Category Archives: Uncategorized

Little Known Windows 7 Shortcuts

And now for some shortcuts I'll bet you didn't know… or maybe you did and you forgot… or maybe you don't care… anyway, here they are:

Windows Key + Pause – Display the system specifications

Windows Key + Up Arrow – Maximize the current windows

Windows Key + 1 through 0 – Launch the corresponding taskbar app (try it, you'll see)

Windows Key + R – Display the good old Run dialog

CTRL + SHIFT + ESC – Display the Task Manager (this is my all time favorite)

Hopefully, you enjoy these little nuggets. I use these shortcut keys all the time and find them extremely useful.

ICACLS Syntax for ACL Management

One of the great new tools in Windows Vista and Windows 7 is the ICACLS command line command. While I’m very annoyed with Microsoft for not supporting the old CACLS syntax and adding the features of ICACLS (all our old CACLS-based batch files break), I have to admit that a few capabilities are very welcome. One such capability is the function used to export and import ACLs from and into objects.

For example, imagine you are about to make several permission changes to a directory structure. You want to ensure you can revert to the current permission structure if you make mistakes. ICACLS allows you to quickly export the permissions for an entire directory structure with the /save switch.

The ICACLS syntax for ACL (or permission) export is as follows:

ICACLS folder_name* /save filename.acl /T

The /T switch is used to indicate that directory recursion should be used. The /save switch is used to export the results. For example, to save the permissions in a directory named HORSES on the C: drive and all subdirectories and folders, execute the following command:

ICACLS C:HORSES* /save horses.acl /T

The file, horses.acl, will contain the permissions in text format. Later, you can import the permissions with the /restore switch if required. To restore the permissions, execute the following ICACLS syntax:

ICACLS C:HORSES /restore horses.acl

Of course, the ICACLS command provides syntax for permission management as well as backing up and restoring the permissions; however, this new feature is one of the most important to know about. Hopefully, you find this information useful.

Windows XP Mode and Hardware-Assisted Virtualization

Well, it looks like Microsoft finally gets it. They removed the requirement for hardware-assisted virtualization (HAV) from Windows Virtual PC, which means that XP Mode can be used on more computers. Many computers do not support HAV at all and others simply do not provide a method to enable it in the BIOS. The fact that you can use XP Mode now without HAV, will enable the use of these older (and sometimes newer) machines with XP-compatible applications that do not work on Windows 7.

In order to get the support for non-HAV Windows Virtual PC, you will need to download and install Windows Virtual PC itself and then download and install the update that removes the requirement for HAV. Both can be found here at Microsoft's website.

SQL Server Training

Well, the first SQL Server training class with ASPE is going to happen in Phoenix, AZ on February 17-18, 2010. I am very excited about this class as well will be covering SQL Server 2005 and 2008 primarily. The old SQL Server 200 topics can slowly begin to fall by the way. Of course, we'll have to deal with a few upgrade discussions, but that topic aside, we can really take the time to dive deep into the newer SQL Server features.

In the course, we'll be covering SQL Server installation, administration, security, optimization and troubleshooting. Each student will have a computer to work on and about half of the activities will be hands-on labs. We cram a lot of information into the two days so many of the activities are demo only so that I can show you as much as possible in our time together. For more information on this SQL Server training class and to see when and if it's coming to your area, ceck out the ASPE page here: http://www.aspe-it.com/courses/9580/.

RF Wavelength Calculations for Wireless Networks

The wavelength of a RF wave is calculated as the distance between two adjacent identical points on the wave. The wavelength is frequently measured as the distance from one crest of the wave to the next.

The wavelength is an important factor in wireless networking. The wavelength dictates the optimum size of the receiving antenna and it determines how the RF wave will interact with its environment. For example, an RF wave will react differently when it strikes an object that is large in comparison to the wavelength than when it strikes an object that is small in comparison to the wavelength.

The wavelength and the frequency are interrelated. For a given medium, if you know the wavelength, you can calculate the frequency and if you know the frequency, you can calculate the wavelength. The wavelength is directly related to the frequency and the speed of light. If you know the frequency, you can calculate the wavelength. If you know the wavelength, you can calculate the frequency.

One of the great discoveries in the history of electromagnetism is that electromagnetic waves travel at the speed of light. Since we know the speed of light to be 299,792,458 meters per second (or the simple 300,000,00 meters per second, if you prefer), we also know that this is the speed at which electromagnetic waves travel in a vacuum. This was theorized by James Clerk Maxwell and proved through experimentation by Heinrich Hertz.

