Keith Combs' Blahg

Ramblings from another nerd on the grid

November, 2011

  • Mayan 2012 Apocalypse Survival Kit

    If you are worried the ancient Mayans are right and the end is coming in 2012, you might want a good survival kit.  For starters, Gerber has a nice little kit of various blades you might be interested in.


    Pre-order the kit or order individual survival tools at

  • Microsoft Management Summit 2012 - registration now open


  • System Center Operations Manager 2012 Release Candidate - now available for download

    SysCnt_h_rgbOperations Manager 2012 provides infrastructure monitoring that’s flexible and cost-effective, helps ensure the predictable performance and availability of vital applications, and offers comprehensive monitoring for your datacenter and cloud, both private and public. Operations Manager helps you better manage your datacenters by:

    • Delivering flexible and cost effective enterprise-class monitoring and diagnostics while reducing the total cost of ownership by leveraging commodity hardware, configurations, and heterogeneous environments.
    • Helping to ensure the availability of business-critical applications and services through market-leading .NET application performance monitoring and diagnostics and JEE application health monitoring.
    • Providing a comprehensive view of datacenters, and private and public clouds.

    Features Summary

    • Setup - Operations Manager 2012 has a new Setup wizard. For important instructions about how to install Operations Manager 2012, see Install Operations Manager 2012 Beta.
    • Highly Available Management Group Out of the Box - In Operations Manager 2012, all management servers are peers; there is no root management server. The workload is split among all management servers in a management group, which provides high availability without requiring a cluster.
    • Resource Pools - A resource pool provides the ability to distribute workloads across multiple management servers, such as availability, network device monitoring, distributed monitor health rollup, and group calculation.
    • Agent Configuration - Operations Manager 2012 provides an easy method for configuring agents to report to multiple management servers by adding an Operations Manager Agent application to Control Panel on each agent-managed computer.
    • Operations Console - You will notice some subtle changes to the Operations console. The Actions pane is now the Tasks pane, and includes a new section called Navigation Tasks that makes it easy for you to open views for a selected object. The Tasks pane offers two tabs: one for actions and one for resources and Help links. The Navigation and Tasks panes can be hidden or revealed instantly by clicking the arrow in the title bar of the pane.
    • Web Console - Operations Manager 2012 introduces a new Web console. In Operations Manager 2012, all Operations Manager views are available in the Web console.
    • Network Monitoring - Operations Manager 2012 provides the ability to discover and monitor network routers and switches, including the network interfaces and ports on those devices and the virtual LAN (VLAN) that they participate in. You can also delete discovered network devices and prevent the deleted network devices from being rediscovered the next time discovery runs. For more information, see Monitor Network Devices.
    • Application Monitoring - In Operations Manager 2012, you can monitor ASP.NET applications in server- and client-side environments to get details about application availability and performance. Configure monitoring settings, such as polling frequency and transaction threshold. Then use results, including how frequently a problem is occurring, how a server was performing when a problem occurred, and the distributed chain for a transaction in question to pinpoint problems and solutions. For more information, see Monitor a .NET Application.
    • Dashboard Views - As part of the network monitoring and application monitoring capabilities, Operations Manager 2012 includes new comprehensive dashboard views that combine multiple panels of information into a single view. In Operations Manager 2012, you can add the new dashboard views to My Workspace.
    • Display Dashboard Views using SharePoint - The Operations Manager web part displays specified dashboard views and can be added to Microsoft SharePoint 2010 sites. For more information, see Add a Dashboard View to a SharePoint Site.
    • Creating Dashboard Views - Dashboard views have been significantly upgraded in Operations Manager 2012 from their capabilities in Operations Manager 2007 R2, including custom layouts and nested dashboard views. For more information, see Create a Dashboard View.
    • Operations Manager Module for Windows PowerShell - Operations Manager 2012 provides a Windows PowerShell 2.0 module containing a full set of new cmdlets. The cmdlets in this module are only compatible with Operations Manager 2012. You can recognize the Operations Manager 2012 cmdlets by the "SC" preceding the noun. For additional information about the Operations Manager 2012 cmdlets, open the Operations Manager command shell and type Get-Help about_OpsMgr_WhatsNew. For information about how the Operations Manager 2007 cmdlets map to the Operations Manager 2012 cmdlets, type Get-Help about_OpsMgr_Cmdlet_Names.To use the Operations Manager 2012 cmdlets, you must establish a connection to an Operations Manager management group. You can establish either a persistent connection in which you can run multiple cmdlets, or a temporary connection when running a single cmdlet. For more information about connections, open the Operations Manager Shell and type Get-Help about_OpsMgr_Connections.
    • UNIX- and Linux-based Computers - In Operations Manager 2012, the Discovery Wizard is easier to use for discovering UNIX- and Linux-based computers. You can now use Windows PowerShell to manage UNIX- and Linux-based computers, for more information, see the UNIX and Linux section in the release notes. High availability is also supported.
    • UNIX/Linux Shell Command Template Management Pack - This Management Pack implements authoring templates that allow the creation of rules, tasks, and monitors based on execution of shell commands on UNIX/Linux agents.
    • JEE Management Packs - These management packs monitor JEE (Java Enterprise Edition) application servers. Management packs are available for IBM WebSphere, Oracle WebLogic, Red Hat JBoss and Apache Tomcat.

