Thursday, June 30, 2005

MSH - TechEd Presentation

MS has released the TechEd presentation on Monad-MSH. Enjoy!!!!

PDC Flair - the buzz grows

You can always tell a good geek event - lots of signware. Take a look over at the Channel 9 PDC Flair page to see a bunch of images, such as this one:

PDC'05 - Developer Powered - Please Click Me!

Please Click Me!

10,000 Visitors Here

I've had my 10,000th visitor to this site since I began the hit counter last autumn. This hit came from has Javascript Disabled and the browser reports "Internet Explorer 6.0 Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 4.0; Config A V1.0; Config A V1. Email me and I'll send you a copy of my TCP/IP book!

Microsoft Certified Architect

As part of a re-vamp of it's entire certificatio process, Microsoft has announced the new Certified Architect cert, which is described in more details on the "Share Ideas: Explore Architecture" page.

This new certification recognises two types of architects: Infrastrucure Architects, and Solutions Architects. As I see it, this is sort of aligned to IT Pros and Developers. The Architect page also talks about an "Enterprise Architect" but this designation is not defined in any detail. Each of the recognised architects use specs provided by an enterprise architect to create/design an appropriate solution to the problem.

The process of getting an Microsoft Certified Architect certiciation is long and involved - and it's not based on multiple-guess exams. The candidate is expected to have 10+ years of experience and can apply to become an architect through a number of means (described on the web page). Once accepted into the MCA programme, the candidate is assigned a mentor, and gets access to a library of content to help them prepare a solution description document. When complete, this document is submitted to a Revie Board meeting for assessment. The candidate has to attend the board meeting an ddefend their solution. The MCA Review Board then determines if the candidate is to be awarded the MCA cert. The MCA Review Board has 4 voting members (plus two administrators).

The idea of a review-board based cert is excellent - and has echos of the way Microsoft used to do MSF trainer certification. Thinking back, my MSF trainer oral exam was amongst the hardest exams I've taken in my professional life. Part of this was the process itself (designed to be tough), and part of it was the incredible passion for MSF on the part of the examiner (the amazing Mr Rafal). If the MCA Review Board is as tough as Rafal was, then the MCA will never be a paper cert. Interestingly, this is the 2nd MS certification to use a review board. The Microsoft Certified Learning Consultant (MCLC) uses a simlar approach, and I'm on the review board for MS EMEA. I can post more about MCLC in another blog entry - if there's any interest. I suppose both these certs show that MS has listened to the cries of "paper certification" and has made changes to remove this from at least two certifications.

In many ways, the MCA is both long overdue and most welcome (same about MCLC!). Recognising architects for what they really do, as opposed to their ability to pass multiple-guess tests and having that recognition being based on what they've actually done (i.e. the case study), the cert has much more credibility. If the bar is set high, then that's both great for the cert, but also for the entire certification programme.

This approach gives Microsoft's lower level certification streams (i.e the current set of MCSE, MCSD, MDDBA, MCDST, etc ) a higher level to go for - a hard to get capstone certifications. This in turn provides both a longer term roadmap from the lower level certs to MCA and gives credibility to the entire programme. As an example, look at Cisco, and the CCIE (which very few actually achieve) for giving the whole Cisco certification a better name.

Since MCA can only be obtained by a (successful) development and defense of a real solution, it's far less likely we'll see the paper MCAs. In talking about this cert to the folks at MSL, they make it clear that this is a real architect's certification, not a Microsoft architect. That means we may see MCAs certified on the basis of a Novell or Sun, or IBM/Linux solution. This certainly improves the credability in my eyes. I'm waiting to see who will be certified!

Precision Computing - A Good MSH Blog

I've been reading Lee Homles' new blog called Precision Computing. Lee works on Monad-MSH, and his blog, started in early June 2005, is mainly about the product. His blog entries thus far are quite useful, particularly his MSH and YubNub - a community command line and script, as well as his cool cmdlet add-calenderitem.

Former CEO acquitted in first SOX prosecution are running a story about Richard Scrushy, former CEO of healthcare firm HealthSouth who has been acquitted in first ever SOX prosecution.

For many IT Professionals, SOX (and similar legislation) has been interesting in the sense that if the rules are not obeyed, your CEO can face gaol! Not a very nice thought - and one that tends to focus senior management's attention. And since it's their butts on the line, the theory goes that they'll listen a lot more now than ever before.

