Create and Boot from VHD for Windows 7, “Server 8”, Windows Server 2008 R2

Note: I have no idea what the next version of Windows Server will be called – I am just using “Server 8” as a short version of the Developer Preview of Windows Server from the Build conference – downloadable from MSDN

hard diskIt’s simple enough – people have been asking how to do this for a bit without having to use all sorts of extra tools like WAIK, WIM2VHD or even screwing around with BCEDIT.

Why would you WANT to boot from VHD anyways? It’s a file format supported and included as a mountable file instance since Windows 7.  I use it instead of partitioning my drives when I want to screw around with an OS directly on my hardware without having to reformat all the time. Great for evals, lab setups or custom configs of the OS when you want no barrier to performance on the hardware that comes with virtualization.

What is my configuration? I want Win7 as the main OS on my laptop. But I also need to boot it into “Server 8” to play around as well as demo things in Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1. Result – My C drive is formatted with Win7.  I have carved up my D drive (second physical drive in this laptop) into 2 dynamically expanding VHDs: d:vhdServer8.vhd AND d:vhdW2K8R2sp1.vhd.

How? Simple. After the Windows 7 install, I create the sub directory where I want my VHDs to be created. You will want to make note of the full path including drive letter AND label.  Next I rebooted using my trusty multiboot USB stick and at the first prompt to choose the region – I press SHIFT F10. At the command prompt type in the following:

  • DISKPART
  • LIST VOLUME
    • this displays all the volumes that the OS sees. Remember I asked you to make note of the drive label – booting from USB / DVD will screw with your assigned drive letters and you’ll need the info to ensure you are placing the new VHD in the right spot. In my case it was still D:vhd
  • CREATE VDISK file=d:vhdserver8.vhd type=expandable maximum=100000
    • this creates a dynamically expanding 100gb vhd called server8.vhd.
  • SELECT VDISK file=d:vhdserver8.vhd
  • ATTACH VDISK
    • this now mounts the disk and makes it visible as a drive for the install process.

Use a custom install to be able to select the drive and create a partition in the drive for installation of your new OS of choice.

Proceed as normal and complete the install.

Simple, eh?

RunAs Radio podcast Episode #238–Diagnosing DNS

I sat down with Richard Campbell from RunAs Radio podcast during TechDays Toronto to record an episode while waiting for lunch.  He hit me up about my session called Diagnosing DNS (Based on the TechEd North America session by Mark Minasi). Some great chit chat and banter back and forth with Richard and I on all things networking and your Active Directory environment.

The conversation dives into the tools you can use to understand what’s happening with DNS on your machine and the common problems that crop up with DNS. It’s a tour back to the fundamentals of networking!

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FINALLY–something for SysAdmins, LanAdmins, IT Folks. IT CAMPS

ITCamp

  • There are no formal presentations.
  • It’s not death by PowerPoint.
  • It’s NOT marketing / Sales
  • It’s for Technical Professionals / Geeks / Pro-Sumers / SysAdmins / LanAdmins / Security Experts / basically anyone that works in IT or has a passion / interest in IT.

It’s not your traditional “event” from Microsoft – or at least one that you would expect.

Using the *.Camp approach to a dynamic event (i.e. audience PARTICIPATION), IT Camps are something that our team is putting on whenever / wherever we can as we’re out and about for TechDays, DevTeach or quite frankly – any port of call – provided there is interest in having an “IT Camp”. We’ve decided to mix it up a little and using an “un-conference style” of format – we’re looking to partner with anyone who would like to host an IT Camp and participate.

So what do you get when you decide to show up for one?

