Spam reacts quickest of all

Say what you will about the people that send spam, but they certainly react quickly to changing topics.

This is a breakdown of the spam that I received in roughly a five day period between March 19th and 24th. I did some grouping of the topics together, but the trend is clear.

Spam Messages Received

Come to think of it some of the earliest indications that I got about the coming pandemic was from my “junk” folder. I certainly saw more talk of “Coronavirus” in spam than in the mainstream media early on (NPR being a notable exception).

Note: All of this was delivered to my “junk” folder, I get very little spam that actually makes it to the inbox. I hope that continues.

Speaking at That Conference (2017)

I am pleased to let everyone know that I am going to be doing a short talk at That Conference on August 9th, 2017.  I am the last session, 2:30 pm, on the last day of the conference, which runs from August 7-9.  The title of my talk is “Password Security, you might be doing it wrong” and you can read the full description of the talk on the session page.

I am very honored and a little humbled to be included among the many great speakers that will be at That Conference.  One of the nice perks is that I will also get to attend many great sessions at the event before I have to speak.

I am doing a test run of my session with my co-workers next month, after that I will plan on posting a little more information about the talk.

Don’t cross the designer

A few months ago a buddy of mine at work asked if wanted to “see something interesting” and told me to go to Glass House Brewing in my browser.  If you go there now, you will see a different site, but at the time, this is what the site looked like:

Glass House Brewering Web Site - Full Site View

I would love to know the back story behind this little feud that wound up playing out in public.  Maybe they would tell me the whole story over a beer?  I will say at least the designer made sure that it looked okay on a mobile screen as well:

Glass House Brewering Web Site - Mobile View

Right before I hit “publish”, I remembered a similar post that I did from 2008: Messy Divorce: Internet Style.  I guess I should do a post like this every decade or so to remind people to secure their domain names.

Thirsty Developer Archive

Several years ago, I help create and co-host a podcast called The Thirsty Developer with my good friend and fellow Microsoft Evangelist, Dave Bost.  Creating, producing and editing the show was one of the most enjoyable experiences I have had around work.  I hesitate to call it work, because we did it mainly after hours and had so much fun doing it.thirstydeveloper

I left the show when I changed roles at Microsoft and a couple of other folks had co-hosting duties after me: Clark Sell and Adam Hoffman.  Of course you never really “leave” something that you helped create, you only stop doing it as often.

As some of you may know, Dave passed away a couple of years ago.  I don’t speak much of it on social media, but I miss him terribly even to this day.  I worked with Dave’s wife to transfer the domain name over to me.  In doing so we had some issues with the content.  The site was “off the net” for a few months.

I did manage to find a copy of the site that dated back to when I was still running things.  I have the RSS feed for the majority of the show notes (I think I have ~90 of the 104 total episodes).  However, I only have 69 of the audio files.

I am hoping that I can find more of the audio files and locate the rest of the show notes as well.  If anyone stumbles across any of the old shows, please let me know.

I hope that keeping the old episodes out there will allow the many great guests developers and other friends of the show a chance to go back and listen to their favorite episodes.

My Windows Phone Start Screen

Nokia has been running a series of blog posts where they have some well-known people Share their Windows Phone start screen and talk about the apps they use most and why they have customized their device that way.  This is not a new meme, I have seen folks share their iPhone home screens as well.  Like Paul Thurrot, I don’t think Nokia will ask me to be a guest contributor on their site, so I thought I would share my start screen and talk about some of the choices I have made:

Windows Phone Screen

Note: I stitched 2 screen shots together to create the seamless look in the screenshot above.  My phone is not this long and skinny.  In reality, the screen ends on about 2/3rds of the way down the photos hub and you can’t see the bottom apps without scrolling.

A little drab

One of my co-workers asked me what my color scheme was on my phone and before I could answer they blurted out “dull and boring!”  The “steel” accent color on the dark background looks a little drab, and when you combine that with the fact that I am carrying a matte black Nokia Lumia 920, it can come across as the Orwellian.  I have always tended towards the gray colors myself and I do try and brighten up the screen with the tulip photos (that is a picture that I took a couple years ago – not a stock one).  Being able to pick the color scheme that matches your personality (or even your mood) is something I like about the Windows Phone.  In a crazy bright mood?  How about Magenta on a light background (I am sure this would look awesome on a Cyan Phone):


Not a lot of apps, eh?

