Kevin Remde's IT Pro Weblog

  • Hmm.. I wonder what this is going to be…

    Microsoft Hardware Home 

    Microsoft Hardware – Home Page

    …seriously, I don’t know.  But I love my Microsoft Mouses (Mice?  Meeces?)

  • Events! We got ‘em!

    World Class Live In-Person Events for IT Professionals “Hey Kevin.. the TechNet Events site has been pretty bare lately.  Aren’t you guys doing any live events?”

    Yeah.. unfortunately this is the time of year at Microsoft where budgets are being finalized and plans put in place accordingly.  And we can’t plan out our schedule until all of those “ducks are in a row”.  This year the process was a bit more painful than most.  (I’ll spare you the bloody details.)  But finally we have some of our TechNet Events scheduled for the coming several months.

    “But they’re not on TechNet Events yet.  At least not as of this blog post’s writing…”

    Yep.  They will be soon.  They ARE actually up in what we call our “World Wide Events” engine, so you can GO HERE and search for live events in your area. 

    And I STRONGLY encourage you to do that ASAP.  We have events starting this next week, and with so little time to get the word out, there is a possibility that we will have to cancel due to low registration.  Believe me – we don’t want to have to do that!

    “Where will you be, Kevin?”

    I’m glad you asked!  Here is my schedule (some of which is tentative) for the next several months: 

    Date Location Event ID (link to registration page)
    August 19 Chicago, IL 1032384092
    August 26 Des Moines, IA 1032384097
    October 2 Omaha, NE tentative
    October 21 Indianapolis, IN tentative
    October 23 Southfield, MI tentative
    October 28 Minneapolis, MN tentative
    November 11 San Antonio, TX tentative
    November 13 Houston, TX tentative

    Those tentative dates haven’t been finalized (still making venue arrangements, etc) yet, so keep watching my blog and watching the TechNet Events site for these to come available for registration.

    AND PLEASE – don’t let the fact that these cities are nowhere near you stop you from going to the events site and searching for a TechNet Event or other great Microsoft Events coming to a city near you!

    “What are you speaking on this time?”

    Here’s the line-up!  We think it’s a good one!"

    Want to save the day? We’ll save you a seat.

    Session 1: “Why Vista?”

    While those “Mac vs. PC” commercials are entertaining, they don’t tell the whole story – especially when it comes to Windows Vista with Service Pack 1. In this session we’ll dispel some of the common myths and misperceptions about Windows Vista. We’ve been listening to your feedback since Vista’s initial release and we’ll address the top deployment blockers as reported by you, the customer. You’ll get quality technical information about why installing or upgrading to Windows Vista with Service Pack 1 can increase end-user productivity, improve stability and reliability, give IT staff more control of the desktop, and help secure your networking environment. Learn the truth about Microsoft’s new operating system and prepare to leave this session with a fresh perspective on Windows Vista.

    Session 2: Managing Windows Vista with Windows PowerShell

    Windows PowerShell provides scripting capabilities to automate system administration activities that can really help IT pros increase their productivity. In this session, we’ll focus on using Windows PowerShell with Windows Vista to manage and automate common client administration activities. We’ll explore the features and capabilities of Windows PowerShell and the Windows Vista operating system functions that can be automated, plus activities that can be automated to troubleshoot Vista client computers. Finally, we’ll touch on the new capabilities you can expect in the next version of PowerShell.

    Session 3: Group Policy Preferences, Templates and Scripting

    As an IT professional, you’ve probably mapped user network drives with logon scripts – which meant you had to write and debug the logon script, store the script in a central location, then run the script by configuring user objects in Active Directory or by creating a Group Policy Object. Sound familiar? Now think about all the other settings you’ve configured using logon scripts or similar methods. With Group Policy Preferences, you can cut costs (and headaches) with a simple, central system to configure, deploy and manage operating system and application settings. In this session, you’ll get the inside track on the Group Policy enhancements in Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista. You’ll learn about Group Policy processing, scripting, features, and how to use the template format. Don’t miss this informative session on the latest Group Policy preferences.

    Hope to see you there!

  • Breaking News: SQL Server 2008 is RTM!

    SQL!  SQL!  SQL!

    (RTM = Released to Manufacturing)

    Yes indeed.. today the newest version of the best database software platform anywhere reached a major milestone.  It’s ready! 

    You can read the PressPass announcement here.

    And here is the official press location for all things SQL Server.

    And of course, here is the SQL Server home page.

    And finally – if you’re a TechNet Subscriber, you can download your copy of product TODAY!

