of.

    Virtual Machine Additions

    In order to use the new high speed VMBUS, you'll want to uninstall any previous additions from Virtual PC or Virtual Server, then install the integration components for WSv.  We're looking at making that transition as painless as possible, but you'll have to work through some of this manually until we get that work done.


    You'll notice when you start looking at the CTP (and the screencast demo below), that we've added the ability to take snapshots of your virtual machines in either an online or offline state.  This gives you a look into the VSS capabilities that are coming. This is going to offer much more flexibility in your high availability and disaster recovery planning.

    Management Tools

    We do of course ship a management console with WSv which you'll see in the demos.  However, our strategy is to take advantage of the System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2007 product for advanced management of the virtualization partitions, VM workloads, monitoring, reporting, resource assignments, etc.  You simple won't believe what's coming and I'm not going to spill all of the beans just yet, but you can count on some deep dives later.

    The Screencast

    Take a look at the screencast and go on a tour of Windows Server virtualization (WSv).  The video is a little over ten minutes in length and I tried to hit some of the key areas so you can get a quick technical overview of the product.  If you want to save this local and review it offline, please right mouse click the second link and "SAVE AS".

    Save Local -

    Other Resources

    A number of new websites have gone live in the past week or so.  Here are a few of my favorites.  You haven't seen anything yet.  We are just getting started.

  • SUN becomes a Windows Server OEM

    SUN Server The press releases are flowing and we haven't even gotten to the next generation Zune yet.  This is shaping up to be a great month.  Not withstanding is the announcement made today about our work with Sun Microsystems.  I was particularly interested in the virtualization aspects, as well as the IPTV portion.  Here are the highlights:

    • Windows Server OEM agreement. Sun will offer Windows Server on their x64 hardware and will provide additional utilities and value-added software offerings to server systems carrying Windows Server. Windows Server 2003 will be available on Sun x64 systems within 90 days.
    • Sun x64 systems and storage. Microsoft recognizes Sun’s compelling x64 server and storage products in the market today. Microsoft and Sun will continue to work together to test and validate the Windows platform on these systems for scale-up enterprise computing.
    • Solaris and Windows virtualization. Sun and Microsoft will work together to ensure that Solaris runs well as a guest on Microsoft virtualization technologies and that Windows Server runs well as a guest in Sun’s virtualization technologies. Sun and Microsoft will work together on a support process for customers using the virtualization solutions. This joint commitment to customers ensures that Windows and Solaris will provide a solid virtualization experience.
    • Expanded IPTV partnership. Sun and Microsoft will continue to collaborate to advance the worldwide deployment of the Microsoft Mediaroom™ IPTV and multimedia platform on Sun server and storage systems. AT&T U-verse digital TV offering has chosen Sun for one of world’s largest deployments of the Microsoft Mediaroom platform, which includes server and client software. The combination of Sun’s server solutions and Microsoft’s TV software technology and expertise is expected to speed time to market for IPTV services, while providing superior cost and performance characteristics for communications service providers worldwide.
    • Expanded investment in interoperability. Microsoft and Sun will build an Interoperability Center on Microsoft’s Redmond campus. The center will include a demonstration area for Sun x64 systems, act as a working lab for Windows on Sun benchmarks and sales tools, and support customers running proofs of concept for projects focused on Windows on Sun x64 systems, including joint Sun/Microsoft solutions in areas such as databases, e-mail and messaging, virtualization, and Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) support in Sun Ray thin clients. The Interoperability Center will expand Sun’s presence on the Microsoft main campus, adding to existing Sun systems showcased and customer-tested in the Microsoft Enterprise Engineering Center.

    Further details at and

  • Students can get Office Ultimate 2007 for $59

    "Microsoft today announced The Ultimate Steal, a limited-time promotion for college students starting today in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and starting Sept. 20 in Spain, Italy and France. PressPass spoke with Alan Yates, general manager of Microsoft’s World Wide Education division, to discuss how the company has responded to student feedback and provided an easy way for students to acquire Microsoft Office Ultimate 2007.

    Beginning Sept. 12, Microsoft will launch a special Web-based promotion exclusively for students called The Ultimate Steal. Students who are actively enrolled at eligible educational institutions will be able to acquire Office Ultimate 2007 via the Web at the low student price of US$59.95. Calling this promotion "The Ultimate Steal" is spot on when you consider that this is a savings of over 90 percent of the retail price of Office Ultimate 2007. The retail price is what students might think they would have to pay, when much lower pricing such as this has been available to students for many years.

