Keith Combs' Blahg

Ramblings from another nerd on the grid

March, 2012

  • Microsoft iSCSI Software Target 3.3 - download available

    ws2008 r2 blog logoThe Microsoft iSCSI Software Target 3.3 provides storage (disks) over a TCP/IP network. It turns a computer running Windows Server into a storage device which provides shared block storage. You can use Microsoft iSCSI Software Target 3.3 to perform a variety of storage-related tasks, including the following:

    • Provide shared storage for Hyper-V to enable high availability and live migration
    • Consolidate storage for multiple application servers (i.e. Microsoft SQL Server or Hyper-V)
    • Provide shared storage for applications hosted on a Windows failover cluster
    • Enable diskless computers to boot remotely from a single operating system image using iSCSI
    The Microsoft iSCSI Software Target 3.3 is an economical solution suited for a development or test environment and a small, medium, or branch office production environment. It enables storage consolidation and sharing on a Windows Server by implementing the iSCSI (Internet Small Computer Systems Interface) protocol, which supports SCSI-block access to a storage device over a TCP/IP network. For details on how to manage iSCSI targets, see
    This download package includes the following items:
    • x64:
      • iSCSItarget_public.msi: Microsoft iSCSI Software Target 3.3 service component for Windows Server 2008 R2.
      • iSCSITargetClient_public.msi: Virtual Disk Service (VDS) provider, Volume Snapshot Service (VSS) provider, and high-performance computing (HPC) providers to support diskless boot in HPC clusters.
    • x86:
      • iSCSITargetClient_public.msi: VDS provider, VSS provider, and HPC providers to support diskless boot in HPC clusters.
    • Documentation:
      • iSCSItarget_Gstart_R2.doc: Microsoft iSCSI Software Target 3.3 Getting Started Guide
      • iSCSI_33_relnotes.doc: Microsoft iSCSI Software Target 3.3 Release Notes
    • Autorun.inf: Automatically starts Index.htm to display install options
    • Index.html: Main menu page for installing software.
    • Bkgd-page-servers-dynagrid.jpg: Used by Index.html.
    • Copyright.jpg: Used by Index.html.
    • Wsr2logo.bmp: Used by Index.html.

    Go get it @

  • The 2012 Samsung Series 9 notebook - NP900X3B-A01US mini review

    9The second generation Samsung Series 9 machines have landed on US shores.  I’ve been taking an opportunity to try one out and I must say, this is one fantastic machine.  It isn’t flawless but it’s probably the most competitive machine on the market to the Apple MacBook Air at this time.  As a result, the machine is already in high demand and the supply is rather low so finding one isn’t easy.  If you are looking for a sleek travel companion, this should be high on your list.

    Hey Good Looking

    Like the first generation of the Samsung Series 9 (SS9) machines, Samsung has created a couple of sexy machines in different sizes.  There’s the 13” and a 15”.  I am currently testing the 13” which is slightly smaller than the MacBook Air (MBA).

    The MBA is 12.8” wide.  The SS9 is 12.4” wide.  The MBA is 8.94 deep and the SS9 is close at 8.6.  The MBA is .61” high at it’s thickest point.  The SS9 measures .51” and it really feels much thinner.  The MBA is 2.96 pounds and the SS9 is 2.56.

    One thing you notice about the MBA is the rigid chassis and frame of the unibody construction.  ASUS also gets good marks for the rigid UX31.  The SS9 is extremely rigid as well.  The SS9 feels very solid in your hands as a result.

    15silverIt’s hard to describe the color Titan Silver.  It’s not really silver at all.  The exterior color is more of a blue slate gray.  The interior is the same color but they both have interesting property of changing some depending on the lighting conditions and angles of the light.  For instance, the interior looks almost black right now in the medium incandescent light of my den.  Out by the pool it looks more blue.  The machine is awesome looking.  The edge is polished and adds to the premium look and feel of the machine. See the picture down below in this article for a close up of the polished edge.

