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2016 MVP Award

2016 Is off to a great start, received my Microsoft MVP award for the 6th time. Absolute pleasure/honor to among such a great group of talented people.

Congratulations! We are pleased to present you with the 2016 Microsoft® MVP Award! This award is given to exceptional technical community leaders who actively share their high quality, real world expertise with others. We appreciate your outstanding contributions in Enterprise Mobility technical communities during the past year.


Microsoft Ignite: One Geeks Take On the Conference

There is no denying the fact the conference was popular. 23,000 people don’t show up if it doesn’t at least look good on paper. Microsoft condensed their events into a single event/conference, so this first year (2015) is somewhat of a “pilot” I feel like. The ultimate question(s) is what do most people think, and whether they would come back next year or go to other conferences…

The good:
Product announcements: This is the flagship conference for Microsoft, so all the big product news more or less lands here.

Streaming: Great for people who couldn’t attend, great for people who can’t decide between sessions, and great if you missed a session.

Technical crossover: Due to the wide variety of people attending, you’ve got some developers, SQL guru’s and others that you wouldn’t normally have, at say an Infrastructure based conference. There are also more C and D level people attending sessions.

Expo: Probably one of the biggest Expo’s I’ve seen. Talking with vendors they received 3x or greater traffic than at TechEd. It remains to be seen if the percentage of good leads increased as well, or if it was just freebie junkies who really like color changing pencils (great for kids) or cloud erasers (to erase away your cloud fears).

Microsoft Staff: Due to the conference being what it is, the who’s who of Microsoft is in attendance. A lot of product group staff and others were available in booths and Q&A sessions.

The bad:
Food: Everyone has a different take on this, some people will eat nearly anything. A poll on yammer pretty much sums it up though.

Lines: I hope you like lines, because there are a lot of them. That’s what happens when you shove 23k people into any spot. Lines everywhere.

Bathrooms: Never before has mankind (stress on on the word “man”) had to wait so long to use a restroom. It’s payback for all the years we looked at women standing in line and snickered. Some clever marketing person also though it apparently should be a scavenger hunt to find a restroom. Hint: The best bathrooms were below the expo hall, those were the biggest.

Technical depth: Presenters need to be realistic about the session level, I sat in many that were allegedly 300 that I would have barely called a 50. I also talked with many other people and got responses on Twitter confirming the same feelings I had. I have no issues with level 100/200 sessions, they serve their purpose. However, lets label them correctly so people can decide for themselves what they want to go to. Overall I think the conference lacked technical depth, at least for System Center focused people, a lot of overview sessions and intro sessions, no 400/500 level. However, I don’t think that was the main focus for the conference, it just didn’t have the technical depth I’ve seen at other conferences.

Streaming: Good and bad, on the bad side, you can stream everything after 24 hours, so why do you really need to even be at the conference? (Of course the answer is to get out of the office, to meet fellow IT professionals and hope to learn new things)

Venue: McCormick is a BIG place, it’s confusing to find the rooms and get around. You also can easily spend 30 minutes walking from one side to the other to catch sessions. Many people complained about having to leave sessions early to get to the next one early so you wouldn’t get turned away (yup that happened).

Location: McCormick is downtown, but not “downtown” downtown. So even if you wanted to get food somewhere else, you couldn’t just walk to a restaurant. There was a Starbucks, a little convenience cafe (sandwich on a shelf), and a McDonalds. Ok there was a restaurant in the Hyatt as well, but that was a secret for a few days until everyone else found it, then it was crazy busy.

Shuttles: I talked to a few people who waited 45 minutes in the rain to get on a shuttle, ouch. Or the shuttles ended too early at night, so you either left sessions early or took a cab back to your hotel that was anywhere from pretty close to 40 minutes away.

Overall opinion:
Would I go to Ignite 2016? You know I don’t know that I can answer that right now. I’ve gone to quite a few conferences over the years, and spoken at many as well. The crowds and logistics of Ignite and the McCormick convention are not my favorite. I prefer the technical depth I’ve seen at Microsoft Management Summit and Midwest Management Summit. IT Dev connections is a well organized conference that is growly steadily in the infrastructure/System Center space. Midwest Management Summit last year was easily one of the best conferences I’ve attended. 3 days of awesome System Center sessions and a 3 story food court at the Mall of America to please all types of stomachs.

I will be at IT Dev Connections later this year speaking. I will also be at Midwest Management Summit in November as well.

I far prefer Vegas for location, you’ve got a ton of very good hotel options. You have a million restaurants to choose from and you don’t really need shuttles to get around.

