Keith Combs' Blahg

Ramblings from another nerd on the grid

October, 2007

  • Applications I'm running on Windows Vista x64

    About a  month ago I received my Lenovo ThinkPad T61p and installed Windows Vista Ultimate x64 as the operating system.  Like many of you, I was a little worried I'd run into a road block with an application I need.  So far, that hasn't been the case.

    Here's a list of the applications that are installed on my domain joined production laptop image.

    Adobe Acrobat 8 MSFT MSAM Event Check-in
    Adobe Dreamweaver v8 MSFT MSIT Connection Manager
    Adobe Flash 9 x86 with IE7 x86 MSFT MSIT Smartcard CSP
    Adobe Premiere Elements 4 MSFT MSN Premium Dial-up
    Apple iTunes MSFT Office 2007
    Apple Quicktime MSFT Pubwiz9
    CA eTrust MSFT RichCopy 3.5
    HP Solution Center - HP Photosmart 2610 MSFT Silverlight
    id software Doom 3 MSFT SQL 2005 Express x64
    Lenovo Thinkpad Bluetooth MSFT Streets/Trips 2006
    Lenovo Thinkpad Modem MSFT Streets/Trips 2008
    Lenovo Thinkpad Power Manager MSFT Virtual PC 2007 x64
    Lenovo Thinkpad Power Mgmt Driver MSFT Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 x64
    Lenovo Thinkpad Ultranav Driver MSFT Windows Media Encoder x64
    Lenovo Thinkpad Ultranav Utility MSFT Windows Media Encoder x86
    MSFT Communicator 2007 NVIDIA DVD Decoder
    MSFT Digital Image Suite 2006 Roxio Easy Media Creator 9.1
    MSFT Expression Suite Sony Vegas Movie Studio 8 Platinum Edition
    MSFT FWLink Sun Java SE Runtime Environment 6 Update 3 x64
    MSFT Halo 2 Symantec Ghost 12
    MSFT IIS7 TechSmith Camtasia Studio 4
    MSFT Intellipoint 6.1 Verizon VZAccess for my PC5740
    MSFT ISA Firewall Client WinImage 8.01
    MSFT Live Writer Winzip 9
    MSFT LiveMeeting 2005 Xilisoft DVD Ripper Platinum 4
    MSFT LiveMeeting 2007  

    I'll add and update the list as needed.  In fact, I have two or three more apps to install today.  Thank god for 200GB laptop hard drives.

    [UPDATED on 10/15]  Updated application list.  Also note that IE7 x86 must be used with Flash 9. 

  • Sean's Time Machine Review

    I think Sean might be a tad disappointed in one of the Leopard features called Time Machine.  It would appear the new backup feature didn't live up to his expectations.  Here's a quote from his blog entry:

    "But with two-and-a-half years of development, Apple has surely gotten backup right in Leopard, right?  Time machine certainly demos well... Having installed it tonight, however, I can tell you that Apple's advertising is correct.  Time Machine is a "giant leap backward."

    See http://blogs.technet.com/seanearp/archive/2007/10/27/time-machine-apple-s-advertising-is-correct.aspx for the entire post.  Sean makes some good points so it is worth a read even if you have no plans to ever run a Mac and OS X v10.5.

  • Tune in, Geek Out - Baldwin Ng on a free Virtualization Assessment toolset

    TechNet Radio - Tune in, Geek outI just completed my second TechNet Radio episode.  These are fun.  I get to put the Program or Product Group guy on the hot seat.  This time, my victim is Baldwin Ng.  Baldwin is a really nice guy and he also is working on some fascinating tools.  He was a great sport and I think you'll find the interview to be a good listen.

    If you weren't aware, Baldwin is a Senior Product Group Manager in the Windows Server Marketing/Solution Accelerators Team.  You may have first noticed the Windows Vista Hardware Assessment Tool a few weeks back on my blog.  Baldwin helped drive the definition and release of that product.  This is a great little network voyeur tool to dig around and generate some reports on the viability of Windows Vista deployment to your existing hardware.

    Well Baldwin and crew are back at it.  This time however the tool has been modified for the server space and can be used in a variety of ways to help on your virtualization assessment needs.  Baldwin does a great job of describing the current project scope, timelines, how to get access and answers to a few curve ball questions I threw at him.  Check out the program.  This episode is 30 minutes which is probably half your drive to work.  Enjoy!

  • iAttended the "Leopard" launch tonight

    desktopAfter running my errands this evening, I decided to truck on down to my local Apple store and see how things were cooking for the launch of OS X v10.5 "Leopard".

