Archive for June, 2008

Please blog more so we don’t have to learn…
Posted: 1:58 am
June 22nd, 2008
System Admin

Is it just me or has the age of RTFM, labs and testing passed away? This is perhaps one of the areas myself and another very well respected leader in the SMB IT space (not Susan) disagree the most – I feel that feeding morons little bite sized portions of clue is actually a disservice to them, to their customers and everyone unfortunately impacted by the fool who has only gotten his skills to being able to lie about their competence enough to sell themselves in a situation where they will irreparably destroy someone’s IT infrastructure.

But then I look at the types of conversations I have throughout the day and I just shake my head in shame:

Vlad Mazek:
So how do we roll out Exchange 2007 on Windows 2008?
Vlad Mazek:
We don’t, it’s not supported. Need SP1.
We don’t have media for that, where do I get it?
Vlad Mazek:
Free from
They only have evals.
Vlad Mazek:
Download standalone SP1, not eval. Our SPLA key will work on it.
Ok, fails right away. I have all the pre req’s out the way.
Vlad Mazek:
Doubt that, even RSAT? via servermanagercmd?
Vlad Mazek:
servermanagercmd -i RSAT-ADDS
Ok, now it’s saying Service “MSExchangeTransport” failed to reach status “Running” on this server.
Vlad Mazek:
Networking… forgot enable IPv6?
This is starting to reflect poorly on me :)
Vlad Mazek:
In so many ways :)
You need to blog more of this stuff!!!

Now, granted, I don’t expect anyone to be able to recall these details about deployment, requirements or gotchas on demand. I just happen to be a UC freak. But for the love of god, if this is your job strap yourself into the damn chair and start friggin reading. Exchange 2007 is about the simplest rollout/configuration experience it has ever been in the entire history of the product, the documentation is the best it’s ever been.. and if you can’t use Google to connect the dots then it’s time to look for a new career.

I can respect that this may be a little too tough to swallow for people in the SMB IT field, fine enough you just want to be a technology business consultant. Well, kiss that six figure salary goodbye because “business consulting” in my book is what CDW phone reps do and thats worth $35K a year plus commissions.

I can also respect people who want a broad technology focus and don’t want to mess with the intricate details of a particular solution. That is fine too, prepare to cut a check to Microsoft when you hit a wall and prepare to sit with a bucket of Indians until they rescue you for $250.

But what I can’t respect is trying to sit on multiple chairs all while blaming others for your inability to do the work you are hired to do. It’s not Microsoft’s fault that you can’t keep up with the product you’re supporting, it’s not Microsoft’s fault you aren’t reading the documentation, it’s not Microsoft’s fault that the pile of idiots at the gate has climbed through the sky so they have to convert third world countries into script readers for technically challenged, it’s not Microsoft’s fault that the software doesn’t autoprovision itself while you sit back and munch on a hot pocket.

At some point you have to come to terms with the fact that while this stuff appears to be easy on the surface, the reason you aren’t working for Geek Squad is that you’re expected to actually understand the technology and capable of fixing it. If you just want to bitch, point fingers, blame PSS, blame docs and blame Vladville perhaps you need to get used to wearing a white shirt with a skinny black tie because GeekSquad is about the only place you’re qualified for.

On a side note, this is indicative of the greater SMB segment and the reason it’s ultimately going to be decimated by Microsoft and Dell. Guys whose job it is to make sure these solutions run smoothly go to their customers and tell them its all someone elses fault, then tell Microsoft to fix it. Microsoft fixes it, Dell pushes it, people put process and marketing on the table for the customer and then everyone bitches again about how they are being competed with and run out of business.

What did you expect them to do, fix it all and hide it so you can do nothing while raising your fees because you’re on advisory councils explaining to the companies how to faster obsolete you?  

Come on! Grow some balls and take some pride in what you do.

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The Sunshine State
Posted: 5:40 pm
June 20th, 2008

I thought long and hard whether to post this or not. It’s not for the faint of heart, even compared to the usual fun and gun quality of 3rd grade abomination of the English language you find on Vladville. Proceed with caution..

I should learn not to talk smack about people when I live in Florida. I think even Chris Rue can make fun of Florida over this one. Not really a surprise that Florida doesn’t outlaw beastiality, considering how many people Mickey Mouse has grabbed by the ears and rode them like a $3 ho on the corner of Main St. all the way to the empty wallet :)

Come to Florida and go to Disney World. Meet Mickey Mouse!!!

