Keith Combs' Blahg

Ramblings from another nerd on the grid

September, 2010

  • Dodging Bullets in Tornado Alley

    Earlier this week the North Texas area experienced some rather severe weather.  It all started with tropical storm Hermine which was largely ignored, at first.  It became apparent to Texas residents rather quickly this was going to be a vicious and deadly storm.

    DallasTornadoHermine blew into Texas after spawning in the the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. When it reached Texas, the rain and energy seemed deadly focused on I-35.  I-35 is the North South interstate that links San Antonio, New Braunfels, San Marcos, Austin, Waco and the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex.

    Hermine was mostly a rain event which started on Tuesday September 7, 2010.  And rain it did.  It wasn’t the most impressive rain event I’ve ever experienced but it was right up there.  Anytime you receive 7-9 inches of rain in a small amount of time, bad stuff happens.  The creeks and rivers just can’t handle that kind of deluge so flooding occurred all over Texas.  People lost their lives as a result.

    Before Hermine was through with Texas, a number of twisters formed in the North East area of Texas which is essentially the start of a portion of the USA called “Tornado Alley”. 

    It’s pretty unusual to catch tornados on film, but the coverage last week was impressive.  The local news stations had their high definition camera equipped helicopters up all day observing the flooding so when the twisters spawned, they were right there.  I literally watched a tornado spawn on my HDTV real time.  It was scary to watch on live TV.

    A number of Dallas locals took pictures up close and personal.  The picture above was taken and uploaded to the Dallas WFAA website by pjsokal.  I didn’t see their full name so I can’t fully accredit them for the picture.  The picture is dramatic.  The dark shaded object in the right portion of the picture is the Anatole Hotel on I-35 directly across from the Apparel Mart in Dallas.  For those of you that have been to conventions there, or Nana’s bar on top, this will be an eerie reminder of how close danger can come to any of us, at any time.

  • Creating a SteadyState like Windows 7 Environment

    windows7rc_bloglogoWindows SteadyState does not support Windows 7. However, many of its features can be replicated by using native Windows 7 features and free tools from Microsoft. This document is intended primarily for IT pros who configure shared-computer access in business environments, but partners who support shared-computer access in schools, libraries, and Internet cafes will also find the information useful.

    The document set includes:

    • Creating a Steady State by Using Microsoft Technologies (this document), which describes the native Windows 7 features and free tools from Microsoft that you can use to create a steady state on computers running Windows 7.
    • Group Policy Settings for Creating a Steady State, which is a reference that describes Group Policy settings that you can use to configure computer and user settings and prevent users from changing those settings.
    • The SteadyState Reference worksheet (.xlsx file), which you can use to look up and filter settings that this document and the reference describe. For example, you can quickly find information about settings that are related to Start Menu restrictions.

    Get the guide @

    Get the GPO Settings @

    Get the spreadsheet @

  • Have a Windows 7 case mod to beat this?


    That’s right.  This Jag has Windows 7 under the hood. See the full article at  Jeremy Chapman (owner) plans a Windows Server upgrade with SCCM so he can deploy images via WIFI.  Ok, that’s just in jest but you never know with the Deployment Man of Microsoft.

  • NFS Account Mapping in Windows Server 2008 R2

    ws2008 r2 blog logoThis paper covers Network File System (NFS) account mapping and the deployment in Windows Server 2008 R2. NFS is a network file sharing protocol that allows remote access to files over a network. NFS implementations include an NFS server component, which enables the sharing of files for use by other networked computers, and an NFS client component, which enables computers to access files shared by NFS servers.

    The Services for NFS role service in Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Storage Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2008, and Windows Storage Server 2008 provides the ability to function as an NFS server. Windows and UNIX operating systems use different account and security systems.

    Windows operating systems represent users and groups with a unique security identifier (SID), while UNIX operating systems represent users with user identifiers (UIDs) and group identifiers (GIDs). Account mapping is the process of correlating the UNIX UIDs and GIDs to corresponding Windows user and group SIDs.

