Keith Combs' Blahg

Ramblings from another nerd on the grid

September, 2008

  • Lenovo ThinkPad W500 - mini review

    W500 I recently had the opportunity to take a look at the Lenovo ThinkPad W500 (model 4061-2KU).  This machine is really similar to my ThinkPad T61p in many ways, but there are some improvements that have been made in some key areas.  Click the image at right for a high resolution image of the ThinkPad W500.

    Video

    The W500 I received has the “switchable graphics.”  What this really means is that is contains two video chipsets and you can swtich back and forth between them.  The W500 I tested has the ATI™ Mobility FireGL™ V5700 and the Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 4500MHD video chipsets.  The Intel chipset is used for battery consumption.  The ATI chipset is used for high performance graphics.

    Screen

    The W500 I looked at came with the 15.4" (391mm) WUXGA (1920x1200) color, anti-glare, CCFL backlit, 175 nits, 16:10 aspect ratio, 500:1 contrast ratio LCD screen.  This particular screen is slightly dimmer than the WSXGA+ T61p’s I have but frankly I end up turning the brightness down on them anyway.

    Making a choice between a screen with a native resolution of 1920x1200 and one with a native res of 1680x1050 is a really personal subjective decision.  I’m a firm believer that most people would pick the brighter 1680x1050 screen, but you really need to see them side-by-side and make the decision on your own.  The screen on the W500 I received also has an integrated webcam (although I did not test it).

    Memory

    The W500 uses DDR3 memory and came configured with two 2GB memory sticks for a total of 4GB.  For those of you wanting to upgrade the amount to 8GB, keep in mind that means upgrading the OS to 64bit and finding some 4GB PC3-8500 1066MHz DDR3 204 pin memory sticks.  Good luck with that.  The good news is that those are the same sticks used by the ThinkPad W700.  That’s also the bad news because the allocation of those sticks are going to the W700 Quad bad boys right now.

    Ports

    Lenovo moved the ports around on the machine (as compared to the T61p).  A DisplayPort is new for the W500 and like the T61p it includes three USB ports, IEEE 1394, Ethernet, VGA connector, and modem.  Oddly, the modem port is now where the T61p USB jacks were.  Does anyone still use analog modem?  I don’t really get that.  I guess if you need a fax it’s there but I can’t remember the last time I used dial-up.

    All of the USB ports were moved to the left side of the machine and are now vertical instead of horizontal.  This could present some problems for those of you that are using fat USB sticks or cell cards.  I am now carrying a USB extender cable for this very reason.

    CPU

    Back to the meat of the machine.  The proc is a Intel® Core™ 2 Duo processor T9600 1066MHz system bus 6MB L2 cache processor.  In short, it’s fast.  Much faster than my lowly T61p T7500.  It’ll be interesting to see if Lenovo decides to add one of the mobile Quad Core CPU’s later.  I have no idea if they will but considering how well engineered the ThinkPad cooling is you would think they would want to compete in the 15.4” space.  For now, if you want a Quad, you’ll have to step up to the big brother W700.

    Case, Keyboard and Power

    The W500 case construction is rock solid like the T61p and as usual, the keyboard rocks.  For those of you that want the CTRL key where the FN key is, sorry, Lenovo is still doing their lone wolf thing.  As I understand it, this mostly affects developers that use the CTRL key a lot.  As you might expect, the W500 weighs about the same as the T61p.  All of my T61p’s have the 9 cell bateries but considering how little I use battery power, I’ll probably replace them with 6 cells and reduce the weight some.

    A lot of emphasis has been placed on green computing with this machine and there are all sorts of power management profiles and “battery stretch” capabilities.  I haven’t really had a chance to test how long I could really run on battery power but they advertise 9 hours with the 9 cell battery.  If that’s true, you could fly from Dallas to Hawaii on battery power.  Now I’m guessing that life doesn’t include DVD playback, but it sounds like you’ll have plenty of email checking juice when using the proper profiles.

    OS Checks

    As expected, the machine arrived with Windows Vista Business x86.  I created the factory disk set and tested that the disks would put the machine back to factory shipped specs.  You should be aware that the factory config will partition your drive into three partitions for recovery and rollback purposes.

    I flattened the machine and tested that Windows Server 2008 x64 would install and run Hyper-V.  It does.  I had a bit of an issue getting the Ethernet driver to load for Windows Server 2008, but I managed to force it.  I reported this to Lenovo and asked our internal team to look at it and see if they can improve that a bit.

    I also flattened it again and installed Windows Vista Enterprise x64 with all of the drivers and software.  The goal was to install Vista from scratch and install the drivers and software to see if there were any gotchas.  I didn’t see any but my testing was pretty brief.  I was mostly interested in making sure the networking worked, video switching worked, power management worked, etc.  Like I said, I didn’t spot any glaring issues on the core stuff but I didn’t test over a long term.