Oh, don’t creep up behind Goofy or Pluto, they are still a little sore.

Classy, eh? Now to the fun that FSU people have in Tallahassee:

The Sunshine Beastiality State

A blind Tallahassee man has been accused of having sex with his guide dog. Florida, like many other states, has no bestiality statute – that is, a law specifically prohibiting sexual contact between humans and animals.

Alan Yoder, 29, originally was charged with felony animal cruelty, but court records show that charge was dropped on July 8 and replaced with a misdemeanor – disorderly conduct.

Yoder now is charged with a “breach of the peace, by engaging in sexual activity with a guide dog,” according to a court document.

Assistant State Attorney Stephanie Usina, said she could not answer specific questions, including explaining why the charge was lowered to a misdemeanor.

James D. Varnado, Yoder’s attorney, said he has filed a not-guilty plea on his client’s behalf but declined to discuss details of the case.

“However lurid the allegations may be, we should resist a rush to judgment,” he said.

Here’s what happened, according to Tallahassee police reports:

Yoder, who lives in a local apartment complex, in June asked a female acquaintance to join him in a sex act with the dog, a male yellow Labrador named “Lucky.”

She demurred, but later told a friend about it. That person called a social worker, who called police.

Investigators spoke to Yoder on June 16, who admitted performing certain sex acts with the dog, even going into detail with them, but denied doing others. He was arrested and booked June 22, charged with animal cruelty.

An animal-control officer took the dog to Dr. Sondra Brown, a veterinarian at Northwood Animal Hospital, who could not determine whether the dog had been sexually abused.

Florida prosecutors have increased the charges against a blind man who is accused of raping his own guide dog. The change from misdemeanor to felony status came after animal welfare groups urged state officials to use a more serious rule, even though the Sunshine State has no law prohibiting sex with animals.

Alan Yoder, 29, was originally charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct, specifically a “breach of the peace, by engaging in sexual activity with a guide dog.”

But Assistant State Attorney Phil Smith said new witnesses have come forward, justifying felony charges of animal cruelty and injuring a guide dog, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.

“Enhancing the charges does not change the fact that Mr. Yoder is innocent,” James Varnado, Yoder’s attorney, told the paper.

Tallahassee police report Yoder admitted to performing sex acts on the animal and willingly gave up the animal before charges were adjudicated

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Password is password
Posted: 4:39 pm
June 20th, 2008
SMB, System Admin

Damn CPA’s getting pwn3d all over the place. For the billionth time, when working with someone in the Accounting industry remind them:

“password” is not a good password. It doesn’t matter that you have an antivirus installed.

Now back to the grave dancing thing I do so well :) Poor Susan, serves her right for shipping me a flaming piss yellow hard drive.

It’s so scary when I’m in a good mood. It’s Friday, had like 8 support requests all day, our container just landed in Australia and the one for UK goes online Tuesday. ’tis good to be the king.

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Patriotic Jackassery Starting To Sting
Posted: 12:24 pm
June 20th, 2008
IT Business

Once upon a time my greatest joy in Own Web Now was being able to pick up a paper and start pointing at businesses that are our clients. “We got their money, their money, oh their money, too.” There is something about community participation/involvement that is very fulfilling. For me at least.

Then little own grew up into a big global OWN and now we watch TV and call out companies we get money from. Still a lot of fun, but doing business around the world does come with a few jabs that tend to be pretty hard to swallow.

You see, most of the world happens to hate America. What did we ever do to them? Oh, that. Woops.

One thing that I could always fall back on is making fun of their currency. So whenever I cut a check to a foreign company, I always make sure to note that it’s the AMERICAN dollars that you’re getting!


This used to be pretty funny when you could buy 3/4 of Toronto for $20 bucks, or when we bought 1/4 of USA for $23 million.

Today, not so much. Canadian dollar is $0.9975 USD, Euro is actually $1.5534 and Australian dollar is $0.9477.

Just stings a little, thats all.