  • Find out who’s coming! Registration is encouraged, not not mandatory. We’re using Eventbrite to keep thinks non intrusive. Registration gets the word out AND it gives us an idea for how many people could be in attendance.
  • Personal networking opportunities. Grow your support network. There’s normally 30 minutes or so of time set aside from when the doors open to when the camp actually starts.
  • It’s dynamic / interactive. Whoever is hosting the event locally would be able to get a feel for what people wanted to talk about or see over the course of the event – heck, people can request “content” demos on the fly, if the participants are willing to step up and show something. We’ve come prepared with some cool demos that are 10-15 minutes each in chunks – they could follow a theme or if like the IT Camp last night at TechDays Toronto – Damir opened it up to the crowd to decide.
  • Reverse Panel or Mystery Panel. Time permitting – we’ll throw out some topics and hold a panel discussion on relevant topics – you choose!
  • Hands on Challenges – again – time permitting or logistics permitting – there’s an option for some “capture the flag” infrastructure challenges or team competitions to solve issues as a group. I mention “logistics permitting” because it depends on what we can bring together as resources for the camp – each and every Camp is different.
  • Lightning talks – got a story to share? you’ve got your opportunity for 5 minutes of fame to talk about how you solved an issue, implemented a cool technology or helped out someone in a bind – whatever. If you can fit it into 5 minutes – you can talk about it.
  • And MORE. Got an idea – share it with me. I’d love to talk about what to include.

We’ve been noodling with the format and we’ve tried it out in Toronto this week. Next week as part of ITPRO Teach / Dev Teach – we’ve got an opportunity to try again.

Here’s a list of events we’ve committed to over the next while and their registration links. Sign up – it’s FREE and it’s cool. Want to host one in YOUR city – give me an Email and we can talk about options and opportunities. rick@regularitguy.com

you never know – you might end up saying… “… and one time… at IT Camp… “

Account Closed? ScrewYou Google/YouTube!

FingersThought I would catch your attention with that one.

This is one in a large number of posts / tweets / comments from a YouTube user who has had their account “deleted” never to return due to some automated process with no course for HUMAN intervention to get something fixed.

Best you can do is fill out a form and hope for something to come through with assistance.

Wait a second – Microsoft Hotmail does something similar for compromised accounts / deleted accounts.  I just does it with more options – IMO.

(Full Disclosure – I work for Microsoft, in case you didn’t know)

That being said – I at least KNOW that there are humans that can engage and respond to fix things when the automated processes don’t work and your “persona” gets munched with your account. How do I know – I AM one of those people and I also have engaged the mechanisms to get stuff fixed with Hotmail and it worked. (It recently got even better, but that’s for another post)

I’m Pissed because My channel “RegularITGuy” had videos and screencasts posted and embedded on a number of properties. Long story short – it was associated with the wrong Google account and I wanted to bring it over to one happy fully connected account. All the support forum queries/searches and form filling out processes turned up MOOT on the ability to move it over and have it associated. At one point I deleted and re-associated account and assumed channel would move over – NO GOOD. Then I was at least able to get the account back and channel re-linked to wrong account and all was well.

or so I thought.

All the videos on this site are now busted because the Channel was not linked correctly and probably timed out (each time I would login to YouTube I would re-prompt me to link the Channel to the Account) due to some automated glitch.

OK – so now I can re-create the channel with the same name – NOPE.

emails, tweets, support queries and forms all came back as moot – no response.

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CRAP

This is something that Online Providers have to figure out. Granted it’s a free service, you get what you pay for, including the service and community support.

Yes – before anyone Rants on me – Microsoft can have similar issues as well for free services, but we’re trying to make it more human and better. I’ve heard GOOD things and bad things about the process and as I’ve mentioned before – I’ve been involved when people reached out to me to help. 

Where is Google’s equivalent to help? If you know them I’d sure like to meet them. Heck – maybe they can help. Smile

In the mean time – I’ve given up hope and created a new channel with the orriginal Google Account I thought was used to create the orriginal channel…

http://www.youtube.com/user/TheRegularITGuy

Now I have to re-upload all my content! Grrrrrrrr.

Get Out Of Dodge–Migration Resources

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TEAU-Dodge

As part of the TechEd Session I did at TechEd NorthAmerica with all of its video Switcher issues AND to keep the resources flowing on this topic – I have put together this resource blog post including embedded video screencasts of each of the demos. The original presentation pace was fast (too fast) – so here you can grab a Pint / Coffee and watch the demos at your leisure.

