Amazon Widget

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Bug or Feature? Part 1 of ???

This is the first in an unknown number of posts about bugs vs features.  It was inspired by the following.

I was recently discussing XenDesktop with a co-worker and he mentioned a problem he was having with it.  He wasn't able to use XenDesktop with his multi-monitor setup at home, and had spent at least 30 minutes looking for a setting or flag to get this to work when he found this YouTube video.  90 seconds later, his problem was solved.  So the question is - Is this "fix" for multi-monitors in XenDesktop a bug or a feature?

Another example of this is my personal favorite, from ancient times when it comes to technology and software.  In Microsoft FrontPage 98 (a web page design program, before they was common place and readily available on the interwebs), a user could essentially format the C: drive of the computer they were working on inside the program itself, by doing some file management, selecting all the files & folders on the C: drive, and deleting them.  There was no warning box, no confirmation window, nothing to prevent this from happening.  When brought to Microsoft's attention, people were told that file management was a 'feature' of FrontPage 98.  A 'feature', indeed. :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Microsoft unveils Surface

Words that sum up my thoughts on the June 18, 2012 announcement from Microsoft of the new Surface tablets that will run various flavors of Windows 8:  Wow.  Game-changer.  Stunning.  Exciting. 

Will I get one?  Not in the foreseeable future, which is 99% a financial decision.  Would I like one?  Yes, it would be fun to compare a Surface tablet with an iPad 2. :)  I think the biggest chicane to widespread adoption is the traditional one - applications.  Without compelling apps, people won't buy it.  That's been the key, IMHO, to Apple's success with the iPod and iPad - Apps, lots of apps, and lots of high-quality apps.  Hey, here's a sure-fire way to kick-start sales - have PopCap announce a Plants vs. Zombies sequel that will be exclusive to the Surface tablets for the first 12 months. :D

Thursday, October 06, 2011

UserAccountControl Values

Something that's always been difficult for me, probably because I rarely use this information, is remembering what the userAccountControl values mean in Active Directory.  So, I finally tracked down what the values are, and have assembled some of the more common values for easy reference.

  • 512 - Normal Account
  • 514 - Disabled Account
  • 528 - Locked out Account
  • 530 - Locked out and Disabled Account
  • 544 - Password Not Required
  • 66048 - Normal Account, Password Does Not Expire
  • 66050 - Disabled Account, Password Does Not Expire
  • 8389120 - Password Expired, Normal Account
  • 8389122 - Password Expired, Disabled Account
I hope this information helps you in your day-to-day job duties!

Friday, September 02, 2011

Interviewing with Microsoft

I've been lucky enough to interview with Microsoft a few times in the last 9 months or so.  I've learned that when you interview with Microsoft, no matter what you think you know, you don't know nearly as much as you think you do.  I've hung up the phone on technical phone screens or walked out to my car after Finals Day and felt like my brain had been taken out of my head, stretched out, stomped on, run thru a wringer, smacked around, steamrolled, and then put back into my head.  I've felt like I've totally bombed and been told I'm moving forward in the process, and other times I've thought things have gone well and been cut from consideration.

I have yet to achieve my much-desired break thru and get a job offer from them, but I will keep applying and trying until I do! :)  Here's a summary what I've learned during my experiences with the Microsoft interviewing process:
  1. Be patient!  The recruiters are dealing with hundreds of applicants each day, plus scheduling, and who-knows-what-else
  2. Never think you "know it all" - You don't.  Expect to be humbled in some way during each interview and by each interviewer.
  3. Relax!  The interview is not a life-or-death thing.  If you are nervous, it's going to come out in the interview when you can't remember simple things, or forget details, or who knows what else.
  4. Think out-loud.  I can't emphasize that enough.  If you think out-loud, the interviewer(s) gets an idea of how you think/troubleshoot/process and could help nudge you in the right direction if you're almost there but are stuck.  If you sit in silence while you think, it's pretty much a given that you're doomed.
  5. It's ok to say "I don't know".  If you try to make something up, you'll get called on it.  This ties in with the previous point - think out-loud.  If you don't know something when the question is asked, think out-loud about it, and if you just can't get figure it out, tell the interviewer(s) - I don't know.
  6. Make it a point to say, "When we're done, I'm going to go learn about [x, y, z]".  It shows that you want to learn and improve.
  7. Research the role you are applying for, and have plenty of questions prepared ahead of time to ask
  8. Refresh your knowledge of the basics for whatever technology you are dealing with
  9. Ask for feedback after every step in the process.  Take that feedback and dive into anything they say you are weak in or need work on
  10. Most important piece of advice - Have fun!  It's a great experience, and you'll talk with some extremely bright people along the way.
Good luck!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Thoughts on Microsoft Certification

