Kevin Remde's IT Pro Weblog

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  • Want my business card?

    http://gettag.mobi/

    Kevin_Remde_vCard_2010312184456

    I’m having so much fun playing with Microsoft Tag.  Try it out on your smartphone.  (go to http://gettag.mobi) The software drives your phone’s camera to take a quick scan of the tag, and then does something with it, like open a web page, or download a vCard.  For example, the colorful tag above, when scanned, will let you save my contact information to your phone. 

    Next time I print business cards, I’m going to put this on them.  I’d love to have it on a T-Shirt, as well.

    “Kevin.. this isn’t new.”

    I know.  It was introduced over a year ago. But I’m just getting around to investigating some cool social-networking uses for it. 

    (As of this writing, this same tag is my profile photo on Twitter.)

    UPDATE: I’ve customized it.  Now it has my photo in it.

    Kevin Remde Custom vCard

  • WAG – It’s like Bacon Flavored Dog Treats for the IT Professional

    DogWagWAG = Windows Administrator Groups

    Last week I decided to try something new, and it’s catching on in a big way.  I wanted to create a new set of user groups for IT Administrators who primarily work with MIcrosoft Windows-based infrastructures.  So I came up with the acronym WAG. 

    I’m also a recent big fan of LinkedIn.  And based on the example/success of people like my friend John Weston and others, I decided to use the LInkedIn groups capability to create the Windows Administrator Groups group, and to create sub-groups for various geographies.  The idea is that people can join the parent group and any subgroups they want to be a part of, and the subgroups will lead to the formation of regularly meeting WAG user groups. 

    “So, if I’m in Omaha, I should join the Omaha WAG?”

    That’s right!  I’ve created WAGs for several of the cities I visit on a regular basis.  (Minnesota, Des Moines, Omaha, St. Louis, and Kansas City.)  I really want to help form or support IT Pro user groups in those cities – whether or not they are focused on Microsoft solutions.  But I am betting that a general administration group would be very valuable in a lot of cities.  We all want a place to get together and share best practices, see presentations from skilled professionals, and generally network with your IT Pro peers.  (And sharing some Pizza and Beer now and then is good, too!)  On behalf of Microsoft, I cover the States of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri.  So I’m hoping to form and support groups in any-or-all of those states. 

    “What if I’m not in one of those locations, but I still want a group in my area?”

    Then I want to hear from you, too!  I’m creating subgroups for anyone that wants one – until we reach the subgroup limit in LinkedIn.  So if you’re interested, send me a note or create a new discussion in the WAG discussions, and I’ll create it.  In fact, if you’re interested in being the manager of your subgroup, I’ll be happy to let you do that as well.  I’ve already created subgroups for Chicago, Heartland, Northern California, and Toronto, Ontario.  I will also likely get my Microsoft counterparts involved in helping you support those groups.

    “So.. are these groups always going to be Microsoft-lead groups?”

    NO!  My goal is not to continue to be the leader of a bunch of user groups!  Quite the opposite.  My goal is simply to help get the snowball rolling down the hill and in the right direction.  Ultimately I will continue to support the group, but leadership and direction ultimately need to come from the local community.  (Sure.. I’ll come and speak to the group whenever you want me.)

     

    So..

    1. Join WAG group in LinkedIn
    2. Start a discussion and request a subgroup
    3. Join a subgroup that pertains to your location
    4. Get ready to consider meeting as a user group

    ..and get your WAG on!

  • IT Manager Community Talk with Kevin – Why is Office 2010 going to be the best Productivity Platform?

    profile“Yeah, Kevin.. what’s so cool about Office 2010?”

    Lots of things.  I sure don’t want to have to write them all up here; though I’m sure I will eventually.  But today, if you’re an IT Manager, and if you have time, you should definitely attend our IT Manager Community Talk , because I’ll be speaking with Adam Carter about that very topic. 

    CLICK HERE to register for and attend the live discussion, or to listen to the recording afterwards.  (We’ll have it up on TechNet Edge later, too.)

  • Breaking News: Some Big Desktop Virtualization Announcements

    Because IT's everybody's business!