    I arrived at the store in question at about 5:50pm knowing there would likely be a huge crowd, jugglers, clowns, hot dogs on the grill and maybe a cold beer.  There were some clowns.  Teasing.  Actually the crowd looked very hip and kool.  I felt like they were looking at me like they knew I was a Windows guy and, "What the hell are you doing here?"  Simple paranoia.

    Since there was probably between 150-200 people in line, I decided to go eat and run an errand.  I came back at 7:15pm and the scene was very different.  The line was gone, the store was half full.

    I was immediately greeted and the door man asked if I wanted to buy Leopard and leave or to browse the goods.  I was there to browse so they directed me to the store instead of the ropes to the special purchase counter.  I have a MacBook Pro being shipped to me next week so there's hardly any reason to buy anything.  We'll see how fast the Apple production line switches over.  The Apple website says the MacBook Pro is now shipping with Leopard.  I believe my reseller gets it direct from Apple so my chances are pretty good I think.

    Finder, Quick Look and Spaces Demos

    iMacAs I walked in, one of the Apple Geniuses was just starting a demo of Finder, Quick Look and Spaces.  He was using the new 24" iMac.  Leopard looked great on that machine and it was of course very quick.  Since it was the busiest part of the room and he was talking to another gentlemen and his son, I didn't ask any questions.  I just observed.  He did a good job.  I take it back.  I did ask a question.  I asked for a Time Machine demo.  He didn't have an external hard drive attached so he could not demo it.  He pointed out the Time Machine demo station.

    Before we head there in this post, the Finder demo was unimpressive.  The comparison was made that it's just like iTunes.  I'm assuming the strategy here is to leverage the fact that iTunes is used by zillions of people so it'll give them a comfort zone.  That's smart.  I just didn't see anything in the demo that knocked my socks off.  I'll reserve judgement until I have my own machine and become a genius.  Frankly, I think I could have done the demo better and I don't own a Mac (until next week) and have never used Leopard.  I did however download and watch the entire Leopard Guided Tour, twice.  It became apparent later that some of the employees should have as well.  Most common comment from the employees, "It's new and I haven't had a chance to..."  Trust me, I understand how this goes but it did leave me wondering if Apple employees dogfood the products in development.

    Quick Look is cool but that sort of preview technology has been around for a while.  I need to work with it a while to see if it is something truly new and innovative.  The speed was really good, but again it had better be on a multicore 2.8GHz iMac.  Right?

    I like Spaces.  I'm a bit of a space cadet so it's no wonder.  I've been a fan of virtual desktops for years and years.  I think my first virtual desktop was on Sun OS but I can't really remember who I used first now.  Spaces will be popular for a variety of scenarios.  Developers will love it.  I can see having a space running a Windows or Linux VM.  Artists will love having their drawing or musical tools on one space and email or other stuff on another.  Lots and lots of uses for Spaces.

    Time Travel

    timemachineThe Time Machine feature is a nice touch.  Assuming you can get a user to go buy an external drive, plug it in and use it, this should be a life saver for a lot of people. The genius at the demo station was not up to speed on the feature and gave me false information.  For instance, I was told a complete backup of everything is taken every hour.  Wrong.  Here's the real answer:

    "Every hour, every day, an incremental backup of your Mac is made automatically as long as your backup drive is attached to your Mac. Time Machine saves the hourly backups for the past 24 hours, daily backups for the past month, and weekly backups for everything older than a month."

    I knew what I was told was wrong but I just played stupid and said I needed to go buy a terabyte drive now.  I was not shown the Time Machine settings nor was Quick Look mentioned at the demo station.  Sad.  More training issues.  They did mention the demo data wasn't allowing the full walk back in time they expected.  Hey, I know how demos go, but punt.  Show what you do have!

    MacBook Pro Station

    I started to go over to the iChat area next, but it was jammed with people.  So I skipped it and headed over to see how Leopard looked on a MacBook Pro.  Note to self, do not look at the 17" MacBook Pro first.  It makes the 15.4" look wimpy.  Leopard looked great on both.  The dude manning one of the 15.4" Pros left for a minute so I explored.  It was a brief exploration but the visual effects were very nice (love the Genie effect), application launching is intuitive, etc. 

    I had been watching the Genius next to me demo another Pro for a gentlemen.  He was having trouble finding the System Settings.  I know you are rolling your eyes right now.  He tried searching the file system in Finder and flailed around in Leopard much too long.  So while I was on the unmanned machine, I decided to try finding them myself.  I did what I thought was logical.  I typed "settings" into the top right search field known as Spotlight.  Bam.  Found it in one second.  Reminds me of the Windows Vista Pearl search field. 

