Keith Combs' Blahg

Ramblings from another nerd on the grid

January, 2009

  • Valentines Day is coming – IT Pro gift ideas

    Ferrari.California.blue.small

    I would imagine Ferrari’s aren’t selling very well right now, but hey, dreams are free.  Click the pic above for the Ferrari California website, configurator, wallpapers, etc.

  • I guess it wasn’t last call – register those Windows Vista Promo Kit PINs

    LastCall_thumb I would imagine some of you attended Microsoft events last year.  At some of those events we handed out or raffled off NFR copies of Windows Vista Ultimate SP1.

    Here’s a pretty picture of the kit I grabbed from one of those events.

    Many of you ran home and cracked the seal on the kit and immediately followed the instructions.  Those instructions told you to go to the website at http://www.registerwindowsvistasp1.com/ and plug in your PIN (the one inside the kit), your information and submit the request.  After you submit the request, an email is sent to you with a valid product key for installation.  The process worked perfectly until the deadline.  That’s the good news.

    The deadline WAS 12/31/2008.

    Repeat, WAS.

    For those of you that missed that deadline, it has now been extended until June 30, 2009.

    So if you still have a kit and didn’t register it, please go do it now and have the product ID emailed to you.

    Don’t expect the deadline to be extended again.  Get over there and get this done.  Please.

  • Windows 7: To the Beta and Beyond – Springboard Virtual Roundtable

    windows7_bloglogo Join Mark Russinovich and a panel of subject matter experts for a live discussion of what's in store for IT pros with Windows® 7. Learn about the evolution of features like Group Policy, BitLocker To Go™, DirectAccess, BranchCache™, and AppLocker™ then get tips on troubleshooting, deployment, and application compatibility.

    Bring your questions - Mark and the panel will answer as many as they can during the hour-long event, then publish the rest in a Q&A after the event.

    ADD TO CALENDAR
    Date: Thursday, February 12th
    Time: 11:00am Pacific Time

     


     

    Find answers to your Windows client OS deployment and management questions with resources, tools, monthly feature articles, and guidance from subject matter experts and early adopters. To learn more, visit www.microsoft.com/springboard.  As part of the “virtual” experience, you may submit your questions about Windows 7 Beta to the panel live during the event—or submit questions in advance to vrtable@microsoft.com.

    Springboard Series: The resource for Windows desktop IT professionals
  • Norman Gentle is the next American Idol !!!

    NormanGentle

    ROFL !!!  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you should.  Too funny.  This is Norman’s expression after his most excellent delivery to Simon.  Ha ha ha.  The expression on Ryan Seacrests face later was priceless.

    [UPDATE for 2/15/2009] I still can't believe he made it to the Top 36, but if you've been watching the other contestants you know things are starting to get serious now.  How far will Nick actually make it?  Only Simon knows...

  • MIX09 Registration Discount – save $400 before February 13

    image

  • Hyper-V Live Migration – whitepaper now available for download

    ws2008 r2 blog logo With Hyper-V™ live migration, you can move running VMs from one Hyper-V™ physical host to another without any disruption of service or perceived downtime. Live migration is integrated with Windows Server 2008® R2 Hyper-V™ and Microsoft® Hyper-V™ Server 2008 R2. Since Hyper-V™ live migration can move running virtual machines without downtime, it will facilitate greater flexibility and value:

    • Provides better agility: Datacenters with multiple Hyper-V™ physical hosts will be able to move running VMs to the best physical computer for performance, scaling, or optimal consolidation without impacting users.
    • Reduces costs and increase productivity: Datacenters with multiple Hyper-V™ physical hosts will be able to service those systems in a more controlled fashion, scheduling maintenance during regular business hours.

    Live migration makes it possible to keep VMs online, even during maintenance, increasing productivity for both users and server administrators. Datacenters will be also able to reduce power consumption by dynamically increasing consolidation ratios and powering off un-used physical hosts during times of lower demand.

    Get the whitepaper @ http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=fdd083c6-3fc7-470b-8569-7e6a19fb0fdf&DisplayLang=en.

  • Internet Explorer 8 RC1 Admin Kit (IEAK) – now available for download

    ie8_h2_rgb The Internet Explorer Administration Kit (IEAK) 8 Release Candidate 1 (RC1) simplifies the creation, deployment and management of customized Internet Explorer 8 packages. IEAK 8 can be used to configure the out-of-box Internet Explorer 8 experience or to manage user settings after Internet Explorer 8 deployment.

    Get the download @ http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=f603152a-6e99-49a6-be72-40db7c01c2fa&displaylang=en.

    Checkout the video David Tesar shot with Jatinder Mann, the IEAK Program Manager.  He gives us insight behind the new Internet Explorer Administration Kit 8 (IEAK 8) and then shows a screencast/demo explaining the new features.  Jatinder is the program manager in charge of all of the great features IT Pros get with IE.  IE offers IT Pros controls which no other browsers on the market can match, such as customizing the deployment with IEAK and locking down features and settings with over 1300 group policies.  Jatinder gives some context as to when you might use IEAK vs IEM and group policy, why an IT Pro should care about IEAK, and explains the new configuration options for IEAK 8.

    Get Microsoft Silverlight

  • “Could you give me the answer to your secret question?”

    blackhat In the past couple of weeks I have been contacted by companies I do business with.  The first was 24 Hour Fitness.  The second was Sprint.  In both cases, I could not really tell if they were legit telephone calls.  I’m pretty sure they were, but in both cases there were concerns raised that I think we should all be well aware of.

    Let me start with the call from Sprint today.  I was already on a phone call when the call waiting beeps.  I look at the caller ID and it says TOLL FREE CALL and the telephone number.  I am wrapping my call so I click over to see who the latest “DO NOT CALL LIST” lawbreaker is.  The nice lady on the other end says something like, “Is this the Sprint/Nextel business customer?”  Odd I thought.  I replied we have three Sprint accounts and who is she looking for?  She then says my first name.  Not my full name.  Not my middle name which is the one I go by.  I reply, “Speaking.”  She then informs me she would like to ask me some questions.  I informed her I didn’t know if I would answer any.