    Get the paper @

  • Test post–centering the pic

    conan loves flowers cropped

  • Windows Server BranchCache Step-by-Step Guides

    ws2008 r2 blog logoBranchCache is a wide area network (WAN) bandwidth optimization technology that is included in some editions of the Windows Server® 2008 R2 and Windows® 7 operating systems. To optimize WAN bandwidth, BranchCache copies content from your main office content servers and caches the content at branch office locations, allowing client computers at branch offices to access the content locally rather than over the WAN. This step-by-step guide provides instructions on how to deploy BranchCache in distributed cache mode in a test lab environment. To perform the steps in this guide, you need one computer that is running Windows Server 2008 R2 and three computers that are running either Windows® 7 Enterprise or Windows® 7 Ultimate.

    Distributed Cache Mode Step-by-Step Guide -

    This step-by-step guide provides instructions on how to deploy BranchCache in hosted cache mode in a test lab environment. To perform the steps in this guide, you need two computers that are running Windows Server 2008 R2 and two computers that are running either Windows® 7 Enterprise or Windows® 7 Ultimate.

    Host Cache Mode Step-by-Step Guide -

  • Something you missed at the MTV Music Awards

  • Vdara Hotel at CityCenter Solar Concentrator

    This is one of the strangest stories I’ve read in the past few weeks, but it’s something you’ll want to know if you decide to stay at CityCenter in Las Vegas.  I first read about this on then followed the links over to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

    “The tall, sleek, curving Vdara Hotel at CityCenter on the Strip is a thing of beauty.

    But the south-facing tower is also a collector and bouncer of sun rays, which -- if you're at the hotel's swimming pool at the wrong time of day and season -- can singe your hair and melt your plastic drink cups and shopping bags.

    Hotel pool employees call the phenomenon the "Vdara death ray."

    See the full story on the Las Vegas Review-Journal at  Be sure to take SPF 1500 lotion if you go.  Might want to roast a few hotdogs while you are poolside, too.

  • FOUND: The SQL Server 2008 SP2 motherload

    SQL08_v_rgbSQL Server 2008 SP2 -

    SQL Server 2008 SP2 Express -

    SQL Server 2008 SP2 Feature Pack -

    SQL Server 2008 SP2 Upgrade Advisor -

    SQL Server Reporting Services Add-in for SharePoint -

    Get the full information on this release via the SQL team blog at

  • New bazooka?


    I thought it looked like a new bazooka or ray gun, but as it turns out, it’s a video camera for a first person view.  Might have some interesting applications.  See for more information.

  • Office for Mac 2011 hits RTM milestone !!!




    Houston, we have RTM! It’s a big Friday in MacBU as we are celebrating the “Release to Manufacturing” of Office for Mac 2011. This means we’ve signed off on final testing and the product is officially getting sent on its way to production and to customers.

    We’ll be cranking the Microsoft ship siren and celebrating in all of our team locations (Redmond, Microsoft Silicon Valley, Beijing, Dublin and Tokyo), raising a glass to Office 2011!

    For more information, see the full blog post at

  • Zune and Zune Pass expand to international markets – hello Windows Phone 7

    imageREDMOND, Wash. — Sep. 20, 2010 — Microsoft Corp. today announced the further international expansion of Zune, its digital entertainment service. This fall, Zune will expand its music and video footprint and bring the free Zune software, Zune Marketplace online store, Zune Pass1 music subscription service and enhanced features on to new markets, providing a comprehensive entertainment experience on Windows-based PCs, on the go with Windows Phone 7 and in your living room through Xbox LIVE.2

    “The integration between Zune, Windows Phone 7 and Xbox LIVE is an exciting expansion in our entertainment offerings,” said Craig Eisler, corporate vice president, Interactive Entertainment Business Group at Microsoft. “Zune enables users to access the entertainment they want, wherever they want it — and now, more people than ever will be able to enjoy the freedom and flexibility that the Zune service offers.”

