Thursday, August 13, 2009

Patent Schmatent

I was curious about the i4i v. Microsoft patent infringement case, so I did a little more research into it. I’ve seen a lot of tech blogs and news sources that give a cursory examination and all seem to be parroting each other, so I thought I would give another point of view.
To clarify what some other reports have misstated, it’s not XML (eXtensible Markup Language) itself that’s at issue since it’s an open standard. It’s the use of Microsoft's "Custom XML" as a type of metacode for storing and manipulating documents and information about the documents and their data. Specifically, using a "metacode map" to distinguish the Custom XML from the content stream. This is a key distinction since many people have speculated cynical reasons for i4i targeting Microsoft and not every software vendor that uses XML or even going after the XML standard itself.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Admin Rights Argument

AKA "Why You Can't Have Admin Rights at Work"

Check out this video from Steve Gibson (Gibson Research Center) explaining the security ramifications of administrative rights on corporate PC's running Windows.

Admit it. You clicked the image thinking it was an embedded YouTube video didn't you. I could have fooled you into going anywhere and if you're logged in with Administrative privileges (which is quite likely if you're on your home PC running Windows), quite a bit more could have just happened.
Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together. Mass hysteria!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Creating a Windows 7 Bootable USB Flash Drive

I decided to install Windows 7 (Release Candidate) on my Dell Mini 9 to see how the hardware and OS play together. One problem. No CD drive on the Mini. This isn't as big of a deal as you may think.

What you need:
1 x 4 GB (or larger) flash drive (aka thumb drive, pen drive, usb key, usb stick, etc.)
1 x Windows 7 Release Candidate iso file
1 x Bootsect.exe (You don't need to download this if you're on Vista. It's built in.)
1 x WinRAR installed
1 x Windows XP or Vista machine to work on.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

MMS 2009: Take Away

I'm going to give a brief synopsis and what I took away from each of the MMS sessions I attended. This is not intended to be a comprehensive look at each session, just some highlights, overall impressions and ideas of how these concepts could be used in the real world.

SQL Performance Tips for Config Manager Reporting
It seems that our Primary Site server is dramatically underpowered. Brian Mason (Wells Fargo) and Steve Thompson (BT Consulting) suggest the following configuration assuming that the SQL database resides on the Primary.

- 64 bit, 64 bit, 64 bit
- 32 GB RAM
- Dual Quad Core processors (Quad Dual Core processors will do in a pinch, but they produce more heat)
- Partition the main hard disk with the OS, SQL, and Config Manager on different partitions.
- Use separate drives for the Config Manager Inboxes and SQL Transaction Logs.
- No pagefile. No need.

The Rebranding of SCCM

It used to be that all the documentation and speeches coming from Microsoft referred to System Center Configuration Manager as "SCCM" for brevity. Something that I noticed at MMS was the constant use of the term "Config Manager" when referring to SCCM. It seems to be the newly preferred abbreviation even to the point that I heard one presenter correct himself by saying, "...they told me not to say that anymore."

Reduction of the alphabet soup that is a typical IT conversation is always good, but if they don't print it as SCCM anymore then I can't call it "Suck 'em."

That makes me sad.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

MMS 2009 - Configuration Manager v.Next

So far, the demo of the pre-alpha version of the new Configuration Manager (v.Next is the placeholder version name/number) has been the most exciting thing about the Microsoft Management Summit. I'm too tired to really go into the details, but I thought I'd go ahead and publish my notes from the session. They may be a bit cryptic now, but I'll go into more detail later.

Monday, April 27, 2009

MMS 2009 - SWAG Bag

I just registered at MMS, and thought I'd share the SWAG with you. For those of you that insist on pronouncing and spelling it "schwag," it stands for Stuff We All Get not Schtuff We All Get. Anyway, on to the stuff.

1. A fancy-schmancy convertible laptop bag. I'm not trying to be ungrateful, but this laptop bag falls prey to the same issues that I have with all laptop bags. THEY LOOK LIKE LAPTOP BAGS.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Bring on the Tux

I got the Dell Mini 9 today and I am stoked. Here are my initial impressions of the machine, OS, and over-all usability.

The Machine:

1. It is LITTLE. It's hard to appreciate how small it is without some perspective. It would take about $3.75 (in actual currency size) to cover the machine.

2. It's really well made. In the car world, they talk about fit and finish; well, if BMW made a netbook, this would be it. Unlike a lot of netbooks I've seen, it doesn't look or feel like a toy; everything feels solid and really well put together. For example, the hinges are really meaty so the screen doesn't feel like it's going to rip off when you open it like the 9" Acer I've checked out at Buy More.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

I Quote Dr. Frank N. Furter

"I see you shiver with antici...pation!"

I know I do.

My Dell Mini 9 shipped today. Unfortunately it was built in Nashville, not Austin, so I'll have to wait for a couple of days.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Word of the Day is: Ubuntu


My Dell Mini 9 is on its way and it's coming with Ubuntu Linux pre-installed. And it will stay that way. This is by no means my first foray into the Linux world since I've messed around with multiple distributions dating back to 1994. I've had Arch running as a proxy server to bypass web restrictions on my work PC (Shhhhh). I've run a web server on Mandrake and a file server on Slackware. None of this matters. They were experiments; they were task-centric intellectual games. The key is that this will be my first time using Linux as a primary OS.