    At CES, there were a number of machines that had a different interior finish.  The interior I like is silver and I would definitely take that over the dark interior color.  I’ve been using ThinkPad's for years so I could do without another dark machine.

    The picture at left is the 15” in the silver finish I am referring to.  I really like that look because it doesn’t show dust and fingerprints as readily as the dark finish on the 13”.  I know it looks more like a MacBook Air but choice is the spice of life.  Hopefully there will be some choices on this when the 15” finally lands on US shores.

    The last thing I’d like to cover on looks is the backlit keyboard.  It is backlit, but barely.  You really can’t tell much unless you are in a really dark setting.  The first generation Samsung Series 9 machines certainly had a much brighter backlit keyboard than the second generation.  Most of the owners are referring to the color and brightness of the keyboard as glow-in-the-dark green.  That’s a pretty good way to describe it.  A faint light green glow. I’m actually pretty cool with the implementation.  The only time I really need backlighting is when the room or flight is extremely dark.

    The Screen

    Oh my god.  Someone finally made a screen that competes and beats the MacBook Air.  The 13” screen on the 2012 Samsung Series 9 notebook is nothing short of stellar.  The colors and contrast are really good.  Blacks are nice and deep.  It’s a matte screen so there is absolutely no glossy glare from objects around you.  Think of it like the exact opposite of the HP Envy 14 Spectre.  The Spectre is covered in glossy Gorilla Glass.  No thanks.  I’ll take the matte screen and non glossy finish of the Sammy every time.

    And the 400 nit bright screen won’t disappoint you if you decide to take a diversion to a poolside umbrella.  Ah yes, Spring time in Texas is a wonderful thing and you might as well take advantage of the cool days while you can.  It was 83 today and it’s supposed to be 82-85 each day this week.  Perfect 400 nit screen testing weather.

    The screen native resolution is 1600x900.  By comparison, the MacBook Air is 1440x900.  I was worried 1600x900 was going to be a little too small font wise but that quality of the screen is so good, I am not seeing any eye strain with the native resolution.  When I introduced the SS9 to my wife, I bumped the DPI to 125% because I know she would have said something if I didn’t.  I heard no complaints from her about it.

    So there you have it, the next best thing about the SS9 after it’s uncanny good looks is the fantastic screen.  Great viewing angles, color and brightness.  If only the rest of the notebook makers would get a clue about screen quality.

    The Keyboard

    I’ve used quite a few keyboards in my career so I was a little apprehensive about the SS9.  I still prefer a great ThinkPad keyboard like the NMB’s I’ve used, but I knew after using a Mac for a little bit I could get used to just about anything.  This keyboard isn’t great, but it doesn’t suck either.  I type pretty hard so pounding this article out on the second gen keyboard has been fine.  I am not making many mistakes on the board.  I am not the best typist so I am probably looking at the keys more than I should right now, but that will change and improve with time.

    As thin as the machine is, it isn’t like there’s a whole lot of room for key travel anyway.  You are going to deal with that on all of the thin and light machines coming out so be sure and look at them carefully when making a choice.  I like this keyboard well enough.  It’s never going to be a favorite in my collection, but it gets the job done.

    I did note one oddity I need to investigate further.  Last night I closed the lid and my wife and I noticed there were a series or dings and sounds coming from the machine.  The lid close setting was “do nothing” so the machine didn’t go to sleep.  Apparently while it was closed last night, some of the keys were getting pressed.  When I opened it back up, there were a bunch of applications opened up.  There was a source code window for HTML on a page.  Really freaked the machine out.  A key press party.  Needless to say I changed the lid close property to sleep until I have time to investigate and reproduce the issue.

    imageThe Touchpad

    The touchpad on my 13” Samsung Series 9 (SS9) is fantastic.  My wife would say otherwise so I’ll get into more detail on that in a minute.  For now  you should know that the pad is nice and big and has good palm detection.  I have yet to see the cursor freak and jump to some other spot on the screen.