    Go get it @

  • System Center Service Manager 2012 - beta now available for download

    SysCnt_h_rgbEnables Self-Service for Application Owners and End-Users
    Service Manager 2012 offers a customizable Service Catalog that provides you with access to standardized service offerings spanning applications and infrastructure. Through an integrated System Center Cloud Services Process Pack (coming soon), Service Manager 2012 empowers you with a self-service experience to request private cloud infrastructure capacity as appropriate to your business needs. Service Manager 2012 also offers automated approval workflows at the back-end to fulfill these resulting service requests (including VM requests) in a standardized manner. Finally, Service Manager 2012 offers you easy to use business and operational reporting capabilities through a data-warehouse that aggregates multiple data sources in your enterprise (including System Center, Active Directory, and SAP).

    Integrates People, Processes, and Information Across Enterprise Infrastructure and Applications Service Manager 2012 offers an easy-to-setup Configuration Management Database (CMDB) that standardizes the capture of relationships across infrastructure and applications, and helps to facilitate continued organizational compliance when changes occur. Service Manager 2012 offers two new connectors for System Center Orchestrator 2012 and System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 that enables you to deliver process automation across core private cloud scenarios, such as provisioning and service offering creation. Finally, the IT Governance, Risk and Compliance (IT GRC) solution for Service Manager 2012 will help you with the automation necessary to support your compliance programs.

    Standardizes Datacenter Processes with Workflows Designed Around Industry Best Practices
    Service Manager 2012 includes built in automated workflows for incident management, problem management, SLA management, and service request fulfillment. These can help you deliver predictable operational SLAs for your datacenter application and infrastructure services. With the expedited release cycles that cloud computing enables, it’s important to set up robust change control so that you can maintain the availability, performance, and reliability of your applications and infrastructure. Service Manager 2012 offers closed-loop change and release management to help you mitigate risks arising from high impact changes that span multiple application and infrastructure components.

    System Center Service Manager Authoring Tool (For SCSM 2012 Beta) The System Center Service Manager Authoring Tool is a tool for customization and extension of the built-in functionality in System Center Service Manager. This release supports modifying existing Process Management Packs and creating new Management Packs that define extensions to the Service Manager database for tracking additional information, customizations of forms or new forms, and new workflows. This release is available in 10 languages.
    This release is compatible with Service Manager 2012 beta. It contains the necessary changes to ensure the Authoring Tool is compatible with SCSM 2012 but does not contain a new feature set from prior releases.

    System Center Cloud Services Process Pack
    This process pack offers a self-service experience to facilitate private cloud capacity requests from your business unit IT application owners and end users, including the flexibility to request additional capacity as business demands increase.


    Go get it @

  • SQL Server® 2012 Express Release Candidate - now available for download

    SQL12_h_rgbThe Microsoft® SQL Server® 2012 RC0 Express is a powerful and reliable free data management system that delivers a rich set of features, data protection, and performance for embedded applications, lightweight Web Sites , applications, and local data stores. Designed for easy deployment and rapid prototyping, this download includes support for Sysprep, Microsoft's System Preparation Utility for Microsoft Windows operating system deployment.