You are probably familiar with measurements like 100 megahertz and 3.6 gigahertz. These measurements refer to the number of cycles per second. When we say that the access point is using the 2.45 GHz (gigahertz) spectrum, we say it is using the spectrum that uses a wave cycle rate of 2,450,000,000 times per second. This measurement is named for Heinrich Hertz and his research in electricity and magnetism. A kilohertz is 1,000 hertz or cycles per second. A megahertz is 1,000,000 hertz and a gigahertz is 1,000,000,000 hertz. A terahertz is one trillion hertz, but these frequencies are not commonly found in today’s wireless communications.

Since we know that RF waves travel at the speed of light we can calculate the frequency when we know the wavelength or the wavelength when we know the frequency. The following formula can be used to calculate the wavelength in meters when the frequency is known:

w = 299,792,458 / f

Where w is the wavelength in meters and f is the frequency in hertz and the medium is a vacuum. Therefore, the 2.45 GHz spectrum would have a wavelength that is calculated with the following formula:

w = 299,792,458 / 2,450,000,000

The result is .123 meters or approximately 12.3 centimeters in length. This translates to about 4.8 inches. To calculate inches from centimeters, just multiple the number of centimeters times 0.3937. The formal character used to represent a wavelength is the Greek lambda (λ), and the symbol for the speed of light is c. Therefore, the formal representation of the previous formula would be:

λ = c / f

The calculation for frequency is just the opposite. You will divide the speed of light by the wavelength in meters to discover the frequency. Keep in mind that the numbers we’ve been using have been rounded and that impacts the results of the following formula; however, the results are close enough to recognize that a wavelength of .123 meters would indicate a RF wave in the 2.45 GHz spectrum:

f = 299,792,458 / .123
f = 2437337056.91

Due to the complex measurement number that is the speed of light, this number is often rounded to 300 billion meters per second. While this will change formula results, the findings are close enough for understanding the behavior of RF waves; however, engineers developing RF systems must use more precise measurements. Additionally, formulas like the following simplify matters:

wavelength in inches (λ) = 11.811 / f (in GHz)
wavelength in centimeters (λ) = 30 / f (in GHz)

Because wireless networks use such high frequency ranges, formulas like this make the calculations easier.

Information > Business > Technology – Tom Carpenter’s IT Philosophy

 

I want to answer a question I receive a lot in this post. The question is this: Why do you write about so many different technologies? The easy answer is that I love technology. However, the deeper answer comes from my philosophy of technology utilization in organizations. This philosophy can be summed up as Information Business Technology. We don’t want to store, transfer, manage and destroy information just for the sake of information. We don’t want to implement, manage and upgrade technology just for the sake of technology. The pivot point that brings these two factors together is the business (or organization if you’re in a non-profit or government institution). The point is simple we manage information and technology for the benefit of the business.

Since I am an Information Business Technology professional, I make sure I know about technologies impacting the three key areas of information utilization: information storage (databases), information transfer (networks) and information processing (clients and applications). I am an expert in Microsoft’s SQL Server storage technology and in wireless networking transfer technologies. I am also an expert in Windows desktop technologies and applications. These are the primary technologies on which I’ve chosen to focus. For this reason, I write about SQL Server, wireless networking and other related networking technologies, and Microsoft desktop and server operating systems; however, I never lose sight of my purpose Information > Business > Technology.

With the upcoming release of Windows 7, I’ve been thinking a lot about this question: How does Windows 7 improve on information processing within my philosophy of Information Business Technology? My intent is not to fully answer this question here, but to point out how my philosophy impacts my thinking and decisions related to technology investments. First, we can all agree that – on the same hardware – Windows 7 is faster than Vista. This is a big improvement for users of Vista, but it does nothing for users of Windows XP. If my users are on Windows XP with no driving business need to move to Vista (losing support, incompatible applications – the rare app that works with Vista but not XP, etc.), the fact that Windows 7 performs better than Vista is of no real value to them.

Without burdening you with the complete discussion of Windows 7 (which I do believe has a number of excellent business-value benefits over XP), suffice it to say that we must ensure business value comes from our technology investments. Thanks for the questions. It’s always a good reminder for me too.

Is Windows 7 Better than Windows Vista?

This question must be asked and answered by IT Directors that have been delaying the upgrade from Windows XP to Windows Vista. Is Windows 7 better than Windows Vista for current XP users? I would suggest that the answer is yes – assuming the final product is as good as the current candidates suggest it will be.

