Keith Combs' Blahg

Ramblings from another nerd on the grid

June, 2012

  • DirectAccess Connectivity Assistant 2.0 RC - now available for download

    DCA 2.0 RC provides the following functionality:

    • Provides DirectAccess users with connectivity information. Users can view their DirectAccess connectivity status at all times.
    • Provides diagnostics and troubleshooting features. DCA 2.0 RC provides tools to help users reconnect if problems arise, and create diagnostics to provide IT administrators with troubleshooting information.
    • Supports one-time password (OTP) authentication for DirectAccess users required to authenticate using OTP.

    Note: DCA 2.0 RC can be installed on Windows 7 computers that connect to the corporate network using DirectAccess running on a Windows Server 2012 RC computer. It can be installed on Windows 7 computers that do not have DCA installed, or on computers running DCA 1.0 or DCA 1.5. DCA 2.0 RC should not be installed on computers running Windows 8 Consumer Preview. It should also not be installed on Windows 7 computers that connect to the corporate network using DirectAccess running on a Windows Server 2008 R2 computer or on a Forefront UAG server.

    The download includes the following components:

    • A zip file ( containing a collection of all the files in this download.
    • GPO templates (DirectAccess_Connectivity_Assistant_2_0_RC_GP.adml; DirectAccess_Connectivity_Assistant_2_0_RC_GP.admx) for configuring DCA settings on client computers.
    • Installation files (DirectAccess_Connectivity_Assistant_2_0_RC_x64.msi; DirectAccess_Connectivity_Assistant_2_0_RC_x86.msi) required to install the application on 64-bit or 32-bit client computers.
    • An administrators guide (DirectAccess_Connectivity_Assistant_2_0_RC_AdminGuide.docx) that describes how to configure the GPO templates, and install the application.
    • A user guide (DirectAccess_Connectivity_Assistant_2_0_RC_UserGuide.docx) that can be distributed to client computers running DirectAccess Connectivity Assistant (DCA) 2.0 RC.

    Go get it @

  • New product alert - Samsung Series 9 Ivy Bridge notebooks

    imageFor those of you watching the Ultrabook craze unfold, you might be considering the Samsung Series 9 machines.  They come in a 13.3” and 15” model.  I have tested both of them with the Sandy Bridge chipsets and found them to be quite compelling.  The new Ivy Bridge based machines with the third generation Intel processors are even better.  The Intel HD 4000 GPU impresses everyone that tries it.

    I did want to caution you on a couple of items.  First, Samsung didn’t change the port configuration on the latest Ivy Bridge models so there is still no mini DisplayPort video output.  If you have a high resolution 27” or 30” LCD panel, you are going to be limited on the maximum resolution that can be displayed from mini HDMI or mini VGA.  1920x1080 doesn’t look very good on my Dell U2711 LCD panel.

    Second, for some unknown reason Samsung is using Sandisk U100 mSATA drives in some of the 128GB configurations.  I suppose mSATA drives are in high demand so they needed another source of parts.  I don’t know about you, but I want the Samsung mSATA storage device in the machine if I buy one.  When you are paying a premium price, you should expect premium components. 

    If Samsung reads this, please create a 13.3” SKU that has 8GB of memory.  I don’t care much what you put in the mSATA slot because I can always change that, but 4GB of motherboard soldered RAM is too limiting for me.  Me wants more.

    If you are looking for these machines, has all five models of the Ivy Bridge machines.  The 15” has three configurations and the 13.3” has two (currently).  The models with Windows 7 Professional also have a TPM chip.

    Here are the amazon links:

    Costco is currently only selling the Sandy Bridge machines online.  I suppose they’ll switch before too long. has the Sandy Bridge models in stock at this moment in time, and are taking pre-orders on the Ivy Bridge. hasn’t listed the Ivy Bridge models yet.

    Happy Ultrabook shopping!

  • I have 172 IDs and Passwords

    Have you ever stopped to count the number of ID’s and passwords you use?  I bet everyone reading this has more than twenty five.  I bet many of you have more than fifty and and if you really count everything, you will likely surpass one hundred. Sound far fetched?  Count them.  I know someone approaching two hundred.  When I asked them how many they had, this person opened a spreadsheet and said, “I have 172 IDs and passwords”.  That floored me on so many levels.

