Archive for November, 2006

Vista and Office on a 4-5 year old system

November 13, 2006

Even though the system is pretty old, it’s had some upgrades.  It’s got 1G of RAM, a 120G HD, DVD drive and a PCI video card (ATI 9250) with 256M.  It won’t do Aero, or maybe it will in the future, but the 9250 isn’t listed on the ATI site as being compatible with their Vista driver.  The processor on this machine is a 1G Athlon XP.  It couldn’t be described as a speed demon by any means.  But Vista and Office run pretty well on it.  I was actually really pleased with it.  It’s a perfect test bed for me to play with. It doesn’t knock down one of my “production” machines with beta code (Vista is RC1, Office 12 is Beta 2 with the Technical Refresh).  It took a long time to load, but it mostly went without a hitch.

Drivers look like they’ll be one of the most significant things going into Vista.  Even if I had the RTM bits from Microsoft, I’m not sure how well my real systems would work.  I think there’s a RC1 driver for my sound card and video card now, but I’ve been watching and these are fairly new additions.  There’s not a 64-bit driver for the sound card.  The motherboad drivers don’t look like they’re available.  It looks like Tyan’s not very speedy in this regard.

Anyway, I like the way Vista looks.  I played with the gadgets for a while and found several that I really liked.  I also was playing with some of the new games that come with Vista and I thought they were pretty neat.  Chess, Majong, and a bundle of games for kids.  I think my kids will enjoy the games a lot. 

It took me a while to find stuff.  I can’t say I’m used to the new Start menu, and my initial impression is that I like the old one better.  I like being able to pin things to the menu.  There’s probably a way to do this, but I haven’t been playing with it long enough to have tried to find it.

The good news in this regard is that I may have Vista on all of my computers once it comes out.  I still have a P2-333 with 384M and a 6G HD that will continue to run XP and Office 2003, but otherwise, the other 3 systems will move to Vista once it’s available.

I’m excited about the graphics capabilities of Vista. I think it’s going to mean a LOT more cool games and applications coming down the pike.  Between this and 64-bit, I think there will be a lot of benefits to upgrading.

The network stuff looks like it’s handled pretty smoothly.  It took me a while to find the settings I needed, but they’re in there.  Just some extra looking while I get accostomed to the new look.

I really didn’t do anything with Office 12… I mean 2007 Office.  It took a long time to get them installed and updated to B2TR.  I’m not sure how much I’ll be doing with them since I’m not confident putting real data on there. 


Attended Microsoft / Intel event on Friday

November 12, 2006

This was a whole day event that was put on and made available to partners of Intel or Microsoft.  I’m signed up for both.   This was the first one I’ve been to that I had to pay $50 to attend.  Intel’s training events have been called ICC’s in the past.  The information was interesting, but not worth paying $50 bucks for.  A couple of subscriptions to IT magazines and nowhere near the time would have been a far better use of the time (and money).

The one thing I did pick up that would be of interest to me was the Intel Xeon 5100 Woodcrests are dual core and priced competitively.  I still need to find some pricing on the total solution, but I might like to get one.  My next server needs to support virtualization and four actual cores.  I want to use it to run a bunch of servers on in a virtualized environment running Virtual Server 2005 R2.

The information on Vista wasn’t new stuff.  I was pretty disappointed with it really.  It was the same content I’d seen at TS2’s and in webcasts.  I signed up for the after-the-show Vista demo on a bunch of Intel VBI notebooks.  Problem was, the systems were equipped with VPC’s running Vista.  They were very slow and painfully annoying.  Almost everything we demo’d we’d seen at the event, or at a TS2 or on a webcast.  I went through most of the content and left at 8:00pm.  I was glad I did.

Seagate was showing off a new hybrid drive for laptops that uses flash memory as a cache for the 5400rpm drive.  It’s supposed to provide a huge performance advantage and power savings.  I’d definately be interested in seeing this technology in action.  I’m fairly sure it wasn’t in use on the laptops we were using.  I talked to the rep at the show and he said he expected the technology will make its way to 3.5″ drives.  If they could build the same thing into a CF sized drive with 1G or so, it might be possible to get a HD based portable media player that would last for a week on a charge.  I could really get into that!

The coolest thing about the day was the opportunity to talk to a high-level muckety-muck from Microsoft about the OEM program.  I got to vent my spleen about partners getting not getting RTM bits of Vista and Office 12 until April or so.  I explained the situation with the Action Pack’s quarterly shipments and that we’ll just have gotten the January shipment when it releases to the public, so we’ll probably not get the bits until April.  He seemed surprised by that.  Even more so when the Microsoft guy, Bret, sat down at the table and confirmed everything that I’d just told him.  Maybe they’ll get something going and get it to us earlier.  I still haven’t gotten the SBS 2003 R2 from being on the beta for that over the summer.  Supposedly, as a Microsoft partner, I’m part of the “sales force” for Microsoft, but I won’t get to play with the RTM software until 3 months after general availability of the product.  Bummer.

