Thursday, June 13, 2013

Hot drinks in The Big Easy: Merchant Cafe

So this is supposed to be a blog about hot beverages and technology right? To that end I made it a point to seek out some yummy beverages of a piping hot nature while I was down in New Orleans last week! This post will be the first in a series on my experiences. Sadly it seems New Orleans is primarily a coffee town. I had a pretty hard time finding any places that identified as "tea exclusive". Even the so called "tea rooms" seemed to be little more than touristy restaurants. Still (even through I prefer tea) there were some utterly fantastic concoctions of what I call "the lesser beverage" to be had down there. So my caffeine addiction was not left wanting. I was particularly jubilant to discover some of the best coffee drinks of the entire trip at a small cafe simply named "Merchant" (on Facebook) just across the street from my hotel.

The first drink I had there was a latte, and (honestly) I wasn't expecting much. Imagine my shock and awe when this *fantastic* looking drink was placed in front of me:

Talk about presentation, and yes it tasted just as wonderful as it looked. The glass is sort of a fusion of a coffe mug and a martini glass. Very slick and contemporary. I was so taken with it I actually returned the following morning for another one! ;)

The day my plane flew out I decided to go back to Merchant one more time for breakfast. Wondering if all their coffee drinks measured up to the Latte this time I ordered the Cappuccino (pictured above) and (while the presentation was more traditional it was equally fantastic in flavor. Quite frankly I can't give this place high enough praise. If you ever find yourself anywhere near The Merchant Cafe in New orleans you should definitely give it a try for the coffee alone. It is directly across the street from the Renaissance New Orleans Pere Marquette Hotel. The food is fantastic as well. Highly highly recommended!

USMT: Office 2013 hotfix for USMT 5.0...

While I was at TechEd this week I learned that USMT 5.0 cannot migrate Office 2013 settings without first applying a hotfix. Although this was mentioned in several sessions nobody provided a link to the hotfix. Over the last couple of days I've Googled "USMT 5.0 hotfix" repeatedly and kept coming up short. On a lark I gave it a go in Bing and what do you know I found it on the first try! I'm posting the link here for posterity:

Since I'm on Blogger who knows, maybe Google wil pick it up from my blog! ;)

Saturday, June 8, 2013

TechEd 2013: That's a wrap!

So TechEd is done and I'm back home having flown out of The Big Easy last night. As always I got a lot out of the sessions I attend and have a ton of notes and new info to disseminate. As I go through it all I plan to make a few new blog posts here to try an share a little about what I picked up. Also I have not been negligent on the hot beverage front either. New Orleans seems to primarily be a coffee town and I had some fantastic brews while I was down there. I'll have a blog post on that as well. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

TechEd 2013: Getting a Surface Tablet on the cheap

So Microsoft was offering a pretty killer deal to TechEd attendees. We had the opportunity to pick up the 128GB Surface Pro for just $399 (normally $999) and/or the Surface RT for just $99 (normally $699). Obviously the lines were long:

Monday, June 3, 2013

TechEd 2013: Sessions

Just hit a "Windows in the Enterprise" session with Mike Niehaus and Stephen Rose:

Mike just announced MDT 2013. ARG! I just spent the last 3 months rolling out MDT 2012! He is promising an easy upgrade... Hope so!

Just hit another session. This one is on Windows imaging. Never get tired of hearing Johan talk deployments:

Michael Niehaus talks "What's new in Windows 8 Deployment". New versions of Windows PE, USMT and all the ADK tools appears to be inbound:

Major takeaways include XP support being dropped for USMT and DISM Is taking over for ImageX (now deprecated). Oh and UEFI is important:

And bye bye to XP support in MDT:

With the recent MDT 2012 rollout at my company I took the opportunity to incorporate Microsoft DaRT (Diagnostics and Recovery Toolkit) into our MDT boot media. I thought I'd pick up a DaRT-centric session this go round. Aaron Ruckman gave a great overview of DaRT and I'm looking forward to leveraging what I learned in that session to get more out of DaRT:

Coming in on the final day. Doing one last session with Johan Ardwimark. This one is about becoming a driver control freak in MDT. Planning to modify our MDT setup at work to incorporate his "total control" methodology:

Learning about Windows 8 image engineering in the field from Keith Garner. I'm a little creeped out by how much Keith resembles Ted Allen from Food Network's "Chopped" TV series:

Time for one of the most popular sessions at Tech Ed, A Case of the Unexplained by the ever awesome Mark Russinovich. Mark just operates on a different level than anyone else in IT. He's brilliant. I learn something new every time I attend one if his sessions:

I could not help but notice that Mark was using StarDock's Start8 to restore the start menu on Windows 8. Great minds think alike. ;)

So looks like my last session of TechEd 2013 will be on a new technology (at least new to me) called DirectAccess. The short of it (as I understand it) is that it is VPN on steroids. My supervisor apparently learned about it recently and is real gung-ho for us to roll it out. I figured I'd take a look at it. Have not heard of the speaker (Richard Hicks) but I hope to be amazed:

TechEd 2013: Keynote

Brad Anderson took the stage in quite a flashy manner (an Aston Martin? Really?) anyway Windows 8 was extolled.

Aaaannnnd the Start Button made an appearance! Check it out:

See it there in the right hand screen? Note the taskbar on that demo by Iain McDonald. I guess Microsoft knows what crow tastes like...

We have a Ballmer cameo:

Brad's back! Cloud! Cloud! Cloud! ;)

Okay so wow, Server 2012 R2 and System Center R2 were just announced:

So the Keynote wrapped with the usual mantra of Cloud and a lot of focus on Azure. I still think a this notion of moving EVERYTHING to the cloud is highly overrated, but I do really like the idea of setting up a personal cloud. Microsoft is doing a lot to enable this and that (at least) is a cloud-centric focus I can get behind.

TechEd 2013: PreCon

The SCCM precon I attended with Kent Agerlund and Johan Arwidmark was fantastic. Got a lot of questions answered. These guys are the best of the best at what they do:

Sunday, June 2, 2013