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My parting words as a Microsoft MVP

I want to thank all of you who commented – both publicly and privately – on my losing my status as a Microsoft MVP.  Let me sum it all up, and hopefully answer all of your questions.

1) I was informed on Monday that I was not being renewed.  However this was several weeks after I sat down with my MVP Lead and told him that I suspected I was not going to get renewed.  My suspicions, by the way, were not at all based on my community contributions throughout the last year – which were substantial.  I believed that there are people at Microsoft actively working against my advancement.  This has actually been proven to me in the past few months, and I suspected that it would manifest itself again on October 1.  I will not elaborate any further.

2) Whether it is ‘fair’ or not is irrelevant.  Microsoft can (and does) decide to award who it chooses to award, and no, I do not plan to appeal the decision.

3) The Microsoft MVP Award is not for people proficient in their technology; it is for people who share their proficiency with community work, such as blog articles, speaking events & presentations, tweets, forums, and such.  For the record I submitted (when asked) more than 15 articles on Hyper-V that I have written over the past year, as well as in excess of six public and unpaid presentations I have given on the technology.  I also wrote a course on Virtual Desktop Infrastructure using only Microsoft technologies, something that nobody (including Microsoft) had ever done before.  However this was determined to be inadequate to be reawarded.

4) What’s next: I continue to do my thing.  I did not get into IT communities to be awarded for it, and my blog (which has been acclaimed both critically and popularly every year for the past five) will continue on its path.  However it might be noticed by some regular readers that over the past several months my pro-Microsoft bias has been curbed, and I am a lot more willing to be critical of them publicly than I was in the past… and yes, I am using VMware in my professional work, but I am using Hyper-V as well.

5) I am not (as some of you have) badmouthing Microsoft.  I am not calling them names.  I am just realizing that they are not the company they once were, and to deny that would be unworthy of an industry commentator that I am considered to be.

6) It is not a sad day for me.  I do not feel sad.  I feel sleighted, I feel insulted, but I do not feel sad.  I am not angry with anyone in particular, least of all my MVP Lead – Simran Chaudhry has been a good lead, and a good friend over the years.  For the record I think he took the news harder than I did.

7) For those who say they are pruning the tree from the bottom, I appreciate the sentiment.  I have done my best over the years to foster community growth, and to help develop new community leaders.  There are several Microsoft MVPs who are that because of my guidance, and I hope they will continue to do their good work.  If anyone is doing their community work because of me, and decides to stop doing it because of this, well then maybe they shouldn’t have been MVPs in the first place.

8) No, I have not joined Microsoft.

9) I am still coming to MVP Summit in November.  This was my greatest worry, not because of the parties (which I would miss) and frankly not even because of the airfare (which is already spent) but because of the people.  I have made a lot of friends in the MVP community, and I am looking forward to seeing them all next month.

10) The truth is I did NOT receive a proper explanation… nor do I expect to.  If my suspicions are correct then any truthful explanation would embarrass the company.  They do not owe me an explanation, and on a similar subject, as the MVP Award is not an employment, the severance package looks like this: ‘Buh-bye!’

Now: I am not trying to burn any bridges, and I am not trying to offend anyone.  Might I be re-awarded in the future? Who knows?  I am not going to seek it out, but anyone who wishes to nominate me is free to do so.  If it happens, that is fine… and if it doesn’t, well that is fine too.  I am proud to have been an MVP for 8 years – in several different categories (I think I hold the record) – but if it is time to move on then that is what I will do.

If you are looking for a speaker for your event, whether it be on Server, Client, Virtualization, Private Cloud, Office 365, or any of the other myriad technologies that I have been a subject matter expert on, please feel free to contact me.  If you have a technical question on any of these (or other) subjects then please feel free to ask, and if I can get it into a blog article I will.  If you feel that I have been wronged, then feel free to say so to whoever it is you would say it to… but it might be more productive for you to go to http://mvp.microsoft.com/en-us/nominate-an-mvp.aspx and nominate me again.

Thank you all for your support, and I look forward to helping you all in the future!

Mitch

Cloud-Based VDI!!! No.

I was having a conversation this week with a colleague about his plans to create a hybrid-cloud environment by moving many of his datacenter workloads onto Windows Azure. After all, it makes plenty of sense – eliminating new capital expenses and reducing ongoing operational expenses just makes sense.