This could be somewhat of a controversial post.  It deals with certification and braindumps and "cheating".  You have been warned. :)

First off, I hold several Microsoft certifications.  Second, I have seen some of the offerings of TestKing, Pass4Sure, ActualTests, and RealExams for myself.  There are dozens of others, I'm sure, but quite frankly I don't have the time nor the desire to search them out.  That's what is for.  

The observations in this post are strictly my own, and are based on my perusal of some of the aforementioned braindumps, which is the basis for my opinion, and thus this blog entry.  If you stumbled across this blog entry as a result of searching for such materials, you won't find any here, but I would ask that you read the entire post before continuing on in your search.

A braindump, such as one listed above, is cheating.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Knowing the answers to an exam before taking it cannot be called anything less.
You cannot, I repeat, CANNOT, justify the use of braindumps to me.  Don't even waste the energy even thinking about trying to justify it to me.  If you know the questions before you take test, and can do a decent job of memorizing the answers, what have you learned?  How to memorize answers, that's it.  You haven't learned the material, you haven't spent hours and hours in some kind of lab environment learning about the product, how it works, how to configure it, what x and y and z can do. 

What can or should you do?  This is simply my opinion, take it with as many grains of salt as you like.  Turn in cheaters.  If you see people asking for braindump materials, get their name and/or e-mail address, plus the site where you saw the post, and report them to the appropriate certification source (Microsoft, Cisco, Red Hat, etc.).  It may not be the same e-mail address they have on file somewhere for their certification, it could be (and probably is) a fake name, but at least you're alerting companies to the cheaters and where they like to lurk.  If companies like Microsoft can take down these braindump sites, it raises the value of their certifications because there is no more "easy" avenue.  Granted, if someone wants to cheat, they'll find a way.  And taking these sites down will simply push them into the deep, dark corners of the interwebs.  But that's fine with me.
In the end, if you use TestKing, ActualTests, et al., as your "prep" material prior to an exam, then your certification is worth exactly what you paid for those materials.  You've learned nothing of value, and in any real world environment you will be exposed as a fraud, if you even make it past a good interviewer.  You have nothing to be proud of, no reason to show off the letters you can put behind your name.  For those who do not go that route, and learned on the job, in a lab, while pouring hours and hours of their own time and hundreds, if not thousands, of their own dollars into lab equipment, books, software, etc., your certification is priceless.  You can be proud of your achievement.

In the end, I'd rather have something I can hang my hat on and be proud of than have something that I don't deserve.

Maturing on the job

I was exchanging e-mails with an old friend today, and started talking about my experiences and how I've changed since I started working where I am now.  Hey, no better time to make a blog entry! :)

I'll be the first to admit that I've spent way too much time coasting and resting on my laurels the last few years, and I seriously regret it now.  Hindsight, right?  If I had a nickel for every time I've thought, "If only I had learned about this a few years ago", or "If only I had read up on that", I'd be, well, maybe not rich, but I'd have quite a bit more money than I do now. ;)  The difference between today and a year ago, or 2 years ago, or.... is that I've realized that if I want to get where I want to go, I have to get there myself, that I can't rely on others to help me get there, and I have to be able to show beyond a shadow of a doubt why I'm better than everyone else. I had often said in interviews that my goal was to be "one of the best".  I think I've finally figured out how to actually get there instead of just talk about it and think that what I've done in the past will help me achieve that goal.