    I did not test Windows XP or any Linux variants like Novel SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop.  Sorry, I just didn’t have the time for this round of testing and I need to get this machine in the hands of some other folks.

    Summary

    If you are looking for a new machine and were worried about the replacement for the T61p, there’s no need to worry.  As expected the Lenovo ThinkPad W500 is a rock solid machine and will be a contender in the corporate laptop market.  It comes with an impressive set of credentials and I’m sure you’ll enjoy the W500 for several years.  Buy with confidence.

  • G.SKILL releases low priced 4GB laptop memory SoDIMMs

    image We were having some conversations this morning about a bunch of laptops being rolled out to Microsoft field personnel. One of the people on that thread tipped everyone to some new low price laptop memory sticks of the 200 pin 4GB variety.

    G.SKILL has apparently quietly started shipping the F2-5300CL5S-4GBSQ modules to the likes of online ecommerce powerhouse newegg.com.  See http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231202 for the current price of $169.99 per 4GB stick.  Now the question is, who is going to be the first person to order some and load up a laptop?  I can’t.  I’m already all full.

  • Halo Wars – still planning to ship

    brute_1024b

    In case you haven’t heard, Ensemble Studios is shutting down after they ship Halo Wars.  This is a sad development for gamers everywhere but I guess it underscores the dominance of the special purpose gaming consoles over the desktop computer and gaming machine of the home.  Is this the beginning of the end for powerful home computers?  Who knows.  But when was the last time you considered a desktop over a laptop?

  • Cool Windows vs Walls Wallpapers

    See http://windowsvistablog.com/blogs/windowsexperience/archive/2008/09/18/life-without-walls-wallpapers-for-your-pc.aspx for some cool wallpapers to cover your desktop.  Seems a bit ironic to me. 

    LifeWithoutWalls

  • UCLA group discovers massive prime number with Windows XP

    WindowsXP LOS ANGELES - Mathematicians at UCLA have discovered a 13-million-digit prime number, a long-sought milestone that makes them eligible for a $100,000 prize.

    The group found the 46th known Mersenne prime last month on a network of 75 computers running Windows XP. The number was verified by a different computer system running a different algorithm.

    "We're delighted," said UCLA's Edson Smith, the leader of the effort. "Now we're looking for the next one, despite the odds."

    See the rest of this article at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26914730/.

    See the gory details @ http://www.math.ucla.edu/~edson/prime/ like the following question and answer:

    Q.  When did the discovery occur?  What kind of computer was used?

    A.  The UCLA Mersenne Prime was reported on August 23, 2008 on a computer named zeppelin.pic.ucla.edu, a Dell Optiplex 745 running Windows XP with an Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 CPU running at 2.4 GHz.  The name "zeppelin" was part of our Classic Rock Band series of computers.

    Glad they weren’t using OS X or Linux.  I’m a PC. I rock Zeppelin.  Grin.

  • Anyone running out to buy the new iPod Touch?

    Zune120

    The Apple 8GB iPod Touch is $229, the 16GB is $299 and the 32GB is $399.  Those are the prices at the Apple Store.  Anyone running out to buy one? Somebody wake me up when the 32GB is discounted to $299 (at least). 

    You can get a new generation 120GB Archos player for $399 and although that isn’t exactly cheep, it does store many more movies.

    While we’re on the subject, why not go ahead and get the new Zune 120 for $249?  Now there’s a deal.  I just wish we’d bump the screen size a little larger and wider.

    And next week we start rolling out a bunch of new features in the Zune 3.0 software release.  Here are some of the goodies coming:

    More Ways to Discover Music: Channels and Picks

    The new Zune software update taps expert sources, recommendations from the Zune service and online music community, and the user’s own play data to create a dynamic, digital music experience where discovering music is easy and seamless.

    • Channels. Channels are an exciting new tool for music discovery. Customers can explore channels programmed by experts from the music industry such as the Billboard Top 100, The FADER magazine and KEXP radio, in addition to workout-themed channels tailored for high, medium and low impact, and top chart channels from all genres and subgenres. The powerful Zune software will even create custom channels for each user, based on favorite artists and genres. Channels are included with a monthly Zune Pass subscription and can be synced to the device for playback on the go. For non-Zune Pass subscribers, the Channels are available for a la carte purchase.
    • Personal Picks. Now the Zune software learns what kind of music users like and makes personal recommendations. When users log onto Zune Marketplace, they’ll find a new area called Picks where the Zune recommendation algorithm will suggest artists, albums and tracks based on the music they have been listening to, as well as channels they might like and listeners like them in the Zune Social.
    • The Zune Social online music community. Customers can connect with millions of like-minded fans and share music via the Zune Card, a real-time playlist of each user’s favorite and recently played tracks that can be accessed on the Web or within the Zune software, or synced to the Zune device. Zune Pass subscribers can play full tracks from Zune Cards synced to their device while on the go, and now the playlists will even automatically update with the most recently played tracks when Zune connects to a wireless hot spot. It’s like subscribing to a free feed of music from the sources people trust most — their friends.

