Who Will Vote Against the Interests of the Downtrodden Wealthy?

House Democrats are forcing the Republicans to admit with their vote that they just want tax breaks for the rich.  The Democrats are trying a (sneaky or awesome, depending on your political preference) procedural move to force the hand of Republicans.  Speaker-in-waiting John Boehner is turning a brighter shade of orange.   Are Democrats finally learning how to play politics the same way as Republicans?  I hope so.  I'm basically an o-bot, it seems, by Liberal Intertubez Blog Commenting Standards, but I am oh-so-very-glad to see some hardball being played after several days of the media reporting that Obama apologized for not being more accommodating to the guys who got our country into the mess it's in.

So will the Republicans vote against tax cuts because the uber wealthy aren't getting their (unfair) share?  A lot of them will, is my prediction, but we'll see.  Either way, the media headlines will emphasize the delicate fee fees of the Republicans being hurt, and not the fact that (some?) Republicans vote against tax breaks for the middle class.  Just you wait and see.  Extra credit for lazy reporting for anybody in the media refers to this bill as a "tax hike" (on the wealthy) by Democrats.

Either way, I'm just happy to see the House Dems go out in a blaze of glory.  It is hte awesome!


My New Pet Peeve

My new pet peeve is when technology pundits that use the phrase (or a variation thereof), "designing for 1985" when talking about traditional mouse/keyboard input modalities.  This is usually said as a derogatory comment to Microsoft, but also includes other companies that have not yet jumped headfirst into the latest fad of iPad computing (if you can call running applets on a multimedia presentation device "computing.")

I think touch screens a la cell phones and slate devices have their place and can be awesome, but just, for a minute, try imagining typing a long document on an iPad compared to basically any traditional computer setup.  The very thought of it is tiring to me.  I need a nap.  My point is that mouse+kb has been successful for so long because when you know how to type (probably not many tech magazine writers know how without staring at the keyboard and pecking with their index fingers, unfortunately), the keyboard is incredibly fast for input.  And for situations that you can't use the keyboard, the mouse is still faster than touch screens.  With a mouse you can quickly jump from one part of the screen to the other and precisely zero in with just the smallest flick of your wrist.  Touch screens require your arm and hand actually extend to each of the affected areas on the screen.  When you have two or three monitors, having to touch for all direct-contact input with controls on the screen would actually be quite slow, even if it is satisfying in a "I feel like I'm on Star Trek" kind of way.

All that said, kb+mouse+touch is the ultimate win.  You get the best of all possible worlds.

Which brings me back to the original article that sparked this rant.  I completely disagree with the unimaginative Lenovo Technology Director.  Windows 7 on a slate device sounds incredibly awesome.  I would take that in a heartbeat over iOS, Android, or the other proprietary OSes.  Apparently somebody hasn't gotten the memo about all the touch work that went into Windows 7.  It does everything your precious, precious iPad does, plus it can actually run real productivity software.


America Spoke: No Socialists Win in Election

Now that the 2010 election is over, I think it's safe to say that Americans have clearly spoken: nobody on the Socialist Party ticket won.  Clearly this means America is a center-right country.  At the same time, Obama should have used the bully pulpit more, because progressive voters are fragile creatures who would rather let their opponents win and go scorched earth than support a moderate on their own ticket.

Yea, also, to, this is all stupid and wrong.  I can say this because I have as much knowledge and credentials as most of the lip-flapping sputter coming out of the beltway media.  I posted the following comment on Balloon Juice (one of the only sane political blogs on the intertubes), but had to share it here to.

Regarding this article.

My comment…

So much analysis. So much wrong!

Everybody keeps pointing to their favorite ponies and stating, “if only Obama would have petted this pony more often and with a more vigorous stroking technique, Democrats would have done better.”


Despite what the Firebaggers say, Obama, Pelosi, and Reid passed a lot of pretty great stuff. Pretty great stuff can also be scary because it’s new and different. Could the pretty great stuff have been even awesomer? As always, yes, IF Republicans weren’t such total douchebags.

I will take pretty great stuff (that had a possibility of passing and did) over super awesome great stuff that could never pass. I will also definitely take the pretty great stuff over whatever the beltline Pony of the Day is.

I see a lot of pointing to the economy. That’s historically correct and correct today too. But I’m glad Obama didn’t spend the last two years primping a new stimulus pony. It could even have had sparkles, braided hair, and an “I love you” tattoo on its leg, but it never would have passed!

