AITP / Microsoft Presentation – April 8th 2010

26 04 2010

At the April monthly meeting of AITP Nashville chapter we enjoyed a presentation by Matt Hester of Microsoft (Twitter @matthewhester). Matt’s presentation was part of a tour he conducted during the spring of 2010 to both promote Microsoft technology and his recently published book on Server 2008 R2.

Matt lives in Cincinnati Ohio and travels extensively with his role as IT Pro Evangelist. He moved from Dallas, at first he had mixed feelings regarding the move but later it was a blessing in disguise since now he can spend more time with his father. It’s good to see a professional make a move based on factors in addition to obvious career goals. Matt’s role as an evangelist is to support and grow the IT community and promote the adoption of technology. Matt’s focus at our last meeting was on Windows Server 2008 R2 and he has written a book recently on that subject.

Matt spent the first part of his dialog with us explaining Microsoft’s road-map for some of its major product lines.

  • Microsoft is committed to providing a solid platform for directory services with their active directory extensions and improvements.
  • Virtualization of computers, both servers and desktops is a rapidly growing sector in IT and Microsoft is extending the capabilities of their Hyper-V technologies to take on the market leader VMware.
  • Webservices provided by IIS have seen some significant improvements. Microsoft claim that their IIS product now out performs Apache and has been re-engineered to be interoperable with Linux servers running SUSE, Ubuntu and also support for PHP as an adjunct to their .NET platform.
  • Cloud computing is becoming increasingly popular with corporations and Microsoft have recently brought to market their Azure product line. The primary selling point to IT departments and corporations is that Azure can transform a corporations IT division from a cost center into a strategic asset. Currently 80% of companies operate their data centers as cost centers, Azure allows corporations to relocate the local data center to ‘the cloud’ or a data center operated by a company that specializes in hosting and managing large data centers. Microsoft are of course such a provider along with other leading providers such as Amazon EC2/S3, Google Apps, GoGrid, ElasticHosts etc.

Matt then continued his discussion with specifics regarding Server 2008 R2. Service pack 1 has been announced, some of the features to lookout for are

  • Remote Terminal Services improvements. One drawback to remote access is that graphics especially video do not work well or at all. RemoteFX extensions now make streaming video transmit reliably over a remote access session.
  • Hyper V has been extended so that it can now be considered to have ‘feature parity’ with VMware. Microsoft are therefore claiming they have ‘caught up’ with the leading vendor in this industry segment.
  • The AD Admin center can have multiple administration levels/roles, so some AD admin tasks can be delegated to the help desk (i.e. password resets) without giving access to all admin controls. The admin center also supports canned filters to quickly identify users with expired passwords, geographic location, empty AD attributes etc. There is also now a ‘recycle bin’ for deleted users (however this is rudimentary is only available via the command line).
  • Better support for Solid State Drives. Virtual servers can achieve phenomenal performance boosts by moving to solid state drives for critical boot and paging resources.
  • One feature to get excited about is the ability to add storage to a Virtual Machine while it is running. This is accomplished using the Hyper-V manager. The command line tool Disk2VHD creates Virtual Hard Drives to allow one to add the extra storage to the running virtual machine(s). This is very useful for high availability servers, no need to shutdown the server to add storage as storage demands grow.
  • Microsoft have provided a ‘Best Practices Analyzer’ for Server 2008 R2 as they have with other Microsoft products. It provides a detailed analysis of your implementation of Server 2008 R2 and compares the configuration to a model ‘best practice’ configuration and provides interactive help in resolving common configuration mistakes.

Matt also discussed Microsoft’s latest desktop operating system, Windows 7 and what to expect in the yet to be released SP1 (service pack 1). XPMode is a real-time virtualization option for Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate and Enterprise which runs applications inside a Windows XP virtual machine, ensuring backward compatibility for older applications.  XPMode is not new in SP1, but what is new is the removal for the need for Hardware Assisted virtualization, therefore making the solution available on a wider range of computers. This change is as a result of feedback received from users of Windows 7 in corporate environments.

If you have an idea or feedback regrading Microsoft products, send an email to

VTel Video Conferencing Presentation

31 03 2010

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

On March 31st 2010 I attended a presentation hosted by Sprint and VTel showcasing a video conferencing system (and Sprint wireless connectivity for the device). The lunch and learn was held at Maggiano’s in Nashville TN.