    Powerful Software

    The Zune PC software is a free download at http://www.zune.net that provides rich discovery and media management capabilities to help consumers make the most of their existing music collections, in addition to providing access to the Zune Social and Zune Marketplace so they can add to it.

    • Mixview. Customers can select an artist, album or Zune Card to activate a dynamic, visual mosaic of related music and listeners. With each click users can take the view in a new direction, creating a fun, graphical way to discover new music. Mixview works with users’ current collection of music, in addition to tracks and albums from across the Zune Marketplace.
    • Now Playing. The improved Now Playing view is more interactive and cinematic. Users can sit back and enjoy the combination of great artist imagery, colorful effects, bio information and data from the Zune online music community, all combined in a full-screen view. They can also click to dive deeper into the music behind the picture, providing another great way to interact with their collection.
  • A Cray Supercomputer In Every Home

    CrayCX1I think everyone should have sixteen Quad Core Xeon processors in their personal supercomputer, don’t you?  I mean come on, think of the lunar rover simulations you could run.  And don’t worry about memory starvation in the middle of your oil explorations.  This baby handles 512GB of memory.

    Ladies and gentlemen, the Cray CX1 is your next home heater and general purpose supercomputer.  All joking aside, this is one serious box and should be a great offering for those of you into this type of research.

    See http://www.cray.com/Products/CX1/Product/Technology.aspx for the main product page.

    The flash demo at http://www.cray.com/Assets/Demos/cx1/index.html is pretty impressive.

    And for you supercomputing nerds, be sure to checkout the specs in the brochure at http://www.cray.com/Assets/PDF/products/cx1/CX1_brochure.pdf.  One thing that caught my eye was the power supply(s) for this machine.  I think you are going to need a supercomputer to calculate the power consumption and future electricity bill from the city.  I’m sure Giovanni Marchetti already has one on order.

  • The Pizza Box is coming – Dell Precision M6400 “laptop” details emerge

    image

    Someone sent me an anonymous email with a link to the specs for the Dell Precision M6400.  What was the snitches name in Watergate?  It feels like that.  Kinda cool. 

    Anyway, you’ll want to grab the .PDF file at Dell's download area.

    As you can see in the brochure, it comes with a variety of 17” screens to suite your needs and budget, fast video card choices, dual hard drives plus a DVD burner.  I was surprised they don’t list a Blu-ray player or burner.  Maybe that’s an oversight.

    As expected, you can get the machine with the Quad Core QX9300 and 16GB of memory for your high hat computing needs.

    It’s wrapped in a cool case with all sorts of ports for display, USB, IEEE 1394, and my personal fav, eSATA. 

    This baby isn’t exactly a “laptop”.  Starting at 8.54 pounds, it isn’t going to be fun toting to your college class across campus, but for the folks that need to do some serious number crunching at home, it certainly falls into the “luggable” category.  I’m not sure I’d want to carry it around in a backpack so this will likely be one of those machines for a roll-a-board.

  • Multiple GPU sockets and their implications with the OS

    I learned something new last week.  I didn’t realize all 1024MB video cards aren’t created equally.  Apparently some of them have multiple GPU sockets and that has some interesting implications when using them for gaming and what the operating system sees for general purpose applications.

    This all started a month or two ago when we were creating some configurations for video editing workstations.  I asked Chris Henley what he wanted and one of the things he suggested was a 1024MB video card.  Since we were building out the quote for a Dell XPS 420 and that was one of the options on the public ordering site, I added a 1024MB video card to the quote request.  We also added some other goodies to the quote and basically configured a nicely decked out machine.

    The Dell XPS 420’s we ordered and received included the Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300, Dell 27” flat panel LCD, ATI Radeon 3870X2 1024MB GDDR3 video card, Blu-ray, fat hard drive, etc.  In short, a really nice video editing workstation.  The main purpose of the machine is to slice through video edits like a hot knife through butter.  The Dell XPS 420’s we received accomplish that as expected and we don’t have to worry about turning a laptop into a block of molten lava.

    However, upon close inspection it appeared we didn’t receive the 1024MB card we received.  Here’s one of the screenshots from Windows Vista Ultimate x64:

    image

    Huh?  Where’s the other 512MB? I thought we actually received the wrong video card.  Seems plausible. There were only two clues in the UI of the OS or installed applications that tip you off on what is really going on.  In Device Manager, there are two video cards displayed.  What?  How is that possible?

    The second clue is in the ATI Catalyst Control Center (CCC).  By the way, you have to get the updated drivers from the ati.amd.com website for this card to work correctly with Windows Vista x64.  The drivers at the Dell site would not install.  When you look at the card in CCC, you’ll see a “Primary Adaptor” and a “Linked Adaptor”.

    So what is really going on?

