January 1, 2010

New Year…New Decade

I mine as well start it off and make it interesting.

Ever since reading Tim Ferriss’s book, The Four Hour Work Week, I have wanted to go on a “data/information” diet. No social media, no gossip rags, and reduced email usage. However, I just never found the right time to do it. Well, now seems as good a time as any.

My latest interest was peaked by an article in TechCrunch on John Mayer. John has invited his social media followers to join on a data cleanse to “defragment” your brain. Here are the guidelines laid down from John’s blog:

*email only from laptop or desktop computers

*cell phones can only be used to make calls, and no text messages or e-mails are allowed – if you receive a text, you must reply in voice over the phone. E-mails must be returned from a laptop or desktop computer.

*no use of Twitter or any other social networking site – this includes reading as well as posting.

*no visiting of any entertainment or gossip sites. (No need to detail which ones – you know what they are.)

Hmmmm…This should be interesting.

My plan is to keep a written journal of each day and blog about it upon returning to the “digital world”. I can tell you it won’t be easy. The last time I was without my smartphone for more than 8 hrs (besides sleeping) caused some serious withdrawls.

In preparation for tomorrow’s events, I have done a full factory reset of my smartphone, a motorola droid. No email accounts are configured except for synching my contacts (for phone calls) and calendars. No fancy apps to waste my time; no checking my emails as soon as they come in. The only time I will be checking my mail is when I’m around a computer.

Wish me luck and see you in a week!


The Jim Jones Martini

Named after the late Jim Jones, this cocktail is like adult kool-aid with a kick.

My version of the Jim Jones Martini originated at T.G.I. Friday’s in Madison, WI in 1996. A fellow bartender, Dave K., had a customer come in and ask for a Jim Jones. Not knowing the drink, Dave asked for the recipe. The original recipe Dave made included equal parts Absolut and Absolut citron, lemon & lime juice, simple syrup, and a splash of Chambord. Needless to say, the drink was a hit and became the new “staple” with employees and regulars.

As a fan of old-skool cocktails and methods, I came across an interesting method for sugar glazing a glass prior to building out a cocktail. This was discovered at my favorite after work bar, The Old Towne Pub. A bartender at the OTP, Joelle, made a fabulous rocks gimlet where he combine lime juice and bar sugar in the bottom of the glass. Then, he proceeded to glaze the inside of the glass with the back of a bar spoon. After imbibing in numerous of these wonderful concoctions, I thought about trying this with the Jim Jones. So the next night at the bar, I had some regulars in and decided to do a “test drive” of my new cocktail. Here’s the recipe, then we’ll discuss the build:

Jim Jones Martini – Up

Cocktail glass

Bar sugar

¼ lime, squeezed (2 wedges)

¼ lemon, squeezed (2 wedges)

1 ½ oz Absolut

1 ½ oz Absolut Citron

½ oz Chambord

Starting with a chilled martini glass, add lemon and lime juice to cocktail glass. Add discarded lemon and lime into mixing tin for drink build. Add 2 bar spoons of sugar cocktail glass. This is where it’s tricky. Depending on the amount of lemon/lime juice, you need to balance the amount of sugar so it’s not too pasty, but not too running. Proceed to line the inside of the cocktail glass by rotating glass by the stem and drawing spoon towards the rim. Side Note: Some people like a sugared rim on the glass as well. I think it gets in the way, but is always an option. Quickly, add Absolut, Absolut Citron, and Chambord to tin along w/ lemon and lime. Add Ice and shake till chilled. Strain into the center of the martini glass. This will give the best presentation and will not was away the sugar glaze. Garnish with lemon and lime squeeze.

Variations of the drink were created by various bartenders. Most notably, was the move from a classic martini to a shaken cocktail served in a Collins glass (14oz Gibralter) w/ a splash of 7-up. Simple Syrup replaced the sugar glaze. This change was definitely a more efficient way to make the drink. Especially when the bar was three deep at the Second Story and people were ordering 4 at a crack. Trust me when I say that my traditional method is excellent, yet very time consuming. More than one will put you in the Weeds very quickly.

Thanks to all the old skooler’s who spread the Jim Jones in Madtown…Kristin, Jake, Jerry, Dave, Reinie, Kelly, Leslie, and Matt…

Prior to posting, I decided to research whether another “Jim Jones” drink existed. Low and behold, I found another cocktail, Jim Jones, posted by Jace K. Seavers on www.barnonedrinks.com. Jace’s drink is , too say the least, powerful. Another version is seen at drinkswap.com and called The Real Jim Jones Cocktail Recipe. I like mine better, but then I think I make the best drinks on the planet! lol

Enjoy responsibly!


