Keith Combs' Blahg

Ramblings from another nerd on the grid

January, 2011

  • IBM Centennial Film: They Were There - People who changed the way the world works


  • Come Fly With Me!


    Is this an automobile or a jet?  You owe it to yourself to checkout the wonderful gallery on Swoosh!

    If you are feeling exotic

  • “Long time listener, first time caller”

    TalkTechNetFor anyone hosting a “radio show”, those words are certainly music.  Yesterday Matt Hester and I hosted the first Talk TechNet show.  Our guest was Jeremy Moskowitz and we had a great time chatting it up online and on the phone.  Attendance of the show was very good and I wanted to thank all of you for attending and being a great audience. 

    Here are some observations of mine, as well as some feedback that came in on the evaluations we received:

    • Publication of the 1-800 number - for years we’ve given people the ability to call into our webcasts in the event Live Meeting audio wasn’t working for you.  Our process and procedures were set around that mode because it helps keep our cost down.  We broke the process yesterday.  We would still love for you to tune in via Live Meeting, but considering it’s a show where the audience asks a question on the phone, Live Meeting isn’t going to work for that.  I am looking into Live Meeting two way audio, email confirmations with the 800 number and PIN, a static phone number and pin that doesn’t change, and placing the call-in number on the slide for the show duration.
    • Live Meeting Question/Answer Panel - I realized well into the show that the Live Meeting QA panel is ok for asking questions, but it is going to be rather mediocre for answers.  All of the answers to questions our guest handles will be contained in the recording of the show. If you don’t want to call in, that’s cool.  We’ll still watch the questions coming in this way and try to answer as many as we can.
    • Keep it Short - I noticed in the eval comments that someone wanted us to keep the answers shorter and more concise.  I agree with that and felt the same way.  As the host and moderator, I will try to cut in and make that happen.  This will give us the opportunity to take more questions and provide more answers.
    • Demos and Technical Level - it appears some of you still want demonstrations.  I get that.  The proper venue for that is a webcast where the presenter has content, virtual machines, etc. ready to go.  Right now we aren’t doing that.  I have entertained the thought but for now I want to make sure everyone understands the intent is to have the conversations with the cost of entry being a telephone.  I don’t want to force people to a computer and Live Meeting.  As for the technical depth, this will ebb and flow depending on the guest, the question at hand, and their familiarity with the problem and subject.  I’ll certainly monitor the questions and answers and see how we do.  With only one show under our belt, I think we need a few more to see how this is going to work.
    • Are we helping? - I am of course interested in the shows ability to help you get things done.  Here’s a direct quote,

    “I actually had a question answered. This webcast just helped my project move over a hurdle.”


    More information

    I’ve been putting together a number of locations you will want to be aware of.  We have a landing page, blog and twitter account as usual.  Here are their locations and the intent of each.

    • Landing page - most of you have probably already seen  This page will provide the calendar of episodes.  You’ll be able to see what’s coming or grab a replay of a previous episode.  For the coming shows, I’ll provide registration links for you convenience.  Replays are currently in .MP3 format only and I am simply point to the RSS feed in case you want to subscribe with a capable player.
    • Blog - I created a standalone blog at  It’s purpose is life is to host the replays of each episode via the RSS feed there.  If we start doing live webcam video, or demos in Live Meeting, I will create additional feeds for those types of media.  Until then, it’s basically the podcast channel for the show.
    • Twitter account - since I was creating landing pages, blogs and other stuff I figured I might as well create a twitter account, too.  It is of course at and I’ll post fascinating little tweets about the show.  I would also like to take questions via twitter or a hashtag so we’ll get to that in another show or two.  I welcome your input on that.

    That’s it for now.  Talk to you tomorrow on the next show.  The topic is System Center Configuration Manager with Jason Sandys.

  • Talk TechNet Landing Page Launches


    See for the radio show launch page.  In this area of TechNet you can see the coming lineup of guests and topics we are booking.  Feel free to send me ideas of people you want me to try and get on the show.  Registration is open for the first four shows and I’ll have the entire month of February live very soon.

    I’m still making some decisions on the RSS feeds for those of you that want to subscribe with a Zune, Windows Phone, iPad, iPhone, iPod, or other player.  Most likely I’ll just provide a .MP3 feed initially and add .MP4 later if we start shooting video.

    Talk to you very soon!