  • I can control what I watch of the Olympics? Any event? Anytime I want?

    NBC's coverage of the 2008 Summer Olympics I’m not sure if I’ve said this on my blog before, but I and my family are huge fans of Windows Media Center.  I’ve got a dedicated (and actually pretty old and under-powered) Compaq desktop computer that’s running Windows Vista Ultimate edition, and has a TV-tuner card with two analog tuners, plus a HD USB tuner connected to a powered antenna for over-the-air HD.  It’s connected to my Gb LAN, onto which I’ve also connected two XBOX 360s (one for my boys and their games, and another in the family room).  Both of the 360s, in addition to playing games, are very capable extenders for the Media Center… so we can schedule, record, and watch recorded TV, browse the family’s collection of photos and home movies, and serve up every bit of music we own; all using the remote.

    One of the additionally useful features of the Media Center is that it is an Internet-connected machine.. so online content is also available.  And depending on what country you live in, there can be quite a lot of it. 

    Here in the USA, the official broadcaster of the upcoming Beijing Olympics is NBC.  And yesterday, while flipping around the menus on my Media Center (through the extender in the family room), I saw yet another update available in the Online Media area:

    TVTonic Software Install Page

    Sweet! 

    When I clicked on it, I saw that I needed to download some software to the PC that was running Media Center.  I couldn’t do the install from the extender (which makes sense).  So I went to my PC, and this time was given the option to install the TVTonic software.

    “So.. how does it work, Kevin?  What’s the experience like?”

    Very nice! 

    “Can you share a screen-shot?”

    No.  My aforementioned underpowered PC doesn’t have video capabilities enough to actually show the interface or play the video – so I can’t take a screen-capture.  (to increase performance, I took out the nice video adapter I had been using and went back to using the onboard video, since everything pretty is going to be done through the extenders anyway)  From my extenders, the experience is very slick.  It’s easy to select “channels” like Gymnastics, Volleyball, Basketball, etc.. and then you are shown if there are any items available to download.  Once downloaded, you can view and then remove or mark unread.. etc.  Of the channels I selected, there are currently only a few Track and Field and Swimming items from the Olympic trials available for viewing.. but of course the channels will fill up once the main event begins.  I can’t wait!

    “Any downsides?”

    The only complaint I have about it so far is that the TVTonic Software is 32-bit only.  I was hoping that, if it was entirely Internet served (meaning, no TV Tuner required), that I could install it on any Vista machine that has Media Center (Home Premium or Ultimate) and watch the Olympic events from one of my laptops.  But the laptops I’m currently using are both 64-bit.  So I guess it’s a good thing that my family Media Center PC is older hardware.  (Don’t tell my wife that, though… I’m still hoping to convince her that we should get a newer machine for even better HD performance. <shh!>)

    I’m not sure yet what I’m getting myself into as far as disk space required.  Give me HD quality, on-demand viewing!… I’ll worry about the space later.

    “But.. what if I don’t have a Media Center, Kevin?”

    Then you’re still in luck.  You can view Silverlight video streams and on-demand viewing of recorded events at http://www.nbcolympics.com/ (Now.. I like that they’re using Silverlight in such a cool application.. but I really want to be able to see the videos full-screen!  So far I haven’t found a way to do that.)

    What new and exciting ways will you be watching the Olympics in this year?

  • So.. okay.. we were having a little fun…

    You have to check out my friend John Weston’s Blog post photo…

    Oh man.. this will not look good on my performance review!

    Pictured are:

  • Another fun PhotoZoom sample..

    Zoom in.  Really.. zoom in.

    image

    http://robburke.net/images/deeplol.html

    Have a great weekend!

  • Thank you, Chicagoland!

    "Big Shoulders" This past Tuesday I had the pleasure of presenting our TechNet Event in downtown Chicago.  WOW!  We had a great turnout, and a very fun discussion around Windows Vista, Windows PowerShell, and the latest improvements in Group Policy.

    During the day, and as always, there were some questions asked for which I wasn’t sure of the answer.

    “Huh?!”

    Yeah, I know.. hard to believe.  (sigh)  And as promised, I’ve done some research and found some answers for you, as well as additional resources around those topics.

    But before I go into those; I also want to make sure I get that PowerShell demo script into your hands.  I’ve attached it to this blog post, as well as attached it to the online version of my TechNet Resources document for these sessions.  I want you to be able to use it as just one more useful tool to help you get comfortable with PowerShell.

    Okay.. so here are those questions.  And now some answers, too.

    -----

    “SMB 2.0.  What’s up with that?!”