    Outside of the US, a one-year subscription license will also be offered for £12.95/€ 18.00/C$22.00 in addition to the perpetual license.  The Ultimate Steal promotion will expire on April 30, 2008."

    OMG!!!  What a great time to be a student.  I need to go take some classes.  This is a sweat deal.  If you want more of the details of the "Ultimate Steal" see the following location:

  • Windows Server virtualization (WSv) is coming with Windows Server 2008 RC0

    "This week at VMworld we’re announcing that the Community Technology Preview (CTP) of Windows Server virtualization is coming soon with the initial release candidate of Windows Server 2008. We’re also announcing the new Microsoft Installer (MSI) Utility for Microsoft Application Virtualization, a utility for our SoftGrid Application Virtualization solution that bridges the gap between traditional physical control of installed applications and the new paradigm of virtual applications."

    Taken directly from

    Folks, this is just around the corner.  You'll be able to download Windows Server 2008 and start testing this new hypervisor technology.  As soon as this releases, I'll post a screencast I've already recorded on how to use WSv and some kewl features I can't dicsuss just yet.

    By the way, be sure to read the press announcement above carefully.  There are some good nuggets in it that aren't so obvious if you just skim over it.

  • Windows Server 2008 screencast - NAP VLANs with a Cisco Switch

    Michael Kleef has been doing some incredible demonstrations down in Australia and New Zealand.  I'd like to watch them in person, but it's pretty far from Texas.  But you and I can see him in action because like many of us, he's doing screencasts directly off his blog.  He calls them blogcasts.  Must be an Aussie thing.  Grin. 

    Anyway, the one that caught my eye this evening is the one he recorded on NAP VLANs.  Check it out at:

  • Windows Server 2008 screencast - User Account Control (UAC)

    I know what you're thinking...  Isn't UAC just a Windows Vista thing?  Nope.  Get all the details at Chris Henley's blog post on the subject. Chris is on a rampage and is cranking out a bunch of Windows Server 2008 screencasts.  See this one at :

  • Windows Server 2008 screencast - Password policies

    Before too long you'll be able to get your hands on another build of Windows Server 2008.  In the meantime, sit back and enjoy a screencast fellow team member Chris Henley created on password policies.  Head on over to:

  • Windows Media Center WebGuide

    WebGuide allows you to remotely view live and recorded TV programs and to remotely schedule and manage your recorded television programs, music, pictures and videos on your Media Center or Windows Vista PC. Install WebGuide on your Media Center PC and access it from any machine that has a web browser, including your cell phone or mobile device.


    • Live streaming TV can be viewed on any web browser
    • Recordings can be scheduled from any web browser
    • "Place-shifting" for your personal media library, including TV, music, pictures, videos and DVD's
    • PocketPC and Smartphone enabled
    • Windows Vista ready


    Installation takes only minutes
  • User-friendly MCE interface
  • Languages include Danish, Dutch, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Norwegian, Spanish and Swedish
  • Fast

    • Live scheduling without delays
    • Search by show, date or time
    • Quick access to recent and upcoming recordings


    Here's the kicker, we hired the developer Doug Berrett.  Welcome to the team Doug!!!

  • So it wasn't cell phone use - Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD)

    If you weren't aware, there's a fascinating but really bad problem occurring in the US.  Roughly 25% of the honey bees in America died.  This creates a serious problem for agriculture and the after effects will hit us very soon (at the supermarket).

    For more background, see for some new evidence. 

    [UPDATE]  Matt Hester called me all worried about who's going to make his breakfast cereal.  LOL.

  • Everything you need to know about SCVMM in 15 minutes !!!

    scvmm blog thumb Today Microsoft ushered in a new era of virtualization management.  Want to know more?  Take a 15 minute video tour with me as we take a look at System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) 2007,  System Center Operation Manager (SCOM) 2007 and the Virtual Machine Management pack.

    Over the past few weeks I created and tested a demonstration environment on my machines using the RTM bits of Windows Server 2003 R2 SP2, Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1, SQL Server 2005, SQL Reporting Services, PowerShell, WinRM, System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2007, System Center Operations Manager 2007, and capturing tools to record all of this.  I built this from scratch and although it takes some time, you can save your time by downloading a pre-built image.  Details below.  But consider this, all of the products listed above are now shipping.  None of it is beta.  That means you can build this yourself and start learning right away.

    So what's the big deal?