“And once we have tested it, we plan to roll out a thousand pooled VDI clients running on Windows Azure. It is great!”

No, I’m afraid it is not. Unfortunately, while there is no technological reason why you couldn’t do this, there is a legal reason.  There is no license for the Windows Client (not even Enterprise Edition) that you can deploy in someone else’s datacenter.  In order to legally deploy VDI you must own the physical hardware on which it is installed.

By the way, let me be clear, that is not only an Azure thing, and it is not only a Remote Desktop Services issue. The same licensing limitation is true on Citrix’s Xen Desktop and VMware’ Horizons.  It is true of Azure, Amazon Web Services, Rackspace, and Joe’s Datacenter Rental.  If you do not own the hardware you can install Windows Server… but not Windows 8.1 (or 8, or 7, or XP for that matter).

I had this conversation with the VP of Sales for a major Microsoft partner in Ontario recently, and I was so flabbergasted that I went back and looked it up. Sure enough he was right.  So when I spoke with my colleague the other day I was able to save him a lot of time, effort, money, and frustration.  Unfortunately I forgot to turn on the meter, so he got the advice for free.  Oh well, I’m sure he’ll remember around the holidays J

Consultants, I want you to remember this lesson: Your customers may not always like the news you have to tell them… but you do have to tell them.  Of course, this is one of those places where good communication skills will help you out – don’t just say ‘Wow, you are scroo-ooed!’ Tell them what they need to say and offer alternative solutions for them to accomplish what they are trying to do.

Another One Down: Happy New Year!

This Wednesday evening we, the Jewish people, will celebrate Rosh Hashanah. It is the Jewish New Year, and we are ringing in Year 5775.  As is customary, I have spent some time over the past few days reflecting on the joys and sadness of the past year.

The year 5774 started out tremendously for me. I was hired on a long term contract in Tokyo, Japan by a very exciting company.  Not only was the contract great, I have always had a love for all things Japanese.  The opportunity to spend three months in country immersed in the culture was wonderful.  Of course, I had also committed to going to Australia to do a Train the Trainer session for a course I had written.  It was going to be a great year.

All of that went the way it was supposed to, and then (as planned) I came back to Canada at the end of December. Within days much of the shine would be gone.

It is easy to look at the first half of this year and say ‘If only I had…’ well, there are a lot of things I would have wanted to do differently, but many of them did not happen in 5774. The truth is, my marriage to Theresa had been under a lot of stress for a long time, and the ridiculous amount of travel that I did both hid (from me) and exacerbated Theresa’s unhappiness.  When she told me that she did not want to be married to me anymore there are a lot of things I could have (and should have) done differently.  If our marriage was indeed salvageable at the beginning of January, I expect that by the beginning of February it no longer was.  There is enough blame to spread around, but the bottom line is that Theresa and I stopped living as husband and wife, and I moved into the guest room.

The next few months were among the most difficult and unpleasant of my life. I fell into a depression and was unable to find my next contract.  I was forsaken by many of the people and organizations that I had worked hard to help over the past years, and found myself, for the first time in many years, functionally unemployed.  Unfortunately as I had been a business owner there was no real government assistance; Theresa and I survived by depleting our savings, and by using up every bit of credit we had.  There were a couple of minor contracts, but it was clear that if I did not find gainful employment soon I was going to have to do something drastic.  A couple of false starts led to even deeper depression, and I was nearly at my limit.

There are many types of friends in this world; fair weather friends are easy to amass while you are doing well, but when the going gets tough you are more likely to speak to their voice mail than to them. There are takers, who are happy to accept whatever help you are willing to offer, but when you need help they are nowhere to be found.  If anyone thinks I did not notice who disappeared from my life this year, I can assure you that I know exactly who is what sort of friend.

My friend Jay is more than just a peer; he is an independent consultant who has over the years helped me to secure a number of important contracts. When he found out I was down on my luck he engaged me to write a course for him.  This contract helped me in three distinct ways: a) it gave me something to do so that I could start feeling productive again; b) it reminded me that whoever may have forsaken me, I really am at the level that I have always thought myself to be at; c) it brought in a small but very significant amount of money.  Most importantly, it also reminded me that some of my friends – if only just a small handful – are true friends.

