Keith Combs' Blahg

Ramblings from another nerd on the grid

May, 2013

  • A First Look at Windows 8.1

    Start-with-wallpaperWindows 8.1 will advance the bold vision set forward with Windows 8 to deliver the next generation of PCs, tablets, and a range of industry devices, and the experiences customers — both consumers and businesses alike — need and will just expect moving forward. It’s Windows 8 even better. Not only will Windows 8.1 respond to customer feedback, but it will add new features and functionality that advance the touch experience and mobile computing’s potential. Windows 8.1 will deliver improvements and enhancements in key areas like personalization, search, the built-in apps, Windows Store experience, and cloud connectivity. Windows 8.1 will also include big bets for business in areas such as management and security – we’ll have more to say on these next week at TechEd North America.

    See the full blog post at

  • Hyper-V: A Platform for Building the Largest Public and Private Clouds

    Hyper-V 3.0 in many ways is the crown jewel of our enterprise virtualization and private cloud strategy and is the heart of where many of the improvements in our flagship Server OS reside. So we should probably talk about what has improved since our previous Hyper-V releases, and what you can do with our hypervisor technology out of the box in Windows Server 2012 today.

    See the start of this series and the full post at

  • Microsoft Unveils Xbox One

    Xbox_OneREDMOND, Wash. — May 21, 2013 — A new vision for the future comes to life today as Microsoft Corp. unveils Xbox One , the all-in-one gaming and entertainment system created for today and the next generation. At Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Wash., the company showcased how Xbox One puts you at the center of all your games, TV, movies, music, sports and Skype.

    See the full press release at

    Lots of information at

  • It happened again. My condolences

    By now you’ve likely heard about the tornado disaster today. Oklahoma City isn’t that far north of Dallas/Ft. Worth. Today an EF5 hit that area and destroyed the lives of thousands of people. Nature is a powerful force and it seems the radical nature of our weather it getting more and more extreme.

    I’ve seen tornados up close and personal. I was literally at the genesis (Lake Worth) of the tornado that hit downtown Ft. Worth a few years ago. It wasn’t my first brush with one. They are a fact of life and nuisance in the south.

    I have seen many pictures and videos of twisters. The one from today below is particularly scary because it shows the before and after. One of the schools destroyed is in the foreground at the beginning of the video. The storm chasers that shot the video had the good sense to not publish the school getting destroyed. It is gut wrenching but clearly demonstrates why we keep a careful eye on the sky and weather reports this time of year.

    A lot of people lost their lives today, over twenty were children. I can’t even imagine. Say a prayer for the families.

    [UPDATE] Thankfully, fewer people were killed than first reported.  It breaks my heart to watch the stories. Clearly there were many heroes in the midst of the destruction. Many of them teachers.

  • IaaS Architecture Guide - now available for download

    imageThis document provides customers with the necessary guidance to develop solutions for a Microsoft private cloud infrastructure in accordance with the IaaS PLA patterns that are identified for use with the Windows Server 2012 operating system. This document provides specific guidance for developing fabric architectures (compute, network, storage, and virtualization layers) of an overall private cloud solution.

    Go get it @

  • Exchange Server 2013 Management Pack - now available for download

    The Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 Management Pack provides comprehensive service health information for your Exchange organization. The Exchange 2013 Management Pack is engineered for organizations that include servers running Exchange 2013. The key feature of this management pack is user focused monitoring. The simplified dashboard focuses on the user experience and makes it easier for you quickly determine exactly what your users are experiencing.

            The Exchange Server 2013 Management Pack works with the Managed Availability feature in Exchange 2013. The alerts within the System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) portal indicate unhealthy states as reported by the Managed Availability components in Exchange 2013.
              The following are some of the new features in the Exchange 2013 Management Pack:
              • Simplified dashboard The dashboard of the Exchange 2013 Management Pack has been simplified and refined into the following three categories:
                • Active Alerts Provides a list of all outstanding alerts in your organization.
                • Organization Health Provides an overview of the overall service health in your organization.
                • Server Health Provides an overview of the health of individual servers in your organization.
              • User focused monitoring Exchange 2013 introduces a monitoring and recovery infrastructure called Managed Availability. Managed Availability focuses on the user experience. All Exchange 2013 components have built-in monitors that detect problems and attempt to recover the service availability. Any issues that can't be recovered automatically are escalated to the Exchange 2013 Management Pack as an alert.

