About Me

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TsooRad is a blog for John Weber. John is a Skype for Business MVP (2015-2016) - before that, a Lync Server MVP (2010-2014). My day job is titled "Technical Lead, MS UC" - I work with an awesome group of people at CDW, LLC. I’ve been at this gig in one fashion or another since 1988 - starting with desktops (remember Z-248’s?) and now I am in Portland, Oregon. I focus on collaboration and infrastructure. This means Exchange of all flavors, Skype, LCS/OCS/Lync, Windows, business process, and learning new stuff. I have a variety of interests - some of which may rear their ugly head in this forum. I have a variety of certifications dating back to Novell CNE and working up through the Microsoft MCP stack to MCITP multiple times. FWIW, I am on my third career - ex-USMC, retired US Army. I have a fancy MBA. One of these days, I intend to start teaching. The opinions expressed on this blog are mine and mine alone.

2017/07/19

Technical Consulting

Something went through both of my brain cells today. And to keep a long story short, it centers on your approach to the question – whatever the question might be at the moment. But, let’s confine the definition to work, where we spend a goodly portion of our life, and how we would like that portion of life to be as good as possible.

I was listening a hotshot answer what I narcissistically thought was a great question when the light bulb lit. His answer was not only covering the technical aspects that I needed to hear that he knew, but he was (quite cleverly) also feeding in the business angle aspects to the answer formula. In essence, he was answering my follow-on questions of “what is the business reason for taking this action and does this action resolve the situation with the minimum staff adjustments in terms of time and skill set and did you cover the hidden costs as well as storage, cpu, ram, racks, et cetera.”

In short, he was doing really well answering my question. And I know he was the same in front of the customer. Everyone needs to have this guy on the team.

At any rate, the light bulb lit up on the concept of technical v consulting answers. Mr. Hotshot could have stuck with the pure techno-babble, with lots of numbers, specifications, descriptions of how to do it, and all of that fun stuff. Surely, there is great value in having someone know exactly how to do whatever it might be right off the top of his or her head. I wish I could do that sometimes. I usually revert to being able to point them right at some reference work. Works for me. And reserves my spare brain cell for other things.

Details are critical to our success. Mr. Hotshot was clearly in the right spot – he can bang out the details like no-one’s business. And he knows what he does not know. And he knows how to defer the question to an issue parking lot for follow-up. Perfect.

Mr. Hotshot could also have just gone the technical route and ignored the consulting aspects until asked. All the logistics questions and staff and culture type stuff could have waited. There is some tremendous value in knowing all of that stuff even if at first glance it does appear to out of scope for our project. After all, “how is lunch served around here?” is an important project scheduling point.

But more to the point, what about using those consulting skills to identify architectural detail about the environment, impact to the project (and affecting the defining business goals/requirements) and perhaps dredge up more business? Gees. That sounds awful salesy huh? How about the idea that the design might need to change in mid-project? There is a benefit to having your very own in-house consultant, eh?

We have two approaches to doing what we do. You can be deep technical. You can dive in deep. I know a guy that you can call at almost any hour and pose some bizarre Active Directory or Registry question. Just be prepared to scribble fast because there is no way you will remember the details the forthcoming answer will encompass – but it is going to answer your issue. He knows some serious technical depth stuff.

But you can go too deep and lose your audience. What we do must be tailored to the audience. If a business decision maker is in the room, then you better be including that person in your audience profile. The technical team can wait a bit while you fill in their boss with the business details stuff and make his staff look like they were all over it from the beginning.

In our work, I see a real-life need for a consultant who can get into the technical errata, be able to walk and talk at the same time, and discuss business to the extent of your understanding; all of that without getting into even minor prevarication or truth stretching.

And here is our intrepid Mr. Hotshot fieldling my question tree with answers that meld the technical with the consulting. “Choices made for these reasons which tie to this technical answer and so on to this business requirement.” Or “we discussed the need for expanded storage” and “I expressed my concern that the network might not support the technical solution.” I know he gave those same answers to the customer and guess who was in the room? The customer’s CIO. And Mr. Hotshot is giving me answers like that. The conclusion should be obvious.

We have more work coming from that customer. That makes your work life better.

YMMV

2017/07/06

Elevator Pitches


There I was eating dinner. A popular activity in my house. This evening was more involved as my wife had a friend in from out of town; this results in the whole event being more structured than the normal goat rope that passes for a meal. Ribs. Check. Mac n Cheese (homemade you clowns, not that box stuff). Check. Corn on the cob. Check.

Sit down, make some small talk while dishing stuff up. Our guest had a strap-hanger so I am trying to be nice (Yes, me, being nice. And no Matilda, hell did not freeze over). Eventually you get past weather, drive times, fashion, weather (again), and food; the conversation needs to address larger items in life like “…and what do you do?”