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Corporate Democracy is a Myth
Posted: 8:26 pm
June 19th, 2008

Reprinted without permission from The Icahn Report, it’s that important that you read it as big or as small as you are as a CEO. The truth of the matter is, once you go public it’s no longer your company, it’s not your customers company – you now have a boss. If you are any good there will be thousands of them:

Corporate Democracy is a Myth

Recently, there has been a great deal of outrage concerning the huge pay and severance packages awarded to a number of CEOs. There has been much criticism of the fact that CEOs earn 520 times that of the average worker. A great deal has been made of the scandalous actions of a number of CEOs and boards concerning the backdating of options. Sadly, a much deeper, more pernicious, more threatening problem of the future of our economy exists at today’s corporations: many corporate boards and managers are doing an abysmal job. The lack of competent leadership makes our companies less competitive day by day, causing an upward spiraling trade and current account deficit, as well as a near meltdown of the financial sector. The buildup of incompetent boards and managers is the result of poor corporate governance. Poor corporate governance now threatens more than just potential shareholder value; it threatens this country’s very economic survival.

To paraphrase Winston Churchill, “democracy might not be the greatest system there is but it is the greatest system mankind has invented so far.” Many American corporations are dysfunctional because corporate democracy is a myth in the United States. They run like a decaying socialistic state. Our boards and CEOs exist in a symbiotic relationship where the boards nourish the CEO with massive stock options that are re-priced downward if the companies stock declines – making them forever valuable. They reward the CEO with pay packages and bonuses when the stock is floundering or the CEO is leaving the company. Corporate performance and the shareholders welfare seldom enter the picture. What kind of democracy is this? There is no accountability.

The inherent quid pro quo is to pay the board huge retainers for attending several meetings per year and rubber stamp ill conceived CEO proposals. In turn, a CEO can fly around the world on the company’s private jet on the “business” of visiting all the world’s greatest golf courses while he runs the company – and the value of your stock – into the ground. The average shareholder can do nothing about it. A great example is the subprime mortgage mess that has cost our economy and the populace untold billions of dollars and personal hardship. These losses did not stop boards from awarding huge severance packages to the CEOs most responsible for the current carnage.

It is the board’s responsibility to hold a CEO accountable, and remove the CEO if he or she is not producing results. But exacting such a measure requires effort and strategic consideration, and boards are often too lazy and/or passive to rock the boat, especially since the company will continue to pay and pamper and even indemnify them under almost any circumstances. Board members receive expensive tickets to important sporting events, the theatre, and are also treated to use of the company’s fleet. Worst of all, the board itself is not made accountable because corporate board elections are generally a joke.

Board meetings are often a complete travesty. I know because I have sat and do sit on a number of boards where I am in the minority. Because of this, today our economy is in a major crisis. Many of our companies are incapable of competing. Additionally our banking system has issued mortgages that cannot and will not be paid back. We are in this situation because there is no leadership in the executive suite. Why did we get here? Because in corporate America there are no true elections. It is tyranny parading as democracy. It’s a poison running through the blood of corporate America. Perhaps, with enough public support, the lawmakers and regulators will take note.

When you rid a company of a fruitless board, the rewards are often enormous because the underlying company and its employees can be excellent. It is the top level management that hangs like an albatross around the company’s neck. Years from now historians will marvel why we the shareholders – the legitimate owners of companies – did not do something effective about removing terrible managements. We can do something about the current situation. I will discuss in future entries how simple it can be and what has constrained us from taking action.

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Here you go..
Posted: 2:02 am
June 19th, 2008
System Admin

For quite some time we in the IT industry have enjoyed a great reputation as problem solvers, designers, creators, architects of peoples IT dreams, if you will. It’s not an easy job, it’s not a low skills job and you get to work around some very smart people.

That backfires horribly when you do something wrong because your coworkers will stand over your shoulder and make fun of you as you try to figure out if your boss was joking about you being fired if the email isn’t back in 10 minutes.

Ah, the joy of work in IT. Earlier today I got an IM telling me that our corporate email was down. One of the tasks for the week was to have Office Communications Server 2007 up and running. Yup, you’ve guessed it, they got bit by the Howard problem!

Now, its easy to point at people and make fun after the issue has been addressed. But seriously, at which point do you just break out the beatdown machine and let it loose on the people that have been responsible for hundreds of Exchange 2007 64bit boxes for well over a year? Even if I forgive that, at which point would it have been obvious that rolling out OCS on a 64bit server was going to fail? Would it have been during the documentation which should have been read? How about the lab deployment before going into production?

Still a no? How about some common damn sense, if you’re about to try to install a 32bit package and it prompts you for web components you should KNOW it’s about to roll up ASP.NET 32bit assemblies into IIS and blow it sky high.

