Keith Combs' Blahg

Ramblings from another nerd on the grid

November, 2009

  • Upgrading AD Domains to Windows Server 2008 R2 AD DS Domains

    ws2008 r2 blog logo Upgrading your network operating system requires minimal network configuration and typically has a low impact on user operations. The upgrade process is straightforward, efficient, and allows your organization to take advantage of the improved security that is offered by the Windows Server® 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 operating systems.

    This guide is intended for use by system administrators and system engineers. It provides detailed guidance for upgrading Windows 2000 or Windows Server 2003 Active Directory domains to Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) domains that have domain controllers running Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2008 R2. For a seamless deployment experience, use the checklists that are provided in this guide and complete the tasks in the order in which they are presented.

    Go get the guide @

    Running in a DC in Hyper-V

    If you plan to run a Windows Server 2008 Domain Controller as a Hyper-V virtual machine, you should also download and review the latest guide on that as well.  This guide discusses many of the important considerations that are specific to the deployment of a Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008 virtual domain controller. It provides recommendations and tips to help you deploy and manage domain controllers in Hyper-V.

    Some of the Hyper-V issues, such as storage and backup, that are not specific to domain controllers are not covered in this guide. This guide also does not address the potential cost savings of migration to virtual servers. Furthermore, because the process of making a virtual server a domain controller does not differ from the process of making a physical server a domain controller, this process (domain controller promotion) is not described in this guide.

    Go get it @

  • Windows XP went out kicking and screaming!!!

    windows7_bloglogo Last night was the night my household finally went 100% pure Windows 7.  I flattened our five year old Dell Inspiron 6000 my daughter uses and installed Windows 7. 

    I was impressed with the massive difference Windows 7 made on the overall behavior of the Inspiron 6000.  Now to be fair, there were two significant changes.  First, I pulled the 5400rpm drive out of the machine and replaced it with a nice 100GB 7200rpm drive.  I didn’t realize any of our machines still had 5400rpm drives.  That must have been payback for something that happened a couple of years ago.

    Then of course there are a couple of years of Windows XP teen abuse.  Nothing like the smell of a clean install in the morning to fix that.  For those of you that support teen machines, you know what I mean.  It’s alarming sometimes the level of “modification” that takes place when you hand admin privilege to a teenager.  Think of it like a tax write-off.  It’ll help you stay sane.

    Anyway, the only problem I encountered was with the audio.  I had to download the Sigmatel driver for Windows Vista from the support area.  I was really happy that worked.  I would have been up a creek if it didn’t.

    The Elder Statesman

    My oldest machine that is running Windows 7 is nearly seven years old.  It’s the Dell Dimension 4600 we bought years ago and it has lived a long and fruitful life.  I’m actually quite amazed it still works, and it’s even more amazing it runs Windows 7 pretty well.  The NVIDIA GeForce 7600 video card in it has a little to do with that.  It doesn’t have quite enough CPU horsepower to decode HDTV with fluid real time playback.

    This particular machine was a SBS 2003 server running Exchange and ISA Server in it’s early years.  Later it served several other roles including being the work horse behind the counter at my wife's retail store.  Right now it’s relegated to the hall of fame until one of my nieces or nephews comes along with sad eyes.  I’m sure it will find a new home this Christmas.

    Anyway, everything I have is running the almighty Windows 7 now.  Thanks to the Windows team for focusing on the fundamentals with the OS, so older machines could still have a life.

  • You don’t have the tools or talent, but you can watch this video in awe !!!

    Absolutely amazing video.  Heck, the making of the video is interesting enough, but watch this case mod get created. Totally jealous of the tools and time.

  • Windows @ Work Contest goes live !!!