    Have you tried to manage a bunch of virtual machines with the Virtual Server 2005 administrative website?  It doesn't scale very well and there's no real collection of performance data.  The new management capabilities provided by SCVMM will really help you get a grip on consolidation of underutilized servers via physical to virtual migrations, efficient management of the VM's after they are there, and excellent analysis and reporting.  The tour I recorded touches on most of these subjects but obviously I can't go super deep in fifteen minutes.  So lets talk about a few areas.

    The VMM Console

    Simple to use.  I like it.  It's very well thought out and has nice visualization of the servers in your org, the virtual machines executing on those servers, access to properties and settings, etc.  As with many of our management tools, the actions pane is present and is context sensitive.  For those of you using UNDO disk files in Virtual Server 2005, you'll notice right away this console doesn't like that.  We'll talk about why in a minute and do a deep dive into that area on the next blog post and screencast this morning.

    You'll find some cool new features in the console.  As you'll see in the screencast, we can tag virtual machines.  After tagging, we can change the view to group by tag.  This will come in very handy if you want to tag VM's by customer, project, cost center, geography, etc.  Partners and hosters will love this.

    The VMM Console also includes nice little thumb nail views of the VM when it's selected.  This will come in handy for installs or other type of activity you just want to see at a glance.  If needed, double click the thumbnail to launch a VMRC session with the VM.  Easy.  Secure.

    Got Your Library Card?

    When was the last time you went down to the public library to check out a book?  Or a book on tape or CD?  Did they have it?  Unless it was super popular most likely what you were looking for was there.  SCVMM has a library.  Use it to store virtual machines, hardware profiles, virtual hard disk files, etc.  Think of all of the building blocks you use to build virtual machines with.  When you go to start building a virtual machine, take advantage of your internal building blocks and standards stored on the Library.  I think you are going to find this to be invaluable especially in a large environment with many potential virtual machines.

    PowerShell is Everywhere

    Much like Exchange Server 2007, nearly all of the tasks are executed via PowerShell commandlets. When you are using the VMM Console, and do something like a virtual machine migration (move from one host to another), PowerShell is doing the work behind the scenes.  You can go to the jobs area in the console and see this progress.  If you are a command line commando, then fire up a PowerShell console and take advantage of tons and tons of script and commandlets to do chores in the SCVMM environment.  You'll see me demo moving a VM with a simple script file in the screencast.  We have a commandlet reference guide that will be published today or very soon and as soon as I get the link, I'll make sure to provide it. 

    You'll love using PowerShell for automation of creates, moves, etc.

    Checkpoints and State Management

    Now that UNDO disk files aren't supported in SCVMM, what do you use?  Checkpoints to the rescue.  You'll quickly fall in love with the new checkpointing mechanism and forget all about UNDO before you know it.  I have recorded a screencast on this topic and will be posting detailed information in another blog post in few minutes. 

    See for more information on that subject.

    Self Service

    How do your users manage and use virtual machines?  The new SCVMM Self Service Portal of course!  Check out the screencast (right at the end) or get more detail from Tony Soper in his blog post at

    Monitoring and Reporting

    If you already have a bunch of virtual machines, what do you really know about them?  What do you know about the host running them?  Now you'll be able to answer those questions and much more.  System Center Operations Manager 2007, also known as SCOM, with the combined management packs will allow for the most comprehensive VM monitoring you've ever seen.  Monitor and report against the host running the workloads,the virtual machine, and the applications inside the virtual machine.  End to end reporting rocks and you won't get a better solution from anyone else right now.

    The Screencast

    Take a look at the screencast and go on a tour of SCVMM and SCOM 2007.  The video is a little over fifteen minutes in length and I tried to hit most of the key areas of the product mix so you can get a quick technical overview of the products.  If you want to save this local and review it offline, please right mouse click the second link and "SAVE AS".

    Streaming -

    Save Local -

    Other Resources

    A number of websites are going live through the course of today.  Here are a few of my favorites.  The TechNet area will have a SCVMM virtual machine you can download.  This will save you the time and trouble of setting everything up from scratch (although I recommend the "from scratch" approach for training).

    Outside Sources and Reviews


    Try it nowwill go somewhat live on 9/7 with the downloadable virtual machine.  This VM will allow you to test drive the product without setting it up from scratch.  The SCVMM evaluation bits should be on the download center next week.

  • System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2007 screencast - Checkpoints

    scvmm blog thumb System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) has been released and one of my favorite new features is the Checkpoint management that is now possible.  Spend ten minutes of your day watching the video demonstration to get an idea of what I'm talking about.

    UNDO Disk Files

    I'm sure many of you are used to using UNDO disk files with the virtual machines you are running on Virtual PC 2007 or Virtual Server 2005.  I pretty much have to with my demos.  I've always enjoyed using UNDO and was shocked to see it is not supported in SCVMM.  Why might you ask?  Read on.