    Needless to say all of those IDs and passwords are connected to a wide array of account types, devices, spending limits, confidential data, roles, responsibilities and more.  Storage of this type of information has been a challenge for years.  Your view of the challenge can depend on your responsibility for it.  None of us take this lightly.

    thedirectoryworldtodayIMaaS and the Social Enterprise

    This discussion broke out again late last month as we started to release information around the Identity features of Windows Azure. On May 23rd Kim Cameron, a Microsoft Distinguished Engineer, blogged “Identity Management As A Service”.  This is an excellent set of information that discusses the new service-based models that are emerging.

    John Shewchuk, a Microsoft Technical Fellow, also posted “Reimagining Active Directory for the Social Enterprise (Part1)” the same day.  In that post John discusses the use of Active Directory in the cloud.  For those of you using Office 365, some of the information will be familiar but there is new information on the development that has been taking place with Windows Azure Directory Service (WAAD).  John’s next post, “Reimagining Active Directory for the Social Enterprise (Part 2)” got the attention of Mary-Jo Foley and she wrote “With Azure Active Directory, Microsoft wants to be the meta ID hub”.

    The discussion is certainly starting to pick up steam. Kim Cameron published another piece called “There is no hub.  There is no center.”  In that post Kim makes the point that “Shared” is not the same as “Central”.  There are many cloud operators. 

    There is quite a bit of information to read, digest, and think about.  We invite you to the discussion.

  • FIOS Quantum Now Available - if you can afford it

    Verizon is now selling more speed.  There’s just one problem, I can’t justify and afford the upgrade.  I would love to have the 150/65 plan just so I can say I finally have 100Mbps to the internet, but sheesh, not for these prices.  First of all, I don’t really need that speed.  Considering I am paying $39 for the 35/35 plan, I think I’ll stick right where I am at.  I don’t really want to add $60 per month to my bill. I’m a big fan of FIOS, but I am not a big fan of these prices.


  • Audi R18 E-Tron Quattro Hybrid wins Le Mans


    24 hours in this?  Sign me up.  Details at

  • Wouldn’t you like one of these in your Ultrabook?


    Hot! off the Kepler presses.

  • High Capacity mSATA SSD devices sneak into the channel

    There is some excitement taking place in the storage market. New high capacity small form factor flash storage devices known as mSATA are entering the retail channel. 

    Last year it was nearly impossible to find anything above an 80GB mSATA drive from Intel.  This year the ballgame is very different with the proliferation of the thin and light notebooks and slates.

    Crucial quietly started shipping the M4 256GB mSATA drive to a few retailers.  Mushkin has been shipping a 240GB mSATA device for several weeks.  Another supplier, MyDigitalSSD started shipping 256GB mSATA devices in the past couple of weeks as well.  Suddenly notebook owners have some really decent choices.

    Les Tokar has evaluated several of the new devices so I’d suggest you take a look at the following reviews on his site:

    Les is kind enough to provide some links in those articles to item listings but I’ll warn you, inventory goes fast.  So far Samsung has not sold the coveted PM830 in the retail channel.  If I see one, I will buy it first then let you know if any are left for you. Evil grin.

    Now keep in mind not all of the notebooks and Ultrabooks™ can actually use a “standard” mSATA device.  Many of the new notebooks use proprietary implementations.  For instance, take a look at the inside of the new ASUS Zenbook Prime.  I just wanted to bring this to your attention as you are surveying the emerging market. Enjoy.

  • System Center 2012 VMM add-on and extensions available

    VM Recovery Tool
    SysCnt12_v_rgbThe stand-alone Virtual Machine Recovery Tool works with System Center 2012 – Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) to temporarily remove a host, cluster, virtual machine, or service from VMM when that object is in a failed or persistent warning state due to environmental conditions, third-party applications, or other causes. After resetting the state of the object, once VMM refreshes, the object will appear as healthy in VMM. This tool does not repair a damaged or incorrectly created virtual machine or corrupt .vhd file. It deals with state information stored in the VMM database. For additional details about the tool, see Using the Virtual Machine Recovery Tool for System Center 2012 - Virtual Machine Manager (VMM).

    This program is not a supported part of the VMM product. This program is offered “as-is”.

