Keith Combs' Blahg

Ramblings from another nerd on the grid

June, 2009

  • Windows 7 downloads – here are some nice goodies

    草津白根 弓池

    There are some pretty cool themes and pictures up in the “Personalize it” area of Windows 7.  I particularly like the “Yumi-ike Pond” picture although I see a discrepancy about it’s true location.  One description says it’s an Alpine lake.  But it’s also included in the Japan Theme Pack.  Anyone know where it really is?  Are mountains in Japan also referred to as "alpine" ???

  • Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2010 Beta 2 – now available

    Get ready to deploy Windows® 7 and Windows Server® 2008 R2 with the newly released Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) 2010 Beta 2. MDT 2010 is the next version of Microsoft Deployment Toolkit, a Solution Accelerator for operating system and application deployment. New features such as flexible driver management, optimized user interface work flow, and Windows PowerShell will help simplify deployment and make your job easier. Save time and money when you deploy faster and more easily with MDT 2010.

    Get it @  https://connect.microsoft.com/site/sitehome.aspx?SiteID=14.

  • There’s a Ninja in the parking lot

    Nissan GT-R

    I parked next to one of these today.  In case you are wondering, it’s the Nissan GT-R. Man, I would really like to take this for a spin.  Might be fun to see how it stacks up against blows the doors off the Ford Mustang or Chevy Camaro.  For $80,000 it had better stack up pretty well.

  • But does it have Intel-VT and run Windows Virtual PC ???

    edelweiss

    I’m guessing this rig will run anything you throw at it, including Windows Virtual PC. See the rest of the pictures and close up shots @ http://www.million-dollar-pc.com/systems-2009/special/lessdegrees/pius-edelweiss.htm.  Looks like it took a couple of days to build, at least.  I wonder why Dell didn’t send me one of these instead. Grin.

  • Faith in Mankind Restored – For Now

    xps420 Loyal blog readers know I haven’t been exactly kind to Dell over the years.  The ridicule has been focused primarily on the lame GPU in my Latitude D820.  I’m over that now.  The machine is three years old so the rant can be put to rest. 

    It’s also no surprise that on the internet you tend to hear more gripes than accolades.  Duh.  That’s pretty much human nature.  We are usually on the bitter end of the “I got screwed” stick.  But on occasion people get delighted.  It isn’t often that customer service is good, and they exceed your expectations.  Apparently someone at Dell cares.  And I care they care. 

    What Happened ???

    At 8:15am on the morning of June 8th I hit the power button on my Dell XPS 420.  Bad idea.  The power supply began arcing badly and I swear it seemed as if fire erupted from the backend of the machine.  Smoke billows.  My wife and I almost have heart attacks as this machine is making a terrible sound and having an electrical exorcism. 

    She rushes into my office and makes an attempt at help.  I do my best non politically correct version of the Jedi mind trick, “You don’t want to come in my office and help kill the exorcist beast”.  I’m basically trying to triage fire, a severe electrical issue, smoke and possibly burning the house down at sub nanosecond speeds.  She catches the look on my face and backs off.

    I get things shut down and pull the plug on the volcanic bastard.  Unfortunately I am headed out of town for the next five days so all I can do is set the smoldering hulk of XPS 420 in the middle of the floor and hope I resolved the issue.  I’m sad.  I love the Dell XPS 420.  So perfect in every way.  Beautiful case.  HDTV recording capability.  Eats HD video for lunch.

    Help Desk Time

    It’s now a week later and time to call the help desk for the first time.  Nope, scratch that.  Time for the Dell Support chat session to India.  I wonder what that is like.  Actually, I have a pretty good idea.  Like many of you, I’ve been on the ugly end of the “on call” support line.  It must be an amazingly fun thing to field the complaints from dissatisfied America customers in India.  I digress.

    The folks on the chat were very professional.  I think they got a little nervous when I mentioned electricity arcing from the machine.  I told them all I needed initially was a replacement power supply.  I knew it was toast and figured we’d find out after it’s replacement what else got fried.

    They were having nothing of it.  They indicated to me this would be a full machine replacement because they don’t like to risk such matters.  Probably a good idea.  But I knew there was the problem.  They haven’t made the XPS 420 for months.  And I’m not particularly relishing the idea of a lame refurb for a machine replacement, when the machine being replaced isn’t even a year old.