However, according to the story, Scrushy was cleared on all counts. He had been accused engineering a multimillion-dollar company-wide fraud scheme but denied knowing anything about it. Given this high profile failure, it begs the question as to how much teeth SOX actually has.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

One Last Update Rollup for Windows 2000 SP4

With days to go before mainstream support for Windows 2000 ceases, Microsoft has released a final roll up patch the OS. This patch, details of which are in KB article 891861 - Update Rollup 1 for Windows 2000 SP4.

There are a lot of fixes in this pack - so if you are still running Windows 2000 in production, you should investigate this patch.

Blog'n my way to the PDC Contest

To build excitement around PDC, MS are offering a Blog'n my way to the PDC Contest.

To enter, you hust have to put a bit of HTML into your blog, pint the contest organisers, and with a bit of luck, you'll get free admission, US$1000 worth of airfare and a room! In my case, here's my HTML:

blogging my way to pdc - please click me

Please click Me!

I'm planning on going to PDC to learn more about Longhorn, and especially Monad-MSH. As to value to the community, I plan to blog more about the subjects both leading up to, at and after PDC. I'm also looking at doing books and courses around many of the topics being covered at PDC.

The blog entries I plan on making will be pretty much straight text with limited graphics. Probably no audio/video, although I may do another RD GrokTalk at PDC if we can get this organised.

New Version of MS Anti-Spyware Beta

I've been running Microsoft's beta antispyware package on several systems. For the most part, it's been uneventful. I see onscreen dialogs ,once a day when the full scan runs, and every so often, there's a new set of signatures are downloaded. Today I got a offered a "new version". I've accepted and it's downloaded and is running, but there are a couple of things that bother me.

First, it was all too easy to just click yes, yes, yes to install. Is this an attack vector? Second, I'm not sure what's changed or why I needed this update (same refers to the occasional signature updates). I'd like to see update notes. And third, the installation requires a reboot - which was not disclosed before I started the install (see my first point!). GRRRRRR!!!

Finally, I'm not sure it's really doing much. Thus far, after several months of use (and aside from one recurring false positive), it's found nothing new on my 3 main systems. I'm not interested in going to sites where I might get sypware installed automatically, so I'm NOT offereing to do that bit of beta testing!

I guess I'd like to see regular release notes (dump them into the install folder) and some more details on the efficacy of this product in the wild. An updated RTM schedule would also be appreciated!

More on MS Certification

Further to my recent blog article on Microsoft certifications, Microsoft has begun the process of rolling this out. The material I saw yesterday was indeed NDA, although it was not then properly identified as such as is the expected practice when material is not for wider disclosure. I now understand that the formal unveiling is to happen in July at the World Wide Partner's conference, so we'll have to wait till then for the complete picture. I can't wait to able to discuss the details of this with other IT Professionals, MCTs, etc.

Windows XP-lite 'not value for money'

According to a story, Windows XP-lite is 'not value for money'. The story explains that PC World will not be carrying the media-player-less version of Windows XP the EC forced Microsoft to sell. Earlier this month, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo and Fujitsu Siemens told ZDNet UK that they were not going to pre-load XP Reduced Media Edition either. Well what a surprise - NOT!!

I can not work out why anyone could not see what was going to happen here. The EC could probably not tell MS what to charge for this edition, so of course MS is going to charge the same price for a media player-less version as for the media player included version fo XP! As a MS spokesman was quoted as saying : "This is consistent with the Commission Decision, as confirmed by European Commission's statements and releases which acknowledge that Microsoft is permitted to offer the products at the same price. It is noteworthy that media players are generally made available for free via web downloads." Well yes - most geeks I know download the latest version(s) of their favourite media player and do not rely on what's in the box!

As I explained last week to Patrick De Smedt, Chairman of Microsoft EMEA, any serious audio fan was never going to use what was shipped in Windows XP RTM for several reasons. Personally, I download winamp (mainly to be able to play the terra bytes of lossles FLAC and SHN concerts I have collected). Until recently Windows Media Player had no plug-ins for SHN/FLAC making Winamp the only game in town for us DeadHeads! And if I was going to use MS's media player product, I'd sure as heck just download the latest verison on the web site! I love Media player for playing pre-recorded web casts as you can speed up the playback (great for watching Jim Alchin!). And for those consumers less picky about what they use to play music, how is a media-player-less edition any use to them at all (espeically at the same price)? All in all, it's a penalty that does nothing to help consumers, and just costs a lot (although it's minly MS that are picking up the tab).