    The next question was, “Could you give me the answer to your secret question?”  I just about fell out of my chair.  I told her I am definitely not answering that.  I informed her I didn’t know her from Adam and that I am not about to answer any more questions along these lines.  She tells me I can contact her at a telephone number.  I inform her that proves nothing.  I then inform her my account is fine and billing me correctly, my Sprint website ID works fine, and my Sprint phone works to my satisfaction.  She responds that is all she really is calling about so we conclude the call. 

    Legit or not?

    The 24 Hour Fitness call wasn’t much different.  They start off the call asking me questions to try and figure out if they have the right person.  The problem is that right away in that call they indicate my credit card isn’t working and want to know if I would like them to renew my membership with a different credit card number.  Ha!  Yea, I’ll be happy to give an unknown person in some part of the world my credit card and authorize a charge.

    Not happening.  I simply couldn’t believe in this day and age companies are outsourcing their customer service operations and allowing question like this to take place without proper security measures.  But what is the proper way to handle this?  I’m inclined to think that most customers are pretty aware of their account status and renewal periods and will take measures to fix things.  I certainly did.

    Social Engineering

    This is exactly the type of social engineering that real criminals use.  In both cases there is no way for me to know for sure the person on the other end is legitimately working for the company they claim to work for. Reminder: don’t give out your personal information. 

    Even if you think the call is legit, what purpose does it serve?  Let’s recap.  In both cases my account is in good standing and I am satisfied with the services I am purchasing.  So the phone calls are interrupting a current customer to what, offer me a discount?  Why is it we never get those calls?

    Ok, off my soapbox.  I just wanted to remind everyone to please teach your family and friends what to look for and what not to say.  I know you folks are probably already the CTO’s of your family, friend’s family’s and whole neighborhoods or regions.  Security is still important.  Keep reminding people you care about.

  • Glass on Glass – Coding in the Virtualized World with a ThinkPad W700

    Today I trekked down to the Microsoft Developers Conference (MDC) being held in the Dallas Westin Galleria.  For this particular event I decided to bring along some Lenovo ThinkPad W700 bling.  I wanted to see if a 17” laptop running the latest and greatest operating systems on the planet would attract some attention.  If you want bears, use honey.  If you want fish, use good bait.  What do you use for developers?  Don’t answer that.  :?)

    The Honey Pot

    I decided a flashy desktop might catch the eye of a passer by.  It worked well enough.  I probably should have opted for an ice chest full of “refreshments” or some of the tactics you see at a lot of the conferences in Las Vegas. But I decided to keep it totally conservative and within professional guidelines.  Here’s the desktop.

    1920x1200

    If you click the pic above you can see the full 1920x1200 screen capture.  It isn’t apparent from this picture, but the Lenovo ThinkPad W700 screen is super bright and really handles booth duty like this very well.  The 17” screen is just large enough to make things interesting.  That was really the main intention for taking the machine to the show.  I wanted to know how many developers are using 17” laptops as their dev platform.  As it turns out, most of the people I talked to are using desktops and multimon.

    Physical versus Virtual

    The other scenario I wanted to depict is the ability to code in a virtualized setting.  Virtualization of the various layers we all use is improving at break neck speed.  In the picture above you can see Windows Server 2008 R2 Beta all tricked out running Aero Glass.  In fact, since it’s R2, you also see the new superbar everyone is talking about with Windows 7.  In the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) session you see an instance of Windows 7 Ultimate x64.  You’ll also notice because I have full desktop composition turned on in the RDP session, I get the entire Aero experience.

    Most of the time I had the Windows 7 RDP windows full screen so you could not actually tell, unless you looked really close, that the session was a virtual machine being executed by Hyper-V.  That’s really the whole point.  How many of you are building virtualization environments for your developers where the environment, application or website, and the dev tools are sandboxed on the data center across the wire inside a VM?

    Options Options

    You can’t really tell in the Windows 7 virtual machine above, but Visual Studio 2008 Professional is installed.  It’s obvious on the R2 host because I dropped the icon on the desktop and taskbar.  But these days you have the ability to architect applications in new ways with presentation, data, application and operating system virtualization.  This also invites strange and new ways to virtualize the dev, test, model office and production systems you have.

    I didn’t install the full compliment of Microsoft Virtualization offerings.  I didn’t really need to.  I just needed some eye candy to lure some developers over and show off Windows Server 2008 R2 Beta and Windows 7.  Mission accomplished.  I also wanted to know how many of them were using some form of virtualization in day-to-day duties.  Nearly everyone.

    We had a fun time this morning talking with the people that came to the event.  It looked like they were well taken care of, well fed, and lots of good information on Azure and the other developer focused sessions.  One thing is for sure, the line between developer and IT Pro is blurred, especially when it comes to Partners or Small and Medium sized businesses.  The good news is that I’m doing some planning to bring more IT Pro focused content to events like this and give you more variety.  Stay tuned for that.

  • Internet Explorer 8 Release Candidate 1 – now available for download

    ie8_h2_rgbPeace of Mind

    Stay more secure and browse with confidence

    Privacy

    With industry-leading security features like InPrivate, you can browse and shop confidently using Internet Explorer 8, wherever you go on the web, knowing you have control over the protection of your personal information.

    Compatibility View

    Now you can easily display websites that were designed for older browsers. Simply press the Compatibility View button if you see display problems on a website like misaligned text, images, or text boxes.

    Automatic Crash Recovery

    Website crashes are now isolated to individual tabs rather than entire browser windows, meaning when a site crashes on one tab, you don't lose the rest. Internet Explorer 8 will automatically recover the lost tab once it has identified the problem. You can surf with peace of mind knowing that Internet Explorer 8 is the most reliable version of Internet Explorer available.

    SmartScreen Filter

    With the new and improved SmartScreen Filter, anti-phishing tools screen threats from imposter websites seeking to acquire personal information such as user names, passwords, billing data, and more. SmartScreen also includes new anti-malware tools to help prevent spyware, adware, and other potentially dangerous software from infiltrating your computer system and monitoring your every move.

    Faster, Easier

    Browse and get things done quicker than ever.

    Improved Performance

    Right from the start you'll notice that pages open and load faster than ever. And, with powerful new features like Accelerators and Web Slices, Internet Explorer 8 gives you the ability to get more done in less time.

    Improved Search

    When searching for information online it's critical that you get the best results possible. With Internet Explorer 8, search also includes results from your local history and suggestions from your favorite search provider.