I think this shows really good leadership and a true commitment to this country for Obama, Pelosi, and Reid. They walked in knowing how much they were truly fucking themselves in the next election or two, but did the stuff they did anyway, because it was the right thing to do.

Like it or not, that’s how American politics works. Good stuff happens. When it does, there’s a backlash from entrenched interests and fear. Shit, there was a major backlash against social security (there still is today)! But it’s in no danger of going away because even conservative Americans rely on it. The same will be true for much of what was passed in the last two years.

Relish in the liberalism of the last two years. It will be back. Fear can’t last forever.

Also, too, THIS.


WTF Has Obama Done So Far?!

The winningest site for those of us on the left that understand that governing this country is more than just a bully pulpit and getting angry: http://whatthefuckhasobamadonesofar.com/




A while back I created the SCHANNEL.ADM administrative template to allow SCHANNEL ciphers and protocols to be configured in a GPO and pushed out to all servers in a domain.  Basically, in any Windows Server version before 2008, the SSL 2.0 protocol was enabled, and so were a bunch of weak ciphers, like 40-bit RC2 or 56-bit DES.

Well, recently one of the sites I manage began failing a HackerSafe test for ciphers and it seems I missed a few ciphers in my template.  Why HackerSafe only discovered this now instead of years ago is anybody's guess.  It is run by McAfee now, so I wouldn't bet the farm on their audits…  But I digress.

I updated the template on my website for download.  In addition to having  a few more ciphers, I also put in the description "(Recommend Disabled)" next to all the weak ciphers.

Remember that these values are not fully managed policy entries and if you delete your GPO, the affected server will not automatically revert to default values – you will be left to clean up the registry.

More information on enabling/disabling protocols and cipher in Windows can be found here: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/245030

Download SCHANNEL.ADM here.


Brad Miller 2010

My congressional representative is Brad Miller.  He’s done some great work and is generally well liked by his district.  However, just like many Democrats this year, he’s facing stronger competition than in many previous years.  Luckily, his opponent is a crazy conspiracy theorist (BP Truther) and “tea party” candidate.

I went to a house party for Miller’s campaign.  This is the first time I’ve done such a thing.  I’m always pretty politically motivated, but as far as campaigning goes, I’m usually just a money donator, bumper sticker/yard sign poster, and not much more.

The house party was encouraging.  There were quite a few disappointed progressives, but they were largely positive towards Miller and more critical of Obama.  This is interesting to me because most of the media reports about Democratic turn-out point to dissatisfied Obama supporters not turning out for their local Democrats.  I can’t speak for all Democrats and the house party certainly isn’t a scientific sampling, but it was encouraging to see quite a few people turn out for Miller, despite possibly being disappointed in Obama. 

Personally, I think Obama has done a great job considering what he has going against him.  Sure, I disagree with him from time to time (such as a lot of the bipartisan wishful thinking), but I’m not sure Obama would have accomplished what he had if he had taken that position, so I give him a pass.  I guess I’m just an O-Bot, but I don’t blame him for not getting my ponies and rainbows.  I blame the obstructionist Confederate Party of Big Business (aka Republican Party).  I think we need to channel our fear and anger away from minor intraparty mistakes and quibbles and channel it against the political party that is holding up all true progress for the American people.

If you are a liberal and are feeling unmotivated to vote, just think about what it would be like to have a tea partier as your representative.  That is what is at stake.  Do you want government to work for you or against you?  There is no other choice.


Despite the overall outlook and common beltway wisdom, I’m feeling encouraged and can’t wait to vote for Brad Miller and Elaine Marshall.


SCVMM: Mounting Shared ISOs From The Library on the Library Host

There's a lot of documentation out there on how to mount ISOs in Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager for Hyper-V hosts.  It basically involves setting up permissions on the library shares so that the Hyper-V host machines can consume the share, then setting up constrained delegation in Active Directory.  Here's a link: http://blogs.technet.com/b/dutchpts/archive/2009/02/09/hyper-v-and-scvmm-2008-mounting-iso-s-from-a-network-share.aspx?wa=wsignin1.0

And here's the error…

Error (12700)
VMM cannot complete the Hyper-V operation on the HVSERVER1.domain.com server because of the error: 'NewServerHost' failed to add device 'Microsoft Virtual CD/DVD Disk'. (Virtual machine ID 119730D6-8939-4CB9-8456-7941F6925279)

'XSIntWeb1-V': The Machine Account 'XSINC\HVSERVER1$' does not have read access to file share '\\HVSERVER1.domain.com\ISOs\en_windows_server_2008_r2_standard_enterprise_datacenter_web_x64_dvd_x15-50365.iso'. Please add this computer account to the security group of file share. Error: 'General access denied error' (0x80070005). (Virtual machine ID 119230D6-7929-4EB9-9456-6946F6925279)
(Unknown error (0x8001))

Recommended Action
Resolve the issue in Hyper-V and then try the operation again.