    The answer is clearly shown in the picture at the top of the blog post.  If you look closely you’ll see that the card has two GPU sockets and chips.  It is effectively two cards on the same PCB.  Each GPU has 512MB of dedicated memory.  So technically it’s the correct card and it has 1024MB of memory, but how much do you think is being used by Windows Vista?  Unfortunately only 512MB unless you are running a game that understands the ATI API and will use both GPUs and their memory at the same time.

    You wouldn’t know any of this unless you are a gamer I guess.  There is no mention of it on the Dell buying site and I certainly didn’t take the time to fully research the video card before we bought the configuration that arrived.  Since we aren’t using the machines for gaming (at least I am not), we are trying to determine what to do.  I’m inclined to return the card for a credit and look for a more suitable card for our needs.  I was thinking the Sapphire card at http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102761 would be a candidate.  Anyone have an opinion on the build quality of Sapphire cards?  I’ve been using NVIDIA chipset's and BFG Tech video cards for years and have had very good luck with them.

    Any other suggestions?  Have a 1024MB card with a single GPU that works well with Windows Vista x64 and has a reasonable price?  Let me know.

    Oh, one other thing.  I forgot to mention in the picture of the card at top you’ll see a bit of engineering I really like.  Notice Dell has added a black piece of plastic to the card that extends it.  This allows the end of the card to slide into a slot in the XPS 420 and it really stabilizes the card very effectively.  A simple bit of engineering that produces a great result.  That should be a standard in the industry.

  • How-To : Stay Warm in the Winter

    Stay warm and tan.

  • Windows Vista Complete PC Backup and large file support

    vista_wallpaper Chris Muench shot me an email a week or so ago and asked me if I had run into a Complete PC backup issue with the following obscure error message “A semaphore has expired”.  He had tried several hard drives as the target and it always seemed to fail at the same point close to the end of the backup.  He indicated to me that he was backing up about 65GB of data.  This certainly wasn’t an unusual amount of data.

    As it turns out, the reason he hit the error message and it failed is because he was trying to backup a file larger than 4GB.  I always wonder why the error message just can’t say that.  You know something like, “I’m sorry, we cannot backup files larger than 4GB.”

  • Pride

  • Want to be a Windows Guru ???

    image

  • What are you using for noise canceling headphones?

    My first pair of noise canceling headphones is a pair of Brookestones. Although they are over 10 years old, they still work quite well.  I think I paid around $70 for them then.  What’s the ROI on that?  But their day has come and gone and the fake leather is cracking.  So it’s time to get something new.  I have a heavy travel schedule between now and Christmas so some good scull wear will help make the ride more enjoyable. 

    Everyone I know has forked out the big bucks for the Bose headsets.  You know, the QuietComfort, QuietComfort 2 or the smaller QuietComfort 3.

    There’s just one problem, those babies aren’t exactly low cost.  The QC 3’s are $349.  The QC 2’s are $299.  And they never go on sale from what I can tell.

    So while I was at Fry’s yesterday returning a video card, I explored the headphone isle.  They of course carry nearly all of the brands except Bose.  Thankfully.  Otherwise I’d probably have a pair of the QC 3’s.

    After studying the various shapes and prices, I snagged the Sony MDR-NC60.  They are similar to the Bose QuietComfort 2 in some ways.  High cost, full ear wrap around, noise cancelling, etc.  They have padding in the band (key requirement) and from the few minutes I wore them last night appears to a really good pair of headphones.

    The field testing begins tomorrow.  Everyone is my org is headed to Las Vegas for a team meeting.  The flight to Vegas is the perfect field test.  Three hours from Dallas/Ft. Worth airport to Sin City.  Just enough time to settle in and watch a movie on my Archos 605 WIFI which is coming up on it’s one year anniversary.  I must admit, the Archos player has been one of the most enjoyable purchases I’ve made in a long time.  It has the right balance of screen size (4.3”), capacity (80GB) and video format support.

    What are you using for noise canceling headphones?  If the Sony NC60’s don’t work out, what do you recommend?  Are the Bose worth the extra $100?

  • Looking for your best virtualization bet?

    header_main

    Think you should get the value of virtualization without a high cost? Microsoft does. Microsoft Virtualization offers a lower TCO, fast time to value, a reduction in system complexity, and a strong partner ecosystem.

    See the interesting domain @ http://www.vmwarecostswaytoomuch.com/

  • And you think your ThinkPad is fast…

    w500

    Lenovo ThinkPad W500 out-of-box experience.

     

    I received a new Lenovo ThinkPad W500 evaluation unit Friday morning and thought you might be interested in the screenshot above.  I’ll be writing more later but until then, suffice it to say that this baby is fast.  I also have another hard drive I built during some VM builds I’m doing.  On the other hard drive I installed Windows Server 2008 x64 and Hyper-V.  More later this week.  Real work is getting in the way of fun.

    Oh, and one last thing…  this isn’t the fastest ThinkPad.  I am still waiting for the real bad boy.