    Touching the Touch

    Before going home, I played with the iPod Classic and iPod Touch.  The new classic is certainly nicer than my fifth generation iPod Video.  Slimmer and I like the matte front finish.  It cuts down on finger prints.  I'm unsure about the new interface.  The Touch is certainly a sexy thang.  It rocks.  What a shame it only has 16GB of storage.  Come on Apple, bump it to 32 and I'll buy one.

    Heading Home

    Time for me to head home.  On the way I home I reflected on the launch.  I guess it wasn't really a launch, just opening day for the sales.  All of the employees at the store seemed happy and professional.  Some were under trained on Leopard, but I would imagine that will change in short order.  The product itself looked pretty good.  I only saw a few of the 300+ new features.  Hopefully the machine I receive next week will arrive with Leopard loaded.  If not, I get to play with Tiger until I can get my upgrade.

    Looks like we have some strong competition.  Competition is good.

  • The HD video camera I have

    Video cameras are everywhere but they are predominantly standard definition.  Chris Henley came up with the idea that each of the presenters on my team should have a camera to record customer testimonials, life on the road, etc.  But in this day and age, shouldn't those cameras be high definition?  You bet yer 1080i they should !!! 

    So Chris convinced Dad to fork over the funds for a HD video camera for each person on my team.  Pricey little suckers.  Since they are high def, we'll be pushing the envelope soon on streaming and publishing and we are lining up some meetings with the various platform folks at Microsoft.com to discuss requirements, best practices for production, etc.

    HDR-HC7 What camera are we using?

    Most of the folks on my team purchased the Sony HDR-SR5C.  This is a nice little camera with a 100GB hard drive.  The connection from the camera to your laptop or PC is USB via a mini docking station that came with the camera.

    I opted for the Sony HDR-HC7 instead.  This is a top loading MiniDV tape high def video camera.  This camera includes both USB and IEEE 1394 "firewire" connections as well as a host of other features like a remote control.  It's slightly bigger and heavier than the HDR-SR5C but I don't need to carry around the docking station.  If I want to do some edits on the road, I can just carry the firewire cable and plug it into the Lenovo ThinkPad T61p I use.

    I've already tested it's ability to record HD.  My very first test was to record some shots of me in front of my high def 58" DLP HDTV with some movies playing behind me.  I figured it would give me an idea of how well it would do since I already know what those movies look like on my set. It did really well.  I'll need to learn how to control the aperture and focus more effectively, but it was a great first test.

    We'll be doing some interesting work with the cameras and will start posting the results very soon.  Stay tuned for that...

  • Engadget compares OS X v10.5 to Windows Vista

    leopard-vs-vista

    The folks at Engadget have an blogpost comparing the two operating systems.  Check it out and see if you agree with their opinion.

  • Zune vs iPod Comparison Chart

    Click Me

    This comparison chart appears to be very detailed.  I have no idea if the preloaded Virus line item is valid. Click the picture for full details.  One thing I did notice is missing, and it's a biggy.  The chart currently doesn't have the video out capabilities.  The new Zune 80 has some impressive transcoding and output display capabilities.  See http://zuneinsider.com/archive/2007/10/05/in-which-i-attempt-to-answer-some-zune-questions.aspx for the details on that.

  • Need a Windows Server 2008 deployment tool ??? - check this out

    We are pleased to announce the RC1 release and new name for the fourth generation deployment Solution Accelerator, Microsoft Deployment.  The current generation of automated deployment tools from Microsoft is increasingly unified; the same tools, utilities and products in many cases offer support and functionality for desktop and server deployment tasks. Following the trend of unified tools, the Business Desktop Deployment team has incorporated new functionality and guidance to support automated server deployment in addition to desktop deployment capabilities. This expanded feature set, with its guidance and ability to automate installation of Windows client and server operating systems – as well as applications – has effectively outgrown the current name, Business Desktop Deployment. Previous Beta releases have been using the code name “Deployment 4” to refer to Microsoft Deployment before the name was finalized.

    Microsoft Deployment is the next version of Business Desktop Deployment (BDD) 2007. It unifies the tools and processes required for desktop and server deployment into a common deployment console and collection of guidance. Microsoft Deployment adds integration with current Microsoft deployment technologies – System Center Configuration Manager 2007, Windows Deployment Services, and the Windows Automated Installation Kit – to  create a single path for image creation and automated installation. Microsoft Deployment adds integration with recently released Microsoft deployment technologies to create a single path for image creation and deployment, including:

    • System Center Configuration Manager 2007 Operating System Deployment
    • Windows Automated Installation Kit
    • Windows Deployment Services with new multicast technology
    • Application Compatibility Toolkit 5.0
    • User State Migration Tool 3.0.1
    • 2007 Office system
    • Windows Server 2008 Server Manager for automated server role definition

    Enhanced Program on Microsoft Connect

    This release candidate also offers an enhanced Microsoft Connect portal including technical frequently asked questions, deployment tips and tricks, a recommended 10-step program for new users to quickly get acquainted with deployment accelerators, customer-ready Solution Accelerator informational materials, and deployment-related conference presentations.