    Submit an entry about your Windows 7 experiences and thoughts to the community. What are you looking forward to in Windows 7? Share a business or personal success, or cool and innovative feature. Your fellow community members will vote, so may the best story win.

    imageContest Location:

    Contest Period: 11/23/09 to 02/23/10


    1. HP Envy 15 laptop
    2. HP Mini 311 netbook
    3. Intel 160GB SSD

    This is a pretty easy contest to enter.  No screencast or anything fancy this time around.  Instead, tell us about your experience with Windows 7 for a chance to win a great prize. 

    See the contest site for the full rules.  Sure wish I could enter.  Good luck!!!

  • Windows Home Server (WHS) Power Pack 3 – available on 11/24

    windows7_bloglogoIf you have multiple PCs with increasingly large amounts of digital photography, music, video, and documents, then protecting, organizing, and connecting this digital media can be a challenging task. Help with managing your digital dilemmas has arrived. Windows Home Server does more than Network Attached Storage (NAS) – take a look.

    • Media Server: Digi tal memories and media stored and organized in a central location
    • Backup Software: Home computers backed up daily, automatically
    • Data Recovery: Simple restore of lost files or even entire hard drive content.
    • Document Management: Complete access to files from both inside and outside the home
    • Remote Access: A secure and personalized website address for sharing photos and home videos
    • Add-ins: Easily add storage space and new software capabilities

    Power Pack 3 adds the following new features:

    • Backup/Restore of computers running Windows 7 - Windows Home Server can automatically archive recorded TV by moving your recordings from a Windows Media Center computer to your home server in the format of your choice. This enables playback in the correct format for your home computers and/or portable devices.  You can configure your computer running Windows 7 to wake up at a scheduled backup time and then go back to sleep after the backup finishes.
    • Windows 7 Libraries integration - When you install the Windows Home Server Connector and log on a computer running Windows 7, you can access the Windows Home Server shared folders from the Windows 7 libraries.
    • Enhancements for Windows Media Center - Windows Home Server can automatically archive recorded TV by moving your recordings from a Windows Media Center computer to your home server in the format of your choice. This enables playback in the correct format for your home computers and/or portable devices.
    • Better support for netbook computers – looking for details on this.

    Power Pack 3 will enable the most optimal experience for Windows 7 users on a Windows Home Server network.

  • Got 2010? Go get it !!!


    Head on over to and check out the 2010 wave and downloads.

  • Compose a Haiku and Win!


    Clear your mind. Think about the magnificent Windows Server 2008 R2 and compose a Haiku. Ready to get started? Head on over to for a chance to win.  Official rules at

  • Azure Services Training Kit – now available for download

    The Azure Services Training Kit includes a comprehensive set of technical content including hands-on labs, presentations, and demos that are designed to help you learn how to use the Windows Azure platform including: Windows Azure, SQL Azure and .NET Services. The November release includes new and updated labs in addition to information about Microsoft Codename “Dallas”. This training kit contains the following content:

    Presentations Presentations will be updated after PDC 2009 with all of the latest and greatest decks.

    Demos Demos will be updated after PDC 2009 with all of the latest and greatest demos.

    Hands On Labs

    • Introduction to Windows Azure
    • Exploring Windows Azure Storage
    • Deploying and Monitoring Applications in Windows Azure
    • Windows Azure: Worker Role Communication
    • Federated Authentication in a Windows Azure Web Role Application
    • Building ASP.NET Web Form Applications with Windows Azure
    • Introduction to SQL Azure
    • Migrating Databases to SQL Azure
    • SQL Azure: Tips and Tricks
    • Intro to Dallas
    • Introduction to the .NET Service Bus
    • Introduction to the .NET Access Control Service
    • Service Remoting with Service Bus
    • Eventing with the Service Bus

    Get it @

  • BitLocker to Go Reader – now available for download

    windows7rc_bloglogo BitLocker protection on removable drives is known as BitLocker To Go. When a BitLocker-protected removable drive is unlocked on a computer running Windows 7, the drive is automatically recognized and the user is either prompted for credentials to unlock the drive or the drive is unlocked automatically if configured to do so. Computers running Windows XP or Windows Vista do not automatically recognize that the removable drive is BitLocker-protected. With the BitLocker To Go Reader users can unlock the BitLocker-protected drives by using a password or a recovery password (also known as a recovery key) and gain read-only access to their data.