TechEd New Zealand and TechEd Australia – here’s dome demo love for you too.

SlideShow on SlideShare.Net

Demo 1 – Migration Tools install

Demo 2 – Active Directory Migration (link to AD Migration Session)

Demo 3 – DHCP Migration

Demo 4 – Print Server Migration

Demo 5 – File Server Migration

Demo 6 – Certificate Server Migration

Additional Resource Links to Migration Guides.

Internet Safety resources for conversation w/ kids

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I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with my son’s grade four class the other day about Internet Safety, Online Privacy and responsible/fun internet use at home. The topic can get big and ugly and has the potential to be a “Scare Attack” / “Shields Up” situation where parents shut down and don’t want to deal with things because it’s just too big or they just don’t understand and are overwhelmed. I thought I’d share some things that helped make it successful.

Fear Not – I am here to help. Let me point you to resources YOU can use to inform yourself on what kids are doing, what you can do to open a dialogue with them and what you can do to help them learn to be safe on the internet. Check out the various Hyperlinks throughout this post.

First off – My employer (Microsoft Canada) is a founding member of “Be Web Aware” along with Bell Canada and the Media Awareness Network.  It is a national, bilingual public education program on Internet Safety. FREE RESOURCES that you can use as a parent, an educator or as a kid to learn about how to be safe online. You can get all sorts of info from here as well as the Media Awareness Network (including pre-made presentations in French and English.

Secondly – as with any kind of a discussion or presentation – tailor it to your audience and make it relevant. Mine was to a class of 9 and 10 year olds. They are already using the internet and have already started using email / online chats and messenger programs. As a result – I focused on topics about sharing information, usage guidelines, working with parents to establish lines of communication with questions and answers.  I also found the content I was working with had way to many justification slides with stats and percentages – Kids don’t care – they want it simplified, not statistical.  Keep the stats for the parents.

Third – I kept it interactive and full of questions and answers as well as mini-quiz times to validate points. Lots of examples that were in their own words and level of language. If I started to see them wrestling around – I knew it was time to move on and re-engage.

Fourth – Had them think about their parents in their shoes a lot. What did we do for fun when we were kids. What did we do and how it really wasn’t any different then what they do – just different tools / toys – that’s all. Ultimately – not much has changed – We like to play with friends, connect and communicate with them (we used telephones or face to face) and have fun / amuse ourselves.

Fifth – wrapping up within the 40 minute interactive session to leave time for more questions / statements about what they saw. Summary message was working together with parents to find happy medium to allow the kids to use / explore the internet while at the same time staying safe and keeping parents informed instead of left in the dark. I encouraged them all to share what they learned with their parents as well as their other friends who weren’t in the class.

I plan on putting on a bigger 90 minute presentation / Q&A talk in the fall timeframe for more then just the single school. I’m going to approach all of them in the neighbourhood and use a larger venue for an early evening talk for parents and kids to attend.

RESOURCES?

HowTo: Sync Documents / Photos between PCs

I’ve been helping out the Consumer division at Microsoft Canada with training and Evangelizing the benefits and awesomeness of Windows 7 especially when you light it up with Windows Live Services. It’s been a lot of fun and a change from the regular stuff I talk about in the Enterprise space.

I figure it was about time I also share some of these services and programs with the broader audience – because we’re all consumers and not everything is about Servers, Mail systems and virtualization. Problem is – there is just SO MUCH STUFF! So I am going to attempt to break it down into solutions and keep things short and sweet.

memorycardsThe Problem: you’ve got multiple systems in your family / friend social unit. You also have multiple cameras and you have a need to ensure that when your significant other “empties” the camera on to her laptop after the kids soccer game – they get stored and protected as well as shared across the other machines. Likewise – when you empty out your camera after the camping trip, the same happens, but your laptop is a corporate system. Oh – and for some reason – you have a MAC system as well – for your teenager.