    Where are your children?

    We've had a technology known as differencing disks for a long time in our virtualization products.  SCVMM uses that technology to create Checkpoints.  The beauty of this is that SCVMM hides all of the complexity and gives you an easy-to-use interface.

    Windows Server virtualization (WSv) adds some additional capabilities I have recorded for another screencast.  I'll have a ton of information on WSv when the time is right.  Stay tuned for that...

    In the meantime, check the video out and see for yourself.  This really adds a great new dimension to your high availability, backup/recovery, and change management processes.  That's really what the System Center family is all about.  Allowing your org and infrastructure to improve so that it's a well oiled and managed machine.  A virtual machine that is...

    The Screencast

    Take a look at the screencast and go on a tour of SCVMM Checkpoints.  The video is right at 10 minutes in length. If you want to save this local and review it offline, please right mouse click the second link and "SAVE AS".

    Save Local -

    Other Resources

    A number of websites are going live through the course of today.  Here are a few of my favorites.  The TechNet area will have a SCVMM virtual machine you can download.  This will save you the time and trouble of setting everything up from scratch (although I recommend the "from scratch" approach for training).

  • Windows Vista x64 on the Lenovo ThinkPad T61p

    t61p I'm x64 and I'm not turning back.  Pay attention software developers, your x86 time is running out fast.  One of my applications didn't make the x64 cut.  We'll talk about application compatibility in a few minutes.

    The Platform

    I recently purchased a Lenovo ThinkPad T61p.  It's the 15.4" 1680x1050 native resolution model with the Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, NVIDIA Quadro FX 570M with 256MB memory, 4GB of useable RAM, 200GB 7200rpm Hitachi hard drive, DVD burner, IEEE 1394 port, ExpressCard slot, etc.  Basically this is one of the top machines on the market.  It may well be the top business machine.

    Application Compatibility

    Like many of you, I have a healthy mix of applications I've grown to know and love over time.  Ok, love may be a bit strong, but lets just say we all have applications that would be considered "show stoppers" if they didn't work.  Right?  We also have applications you just know are going to fail. 

    As it turns out, I have no show stoppers yet but they may be coming.  I'm not done installing everything yet.  I actually have to do real work during the day and I have three blogs posts coming on some stuff I've been working on in secret

    So what failed?  As expected, Adobe Premiere Elements v3 fell flat on it's face.  In fact, if you install and run the application on my machine, it goes into a complete I/O loop and a hard power off is required.  Nasty, really nasty and it hosed my reliability index number right out of the gate. The Adobe site says it's 32bit only in the system requirements.  Obviously they are aware it has issues.  But of ALL of my applications, it's the only one that doesn't work.  I'll still contact their support department and see if we have any internal workarounds, but the writing is on the wall Adobe.  Dreamweaver 8 works, but I cannot update it with the 8.02 patch I need to keep my FTP site settings.  I'll try to spend some time resolving that one, too.

    T61pWNSAT One application I fully expected to fail, but didn't, is the HP Photosmart 2610 All-in-One software for my color printer/scanner/copier.  I was really happy to see that work especially since I just discovered the Windows Vista compatible version not too long ago.

    I haven't installed any games yet but I'll let you know how that goes.  I plan to install a few before the weekend is out.  I wonder if Halo 2 for Windows Vista will work.  Placing bets?


    Anyone wondering how this performs?  Thermonuclear!  I haven't started doing any serious number crunching yet, but that is coming.  Anecdotal evidence aside, here's the screenshot of my Windows Vista Performance Index from WinSAT score information.  Compare that to my T60p from last year.  Notice anything different?  Yea, the GPU is smoking baby!!!

    As you can see from the result, this machine is equivalent in performance to nearly every top laptop on the market including the Apple MacBook Pro.  There's one big difference however, my machine runs quiet and cool.  Lenovo did a great job with the new thermal design and right now, I'm running my machine without the benefit of all of their power management tools.  The fan is nearly silent and the 200GB Hitachi drive I bought at is much quieter than the 100GB drives in my stable.

    You may have noticed on all of the top machines right now, that the best score you'll see is generally a 4.8 or 4.9 because of memory bandwidth.  I have been in discussions with the Windows Vista developers on this for months so we'll see if they change things for SP1.

    Other T61p Observations

    I'm sure you're wondering a bit more about the machine.  When people think about the ThinkPad, they immediately talk about solid built machines, excellent keyboards, and conservative looks.  The new T61p doesn't disappoint and Lenovo actually raised the bar in some areas.

