Friday, May 30, 2008

Microsoft MCP Learning Member Site is Broken

If you're an MCP, MCTS, MCITP or MCSE you probably visit the Microsoft MCP Member site to view or download your Microsoft transcript or to access your certification logos. Well, guess what? You can't. And you haven't been able to for that past 9 days. And you won't be able to for another 48 hours.

I passed a marathon number of certifications this month (five in three weeks), gaining another three MCTS certs and my MCITP:Enterprise Messaging Administrator credential. After I got an email from Microsoft Learning last Wednesday that my exams had been recorded, I tried to access the logo builder to download my new certification logos. The website had me logout/login/logout/login and then gave the error displayed in the screenshot above.

I thought the problem may have been my home computer, so I tried it again from work and other computers over the next two days, but no go. I finally opened a ticket via email with the Microsoft Learning "Help Desk", which went like this:
  • 5/23 - I opened the ticket and explain exactly what I did to reproduce the error
  • 5/27 - MS asks for screenshots so they can "escalate the matter to the concerned department", which I immediately did
  • 5/28 - MS asks for my PUID (part of my LiveID), which I immediately send to them
  • 5/30 - MS sends a response saying that this is a known issue and will be fixed after 48 hours

Normally I wouldn't blog about this, but 11 days to fix this is unacceptable. The Microsoft certified professionals who work so hard to get these certifications rely on being able to prove that they've passed them.

Hopefully it'll be working by Monday. :(

TechEd Blogger Ultra Lounge


This year Microsoft will be doing another first - Presenting the Microsoft TechEd Blogger Lounge! This is the first year the TechEd Team is setting up a special designated blogger area. The lounge is open all day during both TechEd weeks*.

The TechEd Blogger Ultra Lounge offers a 9,500 square foot club-like area situated on a daring raised glass platform. This unique lounge offers a spacious first floor with a grand staircase that leads to a theater style blacony and a Tiffany-style glass skylight. Revelers seeking bright lights and vibrant music will find an energetic blogging floor at the center of this hot new spot in the middle of TechEd!

To kick off this fantastic event, Microsoft Exchange Guy and TechEd DJ, Scott Schnoll (aka MixMaster Scott), will be spinning industrial and ultra-chill tunes for your listening and blogging pleasure.

Ok, maybe not. But there will be tables, chairs and an Internet connection.

A whiteboard will be set up for use by anyone announcing when they will be in the area. A few timeslots of an hour or so have been set up during both weeks where Microsoft staff and/or presenters will be there that day. Check the whiteboard and drop by to meet your favorite TechEd bloggers. A tentative schedule can be viewed from the TechEd Online website.

The purpose of the TechEd Blogger Lounge is to give readers and bloggers a chance to meet up and have a small group conversation on their topic.

If you're a blogger or just want to meet one (we DO exist, really!), I highly encourage you to take the initiative and use this area to become part of the blogger community. The area is large enough to handle several conversations at once.



* Of course, there will be less people there during ITDev week. :)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Outlook Calendar Synchronization Cookbook




I carry an AT&T 8525 Windows Mobile device as my phone and PDA. It’s connected to my company’s Exchange 2007 server back in the office, but as a consultant I’m nearly always at a client site.

When I’m onsite for any length of time the client usually provides me with an email account on their network so that I can more easily communicate with teams and accept meeting invitations. The trouble for me has always been how to synchronize calendar data between the two calendars. There are lots of hard and messy ways to do this – I can forward the appointments to my WM device or type them in manually, or I can use Google calendar to do a “middle man” synchronization.

What I’ve discovered that does a really good job is a software and service called Funambol. This free service is made up of three components:

  • The Funambol client for Windows Mobile
  • The Funambol client for Windows Outlook
  • The myFunambol Portal, the hosted server that holds the synchronized data

Funambol can perform synchronization of email, contacts, calendar items, tasks, notes and briefcases. Synchronization can be one-way (from Funambol server to phone only or from phone to server only) or two-way. Since I only perform calendar synchronization this article only covers this, but the other types of synchronization can be setup the same way.

To begin, sign up for a free myFunambol account at http://my.funambol.com. This creates a personal database account for you that will hold the synchronized data. The myFunambol portal also offers a web interface where you can view and manage your synchronized data stored on the server.