    (Okay.. these questions aren’t actual quotes.  Allow me to paraphrase just a little bit.)

    In our discussion of Windows Vista improvements, we were discussing the subject of file transfer improvements.  While most scenarios did improve, many people experienced lousy performance initially.  Those scenarios have been addressed in later updates, and now in Windows Vista SP1 as well.  However, one gentleman did mention that he was still having those issues.. and another mentioned that uninstalling SMB 2.0 on his Server 2008 actually got rid of the problem.  So the question really was, “Why? Is that a known problem?  Is there a solution other than disabling SMB 2?”

    I wasn’t able to get any information on whether there are still any known issues, so I can’t address why you were having problems.  But I did find some good resources that list improvements; and particularly list some of the types of issues that people were experiencing prior to SP1. 

    In particular, Mark Russinovich’s blog post here does a good job of spelling it out in great detail.

    Also, for a good discussion on network performance improvements, see this Tolly Group Report that reports their test results of Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista compared to earlier Windows versions.

     

    “Can I use Windows PowerShell to generate reports from or work with Internet Logs?  Or what about browsing history or cookies?”

    Text file processing is definitely doable in Windows PowerShell.  I haven’t mastered it myself (yet), but here are some articles (3 parts) that were based on Chapter 10 of the book by Bruce Payette book, “PowerShell in Action”. 

    Processing input and output of text is one of the biggest advantages PowerShell has over VBScripting… so much of the heavy lifting is done for you in PowerShell.

    “Where can I find some resources specifically around working with WMI in PowerShell?”

    The aforementioned book also has a section in chapter 12 on it.

    During the TechNet Event , you’ll recall that we used the Get-WMIObject command to get instances of WMI objects based on the class we want to work with.  Example – getting an object representing the local desktop looks like this:

    Get-WmiObject -Class Win32_Desktop -ComputerName .

    For a list of the classes, you can look at the WMI Reference on MSDN.  And you can get a list of the WMI Classes available to you in PowerShell with this command:

    Get-WMIObject –list

    or for a list of the classes in the “root\cimv2” namespace:

    Get-WMIObject –namespace “root\cimv2” -list

    “What about scripts that do something administrative, and in the context of another user account/password.  Can I encrypt the script, or those sensitive values within the script?”

    I don’t know of a way to encrypt the script entirely, or even encrypt text within.  There are security features in PowerShell that can allow you to maintain encryptions of strings in memory (SecureString .NET class) or prompt you for credentials (Get-Credential cmdlet).  Those would both be useful for creating scripts that prompt for and then secure the information that is being used.  But prompting you is not something you want if you’re interested in launching this script on a schedule or as a task that is triggered in some way – which I think is really is what was being asked for.

    Instead – consider that in Task Scheduler you do have the ability to launch tasks in the context of a specific account.  So what I would recommend is that you do it that way.  Make sure that the script is running already in the context of the account that has the proper rights for the job at hand.

    (NOTE: You should also read-up on PowerShell Security,  and in particular, Execution Policies.)

    “What PowerShell books do you recommend?”

    I don’t personally have any recommendations.  I have and have made good use of the Bruce Payette book for the answers here, but really there are dozens of good books out there; easy to find if you do a search for them.

  • Some guy singing about my family…

    It’s amazing the things you can find on the Internet.  Like when a Kurdish artist makes a music video containing my family name…

    (Aras, the artist, is a popular Kurdish artist.  http://www.aras.se/  It’s a nice tune!  I just wish I knew what he was saying about me.)

  • The Band has a GIG tonight…

    August 23, 2008 only…

    In case any of you reading this are in the vicinity of Hamel, Minnesota this evening.. drop on by the Church of St. Anne for their outdoor “Parish Festival”.  The band “Unbridled” (I’m the male lead singer and play MORE COWBELL than you’ll ever need) is playing from 7:00pm-to-whenever they shut us down.

  • August-December 2008 - TechNet Event Resources

    Kevin’s TechNet Event Resources

     

    E-mail Technical Questions: Kevin Remde – Kevin.Remde@microsoft.com

    Feedback e-mail to my boss: Rich Russell– richruss@microsoft.com

     

    Session PowerPoint Decks
    http://www.technetevents.com/resources/2008-August-September.aspx

     

     

    Future Live, In-Person Event Information
    TechNet (for IT Pros):
    http://www.technetevents.com/kevinremde

    MSDN (for Software Developers):
    http://www.MSDNEvents.com
    Microsoft Across America:
    http://www.microsoft.com/acrossamerica

     

    15%-OFF Special TechNet Plus Subscription Promotion –
    Yes, save $52.39 off of a TechNet Plus Direct Subscription, and even more on the others!