When that question comes up, and it ALWAYS does, are you prepared? Actually, there are several levels to this question. The first is the concept of “initial impressions” which unfortunately for some of us makes and breaks things. Sometimes there is simply no getting over that first impression. My econ prof used to say “corporate America does not hire Beavis and Butthead” – and while I think that needs to be modified for portions of the west coast, that statement is mostly true. I encourage reflection on how you present yourself and how that presentation might be affecting your life. OK, back to dinner.

Remember that we are chowing down on some good eats, generally having a great time. Do you really know who is who in your initial circle, and possibly the next few layers out? Do you understand the concept of six degrees of separation (and here also)? I will wait right here for you to read up on that.

We are at the moment of truth; out comes The Question. Communications Engineer says I. I get the expected response which is “what is that” and I get to give my little spiel about helping companies envision, design, architect, and implement collaboration solutions [Note: not a word about Microsoft or Cisco, or whoever at this point]. This gets me several questions about the difference between design and architecture; how long have you been doing this, et cetera. Around this point in time I start wondering whether or not this person is simply bright, engaging, and well-rounded, or is simply great at small talk.

Or it could be the OTHER ANSWER. In MY house and at MY dinner table. I will wait while you go back and re-read the six degrees thing up there.

Now it is MY turn to ask The Question. Oh my. It was the OTHER ANSWER. Sitting at my table was the executive admin to a notable international private investment firm. Oh man. I sure hope I did not do anything. This person has the private ear of the entire executive staff – you know, those folks who make business decisions. For like 16 years. Clearly this person swings a big bat. What I did and said might well result in either a welcome reception or locked doors for our sales team.

Let’s review the bidding. Initial impressions count more than you think. Maybe not fair, but it is what it is. You need to have an “elevator pitch” prepared (and practiced!). You need to be thinking through follow-on questions. You may need several versions to cover various life situations. I have the social version and the 9-5 version. You can guess as to which one I used at dinner.

Everything we do counts. We are all in sales at one point in time or another. Everyone we meet and communicate with (any medium) forms an opinion about you, your work, family, and overall value. Bottom line? Be prepared. I learned long ago (1975) that you are always on, and that you can never tell when you might need to turn it up a notch.

YMMV

2017/06/28

Vision and Happiness


There I was, having a nice talk with my previous manager about life in general.  At one point the conversation hit on back when the branch first opened and our culture and how happy I was when I moved into the branch.  I cannot remember why the next comment came out, but here it is: “I already knew your vision.”

What is that?  And why is that tied to Happiness?


Uhm… Vision, as in Mission & Vision Statement 101?  Yes, that’s the one.  As in “describe your future state in five years.  Where will you be doing what you do?” That sort of vision.  You have some personal version of that, everyone does; or at least I hope they do.  How close you come to that vision is pretty much how happy you are.

On top of that, there is also a persona that is presented in your workplace.  In fact, I am pretty sure that there are some people with personas that are tailored to the social or work occasion.  Woot!  Not me, thanks, I am trying to have only one vision.

Moving forward, I think I see where having personal and professional visions that match pretty closely could be an important factor in “how happy am I?” answers. Don’t you like it better when things line up neatly? On a business angle, your general happiness in terms of workplace/profession satisfaction will therefore occur when the company vision and execution of that vision come closest to your personal vision.

How well does your personal vision line up with your work?  How does that equate to happy for you?  It might be that your vision and your execution of that vision serve as a change agent for the good in your culture.   Is your vision causing parts of your life to be unhappy?  Could it be that the mismatch between personal and work is too large?

There is a solid connection between employee satisfaction/happiness and ability to deliver to their customer.  And create happy customers.  Which comment to other people they know.  Which generates the highest ROI of any sales/marketing plan ever.  I will wait right here for you to finish reading.

  

Well, that’s nice, but what about your vision?


So, great question – and here it is – both personal and professional.  I think the professional vision is an outshoot of the personal.

“I want my customer so happy they talk about us on the golf course”

And I will close with this L.P. Jacks quotation that I like:

“A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both.”

2017/05/31

SQL Change Ports

The Port Change Issue

On a project where the SQL team has a policy of changing the SQL port away from the default of 1433? 

This does not pose a huge problem for your intrepid Skype (or Lync) deployment engineer.  If you are needing to know what to do, and maybe you have, oh, 30 or so front ends to modify, then maybe I can help you out a tad.

The issue is modifying the registry to tell your host server where to go to access the requisite port on the target SQL server.  As it turns out, I had to remember this, as it has been a bit since I had to last do this task. 