  • is Intel’s Director of Creative Innovation


    Press release at  Be sure to check out his shoes.  I’m thinking they are Sandy Bridge powered or something.

  • System Center Service Manager – Exchange Connector - ready for download

    SysCnt_h_rgbThe System Center Service Manager – Exchange Connector connects Service Manager to Exchange for processing incoming emails related to incidents and change requests.

    The emails can update the incident action log or change the status of an incident to resolved or closed. Incoming emails with special keywords allow a change request reviewer to approve or reject a review activity and activity implementers can mark activities assigned to them as completed. The SendEmail solution allows analysts to send messages to users via email from the console.

    Feature Summary
    This release is compatible with Service Manager 2010 SP1. It contains the final set of features for this version, including

    • Create incident from email
    • Update incident action log from email
    • Resolve or close incidents from email
    • Approve/reject change requests from email
    • Update change request “action log” from email
    • Mark manual activities completed from email
    • Add email file attachment to work items as attachments
    • Send notifications to users from the console

    Go get it @

  • The Office Resource Kit (ORK) - updated download now available

    ofc-brand_h_rgbAre you an expert on all facets of deploying Office 2010?  If so, you’re a rare bird.  If you are like the rest of us, you are probably looking for help.  The Office Resource Kit (ORK) is an invaluable resource for planning and deploying this product.  It has four major sections described as follows:

    1. An overview of the Setup architecture for Office 2010, setup sequence of events, language-neutral design and deployment of multiple languages, customization methods, required local installation source, and updates process.
    2. Information about how to plan the installation of the Microsoft Office 2010 suites, and how to migrate the user data, such as user and computers settings and documents created from the previously installed versions of Microsoft Office.
    3. Guidelines about items to consider before you deploy Office 2010.
    4. Overview of Microsoft Volume Licensing and Office Activation Technologies for Office 2010 and how describes how to plan for volume activation.

    Go get the 475 pages @  And don’t forget the Office tech center at This is a wonderful site chalk full of great information.

  • Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit (MAP) 5.5 - ready for download

    The Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit (MAP) is an agentless, automated, multi-product planning and assessment tool for quicker and easier desktop and server migrations and upgrades. MAP provides detailed readiness assessment reports and executive proposals with extensive hardware and application information, and actionable recommendations to help organizations accelerate their IT infrastructure planning process, and gather more detail on assets that reside in their current environment. MAP also provides server utilization data for Hyper-V server virtualization planning; identifying server placements, and performing virtualization candidate assessments, including ROI analysis for server consolidation with Hyper-V. Learn more.

    MAP is one of the tools provided by the Microsoft Solution Accelerators team. The Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit, Microsoft Deployment Toolkit, and Security Compliance Manager provide tested guidance and automated tools to help organizations plan, securely deploy, and manage new Microsoft technologies—easier, faster, and at less cost. All are freely available, and fully-supported by Microsoft. Learn more.

    For home users and users with a few computers to migrate, use the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor to understand the readiness of your computer for Windows 7.

    The MAP Toolkit includes the following components:

    • Microsoft_Assessment_and_Planning_Toolkit_Setup.exe. Installation package containing the tool, release notes, Getting Started Guide, Software Usage Tracker Guide and toolkit help (chm file).
    • readme_en.htm. Available as a separate download. Provides information to read before installing the MAP Toolkit, including installation prerequisites and known issues.
    • Getting_Started_Guide.en.docx. Provides information about toolkit installation, environment preparation, and assessment scenarios supported by toolkit wizards and the UI.
    • Usage_Tracker_Guide.en.doc. Helps users configure the MAP Toolkit for using the software usage tracker feature. Once the tool is configured, this guide shows the user how to complete the inventory and analyze the results. Available as a separate download.
    • Available as a separate download. Contains sample databases and training materials.
    • Available as a separate download. Contains sample reports and proposals.

    Go get it @

  • “Talk TechNet” Episode 2 - Sys Center Config Mgr with Jason Sandys - Register Now!


    imageNext Friday is Talk TechNet Episode 2.  Matt Hester and I are the hosts and each week we’ll have a guest on the show that is a subject matter expert on some facet of Microsoft products and technologies.  We are starting off the show with twice weekly episodes on Wednesday and Friday and we’ll quickly move to a Monday, Wednesday, Friday format.

    For our second show on 1/28/2011 we invited Jason Sandys.    Jason is a Microsoft MVP and SME on the management product System Center Configuration Manager. Jason is a Managing Consultant for Catapult Systems and blogs about infrastructure topics.