    New Tab Features

    Tabbed browsing in Internet Explorer 8 just keeps getting better. The New Tab page loads quickly and lets you engage with a host of new features, such as opening previously closed tabs, or beginning an InPrivate session.

    Tab Grouping

    Tab Grouping makes it easier to stay organized while browsing multiple webpages. Tabs that are related now have the same visual representation and you can save time by closing a set of related tabs as a group instead of one at a time. You also can right-click on a tab to close tab groups, ungroup a single tab, or clone a tab.

     

    Reach Beyond the Page

    Get things done without navigating to other websites

    Accelerators

    Now you can get more tasks done, more quickly on the web. Accelerators provide instant access to information like maps, web searches, translation, email, blogging, and more. Simply highlight a word or phrase on a page and discover a faster way to get the information you need.

    Web Slices

    Web Slices put you in control of the information you care about most. Now you can subscribe to specific content within a page and monitor things like auction items, sports scores, entertainment columns, weather reports, and more. Add a Web Slice to your Favorites bar and the information you care about will automatically be delivered to you.

    Visual Search

    Search is one of the most frequent and important things you do online. The new Internet Explorer 8 Search Box takes results to a whole new level by adding graphics and images to enrich your search.

    Go get it @ http://www.microsoft.com/windows/internet-explorer/beta/worldwide-sites.aspx.

  • Halo Wars has gone GOLD !!!

    Get Microsoft Silverlight

    See http://www.halowars.com/default.aspx for the latest news.  Congratulations Ensemble Studios.

  • Time is running out to download the Windows 7 Beta

    windows7_bloglogo Brandon LeBlanc posted a reminder and some information this evening you should take note of if you haven’t already downloaded the Windows 7 Beta.  Here’s and excerpt:

    First off: thank you for your interest in beta testing Windows 7! As we near January 24th, we wanted to update everyone again on the next steps for the Windows 7 Beta. The amount of feedback we have received has been amazing and continues to pour in. We are at a point where we have more than enough beta testers and feedback coming in to meet our engineering needs, so we are beginning to plan the end of general availability for Windows 7 Beta.

    Because enthusiasm continues to be so high for the Windows 7 Beta and we don’t want anyone to miss out we will keep the Beta downloads open through February 10th. Customers who have started but not completed the download process  will be able to do so through February 12th.

    See the full article on the Windows 7 Blog.

  • The 4GB Maximum Laptop Myth

    image One of my blog readers just sent me a message about a recommendation for a machine. Let’s talk about the current state of the market.  It’s a pretty interesting time to be buying a machine.  Here’s the message I received:

    how is it going..Love your webcasts by the way..I was wondering if you could help me out with a question. I am in the market for a new laptop..powerful enough to run VM's ...testing microsoft products...training etc.. I love the sony Vaio z570 however it is limited to 4gb max ram...Personally i think the new lenovos are not nearly up to the standard of the old ibm thinkpads..However i am asking for your opinion of what laptop you think is a solid machine.. Would you suggest a laptop that can handle say up to 8gb RAM or is 4gb enough..Also, do you suggest windows Vista Ultimatw or Business (64 bit or 32 bit).. I know windows 7 is on its way..not sure when the release will be and obviously it is on its way because of the poor marketpace attention vista has gotten...I am assuming it is basically a more stable vita...Also, would the upgrade from windows vista to 7 be easy in your opinion or should i want for 7 to be released.. I have looked at the Dell precision m2400 and the vaioz570. what laptop would you suggest given my RAM concerns processor etc.. Thanks for your help

    There are a lot of questions and requirements in there so let’s answer a few of those so some objective decisions can be made.  First of all Brad indicates the Sony Vaio Z570 is limited to a max of 4GB of memory.  Says who?  Who has actually tested that and confirmed it?  That’s a really important point because it’s nearly impossible to test at the moment.  The specs in the data sheet and all available online documentation tell you it’s limited to 4GB but so does all of the information on the Lenovo ThinkPad T61p I’m using right now.  And it has and uses 8GB.

    Unless Sony specifically blocked using more than 4GB of memory in the BIOS, then the Z570 should be able to use up to 8GB if running a 64bit version of Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008.  Keep in mind I said should.  That is not a guarantee.  The Z570 uses the Intel® Core™ 2 Duo Processor P9500.  If you look at the Intel processor specs at http://www.intel.com/products/processor/core2duo/mobile/specifications.htm, you’ll notice a couple of interesting things.

    First, there appears to be an error in the Sony data sheet specs.  Sony lists the processor speed at 2.53 GHz with a front side bus speed of 1066 MHz.  Intel says the processor speed is 2.60 GHz and the front side bus speed is 800 MHz.  I’m inclined to believe the Intel specs.  Second, the processor supports the Intel 64 Architecture.  This is a good clue that it will run and use more than 4GB of memory.  The Intel P9500 processor also supports Intel VT so it will likely run Microsoft Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V.

    The problem with this particular machine and most of the new machines on the market right now is the lack of available 4GB SoDIMM memory sticks for the 800 and 1066 MHz bus speeds.  Therefore you can’t order the machine with 8GB of memory, nor can you load it with 8GB of memory right when you get it.  That’s starting to change, but very slowly. This presents a problem.  You will run through your return period before you can actually test it.  For that reason, I would not buy a machine without some sort of assurance in writing from the maker.

    So what do you do?

    Good question.  Brad indicates above he is interested in the Dell Precision M2400, too.  When you take a look at the specs for that machine at http://www.dell.com/content/products/productdetails.aspx/workstation_precision_m2400?c=us&cs=04&l=en&s=bsd, it’s clear they support 64bit versions of Windows Vista and 8GB of memory is also listed.  Cha ching!!!  At least it appears you can buy it fully loaded and ready to go.

    There are other machines on the market that you can purchase with a 64bit operating system, 8GB or more of memory, and ready to run.  Dell offers a whole bunch of different machine and I know Consultants in this company using some of the new Latitudes and Precision machines with Hyper-V.

    I would not discount the quality of the Lenovo machines.  We have a bunch of people using them and the typical comment from people getting their hands on one is that it’s the best machine they’ve ever owned.  The Lenovo ThinkPad W500 is a really nice machine with a ton of power and can be ordered with a 64 bit version of Windows Vista and 8GB of memory.  It’s bigger than what Brad appears to want with a 15.4” screen, but the little brother ThinkPad T400 would be a great machine with a 14.1” widescreen to fit his needs.