    It Gets “Better”

    You know how this goes right?  I have the overnight business support warranty.  The actual brand name for the warranty changes but I’m thinking overnight means overnight.  Wrong.  Overnight is true for stuff like a video card or something, but a full machine replacement is 7-21 business days (as I was informed).

    This isn’t my first goat rodeo.  I knew that was coming.  So I didn’t let my blood pressure pop a vein in my forehead.  As I get older I am more at peace with things out of my control.  People that know me are probably laughing hysterically right now.  But it’s true.  I maintain my kewl and figure we’ll see what happens. 

    Fast forward one week.  I decide to call Dell and no sooner do I start digging out the email with the chat session transcript and the FEDEX truck arrives.  Timing is everything and I am already thinking the timing is beyond fascinating.

    dell xps 630 Delivered

    The FEDEX guy starts walking up the sidewalk and as usual I meet him at the door.  The box has a big Dell XPS logo on the side and the FEDEX dude makes some comment it means Extreme Framerate Server.  I told him he got that right and say thank you.

    I’m right in the middle of my fiscal year end reporting so I don’t have time to unpack the box right right then.  I do however have the smarts to rip the packing slip off the box and throw it on my desk.  Time to make a quick sandwich.

    Curiosity kills the cat.  I peek at the packing slip.  I notice something odd.  It says NVIDIA GTX 285.  That was a mental train wreck right there.  I’m thinking, “Isn’t the NVIDIA GTX 285 one of the hottest video cards made right now???”  I smile and think, wasn’t that cool?  Dell threw me a bone on the replacement XPS 420 refurb piece of crap they sent me.  That was so far from the truth.

    Wrong, So Wrong

    Much to my surprise, I didn’t receive a refurb at all. I also didn’t receive what I figured they might send if I was lucky, the Dell XPS 435.  Instead, they sent me the Dell XPS 630i.  I didn’t really know it at first.  I pulled it out of the box and there was no Zune or PMP bay in the top so I knew something was fishy.

    Yep, after checking online, this is the XPS 630.  One of their top machines.  I start checking the specs.  750 watt power supply.  Uh oh.  My electricity bill is going up. Then I start thinking…  does this bad boy have the OCUR BIOS I need to use my ATI Digital Cable Tuners and record HDTV from FIOS TV?  Nope!!!  Crap, now what do I do?  Uh, hello?  Use the other XPS 420 you have.

    So the net net is that I burned up a Dell XPS 420, and nearly my house, but Dell did a great job of fixing the situation and sending a machine in less than a week.  The customer support folks on the chat session were very professional. The replacement unit I received exceeded my expectations even though I lost one of my favorite XPS 420 features. I have used the machine now for four days and so far I am very happy with it.  It’s very quiet and a solid machine for expandability in the future.  I’ll do a much better review in a few weeks.

    Summary

    Way to go Dell.  I didn’t request anything special and you certainly exceeded my expectation on the handling of this case.  The only thing I would say that needed improvement is the bad news your CSR’s deliver to customers.  Instead of telling them it could take up to 21 business days, you might want to emphasize it could be a lot less.  I can’t imagine how pissed I would be if they informed me of that if I had one laptop and it was dead.  21 days would have meant a laptop rental in that case.  Anyway, I am happy how this turned out.  Thanks for not screwing your customers.  I’ll keep my Dell stock a little longer.

  • IT Pro Momentum Program Results – Anon Company 12

    ITProMomentum

    Your geographic location (country): USA

    Public disclosure of your name and company name allowed?  No (lawyers!)

    Objectives of the project: What problem did you set out to solve? Redeploy a .Net application to blackberry mobile devices

    Are you piloting or deploying the products?  The pilot is nearing completion (limited deployment to technology staff). Before deploying to the business, we would like to consider an upgrade to WCF/windows 2008 server.

    Products used in the project (all that apply): .net 2.0, windows 2003 server, sql server, oracle

    Project description: We've developed a web-service in .net designed for a rapid response to the changing data requirements for our business. The pilot delivers various system-health metrics across multiple database platforms, while the production rollout will also include business data for the business users. The various data elements being rendered can be changed and added to at the drop of an xml file.

    The UI is a Blackberry client written in Java. The .net web service integration has been seamless, while the only technical difficulties involve poor web-service support in older version of the Blackberry OS and latency over the cell networks.