It is no secret that I have struggled with my weight since leaving the army; From August of last year to the end of December I was down about 25lbs… not great, but forward progress is better than no progress. Between January and May I gained back nearly every pound I had lost.  Frankly it is a miracle that I did not gain more, because I was completely inactive – during a time when physical activity could have helped me to stay focused, I let myself go even further.  I am glad that through both eating habit modification (I cannot call what I do a diet) and exercise I am now at my lowest weight in over a year – I have re-lost the weight I had originally lost in Japan and then found in my misery since January.  I will continue down the path to smaller pants… slowly and steadily.

I do not know that anyone in my life was more helpful during my worst days than the man I have called my Master since Day One: Dimitrios Beis has not only been my Master and primary Taekwondo instructor and mentor, he has also been a good friend. So as much as I did not want to hear it at the time, his calls every couple of days to say ‘I am going to the gym today to do some Taekwondo… why don’t you join me?’ were very well meaning… and he was right.  While I did not go back to the Dojang until June, when I did it helped me immensely from the first class.  I have always said that Taekwondo is not just a sport, it is medicine, and it is a way of life.  As soon as I got back into it I really started to go… and within weeks Master Godoy asked me to come on as an instructor.  That has been an amazing new experience for me… and a humbling one.  I do not think the advances in my life during the summer months could have happened had I not gone back to Taekwondo.

So even though I was teaching Taekwondo (on a volunteer basis) I still needed to find a proper job. The great Maimonides said that of all of the levels of charity, the highest is helping someone to become self-sufficient.  When I say that Dimitrios was more helpful than anyone else it is because over coffee in late July he told me about an old friend of his who owns a company and who needed some help.  Of course, neither Dimitrios nor his friend knew exactly what I do, or exactly what the company needed, but one knew I work in computers and the other knew they needed help with computers.  Within days I was introduced to a company with a funny name – Yakidoo.  I met with the CTO, and we both realized very quickly that I had the skillset that they needed.  Another meeting the following week with the CEO, and after a very difficult eight months I was back at work – and for the first time in nearly a decade it was as an employee, and not as a contractor.  As grateful as I am to the people at Yakidoo, I will never forget that one person helped me with the introduction.

Being back at work was more than simply cathartic – and it certainly was that. However on a practical financial level it allowed me to be able to afford to move out of the guest bedroom of my soon to be ex-house and rent a condo that is not too far from either my office or – more importantly – my children.  As difficult as it might have been to move out of our family home, the stress levels there since January have been rising, to the point where they were almost unbearable.  I moved into the new condo a few weeks ago (with a lot of help from my son Aaron and my friend Daniel) and I now not only have a place to live, I have a place to bring my children.  Gilad came over this week-end for his first visit – I needed him to understand that Daddy was not just on another business trip, but he was going to live somewhere else now… and that they (Gilad and Aaron) are always welcome.  On his first visit he watched the movie Frozen – the only kid’s DVD I managed to swipe from the house.  He had some juice, he had a piece of toast with peanut butter, and he decided that sometimes it would be nice to come over to Daddy’s new house to play and to sleep.

If I had to describe the year that was 5774 with single words or short phrases I would come up with roller-coaster, humbling, and difficult. But we are always told that G-d does not give us challenges more difficult than we can overcome, only challenges more difficult than we think we can overcome.  I started the year at the top, I spent much of the middle of it in a downward spiral out of control, and toward the end I have recovered – not to the level I was at, but at a level that I can be comfortable with for now.  I have met some wonderful people; I have figured out who some of my ‘so-called’ friends are, and have reaffirmed a few of the true friends.  For the second time in my life I have experienced the end of what I thought would be a life-long relationship.  I have done some (but not nearly enough) writing, and I have proven to myself that when things seem darkest that, with the help of my true friends, I can again find the light.

With regard to my health I started along a path of being healthier – although it is only in the last few months that I have found my way back onto the path. I hope that a year from now I will be able to report that I have steadily lost a lot of weight, that I earned my 3rd Dan Black Belt, and that I am fitting into a smaller Dobok.  I hope to report a productive year work-wise, and that I have finally found the work-life balance that I have always sought.  I hope that I will be able to continue to be a better father than I was, and that my children are healthy.  And I hope that I will be able to discuss a year of peace and tranquility around the globe.  Some of these are realistic; at least one other is not.  Let’s hope though that it is a good year… for all of us.

