Wednesday, April 23, 2008

yippee ki yay

Alas, I now can refer to myself as a MODL Authorised MCT.
Took only 6 weeks for the review board to look at my recording. Well within the 60 days limit they set themselves. Someone is going to celebrate today!
Why dit it take six weeks? I guess, ms learning have other priorities right now. But good things always come to those who wait. Now I just have to win the lottery for that saying to ring true every time.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

MODL teachback & Multimedia

As some of you might know, I recently submitted my MODL teachback. A really nerve wrecking experience. Worst part is sitting around waiting for the review. Up to 60 days! it's been three weeks now and feels like for ever!
During the teachback I was adamant not to use program sharing and a desktop microphone to capture the multimedia. Especially as I was skyping into the session and it would have made things rather complicated. What a lame way to share the animations anyway! Instead I uploaded the flash files to the live meeting session directly and shared them from within. Does this work with a conferecing system?
Sure it does!
Remember, when setting up the session you will be connecting the conferencing system to the LM session and be recording everything within the LM session itself.
When your participants connect to the LM session their audio will be muted automatically. this is to avoid echos, as you'd be listening to yourself a second after you spoke into the conferencing system. All you need to do is advise your participants to unmute the speaker in LM for the duration of the animation.

If you want the audio to turn up in the finished recording you must click the flash file and activate it. just running it does not seem to work. The ones I activated, turned up in the recording with video and audio. the ones I did not, and used the built in controls in LM to control, did not turn up on the recording but were simply five minutes of silence.

Friday, April 4, 2008

5105 Bootable USB Disk

In courses 5119 and 5105 they keep on talking about the different ways of deploying Vista images. Either by DVD or by Network share or by USB.
Taking into respect that your images will be several GB big, even in compressed state, USB sounds like a good alternative when using unswitched networks or slow 10/100 MB ones.

If you're not using PXE and SMS to push out the images you will need a version of Windows PE to help along the way. Now I'm a minimalist and hate having a CD with PE and a USB disk with my image. Why not have it both on the usb and boot from it directly?
Before you embark on that journey keep in mind that not all computers boot from USB! So make sure your environment is going to support your new deployment mechanism! Otherwise many hours will be going down the drain as your great and fancy bootable drive will never get used!

Before you go around all the forums and create a bootable usb disk with HP tools and windows 98 remember that you have the power of Vista at your finger tips. Well, should have! The new version of DiskPart that comes with the AIK detects usb flash disks and usb hard disks as if they were fixed disks. Thus you can clean them, repartition them, set them to active and format them with your desired FileSystem (NTFS). Once prepped all you need to do is copy the contents of your favourite WinPE ISO or WinRE ISO (see post from yesterday) onto the disk and you're up and running.
VistaPC Guy has a great step by step article on putting WinPE on your usb. read it here:

Thursday, April 3, 2008

5118 Vista Recovery Environment ISO File

I've been prepping 5118 as well as 5119 and came a cross a great idea. How about creating a real startup failure and recovery process for the students in the lab instead of using the simulation.

Following things you will need to do for this:
1) create a copy of one of the lab machines (Vista-CL1-02 is as good as any)
2) capture your favourite PE, RE or Vista Insall ISO
3) delete a super important system file like the winload.exe
4) make sure to save the changes by merging the disks

Ok, Maybe step 2 is not as easy as it sounds. So here is some help along the way:
Vista PC Guy has a nice article on creating PE images, where he also talks about creating bootable USB versions.
But we want a recovery image and not a PE image. More importantly we need the Startup Recovery tools "srt" loaded at startup. This is what you do:

1) Follow PC Guy's teps 1 thru to 8 to create a clean winpe image. Or use the one you extracted out of the 5119 course iso file using WinRar or PowerISO or IsoBuster or whatever ISO app you like.

2) Add the RE tools to the image by using the BuildWinRE tool located in the "C:\Program Files\Windows AIK\Recovery" folder. Remember to use the WinPE Command Prompt instead of the standard one to have all paths properly loaded. It is as simple as defining the source and destination. In my case (having created the pe folder myself using AIK) it looked like this:

C:\Program Files\Windows AIK\Recovery>BuildWinRE /source "C:\winpe_86\ISO\sources\boot.wim" /target "C:\winpe_recovery\ISO\sources\boot.wim"

3) final step is to take this RE image and make a bootable ISO file using oscdimg:

C:\Program Files\Windows AIK\Tools\PETools>oscdimg -lVistaRecovery -b"C:\Program Files\Windows AIK\Tools\PETools\x86\boot\" -n -h c:\winpe_recovery\iso winrecovery.iso

Important here is to remember to reference the, otherwise the iso won't start at bootup.

That's all, now you can start up your virtual machine using the recovery console, start the command prompt, and kill c:\windows\system32\winload.exe and then close the machine commiting changes.
The next time your student will start up that machine he/she'll see a wonderful error message and can boot into the recovery console and choose to repair the system following the steps outlined in the coursebook and simulation. No need for ten Vista Installation CDs!

By the way, it is a great iso file to burn to CD and use as Desktop Support Engineer to troubleshoot users computers.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

5119 Supporting Vista Lab 4 using VPC

If any of you have been prepping 5119 you might have tried and tried and tried to get lab 4 running just like me. But no matter what you do, the GPO settings are not pushed out to the computer. Even removing the PC fromt he domain and rejoining it had no effect.

This seems to be a problem with Virtual PC. Out of some annoying reason, VPC insists on controlling the clock of your vpcs. Thus, the vista machine is not properly synchronised with the domain controller and refuses to apply the group policy object as it is unsure about the computers compliance to the GPO rules.

I presume using Virtual Server, as advised by the course authors would solve the problem.

How to fix it:
In my case it was as simple as making sure that both domain controller and vista machine were using the same time zone and both ignored daylight savings. Then both machines showed the same time.
For good measure I also included Domain Computers in the GPO Filter rule. To make sure that the rule does not apply only to users, but coputers too.

First reboot did not do it, but after the second reboot the startup took, as expected, forever and once the logon screen appeared I could log on and gradually could see the newly installed apps.

If that does not do the trick, here is a little cheat:
Remember: computer configuration is applied at boot time, while user configuration is applied at log in time.

first, put adrian into the Martketing OU, then when editing the GPO:

instead of using Computer Configuration >> Software Settings >> Software Installation, use
User Confiuguration >> Software Settings >> Software Installation instead.

That will make the icons appear on the start menu as soon as Adrian logs into the target machine. This way the programs are not installed, but get installed on first use.

Ok, the install will complain that it is not configured for a per user install, but it at least demonstrates the point.