Microsoft Dog Food Days

Add Comment | Oct 12, 2012

There is a free two-day event called "Dog Food Conference 2012" being held at the Microsoft offices in Columbus, Ohio (home to my beloved Ohio State Buckeyes) that looks to be promising. It covers a wide-array of technologies with a Microsoft focus and some other things pertinent to the IT community.

From the site: "This is a local conference by community IT professionals showcasing Microsoft technologies. There will be speakers from MS Gold Certified Partners, MS MVPs, IT authors, community leads, and MS Corp subject matter experts."

Don't Call it a Comeback

Add Comment | Oct 12, 2012

I received the email like most of you about Jeff and crew stepping down and selling the blog to another company. That it is a long time associate and friend of the team we have all grown to know and love, I feel much better about the move. Who cares, Chris, you haven't blogged religiously in ages! I know, and its a crime. Blame life, Twitter, my kids, laziness or whatever else you can think of.

I always tell myself I am going to make a comeback - - "Don't call it a comeback - I been here for years." But after a few posts I seem to lose my steam. Its hard to explain, hell, I can't explain it. But we'll see what happens this time. Just don't call it a comeback. 

2012 rMBP 15" Quad Core 2.33 GHz 16GB Memory 258GB SSD
MarsEdit 3.5 (Please Microsoft Live Team - Make LiveWriter for OS X) 

VMworld Speaking Session Schedule

One Comment | Jul 15, 2011

As mentioned in a previous post, I have been accepted to speak at VMworld2011 the week of August 29 in Las Vegas. Since that time I have been working on my presentation with my speaking partner and VMware SE Jeff Szastak. We have submitted the first draft of our deck in for comments and gotten some good feedback. I have now begun to incorporate those changes in to the deck as the final version is due in early August. I am excited to be going to this conference for the first time and especially so in a speaking capacity.

Right now we are slated to deliver two times, Monday and Tuesday. I wont post the times as I doubt they are final yet. We are in the live session catalog as:

BCA1360 How A Global Enterprise Virtualized Exchange 2010

Some of the hardest things for me to balance have been how much of each type of content to deliver. I could easily talk for two hours on the Exchange aspects of the migration alone, or on the virtualization aspects, especially concerning all of the new features in vSphere 5. I know Jeff plans on covering this for sure. In the end I know there will be a lot of good information out there for parties interested in both subjects.

If you work with Exchange, or are considering virtualizing Exchange 2010, please make sure you stop in for our presentation.

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Apple WWDC Keynote Highlights - My Observations

Add Comment | Jun 07, 2011

I wanted to take a moment and jot down some of my initial impressions on the announcements coming from the Apple hype machine today at the keynote. Not being able to attend - largely due to it selling out in two hours - made me especially bitter that Apple would not allow the event to be streamed live. Steve said during the keynote that if they sold more tickets he didn't know where they would hold it. Considering it takes place at Moscone West, the smaller of the two centers, try moving it across the street to the full sized Moscone Center. So I scrambled around the web watching small feeds here and there until each was suddenly dark after being discovered by the roving Apple police at the keynote.

New in iOS 5:

Notification Center – this is a very welcome addition and one that people have been asking about for quite some time. I cant say I always understand the priority Apple gives to improvements in the iOS. I had jailbroken my iPhone for a while for this one function alone. I hated having to unlock my screen each time to see who an email was from or its importance. PS This has been in WP7 since day one.

iMessage – I didn’t see this one coming since the phone has the ability to SMS text – although those of us with unlimited texting probably take this for granted. And I know my kids hate not being able to text from their iPod Touches. Users of Blackberries love this feature on their devices as well so I will be curious to see how it goes on the iPhone. Apparently the different chats (iMessage and SMS) are color-coded. Hopefully iMessage won’t be limited to Wi-Fi like FaceTime is.

Newsstand – I think this feature will go over very well and is essentially iBooks for magazines and other periodicals. For this to work though the pricing has to be right. Hopefully the publishers will be smart enough to realize they can go to a lower price point without all the massive physical infrastructure needed to print and distribute a paper edition. Volume should allow them to make the same or more margins without gouging the customer for fear of lost ‘print revenue.’ If I have to pay the same price I do for Men’s Health on the newsstand, I am not buying.

Twitter – Integration of Twitter in to the iOS was something leaked early and turned out to be true – a rare win for the prognosticators. Basically, Twitter identity is a system setting and then Twitter integration is set throughout the iOS blurring the need for a separate Twitter ‘app.’ Hopefully they included all the functionality a good app does. PS Also available in WP7 since day one.