    The 15.4" screen I have is the LG screen and runs at a native 1680x1050 resolution also known as WSXGA+.  It is brighter than the T60p 15.4" widescreen I have.  The rage is to go after the higher resolution 1920x1200 (WUXGA) screen.  You'll have at least a 4-6 week lead time on one of those right now.  In fact, Lenovo stopped selling them on until they can fill their backlog. 

    Be sure to to evaluate these resolutions before you buy.  Many people can't handle WUXGA on a 15.4" monitor.  One thing about the screen... it is not centered in the LCD bezel.  There's about a quarter inch more bezel on the left than the right.  My understanding is that there are wires and antenna leads in that area.  It doesn't bother me but it might bother you if you are and engineer, architect, or other "precise person".

    The keyboard is still awesome although I prefer the one on my T60p.  They are certainly different feeling and sounding.  This keyboard emits a little more noise on key taps.  It's no big deal to me but I wonder how my wife will like it. 

    The until itself feels very solid.  Since it's a widescreen model, it's obviously wider than your standard 14 or 15" notebook.  Keep that in mind if you are using a backpack.  It fits perfectly in my Wenger Synergy backpack.  You'll find these backpacks nearly everywhere now.  BestBuy has them.  The T61p is balanced nicely and easy to grip with the strange matt black finish.  I like that.  I don't want to drop it.  The speakers are ok, but not great.  It's a business laptop, nuff said.

    The T61p now has a IEEE 1394 Firewire port.  I haven't used it yet, but that's coming now that I have to pick another video capture and DVD production software product.  I am very glad it has one considering the T60p doesn't.

    I've only just begun putting this through it's paces.  I have no plans to run some of our server applications on it since I am getting new business machines soon anyway.  I do however plan to install x64 SUSE 10 SP1 soon on another hard drive.  I expect it will run nicely.  We'll see...

    That's it for now.  If you are considering a purchase, look for this unit on sale.  You should be able to get it loaded up nearly identical to mine for about $2000-2100.  You may have to do like I did and order it with a 1GB RAM stick and the cheapest hard drive to cut cost there, but the Lenovo ThinkPad T61p is very reasonably priced in my opinion.

    Let me know if you have any questions...

  • Apple reveals their fall collection

    ipod touch As you know, I am a bit of a gadget collector.  So it goes without saying I was interested in today's Apple conference where they revealed their next wave of iPods.  Tell you what, it looks like a pretty nice set of new devices, but I'm not rushing out to buy anything just yet.

    For starters, it's no secret my primary use for a portable media player is video.  Not gaming, not music.  Watching video.  When I look at new devices, I look at several things, but the big two are storage space and the size and quality of the screen.

    That rules out the new iPod Nano and the iPod Classic.  Since I already have the 80GB iPod Video, there's no big reason for me to move to either of these devices.  The Nano has a 2" screen and the Classic has a 2.5" screen.  No thanks.  Next...

    Then there's the iPod Touch pictured at right.  With a 3.5" screen, touch interface, a third of an inch thick, WiFi, web browser, integration with iTunes, etc. etc., it's one sexy little gadget.  This will certainly be close to the top of a lot of Christmas lists.  While the 16GB model with be adequate for many people, you can fill 16GB pretty quickly with video.  I don't like to worry about that.  I would rather see a 30, 60 or 80GB version.

    The space needed for video depends on the quality of the flicks you are watching.  After all, you don't need HD quality for these units.  When I started doing video conversion several years ago for my PlayStation Portable (PSP), I was storing video on 512MG, 1GB and 2GB MemoryStick Duo cards.  You get really good at managing space with those type of constraints.

    I eventually got sick of the memory stick shuffle with the PSP and moved to a Zune, iPod Video, and Creative Zen Vision W.  The Zune and iPod were purchased by Microsoft for work related activities.  The Vision W is my personal workhorse and it goes everywhere I go.  I have really enjoyed it because it has a 4.3" screen and a 60GB hard drive.  That's the problem Apple has with me.  Do I really want to downgrade my viewing experience for something much thinner?  What about moving from a 60GB drive back to 16GB?  For $400?  Probably not. 

    Oh, there's also the Archos 605 WiFi to consider.  I can buy a 160GB Archos 605 for the same price as the Apple iPod Touch.  It's twice as thick but has ten times the storage capacity.  It also has a 4.3" screen instead of the 3.5" in the Apple.  Any questions?

    Ok Zune team, your move.