Troubleshooting Windows Server “8” (weekend reading)

imageAs we’re now winding down the week and with 7 days under our belts with the Beta product – I thought I’d quickly share some awesome reading material that can go along with your Beta Evaluation of WS8.

I love troubleshooting things – it’s the challenge of getting things working again after some other “IT Expert” or “curious user” (a.k.a. P.I.T.A user) goes in and messes something up. Well – the technical writers in the product group for WS8 have been busy and have published a great library of resources for troubleshooting.

Understanding and Troubleshooting Windows Server “8” has the following articles published as of March 9th, 2012.

If you’re looking for a single document that kind of covers a LOT of information – Check out the Windows Server “8” Evaluation Guide. It’s another gem in the documentation pool to get you started.

How to shutdown Windows Server “8”

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Call me crazy.  Sometimes I want to shutdown my servers.

After loading up the Windows Server “8” beta on some of my test systems, I was a little perplexed as to how I should be shutting them down – either logged on locally or remotely.

Humm…. From a command line – I can always run my trusty command:

SHUTDOWN /S /T 3

That gives me a 3 second window before things get shut down. But without my traditional start menu – how should I do it via the GUI?

Windows_Key + i

That seems to be the fastest way to pull up your settings – including the power button for shutting / restarting your server.

You could also do a three-finger-salute with CTRL-ALT-DEL and choosing it from the bottom right corner.

I’ll stick with either my command line (if I am working in one or the awesome new PowerShell) or I’ll use the slightly easier Windows_Key + i

Thought you might like to know.

Windows Server 8–Initial Cool Stuff

Part of my role at MS includes the creation of content for “The Edge Show” currently hosted at http://edge.technet.com.  Well with last week being the beta milestone release for Windows Server “8” (I’ll use this notation and possibly the shortened WS8 going forward) I decided to do the smart thing and have a Special Edition episode with all things Server “8”.

As you can tell from the video – I’m Freakin’ Out with excitement about all the stuff in this release. There are literally hundreds of cool things that are included with this release and I’m going to do my best to cover them over the next while.

Bill Laing wrote up a rather “corporate-y” type blog post that points to a few cool items as well. Check out his post when you have a moment before moving on.

Screw Following your dreams–CHASE THEM!

DSC_0876 (521x640)For those of you who know me – I’m a very passionate person.  Be it technology, skills development, fatherhood, Microsoft, mobile devices – whatever.  I tend to be someone who jumps in with both feet.  Sometimes I do it on instinct. Sometimes I do it with after a long hesitation and with great caution.

Well – I jumped in this time – with both feet.

Let me back up a bit for a little bit of context and history.  It has been a dream of mine to work at Microsoft. I happened to be referred into the position of IT Pro Evangelist by a very good friend of mine (Pierre Roman) who was in the process of applying for the job.  During his interview process he decided the role wasn’t for him but said to the HR rep “I know this guy who would be perfect for this job” – that guy was me.  He gave me a call while I was off on paternity leave with my Twin girls. At first I dismissed it, saying “I’d never be good enough” to work at Microsoft – but he insisted I apply. Nine interviews later, I was offered what would become my dream job – working for Microsoft Canada as an IT Pro Evangelist.

Fast forward 7 1/2 years later.  I have “grown in role” up to a Senior Technical Evangelist working on the same team – working with and engaging the Canadian technology community.  I had developed a knack for understanding how to make a difference in the lives of people by enabling them to use (Microsoft) technology more effectively and further their careers in IT. I loved getting up in the morning every day – never hitting the snooze button – giving it my all.

Then opportunity knocked.

A position opened up on a team in Redmond at Microsoft Headquarters.  It was for one of four Technology Evangelists that have similar responsibilities and functions to what I was currently doing (and some cool new challenges), BUT was on a worldwide stage.  At first I wasn’t really interested, since I have very strong ties to Canada AND it would mean relocating my whole family down to Seattle.  But – after talking it over with my boss (WIFE) on a number of occasions – she said “go for it”. I then talked with my other boss (work) – who was very supportive of the idea.  I’m kind of paraphrasing his comments – but my conversation with him lead me to the title of this post.

If you simply follow your dreams – you will be constantly taking the passive route of going where they meander.  If you really want to realize your dreams – YOU HAVE TO CHASE THEM in order to have a chance of attaining them.

I decided to apply and went after the role whole heartedly.

I write this post sitting here in Seattle, with my family in temporary housing. After a long 4 months during which time we completed the interview process, job offer review , visa application process, relocation planning, selling off of personal property / house / car, actual moving day – we’re ALL onboard in this fantastic new journey.

I am now a Technical Evangelist on the Corp evangelism team here in Redmond at “Corp” (a.k.a. Microsoft Headquarters). I will be focusing my technology expertise back to my roots – CORE INFRASTRUCTURE on the Windows Server platform (current and future versions). When you think about it – “Server” is really the building blocks on which you craft your solution, be it on premise, optimized for private cloud or even public cloud.  Windows Server will be playing a significant role – now and in the future. I’ll be responsible for the technical reviews / advising on content for the major technical conferences Microsoft puts on across the world. I’ll also continue to be engaging the worldwide technical audience and engaging with social media / blogging / podcasting and more. There’s even an element of community building with the internal Microsoft Evangelism efforts with the IT Pro Evangelists around the globe. The role will continue to evolve over time – but once again – I’m Stoked.

On the eve of us departing Canada for the US, I called a friend of mine to talk about the move. He was sad we were heading out, but at the same time he was very excited for me and the family. He said to me “you’re changing your family’s destiny by doing this. That’s exciting – embrace this challenge and relish the moment”.  I hadn’t thought about it in this context before – but it’s true. New job, new house, new schools, new friends, new opportunities – it’s kind of overwhelming at times.

You know what? After starting this journey, I can say that despite my hesitations at first – I can honestly tell you, my Gut is telling me it’s the right thing to do, the right time to do it.

If you have an opportunity and you are on the fence – don’t get paralyzed with how big of a change it would be in your life and your family’s life. Do your level of sanity checks and consult your internal board of directors.

Screw following your dreams, chase them! Once you’re close and you’re ready – Jump In!

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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.

ClosedAccount

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

TENA-DodgeTENZ-Dodge

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?