Reminders – This is a home run for me and my, honey-do, er, wife. Since I got the iPhone many years ago I have been looking for a good ‘to-do’ app. Having it built-in may be just what I was looking for. Previously I was using Google Tasks, but always had to launch and go to the web to get to it. Built-in alarms and reminders are just my cup of tea. Does it go to the iCloud? That would be another big bonus so I could access it, or my wife could add to it, from anywhere.

Camera – Apple added the ability to access the camera without unlocking the phone (yet another feature in WP7 since day one – sorry I cannot resist when Apple takes such pleasure in bashing MS and Google). They also added a suite of additional photo enhancing tools like cropping and auto-enhance..

Safari Reader & Tabs – The introduction of tabs was a welcome one in mobile Safari for iOS. Apple also introduced a streamlined ‘reader’ view that allowed all the other parts of a website to be stripped away making reading of articles or other stories more easy and enjoyable. You can also create a list of articles to read later on and it will sync across iDevices.

All in all, a good set of feature improvements. I have to say though, as a person who uses his device to a large extent for email I am still mystified by the lack of view filters for email. You can show only unread or only flagged\important messages. Perhaps we will see this in iOS 10. Smile

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Speaker Session Accepted for VMWorld 2011

Add Comment | Jun 04, 2011
I was pleasantly surprised by my inbox yesterday to find that my session submission for VMWorld 2011 had been accepted! I had been trying for many years to break in to doing some sessions at Microsoft's TechEd - always to no avail. It always seemed like you had to know the secret handshake, be an MVP or work for Microsoft. I felt like I was destined to settle with speakling at user groups, no matter how badly I tried to get more experience in front of larger groups. So when my local VMWare account team approached me about submitting a session documenting our migration from Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2010 100% virtualized on VMWare vSphere I jumped at the opportunity. We sat down as a team to write a descriptive and compelling case presentation - you don't get to explain your idea to anyone - the write-up has to stand on it's own and be compelling to voters. I can't say I understand any of the process apart from there being 'nominations' and 'voting'. I am just thrilled I made it and will finally get a chance at the bigs. I've been called up to the show! My session is:

Session ID: BCA1360

Session Title: How A Global Enterprise Virtualized Exchange 2010

Track: Enterprise Applications

I don't yet know where it slots in the schedule but when I do I will be sure to post it. I will also try to do some posts on the process leading up to the event if I am not sworn to secrecy. Boo-Yah! If any previous year's speakers read this and have any tips, please feel free to chime in below in the comments. I am all ears!

Silverlight Error in IE

3 Comments | May 23, 2011

imageI get this all the time in IE and it really gets frustrating. I see it for inline video using Silverlight in IE. I get the error that I need the most current version of Silverlight to see the video. When I tell it to install Silverlight it tells me the latest version is already installed. Logic loop! Anyone know how to kill this? Feel free to shout out in the comments below.


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MS TechEd Day 2 Part Deux

Add Comment | May 17, 2011

Ran over to lunch after watching Speaker Idol. I found the short cut tunnel which was a boon and really trimmed down the amount of time it took me to get over to the dining hall. However, as fortune would have it, the side I came out on was closing down. It was only 12:50pm and lunch closed at 1:30pm, however, they were literally trying to take the food out from under my spoon as I put it on my plate. And they didn’t seem the least bit concerned I was trying to eat. They had already pulled out all the dressings, bread and butter so I just settled for some quick beef brisket which was good. I could have walked all the way down to the other end of the hall, but at that point I had about 20 minutes to eat and then get to B206 for what turned out to be a killer session: “EXL307 Load Balancing with MS Exchange Server 2010.”

Andrew gave a great talk on all the ins and outs of load balancing the different Exchange 2010 protocols via the CAS role like OWA, ECP, EWS, RCP client and ActiveSync. He also showed off newly released virtualized NLB appliances from F5, Citrix and others so that you can leverage it in a lab or as a production virtualized appliance. Available for both Hyper-V and VMware. Personally this will rock for me as it is always hard to get use of the prod F5 appliances in the labs at work. If I can now load a virtualized appliance, I can, for the most part do all of the work myself and not have to wait for the networking team to get around to assisting me. After all, they are busy too.

Then it was time to crush some calories with the afternoon ice cream break – this time with the awesome addition of Moon Pies and chocolate double decker Moon Pies!