To my Jewish friends, I wish you a Shana Tova, Metuka, uMevurechet. A happy, sweet, and blessed year.  May you all be inscribed in the book of life – G’mru chatima tova.  And as we always say, Next Year in Jerusalem – LeShana Tova BeYerushalayim.

Mitch

Home Entertainment in 2014

As some of you know I recently moved into a new condo.  Unlike my previous living arrangements, I will be living here alone… although my children will visit, they (and the dogs) will be living with their mother.

You all know me as a Windows guy, and that has not changed; however there are so many aspects to Microsoft Windows that there are few (if any) who know and use all of it.  Until the motherboard fried I did for a time use a Windows Media Center PC as my main TV controller, however after it died my wife (whom I married before the PC fried) suggested we just get a PVR from out Cable TV provider… and although the motherboard was replaced under warranty, I never did rebuild it as a Media Center.

Over the past couple of years I have heard a lot of talk about people ‘cutting the cable’… simply watching all of their TV over the Internet.  While I know that works fine for a lot of people, I am simply not there.  I like to sit on the couch with the remote control in my hand and channel-surf.  Call me old fashioned.  I also know that with my younger son (he is four and a half) it behoves me to have a TV with Disney Junior and whatever other channels he watches, lest his visits be very short and sweet.  So when I confirmed where I would be moving to, I called Bell Canada.  I know, they suck… just like all of the other providers.  Well my youngest loves the Fibe experience, so that is what I plan to get, along with a decent Internet package.

Here’s the problem… Bell Fibe TV is not available in all areas.  I am assured by a friend of mine on the inside that more often than not this is no longer a technical issue, they just roll out the marketing machine before they begin to offer the service.  So while I was able to get a decent Internet package (not spectacular, but I won’t be running servers anymore) for a good price, I was told that Fibe would not be available for a few more weeks… and in the meantime would I be interested in subscribing to their satellite service?  <No, what kind of idiot would make that deal knowing that the better service was coming in a few weeks?>

So the condo is taking shape; on Saturday my older son and I raided Ikea, and my living room is completely arranged.  On Sunday a buddy helped me move (read: disassemble, move, and then reassemble) my desk, and now my workstation is just about the way I like it.  And of course the technician from Bell Canada came Sunday morning, and after a little bit of confusion he got my Internet and Wi-Fi signal up.  But here’s the issue… while I have a TV, couch, and everything I need to watch TV in the living room… I have nothing to watch.  Doh!

Wait a minute… I remember when I bought the TV a friend of mine advised me to get one that supported DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance).  I even remember paying extra for a USB Wi-Fi adapter for the TV.  Maybe now was a good time to see if I could get that voodoo to work.  Remember… I’ve set up thousands of Windows 7 and Windows 8 machines before… but I have never set up a home group!

It took a little bit of figuring out – of course my computer was already connected to the network, but I had to configure my TV on the wireless as well, and that took some figuring out.  However once it was done, all I had to do was tell my Windows homegroup to recognize the device, and to share my movies, music, and pictures with it.  Voila, this evening I watched movies in the living room on a TV that wasn’t actually connected to anything!

What about Netflix & Xbox?

Yes, I do have a Netflix account, but so far I haven’t figured out how to watch it on the TV – of course, I can just take my table and plug the HDMI cable into the TV directly, but that is cheating.  In a month or two I will by an Xbox One and that will be my main Media Center (including Netflix, DVDs, and BlueRay), but for the time being I am okay being able to watch the movies I have stored on the computer.  However I do think I am going to have to figure out a good way to sort the movies… but that’s next week’s problem :)

More Free EBooks from Microsoft Press

You have to give Microsoft Learning (and Microsoft Press) credit… they have finally figured out that their parent company will make more money if they help people to learn their products, rather than charging them for the privilege.

When the Microsoft Virtual Academy went on-line we were all thrilled, and continue to be so as more courses become available.  However some of us still like having books that we can reference, rather than having to go through an entire course.  For that reason I am thrilled that they are offering a series of ebooks from Microsoft Press – written by some of the top experts in the field – for free.  Simply go to the site (here) and download them all… in either .PDF format, EPUB format, or .Mobi for Kindle.