I don’t have a ton of apps on my phone, I can easily list all the applications I have installed: Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, Bing Translator and every edition of Angry Birds.  Some people might say (in a snarky voice): “That is because Windows Phone does not have any apps!”  Windows Phone is missing some notable apps that are on Android and iOS (Instagram, Path, Vine and Flipboard are probably the three most talked about), but there are plenty of good and some great apps that are on Windows Phone for a total of about 160,000+.  But I don’t think I would be downloading any more apps than the ones that I have.  There are two reasons and one is very notable about Windows Phone:

  • Many of the things that you would use an app for are built into Windows Phone.  It has great integration with my calendar, e-mail, tasks and contact databases.  This is true both for Microsoft Services (like Exchange and, but is also true for services by Google and Yahoo! as well.
  • I would rather use the web than an app.  Probably the number one thing I do on my phone is e-mail.  Tied for second is either listening to podcasts or browsing the web (but a distant second).  I would rather look at a website than download an app any day of the week.  Nothing upsets me more than a company that wants me to download an app to do something mundane like get a map of their building or a list of their store hours.  The mobile (responsive) web continues to get better and better and (I hope) we will soon be in a position that the mobile web will be a first class citizen and we won’t have to use apps except for the few things that require them (like shooting birds at rock and stones structures.

My favorite thing about Windows Phone?

Live Tiles – hands down.  It is hard to show in a screen shot, but the Music+Videos app on the lower right of the start screen is animated with Neko Case’s picture and Name because her song was playing when I took the picture.  Also the contacts that I have pinned to the start screen (my wife Jodie and my sons) will show their latest status from social media that I have wired up (Twitter and Facebook).

I would be interested to see how other people customize their screen (not just Windows Phone – iOS and Android as well).  It really should reflect your personality.

PS: UFOs of Wisconsin – don’t ask.

Windows 8 UEFI Secure Boot on clean install

My buddy Michael Steineke @msteineke pinged me yesterday with a problem that he was having doing a clean install of Windows 8 Enterprise on his new ThinkPad Helix.  He only got a few seconds into the explanation of the problem he was having when I told him the problem was his USB was not formatted as FAT32 and if he re-formatted the USB it would solve his problem.  I know this because I had a similar experience last months when I was doing a clean install on my ThinkPad Carbon Touch.  Mike and I both agreed that we should document the problem and solution in case someone else runs into it.

In order to enable secure boot on a Windows 8 Machine, you must have UEFI and Secure Boot enabled when you install and if you use USB Media to install, it must be formatted as FAT32.  Many USB drives are formatted as NTFS and many utilities that create bootable media for install will format the drives as NTFS (like the Windows 7 USB Utility).  Windows 8 can install from this media (if you disable secure boot), but that is a feature you want.  Instructions on how to create a FAT32 bootable drive are included at the bottom of this post.

UEFI Secure Boot is a great thing….

Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) is the modern firmware for operating systems to control the underlying hardware.  You can think of it as the new version of the BIOS.  UEFI is not a Windows-only technology, but a standard that is used by most operating systems.  One of the new benefits is the ability to have a digitally signed and verified boot path (or secure boot).  This all but eliminates attack vectors that load early in the boot processes (think root kits).  With secure boot, you know that the entire code path has been digitally signed and that it has not been changed or tampered with.

A few notes

  • Even though both Mike and I were running Lenovo Ultrabooks, this is not limited to those devices.  This applies equally to all non-legacy devices (Dell, ASUS, ACER, HP, etc.)
  • If you are loading from a DVD, you should not run into this problem
  • I have run into one device, the Samsung Build PC,  that in addition to needing to be FAT32 the USB needed to be less than 4GB in order to boot
  • This has been documented elsewhere on the internet (see this the Windows IT Pro Article), but it seems like you can’t find it when you need it 🙂

Create a Fat32 Bootable USB

Be very careful when using the following commands, as selecting the wrong device could lead to data loss or other heart break.  When in doubt, ask someone to double check your assumptions.

Launch an elevated command prompt and run the diskpart command:


Select your USB device by listing the devices on your computer and then selecting it by number.  Make sure that you select the correct device as future commands will wipe the device:

DISKPART>list disk

DISKPART>select disk <disk#>

Remove all current partitions from the device and create a new primary partition.  This command will use all available space on the USB drive:


DISKPART>create partition primary

Select the Partition and make it active:

DISKPART>select partition 1


Format the partition and assign a drive letter:

DISKPART>format quick fs=fat32


Exit the DISKPART Utility:


Now you can copy the contents of the Windows 8 ISO onto the drive via Explorer, XCOPY or your favorite utility that copies files.  Be sure to enable secure boot and boot from the USB drive to install.

Hope this helps…..

Will LinkedIn kill the resume? (please!)

