Monday, May 28, 2007

A PDF-Previewer for Outlook 2007

Looked for one. Found Ryan's PDF Preview Handler for Outlook/Vista. It works; is small and is only a very small wrapper around the Adobe Reader ActiveX. Using the original has the benefit that it can also handle PDFs that are password-protected. Great work, Ryan!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Microsoft's Command Line Standard

This PowerShell team blog entry has a link to a useful document that describes the Command Line Standard developers must use to create consistent command line commands (a lot of command here!).

I think the document is useful for the common PowerShell scripter as well. Especially Appendix A – Standardized Verb Sets and Verb Names and Appendix B – Standardized Parameters should be used when you are naming your own functions and scripts.

Here's another small quote from the document that is also useful to remember

Commands should use their product or feature name (or abbreviation) to prefix their noun. Many teams will have similar noun names. For instance, many
database teams might create the command “new-table”. To avoid collisions, it is best to prefix common noun names with the product or feature name. e.g. “New-SqlTable

So my function should not be called e.g. Sharepoint-Get-Item but Get-SharepointItem and the server argument should be called -ComputerName and nothing else.

Keeping consistent naming is important as soon as you start to share the scripts. The users using the scripts will learn to use them much faster.

PS. The - by far - best way of managing objects is to have a provider giving you a file system like access. In this way commands like Get-SharepointItem are simply unnecessary as Get-Item SharepointDrive:ItemName would do the job.

System Center Configuration Manager 2007 Beta 2 Product Feature Quizzes

Here is an alternative way of learning the new features of SCCM 2007.

The System Center Configuration Manager 2007 User Assistance team has created a set of 7 quizzes to help you assess your understanding of the dependencies and requirements for key features of Configuration Manager. These quizzes are intended to raise your level of awareness of the some of the nuances of these features before you configure and use them. They can also be used to help train other Configuration Manager administrators within your organization. Each quiz contains 10 or more questions that can be answered Yes or No. Regardless of your answer, the quiz will display the correct information, and include one or more links to the corresponding related content located on TechNet.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Microsoft and Industry Leaders to Bridge Communications Systems

Interesting press release from Interop Las Vegas 2007

... These industry leaders are extending their support for unified communications software from Microsoft by implementing the company’s interoperability specification for Microsoft® Office Communications Server 2007. This broad interoperability will help businesses deploy software-based unified communications and cost-effectively adapt to voice and data network convergence.

In the two months since Microsoft published the interoperability specification, global telephony and networking companies such as Alcatel-Lucent, Avaya Inc., Cisco Systems Inc., Ericsson, Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories Inc., Mitel Networks Corp., NEC Corp., Nortel Networks and Siemens Enterprise Communications, and gateway providers AudioCodes Ltd., Dialogic Corp. and Quintum Technologies Inc. have stated their support for the interoperability specification for Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007. Together these vendors provide interoperability with approximately 90 percent of communication systems.

Read the full press release here

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Echo Bot Testing Tool for LCS 2005

Microsoft has released yet another sample application -

The application will echo any IM messages sent to the users that it has been configured to represent. It will also change the presence state of the configured users at a selected interval in order to provide a changing presence display for demonstration purposes.

Very cool for testing purposes !

Find it here.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Windows Mobile 6 - A Good Introduction

Spent 10-15 minutes (I did not time it) on seeing this flash demo about WM6.

The demo walks through our three pillars; Advanced Mobile Communications, Increased Mobile Productivity, and Integrated Mobile Business Performance. It is targeted at customers who would like to learn more about our native capabilities, mobile messaging, security and device management.

There are some nice features in WM6 -

  • You can start using mail flagging in Outlook 2007 and have it work with your mobile device
  • You can read and change Office documents
  • Pocket IE has been improved (I'm currently using Opera Mini for some browsing as PIE is too slow)
  • You can deploy you own root certificates without having to mess around (this has been one of the hot issues in this blog)
  • It supports SSL wildcard certificates
  • And much more...

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Powershell, The Best Date Format for Logs?