    Were the objective stated at the beginning satisfied? Did you solve the problem? YES

    Are you going to save money? How much over how many years? Yes, the pilot project alone has drastically cut down system support costs as support staff have instant access to computer system metrics and debugging information.

    What do you think about the IT Pro Momentum program? Would you have done this project without the IT Pro Momentum program? The Momentum program has provided me an opportunity to evaluate upgrading the core technology being used by the system. While the pilot has proven "good enough", Momentum has provided me an opportunity to be on the leading edge.

  • IT Pro Momentum Program Results – Anon Company 11

    ITProMomentum

    Public disclosure of your name and company name allowed? (Yes or No)  No, for now at least.

    Objectives of the project:  What problem did you set out to solve? I was looking at the possibility of migrating Samba directory service to Active Directory Service.

    Are you piloting or deploying the products?  Deployment would definitely follow if the project would be a success.

    Products used in the project (all that apply):  The plan was to use Hyper-V hosted on Windows Server 2008.

    Project description:  The objective was to transparently migrate existing Samba users to Active Directory.  Sounds easy but it turned out very frustrating because the version of Samba  currently in use does not support even NTDS syncronization. Another factor was, instead of using Hyper-V on Windows Server 2008, I end up using Virtual PC 2007 SP1 instead due to budgetary constraints(I was not able to purchase the required hardware).

    Were the objective stated at the beginning satisfied?  Did you solve the problem? I was not able to meet my objective but I'm determined to finding a solution.

    Are you going to save money?  How much over how many years? My aim in pursuing the project is two-fold. First is to determine the best way to manage our network infrastructure, I'm looking at Active Directory Services but the financial capacity of the institution I am currently serving is very limited hence the use of Free and Open Source Software in the enterprise. However, for companies that have the financial prowess to invest in a Windows-based network infrastructure but could not make the migration due to lack of technical solution to migrate their existing Samba directory service to ADS, my aim is to provide the IT community a free and cost-effective solution. 

    What do you think about the IT Pro Momentum program?  Would you have done this project without the IT Pro Momentum program? Great I know is an understatement to describe the program. Be given access to a wealth of technologies to experiment , learn and implement is simply indescribable. I could not have done my initial tests had I not been given the opportunity to be part of the program. Thank you Keith for the privilege.  Suggestion: Because  there are places like here in the Philippines where most of the small and medium businesses still run a Windows NT 4.0 based infrastructure (running either Windows NT 4.0 or Samba), it really would help if older systems be made available for download as well.

  • IT Pro Momentum Program Results - The High Tech Handyman

    ITProMomentum

    Your name: Brad Lloyd

    Company name: The High Tech Handyman

    Your geographic location (country): USA – Idaho

    Public disclosure of your name and company name allowed? (Yes or No): Yes

    Objectives of the project:  What problem did you set out to solve?  I am attempting to be an early-adapter of Windows7 & Office 2007. My desire is to be able to know the system so I can be a valuable Help Desk agent when this OS becomes more widely used.

    Are you piloting or deploying the products?  I am piloting the product my own home system and using it daily to familiarize myself with the OS and the Office package. I hope to deploy the OS on systems I build as soon as it is in production. I also hope to recommend Office 2007 to those currently using older versions of the package.

    Products used in the project (all that apply):  Windows 7; Office 2007

    Project description:  I decided to go all the way and fully wipe my primary laptop and load it with Windows 7 RC1. I also added Office 2007. So far, I’ve had problems with drivers for my AGERE Systems ET-131x PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet Adapter. The device seems to come and go from my Device Manager. Fortunately, I also have an 801.11g MiniPCI Wireless Adapter that has been rock solid, so I haven’t completely lost network connectivity. Also, this system has an AMD Sempron 3000+ 1.80 GHz processor with 2 GB of ram. The CPU seems to labor to process even small tasks (such as deleting individual emails in Outlook 2007). I have been tempted many times to revert back to XP (and Office 2003), but I want to press through the problems to “earn my stripes” in this OS and Office package.

    Were the objective stated at the beginning satisfied?  Did you solve the problem?  So far I feel good about my progress. I am becoming more and more familiar with both Windows 7 and Office 2007. I think I have solved the problem of my lack of knowledge.