The company I'm at right now is the first place in a long time where I don't want to screw off rather than work, or give a half-hearted effort, or openly question my manager and/or upper management and their decisions.  I've been given challenging work, have been learning more than I ever thought I would about Active Directory and all sorts of related things, and have been able to take pride in my work. Also, to get not only private but public kudos from my supervisor and manager (who then relay those up the management chain, where my contract extensions are approved :D ) has really driven me.

I really think I've matured professionally since starting here, but I know I have a ways to go still.  No longer am I the cowboy who goes off and just does things or makes changes because I think they're a good idea.  I'm the one now who tries to reign in the cowboys.  Now, instead of briefly reading about something and going off half-cocked trying to use it, I research.  I learn.  I plan.  I learn.  I test.  I learn some more.  I look at new technologies with an eye towards how they can improve what is in place in production, not just as something I can say I've learned about and used in a lab.  I've found sources of information that just overwhelm me with how much sheer knowledge can be obtained by digging into and reading them.

Now, I just need to maintain this momentum and keep moving forward.  My goals remain the same - to be one of the best, and to work for Microsoft.  Now, hopefully, I have the tools to make it happen.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

PowerShell script to get Password Expiration

A little something I just wrote that will dump to a .CSV file the Password Expiration date for a list of users from an input text file.  It's one line.  I love PowerShell. :)  

NOTE:  This script was tested only on Windows Server 2008 SP2 in a Windows Server 2003 forest, and requires the Quest ActiveRoles Management Shell be installed.  I make no guarantees about other OSes. You assume all risk associated with running this script in your environment and I cannot be held liable for any damage that may occur from your use of this script.

get-content -path "[path to input text file]" | Get-QADUser -IncludeAllProperties | Select-Object dn, SamAccountName, passwordexpires | Export-Csv -Path [insert path to CSV file] -NoClobber


Monday, March 21, 2011

Lenovo piques my curiosity with the ThinkPad W520

Ok, Lenovo, you have my attention again - Lenovo ThinkPad W520

The page says "Available late March 2011".  It's March 21, does that qualify? :) Among the listed specs that caught my eye:

  • Upto 10 hours of battery life from a 9-cell battery
  • Upto 32GB RAM
  • USB 3.0, HDMI-out, and eSATA-out ports
  • Less than 6lbs
I'll be very curious to see what the various price points are, particularly how much the extra RAM costs. 

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

AD Web Services on Windows Server 2003/2008

Here's a little something I learned when trying to enable the functionality of the Active Directory Module for Powershell a few weeks back on a Window Server 2008 R2 box.  This module is also available on Windows 7, and the solution below is the same for it.

In order to make this feature work, you need AD Web Services enabled on at least one Server 2008 R2 domain controller in your domain.  In our case, the domain controllers are Server 2003-exclusively.  So, I did a little digging and found that you can install AD Web Services on Windows Server 2003 and/or Windows Server 2008 and it would then allow the AD Module for Powershell to interact with Active Directory, which means the Server 2008 R2-exclusive Powershell cmdlets will then work.

We did this on a handful of 2003 DC's in our environment without any problems.  However, when we launched the AD Module for Powershell on our 2008 R2 server, it still couldn't connect to the AD Web Service on any of the DC's.  We got the following message:

Windows PowerShell
Copyright (C) 2009 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
WARNING: Error initializing default drive: 'Unable to find a default server with Active Directory Web Services running.'.
PS C:\Windows>

After doing some digging, I found the information I was looking for.  The AD Module uses DS_WS_FLAG to find an ADWS instance.  This information can be used to locate a DC with ADWS instance, when a client will specify the additional DS_WEB_SERVICE_REQUIRED flag in the DC request.  The problem?  Server 2003/2008 DCs don't understand this new flag. To correct this, an additional hotfix has to be installed, KB969249 (for Server 2003) or KB967574 (for Server 2008).