    This is a live show and you are invited to call in with a question on the subject for the day.  In this case we’ll be talking about SCCM. Think of this like a sports talk show for IT Pros.

    Broadcast Date: 1/28/2011

    Show Time: 9am PST

    Length: 60 minutes

    Registration Link and Details:

    We’ll be creating a landing page for the show at soon.  As soon as it’s available I’ll update you here on the location.  Each show will be live.  Replays will be available in a variety of formats within forty eight hours.  We’ll also have an RSS feed if you want to subscribe with your player or smartphone.

    Be sure to tell all of you friends and colleagues on Twitter, Facebook, etc.  You can follow me on Twitter via @Keith_Combs. Talk to you next week.

  • “Talk TechNet” Episode 1 - GPOs with Jeremy Moskowitz - Register Now!


    imageNext Wednesday we launch the “Talk TechNet” show.  Keith Combs and I are the hosts and each week we’ll have a guest on the show that is a subject matter expert on some facet of Microsoft products and technologies.  We are starting off the show with twice weekly episodes on Wednesday and Friday and we’ll quickly move to a Monday, Wednesday, Friday format.

    For our inaugural show on 1/26/2011 we invited Jeremy Moskowitz.  Jeremy is a wonderful speaker on many of the Microsoft products and has strong skills with Group Policy.  Be sure to checkout his site at

    This is a live show and you are invited to call in with a question on the subject for the day.  In this case we’ll be talking about Group Policy. Think of this like a sports talk show for IT Pros.

    We’ll be creating a landing page for the show at soon.  As soon as it’s available I’ll update you here on the location.  Each show will be live.  Replays will be available in a variety of formats within forty eight hours.  We’ll also have an RSS feed if you want to subscribe with your player or smartphone.

    Be sure to tell all of you friends and colleagues on Twitter, Facebook, etc.  You can follow Matt on Twitter via @matthewhester or Keith  via @Keith_Combs. Talk to you next week.

  • Dig this slate device - noteslate®



    I have often wondered if I have a device like this, what my doodles will be like.  I am willing to find out.  Looks really sweet.  See for more information but be warned.  Their site is getting hammered right now so you might want to wait a bit.  It appears the first release isn’t until June and they aren’t taking orders yet. 

  • OneNote Mobile for iPhone now available!

    OneNote for iPHone sections list   OneNote for iPhone image showing trip planning

    See for more information. 

  • Have your Lexus LFA on order?


    It’ll do 202mph for $375,000. Available in a variety of colors.

  • I Love This Rule

    apple-fullI was intrigued by the Apple promotion for a $10,000 gift card for the person that downloads app number 10,000,000,000.  Even more interesting is the fact you can enter without downloading using the form at  There’s a little checkbox at the bottom of the form that you agree to the official rules.  Intrigued even more, I took a look at the rules at  Section 3 is particularly amusing.  Here’s the direct quote:

    Timing.  The Promotion shall begin on January 6, 2011 and ends with the downloading of the 10 billionth app (“Promotion Period”). For purposes of the Promotion, the downloading of the 10 billionth app is considered to be either the downloading of the 10 billionth app from the App Store or the receipt of the non-purchase entry after the download of the 9,999,999,999th app, whichever comes first. Only entries submitted in this time period will be accepted. Sponsor’s computer is the official time keeping device for this promotion.

    Someone has a sense of humor. Good luck submitting your entry.

  • Installing Windows Server 2008 R2 to a ThinkPad Ultrabay hard drive

    ws2008 r2 blog logoA colleague from overseas sent me a series of emails today as we were troubleshooting his installation.  In this case he is using a USB stick to install Windows Server 2008 R2 into a .VHD file.  The machine he is using is the Lenovo ThinkPad W510.  There were a series of failures and we started knocking them off one by one.  The most perplexing issue was the easiest to fix and I don’t recall documenting it here on my blog.  I might have mentioned it in comments long ago, I don’t remember.

    Sometimes installing software means you need to know the hardware pretty well.  For instance, getting the install to get past a certain step meant using the W510 powered USB 2.0 port on the back.  I stumbled across this long ago so I have it tucked in my personal best practices but it might not be well known.

    The install proceeded but on first boot would fail.  The dynamic disk is 30GB and there’s 100GB free on the drive used for the storage of the .VHD.  The volume where the .VHD is being stored is not encrypted so a BitLocker incompatibility isn’t it.  Then I slapped my head and shot off the solution in email.