    Zune software has been upgraded with new features and functionality and will serve as the Windows Phone 7 synchronization client. The new software (version 4.7) will be available to download for free in more than 20 countries, including the U.K., France, Italy, Germany and Spain, to easily manage your personal collection of movies, music, podcasts and pictures. Zune software continues to set the standard for entertainment software, providing best-in-class experiences to organize, discover and enjoy digital media with a variety of exclusive features. For example, the Quickplay menu enables immediate access to recently played content and personal favorites, and Smart DJ 3 automatically creates playlists from your personal music collection and takes the extra step of mixing in suggested music from the Zune Marketplace. The updated Zune software will also enable instant streaming of high-definition movies, allowing you to watch some Zune Marketplace movies in HD, with no download time, directly on a Windows PC.

    See the rest of the press release @

  • System Center v.Next – eval program signup now available


    The Microsoft® Configuration Manager team is pleased to announce that applications are now being accepted for participation in the Configuration Manager v.Next Community Evaluation Program (CEP). The goal of this program is to provide early adopters a streamlined approach to evaluating Configuration Manager v.Next.

    For customer and partners who want to efficiently manage implementation, test scenarios, discover and contribute to best practices, the CEP provides a structured approach for connecting with the product group and a community of peers. As a member of the Configuration Manager v.Next community, you will be asked to participate through the sharing of your learnings, questions, and experiences.

    See the full details of the program at

  • Introducing the TechNet Lightweight Library

    Do you dig being eight to ten levels deep in our library and nested tree control?  No?  Well, our team has been working on some “lighter weight” versions of the library.  Here are a couple of example screen shots.  The first is on some troubleshooting information for the Windows Server 2008 R2 DHCP service.  The second is the same information but with the lightweight library.  Which do you prefer?

    I personally like the screen real estate usage for the new library.  Notice on the tree control we are literally 10+ levels deep in the structure.  You end up managing the navigation window more than focusing on the content in the body of information. 

    Want to talk to one of the developers for the TechNet Library Experience (LEX)?  Head on over to Jeff Braaten’s Blog at and let him know what you like and dislike.  And please, take their survey.  It’s only seven questions.  You can handle it.

    One last thing, if you really want something changed, let Jeff and his crew know now.  The lightweight library you see is technically a beta so any bugs or feedback you have is very much appreciated right now.

    Before screenshot


    Lightweight version


  • Keep Dreaming Jag Lovers


    See the details on the electric supercar at  Be sure and check out the gallery of pics while you are there.

  • SBS “Aurora” Beta – now available for download

    Windows Small Business Server 2008Help Protect Business Data

    • Computer Backups Perform an automatic daily backup of computers in the network and the server itself.
    • Simplified Recovery Restore individual files, folders, an entire PC, or the entire Windows Small Business Server with quick, easy- to-use disaster recovery tools.
    • Controlled Access Safeguard important data and decide who can create and access new shared folders of documents and/or multimedia files from any computer in the network.

    Simplify Small Business IT

    • Flexible Storage Quickly increase storage capacity as business requirements change over time. Windows Small Business Server, Aurora provides your customers with increased reliability to protect against drive errors that could lead to data corruption.
    • Simplified Management From one administrative console, get a comprehensive view of the health and security of client computers and servers in the network, making it easier to manage common IT tasks and address technology issues before they occur.

    Increase Business Productivity

    • Easy Manageability Take advantage of the familiar Windows-based experience and leverage your existing IT skills to effectively use the device right out of the box.
    • Run the Necessary Applications Have access to the large Windows Server 2008 R2 ecosystem of applications. Also, leverage the upcoming community of add-ins.
    • Connection to Online Services Easily extend your server’s functionality by quickly connecting to online services and applications
    • Work Virtually Anywhere, Anytime Access files and documents from inside and outside the office through any common web browser using Remote Web Access.
    • Better Together Get more done by smoothly running a small business IT with a server that works great together with Windows 7 and Office 2010.

    Greater Business Insight

    • Information Organization Streamline document access and control information sharing using a centralized data repository that can be accessed from any computer on the network.
    • Enhanced Support for Line-of-Business Applications with Premium Add On Provides a powerful data management and analysis solution that makes it possible to use many server-based business applications or run a vast number of line-of-business applications on an additional server.