  • Shoe Circus Clown Club Platinum

    How does this ad resonate with you? What is your first impression?  I saw it during the NFL game between the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins.  I have to admit, I did like the slot our marketing org picked to run the ad.  First game of the season and right before the cut to the Republican convention coverage.

    [UPDATES]

    Engadget post and comments @ http://www.engadget.com/2008/09/04/seinfeld-and-gates-pair-up-for-intense-shoe-fitting-session-cry/.

    Macrumors post and comments @ http://www.macrumors.com/2008/09/04/microsofts-first-seinfeld-ad-airs-shoe-circus/

    TechCrunch post and comments @ http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/09/04/microsoft-ads-first-phase-to-engage-consumers-spark-conversation/

  • Fedora Samba Installation Guide for AD

    ws2008 This paper details the installation of a Linux (Fedora 8) Samba server for compatibility with a Windows Active Directory environment. This will allow both Windows users and Linux users access to the same shares during the execution of programs on the Windows based HPC cluster. The installation is detailed in such a fashion as to make it possible for relatively inexperienced administrators to replicate. Screen shots are used throughout the paper along with a narrative that explains not only what to do but why each step is necessary.

    The initial installation of the Fedora 8 based server is stock standard utilizing the defaults wherever possible. Once the base server is installed, the necessary steps are provided to install the Samba software and configure a set of simple shared files to be accessed from other systems. The final step is to join the new Samba server to the Windows domain and test the access to the shares from a Windows user on the Windows server and from a Windows domain user who is logged in to a Linux system, which is also a member of the domain.

     

    Get it @ http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=1c2c91a8-6d81-4bc2-94e9-448d68a7d06d&DisplayLang=en.

  • Springboard Series – Windows Vista Performance

    WARNING – this is a progressive download video.  It is not streamed.  Therefore the entire 400MB video is downloaded and played if you click the big START button above.  What’d you expect for 60 minutes of video?

    If you want to download the video and play it offline, right mouse click the following URL and then use the SAVE AS function to save it locally to your hard drive.

    Get it @ http://msinetpub.vo.llnwd.net/d1/keithcombs/videos/SpringboardPerformance.wmv

  • Want my job?

    Looking for the best job in the entire world?  Are you a seasoned veteran of a wide variety of technologies?  Do you dig talking to customers in good times and bad?  Do you have the passion to be a Microsoft employee on the US IT Pro Evangelist team?

    Well I have good news for you!!!  My manager informed my team last Friday that we just opened up a head for my team.  That’s microspeak for we’re hiring.  I’ll have a job description and instructions for you soon so get to editing those resumes.

    In the meantime, check out a couple of interviews Matt and I did of the latest editions to my team.  Yung Chou is a 10 year Microsoft veteran and joined our team a few months ago.  Dan Stolts has been with Microsoft for three months but has been a Consultant for many years.

    Interview with Yung Chou

     

    Interview with Dan Stolts

  • HTC Touch Diamond now available at Sprint

    image

  • Let’s do the Robot with Bill and Jerry

    Digging the goofy Microsoft commercials?  Want to download them and watch them over and over to try and figure out the metaphors in each video?  Who does grandma represent?  Grin.

    Here are the links to the videos.  Don’t worry about the network.  It’s Limelight Networks and we use them as a Content Delivery Network (CDN) for a lot of our stuff.  You’ll see the same links at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/windows if you consider that a more trusted source.  Enjoy.

    Video Download Links

    http://msstudios.vo.llnwd.net/o21/presspass/mpeg2/Shoe_Circus_90_HD_24_MP4_MPEG.mpg

    http://msstudios.vo.llnwd.net/o21/presspass/mpeg2/Family_PART_01_90.mpg

    http://msstudios.vo.llnwd.net/o21/presspass/mpeg2/Family_Part2_90_recap_090908.mpg

  • System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 coming in 30 days

    SCVMM_logo System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 provides a management solution for the virtualized data center that helps enable centralized management of IT infrastructure, increased server utilization, and dynamic resource optimization across multiple virtualization platforms.

    Support for VMs Running on Windows Server 2008
    System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 fully utilizes the foundational features and services of Windows Server 2008 and Microsoft Hyper-V Server. This includes Hyper-V’s 64-bit architecture, attack hardened security model, fail-over cluster support, and others. VMM 2008 supports all Hyper-V functionality while providing VMM-specific functions, such as the Intelligent Placement, the Self-Service Portal, and the integrated Library.

    Multi-Vendor Virtualization Platform Support
    With its support for virtual machines running on Microsoft Virtual Server and VMware ESX infrastructure, VMM 2008 integrates multi-hypervisor management into one tool. VMM 2008 provides comprehensive support for VMware VI3 through integration with VMware’s Virtual Center.

    Performance and Resource Optimization (PRO)
    PRO is a new feature of VMM that can dynamically respond to failure scenarios or poorly configured components that are identified in hardware, operating systems, or applications. PRO’s capabilities are also available to VMware ESX or Virtual Server hosts, thus allowing administrators to manage their entire virtualized environment regardless of the virtualization platform they are using.