Playing ball with Allen, the dogs, Hide and Seek

November 12, 2006

Allen got a T-ball set for his birthday back in July.  I recently re-discovered it after our move and we’ve been playing with it.  He’s really enjoyed hitting the ball off of the T thing, but has decided that it’s nowhere near as good as having Dad throw them for him.We spent quite a while tonight and last night doing this.  We’ve been using whichever balls we can find laying around and I’ve been trying to use the bigger ones that are pretty soft, to avoid any broken windows.  We have been doing pretty well, but he’s now knocked two of the balls into the backyard of our neighbors.  We walked over to ask if we could get them, but they weren’t home.  It looks like they still weren’t home tonight, so we’re down two balls until they get back.They have a pretty tall fence and I don’t think it’d be a good idea to go get them since we’ve never even introduced ourselves to them yet. 

We have also gotten to be friends with the golden Labrador retriever in the yard behind ours.  It used to be that he and his friend would stand and bark at us whenever we were in the back yard.  The other one still does, but the lab will come to the fence and let us pet him.  He’s always seemed really friendly, just that he was being cajoled into barking by the other dog.  I’ve enjoyed petting him.  It’s nice to pet a BIG dog!Shadow and Little Dog have gotten much better about coming when called.   They’ll both stand still and be picked up now.  That’s a huge improvement over just a couple of weeks ago.  It seems they like to get petted and will even lay in our laps and sleep if we’ll let them.  They’re still not completely house broken, but I think they’re getting close.  Little Dog pissed me off a couple of days ago.  It had rained in the night and the grass was wet.  I picked the dogs up and carried them to a part of the yard where the grass wasn’t too high so they wouldn’t get soaked from the rain-laden grass.  Shadow did his thing and Little Dog just took off into the house.  They ran to the back bedroom where
Frances was sleeping and got almost there before Little Dog started to pee on the carpet.  I was pretty put out with him.  I tossed him back in the yard and cleaned it up.  He had to stay out there for a couple of hours until everyone else was up.  Punk dog.

Allen and Anastasia have been playing Hide and Seek really well lately.  We played for quite a while tonight. Allen’s getting really good.  It used to be that he’d go hide, but if you got close to him, he’d jump out and start laughing really loud and say “HERE I AM!!”.   Now he hides really well, and were it not for a cough or some other noise signal, I probably wouldn’t be able to find them.  Tonight he hid in the closet behind a pillow.  If it weren’t for him shifting around when I walked out of Anastasia’s room after looking for him in there, I probably wouldn’t have found him.Anastasia still needs work.  She loves to hide in the last place that Allen hid.  She’s getting a lot better about hiding too.  She still seems to get a
LOT more enjoyment out of jumping up and yelling “SURPRISE!!” than in successfully hiding.  I’ve tried to introduce them to the concept of “base” and “safety” but they don’t seem to be interested in it.  I guess it’s not that big of a deal since Dad is pretty well always the seeker.

I just noticed it’s 1am and I have a OEM briefing to attend tomorrow on
Vista and Office 12.  I’d better go.

By the way, I read on the blogmailr site yesterday that it looks like the problem I was having with mailing may be fixed.  If so, this will be the first one I’ve done that way.

PBX Info at Microsoft for Exchange 2007

November 9, 2006

I had mentioned on here before that I am interested in getting an IP-PBX and running Exchange 2007 and Live Communications Server 2005.  I found a couple of interesting sites at Microsoft related to this.  I haven’t done any follow up on these, but they look like they would be worth while to read.

I’m still waiting to hear back from Nortel about their Nortel SC1000. Post to your blog from email.

November 9, 2006

I don’t know if this can be done another way, but I signed up for the service today.  It is from the people at Telligent, home of Community Server, so I was willing to give it a shot.  I signed up, did the test for connectivity, and it worked.   I sent my first email but just got a couple of error messages.  I rechecked my settings, email addresses and resent the previous mail.  Same two messages.  I posted a comment to the discussion board and had an answer back in about 30 minutes.  I didn’t discover it until tonight, but I posted the information they asked for and hopefully, that will be enough to get a fix.  It very well may be on my side, as I’m fairly new to a lot of this technology.

However, the service looks like it’s designed to work with a lot of different blog sites, so it looks pretty interesting.  I’ll try to remember to post something when it gets resolved.

DNS problems…

November 9, 2006

I’ve been working on DNS problem (internally) that gives seemingly random drops of internet availablity.

 I still don’t have it fixed, but I thought I’d plug two books that have been very helpful.

Mark Minasi’s Mastering Windows Server 2003 has a TON of stuff on DNS, AD, DHCP and other related stuff.  I found it very helpful to reread a lot of this material.  It’s a great primer on how it all works.

Eriq Neale, et al’s book Microsoft Small Business Server 2003 has a lot of very specific guidance for SBS users (which I am).  He was very specific about how it should be configured, how to use tools to discover problems  and reference to other tools in case those don’t work.

I still don’t have it fixed, but my perception is I’m much closer than I was a couple of days ago. 

I’ve done reviews of both of these books (I think) somewhere, but I just thought I’d mention that both have been excellent resources.

.NET 3.0 Framework

November 9, 2006

This just went gold a couple of days ago.  I’ve just downloaded it.  I’ve been waiting on it to go gold before I put up my own Sharepoint v3 site.  I’ve got several sites I want to host on my own servers.  I still need the Sharepoint Services to release (I think) and then I’ll be able to get it up and running.