    Go get it @

  • My new adventure starts tomorrow

    The Dallas Cowboys should certainly be thinking that after nearly getting skunked by the Green Bay Packers, but this isn’t about them, it’s about me. Monday, November 16 I start a new job.  I am not leaving Microsoft.  I still dig working here.  I am joining the team that is responsible for

    The Job

    I’ll still be doing many of the things I’ve been doing for years.  Staying immersed and deeply technical on a variety of Microsoft products will still be core, hard core.  I’ll still blog, deliver webcasts, live events, and produce screencasts.  This time around I’ll be taking advantage of more fully.  I consider it my new blog. Grin.

    KeithCombsAvatarMy real job is to build into a place where the community is more active.  In order to do that I am going to need your help on what is needed.  I have some ideas on stuff I’d like to try, and we have some pretty smart people already hard at work on some kewl ideas, but ultimately it needs to work for you.

    The mission is really quite simple.  Make a place IT Pros can really use effectively for their jobs, and want to come back to over and over.  This sure sounds simple, but the scope is global so I will get the opportunity to work with the subsidiaries in all parts of the globe to build a killer new environment.

    The transformation has actually already started. We are making a lot of changes to the TechNet sites as well as the MSDN sites.  In fact, what they get, we get and vice versa. You will see a lot of improvements coming.  Some are geared directly at organizing the information more effectively.  Other changes are geared for discovery.  Then other changes are geared towards the community.

    The Title

    My new title is Senior Program Manager.  My role is modeled after Scott Hanselman and the talent on his team. They focus on the various developer technologies, and I will focus on the products and technologies IT Pros care about.  In order to make this successful, we plan to more directly engage the community worldwide at TechNet.  My role really has two titles.  Senior PM is one of them and Community PM is the other. The job really combines elements of both.

    This job is a logical step for me.  I have enjoyed working as an IT Pro Evangelist in the US but it was time to do something a little bolder.  John Martin, my new manager, is giving my that opportunity.  I can already tell it’s going to be great working for John.  He is a much more articulate communicator and diplomat than I am.  He has a great sense and vision for what needs to be done.  I’m sure much of this comes from the people on his team.  Good teams elevate good managers and vice versa.

    As you can probably tell, this is going to be a fascinating new gig.  I join an extremely talented group and have the opportunity to learn many new lessons.  My adventure begins in the morning.  I am headed to Seattle and will be meeting everyone on the TechNet online team, learning what their plans are, and figuring out what I’ve really gotten myself into.  It should be a fun week as I chart my course, and the new course for the IT Pro Community at

    By the way, the avatar looks a lot like me when I let my hair grow.  Long haired hippy.

  • Empowering Women’s Brilliance event on Tuesday 11/17

    Join Directions Training, Macy's and the Microsoft's DPE team as we launch Empowering Women’s Brilliance.  This local initiative was designed to help promote and celebrate women in technology by helping them accelerate the success of their early stage startups, providing:

    • Software - Development tools and production licenses with NO upfront costs

    • Support - Resources and Community support from over 300 network and hosting partners and Professional technical support from Microsoft

    • Visibility - Profile and Promotion on the BizSpark Database

    Where: Macy's
    NARCISSUS 7th Floor
    111 North State Street
    Chicago, IL 60602
    When: November 17, 2009; 4pm - 8pm (CST)
    Cost: FREE!

    More information on this event and registration at

  • Note to future parents: Plan your automobile purchases carefully

    2007HondaCivic I’m sure all of you have teenagers that are practically perfect.  Straight A’s and they have never been in any trouble.  Even if that were true, we are all faced with one issue that is exceedingly hard to forecast.  The automobile inventory and lifespan.

