Kevin Remde's IT Pro Weblog

  • SAVE MONEY on your TechNet Subscription: 28% off with NEW promotion code: TNITE04

    IMPORTANT UPDATE: This promotion and promotion code have expired.
    Please CLICK HERE for the most current promotion.

    TechNetPlusSubscriptions

    Whenever I present a live TechNet Event, I ask my audience to raise their hands if they are a TechNet subscriber.  Usually about 1/2 of the audience raises their hand.  Considering that this is typically a Microsoft-friendly audience, I'm a little shocked that there aren't more hands going up.  The TechNet Subscription is such a great resource for IT Pros, for these reasons:

    • Downloadable (or delivered, if you subscribe to the disks-delivered-to-you-monthly subscription), full-version software licensed for evaluation purposes; which includes Microsoft operating systems, servers, and Office System software; all the software that IT Pros care about.  Yes, these are for evaluation, testing, and training only; but they don't time-out.  You can install these into a training lab, test lab, or use Virtual PC, Virtual Server, Hyper-V, or even your own downloaded evaluation copy of the latest beta or CTP or Release Candidate software!  Use it to build a virtually networked playground, and play with (er.. “evaluate”, if your boss is watching) all the latest and greatest tools and technologies.
    • You get early access to beta versions and release candidates of new Microsoft products.
    • A Technical Information Library containing the articles, security updates, service packs, utilities and more - all in one convenient location.
    • Access to Online Concierge Chat service for live help from a Microsoft Online Assistant - to help you get the most out of your subscription.
    • Two (2) technical support incidents and a 20% discount on additional phone support incidents you purchase. (HINT: the savings here alone justifies the subscription cost)
    • Twelve free eLearning courses per year to keep your skills up to date.  Just for TechNet Subscribers.  (Good idea to watch the TechNet Plus Blog for details)
    • Unlimited Managed Newsgroup Support. Post your technical questions in over 100 public newsgroups and receive a response from an expert by next business day.  It's like another free avenue into direct technical support from Microsoft!

    For all of those reasons (Heck, for any ONE of those reasons), a TechNet Plus subscription is worth the yearly investment.Pretty good deal!

    "Cool, Kevin.  But how do I save $$$s?"

    For new subscriptions, from now until March 31, 2010, you can save 28% on the TechNet Plus Direct subscription.  What would have cost you $349 will now only cost $251.28.

    "That's nearly $100!"

    Bingo!

    "Is this worldwide, or U.S. only, or what?"

    This is for residents of the U.S. only.

    “Why new subscriptions only?  Why not a discount renewals?”

    Renewals are already automatically discounted, even more than you get with this code.  Besides.. we’re honestly trying to promote TechNet Subscriptions to those who haven’t yet benefited from it.  We’re pretty confident that if you try it, you’ll see enough value in it to renew your subscription.

    Write down or copy this promotion code to your clipboard: TNITE04 (That's zero-four.  Not the letter O.)

    Then GOTO the TechNet Subscription Center (CLICK HERE), and use the code to get your savings.

     

    “Hey Kevin, didn’t you have some other code we were using before?”

    Yes.  The “TMSAM08” code is no longer valid.  You need to use this new TNITE04 code now.

  • TechNet Events: We may be coming to your town!

     World-Class, Live, FREE Events for IT Professionals

    “Really?  My town?”

    Well.. okay.  Not everyone’s town.  But our schedule of live, free events in the US for IT Pros is done and live and available for you to see now on the TechNet Events site.

    “What are you guys covering this time around?”

    I’m so glad you asked!  Here is the event summary and session details from the site:

    Event Overview

    Join your local TechNet Events team for a lively tour of the latest tools and resources for IT Pros. We’ll start with an overview of Windows Azure, and explore how you can use this high-performance hosted platform to build customer-facing applications and add horsepower to your computing infrastructure. Next, we’ll look at all the tools and techniques available for building virtual environments in Hyper-V version 2.0 and finish the day by demonstrating how to simplify your Windows 7 deployments. TechNet Events are free, live learning sessions packed with hands-on technical content. Register today!


    SESSION 1: The Next Wave: Windows Azure

    The future of highly available, high-performance, secure, dynamically scalable, hosted computing has arrived with Windows Azure. In this session, we’ll demonstrate the basics of the Azure online service computing platform and how you can leverage it in your work. You’ll see real-world case studies, learn how to use Azure in your applications, and we’ll touch on the future of this exciting new platform. 


    SESSION 2:  Hyper-V: Tools to Build the Ultimate Virtual Test Network

    Windows Server 2008 R2 and Hyper-V version 2.0 provide a powerful base for building a highly realistic test bed for servers, clients and networks. This session will demonstrate how to leverage valuable resources including a TechNet subscription, Windows Server 20008R2, Hyper-V and Disk2vhd. You’ll learn how to work with snapshots, create a virtual machine from a running physical machine, and apply all the tools and techniques available for building a great virtual environment in Hyper-V.