VTel CEO Richard Ford lead the presentation and was joined by Ken Hall the South East Regional Sales Manager.

They showcased their iPanel Room video conference system. It comprised of an HDTV,  High Def SVideo Camera, a customized slimline PC (that was attached of the rear of the Flat Panel TV) and a paired wireless keyboard. A Sprint wireless device was tethered to the system to provide 3G connectivity. (Sprint mobile 4g is not available in Nashville currently – Sprint 4g is currently limited to WiMAX via their relationship with Clearwire). Read the rest of this entry »

Skype on Android / Verizon = Crippleware

27 03 2010

At long last Skype is available on my Droid!!!! The news on the new app is Good, Bad and Ugly.

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The Good.

  1. Cheap calls to international destinations directly from your cell phone. This is Huge!
  2. Skype calls do not use any of your wireless plan minutes. Yak all day long if you want to! Especially useful for those long tech support calls to 1-800 numbers during peak hours.
  3. All of your Skype contacts are automatically imported/synced when you sign-in to Skype.
  4. Contact presence is indicated. The online contacts filter to the top of the list, just like with the desktop application.
  5. Call Quality is good.
  6. It’s available at last – Yippee!!!

The Bad Read the rest of this entry »

Google Maps 4.0 OTA update available for Droid

11 02 2010

I got an Over the Air update this morning on my Droid for Google Maps. The new version is 4.0, just last week we got version 3.4 which added multi-touch.

3.4 to 4.0 sounds like a significant jump, however the only new feature I could find was an additional map layer that is integrated with Google s new social networking product, Buzz.

Multi-touch was a huge usability improvement and got no mention from Google, it was just slipped in. Clearly they are jazzed about buzz at Google. I’ve got one follower on Buzz and automatically was made follower of 12 others. Looks like Google are going after twitter with the way the Buzz network is setup. Is buzz a twitter killer? I don’t think so (just yet) because it integrates with Twitter, right now I view it more as a supplement to twitter and other social micro blogging. It maybe a freindfeed killer.

Multi-Touch for the Droid Starts to Rollout!!!

6 02 2010

Google recently released a new version of Google Maps for the droid which supports multi-touch (aka pinch-zoom). Mutil-touch zooming is vastly superior to the Plus-Minus zooming previously available on Google Maps. This is a great feature upgrade.

The release of this feature has been done very quietly by Google, almost stealth like. I noticed this morning that an updated version of Google Maps was available. I performed the upgrade and it informed me of some new features. Oddly multi-touch is NOT listed as a new feature even though it is present.

The new Features listed for version 3.4.0. of Google Maps are :-

  • Starred Items synced with maps.
  • Search Suggestions from maps.
  • Night Mode for Navigation

Read the rest of this entry »

Microsoft Releases short Office 2010 videos

6 12 2009

Microsoft have released some short videos showing the latest features in Office 2010.

They could have used professional presenters for a better result, but the message is the same.

Google DNS to take on OpenDNS?

4 12 2009

I have used OpenDNS for several years now with great results. I encourage others to use the service where possible. ISP’s really don’t want to sink money into services such as email or DNS, it’s a money pit as far as they are concerned so their services can bog down due to underfunding or otherwise be managed poorly.

Google now announce they have a DNS service. Is this a OpenDNS killer or will the Google name brand simply legitimize the idea of using an alternative DNS provider and actually help grow the market for everyone including OpenDNS?

OpenDNS are serving almost 20 billion DNS requests per day and have presence in ten markets around the world. It is likely that Google can reach more markets more quickly and have the money to provide more equipment. However failed URL requests from OpenDNS end up at a customized google search page, why would Google want to hurt this extra business? I see the Google move as benevolent towards the internet in general and also towards third parties like OpenDNS. Poor DNS can spoil the internet experience, Google want to ensure you can get to websites (including theirs) quickly an efficiently.

Which is best, Google or OpenDNS?

OpenDNS offer content filtering that rivals that from premium appliance providers such as WebSense. For small to medium businesses this is a great enhancement to their internet productivity. For those with kids, it serves as net nanny without having to load down the PC’s in the house with filtering software. Neat!!

Google will probably have a DNS server closer to you, but without the extra features of OpenDNS it is a service of last resort, not one of choice.

I’ll be interested to see if Google starts adding services to their DNS offering in the coming months/years. Then we will know what their true intentions are.


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