    I don’t know what it is yet, but I hear it’s going to be important.

    At 9:00am PST today, the “Desktop Virtualization Hour” site will have a live broadcast/webcast, where I’m told there will be some exciting news around Desktop Virtualization.

    I’ll watch, and report back here with an update when I have the details.  Stay tuned, or watch with me.

    ---

    Update: Here is the official announcement: http://www.microsoft.com/Presspass/press/2010/mar10/03-18DesktopVirtPR.mspx

    VERY EXCITING STUFF!

    The announcements really came in three parts:

    1. New technologies
    2. Simplified licensing
    3. and a renewed alliance with Citrix Systems, Inc.

    New Technologies
    Many of you have complained to me (and to Microsoft about XP-Mode in Windows 7, and the requirement for hardware/CPU virtualization support.  Today we have removed that barrier.
    Let me say it another way: If you have older hardware that doesn't have virtualization support on the CPU, you WILL NOW be able to use XP-Mode on Windows 7.

    “Wait a sec… ‘Now’?  Really?  Now?  No update required?”

    Yes.. NOW.  If you are already using XP-Mode, you’re fine.  If you weren’t able to before, then the version you can download as of today will include the switch that allows it to run without the hardware-supported virtualization. 

    Another new technology announced today, that is coming in Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1.  It’s called RemoteFX.  This is an improvement/addition to the RDP (Remote Destkop Protocol) that will support multimedia, 3D graphics, and full Silverlight fidelity in a remote desktop session.  Imagine the old Terminal Services session now supporting rich graphics!  Yes.. I even saw my friend Michael Kleef demonstrate full AERO desktop capabilities like AERO Peek and AERO Flip-3D, and the new "Street-Side View" in Virtual Earth.  Event HD video!  Amazing.  So, virtualized desktops basically won’t look virtualized any longer.  How about that?

    Another benefit coming in SP1 on the Server/Hyper-V side will be support for something called Dynamic Memory.  Under Hyper-V, you'll be able to configure virtual machines to dynamically adjust memory allocated to them, based on performance.  So, you can set a minimum and maximum, and let the machines adjust up or down as their load requires.  So if you’re hosting dozens of virtual desktop machines in a VDI implementation, you’ll be able to make better, more efficient use of your virtualization host memory.

    “So.. when can I get SP1?”

    Sorry – Microsoft didn’t announce any timeline for SP1 yet.  Stay tuned.

    Licensing, Simplified! 

    Beginning July 1, 2010, if you have Software Assurance on your Windows Clients, you won't have to buy a separate Virtual Desktop Access license in a VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) environment. Thin clients will sill need a VDA license, but if you already have an SA covered Windows Client, you won't need an additional VDA license for that client.  SA covers it.

    Another big bit of news today is that companies will now have an option to extend virtualization licensing out to remote or home-based employees.  Home PCs, Kiosks, and their mother-in-law's PCs.  Now you will have "roaming rights".  These rights will also include licensing for things like Software Assurance-covered Microsoft Office applications.  “Beginning July 1, 2010, Windows Client Software Assurance and new Virtual Desktop Access license customers will have the right to access their virtual Windows desktop and their Microsoft Office applications hosted on VDI technology on secondary, non-corporate network devices, such as home PCs and kiosks.”

    A renewed relationship with Citrix
    We announced a couple of new promotions along with Citrix Systems:

    VDI Kick-start program - to lower the barrier to entry.  Offering $28/user for up to 250 devices.  Sweet.

    1. VMware View Rescue Program - For customers that rushed into VMware's VDI solution and experienced problems, you can trade in your un-used licenses!  Up to 500 of them!  “Through the Rescue for VMware VDI promotion, eligible customers can trade-in their VMware View licenses with same number of Microsoft VDI Standard Suite subscription and Citrix XenDesktop VDI Edition annual licenses”

    Also, some additional technological collaboration was announced.  For example, Citrix HDX being able to detect RemoteFX capabilities on the server and taking advantage of it for an even greater, richer media experience.

