Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Surface Pro 3: Just what I was looking for




Like many of you, I spent the morning watching and tweeting about the Surface Pro 3 announce at the Surface Event in NYC. Many people were expecting a Surface mini to be released, but in hindsight, Surface Pro 3 makes much more sense from a customer standpoint and sales standpoint. With the lukewarm acceptance of Surface RT, a 8" tablet running RT is not going to set the world on fire vs. this device announced today. 

You be able to read numerous articles about the new Surface Pro 3, and I'm not going to bore you with all of the details. Especially since I'm not hands-on with the device. I can only go on what's been announced and put in the wild. Here's what I know from a hardware perspective:
  • Comes in 3 processor flavors (i3, i5, i7) w/ up to 8GB of RAM and 512GB drive
  • Price point starts at $799 and goes to $1999
  • Weighs in at 1.76lbs without keyboard, pen, etc and super thin at .36 inches
  • 12-inch ClearType Full HD display will be awesome to view content as well as creation
  • Pen is wicked cool with push-button to open OneNote when device is office and new styling
  • Type cover is articulated to provided much improved laptop experience
  • Hinge allows for multiple angles for a multitude of uses
  • The new integrations with OneNote are fantastic. I can't wait to begin putting them into action.
  • See the full specs here (Word doc so be advised…Not a webpage)
  • Check out the Surface Teams blog for a great write up on the announcement

From my standpoint as a trainer, presenter, author, and technologist, this is the device I have been looking for since Surface was released. It will allow me to have one device for consumption, creation, and presentation of content. I was looking at purchasing a Dell XPS 19 to use as an electronic white board replacement. The idea was to place the device on a lectern for presentations. This will allow me to fully interact and present without switching devices, or using a white board. This is particularly helpful in the classroom where I spend a lot of time diagramming. Now, I envision students viewing and having access to my whiteboard diagrams in real time. Plus, I now have a historical record of these diagrams. No more smartphone pics of the whiteboard here!

I am already putting the request in to my employer to forgo a new laptop and get me a Surface Pro 3. It will actually save them money since many of the other instructors choose MBPs.

To that end…TAKE MY MONEY!!!!

 (Courtesy of Ben Rudolph aka @BenThePCGuy)
Devices go on sale tomorrow Jun 20th at 12:01AM EST.

F5, F5, F5…

Mike

Thursday, May 15, 2014

My Two Cents on TechEd Retirment - Repost

Repost of a previous blog post from my now-dead wordpress site so formatting may be poor...
On Monday, I received a email (see below) from Microsoft telling me about the discontinuation of TechNet, even though I knew about this hours before via Twitter. As a long time TechNet subscriber/user, I have a lot of thoughts on this. Personally, I am disappointed as I believe this is a great tool for IT Pros to keep current. I have championed TechNet as a resource for many years to students and IT Pros I have engaged. While the new resources available are nice, I don’t believe there is a single product available know that fills the needs of IT Pros at an affordable price point.
My Thoughts…
§  Ed Bott wrote a great post breaking down this news. Check it out here.
§  As an MCT, MVP, and a faculty member at a school with MSDN-AA, I have access to everything I need to build & maintain a testing environment along with keeping my skills sharp. That is not the case for many of you…
§  I run no scenarios (at this time) in lab that a 90-180 day eval will not cover. That is not the case for many of you…
§  At $1199 intial subscription/$799 renewal, MSDN is not an acceptable substitute even with Azure credit. Office 365 Developer is not comparable to the Office 365 E3 trial available through TechNet.
§  My belief is much of this decision is driven by licensing and years of “not following the licensing rules” by many subscribers. I would guess many IT Pros have not purchased a copy of software for personal use in eons.
§  TechNet gives you no credit in Azure, which I never understood. You NEED to be testing out Azure as this is the future for many things we do as IT Pros. That…is a reality though we may not like it.
§  This further solidifies it’s really about developers at Microsoft. Also, it solidifies Microsoft’s long-term vision of an “A La Carte” world of IT.
§  My hope is that Microsoft hears the feedback on this and delivers an option that meets the needs of IT Pros at an affordable cost.
Want another option besides MSDN? Check out the Microsoft Action Pack for Microsoft Partners. Most of probably qualify as a Registered Partner. I had this for a number of years as an SMB consultant and found it quite useful. While not the “All you can eat buffet” of TechNet, it gives you internal use rights that many of you are looking for. I believe the cost is $400/yr. Also, being a partner gets you access to Cloud Essentials if you qualify.
If you really feel strongly and want to send Microsoft a message, you can sign this petition. It was started by Cody Skidmore.
In the end, it’s all about choices. I tell my students all the time that you have to invest in your careers, and sometimes that is more than sweat equity. What you choose to spend on your career is a personal choice. I believe a majority of what we do as IT Pros can be accomplished through the free resources available to us. However, for those with speciality scenarios, you may have to fork over some cash to get what you need. Cost of doing business in today’s IT world.
Till Next time…Mike
Email from TechNet Subscription Team:

As IT trends and business dynamics have evolved, so has Microsoft’s set of offerings for IT professionals who are looking to learn, evaluate and deploy Microsoft technologies and services. In recent years, we have seen a usage shift from paid to free evaluation experiences and resources. As a result, Microsoft has decided to retire the TechNet Subscriptions service and will discontinue sales on August 31, 2013.
Additional Information:
More background on Microsoft’s decision to retire the TechNet Subscription service and the implications for current subscribers is available on the TechNet Subscriptions Retirement FAQ page.
Subscribers with active accounts may continue to access program benefits until their current subscription period concludes.We are committed to helping customers through this transition phase and will remain focused on providing IT professionals with free access to a broad set of TechNet assets that support the needs of IT professionals around the world.Improved Free Offerings for IT Professionals Include:
§  TechNet Evaluation Center: Free evaluation software with no feature limits, available for 30-180 days. Includes rich evaluation resources and TechNet Virtual Labs, which enable you to evaluate software without the need to install bits locally.
§  Microsoft Virtual Academy: Free online learning site, with over 200 expert-led technical training courses across more than 15 Microsoft technologies with more added weekly.
§  TechNet Forums: Free online forums where IT professionals can ask technical questions and receive rapid responses from members of the community.
Please note, MSDN Subscriptions provide a paid set of offerings that are also available for those who require access to evaluation software beyond what the above free offerings provide.
Thank you for your understanding as we increase focus on growing and investing in our free offerings to better meet the needs of the IT professional community.
Do not reply to this e-mail. This message was sent to you using an automated system. This e-mail alias is not monitored for replies.
- TechNet Subscription Team


Drinking the PowerShell Kool-Aid...Repost

This is a reposted blog from my now dead wordpress site so formatting may be poor...

So I’ve recently drank the kool-aid and I’m all in on PowerShell. After TechEd this year and speaking with lots of IT Pros & Industry folks, I knew it was time for me to get up to speed on PS or be left behind.

To this end, I have been working through Learn Windows PowerShell 3 in a Month of Lunches, 2nd Edition by Don Jones and Jeffery Hicks. This IS the place you should start if you are a PS newb like my self, or is the proper term PoSHnewb. Don and Jeff do a remarkable job of teaching PowerShell the way IT Pros work. For the most part, we are not programmers; we’re technicians, administrators , or architects, and that is how we need to use PowerShell; as a tool in which to perform singular or repetitive tasks, mostly from the CLI and sometimes as a script.

I like this book so much that I am having my 4th semester students go through the book to learn PowerShell in a way that will prepare them for the real world. They’ll need the help as I threw a curveball into the usual mix of work for my Windows Server Pro class. Normally, each student completes an individual case study where they build out an SMB windows network in VMs. This semester, I scaled back some of the case study tasks to reduce complexity of the overall network, and now I am requiring them to build the entire Windows Server 2012 network with PowerShell. How crazy is that???? I am doing the project along with them so I can hopefully catch and “gotchas” before they do.

So as I’m working my way through my PowerShell journey, I thought it would be cool to share code examples as they get created. Let me warn you…I can barely script my way out of a paper bag so scripts will be functional but probably could use some streamlining.

In any case, here’s the first useful script I wrote called DumpHistory.ps1. This script is a simple PS script to display and create a text file of all commands executed in the CLI during a specific session. The reason I came up with this was I teach my students to use get-history as a way to see what they have done, as well as keep track of their work. I wanted a way to easily create dumps of my history so I can review them at a later date as well as prep for demos. Again, I am sure someone else has done this, and probably cooler. That’s not the point. For me, it’s about thinking about process I do on a regular basis and seeing if I can create a tool to automate that process to some level.
####dumphistory.ps1
##Create a text file containing history of PowerShell Commands based on input file name and current date
##Created by Michael Bender
##Created/Revised 10/9/2013
##
##Create variable for current date
$Date=get-date
$Dy=$Date.Day
$Mo=$date.Month
$yr=$date.Year
##Get User Input for Name of File
$History=Read-Host “Enter Name for History file”
##Retrieve current CLI history and output to file
Get-History
Get-History | Out-File C:\Users\mikeb\SkyDrive\Matc\Fall2013ServerPro\PowerShell\historyfiles\$History.$mo-$dy-$yr.txt

Note: I have the out-file location hard-coded since I use the same location all the time. If you needed to specify the location at each running, the script could be modified by creating a variable for the location with read-host.

A zipped copy of the file is located http://sdrv.ms/1gqqHGe

If you have any suggestions on cleaning this up, please add in the comments.

Till next time…Mike