    • LocalDB (MSI installer)
      • New to the Express family, LocalDB is a lightweight version of Express that has all its programmability features, yet runs in user mode and has a fast, zero-configuration installation and short list of pre-requisites. Use this if you need a simple way to create and work with databases from code. It can be bundled with Visual Studio, other Database Development tools or embedded with an application that needs local databases.
    • Express (Containing only the database engine)
      • The core Express database server. Use this if you need to accept remote connections or administer remotely.
    • Express with Tools (with LocalDB) Includes the database engine and SQL Server Management Studio Express)
      • This package contains everything needed to install and configure SQL Server as a database server. Choose either LocalDB or Express depending on your needs above.
    • QL Server Management Studio Express (Tools only)
      • This does not contain the database, but only the tools to manage SQL Server instances, including LocalDB, SQL Express, SQL Azure, etc. Use this if you already have the database and only need the management tools.
    • Express with Advanced Services (contains the database engine, Express Tools, Reporting Services, and Full Text Search)
      • This package contains all the components of SQL Express. This is a larger download than “with Tools,” as it also includes both Full Text Search and Reporting Services.

    Go get it @

  • HALO: Combat Evolved Anniversary - Guide Site now online


  • The “Ultrabook” Reviews are coming in

    Lenovo-IdeaPad-U300s-ultrabookMonths ago you probably heard about the “Ultrabook” initiative from Intel.  Phase One of this initiative appears to be nearly complete as several OEMs have launched new machines. Toshiba, Acer, ASUS and Lenovo have all introduced machines for the 2011 holiday season.  Phase II of the initiative will commence with the launch of the Intel “Ivy Bridge” processors in the first half of 2012.

    Several of the gadget and laptop review sites have received evaluation units and written about the pros and cons to the fall crop of Ultrabooks.  How do these machines match-up to the Apple MacBook Air?  Check out the reviews and see for yourself. 

    Acer S3

    ASUS Zenbook

    Lenovo IdeaPad U300s

    Toshiba Portege Z830

    Samsung Series 7 Chronos - not exactly an ultrabook, but interesting

  • What will you do next?

    Cool video from the XBOX team.

  • Ducati 1199 Panigale - Chess anyone?

  • Updated Diag and Recovery Toolset (DaRT) Documentation - now available


    Go get them @

  • Coolest tree house you’ve ever seen!


  • New Windows Phones Hit Store Shelves Today

    RadarNEW YORK — Nov. 7, 2011 — Consumers today can experience new Windows Phone 7.5, formerly code-named “Mango,” with a selection of sleek and stylish smartphones from HTC Corp. and Samsung, starting at just $49.99. Now available at AT&T, the, Samsung Focus S and Samsung Focus Flash are the newest additions to the Windows Phone portfolio, joining the HTC Radar 4G, available at T-Mobile USA Inc.

    Microsoft designed Windows Phone around one simple concept: People belong at the center of the phone experience. To demonstrate this approach, Microsoft put real people inside a giant six-story phone in New York City’s Herald Square to bring to life the phone’s key features and experiences. A life-size “Plants vs. Zombies” battle highlighted the phone’s rich Xbox LIVE gaming experience, while Far East Movement brought the Music + Video Hub to life with a live lunchtime concert for hundreds of fans in. The theme of the day — connecting people — was underscored when a New York man proposed to his girlfriend from inside the Me Tile of the giant phone.

    See todays full press release at  Get more information, pictures and videos at And don’t forget the product area at

  • Samsung Focus S - now available at


    You had me at 4.3” Super AMOLED™ Plus. Get yours now.

  • Where were you 10 years ago?


    Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary

  • Expression Encoder 4 SP2 - now available for download

    imageExpression Encoder is an advanced audio/video-encoding and live-broadcasting application especially suited for generating content that takes full advantage of the rich graphic and interactive capability of Microsoft Silverlight playback scenarios. You can also generate Windows Media video and audio files that are optimized for other web playback scenarios, or appropriate for playback on portable devices.

    Expression Encoder 4 SP2 provides support for Sandy Bridge graphics processors (Expression Encoder Pro with SP2 only), SRS audio, and adds the ability to manage publishing points, among other features, as well as bug fixes and stability enhancements. Also in this version, Expression Encoder Screen Capture no longer limits screen capture durations.

    Go get the bits and details @  More information @