Google Earth

While we're waiting for Microsoft to release the next IE beta, or to announce the certification changes, I wandered over to Google's site and downloaded Google Earth. It's a full earth mapping application and is a bit of fun! I can pretty clearly see my house out in the country, but can't quite make out whether my car was in the car park at the time or if the grass was mowed.

The basic Google Earth package is free (it's in beta, no idea whether it'll stay free at release), with a Google Earth Plus version selling at $US20, and a Google Earth Pro version at $US400. The Plus version enables you to upload GPS information, import spread sheets (e.g. of houses on the market). The Pro version is "leveraged by a variety of industries".

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

New MS Certifications

I've just had mail detailing the new Microsoft certifications. Once I am certain this information is no longer NDA, I'll be publishing more, including my initial views of the certs. Watch this space...

Monad-MSH - Two upcomming webcasts

Microsoft is planning on doing a "Best of TechEd 2005" Webcast series over the summer. Jeffrey Snover will be doing two sessions on Monad-MSH. For those who were at TechEd, Jeffrey was only able to get through a small portion of the his talk. With this wecast, he should be able to take advantage of the 3 hours to run the full talk!

Here are the links to the web casts:

TechNet Webcast: Next Generation Command Line Scripting using Monad (Part 1)

TechNet Webcast: Next Generation Command Line Scripting using Monad (Part 2 of 2)


Monday, June 27, 2005

Microsoft Solutions Framework (MSF) for Agile Software Development, Beta 2

You can download Beta 2 of the Microsoft Solutions Framework (MSF) for Agile Software Development.

MSF is going to change quite radically in the coming months. There will be two versions, MSF Agile, and MSF "Formal", otherwise known as MSF For CMMI Process Improvement. It appears that the guys from the silly names department seem to have been at work again (but as I sometimes get paid by the word, I can't grumble too much)

Details of MSF Agile are up on the web site, and are being baked in to Visual Studio. Details of MSF Formal have not been disclosed yet, and neither have details on MSF Certficication (at both practitioner and MCT levels) and certification training. One MS spokesman suggested this information would be available at product launch in November. We'll see how long after launch is required to deliver the training, certification, etc.

GrokTalks - 10 minute micro-presentations

The GrokTalks recorrded by the MSDN Regional Directors at MS Teched Orlando are now complete. Head over to to see the full set. My talk on Wix is here!

Sunday, June 26, 2005

PatentMojo - Patents in the USA

This site: PatentMojo is very interesting. It enabled you to keep an eye on new US patents. As IP (intellectual property not Internet Protocol) becomes more and more important in the technical field, so does the value of knowing who's doing what. PatentMojo offers links, RSS feeds, and a personal portal, ith links to the United States Patent Office and to individual patent applications. Sadly, I can't yet find any of my Dad's patents on there, but I'm looking!

More on WMI Scripting With MSH

In my last blog post, I got quite excited about the ability to do WMI scripting from MSH. That post generated a lot of feedback - Mark Allen's post was, as ever on the money. No, I was not trying to say short is better because it's short. APL proved that readability was more important than pure brevity. But what impressed me about WMI scripting using MSH was that it is so easy and obvious when compared to VBScript. I can see that part of my message was lost when the mail to blog translation happened - the script examples looked a lot better in my mail than they did when first rendered on this site. I've tidied up the layout a bit on that post to make the intention clearer.

I also got mail from the MSH development team pointing out I could have made the scripts shorter still, They are, of course, right! The two scripts I posted were meant to show a straightforward comparision between WMI scripts on the Script Centre, and ones you could easily write with MSH. I was trying to show MSH scripts were shorter, simpler to understand and faster/easier to develop.

Of course if you want terseness, the following script prints out the logged on user, all in one one line (well one line when I typed it!):

foreach ($comp in Get-WmiObject Win32_ComputerSystem -comp "kapoho61") {"Logged-on user: $($comp.UserName)"}

Or to simplify every further, here's an even simpler "script":

$(get-WmiObject Win32_ComputerSystem -comp "kapoho61").UserName

So to answer Mark Allen - no, I'm not advocating shortness just for the sake of it. For any production script, you have to have readibilty (and comments) and adopt a simple to maintain style. But when it's a simple as the examples here and before, you can see how much easier MSH can make both scripting WMI and scripting in general. What continues to amaze me about MSH is that there are so many ways to achieve the same end - and just about all of them shorter, and simpler than VBScript.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

WMI Scripting with MSH

If MSH is to become the next best scripting thing, then its got to enable a number of different scenarios. One use of MSH is to do WMI scripting - using MSH get access to WMI objects, properties and methods.