    More details about the offers and the collaboration can be found on this special website: http://www.citrixandmicrosoft.com/

    ---

    “Kevin.. The webcast discussed Application and Desktop Virtualization solutions like App-V and MED-V that are in the MDOP.  But what if I want to start trying out App-V , MED-V or VDI right now?  I don’t have MDOP.  How can I try this out?”

    Are you a TechNet Plus Subscriber?  If so, your subscription allows you to download the MDOP (Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack) it and try it out.  (And if you’re not, CLICK HERE to find out more about the subscription, and take advantage of the near-$100 savings promotion that ends at the end of March 2010!)

    What's not in the announcement that you would have liked to see, Kevin?
    I want to be able to run 64-bit guest machines in MED-V.  We haven't yet addressed that.  I presume that it's not
    I want

  • Breaking News: Out-of-Band Security Update released today (March 30, 2010) for IE6 and IE7

    Today a security update is being released out-of-band to address a known and recently exploited vulnerability in Internet Explorer 6 and Internet Explorer 7.  (See the MSRC Blog for more information about the advanced notification.)

    “The vulnerability used in these attacks, along with workarounds, is described in Microsoft Security Advisory 981374. The out-of-band security bulletin is a cumulative security update for Internet Explorer and will also contain fixes for privately reported vulnerabilities rated Critical on all versions of Internet Explorer that are not related to this attack.”

    The good news: The most current version of Internet Explorer, IE 8, and Windows 7, are not impacted or affected by the exploit we're addressing here.  However, the cumulative update does include fixes for other less-critical issues, including some in IE 8.  Apparently the IE team were able to sufficiently test fixes that would have waited for the April 13th "patch Tuesday" updates, so they were able to add them this time.

    More good news: If you're running any of our antivirus products such as Microsoft Security Essentials or Microsoft Forefront Client Security, and have the most up-to-date definitions installed, you'll also be protected.

    Microsoft is hosting a webcast today (March 30, 2010) at 1:00 PM Pacific Time (US & Canada) to address customer questions on the out-of-band security bulletin.  
    Register now for the March 30, 1:00 PM webcast.  After this date, this webcast will be available on-demand.

    For more information, see Microsoft Security Bulletin Summaries and Webcasts.

    “But how do I get these updates, Kevin?  Just give me the link!”

    At the time of this writing, the updates aren't available.  They should be in about a half-hour from now.  I'll update this post when I see it go live.

    UPDATE: Here is the security bulletin page that just went live: MS10-018

    Microsoft recommends you use Windows Update (http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com), or WSUS,  or allow your PCs to update automatically.  Or use whatever other update distribution mechanism you currently use (such as SCCM).

    If you simply want to download the update packages and install or deploy them manually, you can get them at the Microsoft Update Catalog: http://catalog.update.microsoft.com/v7/site/Home.aspx

  • LAST DAY (March 31) for saving nearly $100 on new TechNet Plus Direct subscriptions!

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

    TechNetPlusSubscriptions

    CLICK HERE for details about the subscription, and about the promotion (28%-off) that ends at the end of today (March 31, 2010). 

    Or CLICK HERE to dive right in and save 28% using promo code TNITQ404

    UPDATE: The 28%-off promotion, and my promotion code, have expired as of today, April 1, 2010 (and it's no joke, I'm afraid). 

    There is a new promotion that runs through May 15, 2010, for 25% off.  The new promotion code for 25% off new TechNet Plus Direct subscriptions is TNITQ404.

    CLICK HERE to purchase at 25% off.

     

  • RTW: Exchange Pre-Deployment Analyzer and the Exchange Baseline Configuration Analyzer 2.0

    Exchange 2010 A couple of new tools are available for those of you either in the planning stages of an Exchange 2010 deployment, or looking to verify the configuration of your Exchange organization’s configuration:

    Exchange Pre-Deployment Analyzer - Brief Description

    The Exchange Pre-Deployment Analyzer performs an overall topology readiness scan of your environment and provides you with a list of decisions that need to be made before you deploy Exchange Server 2010.

    Get the Pre-Deployment Analyzer HERE.