    But does Brad need the memory?

    Does Brad need more than 4GB of memory?  I don’t really like to be judge and jury on that question but let me describe briefly how handy it becomes.  When my team had laptops with 3GB of memory, we struggled to run and demo the Microsoft server products.  We typically need to run 2-4 VM’s and sometimes more.  Some of those VM’s really like 1GB of memory or more.  As you can see by running the math, that means you end up needing a couple of machines to split the load.  We used to travel with two laptops.  What fun that was.

    Now that we have 8GB machines, we have a lot more memory to work with and the VM’s perform MO BETTER!!!  If I am running a hungry Exchange or SQL Server VM, I allocate 1, 2 or 3GB of memory.  No problem.  But this is where it gets really dicey.  Many of our products are starting to ship as 64bit only products.  Windows Server 2008 R2 will be the product that really forces the issue on laptops.  There’s only one Microsoft product that executes 64bit VM’s today.  That’s the Hyper-V role of Windows Server 2008.  This is obviously a problem for folks like Brad because we don’t have a solution for him at the moment.  Until we have a desktop virtualization product that executes 64bit VM’s, he either needs to use Hyper-V or another product on the market like VMWare Workstation.  Hopefully we’ll have a different story soon.

    So while Brad might not need the memory immediately, the 64bit path is guaranteed. The two machines he’s picked should be plenty powerful.  Ultimately it’s his decision.  I don’t have any personal experience with the Dell or Sony he listed, but at least the Dell has what he’s asking about in writing.  Let us know how things go Brad.

  • Side-by-Side Player Comparison

    Here’s another video test with some high bit rate video.  The video data rate is just over 6MB so your internet connection is going to need to be pretty fat to play these back without stuttering or buffering.  On the Silverlight 2 Standard Player with the controls that are always displayed, you’ll notice two indicators on the progress bar.  One for playback and one for the progress of the download.  If playback is always catching up with the download progress and buffing, it will be visually apparent there.  You can click pause and let the download continue for a while, then playback should be better.

    Silverlight 2 Standard Player

    Get Microsoft Silverlight

    Black Glass Player

    Get Microsoft Silverlight
  • Breathing life into old machines with Windows 7

    I guess “old” is relative to many of us, but considering the processor in my Dell Latitude D820 is the T2500 Core Duo, it is positively ancient.  I complained about the performance of the machine in the past with Windows Vista.  Performance got better with Vista SP1 and the perf tweaks I did to the machine.  The performance with Windows 7 is really very good right now, but I am totally cheating to get it there.  Take a look at the following screenshot and you’ll see how.

    Capture[6]

    As you can see, the processor falls down as expected on the Windows Experience Index (WinEI).  The memory is fine.  The GPU is just ok.  Probably just above the borderline.  You’ll also notice this particular video chipset is using a WDDM 1.0 not 1.1 driver.  The driver flowed off the update.microsoft.com website post Windows 7 installation.

    The interesting score, for those of you keeping score is the disk score.  6.7 is pretty freaking fast.  It should be.  It’s using the Kingston SSDNow evaluation drive I have.  I figured this would be a good place to run some tests to see if new technology could breathe some life into an older machine.  Not surprisingly it does.  You can really see the I/O advantage when launching applications.  They zoom off that SSD drive.

    Anyway, I thought you might be interested in the impact fast I/O can really have on the overall “feel” of the operating system, applications and environment.  Now if we could just get 256GB drives for say…  $100.  At least we know what the future holds.

    Now you might be wondering what Windows 7 will do for your machine.  Good question.  The current Beta seems to be performing really well on the machines I’ve tried it on.  Unfortunately the Latitude D820 is now the oldest machine I have and it won’t be three years old until this summer.  Any of you tried the beta on older machines?  How does it compare to Windows XP and Windows Vista?  Keep in mind this is just a beta so performance is very likely to get better as we finalize the product.  Enjoy.

    [UPDATE for 1/19]  I backed up the environment and have restored it to a regular Hitachi 100GB 7200rpm drive.  Hard drives are so noisy compared to SSD.  Spotted a Win7 bug doing this.  Time to send some feedback.

    Interesting timing.  See http://blogs.msdn.com/e7/archive/2009/01/19/engineering-the-windows-7-windows-experience-index.aspx.

  • Go Eagles !!!

    What can I say?  The NFC East is still a tough neighborhood and if I am going to cheer on any team, it might as well be the Philadelphia Eagles.  I mean after all, who embarrassed the Dallas Cowboys to the tune of 44-6 in their final game of this season?  The Eagles.  But are the Eagles Superbowl caliber?  If you look at their season and post season it’s clear that they are fallible. 

    We’re going to find out this afternoon.  The Eagles square off against the Cardinals in Arizona at the University of Phoenix Stadium.  They played each other in November and Philly won that round.  Will they win this round and make it to the Superbowl?  I hope so.  I’d love to see the Steelers and the Eagles in the big game.

    Go Eagles!!!

  • Expression Encoder 2 has a new plug-in for Silverlight Streaming

    SLSPlugInVersion The Expression Encoder developers have released a new plug-in for Encoder SP1.  The new Silverlight Streaming plug-in allows you to easily publish video, screencasts, etc. to the silverlight.live.net service.  The plug-in is still a pre-release product but it’s working well for me.

    There are a few things to remember about publishing to Silverlight Streaming (affectionately known as SLS internally).

    • If you spent a lot of time creating a video with another tool, you are not required to re-encode it with Expression Encoder 2 assuming the video is Silverlight compatible already.  Camtasia 5.x and above would be an example of a product that does that. Other video editing tools like Sony Vegas Movie Studio Platinum 9 do as well.
    • The first time you upload an “application” into SLS, it uploads the video and all of the supporting configuration files.  If you decide to change the player template, you can upload again, but this time you only need to upload the changed config files.  Much faster the second time.  Unless of course you change the video.
    • After you push the video and config files to the silverlight.live.com servers, the SLS service creates a nice iFrame link you can use to embed in a webpage or blog post.
    • As you can see in the screenshot at right, you can plug-in (pun intended) your account ID and the long cryptic account key then save them for future use.  Thank god.  I would never be able to remember that hexadecimal key.
    • You can automatically publish after the encoding job is done.  If you are using the Source video profile on the front-end and not making any changes in your job, the encoding process is quick and then you are left watching the upload.  A phat fiber connection is nice to have for big HD video uploads.
    • And last and most important, the new SLS plug-in is supporting the kewl Silverlight 2 templates that shipped with Expression Encoder 2 SP1.  That’s a hint.  Install SP1 to get them.  They rock.  More to come I’m sure.