I started by looking at the [truly amazing!] TechNet script centre, which has a large number of existing WMI scripts. As it turns out, it's surprisingly easy to write WMI scripts, once you master the differences between VBscript and Monad!

The first script I tackled is at: b02.mspx

strComputer = "atl-ws-o1"
Set objWMIService = GetObject("winmgmts:" _
& "{impersonationLevel=impersonate}!\\" & strComputer & "\root\cimv2")

Set colComputer = objWMIService.ExecQuery _ ("Select * from Win32_ComputerSystem")
For Each objComputer in colComputer
Wscript.Echo "Logged-on user: " & objComputer.UserName

In MSH this is just 3 lines:

$strComputer = "kapoho61"
$colComputer = get-wmiObject win32_computersystem -comp $strComputer
foreach ($comp in $colcomputer){"Logged-on user: " + $comp.username}

8 lines into 3 - not bad!

My second attempt was to reproduce b01.mspx

'-------------- strComputer = "."
Set objWMIService = GetObject("winmgmts:" _
& "{impersonationLevel=impersonate}!\\" & strComputer & "\root\cimv2")
Set colItems = objWMIService.ExecQuery("Select * from Win32_LogonSession")
For Each objItem in colItems
Wscript.Echo "Authentication Package: " & objItem.AuthenticationPackage
Wscript.Echo "Logon ID: " & objItem.LogonId
Wscript.Echo "Logon Type: " & objItem.LogonType
Wscript.Echo "Start Time: " & objItem.StartTime


$strComputer = "kapoho61"
$colComputer = get-wmiObject win32_LogonSession -comp $strComputer
foreach ($comp in $colcomputer) {"Authentication Package: " + comp.AuthencationPackage
"Login ID: " + $comp.LogonId
"Login Type: " + =$comp.LogonType
"Start Time: " + $comp.StartTime}

11 lines into 6.

All in all - this WMI scripting stuff looks to be easy in MSH. What would be really cool now is for someone to create a msh-scriptomatic.hta (to mimic the scroptomatic.hta currently available). I just wish I was better at HTAs.

MSH Rocks!!

(submitted by email - apologies for layout!)

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Getting MSH Beta 1

MSH, the Microsoft shell, is now in beta. The beta is open, and details were posted at TechEd, sans NDA restrictions. To get this beta:

1. Go to and login with your Microsoft passport.

2. At the top of the beta place home page, click the appropirate spot to enter your Guest ID.

3.At the Welcome to Microsoft Beta page, enter mshPDC as the guest id, then click OK.

4. At the Welcome to Guest Access page, click Microsoft Command Shell Preview.

5. On the " the Command Shell (msh) preview program!" page, select the survey and fill this out.

Once the survey if all filled out and submitted, your access should be granted within 48 hours (but should come quicker). You can then return to Betaplace and download the msh bits.

I'd argue every sysadmin in the world should download this beta and give it a spin. There is still some time to affect the shape of this fantastic product. So get it, use it, file bugs on it - and come on over to the beta newsgroups and comment.

And if you are unsure what to look at, here's some suggestions of things to think about, play with and comment on:

1. Do the -confirm and -whatif keywords make sense, are they useful?

2. Can you take existing scripts and convert them. Scripts include cmd, perl, python, shell, or vbscript.

3. How easy is it to debug a script? Can more help be provided and if so how?

4. Try writing a cmdlete - and document your successes andd pain.

5. Update format/types - how easy was this. How intuitive?

6. Try piping as many cmdlets to/between each other. MS can not test every combination so you need to try to find any misfits.

7. Try parsing XML documents. Is this obvious, hard? What could me made easier?

8. Write scripts that use WMI - for example a script to gather information about machines in your domain or subnet.

In my view, this is a fantastic opportunity for admins. It's rare that we get the chance to comment on the development of a major new management tool. While most things in V1 are fairly well locked down, but the team really wants feedback (and in my experience responds to it!). So go do it.

Friday, June 17, 2005

MSH Beta 1 Ships

Microsoft has shipped the Beta 1 version of the Monad-MSH shell. You need to have .NET Framework Beta 2 loaded as well. I'm downloading now!