I tried to attend the BOF talk on High Availability in Exchange 2010. It was SRO and very popular – it was a good topic and there was no EXL Exchange talk at that time slot. However, as it went on, it got way hot in that packed tiny little room. I have had my spa treatment for the day. Then a few laps around the Expo and then off to the UC Roundtable that Exchange MVP Jeff Guillet (@expta) organizes each year for Exchange and Lync IT Pros to meet at and discuss our favorite topic!

Then I am sure #TheKrewe will be somewhere burning the midnight oil … more later.

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Blogging From the Bloggers Lounge at TechEd 2011

Add Comment | May 17, 2011

Geeks With Blogs has been given the opportunity to host a blogger’s lounge at MS TechEd 2011 this year. I highly encourage anyone who loves to blog about technology, Developer or IT Pro, to head on over and introduce yourself. I have been blogging off and on (as life and time permit) with this group for a long time now and you couldn’t find a better bunch of guys that are passionate about both community and technology and their site really supports this. Be sure to say hi to Jeff and John. They are located in the Expo Hall over by the TechNet Edge big stage. Speaking of the TechNet Edge big stage, Speaker Idol is going on right now and this is another wonderful program that Richard Campbell and Carl Franklin run giving aspiring speakers a chance to strut their stuff and earn a trip to TechEd 2012 as a speaker all expenses-paid. As someone who has tried to break in to conference speaking I can really appreciate the opportunity they are providing to those that love to speak.

Microsoft TechEd 2011 Day Two

Add Comment | May 17, 2011

I know – where the heck is the Day One post? I will have to post that legacy post later. I am moving on with the current day. Day one was packed with activities to say the least, capped off with a wonderful dinner sponsored by @BetsyWeber of @TechSmith fame.

Day two began with the death march out to the dining hall in the remote wild of Hall C. Luckily, apart from meals, I haven't had any reason to venture all the way back out to Hall C. Being an Exchange-focused geek I have been able to spend all of my time in the same room. Every session has been in B206 or thereabouts. The day has begun with Rand Morimoto’s excellent “EXL305 – Best Practices for Successfully Transitioning to MS Exchange 2010.” Now being 50% of the way through my own Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2010 migration I knew a lot of the information but I was still able to walk away with 4 or 5 new nuggets which is all I ask for. Rand was very in-depth, helpful and at the end pointed us to a number of resources for further learning.

Rand was then able to assist me in the Exchange TLC booths with some DAG quorum scenarios I have been looking at.

I then hit the Expo Hall to collect my free 15 minute massage from the Exchange team. Show them that you follow @MSFTExchange and you can pick one up too. I plan on getting de-stressed right before the Expo Hall closes at 5pm today.

I had to miss the 10am sessions due to some conference call obligations with my job damn you! But hey, they are footing the bill for me to be here. I plan on catching the web replays as soon as they are available. Now it is off to lunch (grab a water for the walk) and then to the 1:30 sessions. I plan on hitting: “EXL307 Load Balancing with Exchange Server 2010.”

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I am Back Baby!

2 Comments | Apr 27, 2011

It has been too long since I have last posted to this blog. Life has a way of taking over and the next time you put your head up it is 2011. I have been in a long long Exchange 2010 migration as well as some other family related things. Kids growing up, sports, travel, etc. I am sure Twitter and Facebook have also eaten in to my formal blogging activities. I have been posting there when I have had time. They lend themselves much easier to three sentence updates of the hectic lifestyle. I would feel way to guilty about filling up this blog with little blurbs and comments. For some reason I feel more compelled to post a minimum of a couple of paragraphs.

However, with MS TechEd 2011 coming up and all the findings of the migration to write about, I have decided to make a commitment to contributing to the blog again. Jeff also does such a wonderful job with this service, it seems a shame to neglect it.


as they say – Salt meet wound

Add Comment | Sep 16, 2009

Credit to MotSaG

OneNote for the iPhone

One Comment | Aug 28, 2009
Came across a project from Microsoft Gold Partner MS Team called MobileNoter. This appears to be OneNote like application for the iPhone that uses a desktop sync piece to allow it to sync your OneNote sections to the app on the iPhone OTA. Interesting. The say it will go to beta soon and you can sign up for notifications at the site. As a lover of both OneNote and the iPhone I will keep an eye on this. I had been using Evernote to recently fill the gap as it works on all devices and platforms.

Windows 7 & Server 2008 R2 RTM

2 Comments | Jul 23, 2009

Microsoft announced at 1:40pm PST yesterday that Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 have officially been “Released to Manufacturing” which is to say all the bits have been finalized and signed off on. You can read announcements here, here and here. And, of course, all over the twittersphere.