Next, download the Funambol Outlook Plugin from https://www.forge.funambol.org/download and install it on the computer with Outlook that you want to sync with your mobile device. Follow the Wizard to install the plugin. I won’t list them here because Funambol updates their software regularly and the steps may change, but here are the settings I use in the version I’m currently using:

  • Account and password are the same as the myFunambol account
  • Sync Calendar; One-way: Outlook -> Server; Synchronize every 2 hours

Test the synchronization from Outlook. The plugin may warn you that it needs to perform a full sync the first time. Once the sync completes, log into the myFunambol portal to ensure that your data is there.

Now download and install the correct Funambol client for your mobile device from https://www.forge.funambol.org/download. Funambol makes one for Windows Mobile PocketPC, Windows Mobile Smartphone, Blackberry, Java based phones and even the Apple iPod.

Install the client on your device and configure it thusly:

  • Account and password are the same as the myFunambol account
  • Synchronize all items in: Calendar
  • PIM options – Sync Direction: Server to Phone only
  • Sync Method: Scheduled Sync, Sync every 2 hours

Now sync your mobile device. The device will tell you that it needs to perform a full sync the first time and begin syncing the data from the myFunambol portal.

Viola!!! Calendar synchronization made easy!

For this solution to work, your Outlook client must be running and have Internet access.



Teched 2008 Extracurricular Activities Map

At the request of geniph on the Extracurricular Activities group on the Microsoft TechEd Connect site, I created the Teched 2008 Extracurricular Activities Map.

This map is based on the events in the TechEd 2008 Extracurricular Activities Calendar to help show the distances between each event.

If you know of an event, party or activity not listed on the calendar, please leave a comment and I'll add it.


View Larger Map

Since everything's pretty close to each other, click View Larger Map to open it in a new window. Then you can use your mousewheel to zoom in and out, and to drag the map around.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

TechEd Attendee Party - What to Expect


Here's a little write up of what to expect for the TechEd Attendee Party at Universal Studios Orlando.

Around 6:00 at the convention center there will be more buses in one place than you've probably ever seen before. In the past, buses leave from the conference center to Universal Studios theme park, but last year they picked us up at the same bus stops in front of the hotel that we use to go to the convention center. Buses will run every 10 minutes or so. There will be many more people in line waiting for a bus than the buses can hold. Just be patient and meet some new friends while you wait. Hopefully it won’t rain while we’re waiting, like it did last year. :)

Remember to wear comfortable shoes and clothes, You’ll be doing a lot of walking and standing (after a full day of walking the TechEd floor).

When you arrive at Universal, there will be lots of staff on hand to usher you into the park or answer questions. All the rides, food and drink that are open are free. There will be soda and beer stands setup along the walkways. It’s a very festive, fun and family friendly atmosphere.

The big rides, like The Simpsons Ride, Shrek 4-D, and Revenge of the Mummy, are very popular, but the lines move pretty quick. The park is open to us from 6:30-11:00pm, so be sure to scope out the rides and restaurants you want to visit before getting to the park. Not all rides may be open, however, due to maintenance or weather.

The park will close sharply at 11:00pm, which leads us to the most thrilling ride of the them all… Getting back to the hotel! This is probably my least favorite part of TechEd. Thousands of people, all as tired as you, descending on an extremely crowded area filled with buses. You have to find the one that’s going back to your hotel region and fight to get on board. Keep your kids close (if they were lucky enough to come with you).

Some people choose to skip the throngs of people by hanging out along Universal City Walk. Here, you can browse shops and maybe get a drink of something stronger at one of the bars, like Jimmy Buffett’s Magaritaville. Just be sure not to miss the last bus or you'll be calling a cab! Which come to think of it, isn't such a bad idea...

Update: Microsoft just changed the hours for the Attendee Party to run from 8:00pm-12:00am this year. :(

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Microsoft All-Star Community Pit Stop

Microsoft will be hosting a party for MCP, MCT, MVP and TechNet Subscribers at TechEd 2008 ITPro week this year. Here's the skinny:


Join us for an exclusive party for you and your peers!

The Microsoft All-Star Community Pit Stop
Tuesday Evening, June 10, TechEd IT Pro Week - 8:00pm
Location TBA

On June 10th, Day 1 of TechEd IT Pro Week, get ready to rub shoulders with some of the world’s most powerful IT Professionals and community influencers.