    Go get the download @

  • Forefront Unified Access Gateway (UAG) Update 2 – now available

    forefrontMicrosoft Forefront Unified Access Gateway (UAG) Update 2 is an update to Forefront UAG that provides the following functionality updates and other improvements:

    • Citrix publishing support—Forefront UAG fully supports Citrix Presentation Server 4.5 and its replacement Citrix XenApp 5.0.
    • Citrix client computer support—Forefront UAG supports client computers with 64-bit operating systems accessing Citrix XenApp applications.
    • Client Components—The Forefront UAG SSL Application Tunneling component is now supported on 64-bit Windows 7 operating systems for 32-bit applications.
    • Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)—Forefront UAG fully supports publishing remote desktops using VDI.
    • SSTP user and group access control—Forefront UAG now provides a finer authorization mechanism allowing administrators to authorize individual users or groups for SSTP access.
    • SSL handshake—Forefront UAG now provides better handling of the SSL handshake including the case when the application server requires client certificate credentials for the negotiation.
    • MAC address support—Forefront UAG Network Connector supports a wider range of network adapters with a larger valid MAC address range.

    See the rest of the instructions and information @

  • SCVMM Virtual Machine Servicing Tool v3.0 – now available for download

    scvmm_r2_logoVirtual Machine Servicing Tool 3.0 helps you reduce IT costs by making it easier to update your offline virtual machines, templates, and virtual hard disks with the latest operating system and application patches—without introducing vulnerabilities into your IT infrastructure.

    This Solution Accelerator includes the following components:

    • Brief Overview. Available online only on Microsoft TechNet. Summary for business and technical managers that briefly explains how this Solution Accelerator can fit into an organization’s IT infrastructure management strategy.
    • VMServicing_x64 and VMServicing_x86. Setup files for the tool, for 64 bit and 32 bit versions of Windows with Microsoft® System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) 2008 or 2008 R2.
    • Virtual Machine Servicing Tool Getting Started Guide. Provides information about how the tool works, explains prerequisites for the tool, and describes how to install and configure the tool.
    • VM_Servicing_Tool_3.0_Release_Notes.rtf. Notes provide information about this release, describe known issues in the tool, and include feedback instructions.

    Go get it @

  • Windows Phone 7 - Release to Manufacturing !!!

    windows phone WP_Brd_Blu_v_rgbToday is the day that the Windows Phone team has been driving towards, and we’re very excited to say that we’ve reached the biggest milestone for our internal team – the release to manufacturing (RTM) of Windows Phone 7!  While the final integration of Windows Phone 7 with our partners’ hardware, software, and networks is underway, the work of our internal engineering team is largely complete. 

    See the full story at

  • Photographers at Microsoft Volume 2 - now on sale


    Our October Giving Campaign is starting a few days early with this book.  Check out the preview, what the book is all about, and of course consider buying!

  • The Windows Phone 7 Team dances, too !!!

    The WP7 Team Thrills

    I have seen report after report that it’s lame for the devs to have a party, parade, etc.  People, if you shipped a product you would want to blow off some steam, too.  I can think of no better way than to laugh and dance.  Enjoy.

  • Mirage?

    And by the way, the video above is an enthusiast video created for the London Secret CinemaLawrence of Arabia” event last week. 

  • IE9 Beta Product Guide – essential download

    With Windows® Internet Explorer® 9, your websites look and perform as if they were native to Microsoft® Windows. Today’s websites and browsers only use 10 percent of what your PC offers, but with Internet Explorer 9 you can tap into the power of your whole PC so your websites shine. Taking full advantage of your PC’s hardware through Windows, you can enjoy graphically rich and immersive experiences that are as fast and responsive as native applications installed on your PC.


    With a new, streamlined user experience, you can focus on the websites you love with a clean look that integrates seamlessly with Windows 7. A robust set of built-in security, privacy and reliability technologies keep you safer and your browsing experience uninterrupted. And for web developers, support for HTML5 and modern web standards architected to take advantage of the graphics processing unit (GPU) means that the same markup not only works across the web, but runs faster and delivers a richer experience
    through Windows and Internet Explorer 9.