What I'm trying to get at is that I'm not a Linux noob, but I am nowhere near a Linux expert or even an upper-level intermediate.
Ubuntu is allegedly the Linux distribution for "normal" people, so I figure if I have severe issues so will Ma and Pa Kettle. I will be documenting my (mis)adventures here to let you know how Ubuntu stacks up to my expectations.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Alanis Morrisette Would be Proud: Part 2

Microsoft's runs on Linux.
Check it out.

Update: I have been informed that Akamai (the 3rd Party web-hosting company) is not actually hosting the content of for Microsoft, merely processing DNS requests, so it's inaccurate to say that "runs on Linux."

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Why we care what Web browser you use. Or, "It's not our fault. Blame the browser developers."

"I don't like Internet Explorer, why can't I use Firefox?"

It's a comment we often hear in the Desktop Admin world. The short answer is, "it's not a good product for business." Now, wait a minute before you go typing up that angry comment, Mr. Fanboy. I know what you're going to say, so let me explain myself.

Desktop Admins are tasked with a variety of duties that all pretty much boil down to one concept; to provide our company's employees with the tools and infrastructure necessary for them to do their jobs while safeguarding company information. That's it. Everything we do is aimed at acheiving that goal. There are some ancillary considerations such as reducing calls to the helpdesk and helping to ensure job productivity (there'll be another post on that topic sometime) but for the most part we want to provide you with a safe, stable product that does what you expect it to do.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Rodeo-Style Cell Phone

Intel is hyping a concept (read: doesn't exist) smartphone that has one major problem. It's the size of a cowboy's wallet. I know people who won't buy an iPhone because it's "just so big." (Easy, there.) Where does Intel think I'm going to carry this, my murse?

Cheesy Promo Video Below:

Friday, March 13, 2009

Alanis Morrisette Would Be Proud

Isn't it ironic? Don't you think?

The Session Builder on works better in Safari than IE 8. Sure, it's Beta and sure, the MMS website isn't REALLY run by Microsoft, but I laughed like one of Heff's girls when I noticed.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

MMS Session Builder is Available

How to Log On and Build Your Personal Session Schedule
  1. Open the MMS 2009 Log on page
  2. Enter the username and password you created during the MMS 2009 Registration Process
  3. Open the Session Scheduler page from the menu bar on the left
  4. Review the labs and sessions at the event
  5. To add a breakout or lab session to your schedule, simply click the circle beside the time and location you wish to attend
  6. You may print out your schedule or export sessions to your Outlook client by clicking on the relevant icon.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Don't watch this.

Courtesy of Information Week
In case you're watching this from a filtered Internet connection, you may not see the streaming video below.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Migration Which Shall Not Be Named

or, How to not be Bored at the Birds of a Feather Session.

New Topic
Planning Your Migration from Windows XP to Windows 7
Proposed Abstract
Since many companies will be making the leap from XP to Windows 7, and the documentation and MMS sessions focus on migrating from Vista to Windows 7, how will you go about the change? What about application testing? What are your training plans for users and the helpdesk? Will you generate buzz among the early adopters by letting them volunteer to upgrade first? This is a broad topic that could generate quite a bit of good conversation.

My manager came up with this topic, but this is my write up. We're trying to get some people to suggest it as a new topic. It turns out that suggested topics aren't displayed in the drop-down menu to vote on. Since most people are lazy or just not very thoughtful, they'll just pick one of the available options. Talk about stacking the deck.

We're pretty sure that Microsoft will suppress this topic since they seem to have a delusion (based on the current state of their documentation) that people will only be going from Vista to Windows 7.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Birds of a Feather

get bored together?

This year at MMS 2009 we will again be hosting Birds-of-a-Feather (BOF) sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday evening after breakout sessions are finished for the day. BOF sessions are informal community topics where attendees have the opportunity to meet and discuss a topic of common interest peer-to-peer or for an Industry expert to answer questions on their area of expertise.

To ensure that the topics hosted at BOF sessions reflect the needs of all MMS 2009 attendees, we are asking you to vote for the topics you would most like to attend during the event.

I'll have to come up with some topic to suggest or I won't feel worthy of complaining, but I'm pretty sure that just like with broadcast television I'll be in the minority of what is found intriguing. It's probably going to be some buzzword-laden discussion of, "Fat client versus thin client," or some nonsense about cloud computing or software as a service. I quote Moon Unit Zappa when I say, "Gag me with a spoon." Please, prove me wrong.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

My MMS Schedule

This is probably a bit ambitious, but I think you have to go into this thing like a trip to Six Flags. I'm going to plan on riding every freakin' ride, but about 3 pm I'll probably be ready to just sit down and have a cheeseburger and a beer.

I'm going to summarize the session titles since some of them are as long as the intro to Shine on You Crazy Diamond.

An Introduction

I'm a systems engineer that focuses on the configuration and management of the desktop in a large enterprise environment, so I technology with a viewpoint that differs from "normal people," and even that of an email or system monitoring specialist. I'm a fairly silly and sarcastic guy, so this shouldn't be too stuffy. Although DeNiro disagrees, comedy is hard so I'm not going to "try" to be funny either (Shut up, B.). If it happens, great. I have no delusions about the scope or interest in this blog, but hopefully you'll find something you can use or enjoy.

I'm going to MMS 2009 and will be covering my journey and the sessions I attend.

Since imaging, GPO, and SCCM are parts of my responsibilities, I'll be focusing on the Client Management and Systems Management tracks although I will be attending a few other sessions as well.

For pure irony's sake, I'll most likely be writing all of my MMS entries on a MacBook that my company bought for my team (read, "me") to test.