The ultimate bringdown? How was the problem solved? Googled and found the Vladville blog post. Ooooooooffff. First, till the day I die or all these folks move on I get to hold it over their heads that “without me this global ISP won’t even be able to check email” and of course there is now a mandatory tshirt printing “I fail so hard at life that I use Vladville as a technical resource.”

Let the shaming begin..

Speaking of shaming, OCS 2007. Very cool, I’m a pretty big fan to be honest and they have even brought it down into the SMB land now, you can get a server license for about $600. And as impressive as that may sound, as I mentioned to Handy Andy earlier tonight, it doesn’t quite hold a candle to Messenger:

“its like taking what you and I are chatting on right now, throwing it into stone age, and asking for $10k in licensing and 3 dedicated servers.”

Got the little Communicator on my desk right now. It’s no MSN Messenger but comes close and beats MSN in the enterprise integration parts.

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Firefox 3 Download Day
Posted: 11:58 am
June 17th, 2008
Open Source

180x150_02 Firefox 3.0 is being released today and the folks over at Mozilla want to set a Guinness Book World Record for most downloads! So aside from being a fantastic browser you also get to be a part of history!

Check it out:

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Eating Lunch Alone
Posted: 6:20 pm
June 16th, 2008
IT Business, Misc

This week, I will be eating lunch alone at Annies down the street. I intend to sit there by myself with a little paper notebook and brainstorm all the ways in which we suck as far as our organization is concerned. Basically, I want to try to take myself out of the OWN space and see what would piss me off about working with OWN.

Then I intend to take those items back, meet at 4PM and find a way to fix them before Jul 1. We’re coming up to a major rebranding (marketing) point and I want to make sure not to leave any stone unturned. We’ve received a ton of feedback since September of last year, we have stepped up the documentation and communication efforts which have been very well received, we’ve fixed tech support by getting rid of the top offenders and have been seriously working on addressing the issues with billing, portal, software and even licensing.

The key point being totally disconnected from it and forcing myself to lay it out without ability to actually do anything about it. No laptop, no cell, no PDA, just pen paper and some grilled chicken. The frequent downside to “fixing” things is that you focus on the solution and not the 18,000 other problems that are going to be caused by the change you’re about to make.

As always, will keep you up with how it changes / evolves.

P.S. On a flip side, another killer month on the books. We’re seeing a pickup of people going out of business and we’re seeing a tremendous pickup on the side of the people that have been reselling services across the board – Exchange, mail, web hosting, ExchangeDefender, offsite backup… While I will never wish any ill will towards anyone that disagrees with me, I have to say I find it rather amusing that the people that argued with me over the years over not wanting to resell hosting services as a part of a business model and instead focused on MSP & hours and projects and are now closing doors. “Vlad, what’s a few bucks here and there going to do for my bottom line? Nothing!!!!” Turns out people will stop funding projects, drop patching managed services but they won’t swallow thousands of messages piling up in their inbox or getting rid of their email or backups, who would have figured there would be a sustainable business model behind that. Keep on fighting the future and saying “My clients would never go for that”..

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Yup, still love my job!
Posted: 1:15 am
June 16th, 2008

I’m fairly proud of this weekend mostly because I got a lot of things done. It really goes back to Friday when I didn’t take my usual DFWVF and instead worked with one of the new guys on some new exciting things we’re trying to do to make us suck less as a company. Even though it’s 1 AM after Fathers Day most of which I spent with the laptop on my legs and a little monkey on my shoulder, I feel very fulfilled in how it went and not stressed out at all.

Which brings me to a point – your job (business / company / vocation) should be fulfilling and motivating to the point that you love going to it and enjoy working in it. You shouldn’t be stressed out of your mind, working half to death just to drag your beaten carcass back home where you can have quick access to a firearm. You need to work on finding ways not to be stressed out at work.

The best way to do so is great planning. If you can pull that off my hat is off to you, you’re a better man than I am.

For me it’s all about stacking the deck of disappointment so high that it doesn’t matter on which miserable task I work on, it’s really not going to get any worse with time because as the pile of shit grows it solidifies the building of shame I have in our shortcomings so that I can really get in the gear to fix them and not run around like a chicken without a head trying to plug holes on the floor of a sinking ship. So I take them one by one in nearly random order and get them done and I find that way things get done much faster.

Now that’s perhaps a little dark to the casual observer but really, who motivates me? Money? Nope. Boss? Don’t have one. Partners? Sometimes. My only driving force is to keep on improving the business by being a part of it and constantly moving it forward and fixing what appears to be broken.