    Clicking using the touchpad seems normal to me.  It isn’t quite a fluid as the touchpad on the MacBook Air but it’s fine if you ask me.  I noticed some other reviewers mentioned they would prefer some sort of line to demark where left and right mouse clicks can be performed.  I didn’t feel that was necessary.  I’m mostly using two finger taps for right mouse clicks anyway.

    The ELAN driver allows you to set properties for a variety of behaviors in the Control Panel | Mouse area.  There’s an ELAN property page that allows you to get to the settings you see pictured at right.

    Oddly, two finger scroll wasn’t set for me by default.  This is something that will be new to a lot of Windows users but very familiar to Mac users.  I highly recommend getting used to this feature right away.  I felt scrolling with two fingers in a web browser was every bit as fluid as using the MBA.  That’s a big accomplishment for ELAN and the PC makers.  This has been a sore point for quite some time and finally I feel someone is quite close to the Apple hardware and software implementation.

    As for the all important WAF, the Mrs. didn’t like the touchpad because there was no left and right mouse button present.  She never uses a mouse even though she carries one in her laptop brief.  She has been using the Lenovo ThinkPad T400 for several years now and the touchpad on that machine is very good.  ThinkPads typically have four buttons, too.  Two up close to the red TrackPoint, and two below the TrackPad.  She uses them a lot so using the SS9 was very awkward for her.  She’ll get the hang of it but it definitely put her off.

    As for me, I am a mouser.  I love using a mouse and I really don’t care if it’s left or right handed.  I am mousedextrous.  So when I am at my desk, there’s going to be a mouse plugged into the USB port via a nano transceiver.  When I am in one of the den chairs or on the couch, it really depends on my mood.  The SS9 touchpad may have me using the mouse less.

    Heat and Noise

    This thing is silent.  I mean really, you can barely hear the darn thing even when the fans are blowing seemingly hard. Sorry I can’t be more definitive about the fan RPM at the moment.  HWiNFO64 isn’t reading the dual fans and displaying them so I don’t have a good idea of their normal thresholds.

    I can tell that the machine normally run at about 45-48C on temp with an easy workload.  Therefore the dual fans are doing their job keeping the components cool.  Now keep in mind I have been using the SS9 on a strong flat surface.  When used at my desk, well, it’s an oak desk surface.  The rubber feet on the bottom give the intake holes plenty of room to breathe.  When I am in the den, I use the Logitech Lapdesk N500.  This also allows the machine to breathe properly and thus everything stays cool.

    I did notice after my wife used the machine for a couple of hours it was noticeably warmer on the bottom.  My surmise is that because she wasn’t using her lapdesk, her legs were blocking the intakes and stressing the cooling of the system.  That brings me to the first design point I don’t like.  The intake holes/slots on the bottom are right where someone is going to naturally put their knees or legs.  I guess there aren’t many choices in thin machine design so keep this in mind when you are looking at other machines.  It’s a really minor issue to me right now, but I do wonder how you go about cleaning dust bunnies on this system.


    Storage and Ports

    Most of the ultra thin and light machines on the market had to make some sort of concession to get there.  Users are going to lose optical drive bays, ports, and other features they have taken for granted for years.  In return, they get awesome thin machines like the second generation Samsung Series 9 notebook.

    I am going to pick a couple of bones with Samsung on their choices.  First, they launched the NP900X3B with only one storage option.  At present you can only get a 128GB mSATA disk in their machine.  This is fine for my information worker purposes, but it’s completely inadequate for my wife.  She needs at least 160GB and frankly, I would prefer more headroom than that.

    I fully expect Samsung will have a 256GB mSATA model on the market in a few weeks or months, but they really need to get a clue and launch those models at the same time as the 128GB model.  Many people are going to be utterly shocked when they get the machine and start looking at the free space from the Samsung factory config.