    Host Cluster Support for “High Availability” Virtual Machines
    With greatly expanded support for failover clusters, VMM 2008 improves its “high availability” capabilities for managing mission-critical virtual machines. VMM 2008 is now fully cluster-aware, meaning it can detect and manage Hyper-V host clusters as a single unit. New user-friendly features, such as automatic detection of added or removed virtual hosts and designating high-availability virtual machine with one click, facilitate the administrator’s work.

    Learn more about Virtual Machine Manager 2008:

  • New Presidential Write-in Candidate

    Funny stuff courtesy of resident funny man, Kevin Remde.

  • Netmon 3.2 download now available

    Network Monitor 3.2 is a protocol analyzer. It allows you to capture network traffic, view and analyze it. Version 3.2 is an update and replaces Network Monitor 3.1. Network Monitor 3.x is a complete overhaul of the previous Network Monitor 2.x version.

    Get it @ http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=f4db40af-1e08-4a21-a26b-ec2f4dc4190d&DisplayLang=en

    More information on the features of this release @ http://blogs.technet.com/netmon/.

  • Windows vs Walls

    WindowsvsWalls

  • How to stop new phone sales in one easy step!

    HTC_Touch_HD You know how technology goes.  Just as soon as you are getting ready to plunk your hard earned cash down on a nice new phone, someone announces the next generation that is the “must have” device.  HTC just did that. 

    Sprint finally launched the US version of the HTC Touch Diamond.  It’s rumored to be coming to Verizon and ATT.  But the Diamond has been out for months in Europe and HTC is marching on.  You can hardly blame them.  The Apple iPhone is kicking butt and taking names in the consumer market and with the 3G and Microsoft Exchange support, threatens to erode the share of the business market.

    Enter from stage right, the HTC Touch HD.  The thing that immediately got my attention is the screen.  3.8”  TFT LCD running 800x480 WVGA resolution.  That should make for a very nice movie viewing platform.

    Unfortunately the specs don’t say what video formats are supported.  We’ll assume for the moment that because the device is currently listed as a Windows Mobile 6.1 Pro device, that at least means Windows Media Video (.wmv) will be handled.  But what about all of the other popular formats now on the market?

    Assuming you can easily remove the battery and thus carry some extras, it looks like we may have a viable contender to the Apple iPhone.  Sure would be nice to see a Zune Phone show up using this as a platform in the next couple of weeks. 

    Dreams are free.

  • Xbox 360 console price reductions announced !!!

    xbox360 That device is Xbox 360®, and today Microsoft announced lower retail prices for the gaming and entertainment console in the United States, which offers the leading Xbox LIVE® service. Beginning September 5, Xbox 360 Arcade retails for the estimated price of $199.99, the Xbox 360 console for $299.99, and Xbox 360 Elite for $399.99.

    See the full release at http://www.xbox.com/en-US/community/news/2008/xbox360pricedrop.htm.

  • ITE’s corner a DPE – Glen Gordon interview

    Check out this interview with Glen Gordon who is a Developer Evangelist in the DPE organization.  Glen was on the MSDN team when it was part of my organization so we’ve known him for many years as this point.  He’s a funny guy to have around, even if you’re doing events in the cold of Alaska.  Ask him about his turtle when you get a chance.

    Snow 2004 005

  • Need a life? How about a second? Second Life PowerShell event this Saturday!!!

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    This weekend Microsoft is hosting another virtual event on Second Life.  Get all of the information on Blain Barton’s blog at http://blogs.technet.com/blainbar/archive/2008/09/19/second-life-windows-powershell-3-part-series-by-max-trinidad.aspx.

  • Application Virtualization (App-V) RTMs !!!

    Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V) version 4.5 has been released to manufacturing. Formerly known as SoftGrid, App-V 4.5 is the first Microsoft-branded release of the product. It includes new capabilities designed to help IT support large-scale virtualization implementations across many sites and provides multiple delivery options including over-the-Internet application availability to meet your business needs. Newly added international support for eleven new languages enables your users to work in localized environments with localized applications; Dynamic Suite Composition (DSC) provides administrator-controlled virtual application communication and interaction; compliance with Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing and Secure by Default initiatives, integration with Microsoft System Center Management Products, and infrastructure updates via Windows Update.

    Additionally, Microsoft Application Virtualization for Terminal Services has also been updated to the same standards and now supports Windows Server 2008 Terminal Services.

    Full story @ http://blogs.technet.com/softgrid/archive/2008/09/03/microsoft-application-virtualization-4-5-rtms.aspx.

  • Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2 downloads

    IE8 Internet Explorer 8 is the latest version of the familiar web browser you are most comfortable using, helping you get everything you want from the web faster, easier, more privately and securely than ever before.