The workaround for this is to specify the server at which your Powershell query will be directed, via the -server option.  But that can become a problem later if the server you are pointing at goes away, is down for maintenance, etc. 

So, if your AD Module for Powershell won't connect to your installation(s) of AD Web Services, you may now know why and know what to do to fix it.

Reflections on my Lenovo T500

In June 2009, I purchased a Lenovo T500 laptop.  I selected it because it was, at the time, near the top-of-the-line for specs - T9400 Intel Core 2 Duo processor, upto 8GB RAM, 7200rpm hard drive, DVD burner, 15" screen and a dedicated graphics card.  I also was able to get an open-box model at a very reasonable price.  At the same time I also upgraded the RAM to 4GB with a purchase from Newegg.

After 21 months of use, I can't say enough good things about my T500.  Durable.  Flexible (I have dual-booted from VHD a couple of times and it's nice).  Still fast.  Basically, a rock-solid laptop.  I've traveled with it a couple of times, and while it does have a bit of weight that comes with it, I haven't found it to be overly heavy when traveling thru the airport.  Performance has been outstanding - I can have multiple browser windows open, along with a couple of apps like Word, Excel, maybe Acrobat, and I cannot notice a discernible performance hit on any of the applications.  Of course, I use Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit, so that could help in that department.  I also tend to refresh my Windows install every 6-9 months, or else whenever I try out things like installing the IE9 beta on top of the Windows 7 SP1 beta and it blows up my browser. ;)

I have another 12 months or so of the 3-year factory warranty left, so I'm not driven to find a new laptop yet.  But at the same time, I am driven to see what's out there.  Why?  I want a portable, or semi-portable, self-contained lab environment.  Even if I bumped the RAM on my T500 upto 8GB, I still could "only" run two or three VMs (Hyper-V R2, of course) at any given time.  That doesn't allow me much of a test environment to have going.

What am I looking for in my next laptop?  Quad core (probably an Intel i7), room for LOTS of RAM (16GB minimum), and enough storage to keep 6-8 VM's local on the machine at any given time.  The storage piece is an interesting one for me.  Do I go with a larger 5400rpm hard drive, a slightly smaller 7200rpm hard drive, or an SSD?  The hard drives keep the cost down and provide roomy storage space, while the SSD drives up the price for less storage but pays off with maximum performance.  The models I'm looking at include a Lenovo W510, an Acer Asprire, and the HP Elitebook 8740w (which a friend has and recommends unequivocally).  I obviously have a sweet spot for Lenovo, who's ThinkPad's I've used off-and-on for the past 6 years, both personally and professionally, and have yet to have a single problem or failure.  The Acer gives the features I'd like at a good price point, while the HP Elitebook walks in and flexes a lot of muscle, for a price.  All have multiple glowing reviews, so it may come down to which one "feels" right.

Whatever happens, I'll be sure to put it thru its paces and report back here.  It's something I'd like to do more often, as well as just blog more about my profession and experiences in general.

Until next time, thanks for reading!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Office 2010 - RTM

Office 2010 has gone RTM as of 4/16/2010! TechNetPlus and MSDN subscribers will be able to grab the bits on 4/22/2010, Volume Licensing customers on May 1, and General Release (aka. Public release) is slated for sometime in June. The official product launch is May 12, with Launch events around the country throughout the month of May. See to find a list of local US events.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Time flying again

Long time, no blog. But enough about me. ;)

There are just a slew of new products that have come down the pike and/or are coming soon from Microsoft. I'll hit on a few here.