    A tour of the ThinkPad W510 BIOS, and all recent ThinkPads for that matter, shows you the list of devices you can use to boot from.  In this case, the second hard drive in the Ultrabay Hard Drive Adapter is not listed as a device you can boot from.  Normally this would be fine for data storage, but in this case, we’re storing a .VHD file that is a container for the operating system.  So simply adding the drive to the list of bootable devices solved the problem and the installation completes.

    I don’t have the exact technical explanation but I’m sure it’s a check by the Windows Boot Manager on the storage device.  Sure seems like a low level check.

  • The Toyota Prius C Concept


    Pretty cool concept car. It’ll be interesting to see what comes to market.

  • Discussing Security with Microsoft CSIO Bret Arsenault

    A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of sitting down and talking with Bret Arsenault.  Bret is the Chief Information Security Officer for Microsoft and has been with the company many years.  In fact, if you look closely behind him, you’ll see the huge twenty year crystal behind him.  It’s the one on the far left.

    As you might imagine, Bret has held a number of interesting positions during his career here at Microsoft and has a lot of experience dealing with a wide range of technology issues.  He was kind enough to let me ask him some questions about how he deals with security in Microsoft and I think you'll find his answers interesting.  The following interview is slightly over ten minutes.  I hope you enjoy it.

    Bret Arsenault - Microsoft CSIO - 10 minute 29 seconds

  • The Motorola Atrix

    imageRemember the Motorola DynaTAC?  How about the Motorola StarTAC?  Maybe the Motorola Razer?  Well Motorola is still alive and kicking and just announced a fascinating dual core phone called the Atrix. 

    Motorola hasn’t put the exact specs and features on their site at, but that isn’t stopping them from advertising during the NFL game today. Here are a few goodies we do know:

    • NVIDIA Tegra Dual core processor
    • 4” QHD 960x540 display
    • Android Froyo 2.2 OS
    • 1GB RAM
    • Up to 48GB Memory
    • 5 Megapixel camera
    • 1930 mAh battery
    • HD Multimedia dock for HD playback on a High Def TV
    • Laptop dock and “webtop” environment shell

    See the article and video at if you want more information.

  • CES 2011 Day 3 - electrifying stuff

    I’m giggling just a bit because I thought today was going to be a boring product announcement day.  Boy was I wrong. Here’s the perfect toy to liven up any product demonstration or presentation.  Grin.  Behold, the Taser C2.  Now in a range of attractive colors.  Be sure and get the package with extra cartridges, and the training cartridge. Keep this away from Matt Hester.


    Next up is the Ford Focus Electric.

    • All-new Ford Focus Electric is the first fuel-free, rechargeable passenger car from Ford and one of five new electrified vehicles Ford will deliver by 2013 in North America and Europe
    • Focus Electric will offer a mile-per-gallon equivalent better than Chevrolet Volt and competitive with other battery electric vehicles
    • The all-electric Focus is capable of fully recharging in three to four hours at home using the available wall-mounted 240-volt charge station – charging in half the time of the Nissan Leaf
    • The new Focus Electric offers value charging, powered by Microsoft, to help owners in the U.S. charge their vehicles at the cheapest utility rates, lowering the cost of ownership
    • Focus Electric provides a special version of MyFord Touch driver connect technology especially for electric customers and introduces MyFord Mobile, a smartphone app and website for monitoring key vehicle functions and charge settings while mobile


    See for more information on this interesting new machine.

    And on the storage front, how about a 750GB 7200rpm drive for the extra bay in your laptop?  Meet the Western Digital Scorpio Black 750GB 7200rpm 2.5” laptop hard drive.  This should hold a boat load of virtual machines, music and videos.


    So far the ugly duckling award goes to the SiliconDust HDHomeRun Prime device.  See the Engadget Gallery at and you’ll see what I mean.  Timothy Daleo has some really good pictures at as well.  Even though the Prime unit isn’t flashy, it’s a network device so you can stuff it in a wiring closet out of sight.  It’s probably going to be the next HD tuner I purchase.  CableCard, three tuners, and available on the network to a laptop, desktop or small form factor device running Windows 7 Media Center.

    Here’s a picture of Prime from Timothy’s site.