    Are you going to save money?  How much over how many years?  My purpose was not really to save money, but rather to use this exercise to enhance my value as a Tech Support Analyst. I believe this knowledge will help me make more money as I help end-users work with Windows 7 and Office 2007.

    What do you think about the IT Pro Momentum program?  Would you have done this project without the IT Pro Momentum program? I think the IT Pro Momentum program is very valuable to those of us in the tech community. I really appreciate the assistance and encouragement that I’ve received so far. I am also very thankful for the TechNet subscription! I probably would not have been able to do this project without IT Pro Momentum and TechNet. Thank you again for everything.

  • IT Pro Momentum Program Results - Shoemake Consulting LLC

    ITProMomentum

    Your name:  Allen Shoemake

    Company name:  Shoemake Consulting LLC

    Your geographic location (country):  United States

    Public disclosure of your name and company name allowed? (Yes or No) :  Yes

    Objectives of the project:  What problem did you set out to solve?  :  To gather information and expertise for deployment of Windows 7 to both internal and customer environments.  These environments involve many high-end and legacy PC-based hardware/software systems.  Major objectives included assessment of compatibility and stability of several engineering and EDA-related applications.

    Are you piloting or deploying the products?  I realize you are likely piloting first, but just let me know if you plan to move forward into a production deployment. :  Piloting

    Products used in the project (all that apply):  Windows 7

    Project description:  (As stated in the IT Momentum Pro project web description) - Evaluate performance and compatibility of several EDA (Electronic Design Automation) applications in a production environment on Windows 7 RC.  These applications are used internally, as well as by clients and colleagues.  It is anticipated that some legacy applications may require operation in Windows XP mode.  The impetus for this project stems from the poor compatibility that Windows Vista initially provided for these applications. Consequently, many users decided to postpone adoption of Vista technology and in most cases downgraded new workstations to Windows XP.  I believe Vista SP1 and SP2 addressed many of the incompatibility issues, however in a majority of cases it was decided to postpone an OS upgrade to post-Vista.  Assuming Windows 7 and Windows XP Mode give positive results, I hope to provide my clients with guidance necessary to modernize their hardware and software platforms.

    Were the objective stated at the beginning satisfied?  Did you solve the problem? :   The problem as we saw it could mostly be described as “ Vista-Stigma” – Now I think we can call it “problem solved”.  Although a lot of problems with Vista had been solved with SP1 and SP2, it is good to see a product come out of the gate with a new life, good performance, and what appears to be rock-solid reliability.  Go away, Vista.

    FYI - During the project five existing PC’s were configured as dual boot with XP and Windows 7.  Systems ranged from stock P4-3.2 GHz to over-clocked Quad-Core’s with 2 to 4 GB RAM, and mid to high end graphics.  There were virtually no installation and driver issues.  A few odd system peripherals and printers required driver updates via Windows Update.  Oddly, one machine with an AC97 sound would not auto-detect the driver and we manually installed a Vista version from Realtec.  We have been extremely impressed with performance and stability, even under extreme memory loading.  [Oh, and did I mention NO crashes during normal operation] .    Two legacy applications did present some compatibility issues, however they functioned in XP Mode (nice feature).  Power Management (Saving) modes also performed well.  This is starting to get a lot of attention, with rising energy costs.  The one sad item to report was an issue with icons in the system notification area.  All machines exhibited behavior inconsistent with show/no-show settings (just like XP).

    Another interesting observation involves the fact that the test machines were configured as dual boot with XP and Windows 7.  This was done so that the user could revert back to XP if problems with Windows 7 were encountered.  I haven’t heard of any subject PC’s being booted on XP since the test began.

    Based on our experience - I fully expect we and our customers to fully embrace Windows 7 both through upgrades and new PC purchases.

    Are you going to save money?  How much over how many years? :  The money angle from our standpoint is hard to predict.  I suspect Windows 7 will save money primarily through the reduction of other Windows versions and the associated administrative costs. 

    What do you think about the IT Pro Momentum program?  Would you have done this project without the IT Pro Momentum program? Any suggestions for improvements are appreciated.  We tried to make this as easy as possible on everyone.  :  Program is great.  I think it’s off to a good start, and once Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2 are released, it will probably crank up even more.  We would have still done the project without the IT Pro Momentum program, but I think it gave an extra bit of urgency knowing Microsoft was interested in the results.  Good job guys.