Windows 7 - Wow. That's all I can say - wow. They nailed this OS. It's everything Vista should have been, and more. I've been running it since Beta, and it's rock solid. I've had a few annoyances, like suddenly-flaky USB device detection and Windows Media Player crashing every time it's launched. But other that, it's a stellar release, and I applaud those who gave us this OS. I heard Mark Russinovich had a hand in some under-the-hood tweaks and changes, and the rumored MinWin takes those to a new level. It sounds like we could be back to a small footprint for Windows and no longer have to deal with this bloated legacy compatibility that's been an anchor on the OS for far too long.

Exchange 2010 - They took Exchange 2007 and gave it some PEDs. LOL... Seriously, though, another awesome product release. The Exchange team took the I/O improvements found in Exchange 2007 and doubled-down - they got about a 70% I/O reduction in the 2010 release on top of the 70% they got from Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2007. They addressed the inherent limitations of HA/DR in Exchange 2007 with the Database Availability Group (DAG), which allows you to have multiple copies of a database across multiple servers. Archiving? Yep, they did that, too, albeit a bit short-sightedly at first (More on that in a minute). Personal Archives are now available for user mailboxes. Think of them as a PST on the Exchange server. The problem is the archive mailbox is in the same database as the original mailbox, so there's no true value to it right now. However, in SP1 (Beta release in June at TechEd), they are addressing this shortcoming by enabling Personal Archives to be in a separate database from the main mailbox.

Office 2010 - Extending the Ribbon UI throughout the Office suite completes the UI transformation that they started in Office 2007. Personally, I like the Ribbon - it exposes much more of the product functionality than before and thus you can actually use more features than you previously would have. I am running the Beta, but since I don't have an Exchange server to connect to I have not had the pleasure of trying out the changes in Outlook. But there are some other changes that are pertinent, like automatically 'locking' a document or spreadsheet that's opened from a website. You have to click on "Enable Editing" to make changes to a document or else save it locally.

I can't even go into Windows Server 2008 R2, or Hyper-V 2.0, or SharePoint 2010, or MDOP, or MDT 2010... because I don't have enough time to play with all this cool technology!! I will try to post my thoughts as I'm able to work more with these and other technologies in the future.

Last note - fingers crossed, hoping to land a new job soon. Final interviews tomorrow, and it's a job I really, really want and believe I would excel in. Let's hope they agree! :)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Windows 7 RC - April 30

For anyone who has an MSDN or TechNet subscription, circle April 30, 2009 on your calendars - that's the day the RC for Windows 7 is slated to be available on those respective sites for download. Public availability is still on track for May 5.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Yahoo! drives! another! nail! in! its! coffin!

So, Yahoo! has rejected Microsoft's last offer of $33/share, saying it won't accept anything less than $37/share for the company. The last time Yahoo! stock was $37/share was January 2006. It's dropped over $4/share so far today while Microsoft's stock has risen, and there are at least 7 lawsuits in the works from Yahoo! shareholders over the Microsoft rejection. I think this is a case of a company's founder having far too much pride and ego to think rationally about it's future, a future that is growing cloudier every day.

So, Jerry Yang and his cohorts have rejected what is probably going to be the best offer for the company. Congratulations, Yahoo! You've succeeded in driving another nail into your coffin.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Rant about people saying America needs to "change"

This was a post I made earlier today on a message forum, in response to several people who were advocating limiting oil company profits. A few people commended the post, asking permission to re-post it in other forums. I was humbled by this, and did give permission. But here's the post in its entirety.


If they start limiting the profits of BIGEVILOIL companies, it's going to be a domino effect - they won't stop there. I'm convinced that those who advocate such policies have an intense desire to see America turned into a bigger version of Europe or the USSR. Once America crumbles, what then?

