Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The JPK Experience : Announcing a new collaborative project

I've just had some input that says Microsoft will be killing off all NNTP support over the next three years. Thus all those wonderful NNTP based Newsgroups will go away. In its place will be web forums. In a related vein, I also read an interesting article by a MS guy: The JPK Experience : Announcing a new collaborative project.

I've been using NNTP newsgroups for around 20 years, and have achieved my MVP status as a result of my postings in various groups over the years. I've found NNTP to be lightweight, relatively ad free, and most importantly available off line via a powerful client (in my case Turnpike). The client (and there are a bunch if you don't like my choice!) makes NNTP very easy to use, although there is a bit of a learning curve (learning how to kill threads or posters, etc).

By comparison, the web forums are slow (60+ seconds to render a page is unacceptable), and very hard to navigate. To skim read a thread of say 20 articles could take 20 or more minutes (compared to seconds with Turnpike).  Each time I try MS's latest attempts to move NNTP to the web, I feel ill. The latest attempts are just as bad.

Jonathan says this time it's going to work. Sadly, he may be right, but only because MS is taking away the option to use NNTP. He also says that as the business owner he can't deal with NNTP. What the heck? I though business owners actually owned things. Unless the mandate to kill NNTP has been delivered from on-high. I note the reaction to JK's post has been just about entirely negative.

While I'm just one MVP, I am unlikely to place much content on web forums. I use them from time to time, when I can afford to wait for the contents to trickle down. But if you really want answers to questions, then use the newsgroups as long as you can. And in the mean time, why not tell Microsoft what you think?

If you believe NNTP should remain, why not email Steve Ballmer ( and tell him just how much you want NNTP.

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Beta Announcement: Project Hana (aka MOF v4)

For many years, Microsoft had a pair of technologies: MSF (Microsoft Solutions Framework) and MOF (Microsoft Operational Framework). MSF was built from Microsoft's experience building tools like Office, etc. MOF was based on ITIL, with significant additions.

Both products, sadly, seemed to die a death. Perhaps as a kiss of death, they were transferred into MSL and then went from obscurity to the grave. The MCT classes were dropped over a year ago. LIke many, I just assumed that MSL and the wider MS had given up.

I was much surprised and excited by reading in the blog details about Project Hana (MOF v4), including an invite code to get ahold of the beta.

I am really pleased to see that MOF has not died a death. I am really excited that someone at MS gets it enough to not let these two technologies die. If you are an IT Pro (or a developer for that matter), you should take a look!

This is good news!!!

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Microsoft Windows Server 2008 Reviewer's Guide

As with a number of earlier OS versions, Microsoft has published an in-depth Reviewer's Guide. This document provides a good technical overview of the new features in Windows Server 2008. If you are evaluating Server 2008, this document is a useful guide. There's also a short version of this document you can download.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Need for (Download) Speed

While spending a few hours at home recovering from my recent round the world trip (for Microsoft's Voice Ignite sessions in Sydney and Kuala Lumpur), I've been improving my set of PowerShell scripts for managing my collection of Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia Live Shows. (Ed: not bad, Grateful Dead, PowerShell and OCS, plus a nod to ITIL and MOF - all in one sentence.)

Today, I finally managed to get some tracks from a '73 show that was incomplete. I'd picked up part of the show (73-03-30) via Bit Torrent a long time ago. I'd been looking for another source. I found it today, and boy was it fast.


Thanks St Alan!

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Books and all that

I was on the site today, ordering a copy of the OCS Resource Kit book. After completing the order I noticed another book Amazon reckoned I should buy:  Administrator's Guide to Microsoft Office 2007 Servers. I may have to buy this book if only to discover what Live Communications Server 2007 is!  On the other hand, if Amazon (or the author/publisher) can't get the product name right, I'm not sure if the book will be any good.

Grateful Dead Listening Guide - Noah's Blog

One of my hobbies is collecting live Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia shows. I've got just over 1200 Dead shows, and around 250 JGB shows. I've been lucky to have found some great sources of these shows over the years - although some of them, like TOL's site, are not gone. Noah has just put up a new blog called Grateful Dead Listening Guide which is an excellent guide so some of the 2500 Grateful dead performances. It's bookmarked and I'm already a frequent visitor. If you are a Dead collector, this is a site for you!

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Friday, February 15, 2008

KL Finds PowerShell is COOL!