The solution: Windows Live Mesh. It’s free – part of the Windows Live Essentials 2011  suite – and yes – there is a client for Mac

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Let me set the stage a bit for how I use it. It’s a bit of a blend of the personal life and work life – but ultimately as is my belief– you only have ONE life, right?

Windows Live Mesh is a free solution to keep your life in sync. Download and install on your system, light it up with a Hotmail/Xbox/Live ID and you are ready to go with one system. Repeat the process on the additional systems “you control” with your same Live ID. Your device pool under your control grows. Install it on a “different” system that isn’t yours and light it up with a different Live ID to further extend your possibilities.  All transfers between systems are on a peer to peer basis and are encrypted with TLS or SSL encryption. You can sync up to 200 folders, each up to either 50 GB OR 10,000 items (whichever you hit first).

That is a lot of Synchronicity. Back to the scenario.

Scenario #1 – Photo Duplication Hell.

The camera scenario is very real for me. My wife has one, I have one, the kids have one, heck – we’re over camera’ed in our house. Kind of goes hand in hand with also having a lot of different Laptops / PCs in our house as well. We were constantly hit with duplicates as we’d forget if the camera pictures were extracted on this system or that system and it all ended up with a complicated mess of duplicate and triplicate photos or worse – deleted / lost photos.

Enter Windows Live Mesh.  I started using it when it was called FolderShare ages ago.  Go download and install client from here. Launch Mesh and light it up with a Live ID. I did the same for my wife’s laptop (with her permission of course) but with HER Live ID (because I REALLY do not control her system). I then create a new folder under my Pictures library called “_current Pictures”.

imageI launch the Mesh client ( you can see it in your taskbar as the two blue arrows) and choose to open the client and create a new sync’d folder. I browse to and select the “_Current Pictures” folder. When the selection screen comes up – don’t select an additional device at this time just finish the process. In the Mesh client – select and expand the “_current Pictures” folder.

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Select the “People I Selected” option (for the first time – it will say “Just Me”) and then pick the people from your buddy list or type in the email address you want to send this sharing invitation off to – up to 10 I believe.

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Mine already has my wife added AND an address for my HomeServer. Yup – I have Mesh installed on my home server to act as an “always on” backup of the files.

Now it’s a matter of human protocol that when you dump your camera contents to your system, you put move them into the Current Pictures folder. I chose NOT to take the whole Pictures library and sync it because it would be the ENTIRE library (all sub folders). I don’t know about you – but my wife doesn’t want to see all the work photos of events and things in the family photo storage location. I DO however want those work photos across all my work systems – so I setup a sync folder like I did in the first scenario and it’s called _Work Pictures..

Scenario #2 – document sync across your “work” systems.

Wait a minute – I just mixed “work” with home. Well – I use Windows Live Mesh to also sync files across my WORK systems I control. (Don’t worry MS-IT – it’s Low Business Impact stuff).  I use Mesh for syncing my documents across all three of my systems with the same Live ID signed in.  In my scenario – there is little to NO chance I will be using two of the systems at the same time resulting in a conflict and now duplicate (with machine name appended) file. By expanding the tool from the system tray – I select sync a folder.

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I browse to the folder I want to sync like “Podcasting” and then select the destination devices that are “under my control” and are signed in with the same Live ID. I can choose multiple systems but notice there is also an option for SkyDrive synced storage (more on this later).

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The service goes in, itemizes all the files, regardless of their size and sends over the content to the second system – provided there is networking connectivity between the two of them. Works great when I am on the road and working on stuff – knowing that my files are synced back to the “home base” system in the home office.

Scenario #3 – want to sync to “The cloud” not Claude.

Remember during the device selection process of the previous two scenarios. One of them was “SkyDrive Storage” as an option. Your Live ID has a total of 25 GB for storage capacity via the web.  You are able to access 5 GB of that storage for the purpose of syncing content from your PCs to the cloud.