  • IT Pro Momentum Program Results – Anon Company 10

    Public disclosure of your name and company name allowed? No

    Objectives of the project:  Centralize and consolidate server functions currently running on several desktop-class machines.

    Are you piloting or deploying the products?  Pilot

    Products used in the project (all that apply):  Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008, MS Accounting (existing)

    Project description:  Original plan was to demonstrate that moving several server functions, such as the MS Accounting database, email server, etc. from an assortment of desktop-class machines to a true server environment would save both time and money. This would free up the local IT support person to proactively improve the network, rather than constantly having to spend so much time maintaining/repairing it. The plan was to migrate email, then printer/network management, then the MS Accounting database.

    It has become obvious that, although the owner was very enthusiastic at the outset, needed infrastructure improvements (particularly electrical circuits) have eroded this somewhat.  They should have been done anyway, but have reduced the available budget for new hardware.  So we're focusing on the MS Accounting database first, so that existing problems will be resolved.  If we cannot migrate the other functions this year, they can wait until later.  A further complication is that the owner decided to take this 'opportunity' to rebrand the site, but that's another story...  :) 

    The IT Pro Momentum program has been great- without it, we probably would never have even suggested this improvement.  After purchasing the necessary hardware, and licensing the software for the production environment, I think any savings for the next year or so will be a wash (excluding the electrical work).  And the project should recoup even those costs right away, considering the added value the IT support tech will bring.

  • Don’t let your Mac/PC touch the shard !!! Or this will happen…

  • I Just Purchased Windows 7 Professional – Get Yours Now

    image

    Are you ready to order Windows 7 Professional ???  Well hit my promotion link right now and you can.  You can also click the picture above and it will take you right to the ordering site, too.  Enjoy !!!

    [Note]  I have been looking for the SKU comparison that shows the complete list of features for each version of Windows 7. The condensed version is at http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/products/compare-editions.  If I stumble across the complete list, I will let you know.

    [UPDATE]  This promotion is apparently only for the US, Canada and Japan.  I forgot to add that last night when I posted it.  Sleep deprivation. 

  • Buy Windows 7 Professional for $99 tomorrow !!!

    Win7_Professional_Upg_3DL Windows 7 is coming on October 22, 2009. Here's an easy way to get it fast and save a bundle: Pre-order a Windows 7 Home Premium Upgrade for $49** or a Windows 7 Professional Upgrade for $99.** That's about half off the estimated retail prices. This offer is available through participating retailers. Pick one and pre-order. They'll tell you how to get your copy when Windows 7 is available.

    The list of participating retailers will be announced tomorrow, June 26, 2009.

    Be sure to read the fine print at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/buy/offers/pre-order.aspx.  As you can see from that page, “The offer begins on June 26, 2009 and will continue while supplies last, or until July 11, 2009, whichever comes first.”

    What does that mean?  Well, it means don’t procrastinate on this offer.  Jump on it!!!

    Then sit back and smile. You scored.  I love that line by the way.  Cute.

  • I gave away a Lenovo ThinkPad T61p laptop today !!!

    t61p I never win squat but I must say it was a pleasure to call one of the attendees of the Interop Road Show and give them the news that they were the Grand Prize winner of our event drawing.

    As you may recall, the Grand Prize is a Lenovo ThinkPad T61p laptop and is nearly identical to the machine I am using to type this blog post.  The one I gave away is brand new and I am the only one that has touched it since Lenovo shipped it to me last October. 

    I installed Windows Vista Ultimate x64 on it at that time with all of the patches and fixes that were available.  The T61p runs Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2 very very well so Bruce is really going to enjoy his new machine.  He certainly needs it.  His current machine is running Windows 2000 with 512MB of memory, so he is going to go through performance shock when he starts running this speed demon. 

    We are in the process of notifying the other winners of the other prizes but I wanted to personally call the Grand Prize winner.  Congratulations Bruce!!!

    Thanks to everyone else for coming to our events in FY09.  We start FY10 in just a few weeks so stay tuned for upcoming announcements on our plans.

  • Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit 4.0 Beta Now Available!

    Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 will be available in the near future. Are you thinking about deploying these new operating systems? Get a head start with Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit 4.0 Beta. Over 680,000 Microsoft customers and partners including Costco Wholesale Corporation, Continental Airlines, and Banque de Luxembourg have already downloaded and used this toolkit to date.