[later that night...]

Well - I've got it downloaded. There's a good 74-page getting started document, which mirrors Jeffrey's outstanding TechEd talk (which was 5th highest rated overall!). I certainly recognise the flow! It's time to start self hosting.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005 breaks the New Microsoft MVP Program Logo

In an article titled New Microsoft MVP Program Logo, the new MVP logo is disclosed. I find it absurd, and boardeing on offencive, that MS are seriously suggesting that this logo somehow is the way that the programme is profesionalised. There was nothing wrong with the old logo and nothing unprofessional with the old programme (except of course that MS did not own the logo and the lawyers could not control it). It was different, but then so is the MVP programme.

Fortunately, MS are not going to be asking me for all the swag branded with the soon to be deceased logo, I have several bags, mice, watch, etc, etc,etc - plus a huge array of shirts! At least I hope not!

But why does any company, in this case Microsoft that dropping old stuff, and replacing it with new stuff is necessarily the best way forward? From where I sit, the old logo was not broken - and I'd have rather the huge sum that was spent (brandeing is NEVER cheap) sent to feed the starving in Africa. There is one good thing though - based on this 'professional' logo, I now realise I DO have good graphic design skills. :-)

Book: Enterprise Services with the .NET Framework

This book was waiting for me when I got back from TechEd. Written by fellow Regional Director Christian Nagle, this is just the best book I've read on this topic and one of the best I've read on .NET itself. It's gives some background, explains the topics clearly and contains good examples and samples.

As an IT Pro, I've found it very difficult to get 'into' some of the deeper aspects of .NET and development on the MS Platform. I'm a network guy, used to talking to Admins, support staff and infrastructure architecture. Although I have spent time on a couple of OS projects, and can write a bit of code, I'm basically NOT a developer. It seems to me that most books these days are written by and for developers.

Reading David Platt's Introduction to .NET, especially the first edition, was a great start for me. It's the first technical book that I've ever read cover to cover, and when I finished it, started reading it again. I've also read most of the latest version (but mainly because David signed my copy!). But because it was aimed as an introduction, it ran out of steam for me and I needed more. I find myself today, able to read and write a bit of C#, and able to understand things at a basic level - I can even watch Ari Bixhorn show Indigo code and get what he talking about at a high level. But if I dive into MSDN, or watch some of the depth level webcasts, etc - there are sentences that I just don't fully understand (yet). Of course, as an IT Pro haven't needed to understand this stuff!

In summary this book explains a lot of things, and gets me closer to a fuller understanding and for that I'm grateful. For example, I'm starting to understand what apartments are (as opposed to how to specify them in the registry!)

What this book suggests is that there is probably a need for more on .NET framework from the point of view of someone who is not a depth developer but wants to understand more. In summary, this is a good book for IT Pros to take a look at and to better understand the Enterprise Services with .Net.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Microsoft Acrylic Technology Beta

J've not yet got Microsoft Acrylic Technology Beta downloaded yet, but it looks pretty cool. Go here to download the beta (NB you will need to sign in with Passport and you need XP SP2).

Microsoft Office XML Document Formats

Microsoft has announced plans to make XML the native format for Office 12 documents. To understand this and an overview to what these documents look like, MS has just published the Microsoft Office Open XML Formats Architecture Guide.

In essence, these new documents cab/zip files. So a word 12 document will be called .docx, but can be opened, viewed, and changed with WinZip. Each of these cab files contains mainly XML files, but also other files representing embedded resources. Thus, the structure of a OLE compound document (i.e. old style doc) has been exposed as a zip file, with the constituent parts (what used to be streams in the compound documents) surfaced as native OS file types.

The result is that instead of using complex tools such as OLEVIEW to see inside a compound file, and using developing complex (and sometimes non-perfect) programming operations to manage the file, you can use WinZip to open, view and manage the contents of a docx file using native OS tools. Better yet, you can use command line tools to do document management.

This change makes it possible for you to write simple, but very, very powerful add-ins, or bolt-ons, to Office 12. Consider a development project that has lots of specs containing lots of bitmaps (i.e. the UI design) where these compound docs are now docx documents. It would be relatively simple (at least compared to OLE compound documents), to write code to open a .docx in a folder, search for the table of contents, then look directly for the sub-documents you want, e.g. all the bitmaps used in the spec set. You could then just dump this to a folder somewhere. With Monad-MSH such a script could probably be written in half a dozen lines. Heck, you could probably add a few more lines to the script to to make a NEW .docx with just the individual bit maps, add in the index information, generate an xref, etc. And for what can't be done in Monad-MSH, there's always VB.NET or C#.