Exclusively for Microsoft MVPs, TechNet Plus Subscribers and Microsoft Certified Professionals and Trainers, the Microsoft All-Star Community Pit Stop party during TechEd IT Pro Week in Orlando, Florida is your opportunity to network with industry peers and key Microsoft executives, and enjoy an evening full of music, food, drinks, and fun —all compliments of Microsoft!

Party attendance is limited to the first 1000 people to register, so be sure to register today to reserve your spot at TechEd’s largest community-only party!

Be sure to have your MCP/MVP/TechNet ID ready and visit https://stage.crgevents.com/communitypitstop/Content/Home.aspx

You'll also need one of the following promotion codes:
  • TechNet Plus subscribers use code TECHNET
  • MCP/MCTs use code MCPMCT
  • MVPs use code MVP

Register today and I'll see you there! Be sure to check out my TechEd Extracurricular Events calendar for other swell parties and events.

Thanks, Trika!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Quickly installing MOSS 2007 with SP1 on Windows Server 2008

If you try to install MOSS 2007 on Windows Server 2008, you are going to get an error that there is an incompatibility. To install, you need SP1 for MOSS.

You can slipstream SP1 yourself, but it turns out there's an easier way. First, install the trial version of MOSS 2007 with SP1 (32 bit or 64 bit). After you install the trial version, upgrade from the trial version.
  1. In Central Administration, on the top link bar, click Operations.
  2. On the Operations page, in the Upgrade and Migration section, click Convert license type.
  3. On the Convert License Type page, in the Enter the Product Key box, type the new product key.

Thanks to Kirk Allen for the tip!

PowerShell on Windows Server 2008 Server Core!

Yes, it is possible.

No, it is not supported. Don't even ask...

Unable to Successfully Promote SCOM RMS Server

If the root management server (RMS) in a System Center Operations Manager 2007 (SCOM 2007) implementation fails or becomes unavailable for some reason the entire SCOM system will fail. Well, not exactly. The managed agents will still collect performance and alert data and will either queue this data or forward it to its management server. The management servers will be unable to forward this information to the SQL database and administrators will be unable to launch either the Operations or web consoles, so it's as good as dead.

There are two ways to rectify this -- bring the RMS server back online or promote an existing SCOM management server to an RMS. Microsoft article, "How to Promote a Management Server to a Root Management Server Role in Operations Manager 2007" does a good job of explaining the steps required, so I won't go through them here. But what happens if you get the following error when promoting the new RMS?

The machine managementserver is a server for multiple management groups (not supported)!

This occurs when the registry contains extra "Parent Health Service" or "Send Priority" keys under the Server Management Groups key. Navigate to:

HKLM-Software-Microsoft-Microsoft Operations Manager-3.0-Server Management Groups

Under this key you should see a key that matches the name of your SCOM management group. There should not be any other keys at the same level as the management group name. Back them up and delete them. In the example below, backup and delete the "Send Priority" key and its subkeys.

Run the same ManagementServerConfigTool.exe PromoteRMS command and it should work now.


Monday, May 19, 2008

Big News for the new Microsoft Certifications


I just received this email from the Microsoft Certification Team:
Dear Microsoft Certified Professional,

We are pleased to inform you about a recent Microsoft Certification policy change that affects your Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) or Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD) credential.

In response to customer feedback, Microsoft has eliminated the requirement to recertify, or refresh, your MCITP or MCPD certification every three years. This is good news for you; there is no action required to maintain the certifications you hold today.

The certification lifecycleThe Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS), MCITP, and MCPD credentials—Microsoft certifications for new technologies—are aligned with the Microsoft product lifecycle, and will retire when Microsoft discontinues mainstream support for the underlying technology. When a certification that you have earned retires, the record of your certification remains on your transcript, allowing you to retain documentation of your certification history.

Learn more about the certification lifecycle policy

Join the conversation in this MSDN blog

This is great news! What this means to you if you have ALREADY earned an MCITP or MCPD: Your cert will not retire until mainstream support for the underlying product retires.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

TechEd Tips for Families

Today we have a special guest article from my wife, Amy!