    SESSION 3: Automating Your Windows 7 Deployment with MDT 2010

    Deploying Windows 7 is easy if you’re using the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) 2010. In this session, we’ll drill down into the MDT Workbench and explore how the MDT process uses reference images to ease deployment to target computers. You’ll also learn how to configure the deployment environment, add operating systems, applications and language packs, and create a task-sequenced deployment to a target computer.

    I’m really excited about these sessions. I think the timing of getting this information out is just perfect, considering all of the exciting things happening in Cloud Computing and the Windows Azure platform, Virtualization and Hyper-V as a platform for testing and training, as well as real useful tools for doing Windows 7 deployments.

    “When and where will we see you delivering these, Kevin?”

    I’ll be presenting these sessions at following TechNet Events from 8:30am-12:00pm (click the link to register):

    Registration is open now, and these may fill up fast, so register soon!

    AND FOR DEVELOPERS: On the very same day and location, from 1:00pm-5:00pm we are holding our MSDN Events.  Make sure you check out the MDSN Events web site for details, and register for those as well.

     

    “And what’s the strange photo on the right, Kevin?  Who are those people?”

    That is (those are) “The Monkees”.  The last line of their TV show theme song inspired the subject for this blog post.

  • BREAKING NEWS: Critical Out-of-Band Security Update Today

    Important Security News

     http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/ms10-jan.mspx

    This is an important one folks.

    “Who or what software does this impact"?”

    You can see the full list HERE under the “Affected Software” section.  But in a nutshell it’s every OS from Windows 2000 and later on running Windows Internet Explorer 6 and later.  Yes, it includes Internet Explorer 8.

    “What’s the exploit?”

    A maliciously crafted website could allow an attacker to gain access to a computer using the same security rights as the logged on user. 

    “Is there any good news in this?”
    I guess if there were any good news, it would be that there have not (as of this writing) been any exploits of IE 7 or IE 8, but the proof of concept is real and valid. 

    This also doesn’t impact “Core” installations of Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2008 R2.

    “Where can I get the update?”

    The update(which, by the way, is a “cumulative update”) will be available at or around 10:00AM Pacific time, and there will be a new Security Advisory published also.  In the meantime, you can reference Security Advisory 979352When the new advisory and the update are available, I will post links to them here.

    UPDATE:

    Here is the security bulletin - http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/Bulletin/MS10-002.mspx

    And the updated security advisory is live here - http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/advisory/979352.mspx

    Here's what the MSRC has to say about it.

    And finally; if here is the "Regular IT Guy" perspective.

  • Toolbox for IT – Tools and Community

    image

    This is pretty cool.  There’s a huge online community of IT people growing.  It’s the “Toolbox for IT”.  There are forums, topics, whitepapers, blogging, Wikis… basically an entire Web 2.0 smorgasbord all centered around resources and networking for IT Professionals.

    Here’s a screen snippet (click to enlarge) of some of the topics – plus you get an idea of some of the other areas available:

    Click to enlarge

    “What’s it cost?”

    It’s free. And the registration is really simple, too.

    CLICK HERE to try it out. 

  • Trials and Betas… Trials and Betas…

    For those of you looking for something to do today, and are just itching to try out some new software, here is a quick compilation of links to useful downloads of the latest and greatest.

    “But Kevin.. I don’t have a roomfull of machines to install these on.”

    Well.. if you have one spare machine with decent memory that can run 64-bit OS like Windows Server 2008 R2, you can install that evaluation, and then build virtual machines in Hyper-V to try the rest of these products out.

    Better yet – if you have a TechNet Plus Subscription, you can get all the software to evaluate with no time limits. 

    “Where do I get that subscription?”

    I’m glad you asked.

  • Security: Your choice of browser is very important.

    image

    The advisory from yesterday (1/18/2010) at the Microsoft Security Response Center is a good read for anyone interested in the latest news on known exploits to Internet Explorer.

    The bad news:

    For IE 6, “attacks remain targeted to a very limited number of corporations and are only effective against Internet Explorer 6

    The good news:

    “…at this time, we have not seen any successful attacks against Internet Explorer 7. However, earlier today, we were made aware of reports that researchers have developed Proof-of-Concept (PoC) code that exploits this vulnerability on Internet Explorer 7 on Windows XP and Windows Vista.  We are actively investigating, but cannot confirm, these claims.”

    The best news:

    “We have not seen successful attacks on Internet Explorer 8.  We continue to recommend customers upgrade to Internet Explorer 8 to benefit from the improved security protection it offers.”

    “So what are you saying, Kevin?”

    I’m saying that you should get you and your companies standardized on IE 8 sooner rather than later; especially if you are still running Internet Explorer 6.  Do what you can to roll it out into production.  Help is available. 

    “But, why should I use IE at all?  Won’t I be safer with some other browser?”

    In the sense that those browsers are simply TARGETED less often (because there are fewer of them out there), you might think so.  But they are not less vulnerable.  In fact, NSS Labs found that in some very important areas they were MORE vulnerable than IE8.