Bits hit TechNet +, volume licensing download sites and MSDN on August the 6th.

I can now rebuild my laptop for the last time (until that Windows 8 beta is released).

Congratulations Microsoft. Some critics in Cupertino will say this should be called Windows Vista sp2 but personally, I don't care what you call it. It is a major revision in usability, speed and performance that I am happy to see come out of Redmond.


That’s How I Roll

Add Comment | Jul 10, 2009

I wanted to write a blog post to document how I do some day-to-day things. It helps me to keep track of my work habits, refine them and perhaps help some others who are looking for some solutions.

My current rig is a Apple MacBook Pro 13” unibody. It has the 250Gb drive with 4Gb memory. I am running the latest version of OS X Leopard. I am really enjoying the 13” form factor. It is a little smaller and lighter than the previous 15” unibody which, to me, just felt heavy. I also don't notice the lost two inches in the screen the way I thought I might. Plus, you have much more power than with the MacBook Air. This model may be a favorite with an executive looking to run on a Mac. But it doesn't say executive status the way an Air does, I know! I have also noticed that in the two weeks I have been using it, not once has the battery been hot as it constantly was with the 15”. I have no idea if this is due to the new built-in battery or something they changed on the airflow or internals. However, my lap is very happy.

I have three browsers loaded: the latest Safari v4.0.1, FireFox 3.5 and Google Chrome developer build. I do the bulk of my browsing in Safari but once in a while a page will act funny and I will switch over to FireFox. However, the SSL VPN that my employer uses only works with Safari. On the downside, Safari has been hanging quite a lot when using the SSL VPN. Lots of non-responsive force quits. And, Safari wont automatically recover my lost tabs for me the way FireFox will.

For Tweets I rely on TweetDeck. Although I am not a fan of the memory leaks associated with Adobe Air apps, its suits my work habits the best. I like being able to span the columns across a large external monitor and view many searches at once.

My personal email is handled through GMail in the browser where it works brilliantly. I have no need to download it to another client on my Mac or Windows clients. By the same token I also use Google Reader for my RSS feeds. It leaves no data on my client and when I switch computers, to say, my home computer or rebuild my laptop (as I often do) I can pick up right where I left off. Easy peasy.

I run a Windows 7 virtual machine on my Mac in VMWare Fusion. I have heard some good things about Sun’s Virtual Box and may try that soon. I run a Windows virtual machine for a couple of reasons:

  1. My employer’s applications and tools are still largely Windows-centric. There are more Macs in the business now and gaining but they still aren't first-class citizens when it comes to apps and tools. We are getting there though. The VPN issue is a big one. Visio is another. I still haven't found a Mac app that replaces Visio or can read\modify Visio files. Ditto for Outlook and Microsoft Exchange. As many Mac people know, Entourage is a pitiful replacement for Outlook. It gets better with the Web Services beta but you need Exchange 2007 – which is also a requirement for the coming Snow Leopard enhancements and I am sad to say we are still running Exchange 2003.
  2. Did I mention no MS Visio or Outlook native Mac versions?
  3. We also use MS SharePoint heavily and while Safari does a good job with the sites, there are some things that don’t quite translate and I need to bop over to IE for.
  4. There still isn't, IMO, a blogging tool as good (or as $free) as Windows Live Writer for the Mac. I am keeping my eye out though. And certainly none I have tried that can automatically blog to a SharePoint site as Windows Live Writer can.


I don't game on my computer other than the odd hand of Texas Hold ‘em Poker so no worries there.

I use MS Office for the Mac 2008 (sans Entourage) for my office needs. I also utilize Google Docs on a small scale for some personal stuff. I try to store as much of my data that isn't sensitive in the cloud. I live Windows Live SkyDrive at the moment as it provides a bigger quota (25 Gb) over Windows Live Mesh (a measly 5Gb). However, SkyDrive is a manual process and to make matters worse, you cannot drag and drop folders, only files. Which is a real PITA for copying over folders of docs and a music library is almost impossible. I lost a lot of data with MS Live Mesh before I understood some of the subtleties. For instance, when you hit your quota, data added continues to sync between computers, but does not load to the cloud. Flatten the computers and lose the data that is overage. Ouch for those not in the know.

I use iTunes for my music management as I also use a company provided iPhone. I am very fortunate that I get to test out a goodly number of mobile devices and portable computers. IMO iTunes works as well as any other media management app. I am a generalist in my music and media usage and as such my needs are pretty basic.