    Second, I’m really wondering how Samsung arrived at the final port configuration for the NP900X3B-A01US.  I get the micro HDMI for consumer connections to television sets.  What I don’t get is the proprietary micro VGA port you see pictured above.  This should be a mini DisplayPort instead and it’s really the biggest beef I have with the system.

    I don’t know enough about DisplayPort and HDMI licensing to know the cost implications for each unit, but an analog VGA connection is not a good solution.  Basically the way the machine ships means I cannot connect to my Dell UltraSharp U2711 LCD panel and drive it at it’s native 2560x1440 resolution.  I can’t get there from HDMI and there’s no way to do it via VGA.  Combine that with the fact nobody other than Samsung produces a dongle for this port and you can see quickly this was wasted space on the port configuration.

    On the bright side, the machine does ship with the micro Ethernet dongle so you can connect to a wired Ethernet network.  It uses the Realtek Ethernet chipset for wired connectivity.  I have not confirmed it’s throughput and speed.

    WIFI Improvements

    The first generation Samsung Series 9 machines were fatally flawed.  At least they were initially until Samsung added some models that included the Intel 3 antenna implementation.  For the second generation 2012 machines, this is also fixed.  In fact, I just tested the Intel(R) Centrino(R) Advanced-N 6230 chipset and it delivered the highest throughput score I have ever seen across WIFI here at my house. Using  it managed to squeak out a 43MB download speed.  That rocks nicely.

    And just in case you were wondering, I haven’t seen any network drops in the house or outside around the pool.  That’s a really good sign and I am glad Samsung heard the cries for help in this area and fixed the WIFI issues.

    One last thing on WIFI.  If your Intel 6230 chipset is only seeing 2.4Ghz networks, make sure you update the WIFI driver via Easy Software Manager.  After the update I am able to see both N radio frequencies.

    More information

    I’ll continue testing this bad boy over the next few weeks.  In the meantime, see the specs at  See for their listing of the 128GB second generation Samsung Series 9.  That’s where I bought mine.  Another favorite web retailer is so be sure and check their listing if you want to buy a machine.  Keep in mind these machines sell fast so you might need to setup a notify.  BestBuy will probably have them on the floor before too long.  If you want to go see one, you might be able to get your local CompUSA to show you one.  I had to get the manager to approve the opening of a box.  Those guys are something else.


    Should you buy one?  Well, that really depends on a lot of stuff.  Do you need a machine right now?  Do you want the sexiest machine on the market?  Do you have $1399 USD and change for one?  Yes?  Then go for it!!!  Just keep in mind the few limitations I mentioned above.

    If you are the type that likes to buy at the beginning of a chipset cycle, then I would advise waiting.  The Intel Ivy Bridge based machines will be out in a few months, and it’s also quite possible Samsung will introduce some 256GB SSD models.  I will likely wait on the 15” until I see that happen. Let me know if you have any questions.

    I love the form factor and screen on the 13.3”.  I will buy it again.

  • NOKIA Lumia 900 Coming to AT&T in the USA for $99

    nokia-lumia-900-white-home-screenThe cat is finally out of the bag and official.  The NOKIA Lumia 900 is coming to the USA on Easter Sunday.  Here’s a paragraph from the AT&T blog.

    “Nokia Lumia 900 won the Best of CES award for smartphones and is more than just a killer phone at a killer pricepoint.  Priced at $99.99, consider Lumia 900 as Nokia’s triumphant return to the U.S. smartphone market.  And it looks great, sexy even. Where one could argue most phones today all look the same, this one has its own style. Its camera rivals stand-alone digital cameras on the market today and the 4.3-inch AMOLED ClearBlack Display gives rich, bright images both indoors and out.  We’re working together with Nokia to make this phone a success and I know you’ll like it as much as we, and others, do too.  Consumers who can’t wait to get their hands on this new smartphone can pre-order it in cyan or black beginning March 30 by visiting or any AT&T company-owned retail store.  Qualified business customers who receive wireless service discounts can pre-order the Lumia 900 online, beginning the afternoon of March 30, at learn more visit”

    See the full article at  You can also check out the article on the Windows Phone Team Blog but I’ll warn you, the site is having issues at the moment.  Maybe it’s the crush of people trying to get information.  Grin.