If you follow those steps exactly and still have issues, then there might be one more gotcha.  Are you trying to connect to a VMM library that is hosted on the same server as both the VMM server and the Hyper-V host's parent partition?  (Yes, this is a supported configuration.)

If so, you need to add the NT AUTHORITY\Network Service user account to the share and NTFS permissions.  The reason is that the CIFS (SMB) file share is local to the computer needing access.  As such, instead of the user appearing as the Hyper-V parent server machine name (such as HVSERVER1$), it will appear as the local account that the Hyper-V server is running as, which is typically the built-in Network Service account.

What makes this a 'gotcha' is that the error message explicitly states the machine account as the culprit.  I only figured this out through the power of Process Monitor by SysInternals, which clearly showed the ACCESS DENIED is occurring when Network Service hits the share.

Process Monitor screenshot


Mystery of the Failing Meeting Appointment Updates on Exchange 2003

A very brief tech mystery today!

We have not upgraded to Exchange 2010 yet at work and are still on Exchange 2003 (yes, 2003).  That upgrade is scheduled for a little later this year, but until then, I have to continue to support 2003.

I ran into a strange mail flow issue today that ends up being the result of a combination of Exchange 2003 and Outlook 2007 or newer.  One of my users was trying to send an update to a meeting request, but recipients outside of our domain (external SMTP recipients) were getting stuck in the queue.  The additional information in the queue just said "Unable to open the message for delivery."  That clued me in that it wasn't an external SMTP rejection of the message (invalid email address or whatever).  So I did some googling.

It turns out there's actually a known issue for Outlook 2007 or Outlook 2010 (or newer) clients sending meeting updates via Exchange 2003.  It must not happen all the time, because we've had Outlook 2007 deployed for years and never saw this issue before.  In fact, it didn't start happening until a user on Outlook 2010 sent a meeting update.  Maybe it's just coincidence – I'm not really sure.

Anyway, here's the KB with all the details.  The article isn't clear, but to double check if you have this error by enabling diagnostic logging, you need to set MSExchangeTransport\Exchange Store Driver to Maximum.  Once you do that, go back to the queue, select the outbound server the stuck message is sitting in, right click and select "Force Connection."  Then you can look in the event viewer for the specific error to confirm this is your issue.

Don't forget to set the registry entry after applying the hotfix!


If You Don't Like To Multitask on Your Phones, Then Don't

As has been mentioned in plenty of blogs before, Windows Phone 7 will not support a the traditional experience of multitasking applications.  With the exception of certain bare Windows CE devices, multitasking in PDAs and Phones has never really been like the desktop experience and that's okay.  I don't expect it to act the same.  Basically, the normal multitasking paradigm on these devices is that the app is sent to the background and another app comes to the foreground.  It works really well in Windows Phone Classic (aka Windows Mobile) and Android.  The Apple iPhone takes a different approach.  Each app must save its state and exit when it is 'sent to the background' except the approved built-in Apple apps.  Windows Phone 7 copies this approach, because apparently emulating Apple is the way to win a market (this has worked wonders for Zune, apparently).

To be fair, the WP7 approach is a bit more flexible.  First, apps aren't necessarily closed when put in the background, but they are paused.  Second, apps can request permission from Microsoft to be allowed to continue to operate in the background if they need to.  That actually could be a decent model, as not all apps need to continue to run in the background, but this all hinges on Microsoft allowing you to run in the background if you need to.  That's not a good place to be when you are trying to get investors to believe in your new cutting edge piece of software for this new device.  By a single Microsoft employee's whim alone, your entire app could be neutered.  Great.