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There are some restrictions you should know about. Files can only be up to 50MB up to 100 MB in size (so no movie storage or DVD ISO files here kids) and there is a hard stop at 5 GB of your 25GB total allocation of SkyDrive space. Your local folder can have more then 5 GB, but it will stop sync’ing after it hits 5.

It works the exact same way as scenario #2 above, but “the cloud” is always on and available to sync from OR edit directly in the cloud – but more on SkyDrive later in a separate post.

Scenario #4 – …but wait! There’s more! Remote Control!

OK – so if syncing between Your systems, your friends systems and even the cloud ain’t enough for ya – how about one more functionality that Windows Live Mesh brings – REMOTE CONTROL.

Say you are on the road, you are heading out a meeting and you forgot that a report you were working on is sitting on the desktop of the computer in your home office? it’s not in the sync’d folder that is in your documents folder because you forgot to move it there when you finished it last night at 2 AM. What can you do?  Remote Control and log in to your Home Office Computer, drag the document from your desktop into your Documents folder that you are sync’ing across all the systems.

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This option is OFF by default – you have to go in and enable it on a per machine basis. You can see here I have not enabled it on my system as of yet, but once it’s enabled and the Windows Live Mesh client is up and running – the icons of the systems become enabled and I can remotely login and control the system over the internet – no firewall changes required.

In Summary: (sorry – this was a long one)

Windows Live Mesh is a great way to get files sync’d across multiple systems – including Macs. (not that I have one –  You can download the Mac Mesh client from here.) There are no subscription options, no costs involved (except your bandwidth), no Amway style sales to your friends to get affiliate space. You can do it within your house, between friends in different houses or even different countries / organizations – provided you know their Live ID.  I use this as a disaster recovery scenario with my Brother in Toronto and vice versa for our family photos – geo-diversification – but I digress. The service CAN (but doesn’t have to) use Cloud storage on SkyDrive.

Even if you manage to forget a document back on another one of YOUR systems – you can remote control and login to it and prevent having to call home and guide your wife on how to type your 28 character password and circumnavigate your chaotic desktop to find that report and email it to you.

Give Windows Live Mesh a try. It’s one of Microsoft consumer cloud services that not many people realize just how powerful it is.  It’s saved my bacon on many occasions.

Power Of Community–Virtualization Reality–Halifax Leg

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DSCN5321 (640x480)On the continuing Eastern leg of the Virtual Reality community tour – I drove from Sydney to Halifax yesterday morning in order to make an up time, avoid the fog (which closed the airport) in order to talk with professors and IT staff at Nova Scotia Community College. The meeting was setup by my friend David Jelico – a prof that is very passionate about Technology and teaching students a balanced approach to surviving a career in IT. Topic was about private / public cloud and how the college could incorporate it into their curriculum as well as embrace some of the technology themselves.

As is always the case with David – his passion shines through and lots of lively conversation ensued with a full Q&A back and forth with everyone in the room. Nothing like keeping “the Microsoft guy” on his toes, eh?

After grabbing a bite to eat between sessions at “The Q” (best damn rib and BBQ joint in Halifax hands down) we hopped the ferry to cross over and setup for an evening event at the NSCC Waterfront campus – overlooking the beautiful harbour. If I had to choose a campus with a view – this would be the one.

The event itself was a bit modified. We had lower numbers then previous cities, so I modified the content to be better suited to a smaller crowd and focused on engaging and talking with the guys and showing / building the environment collaboratively with them. I say “building” mainly because I had a hardware issue that made it so I had to completely rebuild one of my Host Hyper-V servers which was left in a default install state. The demos were extended to literally build the second Host and enable it to work as the second node cluster for the highly available VM system.

After the event – I offered up a round of drinks for good measure at my favourite local establishment “The Old Triangle” where it happened to be jam night – bring your own instrument for traditional down home kitchen party. I kind of regret not picking up the Bohran to play a tune myself – but I was otherwise engaged in talking with Rob about his plans to setup a Canadian Home Grown Hosted Datacenter service using the full suite of MS technology (System Center Virtual Machine Manager, System Center Opalis, System Center Operations Manager, Hyper-V and more). I look forward to sharing his story with you here as they build it out and how they use these technologies to offer up hosted infrastructure to their Canadian customers.