So overall, if I had to only pick one conference to attend, I wouldn’t waste my time on Ignite, there are better conferences for me personally to attend. If I speak or was given a free space, I would attend Ignite again.

Let me know your thoughts/comments! Would love to hear what you thought of Ignite as well if you attended.



Ignite Keynote Summary/Links


Free ebooks from Microsoft Press

If you haven’t seen this before, well here you go 🙂

Really great list of free ebooks in various format (PDF, EPUB and Kindle) that covers a wide range of topics. 

Download the books here.

The current list is as follows:

Microsoft System Center Deploying Hyper-V with Software-Defined Storage & Networking

Microsoft System Center Software Update Management Field Experience

Introducing Windows Server 2012 R2

Microsoft Azure Essentials: Fundamentals of Azure

Building Cloud Apps with Microsoft Azure

Introducing Microsoft Azure HDInsight

Introducing Windows Azure for IT Professionals

Rethinking Enterprise Storage: A Hybrid Cloud Model

Introducing Windows 8.1 for IT Professionals

Creating Mobile Apps with Xamarin.Forms, Preview Edition

Programming Windows Store Apps with HTML, CSS and JavaScript

.NET Technology Guide for Business Applications

Microsoft System Center Deploying Hyper-V with Software-Defined Storage & Networking

Microsoft System Center Software Update Management Field Experience

Microsoft System Center Introduction to Microsoft Automation Solutions

Microsoft System Center Extending Operations Manager Reporting

Microsoft System Center: Integrated Cloud Platform

Microsoft System Center: Network Virtualization and Cloud Computing

Microsoft System Center: Building a Virtualized Network Solution

Introducing Microsoft System Center 2012 R2

Microsoft System Center: Designing Orchestrator Runbooks

Microsoft System Center: Configuration Manager Field Experience

Microsoft System Center: Cloud Management with App Controller

Microsoft System Center: Troubleshooting Configuration Manager

Microsoft System Center: Optimizing Service Manager


2015 Microsoft MVP Award

2015 Is off to a great start, received my Microsoft MVP award for the 5th time. 

Congratulations! We are pleased to present you with the 2015 Microsoft® MVP Award! This award is given to exceptional technical community leaders who actively share their high quality, real world expertise with others. We appreciate your outstanding contributions in Enterprise Client Management technical communities during the past year.


Wally Mead comes to the Midwest!

Through a joint effort between the Madison Systems Management User Group (MSMUG) and the Minnesota System Center User Group (MNSCUG), we are happy to announce that Wally will be attending both user groups.

I would strongly encourage you to attend one of the user group meetings if you can!

MSMUG will be hosting Wally on Thursday September 26th, 2013

We ask that you please RSVP at the following link so that we can get an accurate count for catering!

Fitchburg Public Library – Upstairs Meeting Room B
5530 Lacy Road – Fitchburg, WI 53711

MNSCUG will be hosting Wally on Friday September 27th, 2013

Please visit the respective sites to register to attend.

Wally Mead has been with Microsoft for 21 years, working almost exclusively with Microsoft’s systems management technologies (SMS 1.0 through Configuration Manager 2012). He now works as the community lead for the Configuration Manager product group, managing the MVPs, discussion aliases and forums, and working with TAP customers on evaluating pre-release versions of Configuration Manager


Disable Reading Mode and Protected View in Word 2013

I know it’s there for a reason, but I can’t stand the Reading View and the Protected mode in Word 2013.  I don’t like the layout of Reading View, and I feel I’m smart enough to open documents I know are safe 🙂


To disable the Reading View. Go to File – Options – General.  Uncheck "Open E-Mail attachments and other uneditable files in reading view"


To disable Protected Mode. Go to File – Options – Trust Center – Trust Center Settings.  Select Protected View, then clear all the checkboxes.


There, free and clear to open and edit documents without Word telling me what to do! 🙂


A Docking Solution for a Non-dockable Laptop

This post is a little bit different from my usual blogging topics, but I’ve been pretty impressed with the solution so figured I’d blog about it for my fellow geeks. 

As many of you know, I have a Asus Zenbook, one of the new Ultrabook class machines, designed to be ultra light and fast.  It’s the closest thing to a Macbook Air that well isn’t a Mac, and runs Windows 8 natively. Asus even has touch screen version of it if you desire that.  I just plain got tired of hauling around my various Lenovo W5xx’s, they were beasts, powerful but heavy.  So I went with a lightweight solution and I remote home to server for demo’s or when I need a powerful lab setup. 