I admit, I used to use (get-date).tostring("yyyyMMddHHssmm") when writing timestamps to log. Using this format has several advantages –
- Can be sorted alphabetically (if you need to combine multiple logs)
- Always has same length
- No AM/PM to mess things up ;)
- An international format, understandable across countries and cultures

Then I discovered that it was not necessary to use the programming style above. Get-Date has a –format, so I could change it to Get-Date –f yyyyMMddHHmmss

This is actually ok, but maybe this is more readable –
Get-Date –f "yyyy-MM-dd HH:mm:ss"

Finally, I just realized, that there is a even simpler way of doing it and it even adds timezone and milli-seconds –
Get-Date –f o

"$(Get-Date –f o) Start logging"

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Attending TechEd Orlando

I'm attending TechEd Orlando this year and I must say that I'm pretty impressed with the amount of sessions on the agenda (I usually attend TechEd / IT Forum in Europe, which is a day shorter) and the focus on Unified Communications in Office Communications Server 2007 and Exchange 2007.

Personally I attend sessions on subjects that are not my main area of expertise (No funny comments here !!), but I'm also looking forward to the sessions on programming against the AJAX/OCS SDK and Speech Server - as these haven't been my main focus until now.

Maybe I'll see you there ;-)

Join Me at Tech·Ed Connect!

Friday, May 11, 2007

VMware ACE 2

Just read the announcement of VMware ACE 2. This has at least one cool feature - you can deploy virtual images and manage policies like expiration date centrally, across networks. Imaging setup like this -
  • A consultant is coming to help you. You hand him a virtual image with your enterprise desktop. The image expires the date, the consultant has finished working
  • You deploy an image on you MP3 player (Pocket ACE). This image can be used to run your enterprise desktop from any PC. Corporate IT could expire these images after a month, so a new up-to-date image must be downloaded each month
  • Supply your users with an enterprise desktop image. If the user needs further programs, they can install them themselves on the physical PC. But, remember that you should consider the entire security setup before doing this.
  • Merger scenario. Company A buys company B. The A desktop can be deployed as virtual images on B's PCs.

The virtual disk is encrypted, so it should be (fairly) tamper safe. Physical access to the virtual disk has always been a security risk (but also a nice feature) but with encrypted disks that picture is changing. Naturally, the physical host is still able to grab network communication (can be prevented by encrypting the traffic from/to the virtual guest) and the physical host can read and modify the memory used by the virtual guest. ACE 2 is also able to prevent the host from accessing the network, but this can probably be bypassed in some way.

Once deployed, use the ACE 2 Management Server to monitor ACEs and enforce corporate policies from a central location. The ACE 2 Management Server enables administrators to deliver dynamic policy updates to local and remote ACE instances, as well as to control the activation and de-activation of each package for contractors, consultants and other temporary users.

Group Policy improvements coming

Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack for Software Assurance - luckily abbreviated to MDOP as I almost lost my breath pronouncing it - is coming May/July/Summer 2007. Some none-rebranded versions of the products are available now.

MDOP is a collection of tools/features and is only available to SA customers -

  • SoftGrid software virtualization
  • Microsoft Diagnostic and Recovery Toolset (read Wininternals tools)
  • Microsoft Asset Inventory Services (the long awaited license management solution, also appearing in SMS 2003 SP3 as Asset Intelligence)
  • Microsoft Advanced Group Policy Management (read GPOVault from DesktopStandard) - AGPM.

The focus here, is the interesting AGPM. The features are -

  • Granular administrative control
    • Robust delegation model
    • Role-based administration
    • Change request approval
  • Reduced risk of widespread failures
    • Offline editing of GPOs
    • Difference reporting and audit logging
    • Recovery of a deleted GPO
    • Repair of live GPOs
  • Enable effective Group Policy change management
    • Creation of GPO template libraries
    • Subscription to policy change e-mail notifications
    • Version tracking, history capture, and quick rollback of deployed changes

Read more here.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Working with Unified Communications and attending TechEd Orlando?

Microsoft is looking for resources to provide them feedback on the roles and responsibilities in an UM/OCS/IP Telephony environment. Here is a snippet of the e-mail I recieved -

The Unified Communication Marketing team will be conducting six focus groups at Tech Ed, Orlando in June 2007 focusing on Unified Messaging, IP telephony space. We would like to work with you to identify and recruit IT administrators and IT managers in this area for participation in these 2 hour sessions. We are conducting focus groups to gain clarity concerning the roles and responsibilities in an IP telephony environment, given Exchange Server 2007 Unified Messaging and the public release of Beta 3 Office Communications Server (OCS) 2007.