    Introducing Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit

    MAP-LogoMicrosoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit 4.0 is an integrated planning toolkit that makes it easier for Microsoft customers and partners to quickly identify what servers, workstations, and network devices are in their IT environment. This agentless and scalable toolkit has the ability to discover all computers within Active Directory and workgroup environments. It performs key functions that include hardware and device inventory, hardware compatibility analysis, and generation of actionable, environment-specific IT proposals for migration to most major Microsoft technologies.

    What’s New with v4.0?

    Version 4.0 of this toolkit has the following new features:

    · Windows 7 Hardware and Device Compatibility Assessment

    · Windows Server 2008 R2 Hardware and Device Compatibility Assessment

    · Virtualization Candidates Assessment for Hyper-V R2 Server Consolidation

    · Integration with the Microsoft Integrated Virtualization ROI Calculator

    · Inventory of VMware Server Hosts and Guests

    · User Interface and Proposal Customization for Partner co-branding

    · Enhanced Usability and Improved Inventory Performance

    Additional Features

    Other features from version 3.2 have also been carried over to version 4.0:

    · Virtualization Candidates Assessment for Hyper-V Server Consolidation

    · Windows Vista Hardware and Device Compatibility Assessment

    · Windows Server 2008 Hardware and Device Compatibility Assessment

    · 2007 Microsoft Office Readiness Assessment

    · SQL Server Instance Discovery

    · Desktop Security Assessment for Anti-virus and Anti-malware Programs Installation

    · Forefront Client Security/NAP Readiness Assessment

    · Online Services (Exchange Online) Assessment

    · App-V Infrastructure Readiness Assessment

    · Power Savings “Green IT” Calculator

    Benefits to Customers and Partners

    Saves Planning or Pre-Sales Time. For most IT consultants and Microsoft Partners, a detailed network inventory and assessment of servers and desktops often takes days of manual labor. With Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit, you can now conduct an environment inventory of up to 100,000 computers in a matter of hours instead of days, giving you extra time to focus on critical planning or pre-sales tasks. For IT professionals, this toolkit can significantly reduce the time it takes to gather the information necessary to make the business case for client, server, and virtualization projects.

    Provides Actionable Recommendations and Reporting. This toolkit provides valuable inventory and readiness assessment reports with environment-specific upgrade recommendations and virtualization candidate reports, making it easier for IT migration and deployment projects to get off the ground and running.

    Covers Wide Range of Scenarios--from Desktops to Servers. This toolkit offers technology assessments and planning recommendations for many Microsoft desktop and server products including Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, Hyper-V R2, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Hyper-V, Virtual Server 2005 R2, 2007 Microsoft Office, SQL Server 2008, Forefront Client Security, Network Access Protection, Microsoft Online Services, Microsoft Application Virtualization (or App-V), and more.

    Next Steps--How can I get Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit 4.0 Beta?

    · Download Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit 4.0 Beta and give us your feedback (Live ID login and registration required)

    · View the Webcast on MAP Toolkit 4.0 Beta (use Recording Key: fqX`%3t.X)

    · Learn more about this toolkit and read case studies on TechNet

    · To provide technical feedback on this Beta, please e-mail at MAPSBETA@microsoft.com

    · Get the latest news from the Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit Team Blog

  • Living in Texas has it perks for the Jonas Brothers

    What do you do if you are setting up for a concert in the new huge Dallas Cowboys stadium?  Well, if you are the Jonas Brothers or one of their crew, then you have to test the huge 72’ X 160’ high def video screens with an Xbox 360 with none other than Gears of War or Halo.  There’s some of the action caught on film…  Full story at http://www.engadget.com/2009/06/20/giant-cowboys-stadium-led-wall-caught-playing-xbox-360-during-do/.

  • Automating “Boot from VHD” OS Installation

    ws2008 r2 blog logo A few weeks ago I did a post on creating a “Dual Boot From VHD” environment.  In the past couple of days I decided to explore and test a couple of other tools.  Both tools are scripts but each took a different approach to automation.

    The first script I looked at is the WIM2VHD script written by Mike Kolitz.  This is a well written and documented script.  The script prerequisites indicated the Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK) must be installed but you can actually run the script if only the IMAGEX.EXE and BCDBOOT.EXE programs are present.  Therefore you could easily build a lightweight WinPE disk and use this via a floppy (remember those?), CD, DVD, or USB stick.  Well, maybe not the floppy.