    This guide outlines new features in Internet Explorer 9, highlighting the top features, and provides additional information on features specific for end users, developers, and IT professionals. Read on to learn more about how Internet Explorer 9 unlocks the Beauty of the Web (

    Get the guide @ in PDF format.

  • Microsoft PowerPivot RTM–now available for download

    Excel2010_bLMicrosoft® PowerPivot for Microsoft® Excel 2010 is a data analysis tool that delivers unmatched computational power directly within the software users already know and love — Microsoft® Excel. You can transform mass quantities of data with incredible speed into meaningful information to get the answers you need in seconds. You can effortlessly share your findings with others. You can:

    • Process large data sets (often millions of rows) with about the same performance as processing a few hundred rows by leveraging the PowerPivot in-memory engine and its efficient compression algorithms.
    • Integrate data from a multitude of sources, including corporate databases, spreadsheets, reports, text files, and Internet data feeds.
    • Go beyond standard Excel expressions and use PowerPivot’s Data Analysis Expressions (DAX) language to perform powerful data manipulations. Follow relationships between tables as in a database and define sophisticated calculations using familiar and intuitive expressions.
    • Interactively explore, analyze, and create reports without depending on expert knowledge and specialty training by using native Excel 2010 functionality such as PivotTables, slicers, and other familiar analysis features.

    Go get it @

  • Springboard Virtual Roundtable – Migrating from IE6 on XP to Windows 7 and IE8

    ie8_h2_rgbDeploying Windows® 7, but still running Web applications based on Internet Explorer 6?

    Join us live at 9:00 AM Pacific Time on Thursday, September 30, 2010 for a virtual, interactive roundtable discussion on migration strategies, standards, and support for organizations moving from Internet Explorer 6 to Internet Explorer 8.

    As organizations deploy Windows 7, many still depend on web applications that were designed for Internet Explorer 6. Will they still work, and what can you do when they don’t? Join a panel of IT Professionals, Microsoft specialists and technical experts to discuss best practices to simplify and accelerate the migration to Internet Explorer 8. Topics will include an explanation of the causes of and solutions for application compatibility issues (including policy, code, and virtualization solutions), an introduction to tools, and a review of best practices.

    Ask your questions live during the event with our online tool - or submit your questions in advance to

  • The Lotus Elite pulls into Paris


    Yummy. Info @

  • Windows SBS 7 – now available for Beta testing on Connect



  • IE9 Beta now available for download


    There are over a billion Windows® customers in the world today. Most of them spend more time browsing the web than any other activity on their computer. We build Windows Internet Explorer® for these customers. Our focus is on making sure that the number one activity that customers do is as compelling an experience as the native applications installed on their computers. In designing Internet Explorer 9, we have optimized the browsing experience for the Windows customer. This focus has informed everything that we have done in planning, developing, and releasing the latest version of Internet Explorer.

    See for IE9 information and the link to the download.  You can also hit for the download.

    The IE9 team has their blog post on the release at  Then there’s the Press information area at

    Lastly, be sure and checkout for a nice little diversion. Enjoy.

  • Cute Hamster

  • Beautiful and Deadly


    Might want to rethink a trip to Bermuda this weekend.

  • Imagine Cup 2011 IT Challenge – Students enter now !!!

    imagine cup 2011The object of this challenge is to highlight the art and science of developing, deploying, and maintaining IT systems that are efficient, functional, robust, and secure. Simply put, we want to see who really knows their stuff when it comes to IT systems. We’re talking genuine IT geniuses. Information technology experts. The best of the best. Think it’s you? Well, it just could be. 

    Technology is everywhere. Of course, you probably knew that already. But we're ready to test your brainpower on some things you may not know. From having an intimate knowledge of massive enterprise infrastructures to managing diverse customer needs and scenarios, the IT Challenge puts the world's brightest technical minds to the test.

    See full details on Matt Hester’s blog at