    Microsoft Deployment combines the guidance and toolset from previous releases of Business Desktop Deployment and Beta releases of Windows Server Deployment. This release continues to support Zero Touch Installation (ZTI) of desktop operating systems using Systems Management Server (SMS) 2003 with the Operating System Deployment Feature Pack and adds new deployment and task sequencing capabilities for desktops and servers using System Center Configuration Manager 2007. Microsoft Deployment also continues to provide Lite Touch Installation (LTI) support without infrastructure requirements and adds capabilities for Windows Server 2003 and pre-release versions of Windows Server 2008.

    New Features in Microsoft Deployment

    Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 support, with the following features:

    • Full support for Windows Vista, Windows XP, and Windows Server 2003 deployments with Microsoft Deployment and Configuration Manager 2007.
    • Complete integration into the Configuration Manager 2007 admin console and task sequencing capabilities.
      • Quick start Configuration Manager 2007 operating system deployments using one wizard to create needed task sequences and packages.
      • Extension of the Configuration Manager 2007 task sequencing capabilities with new actions.
    • Feature parity with BDD 2007 and SMS 2003, including dynamic package installation, automatic determination of state store location, computer backup, and database settings.
    • Installation support for computers unknown to the Configuration Manager 2007 database
    • Added support for offline patching
    • Support for offline and online language pack installation
    • Deployment monitoring - Updated Management Pack for System Center Operations Manager 2007

    Lite Touch Installation (LTI) support for Windows Server 2008:

    • Support for deploying Windows Server 2008 Beta 3 and potentially RC1 (to be verified after RC1 release), including support for Server Core installation options.
    • Automated server role definition using Server Manager

    Lite Touch Installation (LTI) enhancements:

    • Enhanced disk and network interface cards (NICs) configuration options, including support for static TCP/IP configuration.
    • Design changes to ease the migration from LTI to Configuration Manager 2007.
    • Support for multiple task sequence templates. New sample templates include:
      • Client template: Windows Vista, Windows XP
      • Server template: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008
      • Replace scenario template
    • Ability to invoke web service calls
      • Support for web service calls from rules
      • Web services can be invoked as part of the rules processing performed by Microsoft Deployment, using new rules that can be defined in CustomSettings.ini.
    • Support for BDD 2007 upgrade or side-by-side installation with Microsoft Deployment.

    Lite Touch Installation (LTI) multicast support:

    • Deployment Workbench supports multicast transmission of operating system images when performing LTI deployments from Windows Server 2008 servers that are running Windows Deployment Services.

    Where do I get the goods?

    Microsoft Deployment is available as an open beta download. Join the Microsoft Deployment Connection program on Microsoft Connect.  If you are already registered for the program, click here.  If you have not previously registered with Microsoft Connect, you might be required to register before you continue with the invitation process.

  • Scope creep

    Anyone who has ever developed a software product knows the term.  Nearly anyone who has ever been responsible for project planning understands the term.  People who work with other people to define a set of requirements for a contract understand it's extremely difficult to have the magic crystal ball with pure clarity of vision at the get go.

    So for those of us mere mortals, we must live with the ever changing environment to survive.  Very few of us have the ability to think through problems and really visualize an end result completely.  Coders tend to think about the paths that are possible.  But it's really hard to pivot on all of the possibilities to understand the scope, or more accurately the amount of rope you just used to hang yourself with.

    We're working on some screencasts for the Windows Server 2008 team.  We're going to do at least forty of them on various dimensions of the product.  I've already done a few and you've seen the Windows Server virtualization (WSv) 10 Minute Tour I did a few weeks ago.

    So when Chris Henley said he needed help, I of course volunteered.  He has this spreadsheet where he has outlined the "Fab 40".  It's a rough outline.  Heck, it's not even an outline, it's really just general topic names.  So I looked down the list of topics and penned my name next to the "Core" topics.  I figured I'd done this before so how hard could it possibly be?  Shoot me now...  I'm kidding, I actually dig Core.