Now here’s what they aren’t telling you, which they should.  You see, I don’t have a Kindle, I have a Kobo.  After all, I did spend several months consulting for the parent company, and I love the device.  If you go onto the Kobo site and do some quick searches, you will find that a lot of these books that are available for free from Microsoft Virtual Academy are also available as free ebooks from the Kobo store.  I was hoping this would be the case, so I went and checked, and sure enough I just downloaded a bunch of Windows Server and System Center books to my library, which I will now sync to my device.  Amazing!  I cannot attest that the entire library is available… but I downloaded five books on System Center and two on Windows Server, and none of the ones I was looking for were missing.

Now if you`ll excuse me, I have some System Center books I need to start reading! :)

How do YOU manage?

A year ago I left the world of technology evangelism and became, once again, a full time consultant.  It’s true… up until that point a great deal of my recent experience has been in training and talking, rather than hands-on doing.  While that is certainly how a lot of people still see me, I can tell you it has been good to get back into the world of doing… first at Rakuten, and now with Yakidoo.

As a Microsoft guy I always talked about the best tools to manage your Microsoft environment as being built in… Windows Server and System Center have been huge for me.  However over the last little while – and especially with my VMware environment – I am realizing that a lot of the best tools for the job are not direct from the software vendor – or at least, in some cases, they are separate downloads that you have to go looking for.

I am going to start with the old adage that if you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it.  I learned this from an old boss years ago in a former career, and it has served me well over the years.  In order to do our jobs properly as IT administrators, you need to be able to see what you have.

RV Tools

There is a gentleman in Holland named Rob de Veij who has been in IT since the mainframe days, and since 2007 has been working with VMware.  As near as I can tell, he is a former developer who found that it was easier to manage (or at least measure) his vCenter environment with an easy set of tools.  His RVTools is an application (running on Windows) that uses the VMware SDK to display information about your virtual environment (VMware) from the datacenter on down, including clusters, hosts, virtual machines, networking, and down to the virtual CDs that are connected to individual VMs.

For me, the most useful part of this toolkit (which simply connects to your vCenter Server from any Windows machine) is the vHealth screen.  When scanning your virtual environment it looks for issues such as inconsistent folder names, active snapshots, VMware Tools versions and more.  I ran this report recently in my production environment and it advised me that I had a couple of snapshots (anyone who knows me knows why this is a no-no!) and no fewer than seven virtual machines with low free disk space on the guest OS.  Two minutes to run the report, an hour or less to mitigate, and it saved me countless hours of headaches and downtime.

PowerGUI & PowerCLI

I am both happy and disappointed that this tool – once owned by Quest Software – is now a VMware property (since Dell acquired Quest I think).  I am happy about it because I was able to download it using my regular VMware credentials and did not have to purchase it.  I am sad because I liked that it was a third party tool that did not necessarily follow VMware party lines.  Nonetheless the PowerGUI community lives on – albeit on a Dell branded site.

PowerCLI is a tool that allows you to use Windows PowerShell to manage your VMware environment.  PowerGUI is the front-end graphical tool that allows us scripting neophytes to do it well (ish).

One of the components I love about PowerGUI is the ability to create, download, and install PowerPacks, which are essentially community-driven tools for the suite.  The VMware Community PowerPack gives you a lot of the same functionality as the RVTools, but from a VMware sanctioned product.

Solution Accelerators

With Microsoft I am still a lot more familiar with the management tools that are from Microsoft than I am with third party tools.

The Solution Accelerators have been around for several years, and while I have not used all of them, I am very familiar with most of them, and have lectured on and demonstrated/implemented several of them.

The Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit has made my life easier with regard to taking inventory of what I (or a client) have. While not its primary purpose, the MAP Toolkit will perform a complete inventory of your environment, including applications, operating systems, guest virtual machines, and virtualization hosts. I have a number of customers who now have a monthly task to run the toolkit to track changes to the environment.

The tool is more complex than the VMware tools because frankly it monitors more – for example, it will do everything on the operating system and application side (whether physical or virtual) and will also monitor VMware, Linux, and more. However because of that be prepared to provide credentials for all of those platforms, and no, they are certainly not foolproof.

The Security Compliance Manager (SCM) is a great way to build and manage your Group Policy Objects (GPOs) in your Active Directory forest. Not only does it provide recommendations for best practice configurations for all of your servers and clients, it breaks it down into domain, domain controller, Windows versions, Users, Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer, SQL Servers, Exchange Servers, and even Hyper-V hosts. Spend a few minutes learning the tool and you will realize that even if you don’t need Microsoft’s recommendations, SCM still helps you with documentation by exporting the GPOs into Excel format. Very useful.