    Use Promotion Code TMSAM08 (that’s ZERO-8.  Think 2008) at
    http://www.microsoft.com/technet/subscription
    IMPORTANT UPDATE: This promotion and promotion code have expired.
    Please CLICK HERE for the most current promotion.

    { Why to get Windows Vista with SP1 }

     

    Windows Client TechCenter – the Springboard Series of Resources

    (This is a one-stop, best location for all technical resources and knowledge around Windows Vista)

    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/aa904820.aspx

     

    Windows Vista Home Page

    http://www.windowsvista.com

     

    Notable Changes in Windows Vista Service Pack 1

    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc709618.aspx

     

    The Mojave Experiment – Do you really know Vista?

    http://www.mojaveexperiment.com

     

    The Tolley Group – Enhanced Network Performance with Microsoft Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008

    http://download.microsoft.com/download/4/b/4/4b455e48-72c4-4a04-b9a5-892fd497087a/TollyResults.pdf

     

    Mark Russinovich’s Blog Post: “Inside Vista SP1 File Copy Improvements”
    http://blogs.technet.com/markrussinovich/archive/2008/02/04/2826167.aspx

     

    Stan Beer’s “Why Move to SP1?” Article

    http://www.itwire.com/content/view/17269/1023

    http://www.itwire.com/content/view/17269/1023

     

    http://www.itwire.com/content/view/17269/1023

     

     

     

    James Bannan’s Article: “Vista SP1 up to 86% Faster”

    http://apcmag.com/vista_sp1_up_to_86_faster.htm

     

    { Managing Windows Vista with Windows PowerShell }

    **NOTE: Demo setup and script files are now attached to this post in a .zip file.  Look towards the bottom of this article to find the file.

     

    How to Download Windows PowerShell 1.0

     

     

     

    http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/technologies/management/powershell/download.mspx

     

    Windows PowerShell 1.0 Documentation Pack

    http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=B4720B00-9A66-430F-BD56-EC48BFCA154F&displaylang=en

     

    Windows PowerShell: Frequently Asked Questions

    http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008/en/us/powershell-faq.aspx

     

    How Windows PowerShell Works

    http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms714658(VS.85).aspx

     

    Windows PowerShell Team Blog

    http://blogs.msdn.com/powershell/

     

    Windows PowerShell Getting Started Guide

    http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa973757(VS.85).aspx

     

    Windows PowerShell Cmdlet Help Topics

    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb978604.aspx

     

    Scripting with Windows PowerShell Script Center

    http://www.microsoft.com/technet/scriptcenter/hubs/msh.mspx

     

    The Script Center Script Repository (includes sample PowerShell Scripts)

    http://www.microsoft.com/technet/scriptcenter/scripts/default.mspx?mfr=true

     

    Windows PowerShell SDK

    http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms714469(VS.85).aspx

     

    Windows PowerShell Programmer’s Guide

    http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms714674(VS.85).aspx

     

    Windows PowerShell Class Library (Managed Code Reference)

    http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa717491(VS.85).aspx

     

    Windows PowerShell V2 Community Technology Preview 2 (CTP2)

    http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=7C8051C2-9BFC-4C81-859D-0864979FA403&displaylang=en

     

    Blog Post: What’s New in V2?

    http://blogs.msdn.com/powershell/archive/2007/11/06/what-s-new-in-ctp-of-powershell-2-0.aspx


    {
    Group Policy Preferences, Templates, and Scripting }

    Group Policy

    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc725828.aspx

     

    Group Policy Preferences Overview

    http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=42e30e3f-6f01-4610-9d6e-f6e0fb7a0790&DisplayLang=en

     

    ADMX Migrator

    http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=0F1EEC3D-10C4-4B5F-9625-97C2F731090C&displaylang=en

     

    Planning and Deploying Group Policy

    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc754948.aspx

     

    Using Windows Script Files

    http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/15x4407c.aspx

     

    Group Policy Management Console Scripting Samples

    http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa814151(VS.85).aspx

     

    Group Policy Management Console Sample Scripts Download

    http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=38c1a89b-a6d2-4f2a-a944-9236999aee65&DisplayLang=en

     

    Free GPMC PowerShell Cmdlets 1.2 (by SDM Software)

    http://www.sdmsoftware.com/freeware

     

     

  • Photosynth is released!