    The only reason it's hard is because I'm one of those people who really wants to understand a lot about all of the possible paths.  It probably has something to do with the fact I was a professional developer for years before settling into the IT Pro career space.  So the scope creep in this case is self induced. 

    jack I decided to take a different approach to this round of screencasts I'm recording.  I still haven't completed the vision but it is starting to gel.  I'm testing a few things along the way.  So the scope creep is creeping in from two directions, and it's all my fault.

    First, there's the technology aspect of Windows Server 2008.  Setting up and running a Core server is pretty easy, but the hard part is learning all of the command line syntax, figuring out all of the new deployment methods, building a test environment, testing, writing some demos scripts,  re-testing, recording, re-recording all of the takes, taking snapshots along the way, etc.

    The second part is the post production work.  This is Keith Combs Studios.  Meaning... I do the entire enchilada.  And this time I'm going to add myself to the screencasts.  I'm planning three things.  I'm going to show you the golden baked chicken as I pull it out of the oven.  Think of this video as the Technical Overview of what we are trying to accomplish with Windows Server 2008 Core.

    Then I'm going to show you each step of how we got there.  The steps will be accomplished two different ways.  I'll give you a whole bunch of individual demos that are short clips of about 5 minutes each.  I'm also going to wire all of those demos into a full length video with slides and videos in between.  Think of it as the feature film.  I have no idea how long it's going to be yet, but my vision says about 40-50 minutes long.

    The little clips I mentioned will have blog postings and links.  That way, if you want to reference something particular like Core networking, you don't have to fast forward because you can go right to the blog post and video.  I think you'll like the full feature if I do it right since I'm planning to add narrative between the demos in order to add context.

    I have a significant amount of the pre-production work done.  I've recorded close to half the videos and will be recording another twenty five percent or so Monday.  The biggest challenge is coming.  The biggest challenge is deciding how big of a scope do I take on for Core deployment.  Most likely I will simply run out of time and have to cut back on this area.  That's ok, we can do a whole series just on deployment.  At the very least we'll check out some of the new tools and get you thinking about the possibilities.

    So as you can see, we have a bunch of new content and information coming.  We'll be publishing the goods through several vehicles including blogs, newsletters, microsoft.com and a some other surprises we'll announce mid November.  So stay tuned.  Lots of Windows Server 2008 information coming, assuming I can keep the creepy scope critter at bay until after all Hallows Eve.

  • Shades of dial-up Batman!!!

    kubuntu-header Wow.  What a blast to the past.  I've been downloading Kubuntu 7.10 all day.  It's been creeping along at 35-50k per second.  This reminds me of downloading Windows 95 betas across dial-up.  Scratch that.  I think even then I had an ISDN line already.  I can't remember.  That was over a decade ago.

    What's Kubuntu 7.10?  It's the KDE version of Ubuntu which just released so all of the linux folks are trying to get the released bits.  I've downloaded 561meg of 693.  I'm hoping there are two fixes in this version.  The main one I want is support for the wireless chipset (Intel 4965) in my ThinkPad T61p.  I'd also be happy if the NVIDIA Quadro 570m just worked.

    We'll see in a few more hours.

  • Is your internet service 20/20 ?

    VerizonVerizon is at it again.  Over on the east coast of the US they are cranking up the service line offerings of the fiber optic FIOS data service.  They just announced a symmetrical data plan with 20meg down/20meg up. 

    Great.  What am I, chopped liver?  FIOS started in Keller, Texas which is literally across the street from my house.  FIOS was rolled to Southlake and Grapevine (the area I live in) before any other location in the US.  Wanna guess how many times they've dropped the price or offered an attractive new plan in my area?  They haven't.  Is that any way to treat the customers that were first?  Grrrr.

  • T-minus 7 days for Apple speculation

    It's less than seven days now before Apple pulls the covers off their next round of products.  We do know of course OS X v10.5 goes on sale at 6pm next Friday, but what else might they reveal at that time?  If you were Steve Jobs, what additions or changes would you make to the product line to coincide with the "Leopard Launch" ???

    apple Here's my list:

    1. Leopard Spotted MacBook - seems pretty obvious to have a few limited edition laptops in Leopard dress.  The real question is what type of leopard?  Black, snow or traditional?
    2. Thinner Model - how much thinner can they get exactly?  As long at it has a DVD drive, hard drive, and is sturdy, I guess I don't care.  Lighter is better when you travel.
    3. MacTablet - maybe a tablet form factor?  Everyone else is doing it now.
    4. Updated LCD screens - as popular as the MacBook Pro is, I'm surprised there hasn't been an update to the 1440x900 resolution of the 15.4" model.  I guess that resolution is ok, but I'm so used to 1680x1050 now, it seems like a step backward.  I'm holding out until the 26th so we'll see.  1920x1200 is the opposite extreme on the 15.4" LCD.
    5. Updated thermals - have they fixed the heat issues in the MacBook Pro yet?
    6. Revised OS X license - wouldn't it be nice if they revised the OS X license so it could be run in a virtual machine.  Pipe dream.
    7. Zune Support - automatic recognition and syncing of Microsoft Zune players.  More pipe smoke.
    8. More configuration choices - I'm thinking about the memory configs for the MacBook Pro here.  Let's face it, there aren't many places to cut corners.  Apple doesn't ship the laptop with a single SoDIMM so there's little opportunity to save money on memory.
  • Oops - WSUS WDS issue investigation results