    Go get it @ http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=702f130c-f783-44bd-bc95-8141a8d3e90e&DisplayLang=en.  I expect to see some cool video examples from all of you.  Keep it clean. Grin.

  • Multimon RDP sessions with Windows 7

    Anyone looked closely at the new RDP client software in the Windows 7 Beta?  Well, there’s an interesting new checkbox on the Display tab just below the screen size slider bar.  My laptop technically has two monitors at the moment.  It is connected to a KVM switch with a large LCD screen, and of course there’s the laptop 15.4” LCD screen which is no slouch either.

    If you have a similar configuration, span your desktop across both monitors using the image key combination.  You’ll notice this nifty new hotkey sequence lets you pick and choose what is displayed and on what devices.  After you have selected to span the desktop, the checkbox will be enabled for the RDP tool.

    Launch the RDP tool and go to the Display tab.  This checkbox should now be available to your RDP sessions.

    This should prove very helpful in a variety of situations.  I can see where this will come in extremely handy for developers using virtual machine environments where the entire application and dev toolset is in the VM.  I’m sure you can think of all sorts of other scenarios where this will be handy as well.

    Credit for the tip goes to Michael J. Mahoney.

     

    [UPDATE for 1/17/2009]  The screenshot above is multimon RDP in action.  I cropped the picture.  Sorry it’s a little ugly and fuzzy since I was holding the camera and not using my tripod. The machine that established the RDP session is a quad core Dell XPS 420 running Windows 7 Beta 1.  The other end of the connection is a Lenovo ThinkPad T61p running Windows 7 Beta 1.  If you click the pic to see the picture super sized, you’ll notice I have IE8 on the 24” monitor to the left.  I have the file explorer splitting both monitors.  The 27” monitor on the right is my primary monitor so you see the taskbar for the RDP machine, the RDP session bar at the top, and the properties for the machine we are RDP’d into.  Aero doesn’t work.  I don’t know if it ever will in this configuration.

    [UPDATE for 1/20/2009]  It was pointed out to me by a couple of people that this feature is not new and has been around since Windows Vista RTM’d.  I think I knew that, but like many of you probably forgot about it because there was no UI and I’ve never really had a big burning need for it.  But David John pointed out that the two features are actually different.  The /span command line arg behaves differently.

    The checkbox is new so now it will get noticed.  David also indicated that this feature only works Win7<->Win7 and Win7<->Win2008R2.  There is some debate if Windows Vista works.  Anyone have this working with Vista?

  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Beta – download and keys

    ws2008 r2 blog logo This software is for evaluation and testing purposes. Evaluating any version of Windows Server 2008 R2 Beta software does not require product activation or entering a product key. Any edition of Windows Server 2008 R2 Beta may be installed without activation and evaluated for an initial 30 days.

    If you need more time to evaluate Windows Server 2008 R2 Beta, the initial 30 day evaluation can be extended to August 1st (at which time the OS will become inoperable) by entering the product key below for your selected edition.

    Windows Server 2008 R2 Beta Product Keys for Evaluation

    • Windows Server 2008 R2 Beta Enterprise (7000.0.081212-1400_server_en-us-GB1SXFRE_EN_DVD.iso) – Product key = TFGPQ-J9267-T3R9G-99P7B-HXG47
    • Windows Server 2008 R2 Beta Standard (7000.0.081212-1400_server_en-us-GB1SXFRE_EN_DVD.iso) – Product key = 2T88R-MBH2C-M7V97-9HVDW-VXTGF
    • Windows Server 2008 R2 Beta Datacenter (7000.0.081212-1400_server_en-us-GB1SXFRE_EN_DVD.iso) – Product key = GQJJW-4RPC9-VGW22-6VTKV-7MCC6
    • Windows Server 2008 R2 Beta for Itanium Based Systems (7000.0.081212-1400_serverenterprise64_en-us-GB1SIAIFRE_EN_DVD.iso) – Product Key = CQ936-9K2T8-6GPRX-3JR9T-JF4CJ
    • Windows Web Server 2008 R2 Beta (7000.0.081212-1400_serverweb_en-us-GB1WXFRE_EN_DVD.iso) – Product key = GT8BY-FRKHB-7PB8W-GQ7YF-3DXJ6

    Download the .ISO’s @ http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=85cfe4c9-34de-477c-b5ca-75edae3d57c5&DisplayLang=en.

  • Windows Server 2008 R2 DirectAccess Technical Overview – now available

    ws2008 r2 blog logo The Windows® 7 and Windows Server® 2008 R2 operating systems introduce DirectAccess, a new solution that provides users with the same experience working remotely as they would have when working in the office. With DirectAccess, remote users can access corporate shares, Web sites, and applications without connecting to a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

    DirectAccess establishes bi-directional connectivity with the user’s enterprise network every time the user’s DirectAccess-enabled portable computer is connected to the Internet, even before the user logs on. With DirectAccess, users never have to think about whether they are connected to the corporate network. DirectAccess benefits IT, too, by allowing IT administrators to manage remote computers outside of the office, even when the computers are not connected to a VPN. DirectAccess enables organizations with regulatory concerns to extend regulatory compliance to roaming assets.

    This paper describes the benefits of DirectAccess, how it works, and what you will need to deploy it in your organization.

    Go get it @ http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=64966e88-1377-4d1a-be86-ab77014495f4&DisplayLang=en.

  • Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK) for Windows 7 Beta

    windows7_bloglogo The Windows Automated Installation Kit (Windows AIK) is a set of tools and documentation that support the configuration and deployment of Microsoft® Windows® operating systems.. By using Windows AIK, you can automate Windows installations, capture Windows images with ImageX, configure and modify images using Deployment Imaging Servicing and Management (DISM), create Windows PE images, and migrate user profiles and data with the User State Migration Tool (USMT).