Change? You think we need change in America? You damn right we do - change back to the way things used to be done, before the Democrats started their Robin Hood campaign to take from the "rich" and give to the "poor", before the mid-60's/early 70's "peace/love/tolerance" garbage. The seeds were planted back then, and they're starting to really see them growing and producing fruit now. Just look at the results - an American society whose moral fiber has eroded to nothing. An American society who thinks it's perfectly justified to steal from one and give to another in the name of "fairness". An American society that takes no responsibility for its actions yet needs and, worse, EXPECTS government to bail it out when it does something stupid. An American educational system that seeks to indoctrinate more and more youth to their way of "thinking". How well has it worked? Great for them, just look at all the minions they have, spouting off how things "aren't fair", and using terms like "greater good" and "social justice". Johnson started the "War on Poverty" in the late 60's. What has it accomplished? NOTHING. The "poor" continue down their path because of the choices they make, in most cases. You choose your own path - make sure it's a good one.

To those who think America is "unfair" and needs changing, I say "*&^*$&^%" [interpret as you will]. I work hard, I reap the benefits. You have no right to the income that MY labor produced. I'll support the government in it's Constitutional efforts to keep our borders and people safe. The governments powers were limited for a reason - to prevent EXACTLY what the government has become today - a monetary feeding trough for anyone who wants it.

James Madison, the acknowledge Father of the Constitution, said, "If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the general welfare, the government is no longer a limited one possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one subject to particular exceptions."

Monday, March 03, 2008

Time flies....

Time flies when you don't pay attention to your blog. :) It's been a year, I figure it's time to update this puppy.

I'm with a different company now, having been terminated by my former employer for "not meeting my billable revenue target" and "not improving consulting skills to a level we think is appropriate". All talk and no action, that was their treatment of me. Talk about having a problem with me, but do nothing to help. The billable revenue target was garbage also - I'm not responsible for selling my services, the Sales team is/was. My opinion of my Practice Lead is, shall we say, somewhat derogatory and it was that way for many months prior to my departure. The guy has no clue, no leadership skills, and no communication skills. My departure was their loss, not mine - I'm working and making more than I was there, so I can't complain. I received an astounding amount of well-wishes from people within the company after I was let go, and I was humbled to know I had a positive relationship with so many people.

What else....

Exchange 2007 SP1 is out! I expect this to spur adoption of the Exchange 2007 platform, which is sad because Exchange 2007 RTM was a solid product out of the gate. Not perfect, but still really good. I hope to help companies roll this out in the coming months.

Vista SP1 is out! But.... it's not available to the unwashed masses yet. You need to be an MSDN or TechNet Plus subscriber to get it right now. GA is estimated as later this month. I did some beta testing with this and it definitely makes the Vista experience better, especially with file copying.

Windows Server 2008 is RTM! I think this is going to be something between revolutionary and evolutionary. Microsoft finally stripped the OS down to it's core components and let admins add in what they need. And I'm excited to be able to play with Hyper-V someday! I'm somewhat versed in VMware's ESX Server, so I'm naturally curious about a competing product and how they stack up to one another.

Shameless plug - see Kevin Remde's blog (the link is listed on the right column) for a code to get $100 off of a TechNet Plus subsccription. The code is good thru May 2008, I believe.

That's it for now. Have a good one... if anyone reads this. :)

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Where am I?

Not blogging for the nearly 3 months, that's for sure. I'm busy with work and home life. Work is great - we're working with the new wave of Microsoft products (Vista, Office 2007, Exchange 2007) and so far, I like what I see. I need to get into our new MS environment and start working on Exchange 2007. I'm also pursuing (again) the VCP certification. So, there's plenty on my plate. Maybe I'll get some time to blog about it! :)

Friday, December 01, 2006

Monday, October 02, 2006

Good times, for a techie

These are the days a techie loves - lots of new software coming out from everyone's favorite (?) company, Microsoft. In no particular order:

Exchange 2007 - This is going to rock. I've been doing a little bit of playing with it, and so far it looks fantastic. The 64-bit requirement is a welcome change, although I was hesitant about it initially. However, I still believe this change is going to make many companies wait to upgrade, which is a shame. I like how using the GUI to perform tasks will help you script those same things in the future - each task performed in the GUI will have it's equivalent PowerShell (or EMS, more on that in a minute) code shown so that you can copy, paste, and edit for future use. In fact, the GUI simply is a front-end for the Exchange Management Shell (EMS) - everything it does is done in the EMS behind the scenes. I'm currently doing some reading on LCR (Local Continuous Replication) and CCR (Cluster Continuous Replication), and like what I see in terms of having a more bullet-proof Exchange implementation that can handle single failures or outages and still keep running.