TechSmith

There are two tools from TechSmith that I have been using for years, both with regard to demos (Camtasia is screen recording software that I have used in many of my demos, courses, and blogs) and documentation (SnagIt is a screen capture package that offers much better control and editing than Ctrl-PrintScreen). While they may not be, strictly speaking, management tools, I have found them useful for documentation but also sending people screen shots of issues or solutions (drawing those big arrows and typing HERE’S THE BUTTON YOU ARE LOOKING FOR!).

Of course I could go on and on, but that is not the point. I want to know what tools you find helpful? If you make a good enough case (and if I am able to implement it in my current environment) I might even write it up for your fellow readers!

Communications – I’m talking to you, IT guy!

Let’s face it… most technical people did not get into their fields because of their love of communicating.  It is not uncommon to see IT pros (and developers) avoid communications with non-technical people, often shying away from any human contact whatsoever.  The ultimate portrayal of this was Sandra Bullock’s character in the 1995 movie The Net.  Angela Bennett went away on vacation, then came home to an extreme case of identity theft… and nobody could vouch for her because as a shut-in nobody could really identify her.

Of course, that is an extreme case, and most of us are not like that.  However if you were to ask one hundred IT professionals to list the three most important skills they need in their jobs, communications would likely not rank in the top ten.  The problem is, most of them would be wrong.

We communicate with others in myriad ways, and in a lot of jobs where good communications may not seem important they really could make our jobs easier.  Imagine the following scenario:

You are the systems administrator for a small company with 30 users.  You have to apply a server patch that will bring the company’s primary systems down for twenty minutes, and it cannot be done outside of business hours.  It can go two ways:

1) You say nothing.  When the systems go down people start complaining, and you tell them that the systems will go back up in twenty minutes.  You spend the entire twenty minutes fielding these calls, getting yelled at, and being told that you are preventing important work from getting done.  It reflects poorly on your co-workers’ impressions of you… and on your job performance.

2) In preparation for the outage you send a company-wide e-mail apologizing for the predicted downtime, and tell your co-workers that between the hours of 12:00 and 12:20 the systems will be down, and if there is any critical reason that this time slot needs to be changed, please reply.  As it happens the Sales Manager is hosting a group of potential customers for a lunch, and will need to demonstrate the company’s abilities during that time frame, so you reschedule it (communicated) to 3:00 to 3:20.  At 2:45 you send out another e-mail reminded.  At 3:00 the entire company seems to be congregating in the cafeteria for their snack break, and are chatting about… anything, but not about you.

Do you see the difference?  The quick e-mail prevented you from looking like a bum.  Don’t get me wrong, nobody is going to see you as a hero – that is seldom how sysadmins are seen – but it is better that they don’t see you as the enemy.

In the first scenario you are at risk of losing your job.  Imagine if the company brought in those clients, and because of you the Sales Manager only had ‘Server Not Available’ to show?  Imagine the Sales Manager then going to the president of the company and telling him that the company lost a major sale because of you.  If you don’t think that is going to reflect poorly on you then you are just wrong.  And by the way, this is when the Sales Manager says to the president something like ‘You know, I have a cousin who graduated from ITT Technical Institute, and just finished an internship at a company a lot like ours… He would be a great replacement for your current guy.’

If you think those conversations don’t happen then you are fooling yourself.  We live in a cutthroat world and everyone is trying to get ahead.  Sending that e-mail could in some cases save your bacon… even though you don’t think communications are important.

There was a time when we were seen as wizards, and everything we did behind the curtains was secretive and magical.  Guess what: our profession has become demystified, and nobody thinks we are irreplaceable and nobody thinks that we are magical.  Smart? Yes, we still have that going for us.  But everyone knows someone smarter… or smart enough.

I have been blogging for a decade and was a writer for a decade before that… but I still used to belong to the ‘let them eat cake’ school of IT administration.  And then I got wise… the five minutes it takes to send that e-mail – at the possible cost of having to reschedule whatever it is that I am doing – has probably saved my job or contract on several occasions.  Remember it… because e-mails are easy and job hunting sucks.