    This kit is also required to use the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT).

    Go get it @ http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=4ad85860-d1f4-42a1-a46c-e039e3d0db5d&DisplayLang=en.

  • Silverlight 2 Template Test

    This is a test post to confirm SL2 SP1 template playback is working.

    Get Microsoft Silverlight
  • TechNet Plus Subscribers – Windows 7 Feedback invitation

    windows7_bloglogo If you are a TechNet Plus subscriber, you may have noticed after downloading and installing the Windows 7 Beta that the “Send Feedback” link mechanism wasn’t working.  I spotted this on Saturday and have been working on getting it fixed for you ever since.

    I am happy to say it’s now resolved.  It’s pretty simple.  Go to the TechNet Plus Subscriber Homepage.  You’ll see the following section as the top bullet on that page.  Only TechNet Plus subscribers can get to this secure webpage.

    Give us feedback on the Windows 7 Beta!

    As an TechNet subscriber you have the ability to register with Microsoft Connect to track the status of bugs you report. You will also be able to search, view and vote on bugs other TechNet subscribers have filed.

    To register on Connect, please click here. This will enroll you into the TechNet Bug Filing Program. Once you are enrolled in the program you may file bugs using any “send feedback” link in the product and access your feedback tracking page directly from this link.

    Click the link on that section that says “please click here”.  It contains your invitation to link your Live ID to the connect.microsoft.com feedback reporting process.  After successfully completing the invitation and having this added to your directory at connect.microsoft.com, you should be able to use the links in Windows 7.  Enjoy!!!

  • Virtualization Webcast Series Announced – Part 1 of 20 this week !!!

    image

    Click the pic or see http://blogs.technet.com/yungchou/archive/2009/01/12/20-part-webcast-series-on-microsoft-virtualization-solutions.aspx for all of the details.

  • Want some help piloting Microsoft technologies like Windows 7 ???

    As Matt Hester has posted in the past, we have a great program called Momentum that will help you with piloting Microsoft Technologies. (His previous post: Looking to gain Momentum for a Pilot of Microsoft Technologies?)

    Well I am going to ask the same questions that I asked when the program first rolled out:

    • momentumInterested in learning more about the newest Microsoft technologies?
    • Need help to evaluate different Microsoft products and features?
    • Willing to test and pilot in production Microsoft beta products?
    • Would like to have access to exclusive forums and Microsoft product support?
    • Want to share your early adoption experience with the IT Pro community world-wide?

    If you answered yes to those questions, then I strongly encourage you in learning more about Momentum program by simply sending me an email at my contact page.

    Momentum is a Microsoft sponsored program focused on supporting “early adopters” – IT professionals who bet on the newest technologies to drive business value for their companies and advance in their careers The program offers several benefits.  Through the Momentum Portal, participants will have access to the following benefits free of charge for one year:

    • In-Depth Technical Content
    • Managed Forums
    • TechNet+ Direct Subscription
    • PSS Support Requests
    • Webcasts & Architectural Reviews with Product Teams (Selected Projects)

    There is one small ask with the program, if you want to participate you will be required to share your experience with the world, via post on my blog, or an interview on the phone that I will screencast.  Take a look here for one of the folks that was a part of the program last year:

    MOSS 2007 Upgrade powered by Momentum

    I know some of you may be very interested, especially with the recent announcement of a certain product you may have heard of, called Windows 7.  Well that product is supported by the Momentum Program, as well as many other technologies mentioned below:

    • Vista SP1
    • Windows 7
    • Windows Server 2008
    • Windows Server 2008 R2
    • SQL Server 2008
    • Forefront Stirling
    • Hyper-V
    • SCVMM 2008
    • IIS7
    • IE8
    • SharePoint Server
    • OCS 14
    • Exchange Server 14
    • HPC Server 2008
    • SCOM
    • SCCM

    Sound like a good program, it is here is what a previous customer said about the program:

    "I like the momentum program because it provides an opportunity for IT professionals to test a product and comment on how the process ran. A lot of the time we do not have the time to test a product, document the steps taken and then report back on how the product performed. Due to lack of time, we are pushed to get to the implementation part that you forget to take the time to document the process and any issues that arose. This program gives you that opportunity."

    When your ready to get involved and tell your story drop an me email at http://blogs.technet.com/keithcombs/contact.aspx, or please contact one of my teammates (U.S. TechNet Presenters).

    I wanted to thank Matt Hester for writing the post above at http://blogs.technet.com/matthewms/archive/2009/01/09/want-some-help-on-piloting-microsoft-technologies-like-windows-7.aspx then letting me steal it.  Hopefully he won’t mind.  He’s off in Florida running on the Disney Goofy Marathon.  So this will stay here at least 48 hours before he rips me a new one.

    Use Matt, use me, use someone else on my team.  We’re here to help.

  • Macworld Expo Best of Show 2009 – HP MediaSmart Server with Windows Home Server

    hp_media_server What?  You mean to tell me one of the best Mac products is a HP MediaSmart Server running Windows Home Server?  See http://www.macworld.com/article/138002-7/2009/01/bos2009.html.  Wow.  Simply wow.

    Way to go Windows Home Server team!!!  You rock!!!  I would imagine the WHS team is having a serious party in Seattle, Vegas, or wherever they happen to be on this occasion.

    Unfamiliar with Windows Home Server?  Here are some of the features:

    • Digital memories and media stored and organized in a central location

    • Home computers backed up daily, automatically

    • Simple restore of lost files or even entire hard drive contents

    • Complete access to files from both inside and outside the home

    • A secure and personalized website address for sharing photos and home videos

    • Easily add storage space and new software capabilities

    See http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/windowshomeserver/default.mspx for more information on WHS.  See http://www.hp.com/united-states/campaigns/mediasmart-server/ for HP’s goodness.

  • My Favorite First Windows 7 Discovery

    superbar I really like it when a new feature just presents itself in the most intuitive possible way.  That usually means it just works.  One such feature I’m sure you’ll discovery before too long is the new task bar progress indications for large file copy or move operations.

    In the picture at right you’ll see that I am copying a large number of files and we are about forty five percent complete.  I love that.  Now I can kick off a large copy, minimize the file Explorer and status window, and go about my business using other applications like email or a web browser.  I can glance at my task bar and see the progress visually as indicted in this example by the green neon background filling in behind the Explorer library icon.  Very very kewl stuff.  Gotta love that one.  Enjoy.

  • Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) 2010 Beta – now available

    MDT 2010 is the next version of Microsoft Deployment Toolkit, a solution accelerator for operating system and application deployment. New features like flexible driver management, optimized transaction processing, and access to distribution shares from any location simplify deployment and make your job easier. Microsoft Deployment Toolkit is the fourth generation deployment accelerator from Microsoft. It is the recommended process and toolset to automate desktop and server deployment.

    MDT benefits you by providing:

    • Detailed guidance and job aids for every organized role involved with large-scale deployment projects.
    • Unified tools and processes required for desktop and server deployment in a common deployment console and collection of guidance.
    • Reduced deployment time, standardized desktop and server images, along with improved security and ongoing configuration management.

    Additional infrastructure deployment tools are available as beta releases on the Connect Web site. They are open beta downloads. See below for instructions on how to access the Connect Web site.

    Join the beta @ https://connect.microsoft.com/Downloads/DownloadDetails.aspx?SiteID=14&DownloadID=8689 

    Or follow these steps:

    1. Visit the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit Beta at http://connect.microsoft.com.
    2. Sign in using a valid Windows Live ID to continue to the Invitations page.
    3. Scroll down to Microsoft Deployment Connection.

    If you have not previously registered with Microsoft Connect, you might be required to register before continuing with the invitation process.

    Related Resources

    Check out other Solution Accelerators! Visit the Solution Accelerators page on TechNet, http://www.microsoft.com/solutionaccelerators, for additional information. We appreciate your comments and feedback, please send mail to satfdbk@microsoft.com . The MDT Team.

    Join the beta @ https://connect.microsoft.com/Downloads/DownloadDetails.aspx?SiteID=14&DownloadID=8689

  • Windows 7 Lenovo ThinkPad T61p WINSAT score – try to beat this

    In the past 48 hours I tested a couple of different Lenovo ThinkPad T61p’s with Windows 7 Ultimate x64 Beta 1.  Both of the machines have 8GB of Kingston memory.  Both have the same GPU and video RAM.  One has the Intel T7500 Core 2 Duo CPU.  You can see the post I did on it at http://blogs.technet.com/keithcombs/archive/2007/09/06/windows-vista-x64-on-the-lenovo-thinkpad-t61p.aspx in September of 2007.  At that time there was no such thing as a 4GB SoDIMM.

    T61p World RecordThe other ThinkPad I have is a more recent version.  It’s one of the last T61p’s made with the T9300 CPU.  It was going to be my corporate domain joined legacy Windows Vista machine.  At least until a little package arrived in the mail this afternoon.  It was from Kingston.  Sweet!!!  Christmas in January.  First CES now this.

    So I took my new little goody out of the box, dropped it into the Lenovo primary drive cage and stuck it into the T61p.  I popped the Win7 install disk in the DVD drive and installed Windows 7 Ultimate x64 onto my new friend.  Fifteen minutes later I was hitting update.microsoft.com looking for the NVIDIA WDDM 1.1 video driver.

    Uh, Hello Keith?  Did you just say 15 minutes?  Yep.  It happened so fast you would think I just installed Windows Server 2008 Core.  I’m actually going to have to go back and run a couple of tests on that again to make sure I’m not lying.  It was the fastest Windows client install I’ve ever done I think.  Might have been 20 minutes but I don’t think so.

    The Kingston Connection

    As you might recall, my group is sponsored by Kingston this year.  Kingston supplied memory for each of the US IT Pro Evangelist on my team.  Only one machine mind you, but hey, that’s a heck of a lot better than nothing.  Making the jump from 4GB to 8GB on a demo machine is a big jump.  It has helped immensely this year and in many ways kept me from having to travel with two machines.

    Our Kingston representative introduced me to a number of her colleagues while we were at TechED 2008 in Florida.  One of those introductions was with executive in charge of the SSD line of drives they were working on.  He asked me if I’d be interested in testing some samples when they became available.  I of course said yes, and the first of the evaluation units arrived today.

    Kingston SSDNow M Series

    ssdm-series The drive that arrived is the Kingston SSDNow SNM125-S2/80GB.  Here’s the marketing blurb from the website:

    Kingston's new line of SSDNow solid-state drives (SSD) rounds out its suite of enterprise products. The SSDNow M Series uses Intel's solid-state drives, which are the best-performing drives on the market. By improving a computer's performance and durability, SSDNow M Series drives help increase the productivity of power users.”

    Hey, I’m a power user and if the scores in the screenshot above are any indication, this baby is going to absolutely smoke anything I’ve had in the past.  There’s only one problem.  I’d like to use this drive fulltime for a couple of weeks and I’m currently using 81GB of disk space on my old tired legacy platter hard drive.  Legacy.  Grin. 

    The other problem is that I’m just getting my Windows 7 (almost said Vista) environment ship shape.  I’m a little over half way through the installation and testing of all of my drivers and applications with Windows 7.  But when the going gets tough, the tough use Ghost.  Yea, that’s right.  Old habits are hard to break.  So I’ll probably just finish up what I’m doing then take a Ghost snapshot and restore the image to the new SSD drive.  I’ll probably have that done before the weekend is over.

    Bring It People !!!

    In the meantime, if any of you happen to have a Lenovo ThinkPad T61p and manage to break my record above, let me know.  Sure looks like Kingston has a fast drive and you simply would not believe the boot times with Windows 7.  I’ll take notes over the next few days and weeks and report back on install times, boot, suspend/resume times, etc.  I’ll also measure some big copies, virtual machine loads and other fun stuff.

    For more information, see http://www.kingston.com/ssd/m-series.asp.  You can also get more information on the technical specs at http://download.intel.com/design/flash/nand/mainstream/mainstream-sata-ssd-datasheet.pdf.

  • TechNet Windows 7 IT Pro Forums

    Hey you!  Want to provide some feedback on the Windows 7 Beta?  Have a question?  Want help from Microsoft employees and MVP’s?