If you work in technology and have any kind of a public presence (Twitter, Personal Blog or just a profile on LinkedIn) you will eventually and probably regularly get an e-mail that goes something like this:

I came across your resume and I think you are the perfect match for <some position> at my client.  We have been searching for someone with experience in <some technology> and you seem to be a great fit.  I would like to schedule some time with you……

I chuckle every time I get one of these because in my case I can tell you that it is a bold faced lie.  My resume is not public in any way, shape or form and it is horribly out of date.  And by “horribly out of date” I mean like 10 years out of date: It lists me being a certified systems engineer on Windows NT 4 and it is in Times New Roman.  I have taken to responding to these e-mail inquiries by telling the person just that:

Hey thanks for reaching out to me.  I am sure that your client is an awesome place to work.  You might want to take a more careful look at my resume, because you will find that I am not qualified in any way shape or form to use the technology that your customer is seeking.

My response is a little snarky and I should be nicer.  I have only gotten a couple of responses from this: One asking me for my resume and one admitting that they pulled the information from LinkedIn.  Evidentially if you pay for the LinkedIn premium membership, you get a lot more tools to search for people.  Unlike some people, I am totally cool with the LinkedIn model.  They provide me a free service and as a result they collect revenue from the few people who want extra utility from the service.  As long as I can have a gateway between myself and the recruiter I am fine with that model.  The gateway being they have to contact me via LinkedIn.

I keep my information on LinkedIn reasonably current, much more so than that 10+ year old resume.  So what I have been wondering is if it is possible to do away with the resume all together?  I am not in the job market, but if I was would a recruiter or human resources department accept a hyperlink to a LinkedIn profile rather than a Word Document or PDF that contains the same information?  I would think that since LinkedIn has a consistent data structure, they would actually prefer that.

In the meantime, I hope I don’t have to update my resume any time soon….

Thinking about job titles

I have been thinking about job titles lately.  It started when someone asked me if I knew anyone who would be a good fit for a job posting for a SharePoint Architect.  I proceeded to go on a rant about how no good architect would ever want to take a job that pigeon holed them into a single technology.  I don’t think I ever answered the question and probably frustrated the person who asked me.

About a week later, someone asked me what my ideal job title would be.  I admitted that I had not put a lot of thought into the question, however a job title that I always thought was cool was “Director of Disruptive Technologies”.  The title was held by Max Mancini at eBay.  I had read about him and his job in the book Web 2.0 Heroes by Brad Jones (Disclaimer: Brad is a friend of mine, but I am not writing this to “pimp” his book).  What I liked about it was that it described very well what he was doing: working with disruptive technologies.  However it did not specify what the disruptive technologies were.  If you have worked in technology long enough, you know there will always be disruptive technologies.

“Good” Job Title

So what goes into a “good” job title?  I think there are a few attributes that make a job title “good”: Descriptive, Universal and Flexible.   Descriptive means that people can read the title and have a (general) idea about what you do.  We know that developer in a job title means that person writes code, as an example.  Universal means that you are using terms that apply to most organizations.  I like to use the “rank” as an example: A manager is someone who has people reporting to them, a President is higher than a Vice President.  Flexible means that your job title can adapt over time.  The flexibility is the part that I really like to focus on when I evaluate a job title.  A job title of Cisco Pix Engineer, while descriptive and somewhat universal is not really that flexible.  A more flexible title might be Firewall Engineer or even better Network Security Engineer.

Kill all the job titles?

Another way to address the “problem” of having a good job title is to do away with them all together.  I always loved how the early research oriented technology firms like Xerox Parc and Bell Labs gave most of their employees the same title: Member of the Technical Staff.  Another way to address it and that is to let your employees pick their job titles.  At Microsoft we are not allowed to change are job titles in the official directory, which is driven by Human Resources, but we can pick what we want to put on our cards:


I am getting ready to order new business cards with the new logo.  I will update you on whether or not I have the guys to order it with this title, or if I do the predictable thing and use my official title.

Parting thought

One of my early mentors advised me to never get hung up on job titles or rank.  He said that in the military, when it “hits the fan” nobody turns to the highest ranking officer, they always turn to the guy that can get them out of the situation (usually a grizzled old Sargent).  He also said the most important thing on your business card is not your job title, it is how the person should get a hold of you (e-mail, phone number, twitter handle, etc.).

CD/DVD drive device missing error

I was installing a fresh copy of Windows 7 on a new Samsung Series 9 laptop this week and as I got a strange error during the install:

A required CD/DVD drive device driver is missing. If you have a driver floppy disk, CD, DVD, or USB flash drive, please insert it now. Note: If the Windows installation media is in the CD/DVD drive, you can safely remove it for this step.