Once of the drawbacks to a lot of the Ultrabooks is that they don’t really have a classic docking solution. I can’t snap it onto a docking station and get my dual monitors and hardwired Ethernet etc.  So what I’ve done for the past year or so was, set my laptop on the corner of my desk, plug in my power supply (bought a spare one so I didn’t have to always use the one in my bag), plug in my VGA adapter, plugs in my HDMI cable, plug in a USB hub.  So that was a minimum of 4 cables plus an adapter and a hub.  Not horrible, I could do it all on the same side of the machine, but still not ideal, and sometimes the VGA adapter would work itself loose and then I’d loose a monitor.  Plus the VGA monitor just never looked as good as the HDMI one. 

The Docking Solution

So I’ve been looking at these USB 3.0 universal docking stations that use DisplayLink technology.  What I ended up purchasing was a Pluggable UD-3000 and a Pluggable USB 3.0 to HDMI/DVI adapter. 

The Pluggable UD-3000 connects to the laptop via a single usb 3.0 connection and gives you 4 usb 2.0 ports, 2 usb 3.0 ports, a dvi connection and a gigabit ethernet. Pretty cool.

The Pluggable HDMI/DVI adapter plugs into a usb 3.0 connection and gives you another monitor. I believe you can have up to 6 monitors with Windows 8, and with a few of these you can have whatever you need. 

Setup and Configuration

I plugged the HDMI/DVI adapter into the UD3000 via one of the usb 3.0 ports and then hooked up my DVI monitor and gigabit ethernet. I plugged the keyboard/mouse into 2 of the usb 2.0 ports on the back.  Then plugged the single usb 3.0 connection to my laptop.  After a few minutes everything installed and was recognized, very plug and play! The devices do come with a drivers disk, but I had already downloaded the drivers from the Plugable website ahead of time.

You’ll have a new icon in the system tray image and if you click on the properties of that, you can configure the audio/video setup (shortcuts to windows controls for those devices) and some additional options on the devices.


Final Thoughts

All in all a very nice solution for the price and the performance is excellent.  I did have to update my usb 3.0 drives on my laptop, otherwise I had some sluggishness with the keyboard and mouse. However after the driver update those issues disappeared.

I’m personally a use Amazon Prime guy, so I purchased both items from Amazon.

Plugable UD-3000 USB 3.0 Universal Docking Station $129

Plugable USB 3.0 to HDMI / DVI Adapter $64

if you have a laptop that doesn’t have an actual docking station solution, and you have usb 3.0, I would recommend you look into one of these, works really well for me thus far and it was still cheaper than what a typical docking station would cost you.  Think I paid like $220 for the last Lenovo dock I bought.


Deployment Image Servicing Management (DISM) – Removing An Injected Update From The Image

The following commands are used to identify and remove an update that has been injected into the image.

The DISM commands need to be executed from the Deployment Tools Command Prompt. This is part of the Windows AIK.


First, we need to get some information on the image so we can properly mount the image using DISM.

Dism /Get-WIMInfo /WimFile:e:\packages\osd\os_image\w7-x64-b2.wim


Now that we have the image name and/or index, we can properly mount the image.

Dism /Mount-WIM /WimFile:e:\packages\osd\os_image\w7-x64-b2.wim /Name:"W7-X64-B2Cdrive" /MountDir:C:\mount


Next, we want to output a list of the installed updates so we can get the update unique ID.

Dism /Image:C:\mount /Get-Packages >c:\featurelist.txt


After dumping the update list to the featurelist.txt, open it and search for the update you want to remove. We need to find the full name in order to remove it. (We searched for the KB ID in this example)


Once you have the unique ID for the update, we can then issue the command to remove the update from the image.

DISM /Image:C:\mount /Remove-Package /PackageName:Package_for_KB2661254~31bf385ad364e35~amd64~~


Once the update has been removed, we can unmount the image and commit (save) our changes.

Dism /Unmount-WIM /MountDir:C:\mount /Commit


Now that the update has been removed from the image, the ConfigMgr Distribution Points would need to be updated to reflect the changes.


2013 Microsoft MVP Award

2013 Is off to a great start again, received my Microsoft MVP award.

Congratulations! We are pleased to present you with the 2012 Microsoft® MVP Award! This award is given to exceptional technical community leaders who actively share their high quality, real world expertise with others. We appreciate your outstanding contributions in System Center Configuration Manager technical communities during the past year.