She wrote the following helpful tips for families who will be accompanying their significant other to TechEd in Orlando:

Kids and Tech Ed Tips and Tricks

You’ll most likely be in a hotel on or near International Drive. There is a trolley that runs up and down the street. Buy the 7 day ticket pass at your hotel's concierge. The trolleys run about every 15 to 20 minutes at stops all along the drive. There are well marked signs for the trolleys and they are so much more comfortable than walking in the heat with kids.

There's tons to do on International Drive. Lots of different themed mini golf places, a water slide park, an upside down museum (Wonderworks), and a go-kart park.

There are not a lot of “kid” places to eat, just a Denny’s, Chuck E. Cheese's, and a *big* McDonald's. If you order in like pizza or something, remember that there are thousands of guests in town for the conference and it could, and probably will, take well over an hour to get the food delivered. The other restaurants get very busy in the evening so call ahead for reservations. No grocery stores are nearby.

Take advantage of the breakfasts at your hotel and grab a few extra pieces of fruit for the room and hungry kids for later. Have your husband bring back extras of all the snack handouts from the conference. You could practically feed off of these alone for the week. It’s all grab and go, prepackaged stuff from granola bars, to cookies, to Power Bars.

Remember it’s hot, so be realistic about how much you and your children can do. I find that mine are very happy to get the afternoon off to just play in the pool at the hotel. It also helps if your hotel offers an adult “happy hour.” :)

Most hotels offer shuttle service to Disney World and other parks (Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, Epcot, Sea World, etc). Check at the front desk the day before as you might need to reserve a seat.

Theme parks are all fun but choose wisely based on your children’s ages. If they are over 10 then Animal Kingdom in Disney World would be OK, but might be bored with the rest of the “princess” thing. Universal is fun for older kids, but not for younger ones due to height requirements on most rides. Islands of Adventure is a good dual choice with things for older and younger kids and a nice “downtown” area with restaurants and shops just outside the park.

If you have a car, Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral is not that far away. It’s only about 40 minutes, but remember that there are toll roads all over the state so have lots of change handy. The Kennedy Center is amazing and worth going to if you can make it. You can spend the whole day there. If no car, check with the concierge for a tour group. Allow a full day to enjoy it all. It will be in the mid 90’s and humid so hats, sun block and lots of water are a necessity.

Amy
TechEd veteran and mother of an 8 and 12 year old

SQL Exceptions during SCOM 2007 RMS Promotion

The Micosoft article, "How to Promote a Management Server to a Root Management Server Role in Operations Manager 2007" does a pretty good job of explaining how to promote a SCOM 2007 management server to a root management server.

While performing a disaster recovery test today, I found that I was getting the following SQL exceptions when I ran the ManagementServerConfigTool.exe PromoteRMS command:

The type initializer for 'Microsoft.MOMv3.Setup.MOMv3ManagedCAs' threw an exception.

Turns out this is because I ran the ManagementServerConfigTool.exe PromoteRMS command directly from the SCOM SP1 Support Tools folder, which is missing some of the DLLs required to run the command.

Simply copy the files from the Support Tools folder on the SP1 CD to the local \Program Files\System Center Operations Manager 2007 folder and re-run the command.

Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 Management Tools (32-Bit) Released


Microsoft has released a 32-bit version of the Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 Management Tools.

Exchange Server 2007 is a native 64-bit application that includes 64-bit management tools. You can use the management tools to administer your Exchange Server environment remotely. If your remote computer is running a 32-bit operating system, you will need to download the 32-bit management tools.

The Exchange management tools include the Exchange Management Console (EMC), the Exchange Management Shell (EMS), the Exchange Help file, the Microsoft Exchange Best Practices Analyzer Tool, and the Exchange Troubleshooting Assistant Tool.

Get the 32-bit Exchange management tools here.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Error Running SecureStorageBackup


When backing up or restoring the RMS keys using the SecureStorageBackup utility in SCOM SP1, you may come across the following error:

Could not load file or assembly 'Microsoft.Mom.Common, Version=6.0.4900.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=31bf3856ad364e35' or one of its dependencies. The system cannot find the file specified.

To fix this, copy Microsoft.Mom.Common.dll from C:\Program Files\System Center Operations Manager 2007 to the same folder where SecureStorageBackup.exe is run. Then run SecureStorageBackup again.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

TechEd 2008 Group, Calendar and more


Just a reminder to all Teched 2008 attendees to visit my Extracurricular Activities group on TechEd Connect. Here, you'll read about any parties, get togethers and activities outside the event itself. Recent discussions have been around golf and poker.