    Most of the time as an evangelist I report on good stuff.  You know, product updates, kewl technology, etc.  Thankfully I don't have to report on bad stuff very often but I would be remiss if I didn't point my readers to the post by the WSUS team at http://blogs.technet.com/wsus/archive/2007/10/25/wds-update-revision-follow-up.aspx

    Hopefully you weren't negatively impacted.  I'm sure update scopes are being looked at very carefully as a result of this.

  • TiVo says, "Ready, Set, Go to Sleep !!!"

    A couple of days ago I went up to the tivo.com website and filled out the form to request the new TiVo OS v9.2.  Well, it arrived early this morning while I was watching the HD recording of "Big Shots" so I snapped a pic of the message.  Ha Ha Ha.  Scared the crap outta me.  As it turns out, the update took about fifteen minutes and my hack Jumpstart 62 external eSATA drive is now officially supported via the new OS and settings.  I feel legit.

    night nght

  • More Halo 3 fun

    Seen the next chapter in the Halo 3 mini movie?  Right click the pic and SAVE AS the movie local to watch it.

    Landfall

  • Want to win $25,000 cash ???

    cameraman There is a great contest going on and there's a ton of cash available for the winners.  The General Category Grand Prize is $25,000.  First Prize is $15,000 and Second Prize is $10,000.  Then there's the AMD Green Category with another Grand Prize of $25,000 and a First Place of $15,000.  Last but not least, there's the People's Choice Award of $5000.  Do I have your attention?  That's a lot of money folks.  You'd better be glad I am ineligible or I'd be going after it.

    For contest rules, head on over to the "Heroes Happen Here" competition area and check out the rules.

    Here's part of the description, "Seeking talented filmmakers to celebrate Technology’s unknown crusaders. Discover, Dream, or animate the stories of people who are using technology to find solutions that better the world around us. To qualify for judging in the General Award category, films must relate a story of a Technology Hero who uses Microsoft server and developer tool technologies to make their world a better place.  To qualify for judging in the Green Award category, films must related a story of a Technology Hero who uses both Microsoft server and developer tool technologies, and AMD technologies to lead the world to energy efficiency and conservation."

  • Geek out with Keith and Robert - TechNet Radio on Virtualization

    TechNet Radio - Tune in, Geek outI just completed my first TechNet Radio episode.  I've never done audio only so this was a new experience.  They've been trying to get me to do some interviews for the past couple of years but I was too chicken.  Yea, right.  But in this case, I couldn't resist because I get to interview virtualization guru, Robert Larson

    If you weren't aware, Robert is co-author of the Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 Resource Kit.  In short, he knows his stuff.  Robert is an Architect with Microsoft Consulting Services and works out of our Houston, Texas office.

    This particular episode is probably a little longer than usual.  Blame it on the slow swagger of two Texans.  At just under 40 minutes, you'll want to head on over to the October TechNet Radio area and grab the .WMA or .MP3 file and put it on your trusty Zune or iPod.  I hope you enjoy it.  If you think of a great radio topic, let me know.  With our expanding portfolio, there are a lot of subjects so give me some ideas. 

    Doesn't the guy in the pic above look like Harold Wong?  grin

  • Microsoft is cool again !

    ZuneMarketplace

    Meet the new Zunes, Marketplace and other goodies.  Click the pic.

  • System Center Virtual Machine Manager available for download

    scvmm background oneYou may recall I did a System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) screencast a few weeks back. This is a great new product for managing your Microsoft Virtual Servers.  I noticed when I got back from my team meeting this week that TechNet Plus subscribers can now download this product from the download center. 

    Gotta love that subscription.  It has nearly every product in our portfolio ready for download and burnage.  These are non time bombed products ready for your training and testing.  Have some fun!!!

  • Apple Bling

    I've been waiting for Leopard to release before I order a MacBook Pro.  One of the reasons I've been waiting is the hope Apple will get a clue and fix the thermal issues, improve the screen resolution and lower the price.  We'll, maybe the wait is over...

    Click My Diamonds

    GOLD ought to whick off the heat, right?