    My forecasting abilities were doing quite well until late this summer.  We had managed to stay ahead of the mayhem that inexperienced drivers bring to the sublime family life.  I have already written about some of those horrors.  I won’t remind you and thankfully this tale is not yet another wreck with twisted metal and a call in the middle of the night.

    Instead, it’s the unexpected stoppage that occurs when the inexperienced driver continues to drive a valuable automobile that shouldn’t be driven.  The result?  Premature death of a great and fully paid for car.  The other ramification sets in.

    My plan was always to time the “hand me downs” so that our children would get a trusted machine I bought new.  This works out pretty well in small families with a couple of “starter” cars.  But the Automobile Sudden Death Syndrome (ASDS) blows that little plan all to pieces, fast.

    Now what?

    I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place.  Buy another used car from some nefarious creature in the Metroplex, or give my baby away and hope it makes it to 100,000 miles? 

    My baby in this case is the 2007 Honda Civic Coupe you see above.  It’s coming up on three years old and I just turned 15,000 miles on it.  Yea, you read that right.  It is driven around the local community but generally it goes from my garage to the garage at DFW airport 10 miles away and back.  That is it’s normal commute.

    Shopping sucks

    Yea, I already tweeted that.  I’ve been on vacation this week. Some fucking vacation.  Sorry for the f bomb but it’s well deserved.  There are some seriously shady characters out there.  I can spot them without ever even talking to them.

    The best money you’ll ever spend shopping for a used car is the $40 membership to the service.  This service allows you to look at the history of a vehicle identification number (VIN).  The history will tell you if the titled car was in a flood, or wreck, or had the odometer rolled back.  You would be surprised at how many times this information comes in handy.  I have had two people in the past week refuse to supply a VIN.  That’s a big RED FLAG and probably means the auto was stolen or something very very bad.


    Time to rant a little on  They clearly have everything going for them.  I assume it’s due to low rates for running an ad.  But their UI and data entry sucks.

    Freeform text entry is good for some people.  Freedom to control the formatting is also good for others.  But for the masses that post on, it’s a curse.  Many people neglect to supply key information about the product (automobile in this case).  And it’s simple stuff like the model, color, etc. 

    I realize posting mileage might be something they actually want to leave off, but there are a lot of other things people might want to know and it might actually help SELL the freaking car.  I realize there’s a language barrier issue at work here, but a better automobile data entry form would help immensely.

    The most annoying feature, or lack of feature in this case, is the inability to put a freaking thumbnail on each posting.  You actually have to click the posting first.  Is this the BBS era of the 1980’s or what?  It wouldn’t be so bad but the dealers and other n00bs tend to post their vehicles a million freaking times over the course of a few weeks.  I guess they think it’s going to get someone’s attention and help sell the car.  Wrong!!!

    What to do?

    I guess I’ll play the game a while longer.  I am taking a break from my vacation (thank god) and going back to work next week.  I’ll continue to monitor craigslist,, and a few others looking for the golden nugget.  But let’s just say I am not holding my breath even though I look great in blue.

    People, please go to and read the descriptions for the quality ratings.  Excellent doesn’t mean poor. 

  • Good Karma


    See the new hybrid at

  • Exchange Server 2010 is now available to TechNet subscribers

    ExchangeSvr2010_v_rgb For those of you that have TechNet Plus subscriptions, you’ll notice that Exchange Server 2010 is now in the subscriber download area.  If you haven’t looked at some of the new capabilities, here’s an overview of some of the top features.