The Simple Fix to the Simple Issue

Luckily for you and me, it seems that every copy of a Windows operating system I looked at for this post (Win7, Win8, Win10, Server 2008+) have a utility in \windows\system32 called cliconfg.exe.  You can read up on that utility here.

A wonderful tool.  Here is it in Windows 10 form.  Which looks the same as Win7, so I think they will all pretty much appear to be the same. Actually, the Win7 version has a different set of window frames, so the appearance is more rounded instead of the ugly-ass Win10 metro crap.  But I digress.

image

What we need to do is select the Alias tab…the select Add.

image

For the purposes of this exercise, I need my system to talk to my SQL server (FQDN = sqlalwayson-a.tsoorad.net) on port 49001.  So, you set it up like this and then say OK.

image

image

Follow up that OK with an APPLY and your newly modified operating system will for thereafter talk to SQL server sqlalwayson-A.tsoorad.net on port 49001 vice 1433.  Simple.  Easy.  Works well.  Less filling.  Man, I am thirsty!

But Wait!  What if…

…you have like four user pools, and they all need to talk to the same monitoring server, but different archive targets per pool?  And what if there are like 30 front ends that need this modification, and every time you type this stuff in there is the possibility of spelling errors that mean system failure.  Now, I am sure there is some folks out there in techie land that are starting to chant “PowerShell!  PowerShell” -  but in this case, I am going to ignore them, and simply export a registry key, and then incorporate that into my server build process – which can be PowerShell-ized if you wish.

Here is the registry key to export.  HKLM\software\microsoft\mssqlserver\client\connectto

In my project, we had four SQL AG clusters, each with two nodes, a cluster name, and the AG name; all that needed to resolve by DNS.  So, our registry key looked somewhat like this: 16 entries with AG, cluster, node1, and node2 per supporting SQL cluster.  We then simply imported that into each server at build time.

image


Summary

The SQL mavens might well change ports on you.  If they do, there is an answer in form of cliconfg.exe.  If the scale is a tad larger than manual typing will cover, you can regedit your way to success.

YMMV








Pressure

I originally posted this to a different type of forum; but it got some unexpected responses.  Posting here by request.

I am mindlessly watching ESPN. Some sports center-ish athlete interview with what I thought was a worthless jock. And then, in the middle of talking about stress, Julie Foudy (the supposed worthless jock) comes out with the following:

“Pressure is a privilege”

Wow. That is a deep one. Like, it may not have a bottom. And certainly, no top.

Think it through just a bit in relation to your life. I know that when I look at my life, pressure has been a part of it. In reviewing the pivotal points in my career, I had choices to make that the majority of people in this country don’t get to make. I was in a position to make those choices because of what and where I was. I never thought that was a disadvantage. And then Foudy utters the words that make it all ring true. I had the privilege of pressure.

How many of us can claim something similar in our everyday work? We don’t punch a clock. Other than the processes and procedures we develop for our customers – no real set routine. We pressure ourselves to exceed expectations. We are not flipping burgers, pushing an idiot stick, or grinding through a personal episode of “Dirty Jobs.”

Don’t get me wrong. All those jobs need doing. Somebody does them and I am glad it is not me. But there are whole rafts of job categories that the doer just drones through – the same thing every day, every week, every month, year after year.

And then you and I get to make our own schedule, find and create lasting customer and professional relationships, and have an upside only limited by our own ambition, drive, and motivation. Not everyone can claim even part of that.

Give me the pressure to succeed. We have serious mental exercise. We must be agile, think on our feet, and sometimes work odd hours. 40-hour week? Rarely. But, flip all that around, It’s a privilege.

 

 

YMMV

2017/05/20

Windows 10 Battery Life

The Issue

I use a Lenovo Yoga 14 for my personal stuff.  A few weeks ago I ran updates.  I noticed that battery life dropped from nearly 10 hours to less than 3.  Closing the lid puts the Yoga to sleep, so opening it is a breeze and I have a working desktop in about 20 seconds or less.  After the updates, closing the lid still did the sleep thing, but on opening the lid the Yoga was dead.

The Problem

So, I started poking.  I discovered the latest rounds of updates had installed a Lenovo Screen Updater.  Holy Battery Drain.  The CPU was grinding away at 50%+ constantly.

The Fix

Remove it.  Now I get this here:

image

Seeing as how this was associated with the touch screen concepts, I imagine that this might help Win7, Win8, Win 8.1, et cetera – anything else that runs a touch screen with Lenovo and Windows.

YMMV

2017/05/18

Stupid SfB Tricks

In a fit of angst, today I recreated the infinity mirror exercise from several years ago.

Yes, I was testing with a customer and not just bored.

image

YMMV

Technical Consulting

Something went through both of my brain cells today. And to keep a long story short, it centers on your approach to the question – whatever ...