    Vista and Windows Server 2008 x86 download - http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=6ef71415-646f-4279-8b6b-193435ab2d80&DisplayLang=en

    Windows XP x86 download - http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=33fb40fd-2ee2-476a-a152-ed03734691b3&DisplayLang=en

    IE8 Administrator Kit - http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=65033653-2721-4232-84e1-bf863631ba47&DisplayLang=en

  • Virtualization Roadshow – register now before it fills up

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    If you have not signed up for the Virtualization Launch Tour that is getting ready to kick off, be sure to sign up fast before all of the seats get reserved.  Here’s the agenda and city list for registration.  Looks like they are going to have some good hands on labs, too.

    Agenda

    Welcome: Understanding Microsoft Virtualization from Desktop to Data Center

    Session I: Sever Virtualization and Management - An inside look at Hyper-V and System Center Virtual Machine Manager from an architectural and a real world view. Complete with live demo’s of real life scenarios, and even a look at SCVMM managing a VMWare ESX.

    Session II: How Microsoft IT builds Dynamic Data Centers - A look at the current and future Microsoft Data Center. See how Microsoft IT, one of the world’s largest IT organizations, uses Windows Server 2008 and Hyper-V to provide dynamic, scalable, and real-time adjustment to business needs.

    Session III: Understanding Virtualization at the Desktop Level - The future of the Enterprise Desktop is very exciting, and Microsoft Virtualization technologies like Softgrid, Med-V, MDOP, VECD and Terminal Services are in the middle of it all. This session will provide an understanding of the direction of the industry, and highlight the capabilities of the technologies available, as well as look at what the future will bring.

    Hands on Labs

    • Technical Introduction to System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 - Virtual Machine Manager 2008 (VMM) is the new Virtualization Management solution from Microsoft. VMM 2008 provides for centralized physical and virtual machine management, with support for both Microsoft and VMware Virtualization software. This lab will introduce VMM 2008, with an overview of the interface and the usages of management of Virtual Machines. Topics to be covered include creation of host systems and virtual machines, migration of virtual machines, as well as automation using Powershell.
    • Technical Introduction to Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V - Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V is the new Hypervisor software available with Windows Server 2008. Hyper-V provides a high-performance virtualization platform to leverage the rich capabilities of server virtualization. This lab will introduce Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V, with an overview of the installation, configuration, and operation of Hyper-V. Topics to be covered include configuration settings, creation of Virtual Machines (VMs), Virtual Hard Disks (VHD’s), configuration of Virtual Networks, as well as automation and security topics.
    • Advanced Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V - Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V is the new Hypervisor software available with Windows Server 2008. Hyper-V provides a high-performance virtualization platform to leverage the rich capabilities of server virtualization. This lab will cover advanced Hyper-V configuration, including clustering and quick migration of Virtual Machines.
    • Windows Server 2008 Presentation Virtualization - This lab is intended for IT professionals who wish to learn about the management, security and usability features available with Windows Server 2008 Presentation Virtualization. After completing this lab, you will know how to configure a TS Gateway computer to allow connections to an internal client from an external client. You will also learn how to configure a TS RemoteApp program, and access that program from outside the TS Gateway. Finally, you will learn how to implement TS Web Access on the TS Gateway computer and verify that you can use TS Web Access as a portal to access TS RemoteApp programs.
    • Implementing Citrix XenDesktop with Hyper-V and SCVMM - This lab is intended for IT Professional who wish to deploy virtual desktop computers using Hyper-V, System Center Virtual Machine Manager, and Citrix XenDesktop. You will work through the steps to simulate deploying multiple virtual desktops that will be used by bank employees. You will first capture a reference image using the Citrix Provisioning Server. You will then verify you can boot the computer from a diskless client PC. You will then create multiple virtual machines using the reference computer as a template. Finally you will use the Citrix Desktop Delivery Controller and System Center Virtual Machine manager to create a group of virtual desktops, and deploy them to thin clients running on bank computers. At the end of this lab you will have worked through all the steps required to implement Citrix XenDestkop using System Center Virtual Machine Manager and Hyper-V.

    City List and Registration Links see @ https://www.getvirtualnow.com/usevents/CitySelect.aspx?#cities or click the image below.  I know that seems weird, but they had some funky form code I couldn’t get to redirect correctly from my blog.

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  • It's a bird, it's a plane, it's Fusion Man !!!

  • Put a Microsoft Technical Fellow on the Vista Hot Seat!

    springboard Mark Russinovich has guts.  He’s been leading the charge with the Windows Vista Springboard series and doing a great job.  But the most fascinating part of the series is coming up in my opinion. 

    The next part of the Springboard Series Virtual Roundtable will be on Windows Vista performance.  Windows performance is always the subject of heavy scrutiny.  It has been since the Windows 3.0 days.  Windows Vista is certainly no exception and with all of the subsystems that are part of the overall OS, building and running a lean and mean Vista machine is part art, part science.