    And of course we unveiled the Microsoft Touch Mouse, a new multitouch device designed for Windows 7 that lets people click, flick, scroll and swipe, making it easy and fun to interact with their PCs. Born from the Mouse 2.0 project conducted by Microsoft Research and the Applied Sciences Group, the Touch Mouse combines the virtues of a mouse with the rich natural language of gesture that lets people interact with Windows 7 in a more intuitive way.msft_touch_mouse

    See the press release at

  • CES 2011 Day 2 - more eye catching goodies

    VZW_LTE_HTC_ThunderboltLike yesterday, there were a number of products that were announced and shown off today.  Verizon seemed to be everywhere with their wireless LTE announcements and devices. 

    The new HTC Thunderbolt is a looker.  It looks very much like the HTC EVO to me and considering how popular that phone has been on the Sprint 4G network, I’m sure Verizon will do very well with it. 

    Verizon Wireless also announced the LG Revolution.  Looks like a great phone, too.  I can’t wait to see both in person.  Here are some of the specs on the HTC Thunderbolt:

    • 4G LTE – customers can expect download speeds of 5 to 12 Mbps and upload speeds of 2 to 5 Mbps in 4G Mobile Broadband coverage areas
    • 4.3-inch WVGA display
    • Mobile Hotspot capability – share 4G connection with up to 8 Wi-Fi devices
    • Android 2.2 platform
    • 32GB microSD card included
    • HTC Sense 2.0 with new features, including Fast Boot
    • Built-in kickstand for easy media viewing
    • Dolby and SRS surround sound
    • Fully integrated Skype mobile experience
    • 720p HD video recording
    • DLNA streaming multimedia support

    Next up is the Xi3 Modular Computer. What an enticing little box. I mean look at it.  Small and light.  Check out the website.  They have some interesting wall and LCD panel mounts.  They also have some interesting connectable Z3RO modules. I smell another multi-module Hanselbot in the making.


    And if you like small single purpose devices, look no further than the Razer Switchblade.  This is a kick ass little gaming device with a fascinating keyboard that changes the LED keys depending on the game being played.  I think it’s a very innovative design.  Be sure to checkout the gallery for some of the other games being played and pay particular attention to the keyboard changes in the pictures.  Very kewl.

    See Engadget’s article on this little beast at


    Last and certainly not least is the ASUS Transformer.  I’ll be darned if I can find the announcement for this slate on the ASUS Global or USA site.  When ASUS decides to post a proper announcement on one of their websites and makes it discoverable, I’ll try to come back here and update the link on the picture. 

    As you can see below, the ASUS EEE Pad Transformer can be docked into a keyboard or used as a handheld slate device.  Like all of the devices in this category, it’ll be a little longer before they hit the market which is fine with me.  I’m not rushing to buy anything at the moment and will wait for the reviews to come in.  Sure looks like an interesting device.


  • CES 2011 Day 1 - some eye catching hardware

    Two devices caught my eye today.  First up is the ultra chic Samsung 9 Series laptop.  Like the Apple MacBook Air, this baby just oozes kewl.  I like it.  Too bad I’m already set for light laptops for a while.  Let me know if one of you plunks down some hard earned cash and can offer some first hand intelligence on the blade.  Sure looks sweet.


    The second device announcement that intrigued me was the LG Optimus Black.  I know, I know.  It isn’t a Windows Phone 7 device but I’m a sucker for cool thin smartphones.  This is a nice looking device.  And who knows, the week isn’t over.  Maybe LG has another device up it’s sleeve.  Like the laptop above I’m already committed to mobile devices for some time, but it’s nice to see a design like this hit the market.  Let me know if you get one and want to offer some Pros and Cons.


  • Beware of his swords

    If you watch this and the 2009 show reel, you’ll notice AZO has a number of swords hanging on the wall.  He doesn’t show off his skill with them much, but I have no doubt he can use them.

  • Vizio outs iPad competitor?

  • Light Saber little boy?

  • Technology I Want In 2011 - some real, some fantasy


    1. 8GB laptop SoDIMMs
    2. 30” Dell Ultrasharp IPS LCD panel
    3. TiVo Premier XL
    4. Holodeck
    5. Gibson Les Paul Custom
    6. 3TB Hitachi Deskstar
    7. 300 or 400GB Intel SSD
    8. 64GB WP7 Certified MicroSD
    9. .5” thin 14” IPS display Windows laptop
    10. 150/35 FIOS Ultimate