P.S. I hope to get some pics up for the Jim Jones as soon as I can make some at homeJ

The Bucket List…

Good Afternoon True Believers…

As some of you (all 3 of you) may have noticed, I’ve been blogging about more than just technology lately. You will probably see a lot more of that going forward as I hope to increase the frequency of technology and non-technology related blog posts. Let me know what you think…

Anyway, today’s post is about the bucketlist. I’ve seen the movie. Love Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. But I’ve never really taken the time to write down or even spend extended periods of time contemplating my list. Sure, I thought of stuff I’d like to do, but never have a made a permanent record of the things I’d like to do before I “Kick the Bucket”.

I started thinking about this after seeing The Last Lecture during a teaching certification class last week. If you have not watched the entire video, take an hour, grab a cup of coffee, and watch one of the most inspiring lectures you may ever see. I plan to incorporate this into all of my classes. I think my students would get valuable insight about themselves and their lives.

Further inspiration to begin my bucket list creation came after receiving a tweet from @theartofmanliness on Twitter. If you have not been to www.theartofmanliness.com, check it out. I think it’s a very funny and insightful website for Men on how to be a better man.

Before jumping in, what is a bucket list really all about? IMHO it’s about dreams and fulfilling those dreams. It could be as simple as building a birdhouse or as hard as completing The Seven Summits. Chris from TheArtOfManliness.com writes an excellent guide to get you started thinking about and creating your bucket list. Check it out here.

While a bucket list is a list of things you want to do, I have found it helpful to add to the list things you have done. Just like with anything, it is often helpful to have a record of the things you have accomplished.

So I grabbed a cup of Joe and sat down for my list. Here’s what I came up with. You’ll note I’ve put the completed items at the top of the list.

  1. Complete an Ironman triathlon – I had wanted to do this since I saw Julie Moss crawl across the finish line at Kona in 1981. I completed this at Ironman Wisconsin in 2006.
  2. Write a book – Published April 2009.
  3. Teach Information Technology at the College level – Current career
  4. Travel: Spend 2 weeks in Scotland playing golf on 100 year old courses
  5. Reach a financial point where I owe nobody anything…zip…zero…nada. No credit cards, mortgage, loans…nothing
  6. Retire by the time I am 50. 11 years is not a lot of time…
  7. Ride a bicycle across the US.
  8. Tour the 50 states on a Harley Davidson motorcycle.
  9. Take my parents to Europe for their 45th anniversary since it is something they would never do for themselves.
  10. Visit Everest base camp. I’m enthralled by Everest but have no desire to risk my life to that point.
  11. Bartend again.
  12. Learn how to be interested in conversations I have no interest in.
  13. See the UW Badgers play for the NCAA Football nation title.
  14. Go to the NCAA Final Four.
  15. Attend Oktoberfest in Munich.
  16. Ride my bike to work on a regular basis.
  17. Renew my love of reading NON-Technology books.
  18. Spend a semester at CIA…Culinary Institute of America.
  19. Write a book that isn’t a textbook.
  20. Learn how to REALLY enjoy a vacation.
  21. Learn to be a better husband and son
  22. Visit Napa Valley

I plan to review this every once in a while…

What do you have on your list? I’d love to hear.



Teaching Philosophy for Michael Bender

For me, the concept of teaching and learning is encompassed by what I call “Assisted Darwinism”. While a bit tongue and cheek, I believe it has merits in how I run my classroom. While it may be an unpopular, I do not believe that every student walking into my class will be successful as not everyone is meant for the world of IT, or is ready for academic learning. I do not pre-identify or judge students. I allow the natural order of the classroom to take its course. This does not mean I simply allow students who could be successful fail; it means that those unwilling to take ownership for their academic careers and don’t ask for or want help may fail.

Conceptualization of Learning

I believe learning occurs when a student is provided with new information or a new task, and then they are able to apply that task within their life. True learning occurs through making mistakes and being able to use those experiences to grow. If we do things the right way all the time, we’ll never learn how to manage. While not specifically related to learning, this quote by Theodore Roosevelt sums up my beliefs of learning.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt

Conceptualization of Teaching

I believe that my role as a teacher is to provide an environment that inspires learning through trial and error. In my honest opinion, the only true way to learn job skills is through practice, repetition, and making mistakes. In my classroom, I see myself as more of a Subject Matter Expert (SME) than a teacher. Many of my students are peers in the IT industry. They perform many of the same job activities that I teach about. So I attempt to create a classroom where we are peers in the context of the IT community, and I am simply a SME providing reference knowledge as they learn new skills. In this scenario, the goal is that students will not only learn from me, but learn from each other

As a certified “Geek”, I love technology and everything about the field. I am passionate about learning new technology and keeping my skills up to date. Not just because it is my job, but because I have a true passion for it. Hopefully this passion wears off on my students and they develop this passion as well. I believe IT, more than any other career, requires constant vigilance and learning if you wish to be successful.

Goals for students

For my students, I hope that they achieve the goals they set for the class. Whether it is to simply learn more about Windows Vista so they can use it a home or to start a new career, my mission is to help students achieve those goals.