  • More Windows Vista screencasts are getting published

    Remember Windows Vista?  You know, that cool operating system we shipped nearly a year ago?  Well, Matt Hester is publishing some of the screencasts he created a few months ago (finally) and as always, Matt is doing a great job of demonstrating some of the features.

    Check out his latest on Windows Vista Movie Maker.  Anyone with a video camera should see this.

    See the rest of Matt's screencasts at http://blogs.technet.com/matthewms/archive/tags/Screen+Casts/default.aspx.

  • TiVo rebates and official eSATA support

    TiVoVerified For those of you with a HDTV, now you have a great new HD DVR upgrade to consider.  First of all, they have the $200 TiVo Series 3 rebate promotion going.  That means you can get the dual CableCard tuner Series 3 for $399 after rebate.  I still think it's the best deal on the market.  This rebate runs through 1/26/2008 so Santa has plenty of time to think about it.

    Second is official support for adding an eSATA drive.  They have the official 500GB drive in the TiVo online store at https://www3.tivo.com/store/accessories.do.

    After adding the drive to a standard Series 3 TiVo, you'll have 750GB of disk space which nets out to just under 100 hours of high definition recording space.  This means you'll be able to record all of those weekly shows and several movies for several weeks before you need to start worrying about overwrites. 

    Keep in mind this is the official verified drive.  A lot of people have added other non-official 1TB drives which I think is a bit crazy unless you want a ready archive of HD movies.

    So how do you get the official support?  Buy the TiVo.  Buy the drive.  Have the TiVo OS v9.2 blown down to your S3 across the wire.  Add the drive in the settings area.  Simple.  See http://research.tivo.com/91priority/index.htm for the 9.2 request form. 

    Ready, Set, TiVo !!!

     

    [Note] Before someone comments, if you are looking to do any of the above to save money over your current rented HD DVR, you aren't going to save money and that's really the wrong approach.  What you get by going this route is a better guide than you probably have, and more recording space.  You give up pay-per-view and on-demand.  For my family, this has been a non issue.  I routinely surf the TiVo guide data (HD movies) and pick new releases or oldies for recording.  So my family goes to the "Playing Now" area of the TiVo and they see our weekly shows and other movies I picked.  It rocks.

  • Microsoft versus the F.B.I.

    fbi_logo Kai Axford, Senior Security Strategist and former Army Ranger has a lot of contacts in the government.  We've visited the US Secret Service crime labs, worked with the F.B.I. on various security events, and also worked with them on a variety of other work related activities.  That was until today.

    Apparently the F.B.I wants to get personal.  They think they can beat us in a Halo 3.  I almost spewed my coffee when I read the email from Kai.  The nerve of these guys.  Who do they think they're dealing with here, a bunch of nerds?  Don't answer that.

    I've been busy like the rest of you and frankly haven't spent much time on the multiplayer maps.  In fact, I haven't even touched one since the beta and I rarely played them during the alpha and beta.  This is just the incentive I needed.  Revenge is a powerful incentive. Grin.

  • Running The Orange Box on Windows Vista x64

    hl2ep2 Kai Axford was beating me up the other day on my lack of current games for my PC.  As I indicated to him and others, I was waiting to grab Valve Software's upcoming release of Half Life Orange Box.  Well, it's now out and I purchased a copy last night while picking up the HD-DVD version of Transformers.

    I am happy to report that Steam and The Orange Box installed cleanly on my Lenovo ThinkPad T61p which is of course running Windows Vista Ultimate x64.  So now you can add another set of applications and games to the list at http://blogs.technet.com/keithcombs/archive/2007/10/05/applications-i-m-running-on-windows-vista-x64.aspx.

    If you weren't aware, The Orange Box includes Half-Life 2, HL2: Episode One, HL2: Episode Two, Team Fortress 2, and Portal.  Portal has been getting high marks for fun and innovation.

    After the install and updates all completed, I launched Episode 2 to try out the game and see how well the NVIDIA Quadro 570M video does on the laptop.  As usual, it launches the game initially in a 4:3 aspect 1024x768 session with decent but not full on graphics, texturing, shading and water refection support.  So I decided to boldly go high end.

    I updated the video settings to 16:10 aspect ratio, 1680x1050 resolution, full screen, maximum shading, textures, water reflection, etc.  WOW!!!  I was shocked how well this laptop handles that.  It's definitely my new benchmark.  There was very slight tearing on quick turns but nothing laggy or obnoxious.  I simply could not believe it.  It was a quick test but it looks like I have a great new set of games to play at home and on the road.

