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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Play

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?

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.