    • Reduced deployment cost - Exchange Server 2010 helps you reduce costs by addressing common infrastructure requirements such as backup, e-mail archiving, mobile e-mail access, and voice mail with no need for third-party tools.
    • Simplified high availability and disaster recovery - Exchange Server 2010 introduces a simplified approach to high availability and disaster recovery to help you achieve new levels of reliability and reduce the complexity of delivering business continuity.
    • Easier administration and decreased dependence on the help desk - Exchange Server 2010 provides new self-service capabilities to help users perform common tasks without calling the help desk.
    • Greater mobility and flexible access - Exchange Server 2010 offers an enhanced universal inbox experience, which provides your users with access to all of their business communications from a single location.
    • Decreased inbox overload and increased productivity - Exchange Server 2010 adds new productivity features which help your users organize and prioritize the communications in their inboxes efficiently.
    • Transformed voice mail - With Exchange Server 2010, users can receive their voice mail messages in their inbox with text preview.
    • Simplified compliance - Exchange Server 2010 delivers new integrated archiving functionality to help simplify compliance and discovery.
    • Safeguards for sensitive information - With centrally managed and enforced information protection and control capabilities, Exchange Server 2010 makes it easy to encrypt, control, and moderate your company's communications.
    • Reduced risk of malware and spam - Exchange Server 2010 actively helps protect your communications through built-in defenses against junk e-mail and support for an array of third party security products.

    More information at and

  • Windows 7 Digital Cable Advisor and CableCard Copy Freely released !!!


    Microsoft announced at CEDIA that customers will now be able to add digital cable tuners with a CableCARD™ to any Windows® 7-based PC with Windows® Media Center. The Digital Cable Advisor tool is being provided by Microsoft to analyze consumer PCs to ensure that they are capable of a quality digital cable viewing experience.

    The Digital Cable Advisor measures system parameters such as CPU speed, RAM, graphics card support for hardware acceleration, and digital connection capabilities. If the PC meets the minimum requirements, the tool enables digital cable functionality on the PC. Then, users can add a digital cable tuner with a CableCARD™. With a digital cable subscription from a TV service provider, users can access cable pay-TV, including premium content.

    In addition, the latest ATI 1.19 Firmware which enables Copy Freely for CableCARD™ recordings is now available via Windows Update.

    See the full details on the Windows 7 Media Center Team blog at

    This is by far my favorite feature of Windows 7 !!!

  • Windows 7, Exchange 2010 and Windows Server 2008 R2 Launch – slides now available

    All of the slides from the launch events are now posted and available for viewing.  If you create a slideshare account, you can also download the PowerPoint file.  Here are the relevant locations for the materials:

    Windows 7 -

    Windows Server 2008 R2 -

    Exchange Server 2010 -

  • RDP 7 for Windows XP and Windows Vista - now available for download

    windows7rc_bloglogo Now that we have released Windows 7 & Windows Server 2008 R2 to manufacturing, we wanted to share our plans to make the Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) 7.0 client available to Windows XP and Windows Vista. RDC 7 will ensure that when connecting to Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 from an XP or Vista machines you are able to take advantage of the rich, advanced RDP7 features such as Media Player Redirection, True Multi-monitor support, etc.

    Get the new download @

    See the RDP team blog post on the subject with all the juicy details at

  • Sprint launches 4G mobile network in Dallas and other markets

    image DALLAS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 2, 2009-- The wireless future just arrived in Dallas-Ft. Worth. Sprint (NYSE: S) today announced the launch of Sprint 4G mobile broadband throughout the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. As a result, streaming video, fast file downloads and uploads and turbo-charged web browsing are no longer just home, office or coffee shop benefits. Sprint 4G customers can enjoy a blazing fast wireless mobile broadband experience across the city, whether they’re working at a remote location, relaxing in the park, sitting at a favorite eatery or as a passenger on the freeway or public transportation.

    Dallas-Ft. Worth is one of the first communities to enjoy 4G wireless connections from Sprint, the first national wireless carrier to test, launch and market 4G technology. Sprint 4G delivers download speeds up to 10 times faster than 3G.1 Sprint 4G is like a hotspot designed to reach across Dallas-Ft. Worth. View 4G coverage at

    See the rest of the press release at

    Head on over to the Sprint 4G area at