For remote connectivity I use a Sprint Novatel USB Broadband dongle. The software is Mac and Windows compatible and runs well. On the Mac, it places an icon in the menu bar that I can initiate a connection from. In Windows 7 it is simply recognized by the OS and is an option on the connect menu under wireless once you install the drivers. No 3rd party software required.

For note taking I had always loved what I consider to be the best in the field: Microsoft OneNote. On a Mac however, not so much, as there isn't a version available. I sometimes think (believe strongly) that Microsoft decided to take their three most popular productivity apps (Outlook, Visio and OneNote) and omit them from Office for the Mac just out of spite. Since I needed an app that works across Mac, Windows and iPhone if possible I have been using EverNote. EverNote is wonderful and almost as well done as OneNote. There is also a Windows Mobile and Blackberry version.

Palm Pre and iPhone 3GS

4 Comments | Jun 25, 2009

I have had the good fortune to test both the Palm Pre and Apple iPhone 3Gs. In my day job I am an architect with responsibilities over messaging and mobility – hence I get to try a lot of new devices in order to evaluate their applicability for our enterprise users. One thing I have come to regard as a universal truth is that ranking mobile devices is almost a waste of time. They are so subjective depending on the personal habits and preferences of the person using them.

palm_logo apple-logo-dec07 There are some things that a certain group of users will find in common - “good email experience”, “works well as a phone” or “good signal coverage and strength.” But even in these general areas there is a wide variety of experiences and preferences. With this in mind I followed all of the hype, tweets and reviews leading up to the release of these two devices. Twitter global searches are a great way to get a feel for how a device is being experienced by the Twittering public. Flaws or cool features quickly bubble to the surface via re-tweets or a preponderance of similar topics across tweets.

I have used both devices for about a week each and here are some of my completely un-scientific observations:

  • The Palm Pre implementation for Exchange ActiveSync mail is completely unsuited for enterprise companies. There is no support for remote wipe, enforcing password policies,etc. In fact, if you currently force the acceptance of these policies, you will not be able to download mail to your Pre without an exception.
  • You can remote wipe the device yourself from the Pre website you register at upon starting the phone for the first time. You can also set a screen lock PIN on the device. However, these require the user to enforce them, generally not an accepted company compliance policy.
  • Exchange email is also very basic in what it offers – which is even less than what the iPhone v1 offered. You can read, send, reply, forward. You can cut and paste.
  • Outside of the email experience, the Pre operates very nicely. It is mostly responsive and crisp, only slowing when there were more than 5 or 6 apps open at the same time.
  • I had no issue with the buttons on the keyboard and was able to adjust to using them with my sausage-like fingers in minutes. I also had no issue with the edges of the slide-out keyboard. I did not find it overly sharp or cut myself on it. Perhaps I have thick skin!
  • The phone is very comfortable in the hand. Much more so than the iPhone.
  • The iPhone 3Gs is noticeably faster than previous versions. Much faster. Very responsive and crisp when launching windows and switching apps.
  • The video camera is very nice and I find myself using it often. The resulting QuickTime files look sharp on the phone or computer. You can also trim\edit the files on the phone before uploading them to YouTube. I think we need an app here to merge files and do more advanced editing.
  • The new camera specs and macro settings are also a nice improvement. I often find myself taking pictures close up of things and this addition really helps.
  • From an email standpoint there are some nice improvements that have been asked for. They still aren't as far along as Windows Mobile with Exchange support and fidelity but they are getting there.
  • You can now create calendar appointments and invite others from the corp directory. You can also forward appointments and meeting requests.
  • You can now type emails in the landscape rotation.
  • You can now search with Spotlight across your mailbox. It is fast.
  • From a security perspective, you can now use enterprise client certificates on the iPhone. You can encrypt the user’s profile. You can enforce all settings on the device with profile policies. The iPhone now supports ActiveSync 1.2 policies.

Two things I request of the iPhone team please!

  • Add unread email counters to the home screen. Almost every other Smartphone on the market has this. I hate having to unlock my phone to see if I have any mail waiting!
  • Add enterprise strength management capabilities to the iPhone. The cool factor has the iPhone making some in-roads in the enterprise, but this wont last for much longer if Apple doesn't back it up with things like OTA delivery of enforcement policies and a real-time AD-integrated management console or way to tie in to other vendor’s management infrastructures.

Winner: iPhone by a mile!