Thursday, October 28, 2010

Choosing a Type Face–Help is at Hand

The type face or faces you use in your writing can have a profound effect on how your message is received and how people perceive you. In the long distant past, I learned how set type by hand and how to bind books – and I still love the whole process. The trays of different size fonts, the smell of the inks, being able to set physical type quickly (memorising where each letter is found in a type case) and being able to break down a page and return the different type pieces to their correct place, etc. One semester, I earned money printing all the signs that that the union put up to advertise events and did some t-shirt silk screening for event t-shirts. I even bound a course thesis – gaining an A if only for the pretty leather cover!

While much of the mechanisms of hand typography are now history, the value of specific fonts remains. If I were to post an article in Comic Sans, readers might not take it seriously. And posting my PowerShell scripts in a variable width font might make the script a lot harder to read. Using multiple fonts may seem like a good idea but end up confusing the reader. So many fonts, so many mistakes awaiting. Oddly enough type faces have been in the news a bit lately.

One of my favourite fun fonts is Comic Sans. I find it neat, elegant and informal. However today I discover that it’s the most hated font in the world.  See the BBC’s on-line article: What’s so wrong with Comic Sans?  I’m still convinced Comic Sans is not all that bad!!

Next I found an interesting albeit long article in the On-line Guardian entitled  “True to type: how we fell in love with our letters.” This is a super article by Simon Garfield that examines the history of type faces, the care often taken in their design and some of the terminology of typography. I really enjoyed reading this article despite it’s length! It definitely brought back memories of hand type setting.

Finally, the thing that sparked this blog article. Having used fonts for many years, I guess I am aware of some of the pitfalls of a bad type face choice. For the most part, I tend to stick to what I like. I love Trebuchet for the body and title of this blog for example – and have done for some years. No one’s commented on it so I guess it’s OK. But for the uninitiated, I’ve found a super graphic that helps answer the question: what typeface should I use. 

The graphic, effectively a large flow chart, is at: This graphic starts by asking what sort of project you need a type face for (Logo, Invitation, book, etc.). Then it asks you some questions (are you completely in doubt, do you want new or older faces, did you cry when you watched Terminator). Based on that information, the graphic makes some suggestions. So if you are looking to create an infographic, that’s condensed  and is without a lot of tables (oh and you did cry watching Terminator), use the OCR typeface for example. The graphic is a PNG, and you need to blow it up a bit in order to read it. But like the Guardian article, this graphic has been fun to look over!

So much like the number 11 bus – you wait for ages then three come along at once – today’s been a pleasant diversion into type faces. Now back to my day job.

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Lync Server 2010 Reaches RTM

In a post on the UCG’s Team Blob, Kirk Gregersen announces that MS have completed RTM for Lync Server 2010. General Availability is set for November 17th . The launch will be a virtual event – watch it  Training courses to match the two upcoming Lync MCP exams will be available sometime next spring/summer.

Lync 2010 looks to be a really excellent product. I’m teaching my first Lync course this week (Lync 2010 Ignite). We’re doing pretty much all of the product over a packed 5 days. The course is running on top of the RC version of the server using Windows 2008R2 virtual servers running inside Hyper-V. We’ve managed to make most of the key scenarios work – IM, presence some conferencing and voice. Some of the modalities are not easy due to the constraints of the classroom equipment. As I tell the delegates, if they go away thinking you need serious hardware to run Lync well, then I’ve done a good job. The labs were mostly successful. Most of the delegates got most of the labs to work – there was the odd typo and some hyper-V glitches. Not bad for a beta product. The beta programme was quite rushed so to some degree, waiting for the first set of roll-up patches will probably make sense for most customer.

Nevertheless, it’s time to start the planning process. And the training process. This is going to be a rock and roll product that finally is, not only a great IM/Presence/Conferencing product, but a creditable alternative to iron PBXs. I can’t wait to do more training in it. And for any company planning to deploy it – get some training. This is a rich complex product that provides critical enterprise infrastructure. It needs careful planning and disciplined knowledgeable support.  End-user training should be undertaken to ensure that the users can take full advantage of the richness on offer!

One thing that comes out loud and clear this week is that PowerShell is really required to administer LS2010. The new Silverlight Control Panel is nice, but there are a lot of things for which PowerShell and the over 500 Lync cmdlets are just better for, particularly when you start talking about Enterprises and full voice deployments.  I hope organisations that plan to invest on Lync will send their IT Pros on a good PowerShell class.

As it turns out, my mate Jon Honeyball and I are organising a PowerShell PowerCamp Introductory Weekend where we’re going to condense the normal 4 day master class down in to two – he announced it in the . More details on that soon – and I’ll also be pumping some new PowerShell Lync scripts onto my scripting blog. And if you want the marginally less-manic version, I’m teaching PowerShell in London in mid-December!

In summary: Lync 2010: welcome to the world! May you have a long and prosperous life!

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Friday, October 15, 2010

Administrator's Crash Course in PowerShell–EBook

Powershell superstar Don Jones has published a 4-part Crash Course in Windows PowerShell V2. Get it at:

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Thursday, October 07, 2010

Microsoft Launches Course 10325–Automating Administration with Windows PowerShell 2.0

Over a year after Microsoft launched Windows PowerShell V2.0, Microsoft Learning has now launched a formal course with the above title.  This is long over due but very welcome.

From Microsoft’s announcement, this “five-day, instructor-led course offers you the knowledge and helps you develop the skills you need to automate administrative tasks using Windows PowerShell® version 2. The course describes core features and capabilities of Windows PowerShell version 2, using Windows Server® 2008 R2 as the example software environment.”

Well that’s the good news. The bad news, again from Microsoft’s formal announcement  “However, this course is not intended to provide comprehensive coverage of either Windows PowerShell version 2 features or Windows Server 2008 R2 features.

This is a good course (I was Technical Reviewer on it), and I will enjoy teaching it. Not only that, but it leaves room in the market for my own PowerShell Master Classes!

As an MCT, I am ready, able and willing to teach this class anywhere in the world. Have passport (and laptop), will travel.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Failover Clustering Cmdlets–Great Documentation

I just came across a really great page that documents the Failover Clustering Cmdlets in Windows Server 2008 R2. This page from Jose Barreto’s blog has a super diagram showing a model of these cmdlets. This model shows a box for each noun used by the cmdlets. Inside each box you see the the verbs that operate on the the noun, as well key attributes of a specific instance of that noun.  Thus for the Cluster noun, you see two identifiers (-ClusterName, –Properties) and the supported verbs (Get, New, Remove, Stop, Start, Test). Then you get links between the various objects showing how they relate to each other.  Then you get links between the nouns/objects. In other words - a good old fashioned data model.

For any cmdlet set, verb names are going to be constrained, e.g. get, set, new, start, stop, etc. So to learn a set of cmdlets, you need to focus on the nouns. Once you know the nouns, you will know the cmdlets (well for the most part). The diagram does a great job of showing how the the individual clustering objects (i.e. the nouns) relate to each other. What this diagram does so well is that it also shows the key objects involved in fail over clustering and how they relate since the cmdlet nouns are the key failover clustering objects.

Microsoft should document all cmdlet sets like this!


Sunday, October 03, 2010

PowerShell in Windows–A Nice Feature List

The TechNet folks have produced a nice list of PowerShell features offered by Microsoft. This page has a list of all the features offered plus links to information about how to get the individual features. The list looks reasonable complete – and is a good jumping off place for learning more about PowerShell in Windows.