    NOKIA updated their USA site.  Ready to order?  Good.  You can in 48 hours or so. Happy Easter!!!

  • Windows 8 CP Product Guide for Business v1.1 available for download

    The Windows 8 Consumer Preview Product Guide for Business provides a detailed look at the many new and improved features in Windows 8. The guide is designed as an accurate source of information that can help businesses understand how Windows 8 enables users to be ready and productive practically anywhere, allows for a personalized user experience, and provides IT with more secure, easy-to-manage intelligent infrastructure.

    Looks like there is an update at

  • Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit (MAP) 6.5.4228 now available for download

    The Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit is an agentless, automated, multi-product planning and assessment tool for quicker and easier desktop and server migrations. MAP provides detailed readiness assessment reports and executive proposals with extensive hardware and software information, and actionable recommendations to help organizations accelerate their IT infrastructure planning process, and gather more detail on assets that reside within their current environment. MAP also provides private and public cloud planning assessments, and 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. Other significant new features in MAP 6.5 include the discovery of active Windows devices, Software Usage Tracking for Forefront Endpoint Protection (FEP), and the discovery of Oracle instances on Itanium-based servers with HP-UX to assist in the planning of migration to SQL Server. 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 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.doc. Provides information about toolkit installation, environment preparation, and assessment scenarios supported by toolkit wizards and the UI.
    • Available as a separate download. Contains sample databases and training materials.
    • Available as a separate download. Contains sample reports and proposals.

    Go get the latest version @

  • Trout Tremble


  • Microsoft DirectAccess Connectivity Assistant 2.0 Beta

    Microsoft DirectAccess Connectivity Assistant (DCA) 2.0 Beta can be used by computers running Windows 7 when connecting to internal corporate networks with DirectAccess in Windows 8 Server Beta. It improves the DirectAccess connection experience, supports one-time password (OTP) authentication for DirectAccess users and helps organizations reduce the cost of supporting DirectAccess users.


  • Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V) Documentation Resources Download Page


    Head to the App-V resources download page at  And of course the App-V Tech Center at

  • Microsoft® SQL Server® 2012 PowerPivot® for Microsoft® Excel® 2010 - download now available

    SQL12_v_rgbMicrosoft PowerPivot for Microsoft Excel 2010 provides ground-breaking technology, such as fast manipulation of large data sets (often millions of rows), streamlined integration of data, and the ability to effortlessly share your analysis through Microsoft SharePoint 2010.

    Microsoft 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
    • Use PowerPivot to directly access trusted premium and public domain data from DataMarket section of Windows Azure Marketplace
    • 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 @

  • Microsoft® SQL Server® 2012 Report Builder - download now available

    SQL12_v_rgbReport Builder provides a productive report-authoring environment for IT professionals and power users. The download provides a stand-alone installer for Report Builder.

    Report Builder provides data visualizations that include charts, maps, sparklines, and data bars that can help produce new insights well beyond what can be achieved with standard tables and charts. Use Report Builder to create reports and shared datasets. Publish report parts, and then browse the Report Part Gallery to reuse existing report parts as building blocks for creating new reports quickly with a “grab and go” experience.

    Go get it @

  • Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK) for Windows® 8 Consumer Preview

    Windows8_logoThe Windows® Assessment and Deployment Kit (Windows ADK) is a collection of tools that you can use to customize, assess, and deploy Windows operating systems to new computers.

    Windows Deployment is for OEMs and IT professionals who customize and automate the large-scale installation of Windows, such as on a factory floor or across an organization. The Windows ADK supports this work with the deployment tools that were previously released as part of the OEM Preinstallation Kit (OPK) and the Windows Automated Installation Kit (AIK).