You can also view the Extracurricular Activities Calendar to see which activities to join. If you have an event, no matter how small, you'd like to add to the calendar please let me know.

And be sure to check out Microsoft TechEd Online, a site devoted to TechEd 2008 Developers and IT Pros. Here, you can read about the event itself as well as what other TechEd bloggers are blogging about.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Failure installing VMM2008


When installing the server component of Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008, you may come across the following error:

Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 installation did not complete successfully. Review the error log for information, and then try Setup again.
ID: 205. Details: Fatal error during installation

Virtual Machine Manager Server installation did not successfully install. All items that were copied during the installation process have been removed, however some required prerequisite software is still present on the machine. It is not necessary to remove the remaining software before you run Setup again. But you can uninstall the prerequisite software by going to Add or Remove Programs.
For error details, click the Error tab.

The ServerSetup.log file also references error 1603 in various places. This is caused by name resolution (DNS lookup) failures. Examine your DNS configuration for any or more of the following errors:
  • Misconfigured TCP/IP settings
  • Primary DNS is misconfigured on the VMM server
  • The VMM server is unable to resolve the DC by name
  • The VMM server does not have a record in DNS
  • The DC is unable to get proper name resolution of the VMM server
  • Incorrect DNS forwarding
  • DNS is not functioning correctly on the DNS server

Once the errors have been corrected, reinstall the VMM server component.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Can my system support Hyper-V?

This is a common question. Hyper-V requires three things: processor virtualization support, BIOS virtualization support and Windows Server 2008 with Hyper-V.

Processor virtualization is provided by Intel (Intel VT) and AMD (AMD-T) processors. You can check each of these websites to see if a processor supports virtualization. AMD offers an AMD Virtualization™ Technology and Microsoft® Hyper-V™ System Compatibility Check Utility that will tell if the installed AMD CPU supports it.

BIOS virtualization support, however, can be dicey. Normally, a BIOS manufacturer will offer the ability to turn virtualization on or off -- but not always. I have a Dell Dimension E521, for example, that doesn't offer virtualization configuration. Thankfully, it's enabled by default in this BIOS.

So how do you tell if your machine will support Hyper-V? Well, the easiest way by far is to use a utility by Gibson Research called SecurAble. This handy little program will quickly tell you if your computer is 64bit, running hardware DEP and is virtulization capable.


Note that SecurAble will report that Hardware Virtualization is "No" if you run it on a Windows Server 2008 computer that has the Hyper-V role installed. This is because Hyper-V capability is "hidden" once it's installed. See the Virtual PC Guy's WebLog for more details about this.


Monday, May 5, 2008

Well, that was painful...

I'm installing a new SCOM 2007 SP1 infrastructure in a test environment.

I built up a couple of SQL 2005 database servers and two management servers, one of each in each of two sites. I installed the SCOM database on the first SQL server and then installed SCOM on the first management server, making it the root management server (RMS).

After SCOM installs, setup asks if you want to run the Operations Console. I cleared the checkbox to do so and began to immediately upgrade to SCOM 2007 SP1. Big mistake. Now I couldn't log into the console with any account. It seems that SCOM needs to do some more setup when you run the console for the first time.

I ended up completely uninstalling SCOM from the RMS and deleting the OperationsManager database from the SQL server, then I reinstalled everything. This time I launched the console before upgrading to SP1. It worked, but wasted about an hour and a half.

Learn from my mistake.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

New Microsoft Hyper-V Virtualization Unleashed Book

I'm pleased to announce that I will be a co-authoring a new book, Microsoft Hyper-V Virtualization Unleashed, with Rand Morimoto, Ph.D. Rand is president, CEO and owner of Convergent Computing (CCO), the consulting services company I work for.

The content will cover Hyper-V planning and design, installation of Hyper-V, and getting into the management, administration and support of Hyper-V, including the new System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008. This book is scheduled for completion this summer and will be on store shelves worldwide once VMM2008 ships, which will likely be end of the summer.

I've been a contributing writer for several other books including Exchange Server 2007 Unleashed and Exchange Server 2003 Unleashed, and most recently was the technical editor for Windows Server 2008 Unleashed. This will be the first time my name will be on the outside cover of a book, so it's rather exciting!