    So why not learn about some of the science from the under-the-covers master, Mark Russinovich and friends?  I know you folks are really busy but I think this would be a really good  use of your time.  Here are the details: 

    Wednesday, September 24, 2008
    9:00am Pacific Standard Time
    ADD TO CALENDAR

    On the day of the event at the time above, head on over to HTTPS://MS.ISTREAMPLANET.COM/SPRINGBOARD.  Submit your performance questions live during the event or send them in advance to vrtable@microsoft.com. See you there.

  • Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 announced

    Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 provides a simplified, reliable, and optimized virtualization solution, enabling improved server utilization and reduced costs. Since Hyper-V Server is a dedicated standalone product, which contains only Windows Hypervisor and the virtualization components, it provides a small footprint and minimal overhead. It easily plugs into customers’ existing IT environments leveraging their existing patching, provisioning, management, and support tools, processes, and skills.

    IT pros can easily leverage their existing knowledge and skills with Microsoft virtualization products, as well as the collective knowledge of the community, minimizing any learning curve. In addition, with Microsoft providing comprehensive support for Microsoft applications and heterogeneous guest operating systems, customers can virtualize with confidence and peace of mind.

    More information @ http://www.microsoft.com/servers/hyper-v-server/default.mspx

    FAQ @ http://www.microsoft.com/servers/hyper-v-server/faq.mspx

    Hyper-V Server Overview @ http://www.microsoft.com/servers/hyper-v-server/overview.mspx

    This product will be available for free download in 30 days so stay tuned!!!

  • Dynamics Roadshow – register now before it’s too late!!!

    DynamicsRoadShow

    The Microsoft Dynamics Customer Roadshow is coming to a location near you!

    With today’s economic challenges, maximizing the capabilities of your Microsoft Dynamics business management solution is more important than ever. Join Microsoft Dynamics specialists for this exciting event and learn firsthand how you can best leverage and expand your current solution—to maximize productivity and profitability.

    To register and for more information, visit Microsoft Dynamics Customer Roadshow Live Space at http://dynamicsroadshow.spaces.live.com or contact your Microsoft partner.  The event is free, but attendance at each event is limited, so be sure to register today!

  • Good Ideas Have Lonely Childhoods

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    I thought this post by Hugh MacLeod at gapingvoid.com was really good.  Remind you of any projects or ideas you’ve had lately?

    The premise in the cartoon is pretty harsh.  But we all know the middle ground is equally strange at times.

    Are you a sheep?

    Or are you the cagey wolf?  Lone Wolf is rare.  Most wolves hunt in packs where there’s strength in numbers. How do you hunt?  Are you an apex predator or the end of the food chain?

    Lead Or Follow (LOF) ™

  • I am not the target audience

    It always amazes me at the “diversity” of opinion on all matters inside and outside my company.  As you might imagine, not only do we scrutinize what our competitors are up to, but we are world class at criticizing ourselves.  The new ad campaign is no exception. 

    I started to see people write, “I don’t get it.”  This was mainly after the “Shoe Circus” commercial.  I also started to see a lot of comments that we aren’t the target audience (referring to Microsoft employees).  Huh?  Now I don’t get that.  What does it mean when someone says they aren’t the target audience?

    ImAPC As far as I’m concerned, I AM the target audience.  In fact, IT Pros are the target audience.  Developers are the target audience.  Marketing is the target audience.  My family is the target audience.  Everyone on this planet is the target audience.

    Marketing and advertising is an interesting science and art.  I love how it tugs at your emotions.  The “I’m a PC” commercials do a great job of taking the tagline and showing the diversity of computer users.  And by computer users I mean Windows computers, Mac computers, Linux computers, mobile devices, planes trains and automobiles.

    There’s plenty of business for everyone and I don’t think it needs to be an either or zero sum proposition.  One thing I do like about the “I am a PC” ads, it’s a really polite way of telling Apple to stick it.  It’s ok to be a PC.  PC people do kewl stuff, too.

    I am a PC.

    I am the target audience.

  • The Impact of Groove on Your Network

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    The Microsoft Office Groove 2007 client communication architecture is considered a hybrid because the Groove client can communicate directly to peers it discovers on the network, or it can use native network protocols and firewall-friendly ports to communicate through a Groove server. Client communication that is both peer-to-peer and peer-to-server enables robust and flexible communication options, but poses a difficult challenge for network administrators who need to predict, plan, and control Groove traffic on their network.

    This paper presents information about how Groove communicates on the network, provides some best practices for running Groove on your network, and introduce some basic communication troubleshooting steps.

    Microsoft Office Groove 2007, in its simplest form, allows two or more people to share and synchronize data that is stored on their PCs. All Groove components, tools, user account information, and user data reside on the client PCs. The preferred protocol for Groove client-to-client and client-to-Relay communication is its native Simple Symmetric Transmission Protocol (SSTP).

    To sustain communications in the dynamic and increasingly diverse conditions of today's enterprise networks, the Groove 2007 client utilizes several transport and application-layer protocols.

    Want to learn more?  Go get it @ http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=7258c08f-7ca3-485d-8134-cfd9a013f38f&DisplayLang=en.