    Photosynth.net As a digital photography nut, and the de-facto family photographer/videographer, I think this is pretty big news.

    Recently I blogged about PhotoZoom, plus a cute example of what it can do. 

    And now I hear that the Photosynth site is now live and ready for you to use!

    “What is it?”

    Basically, it’s the idea that if you (or many people) have many pictures of a particular thing, or of a certain location, then somehow we should be able to compile those photos into a new kind of navigation that represents all the different viewpoints of that thing or location.  So you can think of it as a new way to view photos that were taking in-and-around a certain spot.  And the photos might come from many different sources, too.. so it can become a community effort as well.

    Here’s the description from the Photosynth site:

    Imagine being able to share the places and things you love using the cinematic quality of a movie, the control of a video game, and the mind-blowing detail of the real world. With nothing more than a bunch of photos, Photosynth creates an amazing new experience.

    “Can I create my own ‘synth’?”

    Yes, you can!  Check out this video download describing the process.

    “How much does it cost?”

    Free.  No money.  Enjoy!  Use the Search to look for synths that may have already been shared, or add yours to the community.  Fun stuff!

  • Playing with PhotoZoom

    Kevin's "Best of Europe" photos - a small sampling from the 1500+ photos I took a couple weeks ago. MS Live Labs has a fun app called PhotoZoom.  It’s a cool proof-of-concept around how you might handle and navigate through images. 

    One application of this sort of technology that I thought was really cool was in zooming into very VERY large photos.  Stay out to see the big picture, or zoom in to see the smallest of details.  Check out HD-View here. (NOTE: Requires a browser plug-in to be installed.  But it’s well worth it!  More examples below.)

    And now you can host your own photos as a zoom-able setCheck out my “Best of Europe” album HERE.

    NOTE: It’s a Silverlight application.  I suggest you install the latest beta of version 2.

    You can also add PhotoZoom as a Facebook application, and create PhotoZoom albums of your existing albums there.

    Disclaimer: These are not full-blown Microsoft products… nor are they any indication of how this technology might be used in future products.  In the future these sites or services may go away or be re-packaged in other ways.  But, hey.. for now they’re free.  And geeky-cool!

    ---

    More examples:

    Bill Crow e-mailed me another very cool example – The Yosemite Extreme Pano Imaging Project

    He also pointed me to this blog post on the Expression Blend and Design Team Blog, which links to the latest version of the “Deep Zoom Composer”.

    And Paolo Barone responded to my "Tweet" with that Yosemite example, as well as this example from Renault.  (Go to the “Full immersion” link on the left.)

    And if you haven’t seen this yet, you really need to check out the Hard Rock Memorabilia site

  • Breaking News: IE 8 Beta 2 is RTW

    RTW = Released to Web

    ie8_hover_new_thumb Internet Explorer 8 is taking browsing to a whole new level!  ..and the release cycle has also reached a new level, with the release of Beta 2. 

    My friend and coworker Matt “Mongo” Hester has been doing some excellent work on creating screencasts all about what’s new, cool, useful, and secure, etc.

    Check out his blog post, with links to his screencasts, here.

    Are you an IT Pro?  You would be very interested in seeing this video interview with James Pratt (up on TechNet Edge) around how IE 8 will impact you and your business users.

    And finally – GET IE 8 Beta 2 HERE!

    ---

    UPDATE – I’ve installed it.  Wow.. I’m loving the search providers and accelerators. 
    Have you installed it yet?  What do you think?

  • Save the Date: Live Virtual Roundtable about Windows Vista Performance

    When: September 24, 2008.  12:00pm-1:00pm EST, 9:00am-10:00am PST

    What: “Springboard Series Virtual Roundtable – Under the Hood: Windows Vista Performance… Need Answers?”

    Why: Because we’d all like to get the straight story about Windows Vista performance.  And, if there’s anything I can do to make it even better, I certainly want to know about it!

    Here’s the official session description:

    Mark Russinovich - Microsoft Technical Fellow and founder of SysInternals “Join Mark Russinovich and a panel of industry experts for a LIVE virtual roundtable to explore your top of mind performance issues, common misconfigurations, and tips on how to fix them.
    From boot times and applets to disk performance and battery life, find out how to optimize Windows Vista and what you can do to improve overall system performance.”

     

    Go HERE to get the details.

    Click HERE to add it to your calendar.

    And e-mail HERE (vrtable@microsoft.com) to submit your questions in advance if you’d like.

    “If I can’t make it to the live roundtable, can I view it later?”

    Absolutely.  Watch the Springboard Series site for the availability of the recording.