Students need to be invested in their education. If they cannot commit fully to their learning, it will be very difficult for me to help them achieve success. For students that struggle, I will attempt to assist them to the best of my abilities. However, they must be willing to accept this help, along with invest in getting past the “brick walls” to success.

Students need to develop a lifelong passion for learning. IT is not a career where you learn some skills, and then you just do your job. It is ever evolving. I tell my students that it is a very good chance that the technology we are currently working with may be out-of-date by the time they actually put their knowledge to use.

Implementation of the philosophy

I implement my philosophy by just doing what I do. I do not spend a lot of time philosophizing about how I should be teaching. I simply do what comes natural. I try things; those things that work, I continue to use and improve. Those things that are not successful are evaluated so I can learn from this and improve my teaching methods.

Personal Growth Plan

A number of things come to mind when I think of what

I need to create clearer goals for my activities. Many times, students will finish an activity and not really know what they have done.

I need to take more time to analyze my classes and the impact of my teaching on my students.

Often times I create activities that I think are excellent, but they are too challenging for students. I should be consistently re-evaluating my activities to ensure the learning goals of my classes are met by the activities.

Open Letter to The Krewe

So here it is…The last day of TechEd 2009.

What an awesome week we’ve had. I’ve met a great number of new friends and shared many an adult beverage with the coolest people at TechEd. TechEd is the one time of year where I can “Fly my Geek Flag” and cut loose. For this, I thank you. Without all of the members of The Krewe, it would not be the same.

While TechEd wasn’t as good as previous years in many respects, The Krewe rocked the house. Almost every night, we had 10-15+ people hanging out. A testament to the “coolness” of the Krewe, and the power of connectivity.

Though people associate it with me, I am not the leader of the Krewe. A state of mind cannot have a leader; it simply has believers who do the deeds which need to be done. I, along with others like Jeff (expta), have simply done what needs to be done for our group to thrive. And thrive it has…I was lucky enough to meet up with the Krewe at TechEd 2007. And I’ve hung with them ever since. It has been my honor and privilege to act on your behalf. To that end, I’ve purchased a domain name, thekrewe.info, for our use. Actually, I bought it last year with the intent to have a site of for TechEd 2009. However, that didn’t happen. But this year will be different; I hope to have a simple forum-type site up within a month or two. Just a simple site where we can share contact info securely, as well as share photos from TechEd. A virtual home for the 51 weeks of the year when we are away from TechEd and our other Krewe members. If you wish to help, please contact me here.

As with any large groups, things often did not work as planned. That’s life and you roll with it. That’s what makes this group so special because there are no egos; just new and old friends enjoying a week of learning and camaraderie. We all work hard so there is no reason we should not be able to play hard.

Myself, Jeff, and others have great plans for the Krewe and TechEd 2010 in New Orleans. We hope you will join us.

Your Friend…Mike

Creating Multiple Mailboxes with Powershell

I was prepping for my Exchange classes client lab this afternoon. I came across a need for each student to have there own mailbox on the Test exchange server. I could have created each mailbox and associated user by hand, but I figured “Let’s Try Powershell…or the Exchange Management Shell to be more correct”.

Anyway after about an hour of tinkering, I came up with a script that will allow you to create multiple mailboxes from a .CSV file, and base the mailbox on an existing mailbox. This would work great if you had a bulk of new hires or just a need to create a lot of mailboxes.

First I created a CSV file that included the Alias, Name and UPN fields.
User01,User 01,user01@itsallgeek2mike.com

Next, I created a basic mailbox called Template to use as my copy source mailbox.

Finally, I ran the following powershell script to create the new mailboxes:
## Bulk Creation of Mailboxes in Exchange 2007
## Created by Michael Bender
## Requires creation of a CSV file called CreateRecipients.csv located in the
## root of c: or directory of your choice. If you change the directory, you will need to

## Set Script Variables
$CopyMb = Read-Host “Enter Name of Mailbox to Copy”
$Template = get-mailbox $CopyMb
$Pwd = Read-Host “Enter password” -AsSecureString
$MBDb = Read-Host “Enter Exchange Database”
$Db = get-mailboxdatabase $MBDb
$CSV = Read-Host “Enter location of CSV file (e.g. c:NewMailboxes.csv)”

## CSV Import and Mailbox creation
Import-CSV $CSV | % {new-mailbox -alias $_.alias -name $_.name -userPrincipalName $_.UPN -database $Db -org Users -Password $Pwd -templateinstance $Template}

The mailboxes create properly. However, I keep getting an error referring to the new-mailbox cmdlet and a null value.

I’ll keep you posted on the progress…


DSL and house wiring

It’s spring so I’m taking some time off, but I wanted to share an experience with you.

I switched to ATT DSL and was getting a much slower speed than my 6MB subscription.

Long story short…It was my house wiring. As soon as I moved my modem to right off the connection coming in the house, my speed went up.

Hope that helps someone else out…