    Oh, and I was really surprised after the install.  The Steam and Valve guys state after all of the activation and updates I am at liberty to run the games associated with my account on any PC I have.  That is so very cool.  Something other software makers should think about.  It certainly made me happy.

  • Lance does the WOW thang

    It's funny that Lance Ulanoff just tested and loved one of the features literally everyone on my team is testing right now.  Everyone on my team has a new high definition video camera.  Apparently Lance does, too. 

    In the article, "I Found Vista's WOW", Lance discovered a hidden gem called Windows Movie Maker.  As Lance indicates, Movie Maker is designed to make the chore of offloading video and creating a DVD very simple.  In fact, many of the features in Windows Vista were designed with simplicity in mind.

    For those of you familiar with world of making videos, you know that many products are far from simple.  When you further add the density of high def video data, chores like encoding take more time.

    I'll be blogging an article soon on my impressions of the products I have tested recently.  I have Windows Vista Movie Maker (of course), Roxio, Nero, Adobe Premiere Elements, and Sony Vegas Movie Studio and DVD Architect.

  • Belkin n52te - let the games begin

    n52te

    WOW.  This is a kewl product from Belkin.  Yea, you have to be a pretty hard core PC gamer to truly appreciate it, but purely from a design point of view, look at the innovation and beauty.  I wonder how long it takes to really ramp up and pwn with this controller.  Duck!!!

  • What's interesting about Data Protection Manager 2007 ???

    Like many of you, I have spent a fair amount of time testing, designing and deploying all types of systems. Keeping systems up and running is no easy chore, and the occasional hurricane doesn't help matters at all.  Ask the folks in my region.

    Several of the sessions we've done in and around Louisiana have generated healthy discussion about backup, recovery, clustering, etc.  This is especially true for  the Microsoft Exchange and SQL server products.  Usually the discussion leads to geographic spanning of clusters, log shipping and other methods of duplicating data and systems.

    Last week my team was offsite at a beautiful location in Arizona.  During the week, we managed to snag Jason Buffington for a day to do some training on Data Protection Manager 2007.  Like many of you, I was thinking before the training, "So what, who cares?". 

    Jason did a magnificent job of talking about the value, features, doing some cool demonstrations, and handling some tough questions.  For instance, I asked him, "How much Exchange data could I possibly lose with DPM 2007?"  As you might expect, the answer really depends, but DPM takes backup checkpoints on 15 minute intervals.  The way DPM works is pretty fascinating and for those of you considering replicating your data and systems to another location, this is a solution you should test against your needs.

    Here are some resources you should spend a few minutes looking at:

    http://blogs.technet.com/jbuff/archive/2007/08/20/how-dpm-filter-technology-really-works.aspx is a nice screencast on the stuff that happens under the covers.

    http://blogs.technet.com/jbuff/archive/2007/10/17/DPM-2007-has-RTMd.aspx is Jason's blog post on the RTM announcement for Data Protection Manager 2007.

    Then of course you have the official blog post, on the official blog, by an official of the group.

    Let's not forget the official System Center Data Protection Manager 2007 apartment on microsoft.com.

    Protection for Exchange Server:

    DPM offers integrated support for Exchange Servers 2003 and 2007 with advanced cluster configurations.

    Protection for SQL Server:

    DPM enables shorter SQL Server backup windows without the need for compression. DPM also provides one touch application restores with zero data loss.

  • Be careful with that new NVIDIA Windows XP video driver

    A few weeks ago NVIDIA released a new unified video driver.  So I downloaded it from here.  Bad idea.  In my multimon configuration, the Dell 2007FP would flicker pretty badly in a variety of situations.  It reminded me of Max Headroom.  To make matters worse, DVD playback would not work.  Thankfully I had taken a Ghost backup of my system before installing the driver.  The Ghost restore was needed because driver rollback would not work.

    The driver I'm using for my Windows XP MCE 2005 machine is http://www.nvidia.com/object/winxp_2k_93.71.html.

    Moral of the story, "If it isn't broke, don't fix it!"  That and make sure you are doing weekly backups.

  • Go Walt Go

    Walt MossbergWalt Mossberg has a bur under his saddle.  He's shall we say, just a tad frustrated with the current situation in the US cell phone market.  I think he did a great job of highlighting some of the issues we have all been dealing with the past few years, and I doubt many end users would disagree with him.  The wireless telcos will no doubt try to refute a lot of what he says.

    So go read, "Free My Phone".  Do you agree with him?  Time to stick it to the man...

    On a different topic, Walt has his Ethics policy published at http://allthingsd.com/about/walt-mossberg/ethics/.  Pretty interesting.  Reminds me of the days I did evaluations at EDS.