    Well head on over to http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en/category/w7itpro/

  • Windows 7 Remote Server Admin Tools Beta released

    windows7_bloglogo Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 7 enables IT administrators to manage roles and features that are installed on remote computers that are running Windows Server 2008 R2 (and, for some roles and features, Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2003) from a remote computer that is running Windows 7. It includes support for remote management of computers that are running either the Server Core or full installation options of Windows Server 2008 R2, and for some roles and features, Windows Server 2008. Some roles and features on Windows Server 2003 can be managed remotely by using Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 7, although the Server Core installation option is not available with the Windows Server 2003 operating system.

    This feature is comparable in functionality to the Windows Server 2003 Administrative Tools Pack and Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows Vista with Service Pack 1 (SP1).

    Go get em @ http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=82516c35-c7dc-4652-b2ea-2df99ea83dbb&displaylang=en.

  • I Spy Hyper-V Live Migration

    Ok, Windows 7 had it’s day in the sun.  Time to move over for big brother Windows Server 2008 R2 which was also released in Beta form yesterday.  For months you’ve been asking for closer feature parity with ESX.  This beta has some code I’m sure you’re going to want to test. I don’t know if we’ve wrapped any specific branding around the feature name so if you think of something snazzy, let me know.

    TechNet subscribers can download the goods right now.  Enjoy.

    image

  • Windows 7 now available for download

    TechNet Plus subscribers now have access to the Beta 1 release of Windows 7.  I am downloading the x64 .ISO right now.  Enjoy!!!

    image

  • Is this your favorite time of year?

    It’s always interesting to me that right after Christmas, the consumer electronics makers roll out their next generation models.  While this is great for your inner nerd, it may not be so great if you just dropped a wad of cash on electronics over the holidays.  It’s almost insulting.

    hpmini2140Smart buyers are used to this cycle and know just after CES the retailers will start discounting and clearing their inventory of high def TV’s in anticipation of the new model arrivals this summer.  Heck, CES hasn’t even started and have you seen the sheer number of announcements in the past 48 hours?  Mind boggling.

    Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Robbie Bach (President of our Entertainment and Devices Division) are keynoting CES 2009 tomorrow night so I would imagine they’ll have a few things up their sleeve as well.

    While we’re on the subject, any of you buying the new small form factor notebooks/netbooks like the HP 2140 pictured at right?

    It seems there is a huge push by all of the OEMs to add all sorts of small laptops.  Dell has the Inspiron Mini.  Lenovo has the IdeaPad S Series.  HP has the Mini series or machines as well.  And lets not forget the ASUS Eee PC

    I have to wonder how these devices are selling.  If I was still in college I have no doubt I would be using a smaller machine than what I typically use now.  I think a 13” or 14” screen is about right.  Not too small and not to big and heavy either.  But 7, 8, 10 or 12 inches?  How many hours would you want to use a screen like that?

  • Mactopia adds a new IT Pro area

    imageThe Microsoft Mac Business Unit has added a new area to their website to hold IT Pro related information.  I personally think the information belongs at technet.microsoft.com but hey, it’s a start. 

    See http://www.microsoft.com/mac/itpros/default.mspx or click the pic at right to take you to the articles on planning, deploying and operations oriented information.

    While we are on the subject, I have a question or two for you.  I’m putting together some interesting content on the management of Linux and Mac clients.

    Is anyone even interested in managing Apple desktops?  If so, are you using any particular products to manage those desktops?  I am testing some tools from Centrify and Quest at the moment.  By management, I mean the control of desktop settings, security, software dist and update, etc.

    From the standpoint of interoperating with Windows, are you Mac users interested in authenticating Mac desktops via Windows Server Active Directory?

    Or is your company or schools Mac environment a total free-for-all today?

    See more Mac related announcements in today's Macworld press release.

  • Are you a TechNet Plus subscriber? Might want to be soon…

     

    technetsubs_bigbanner

     

    Remember how we talk about the TechNet Plus subscription and all of the cool products in the download area in .ISO format?  Remember how I also remind you those downloads are the released products as well as some key Beta releases?  Remember that little button on my blog that get’s you a discount on said subscription?

    Well if you’ve been paying attention to those reminders, then you are all set and ready to go for some juicy downloads that are coming… that’s a hint.

    If you have been ignoring me, then now would be a great time to start a TechNet Plus subscription with my TMSAM07 discount code.  Click the picture above to get started.

  • New Twitter client released ahead of CES 2009 – bloggers rejoice

    Podcasting Pro HD350 Twitter took the social scene by storm in 2008.  But the social twits are never satisfied and would not stop their endless creativity.

    The fruits of their labor has emerged and twits can now tweet and send flickr photo streams hands free from whatever social party, conference, or sushi bar they happen to all end up at. 

    Hey, this might just work for capturing TechNet screencast demos or doing “interviews” at Mardi Gras. 

    I can just see  Robert Scoble wearing one of these during his next set of videos.  Grin.

    Seriously folks, it’s obviously Navy Seal technology finally making it to the public sector. 

    See http://helmetcameracentral.com/2009/01/04/liquid-image-releasing-a-slew-of-new-swim-masks/ for more information on the hip new hardware.  The makers website at http://www.liquidimageco.com/ will assuredly be updated after CES.  See the flickr photostreams

    Anyone notice how the Liquid Image Co logo is similar to Twirl?  Maybe I should start another Twitter account…  maybe not.

  • Another yearend deadline you might have missed

    LastCall

    I would imagine some of you attended Microsoft events last year.  At some of those events we handed out or raffled off NFR copies of Windows Vista Ultimate SP1.

    Here’s a pretty picture of the kit I grabbed from one of those events.

    Many of you ran home and cracked the seal on the kit and immediately followed the instructions.  Those instructions told you to go to the website at http://www.registerwindowsvistasp1.com/ and plug in your PIN (the one inside the kit), your information and submit the request.  After you submit the request, an email is sent to you with a valid product key for installation.  The process worked perfectly until the deadline.  That’s the good news.

    The bad news is that the deadline for doing all of that was 12/31/2008 so I hope you didn’t procrastinate until you read this blog post.  If so, sorry but the promotion is officially over.

    I tested the process just before Thanksgiving to make sure it was working properly.  It worked fine then but the contract with the company handling the requests expired on the promotion end date (12/31/2008).  So that’s going to be a big dead end if you still try the PIN now.

    But on the bright side, you’ll probably be more interested in Windows 7 soon anyway.  Hint hint.