    The next script I looked at is the InstallWindowsImage PowerShell script written by Peter Brundrett.  This is an interesting script and uses the API functions in WIMGAPI.DLL.  It also uses BCDBOOT.EXE.

    I like both scripts but it’s a little disappointing when you find out neither is technically supported.  Neither is the method I captured and blogged about (using WinPE and Setup).  So out of the four methods I have discovered, only one is supported.  The supported methodology is to use the tools and techniques in the WAIK.

    I would have preferred to see us do the work in setup to allow for an unattended setup method.  Maybe we’ll see that in a future release of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.  Until then, you have lots to explore with the WAIK, the scripts above, Setup methods, MDT, SCCM, and WDS.  Got all of that?

    image

    Testing on a ThinkPad T400

    Oh, and I forgot to mention how my machine is setup now.  I am considering using the Lenovo ThinkPad T400 as my road and demo machine.

    The T400 is the little brother to the W500 but it’s no slouch from a performance point of view.  The video chipset is slower than my T61p, but it has a faster dual core proc and 8GB of 1067MHz DDR3 memory.  The T400 14.1” screen is super bright.  I rarely use it in torch mode.

    At the moment I’m using a 186GB 7200rpm hard drive but will likely move to a 300GB drive before too long.  I’m trying to get a little more mileage out of my 200GB drives.  Anyone ever get upset a 200GB drive is really 186?

    Two Operating Systems in a Partition

    I installed Windows 7 the old fashioned way.  It’s installed in a single 186GB NTFS partition on the physical disk.  I wasn’t sure at the time if I was going to use this disk with Windows 7 only.

    Yesterday I installed Windows Server 2008 R2 on the same partition.  However, I used the WIM2VHD script above to install R2 inside a .VHD file.  I used BCDBOOT to make the .VHD bootable which also fixes up the Boot Configuration Data (BCD) and prompts me for the desired OS at power up.

    Here were the installation messages:

    C:\Program Files\Windows AIK\Tools\amd64>cscript wim2vhd.wsf /wim:d:\sources\install.wim /sku:serverenterprise
    /vhd:c:\WindowsR2\windowsR2.vhd /disktype:dynamic
    Microsoft (R) Windows Script Host Version 5.8
    Copyright (C) Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

    Windows(R) Image to Virtual Hard Disk (WIM2VHD) Converter
    Copyright (C) Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
    Version 6.1.7100.2

    Check for updates at http://code.msdn.microsoft.com/wim2vhd!

    MACHINE INFO:
            Build=7100
            Platform=amd64fre
            OS=Windows 7 Ultimate
            ServicePack=
            Version=6.1
            BuildLab=winmain_win7rc
            BuildDate=090421-1700
            Language=en-US

    INFO: Looking for IMAGEX.EXE...
    INFO: Looking for BCDBOOT.EXE...
    INFO: Session key is D5157524-776B-47D9-8FC4-A1C08FFD6F69
    INFO: Inspecting the WIM...
    INFO: Configuring and formatting the VHD...
    INFO: Applying the WIM...
    [ 100% ] Applying progress
    INFO: Making the VHD bootable with BCDBoot...
    INFO: Unmounting the VHD...
    Summary:  Errors: 0, Warnings: 0, Successes: 1
    INFO: Done.

    C:\Program Files\Windows AIK\Tools\amd64>

    I’m not sure if I am going to run this way or not.  It’s awfully convenient right now, but I need to test BitLocker more fully to see if I have some integration issues or not.  Keeping both OSes on the same disk means I reduce the total number of disks I take on the road by two.  Two 2.5” disks wouldn’t seem like much, but don’t forget maintaining backup and restored versions of those disks.  Windows 7 and R2 launch events are coming so failure is not an option.

  • Windows 7 App Compat Roundtable this week on June 18th

    windows7rc_bloglogo Windows 7, is approaching fast and from the application standpoint is very similar to Windows Vista. We’re going to examine Windows 7 application compatibility not only from the perspective of moving from Windows Vista, but also for those coming from Windows XP. Join us to discuss the most common challenges around application compatibility when coming from a legacy operating system, why changes were made along the way, compatibility technologies inside the OS and methods for getting incompatible applications to run on Windows 7. Along the way we share tips and tricks, demonstrate free tools to analyze and fix applications and answer your specific questions about application compatibility live.