This change of format types really opens up access to the components of an Office document. This makes it incredibly easy to manage the contents of a document. MS said at TechEd that one big source of errors in Office documents (i.e. ones leading to a support call!) are the add-ins to Office that usually work great (but not always). Managing OLE Compound documents was always complex, and the idea of implementing this structure directly into the OS (NSS for those who remember this!), was never released. So, instead of implementing a complex document in an easy to corrupt (and hard to fix) binary format, implement it with old tried and trusted tools (WinZip, notepad, et al). As an IT Pro, I might now be able to fix (or better salvage) damaged documents. This is cool - and it also opens up the possibility of some incredible fusion.

Finally, a few of questions. First with this new structure, why there are different programs (word, excel, ppt, etc)? This new paradigm should allow one program (Office) to do it all. As I open new document types, Office just brings in the parts I need and adds the relevant components to the zip file. As I embed other things inside the document (dropping an excel spreadsheet into a report, bringing a ppt slide to an excel spread sheet, with a link to a live video feed), it would adapt - the base document just getting a more complex TOC, and more components getting added to the zip file. Second, does this pave the way for putting basic Office functionality directly into the OS? Given the idea of adding basic workflow to Windows at some point (i.e. WinOE), why not also add some basic document management as well? You could layer an office document management interface on top of or to the side of WinOE. This could simplify the creation of basic workflow objects in an Office based productivity solution. The possibilities here are significant. And finally, does this mean you can author office documents in Notepad and WinZip? I can't wait for Office 12 beta!!

MSDN Nuggets - more short talks from MS

I like the idea of technical content wrapped up in short, easy to digest peices - long webcasts are just too hard to watch without switching off. MS has been publishing a series of these called MSDN Nuggets. You can sream individual talks (each is in the 10-20 minute range) or better yet, download a talk or even a month's worth as a zip file and watch them at your leisure. Individual talks range in size from around 2.5MB to over 5, while the months' download is around 40MB (April's is shorter at around 25MB). For folks looking to fill in the gaps, this is a cool idea.


I should point out these talks are from Microsoft UK. :-)

Monday, June 13, 2005

GrokTalks - 10 minute micro-presentations

This is cool - GrokTalks - 10 minute micro-presentations by Microsoft Regional Directors. These are a seres of short talks given at the RD booth at TechEd Orlando. They are short, to the point and focused. Patrick Hynd's presentation on the risks of service accounts was cool - and his tool looks good too, although not all that different from Lieberman's Service Account Manager product. I did a talk on WIX, which should appear on the site in the next few days.

Microsoft Certified Architect Program

At TechEd last week, MS was disclosing more information on the new Microsoft Certified Architect. They also providemore information on the Microsoft Certified Architect Program home page. This page also provides links to the program and to architecture itself, including links to the Microsoft Architecture Resource Center, architecture related blogs, etc.

The Certified Architect certification is the archstone in Microsoft's new look certification program. The requiremnts for this certification include at least 10 or more years of experience and both deep technical and broad leadership skills. Unlike all other MS certifications, this credential is not earned by passing multiple-guess exams. Successful candidates pass a rigorous review board with previously certified architects. It's just like the old MSF exams - I don't recall any paper MSF trainers in those days {grin}

I am looking forward to this new certification. It makes a lot of sense. There will not be a lot of candidates, well successful ones anyway - MS is guessing a few thousand over the first few years. Getting this cert should and is planned to be hard. The cool thing for me is that it is based on peer review, much like the upcoming Microsoft Certified Learning Consultant certification. If the MSF experience is anything to go by, there are unlikley to be paper MCAs - which can only be a good thing for the cert itself, and the program that is ultimately to support it.

Windows Server 2003 R2 - Order it now

For those not on the R2 beta, MS is offering the chance to order the Preview Trial version. Go to Windows Server 2003 R2 order page and sign up. The cost (at least for here in the UK!) is FREE!

Sunday, June 12, 2005

In a recent blog entry, I noted the Regional Director TechEd Charity Auction. There's only a few days left on this E-Bay auction, so come on over and put in a bid. As I write this, the cost of an hour of an RDs time is US$35 - what a bargain!