The one feature that I feel is most appealing is XP mode. The press is covering XP mode as if it is a band-aid and something that is less than beneficial in the long run (see NetworkWorld, June 1, 2009); however, I see it as an essential component of the new operating system. The biggest complaints about Vista have been in two categories: performance and compatibility. Windows 7 seems to be performing better than Vista on like hardware, but I’m not going into that in this post. In my opinion, Windows 7 is better than Windows Vista even if it performs the same. The XP mode makes it worth it.

I know that some will say you could use either Terminal Services on Windows 2003 servers or Virtual PC on Vista to run XP apps that are not otherwise compatible; however, those solutions are much more costly (Terminal Services) or confusing to the users (Virtual PC). With XP mode the applications run as apparent local applications but are indeed running in an instance of Windows XP. Yes, there will be more work for the IT group, but the goal is seamless operations for the user. (The "more work" for IT would be in updating and maintaining the "XP instance" as well as the Windows 7 installation.)

I think it’s worth it. For me, yes I’d rather use Virtual PC or VMware Workstation, but for my users I’d much rather them have the simpler tool that XP mode will provide. Time will tell, but I am one techie who likes the looks of Windows 7 so far.

What is ITIL?

When I teach project management and operations classes, I am frequently asked this question: What is ITIL? There seems to be a lot of buzz around this methodology and this buzz exists for good reason. ITIL is like Open Source for technology management.

ITIL stands for Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL). The ITIL is technically a documented set of best practices, but the term is often used to reference the certifications based on the ITIL. When I say that ITIL is like Open Source for technology management, I do not mean that the ITIL books are free. They are, of course, floating around on the Internet in pirated form, but the books are copyrighted and ITIL is a trademark.

My statement about Open Source, simply refers to the fact that ITIL is based in universal best practices. These best practices may not be "best" for every organization, but they are generally accepted in the industry. When the library is updated, many people through the IT and business sectors are involved in order to provide a true set of best practices as opposed to the recommendations of just a few IT managers or CIOs.

The best way to think of ITIL is as a foundation on which you can build the actual service management environment that you need for your organization. The LEAN IT operations model that we developed at The Systems Education Company certainly includes many recommendations that are also included in ITIL; however, because we are more focused on implementing technology as efficiently and effectively as possible, we do not encourage blind exhaustive implementation of ITIL best practices. You will want to ensure that the practices you implement do not cost more than they gain.

This thinking is not unique to ITIL. For example, the Project Management Institute’s project management body of knowledge (PMBOK) should also not be blindly implemented as a strict methodology in and of itself. Instead, we can use it as a foundation on which we build solid project management systems.

So, what is ITIL? It is a fabulous place to start as you build a lean and mean IT operation.

The Smell of Smoke

This past Tuesday morning at about 1:15 AM I rose out of bed to the smell of smoke. As I walked down the stairs, the smell grew stronger and as soon as I turned on the lights I noticed the source. Seeping out around the location where the stove pipe enters the chimney was a continuous flow of smoke. A raging chimney fire was under way.

The following picture shows the damage from the inside (the outside view is a bit more discouraging so I don’t want to post it here where I may see it from time to time). As you can see, the major damage area was confined to the wall behind the stove; but why? If you know me, you know that I’m always trying to learn lessons out of life. In this post, I want to share three lessons of which this fire reminded me.

Chimney Fire

  1. Install smoke detectors. We have smoke detectors in our house. They didn’t help in this situation because my built-in detector (my nose) worked faster than they did and we were able to call the fire department before the fire set them off; however, this does not diminish their value as I cannot always rely on my senses alone. The smoke detectors are analogous to the key performance indicators (KPIs) that we watch in our IT projects. A good project management system should allow you to configure thresholds for the KPIs associated with your projects. This way you won’t have to watch (or smell?) your project every minute of the day.
     
  2. Listen to your nose. My nose sensed something out of the ordinary. Because I listened to it, the worst of the fire damage was contained to one room in the house. Had I ignored it, things would have been much worse. Your physical senses are analogous to the instinct or intuition that you build over time. This is a key difference between experts and professionals. The expert has developed her instincts with more than 10,000 hours of practice. Listen to your instinct before your project gets out of control.
     
  3. Get out of the house. The first thing we (my beautiful wife and I) did was get the kids out of the house. Sometimes as a project manager, you need to know when to bail. It’s part of effective project management. Some argue that successful project planning will prevent project cancellation. I suggest that project cancellation is part of effective project management in a real and dynamic environment. Certainly, we want more successes than failures; but without failures, one has to ask if enough risks are taken.

 

Maybe these lessons will help you on your next project. I know they are fresh in my mind. Now that the dust has settled (literally, all over my house) I can evaluate the damage and make reparations; however, I know the damage is less than it could have been because we installed smoke detectors, listened to our noses and got out of the house.