The talk on what the v3 framework brings to the table was quite interesting.  It looks like there are four primary components, each of which add functionality to the v2 framework.  It looks like a LOT of work has been done on this.  In case you aren’t aware, v3 Sharepoint requires the Workflow Foundation which is a component of the v3 framework.

There’s also a download which adds v3 functionality to Visual Studio 2005.

After the very interesting presentation on .NET 3.0 Framework, Caleb offered to take people to a “pub club”.  I was one of 5 other people to attend and had a very interesting night listening to other very interesting people.  I’m not really strong in the .NET world, but I expect to be acquiring this skill set.

I had a good time explaining why I was so late getting home, but it was a good time and worth it.

Sharepoint group… not there

November 9, 2006

I went last night to the Sharepoint User’s Group which I thought was going to be meeting then.  Rick Herrerra, Microsoft sponsor of the group, had told me about it Friday at an Office training event.  I must have miss understood him because the only UG that was there was one on Business Intelligence.

The lady at the desk, whose name I neglected to get, was VERY helpful.  She tried calling him, paging him and even called a couple of other people to try to confirm about the event.

We weren’t able to get in touch with anyone about it, so there’s several likely possibilities.  I didn’t get the invite correct, it’s on a later Tuesday.  The group doesn’t meet on the Microsoft campus.  I just assumed it did. 

In the course of trying to discover this information, Caleb Jenkins, Microsoft Developer Evangelist came down to talk to me and try to find out what was going on.  He wasn’t able to make any more headway, but I was very pleased that he took the time to see if he could help.

He was doing a presentation on .NET framework 3.0 at the Fort Worth .NET User’s Group later that night, so I decided to just go there since I’d already cleared my absense with my wife and kids.

I was pretty disappointed however.  I’ve been looking forward to the event for a while.  Sharepoint has become the MS product which I am most excited about.  Also, I’d cancelled dinner with some very good friends of mine to attend, and I was very sorry to have had to postpone that engagement to attend.

Fort Worth Botanical Gardens

November 7, 2006

The family went to the Botanical Gardens today.  It’s free.  I’ve never been there before, but Frances and the kids have gone a couple of times.  We had had a trip planned for a couple of weeks before and it got cancelled because of work reasons, so I didn’t end up going.

 It rained for much of last night here, and apparently down there too.  There was a lot of standing water, but the place was just gorgeous.  I really had a great time walking around.

Here’s a related story, that I think is pretty interesting.  When Frances and I moved to Phoenix back in 1998, I went to my last AT with the Marine Reserve and Frances stayed in Phoenix and went to work at the landscape architect position that we had moved to the area to get.  When I got back, she surprised me with a membership to the Desert Botanical Garden.  As a crazed jarhead, I mostly thought this was a bizarre waste of money.  How much fun could it be to look at plants?  I was in for a shocking surprise!  Phoenix sits in the middle of the Sonorran Desert and the plant life there is quite varied and immensely interesting.  I was fascinated to see Boojum trees, saguaro cacti, ocotillos, succulents and a vast array of other flowering, towering plants which I thought were just stunning!  I had to eat crow, and Frances was justified in her purchase and we renewed it for most of the time we were there.

Fort Worth’s Botanical Garden is very beautiful.  There’s a vast array of plants that were very pleasant to see.  I’d not be able to tell you about a lot of them, because with at 2.5 year old and a 4 year old, the time to read about the plants is greatly reduced.  However, they had a big section of aromatic plants (they smell nice), several rose gardens, a forest walk-through on a raised platform walkway which was quite fascinating. 

Allen picked up a pocketful of acorns and attempted to share them with the squirrels that we saw along the way.  He didn’t get any takers, but I was very impressed with his kindness to the squirrels.

Anastasia was most fascinated with the water.  There are fountains all over the place and she was quite interested in splashing and playing in every one of them.  She was also greatly enthralled by splashing in every puddle that she saw.  She especially liked the ones with a hard bottom so that she could splash them even farther.

Frances and I did get a chance to look around and enjoy the plants.  We found snails, squirrels, birds and saw a LOT of stuff that we would have liked to have time to actually look at.  Perhaps we’ll be able to go back sometime and spend some time by ourselves looking and appreciating.

Also of interest, was the saltwater aquarium that was in the lobby of the visitor’s center.  I think the kids had as much fun looking at that as anything else that we saw.

Did I mention that it’s free?  Great place to visit.

Sharepoint User’s Group

November 7, 2006

I attended a training session on Exchange 2007 and Office 2007 on Friday at Microsoft’s Las Colinas office.  One of the presenters was Rick Herrerra, one of the Information Worker Evangelists.  I’m not sure what his actual title is, but in the course of discussing Sharepoint, I asked about the UG that he hosts.  The initials were SMB (as I recall) and I couldn’t find any information on it.  It turns out it’s on Sharepoint.  I’ll be attending the monthly meeting tomorrow.  So if you’re local, there is a Sharepoint group locally. 

I’m VERY excited!!