    Assessments are for OEMs, IHVs, and IT professionals who measure the operational characteristics of a computer, including its performance, reliability, and functionality. Windows assessments are tools that help you make these measurements, diagnose problems, and determine how to make improvements. Windows assessments can help reduce costs by identifying potential issues as you create your hardware and software experiences. By using these tools, you can help ensure that the hardware and software that you develop are responsive and high-quality.

    Tools available in the Windows ADK include:
    • Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT)
    • Deployment Tools
    • Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE)
    • User State Migration Tool (USMT)
    • Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT)
    • Windows Performance Toolkit (WPT)
    • Windows Assessment Toolkit
    • Windows Assessment Services

    Go get it @

  • I Spy SQL Server 2012 RTM - now available for download to TechNet Subscribers

    For those of you that have a TechNet or MSDN subscription, you might not be aware the RTM bits are on the download center.  Here’s a peek at the downloads.  It’s an incomplete list but you get the idea.  Enjoy 2012.


  • Bentley EXP 9F SUV concept

    GENEVA — It isn’t often that a car literally makes you say WTF aloud. But it isn’t often that you see a V12-powered SUV. A Bentley SUV, no less.

    Pictures cannot convey the obnoxious scale of the Bentley EXP 9F concept here at the Geneva auto show, so we’ll tell you it rides on 23-inch wheels and leave it at that. It’s hard to make sense of the 9F and its unashamed bling at a time when so many automakers are stuffing small engines into small cars, or eschewing engines and petrol for motors and batteries.

    See the rest of the Wired article at Photo: Peter Orosz/

  • Map of Metal


    Are you a fan of heavy metal?  Where are you on the evolutionary scale of metal?  I’m slightly disappointed this site doesn’t give some credit to Jimi and a few of the rockers right before the timeline starts, but it’s still an interesting site.  Credit: Pete Brown for sending me the link.  Rock on!

  • Error code: 0x800F0906 installing Lenovo Power Manager on Windows 8 CP - .Net Framework 3.5 sources

    Yesterday I got around to adding a few Lenovo ThinkVantage technologies to my ThinkPad W510.  One I always like to add is the power management driver, and Power Manager.  Unfortunately Power Manager wouldn’t completely install because one of it’s prerequisites wasn’t on my machine and could not be found.

    I am referring to the .Net Frameworks v3.5.  Normally the update client would grab the bits from your WSUS or our WU servers but they aren’t present there.  Or if they are, they were not found and the install failed.

    I first saw the following screenshot.  Like most anyone, I clicked the first option fully expecting the sources to be found.


    Nope.  I received Error code:  0x800F0906 on that attempt (and a couple of retries).  How rude!


    Here’s the thing, I am connected to the Internet.  At the time of the error I was in my home office using my fiber connection.  So connectivity and bandwidth weren’t the issues.  I wondered if the Hyper-V switch might be causing a problem.  So I removed it and retried.  Nope, still no dice.

    I discovered a workaround.  You can use DISM to install the frameworks from the Windows 8 install DVD, stick or location you used.  In my case, I popped the DVD into the external Sony DVD burner and issued the following command:

    Dism /online /enable-feature /featurename:NetFx3 /All /Source:x:\sources\sxs /LimitAccess

    Replace x: with the location of your sources (mine was e:).  This should install what you need and get you rolling.  I am still checking to see if this was introduced because I was not VPN’d or using DirectAcccess.  The machine is domain joined and was likely looking for the internal WSUS server.

    Thought this might be helpful if you hit this speed bump. 

  • We have SQL Server 2012 Launch!!!

    While many of you have undoubtedly studying Windows 8 Server Beta, our SQL Product Group RTM’d SQL Server 2012.  Tomorrow we have a virtual launch event with a ton of information coming.  Head on over and register now!