              Got get it @

            • Kerberos Configuration Manager for SQL Server - now available for download

              Kerberos authentication provides a highly secure method to authenticate client and server entities (security principals) on a network. To use Kerberos authentication with SQL Server, a Service Principal Name (SPN) must be registered with Active Directory, which plays the role of the Key Distribution Center in a Windows domain. In addition, many customers also enable delegation for multi tier applications using SQL Server. In such a setup, it may be difficult to troubleshoot the connectivity problems with SQL Server when Kerberos authentication fails.

              The Kerberos Configuration Manager for SQL Server is a diagnostic tool that helps troubleshoot Kerberos related connectivity issues with SQL Server. It can perform the following functions:

              • Gather information on OS and Microsoft SQL Server instances installed on a server.
              • Report on all SPN and delegation configurations on the server.
              • Identify potential problems in SPNs and delegations.
              • Fix potential SPN problems.

              Go get it @

            • System Center 2012 - Live Q&A on May 21, 2013 - Register Now!

              clip_image001Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) has published a series of great courses covering Microsoft System Center 2012 SP1 over the last several weeks. This content has been so well-received that we’ve asked Senior Technical Evangelist Symon Perriman and Senior Program Manager Justin Incarnato to host a two-hour “MVA Live Q&A” session exclusively for our MVA community. This is an incredible opportunity to get answers to your System Center questions! This is a free session and open to anyone interested in Microsoft System Center 2012.

              For more information and the registration links, head on over to the Microsoft Virtual Academy at

            • This is both cool and scary - X-47B Drone Launch from the USS George H.W. Bush

              I can see it already.  A remake of the classic “The Final Countdown” with drones instead of Tomcats.

            • Nokia Announces the Lumia 928 - Available for $99 on May 16th

              BlackThe Nokia Lumia 928 will be available on May 16th at and at your local Verizon Wireless Store for a price of $99 after a $50 mail in rebate. Also, a new 2-year service agreement is required.

              As a sweet bonus – for a limited time – buyers of the Nokia Lumia 928 will get a $25 credit for Windows Phone apps and games with the purchase of the phone.

              For more information, head on over to the Nokia blog at

              I really wish this device was available on ATT last month.  Oh well, you win a few, you lose a few.  Looks like a sweet phone.

            • Calling All Birders - Identify This North Texas Hawk !!!

              Last summer Sean Jr. and I witnessed a hawk swooping down and grabbing a Texas Spiny Lizard from the flower bed next to us.  This was mere feet from us and as you might imagine, seeing nature in action like this left an impression on Sean and I. He’s five years old. 

              The hawk likely never saw us because we were blocked by a large Red Oak on his approach, and I am sure he was very focused.  It freaked Sean and I out, in a good way.  We just looked at each other in awe.

              Well tonight I was out in the back yard checking the pool and I looked up to see the mysterious hawk.  I eased back into the house and grabbed my camera.  Light was dissipating fast. I managed to squeeze off a couple of ok shots with my Canon G11.


              Now I need your help identifying our friend.  Anyone know what type of hawk this is?  It looks very much like an owl with that round head.  I see it flying daily as I walk my dog Elvis down the street and back. It has a very cool delta shaped tail.

              Here’s another pic with the flash.  Makes him look pretty mean.  I am sure he is not happy I am interfering with his lizard hunt. I am not sure I like that much.  We are fond of the Texas Spiny Lizard.


              Do any of you have an idea what type of hawk this is? 

            • Windows Azure for IT Professionals Jump Start - free registration now open

              Make Windows Azure Your Datacenter! This Jump Start will help you understand how you can use Windows Azure Infrastructure Services, such as Virtual Machines and Virtual Networks, to migrate, extend, run, manage and monitor common workloads in the cloud. The jumpstart will be led by Microsoft Lead Azure Technical Evangelist David Tesar and Azure Group Technical Product Manager David Aiken. Get ready for a live online interactive experience highlighting the latest and greatest via numerous scenarios and demos all while answering questions from the audience.

              For more information and to register for this free training event, head on over to