We would like recruit IT administrators and IT managers currently working in an enterprise environment, which is defined as an organization with 100+ servers and 500+ PCs. They may work as full time employees or as contracted vendors. We are looking for a group of IT administrators and IT managers who have experience with Microsoft products such as Exchange Unified Messaging, Office Communications Server 2007, Office Live meeting, Live Communications Server, etc., this experience would be a plus. We are also interested in IT administrators and IT managers who have experience in an IP telephony environment and not strictly a TDM/legacy telephony environment, with expertise in IP telephony equipment from vendors such as Cisco, Avaya, and Nortel.

Also request participants to sign up for one the following sessions if they are an IT administrator or IT manager who manages the technology related to the session.

Session 1: June 4th, 1:00pm-3:00pm – For IT administrators and IT managers who manage Microsoft LCS or Microsoft OCS pilots.

Session 2: June 4th, 3:00pm-5:00pm – For IT administrators and IT managers who manage Microsoft LCS or Microsoft OCS pilots

Session 3: June 5th, 3:00pm-5:00pm – For IT administrators and IT managers who manage Exchange Unified Messaging or Cisco Unified Messaging solutions
Session 4: June 6th, 12:00pm-2:00pm – For IT administrators and IT managers who manage Exchange Unified Messaging or Cisco Unified Messaging solutions

Session 5: June 7th, 1:30pm-3:30pm – For IT administrators and IT managers who manage Cisco, Avaya, Nortel or any other VOIP solution.
Session 6: June 7th, 3:30pm-5:30pm – For IT administrators and IT managers who manage Cisco, Avaya, Nortel or any other VOIP solution.

All sessions are in Peabody Hotel Bayhill Suites II.

If you are interested then sign-up by e-mailing ucgfg(at) directly with you contact details.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

LCS 2005 / RTC Sample applications RTW'ed

Microsoft has released/updated a very interesting set of sample applications complete with source code (C# and VB.NET). I'm personally working on a case, where we are going to leverage the Client Web Access AJAX Service and samples like these are very good starting points.

  • This sample demonstrates how custom server and client alerting applications can be written. This download includes fully functional sample applications that allow users to send alerts to Active Directory Group members who have an alert client application installed.
  • This sample is designed to show you how to create a custom application which allows Domain Administrators to manage contacts and groups for individual users.
  • This sample demonstrates how you can quickly and easily add custom disclaimers to outbound communications.
  • This sample shows how you can leverage the Automation, RTC, and Messenger APIs to extend Office Communicator functionality through the use of a helper application.
  • This set of samples illustrate how to provide presence, instant messaging, and additional enhanced functionality in a web site by leverage the Client Web Access AJAX Service.
  • This sample demonstrates the addition of custom tabs within Microsoft Office Communicator 2005.
  • This set of samples illustrate how to provide presence, instant messaging, and additional enhanced functionality in a rich client application by leveraging the Office Communicator Web Access AJAX Service.
  • This sample shows how ethical walls or communication boundaries between select contacts are created.

Happy coding ;-)

Monday, May 07, 2007

LCS 2005 SP1 Reskit updated

Live Communications Server 2005 SP1 resource kit has been updated.

It updates two tools, namely the the Lcsimpac.wsf (Used for importing Exchange Instant Messaging contacts to LCS) and the Lcsarchexport.exe tool.

No news on Vista support for lcsping etc. though (Although soon to be named legacy it is still in use in a few places ,-)

Find the description here and the download here.

New cumulative Office Communicator 2005 hotfix RTW'ed

It contains two new "generic" fixes and a few that are focused on Office Communicator 2007 interop issues -

936351 - The conversation history is cluttered and is difficult to read in Communicator 2005 when Communicator 2007 is used to initiate a conversation and when Multiparty IM is used
934581 - You see a black screen or a still video image after a video works briefly in Communicator 2005
935868 - Information for users is incorrectly displayed in Office Communicator 2005
936352 - A Communicator 2007 user cannot add a video to an audio call that is between a Communicator 2007 client and a Communicator 2005 client

I just installed it - but this will be the last one as we are migrating all of our internal users to OCS 2007 B3R in the coming days (As part of one of our customers OCS Voice TAP's we need to move along with our own installation).

Find the hotfix download here

Thursday, May 03, 2007

How Transport Selects Certificates for TLS and other good Exchange 2007 documentation

You Had Me At EHLO has once again produced an excellent article on Exchange. This time it's on How Transport Selects Certificates for TLS and the full article can be found here.

Furthermore Microsoft has published a series of new Exchange 2007 documentation on Exchange 2007 on the Download center. Being a bit lazy I will redirect you to Rui Silva's blog and his listing of the documents in the post Exchange Server 2007 - new documents.