I’ve been at this for a long time and I love it more now than I ever have before. Most people in my role or at my skill set are giving up on what they do, they look for distractions or other projects they would rather be on. They want something new, something fresh, a challenge! (Note to self: offer a gig the next time, if they have figured it all out maybe we can use them); I just can’t understand at all why anyone would try to work so hard for something just to be able to go and work on something else outside of the company..

I for one am going nowhere. I love what I do, I love what we do, and I love being a part of evolving what this company can do as its resource scope grows. That to me is exciting, motivating and more than enough to let me look around the pile of things that I don’t like about what we do. But you know what, I am still in it and I am still competing and don’t think I could just quit on that and move to something else……

Unless someone came by with a large, large, large, large, large sum of money of course :) Then it’s whoring all the way in as shameless of a way as possibly imaginable!

Hope you enjoyed this exhausted mental thought-stream. This is why I usually write an outline of what I’m going to say before I do :)

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The Fear of Honesty
Posted: 11:57 am
June 14th, 2008

Every now and then I get that tap on the shoulder, someone wants to chat with me in a dark corner and ask if I am about to offend people with what I say, think, believe and do.

You see, it is incomprehensible to some that a person will speak honestly and firmly about a sensitive subject that all traditional marketing and PR training has told you to avoid. In every organization there exists a list of items that are not for discussion, not for disclosure, that should never be admitted or commented on. Customer facing staffers are trained to avoid discussion of those items, to manage the conversation, to steer it in a way and whenever something potentially sensitive comes up to just nod and “thank you for your feedback, I will escalate it to the person in charge which just so happens to live in the castle with the Lochness monster.”

This is the norm of the services industry, professional as well as vocational. Your cell phone company will give you the same runaround that your office cleaning crew supervisor will.

Somewhere along the way people just chose to make “courteous” a synonym for patronizing and deceitful. For the dictionary experts out there – it’s not.

So why do folks in this business find it so important to base their approach on the exact same path of least resistance? Because all their gurus are doing it, and all their suppliers are doing it too.

“Oh, you just started your business and don’t have any customers and you’re at this conference instead of back at home working? Oh, right, because you wanted to get some fresh air and exchange ideas instead of trying to build business.

Well, that is fantastic. That’s a GREAT idea. You know what else is a great idea? This $20,000 management tool. Listen, as you grow you need a solid management foundation and this will save you money!”

Substitute any product, service, solution up there, it’s always the same. Four step process to closing business with IT professionals:

1. Listen to the war story at full attention.
2. Congratulate them on their opinion, even reinforce.
3. Ask about their problems.
4. Explain how your product will solve all their problems, close.

The faster you can get them into the debt up to their eyeballs you can’t really be held accountable for your solution sucking and not living up to the promise because they owe you money.

This, believe it or not is the standard operating procedure that is actually very well received and respected!

So suffice to say I get a little miffed when someone wants to discuss my approach of not lying straight into peoples faces and instead telling them what they don’t want to hear.

It’s not my fault that you’re an SPF, it’s your problem that you aren’t building a business.

I have absolutely no problem saying that. I base it on working with thousands of IT solution providers and hearing every sob story and every wild IT solution dream scheme ever imagined. I work with some damn successful people too, and I try to offer some of that wisdom on this blog. It may not be a pleasant reading material for 99 out of 100 people, but that 1 guy may still have a shot.

I’m all about that 1%. Let’s be honest, business is tough. Management is tough. Marketing is tough, even when you have a ton of money. Business is not easy. You have to surround yourself with the people that will keep you on your toes and keep on adjusting you as you go along.

And now we come to the actual jist of this blog post: when you can talk openly you will from time to time get smacked back in your mouth and people will have no fear to reach out and talk to you. You get to learn, you get to grow, you get to see things coming from a mile away instead of waking up from your dream one day in the middle of the sea of reality. Is being brutally honest bad for business because it will discourage people from working with the crazy man or woman? No. Because you may turn off some, but you will open up discussions with thousands more and actually stand out in a sea of drones that do the exact same thing you do. Call it leadership, call it insanity, but give it a shot. If you keep on going to networking events and never make a buck from anything or anyone you meet there it’s a good indication that the best practices drivel you read isn’t paying off for you.

Maybe I’m all wrong on all of this, but least you’ll be able to sleep at night.

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