I'm in Kuala Lumpur this week, taking part in the delivery of the OCS Voice Ignite session. I've blogged about Voice Ignite on my work blog - it's simply some of the best training I've ever taken part in. The labs are rich and deep, and the content both broad and very deep. The delegates leave the training with a great set of skills.

During my sessions, I asked the delegates to say "COOL!!" any time I said PowerShell. And they did - every time I mentioned PowerShell, the room reverberated with "COOL!"

While the delegates leave here knowing that OCS is a stunning product, they also leave wanting to know more about PowerShell (and to work out WHY it's so cool)!

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Vista SP1 Is Released. But Is It Ready?

Over on the Windows Vista Team blog, Mike Nash has Announced the RTM of Windows Vista SP1. Really good news!! But then I re-read his post more carefully. While SP1 is "released", it may not be ready for prime time. Mike confides that "Our beta testing identified an issue with a small set of device drivers.  These drivers do not follow our guidelines for driver installation and as a result, some beta participants who were using Windows Vista and updated to Service Pack 1 reported issues with these devices."

So what was Microsoft's response? RTM it anyway.

It seems to me that Mike has just confirmed that SP1 is not really ready for release albeit with a small number of issues. Would you want to have to hope that one of these unspecified devices are ones you'll have in your corporate estate? While the number of drivers may be small,when SP1 is really ready, then I'll start looking at it. At a minimum, rather than just waffle on with marketing weasel words, where's the list of broken drivers?

There's only one reason Microsoft decided to RTM this and it's called Marketing.Next week we see the  Launch of Windows Server 2008, Visual Studio 2008, along with the vaporware known hopefully as SQL Server 2008. The pressure to declare Vista SP1 as RTM prior to the big events must have been high. IMHO, it's not a good justification! SP1 is vital, in our market at least, to create some faith that Vista is ready for our customers. Now you are suggesting we need and SP1 for SP1 - what were you guys thinking?

To help Mike, on the team blog comment page, I provided an entry for the Visa SP1 FAQ:

Q: When will SP1 be released?
A: When it's ready or when marketing decides to release it.

I should probably sign this as "Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells" even though I don't live there.


Looks like I'm not the only person that thinks less than positively about the release of SP1. Paul Thurrot also believes that software should be delivered when it's ready and not before.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Around the World With OCS Voice Ignite - continued

As I noted in a recent post (Around the World With OCS Voice Ignite) I'm taking part in the OCS Voice Ignite tour. Last week was Sydney where were were ensconced in Darling Harbour. The venue was great, and the content was even better. This week we're in the wonderful city of Kuala Lumpur.

My trip to Sydney (LHR-LAX,  LAX-SYD) was greatly improved by upgrades - entering a 747 and turning left is the only way to fly! Thanks to an unknown friend of a friend for those upgrades! The only downside was the unscheduled stop at Honolulu for fuel and the lack of laptop power across the Pacific. Nevertheless, the service was excellent, and the 4000 bonus miles United offered us as compensation helped.

Sydney is a great city - although it rained most of the week (I've seen drier days in the monsoon!). But the audience was great and we all had a lot of fun. I was sorry to leave, but Kuala Lumpur beckoned.  The flights to KL (SYD-BKK-KUL) were OK too. We were a bit late into Bangkok, but that just meant less time waiting. The flight down to KL on Lufthansa was stunning - a band new 747 (it had less than 400 flight hours said the stewardess). Think of the smell of a new car, very comfortable seats and a great crew.

Then the curse of all world travellers - I got to KL, but my luggage did not. When you travel as much as I do, lost luggage is something that is just going to happen sooner or later. And when it does, KL is the place to have it happen. The hotel and Lufthansa were great. The airline was very apologetic and gave me US$200 in local currency to buy some new stuff while they found my bag. And the hotel (The Westin) made it very easy - they called the airport every 4 hours and kept me fully informed. Fortunately the bag turned up last night and I've got a few Ringits spare to help the enjoyment of KL.

I feel very, very lucky on several levels. First I'm getting to work with a very rich content and very knowledgeable speakers. Second, we get real world labs with great hardware (I'm pretty biased though as Global Knowledge built the labs). Finally, we get to meet passionate and committed OCS fans and get them the real answers to the very real issues they and their clients face. Oh - and this week at least, we get the best breakfast buffet I've EVER seen in my entire life.

It's a shame that the content is under NDA - which means I can't share much of it (and the Voice Ignite sessions are now fully booked so I can't suggest you book onto a session). I think and hope that there will be more deliveries on a regional basis - but I've had nothing confirmed. Watch this space - or take a look at Devin's blog as noted in which provide some insights to this great content.