    Virtual Machine Manager Configuration Analyzer (VMMCA)
    The VMMCA is your first line of defense in troubleshooting an issue in the System Center 2012 – Virtual Machine Manager environment. VMMCA is a diagnostic tool you can use to evaluate important configuration settings for computers that are either running VMM server roles or are acting as virtual machine hosts. The VMMCA scans the hardware and software configurations of the computers you specify, evaluates them against a set of predefined rules, and then provides you with error messages and warnings for any configurations that are not optimal.

    Microsoft Product Support Reporting Tool (MPSRPT)
    You can use the Virtual Machine Manager MPS Reporting Tool for System Center 2012 to gather detailed system status and configuration information from the VMM management server as well as all managed virtual machine hosts and VMM server roles.
    The tool offers the ability to select the particular scenarios for which system configuration data will be gathered.
    The Virtual Machine Manager MPS Reporting Tool for System Center 2012 gathers the following diagnostic data for the VMM management server, the virtual machine hosts and library servers that the VMM management server manages, and physical to virtual conversion (P2V) source computers:
    • Virtual Machine Manager traces
    • Virtual Machine Manager database
    • Windows event logs and virtual server event logs
    • IP address
    • Virtual Machine Manager setup logs
    • SQL Server setup logs
    • Registry information
    • Open ports information
    • System Information (msinfo)
    OVF Import/Export
    The Open Virtualization Format (OVF) is a packaging standard from Distributed Management Task Force, Inc., for portability and deployment of virtual appliances. The OVF Import/Export tool consists of cmdlets that enable VMM users to import and export single virtual machines that are packaged in an OVF 1.1 complaint format. You can use the OVF Import/Export tool to import a virtual machine from other virtualization platforms (currently VMware vCenter and Citrix XenServer) or to export a virtual machine from VMM for use on another platform.


    Be sure to read the disclaimers and other notes in the download area.  Some of the programs are not a supported part of the VMM product. They are offered “as-is”.

    Go get them at

  • Take this LOLCat


    What do you do when your cat dies?  Stuff him and turn him into a flying LOLCat of course. More pics, video and the full sick story at

  • Apple updates the MacBook Pro with Retina


  • TechMentor Early Bird Discount Ends Next Week - reserve your spot now

    Interested in going to Seattle for some great technical sessions?  The TechMentor Conference is in August on the Microsoft Campus in the Briefing Center.  The early bird registration deadline looms next week so be sure to book your reservation and save.


    See the main site at for more information.

  • Innovation

    This picture is making the round on the internet and it gave me a good laugh this morning.  I just had to share.


    And of course there’s our hero, William Shatner.  He was way ahead of his time.

  • Samsung slips a silver Series 9 under the door

    Samsung is now showing another Series 9 model on the Samsung USA website.  It’s the silver color I have been lusting for since the pictures at CES 2012.  I’ll forgive them for having a mini VGA port on the darn thing is the screen is IPS or PLS.  Since this model comes with Windows 7 Professional, I assume it has a TPM chip.


    image  I don’t see it listed yet on, or some of the usual USA buying sites, but it’s good to see the silver fox come out of the bushes. 

  • Windows 8 RP Remote Server Admin Tools (RSAT) - now available for download

    Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 8 Release Preview includes Server Manager, Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-ins, consoles, Windows PowerShell cmdlets and providers, and command-line tools for managing roles and features that run on Windows Server 2012. In limited cases, the tools can be used to manage roles and features that are running on Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows Server 2008. Some of the tools work for managing roles and features on Windows Server 2003.

    [Attention] These tools run ONLY on Windows 8 RP.

    Go get em @

  • Who’s up for a BEFORE and AFTER?

    Someone mentioned during the E3 briefing today that all the folks in this video didn’t need Xbox, Kinect and Nike+.  Ok, who is overweight an out of shape that wants to do a before and after?

  • Windows PowerShell 3.0 and Server Mgr Quick Ref Guides

    The PDF files in this download are short-form Quick Reference (also called "cheat sheet") guides for IT professionals and scripting enthusiasts who want to learn tips, shortcuts, common operations, limitations, and proper syntax for using Windows PowerShell 3.0 and Server Manager in Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate.


    Go get it @

  • Microsoft Announces Surface ™