    As part of the “virtual” experience, you may submit your questions about Windows 7 to the panel live during the event—or submit questions in advance to vrtable@microsoft.com.

    Event Details

    Date: Thursday, June 18

    Time: 11:00am Pacific Time

    https://ms.istreamplanet.com/springboard

  • Want to do a Windows 7 Loadfest? Contact me today !!!

    windows7rc_bloglogo If you are in Austin, San Antonio, Houston or Louisiana and want to do a Windows 7 Loadfest at your user group meeting, please contact me for scheduling the event.  I’ll bring a stack of Windows 7 RC disks and we’ll go through the process of installing the operating system on the machines you bring.  I’ll also be happy to show you a couple of cool tricks in the process as well as present some of the more interesting features associated with the product.

    If you happen to be in another part of the US and want to do something similar, see http://technetevents.com/Speakers/default.aspx for the other folks on my team.  If you can’t figure out who handles your district or region, let me know and I’ll put you in touch with the right person.  Don’t hesitate scheduling something.  Supplies are limited.

    You can contact me via my blog contact link at http://blogs.technet.com/keithcombs/contact.aspx.

  • Blu-Ray Gets Manage Copy – wake me up when the nightmare is over

    managedcopydiagramYou may have noticed, I didn’t blog last week due to a heavy travel schedule and spending some quality time with the folks in Bellevue.  But I’m digging out right now and a story on Engadget caught my eye.  “Blu-ray gets Managed Copy next year, requires new hardware” by Ben Drawbaugh.  Ben apparently got the tip from videobusiness.com.

    I don’t event need to go read the story because the title of the story and the scary picture associated with it just gives me nightmares.  In the battle between HD-DVD and Blu-Ray, who won?  Well, it wasn’t the consumers.  I don’t know about your portion of the planet, but blu-ray movies down here in Texas are still pretty darned expensive.  I am still buying SD movies because the price for blu-ray titles should be a crime.  The ones that get discounted suck.

    So what are they thinking?  Give us the ability to play a copy elsewhere but force you to dump your current player?  Someone must be smoking some good weed.  Wake me up when this blu-ray nightmare is over.

  • I’m missing the Country Music Festival but you don’t have to !!!

    In case you weren’t aware, Microsoft has a pretty huge presence and set of activities planned this year at the 2009 CMA Musical Festival.  So if you’re like me and can’t make it to Tennessee this year, no worries because you can still get pretty close to the action.

    For instance, checkout the following game/treasure hunt and implementation of Silverlight and Deep Zoom.  Deep Zoom Composer is one of my favorite new technologies.  The festival Hot Shots application is also fun.  I wonder how they are keeping that one clean.

    image

    And if you are lucky enough to be at the festival, be sure to come by our booth.  See http://www.cmafest.com/2009/microsoft/ for more information on the fun taking place there!

  • Have money to burn? Try this

    imageApparently someone forgot the recession is still in full swing.  At $7999 for this 43” curved monther, I’d have to recommend  slapping a couple of cheap 22” panels next to each other.  But it sure looks cool.

  • Now it’s official – Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 GA and RTM dates announced

    image “TAIPEI, Taiwan — June 2, 2009 — Microsoft is so confident with the progress made with the development of Microsoft Windows 7 and Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 that it will deliver Release to Manufacturing (RTM) code to partners for both products in the second half of July. Both Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 will be available to the public on Oct. 22, 2009.”

    Another bid to create a useful class of consumer devices is Fugoo (shown at right). The Fugoo platform uses a version of Windows in conjunction with widely available Web “widgets,” which publish everything from the time and weather to currency exchange rates and horoscopes.

    Fugoo’s prototype devices integrate that software functionality into home appliances to create dynamic displays in clocks, picture frames and even coffee makers.

    At Computex, Fugoo is announcing that its first commercially available product, a digital picture frame launched in partnership with Pandigital in the U.S., will be available on the market this summer.

    The frame is Web-enabled and can download photos from social networks or online photo services. It also allows users to download photos directly from a PC or digital camera.

    See the full details of the press release at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/features/2009/Jun09/06-02SteveGuggenheimer.mspx.

  • Fall Game Preview – Halo ODST

    Get Microsoft Silverlight

  • Bing.com is now live on the World Wide Web

    image 

    http://bing.com is now available !!!