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I’m writing this post the day after – enjoying a rare day in the sun on the wharf downtown in Halifax. I was working at a Co-Working space called “The Hub” earlier today, but the sunshine was calling and I had a lunch meeting with a friend so I took advantage of some mobile technology and charged laptop in order to write with a view of the ocean.

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Power of Community: Virtualization Reality–Sydney

One of the challenges we face as IT folk is taking the time to work on our professional networking skills at in-person events. I mean seriously – we’ve worked all day, solved peoples problems and kept servers and systems running. At the end of the day – we mostly just want to go home. IT Folks are few and far between that want to take the time OUT of their personal lives outside of working hours in order to get together and talk about technology.

The concept of The Virtualization Reality community tour was to go out to established groups of like minded Technical Professionals and give them the straight goods on what the Microsoft Virtualization stack can do. Whenever we ask groups what we can do so support them – the answer is always – “get us speakers and content for my group”. From the beginning with this tour – I mentioned that we would not be restrictive on where we go – so long as there was a local champion to help out. We had to make the investment and go to locations that we haven’t been before – to show support of the efforts the local community members. 

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For the Eastern leg of this tour – I’m in Sydney Nova Scotia right now (can you tell) – the day after the event before I drive down to Halifax to continue the tour. I mentioned the intent to support established groups – but what about areas where there are currently NO GROUPS to speak of? We don’t come out much this way – so much so that we actually made the business section of the paper over the weekend with an article that “Microsoft was Coming to Town”. The driving force for coming out was the passion of a couple of guys from a local Professional Services company here in Sydney called AG Research

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That’s Joe on the left, Darryl on the Right – met them both a couple of years back at TechDays Halifax. They told me at the time “Come on up to Sydney – the weather is great and there are lots of IT folks out this way who would love to see ya”. So when Darryl contacted me to say he’d sign up to host an event, how could I refuse.

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Kudos to Darryl and Joe for pulling this off! Also – an awesome show of support from their company AG Research for both giving them the opportunity to host this and put on an event for the local IT Community AND driving awareness with their customers. Weather has been great (reminds me of a beautiful Summertime day in my hometown of Saint John, NB) for my drive up from Halifax.
Over 30 people showed up last night with lots of questions and interest to learn about the Microsoft Virtualization stack.

 

The real value is hopefully going to continue – I encourage everyone to keep in touch and establish a group that regularly gets together and supports each other in the local community. I’ll do my best to come out again.

Info: Windows 8–first peek at UI and experience

I’ve been anxiously awaiting for some REAL visuals and a first demo at the experience of what Windows 8 could look like. Finally after waiting a couple of years, Sinofsky was on stage talking about Windows 8 with Walt on stage at AllThingsD. Before continuing have a look at the video they published below.

>(embeded code won’t work – use this link instead)

Love it.

Pure AwesomeSauce!

A Couple of points I heard listening to the whole thing:

  • user gets to choose what’s on the start experience
  • works with older programs
  • companies could add programs to start experience (group policy?)
  • same interface on multiple form factors, touch or not

I could see myself using that split keyboard on a slate form factor while working from the couch! Then walking over to my desk to switch to bluetooth enabled keyboard for heaver writing jobs.

Digging a little further – there is a Windows team video by Jensen Harris, Director of Program Management of the Windows User Experience team. Nicer view of the functionality and no interruptions.

This is the first time I’ve see this UI and build of Windows – I’d be pulling the wool over your eyes if I said I had access to more info or details about plans, ship date, enterprise deployment or formfactors – Nadda. Zip. Ziltch!

All I know is I am freakin’ excited.

If you have anything to do regarding building apps, user interfaces or are curious about the next version – you should sign up and get your ass over to BUILD

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(link to calendar.ics file with deets)

We saw the first glimpse of the client in a consumer setting. 

Show Me The Server!