Windows Vista - My jury is still out on this. While it looks nice, and has a lot of new and enhanced features (security and IE7, for starters), the steep hardware requirements and continued legacy compatibility force my thumb to be in the middle, leaning towards thumbs down on this. I like some of the features like the file-based imaging with ImageX and the Parental Controls, but needing a beefy graphics card just to play Solitaire is just crossing the line, in my mind.

Office 2007 - I'm currently using the Beta 2 Technical Refresh, and after learning the basics of the interface, I like it. After attending a recent Microsoft event, I understand the reasons behind the change in UI - the UI that we've all known and loved was designed in the 1980's. Time for something new, and we have it. I feel it's somewhat intuitive, and I agree that it's more focused on the things that users do most often, and brings things "to the front" instead of having them buried in some obscure menu item. Among the multitude of products now branded under the Office umbrella is the new "Most Ridiculous Acronym" winner - MOSS 2007 (Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007). Does it only work on the north side of buildings? Is it fuzzy to work with?

All of these things are more than enough to keep one busy learning the next wave of software, especially when you consider things like PowerShell and Longhorn Server are coming, too. There's learnin' to be done, folks. It never ends, does it? :)

Monday, August 14, 2006


Ok, time for an update, since it's been about two months.

I attended a technical training class last month in New York City. Manhattan, to be precise. A few pictures will follow. Training wasn't too bad - the first two days were really good, but the third day, man, I just got lost once the security terms and acronyms started flying around. I was able to visit the World Trace Center site, which was rather somber. I saw the Empire State Building, Madison Square Garden (every day, the training facility was just a few blocks from there, and that's where I got off/on the subway), Trump Tower and Carnegie Hall (just the exteriors, not too memorable, actually), visited the World of Disney store (yee-haw!), saw the Waldorf-Astoria, and the Chrysler Building was just blocks away from my hotel.

I'd like to go back there someday with Stacy, because there are just so many things to do and see. I don't think the boys would get much out of it right now, maybe when the youngest is 10 years old or so.

Empire State Building

World Trade Center Memorial Time-line

These are pictures (not very good, I admit) of the timeline of September 11, 2001.

World Trade Center - Staircase

The picture above is of the last piece of the WTC that's left standing - a staircase. This picture is of the side/back of the staircase, as I couldn't get a decent picture of the actual stairs. The story I've heard is that this staircase was used by dozens, if not hundreds, of people to escape the tower on 9/11. It has been rumored to be included in any WTC memorial, either where it is, or moved to a different location. Personally, I'd like it to stay where it is.

World Trade Center - construction

Just a picture (taken by holding the camera outside the security fence.... shhhh!) of the construction going on at the WTC site.

About a week after that, I flew down to Houston, TX to join Stacy and the boys at her family's reunion (they drove down with her parents). It was a great time! Virginia and Jim's house is just fantastic. Lots of food, got a chance to play pool (Jim has a 9-foot table... sweeeeeet.... :) ), and see many relatives that we don't get a chance to see very often, due to a myriad of reasons. Bentwater has some amazing houses, and apparently Roger Clemens has a house somewhere in there, too.

The highlights: Golf on Saturday, Incredible Pizza, Johnson Space Center, and the boat ride on Lake Conroe. And yes, there are a LOT of things I'm leaving out. :) No pictures yet, they are all still on the digital camera.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Wish I was there...

Tech-Ed 2006, in Boston. What I would consider the ultimate Microsoft gathering. I was hoping to go this year, but those plans were nixed. I wanted to get some good information on Vista, Longhorn Server, and Exchange 2007. But, I'll just watch some blogs and see what I can glean from them. :), if you want to get a taste of what's there.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Excitement for Exchange 2007

I'm still having a hard time saying "Exchange 2007", because "Exchange 12" just seems to roll off the tongue much easier. Oh well, I'll eventually get used to it.