The error baffled me, because the Samsung Series 9 does not have a CD or DVD drive and I was installing Windows 7 from a bootable USB flash drive (which was already inserted).  I spent quite a bit of time troubleshooting the error and went down several bad paths.  When you search you find several forums that reference this error, mostly from the Windows 7 Beta or Release Candidate builds.  The collective conventional wisdom from the forums that I landed on said to try one (or more) of the following fixes:

  • Get another copy of the .iso (root cause: bad download)
  • Burn the iso to the DVD at a slower speed (root cause: bad burn)
  • Change the BIOS boot order (root cause: unknown)
  • Update the driver for the Drive (root cause: upgrade advisor not finding hardware)
  • Switch from SATA to AHCI in the BIOS (root cause: Windows 7 installer not supporting SATA – huh?)

One or more of the above might fix the error for you, but none of these fixed my problem and most of them did not apply even apply to my situation.  What was causing the problem for me was I had the USB device plugged into the USB 3.0 port for the machine.  I moved the USB flash drive to the USB 2.0 port (on the other side of the laptop) and the install worked just fine. 

My speculation is that the boot loader for the installer worked fine, but the installer itself had issues with the USB 3.0 device.  Windows 7 itself has no issues with the USB 3.0 port; it seems to be limited to the installer environment.  I am also fairly certain that you would see the same problem on other machines with a USB 3.0 drive- so more than just the Samsung Series Nine.

Note:  This post seems a little off topic for this site; I usually don’t talk about troubleshooting issues and the like.  However I wanted to post this in the hopes that if someone else runs into this issue, they might find this solution mixed in with all the older forum posts.  Hope this helps….

Creative Commons Attribution Dilemma

Screen Shot of

I recently updated my “home page” or “splash screen”:  Among some other changes that I made was the inclusion of a photo of myself; I was on the “fence” about doing this, because I have never been crazy about photos of myself.  However I bit the bullet and included one taken about 3 years ago by John December at a Web414 meeting.  It is shown here in a screen shot and the original is on Flickr.  One of the questions / concerns that I had in using the photo was to make sure that I followed the license of the work, in this case it was a creative commons license: attribution, non commercial, share and share alike.

I love creative commons licenses

I liked the idea of creative commons from the first moment that I heard about it during a conversation with myself, Rocky Lhotka and Matt Bumgardner on how design patterns out to be shared.  All of the blog entries, photos and podcasts that I have created carry some version of the creative commons license.  In addition to creating works with the license, I use works that others have shared as well (see many of the photos on this site).  I wanted to make that clear, because my dilemma / critique has nothing to do with the license itself.

Attribution means different things to different people

In order to comply with the license, you must attribute the work to the original author (along with the other components like non-commercial use and share and share alike).  Attribution is defined in the creative commons license as:

Attribution — You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).

When I decided to include John’s photo on my site I checked to see if he had any particular instructions for how he wanted the photo attributed to him.  I could not really find any (I checked on his Flickr profile and at his website).  John is not unique in providing instructions for how he wanted the photo attributed to him; it is usually the exception to find instructions on how people want to be attributed.  When I have run across specific instructions they are almost always reasonable examples include: it is usually people preferring their name to be used (instead of a Flickr handle) or having the link go to their blog or home page.

So barring specific instructions, I decided to take a look at the detailed version of the license to see if it provided any more guidance (the version above is the “human readable version).  Section 4.d reads:

If you distribute, publicly display, publicly perform, or publicly digitally perform the Work or any Derivative Works or Collective Works, You must keep intact all copyright notices for the Work and give the Original Author credit reasonable to the medium or means You are utilizing by conveying the name (or pseudonym if applicable) of the Original Author if supplied; the title of the Work if supplied; to the extent reasonably practicable, the Uniform Resource Identifier, if any, that Licensor specifies to be associated with the Work, unless such URI does not refer to the copyright notice or licensing information for the Work.

I found myself scratching my head and breaking out my “I am not a lawyer card” on that one!  Barring any specific instructions I clearly spelled out “Photo by John December” and linked the name to his website.  Another option would have been to link to the photo page on Flickr or to John’s Flickr Profile.

Other media gets even more complicated

Placing photos on a web page is probably the easiest use case for attribution.  You have hyperlinks and great CSS styling to help you out.  Other media, such as printed photos, sound recordings and video aren’t as robust in their ability to attribute.

Links to help you think more about this

Jeff Atwood on Defending Attribution Required
My article on a Creative Commons And PowerPoint Slides
Pete Prodoehl on One of his run-ins with non-Attribution


  • I talked with John at Photocamp Milwaukee 2 and verbally asked him if the attribution was okay; he agreed that it was.  Thanks again for sharing some of your photos under the creative commons license.
  • I just realized that nowhere have I spelled out my preferred attribution.