I multitask like a crazy fool on my wonderful HTC Touch Pro 2.  I usually have about five or six things open.  I also write a lot of software.  This may come as a shock to some, but in your standard Windows app, if you receive no input, your app does nothing – literally nothing!  This is because Windows apps are message-based.  Your app will block while waiting for a message (0% CPU).  Okay?  It won't do anything.  Nothing!  If you are in the background, you receive no input.  So unless you have a timer or another unblocked thread, your app is effectively paused.  Plus, even if it has a timer or thread, unless you are using it to refresh a UI element, it's probably doing something you think is important.  Finally, if your phone goes to sleep on Windows Mobile, unless you specifically execute a set of functions to keep the device's idle timer awake, your app, along with the entire device, will sleep, timers and all.  So the "battery life" excuse is just that: an excuse!  So what's the point of pausing?  The only "good" purpose is to offer some sort of control over misbehaving applications.  That's a fine gesture.  But, as a power user, how about giving me the control to whitelist apps that I want to be in the background?  Oh, I can't because Charlie Kindel knows what's best for us.  (Queue the halos and angelic chorus.)

So anyway, I've been reading the WP7 apologist posts on various Microsoft forums.  There are a hell of a lot of people who are okay with WP7 not offering a true multitasking experience.  That's fine.  Not everybody computes the same.  Some people run all their desktop apps in full screen, can't stand a second monitor, and hide their task bar.  It feels like trying to compute with two broken wrists to me, but hey, I won't begrudge them.  They had their own choice to use their computer that way.  What is pissing me off are the number of people who claim This Way Is The One True Way and those of us that want to multitask, really don't need it and won't miss it!  Oh hell to the no!  I will definitely miss it.  You want to know how?  Because I'm not completely stupid and I know my computing habits.

As if being forced to have the ugly blue-box "metro" theme be the only home screen available on WP7 wasn't torture enough!

So, to Mr. Kindel and Kindel brown-nosers: If you don't want to multitask on your phone, that's fine.  I mean, really, more power to you!  But can I, and other power users like me, please have this option that would require almost no effort on MS's part to implement?  After all, CE has multitasking built-in.  It takes more effort to stop it from multitasking than to keep it in.  I'm okay with a supposed shorter battery life (snicker).  I just want my control back.  Windows CE is a really cool embedded operating system.  Let's not neuter it with silly Apple-like rules, okay?


A Real Future for Windows Phone Classic?

I was searching the Google for information on Windows Phone 7 regarding database support.  There will be no database support.  Interestingly, I found discussion with somebody venting about this (and the other, many, lacking features of Windows Phone 7) and saw an interesting reply from a Microsoft employee.  Quoted in full (sic and all that apply)…

I'm part of the team that supports all Mobile and Phone technologies.  Our team still remains obligated to continue supporting 6.5 and the corresponding Enterprise Business market.

Clearly the target market for Windows Phone 7 is the consumer and its entire architecture has been designed from scratch by the best architects at Microsoft, who left other divisions within the company and converged to brainstorm the specific needs of the consumer, as contrasted with businesses (although there definitely is overlap).

Note that Marketplace for Windows 7 is set up in a way that any app posted there can be downloaded by anybody; it isnt intended for the needs of the Business who wish to deploy an app on the phone that only they are privileged to access.

The needs of the Enterprise Business customers will not go away and their needs must be, and will be, addressed differently. 

For the moment,  the limelight is on the Windows Phone 7 Series, but you will see Enterprise progress and Microsoft's continued support for phones used in business.

Best Regards,
Mark Chamberlain Sr. Escalation Engineer | Microsoft Developer Support | Windows Phone 7

First, regarding the "best architects" wank wank stuff.  You could have fooled me!  Metro UI was interesting for about a day.  Now it's just ugly to me.  But I'll give it another shake once it's out of beta.  It's not fair to bash on it too hard while it's still in beta.  On the other hand, Mobile Shell 3 and SenseUI are still interesting and I've used both for a while now!

So, according to Mr. Chamberlain, the enterprise customers needs must and will be address differently?  Differently?  As in, not using the draconian Windows Phone 7 model?  Do I dare hope for life of Windows Phone 6.5 beyond 6.5.3?  Do I dare hope for Windows Phone 6.5 to be renamed Windows Phone Enterprise Edition with a new wicked CE7 kernel and updated Compact Framework 4.0 (with Silverlight)?  Do I dare hope for Visual Studio 2010 (and beyond) support?

Do I dare hope for life on the mobile operating system that could easily be modernized and that I've enjoyed using and programming for over the last ten years?

A side note: T-Mobile can't keep the HD2 in stock!  All that on an "outdated" OS.  I could have told you that putting a decent CPU in a HTC SenseUI (aka TouchFlo 3D) powered device would do that.  But nobody listens to me… :-)

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