Friday, June 10, 2005

Monad MSH rolls on

I've written several blog articles about Monad-MSH. Today at Teched Orlando, the architect of Monad-MSH, Jeffrey Snover, has given a break out session and a cabanna talk on this tool. Monad (the languge) and MSH (the shell itself) represents perhaps Microsoft's most innovative products to emerge in many years. I could wax poetically about just how cool this product is but that's what the talk was for!!

Microsoft is planning on delivereing a new beta drop on June 20th, so beta testers will be seeing this very soon. If you are NOT currently a beta tester: Go to and sign in with a Microsoft passport. Then logon to the site using the guest ID: mshPDC, select Microsoft Command Shell and select/complete the Survey in the left column. Access to the beta should be granted within 48 hours.

Jeffery noted, and it was explicitly NOT under NDA, that Monad-MSH will ship as part of Exchange 12 (in 2006), as well as WinFX. There's also the distinct possibility that it'll get into Longhorn client, although that is not yet confirmed.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Microsoft ditches MCSE credentials

Microsoft has decided to drop the all the current Microsoft Certified credentials, including MCSE, MCSA, MCDBA, etc. In the future there will be three key credentials: Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist, Microsoft Certified IT Professional, and Microsoft Certified Architect. Fuller details will be announced in June at the Certified Partner conference.

Having invested years and years of time and money in the MCSE brand, it's going. Admittedly, MS say 'we not abandoning MCSE/MCSE - but we are looking into transition". As one of of the first MCSEs in the world, I'm not exited - yet. More details will emerge soon.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Windows Server Update Services Information site

Scott Korman, well known software distribution MVP has setup a new site for WSUS & SUS . If you want more information about these products, or participate in the forums, head on over.

The Tech*Ed Charity Auction for Aceh Recovery at IDEP

A group of Regional Directors and MS employees are doing another charity auction. The auction is up on eBay and closes at Jun-16-05 08:00:00 PDT. This is a great cause - so bid today and get an hour of a guru's time.


I'm at TechEd Orlando today, and on entry to Steve Ballmer's Keynote, we were given copies of Windows Server Update Services. Not had a chance to check it out yet, so I can't say how many of the issues noted on WSUS Wiki have been resolved - but it's at RTM.

POPFile - Another anti-spam POP mail filter

In a recent blog entry, I wrote about a neat little tool for anti-spam, Spam Shredder. A comment (thanks Andy) to that post recommended POP File, a free tool that does the same thing. I've now downloaded POPFILE, and it's cool. Like Spam Shredder, it's essentially a service that acts as a POP3 proxy. It uses a Bayes engine to identify and tag posts as spam or other things.

POPFile has a couple of neat features. First, it allows you to train the engine to recognise not only spam, but any traffic and place the mails into a 'bucket'. Each bucket allows you to specify whether to modify the subject header (adding [bucket-name] to the header), or to add extra header fields when the mail is passed from POPFile to your mail client. Based on these actions, you can then use your mail client to filter the traffic into folders. I've created three buckets (WORK, PERSONAL and GOOGLE) for stuff I want, and a two further buckets (SPAM and DNs) for real spam and those delivery bounces that are usually spam.

Unlike Spam Shredder, PopFile only supports one mail server. Bur all in all, I find it a nice product. Since installation, it's accuracy has stedily grown - it's currently around 90% after 2 days of training.

TechEd 2005 Grok Talks

This year at TechEd Orlando, the MS Regional Directors are offering a series of short and sweet talks - Grok Talks. The idea is that in 10 minutes, the presenter can drill down into a subject and convey a few key points. </p><p>

I'll be doing one on WIX - Windows Installer XML. If anyone wants copies of the slides, email me at and I'll send them out, along with the demo files.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Off to TechEd 2005 in Orlando

In a few hours, I'm off to Teched 2005 in Orlando. I'm giving a talk to the MCT track on MSF and MOF, plus giving one of the Regional Director Grok Talks on the WiX tool kit. Two technologies I'm planning to take a closer look at are the new Office 12 XML native format and MSH-Monad.

And speaking of MSH-Monad, I've been able to see Jeffrey Snover's slides for his talk on Friday. I can't wait for that. It looks like MSH-Monad is pretty much complete, in terms of the basic language, and all we're waiting for now is the decision as to how MS is planning on shipping it. Hopefully all will be revealed on Friday!