    Overview

    “You can use the Exchange Pre-Deployment Analyzer to perform an overall topology readiness scan of your environment. When you run the Exchange Pre-Deployment Analyzer, it provides a detailed report that will alert you if there are any issues within your organization, which could prevent you from deploying Exchange 2010. For example, the Exchange Pre-Deployment Analyzer will notify you if you haven't deployed the minimum required Exchange service pack on all your existing Exchange servers.”

    ---

    MCBA 2.0 - Brief Description

    “Microsoft Baseline Configuration Analyzer 2.0 (MBCA 2.0) can help you maintain optimal system configuration by analyzing configurations of your computers against a predefined set of best practices, and reporting results of the analyses.”

    Get the MBCA 2.0 HERE.

    Overview

    “Microsoft Baseline Configuration Analyzer 2.0 (MBCA 2.0) can help you maintain optimal system configuration by analyzing configurations of your computers against a predefined set of best practices, and reporting results of the analyses. Best practices are developed by a product development team or domain experts, and are packaged in the form of a best practice model. Models are available as separately-downloadable packages that can be run and analyzed by MBCA. MBCA lets users work with best practice models in a consistent, user-friendly way.”

  • Questions (and answers) from our Omaha TechNet Event

    We had a great time in Omaha!  Thanks to all of you that came to our TechNet Event last Thursday. 

    As usual, I had a few questions that I wanted to find the answer to so that I could put them here in my blog.  Here they are:

    ----

    “In Windows Azure you say that the fabric controller watches for what servers are running, and can recover a role instance if it sees that the server is down.   But what assurance do we have that the fabric controller won’t go down?”

    I am told that you can check the XML file and look for the setting:  <disk_merge_pending type="bool">False</disk_merge_pending>

    Beyond that I wasn’t given any details.  I hope that helps.

    “I had a virtual machine with a hard disk on a running server that ran out of space.  I needed to expand it, but couldn’t do it while the machine was running, and then couldn’t because there were snapshots.  I needed to delete the snapshot and let it merge first.  The merge took quite some time - which my customers didn’t appreciate at all, since I am hosting web services for them.  What should/could I have done (if anything) to avoid this?”

    Well.. obviously the first thing you do is always to consider treating your virtual hard disks as having a definite limit that you need to watch.  Yes, it’s nice that you have the option to expand the disk, but as you saw, there are limitations as to when you are allowed to expand a disk.  So the best approach is to monitor the disk usage just as if it were a physical piece of hardware. 

    That said, the people at Microsoft who are responsible for Hyper-V definitely know about these issues that some people are having with snapshot-delete / offline-merges.  They won’t tell me whether they’re addressing this in future versions, however.  I do hope they are.

     

    “I want to build servers and deploy Windows Storage Server, but I’m unable to attain that software, because I’m not a big enough reseller.  Is this something that may change someday?”

    Unfortunately I was not able to get a reply from anyone responsible for making this decision.  Very frustrating. 

  • Breaking News: Microsoft Forefront Identity Manager 2010 (FIM) is released

    image

    “FIM 2010?  Is that a new product?”

    In name, yes.  But “FIM has evolved from Microsoft Identity Lifecycle Manager (ILM) 2007, which was previously Microsoft Identity Integration Server (MIIS) 2003, which originated from Microsoft Metadirectory Services (MMS).” 

    “Wait.. Who are you quoting there?”

    I’m quoting Alan Le Marquand and his very informative blog post about the release

    “So, FIM 2010 is an identity manager?”

    As the name implies.. yep.  Some organizations (you know who you are) have more than one directory of user accounts to manage.  That’s tricky.. creating them for new employees, keeping them in sync, making sure they’re all disabled or deleted in a timely manner if the employee leaves, etc.  And add to that the prospect of managing certificates, or even just the upkeep of employee information.  Wouldn’t it be great if employees had a way to manage some of that information in a self-service way?

    So, in a nutshell, FIM 2010 helps you focus more on the higher-level security aspects of your infrastructure, and focus less on managing user identities in those more complex scenarios.

    I highly recommend you check out Alan’s post, as it contains links to related TechNet webcasts, Technet Edge videos, and other useful tidbits.