Anyway, after seeing a demo of Exchange 2007 at the local Exchange User Group meeting (, I'm really looking forward to the Beta 2 release of this product, and obviously the release date sometime in 2007. To summarize some of what I'm excited about:

CCR and LCR (clustering technologies) - CCR (Cluster Continuous Replication) is going to be great for distributed environments or DR scenarios. LCR (Local Continuous Relication) looks good, too. :) More on these when I dig up some good information.

OWA - Near-Outlook level functionality. Every release seems to blur the line further between client and web-based e-mail interactivity. Granted, OWA in Exchange 5.5 was, shall we say, primitive, it still allowed remote access to e-mail without getting into the network (ideally).

Unified Messaging - It was awesome to see the Unified Messaging in action. With Speech Server integrated on the back-end, you can now interact with your mailbox on the phone. And, if you check your mail on a kiosk, or a workstation somewhere you don't want everyone within earshot to hear your voicemail, you can send the voicemail message off to any phone number - your cell, a nearby desk phone, whatever. More accessibility = more ways to stay connected! Wait, is that a good thing? ;)

And, if I may do a little advertisement - - The Exchange team blog. A great resource, to say the least.

No media bias = BS

How the media, in the Bush presidency, portrays 75,000 new jobs in a month:

"Job growth faltered in May, with employers boosting payrolls by just 75,000. Yet the nation's unemployment rate dipped to 4.6 percent, the lowest since the summer of 2001."

How the media, in the Clinton presidency, would have portrayed the same numbers:

"75,000 new jobs were created last month! And unemployment dropped to a 5 year low! These are fantastic numbers that showcase that the policies put into motion are working!"

Remember how the media (and Democrats trolling for votes) were absolutely ripping Bush and a perceived "lack of job growth" 3 years ago? That Bush's job creation numbers were the worst since the Great Depression? How much did you hear about the hundreds of thousands of jobs that have been created over the past 6 month? I'll bet very little, unless you had a reason to listen for those numbers. But now that job growth has been sustained over the past 2+ years, 75,000 jobs created in a month is now spun to be a negative. There have been 2.4 million jobs created in the past 12 months, and unemployment has dropped by .5% to 4.6% from 5.1%.

All this serves as proof that the media reports what IT wants to report, not what it should report.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A new job

Well, I'm at my new job, which started on Monday. I'm excited to be here! My title is Consultant, and I'll be working with clients to provide Microsoft solutions and also trying to get our other offerings in the mix as well (NetApp, EMC, VMWare, et al.). I'm really looking forward to working here - the salespeople seem to know how to sell Microsoft solutions, unlike my previous employer. I've already been asked to help with a few clients, to either help out on the project or to help with configurations.

I'm also looking forward to bringing MOM 2005 (Microsoft Operations Manager) into the mix here. It appears to be the missing piece of their monitoring puzzle - they do high-end monitoring products, and also low-end (like HP Insight Manager). But that middle space isn't covered, and that's where I think MOM 2005 will be a great fit. I'm also looking forward to becoming a VMWare Certified Professional, and learning more about the NetApp product line, EMC, and the rest of our offerings. So I think I am really going to enjoy it here!

Now, I need to get a wireless mouse and a laptop bag, and I'll be set. Well, maybe some additional memory for my laptop and a DVD burner, but I digress.... ;)

I have succumbed...

to the blog. Help me, please....

Ok, there must be a point to a blog, right? Here's mine - a place to vent, rant, or simply enlighten. Or maybe point out the obvious, or give an opinion. And there's always the occasional stream-of-consciousness typing.

So, I'll have to get used to this blogging thing. You know, formatting, content, etc.

Please feel free to comment. I may reply. I may not. At least I'll know someone's reading. :)