Thanks to the OCS team for allowing me to have this wonderful experience.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

ZoomIt Magnifying Applet

Most folks who do presentations know how much of a pain it is to show Windows or applications and have the screen visible to all. Even in a small room, it can be very tough. I'm presenting this week in Kuala Lumpur and want to show OCS's Snooper tool, which is pretty tiny at the back of the huge ballroom. Then I found ZoomIt, a Sysinternals tool that is excellent. A very small application, ZoomIt allows you to blow up the window on screen and enables you to draw. There's also a cool break timer feature that I'm finding VERY useful already.

You can download ZoomIt from Microsoft's web site.  Oh - and it's free - very nice!!

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Voice Ignite - Sydney

I'm in Sydney this week, helping out with Voice Ignite. Due to the NDA nature of this training,I'm not able  to blog much of the detail. However, one of the delegates is doing some live blogging about the even. Take a look at (e)Mail Insecurity.

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Monday, February 04, 2008

PowerShell's [WMI] Type Accelerator

In a recent blog post, I introduced PowerShell's WMI related type accelerators. In this post, I'll look at the [WMI] accelerator in more detail. As I explained earlier, the [WMI] type accelerator helps you to get directly to a particular WMI object. You provide a string containing the path to a particular WMI object and the [WMI]  adapter returns the WMI object (or not if it does not exist). This approach is a little easier than using Get-WMIObject in those cases when you actually know the details of which occurrence you want.

To illustrate this TA, let's look at a WMI Class, Win32_Share. We can find all the shares on a system like this:

PSH [D:\foo]: gwmi win32_share | ft -auto

Name   Path       Description
----   ----       -----------
E$     E:\        Default share
IPC$              Remote IPC
D$     D:\        Default share
ADMIN$ C:\WINDOWS Remote Admin
foo    d:\foo
C$     C:\        Default share

This is fine if you want to just see the shares.  But if you want to access a particular share's methods or properties you need to do a bit more  work. One simple way you can  get access to the Admin$ share is like this:

PSH [D:\foo]: $admin = gwmi win32_share | where {$ -eq "Admin$"}

This approach works, but it's a bit ugly and can take some time if there are a lot of shares on a system. And here's where the [WMI] TA works well as follows:

$admin2 = [wmi]"\\dc1\root\'admin$'"

This is much easier to write, assuming you know how to construct the path string. A simple way to determine how to construct the path for this TA is to look at the __Path property on the actual object:

PSH [D:\foo]: $admin = gwmi win32_share | where {$ -eq "Admin$"}
PSH [D:\foo]: $admin.__Path

To convert this path for use with [WMI], you need first to replace the double quotes to single quotes, then enclose the resulting string in double quotes prepended with [WMI].  One nice feature of this approach is that the returned object is an object, not a collection/array, which makes it easier to use.

When I was creating this blog post, I wondered if it was possible to create a WMI path using other properties. However this does not appear to work:

PSH [D:\foo]: $admin3 = [wmi]"\root\cimv2:win32_share.description='Remote Admin'"
Cannot convert value "\root\cimv2:win32_share.description='Remote Admin'" to type "System.Management.ManagementObject".
Error: "Invalid object path "
At line:1 char:11
+ $admin3 = [wmi] <<<< "\root\cimv2:win32_share.description='Remote Admin'"
PSH [D:\foo]: $admin3 = [wmi]"\root\cimv2:win32_share.path='c:\windows'"
Cannot convert value "\root\cimv2:win32_share.path='c:\windows'" to type "System.Management.ManagementObject". Error: "
Invalid object path "
At line:1 char:11
+ $admin3 = [wmi] <<<< "\root\cimv2:win32_share.path='c:\windows'"

There are two different formats you can se for the WMI path - with and without a machine name as follows:

$admin4 = [wmi]"\\dc1\root\'admin$'"
$admin5 = [wmi]"root\'admin$'"

The first format includes a machine name (\\dc1) while the second doesn't. The second format only works on the local machine whereas the first  can work across a network. There's only one small issue (feature?) of the first format which is that you can not provide credentials. Thus if you are logged onto your local machine with your normal userid/password, that set of credentials is used to access WMI. If those credentials do not allow you to access the remote server, then there's no way to provide credentials that would work.

I hope this is a clear explanation - let me know if  you'd like more details.