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The vast majority of comments to any blog I would expect are spam engines.  That is why I make sure that every comment gets approved before you see it.  However I do check all of my comments (or at least, those that the Spam engines do not catch) and post them immediately… even if I do not like what they are saying.

This week-end I got a notification that there was a comment waiting for approval, and I could see by the notification that it was spam.  I opened the app on my phone, and wrongly assumed that the comment that came first would be the one I had been notified about.  I blindly (or nearly so) marked it as spam, never to be seen again.

Unfortunately I was mistaken, and the comment that I blew away was not the most recent one.  I accidentally marked a perfectly valid comment as spam.  Mistakes happen, and I apologize.  It was the weekend after all! :)  No excuse, but accidents happen.  Sorry!

1,200 Japanese workers convert above-ground train to subway line in a matter of hours

Mitch Garvis:

I found Japan to be among the most organized places I have ever been. I am not going to say that everything is efficient – there were a lot of ridiculous wastes that I discovered. However when they want to get things done, that is a country that knows how to do it. I spent a lot of time at the Shibuya Station that is discussed in this article. How amazing to see what they did. To be clear, I was there AFTER this had happened… and I never even knew about it until I read it here! -MDG

Originally posted on RocketNews24:

さよなら地上駅舎_東横線渋谷駅-2013_3_15−3_16 相直までの1日を振り返るドキュメント_-_YouTube2

On March 15, 2013, the Shibuya Station Toyoko Line above-ground train quietly shut down for good, to be replaced with a new section of subway track connecting Shibuya Station and the nearby Daikanyama Station. Converting the line from above-ground to underground was a massive operation, requiring a grand total of 1,200 engineers and countless man-hours.

But, even if you’d been living in Tokyo at the time, you probably wouldn’t have noticed the construction, because it all occurred during the train line’s off-hours… over the course of one single night.

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Progress… The Excruciating Pace of Progress

Originally posted on Losing a part of me:

I know I am losing weight.  How do I know it?  Because every two weeks I go to the Wharton Weight Management Clinic and they weigh me, and with a single exception (after my recent trip to Seattle) my weight has been lower every visit since the beginning of June.

So why is it that when I weigh myself every morning on my own Fitbit Aria Scale I seem to be around the same weight?

Simple… Every weight loss and diet specialist I have ever spoken to has told me that you should not weigh yourself every day.  Why not?  A few reasons.  For one, weight loss sometimes works with a sort of ‘time delay…’ I have in the past been able to eat a plate of wings on Tuesday, and on Wednesday there is no weight gain; Thursday or Friday however it shows up.  The same is true of the opposite – I…

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Out of Band Security Updates

If you run Windows Server this is very important.  Microsoft released today a number of out-of-band security updates for Microsoft Windows.  From what I have read, these patches (One of my servers has 14 applicable updates since 3am) will be applied to Windows clients as well as Windows Servers, but the vulnerability it protects is only in Windows Server.  I have a bit more information but because it is the middle of a busy work day I cannot go into it… but if you are a server admin I strongly recommend you take some time to look at these patches, test them, and apply them ASAP… the two week deadline setting in WSUS is probably not good enough for these ones ;)

Microsoft is not a company that does anything out-of-band for no good reason… if it has gone to the trouble of releasing these patches I suspect they are protecting something pretty serious so make sure you look into them – you can be certain that the hackers are!

Traveling Sucks

Originally posted on Losing a part of me:

Okay, that is a very misleading title. The reality is that when done in moderation traveling is great. Most of us enjoy it, anyways. But with regard to weight loss and keeping fit, it is crap.

I knew leading up to my trip to Seattle that I could eat healthy and maintain my diet; I knew that I could get up early and go to the hotel gym before my sessions started, and that I could walk as much as possible throughout the day. I also knew that in all likelihood that was not going to happen… and sure enough, it didn’t. So really my goal for the week was to maintain my current weight, and not gain five pounds.

Of course it starts at the airport before you even get onto the plane. If you are a frequent flier then there is a good chance that you have access…

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Meet Dr. Scripto

ScriptoWhile I am sure most of you are not familiar with this crazy character, I suspect a lot of you use the tools that he represents.  You see, this is Dr. Scripto.  I am not sure which delusional drunk came up with the idea and design of the character, but I think it is a fair bet that Stan Lee was not in the room.  You see, Dr. Scripto is the mascot… the hero if you will, for PowerShell.  Yes, I am serious, and no, I had nothing to do with the cockamamie idea that a scripting environment needed a mascot or hero.  I would mention that if it is not enough that someone came up with the idea and sketched it out, this is indeed a three-dimensional bobble-head-like statuette.  Yes folks, somebody spent money having these made.

Before I continue with my mockery, I want to mention that I am a huge fan of PowerShell.  While I am not an expert, I think it is an excellent scripting environment that either does or will make the lives of IT Professionals the world over easier.  In a day and age where servers are moving into the cloud (either private or public) it is a relief that we can now execute the same scripts against all of our servers… wherever they may be.  It simplifies our lives in ways that many do not even understand – the back-end management tools, such as System Center and Microsoft Deployment Toolkit, along with dozens of others, are based on PowerShell.  Add-ons like PowerCLI allow us to extend the functionality of PowerShell beyond our Windows servers and manage vSphere and vCenter Server.  I think PowerShell is incredible, and have written several articles about using it to manage Hyper-V, Active Directory, and more.

I also have a great respect for the PowerShell community.  While I may mock them (and they do make it easy, with such fodder as Dr. Scripto and songs like Highway to PowerShell), but they are a passionate group of interesting individuals, some of whom it would even be considered safe to be alone in a room with… although be careful, I am reasonably certain Ed Wilson tried to write a script to reorganize my living room once.  There is no question that if you need to figure out how to do anything in PowerShell one of them has either already written about it, or will be more than willing to do so once you post your question on-line.

If you are more interested in face-to-face interactions then they can be found at user group meetings all over the world.  Now fellas, I am not saying that any of these gatherings are good places to meet women, but if you want to learn about scripting these are the place to be.  (Ladies, to be fair: if you want my advice I would not go there trying to pick up the man of your dreams either…)  Experts like Ed Wilson (a long time Microsoft employee), and his wife Teresa (a long-time wife of Ed) not only attend meetings, they (okay, mostly Ed) speak at them all the time.  Teresa has even helped to create these groups, and does a wonderful job of connecting like-minded individuals.  In fact she is so good at it that she was recently recognized with the prestigious Microsoft MVP Award (in the discipline of PowerShell).  Congratulations Teresa!

In fact, it is Teresa who several years ago gave me Dr. Scripto.  While not a PowerShell MVP, she said I did a lot to help the community both in the Greater Toronto Area and around the world.  I was so honoured that it held a place of honour on my desk for several years, until recently when I emptied my home office and moved into the condo.  Dr. Scripto stayed behind temporarily, until such time as he was once again needed.

Recently Teresa and I had the opportunity to get together at the Microsoft MVP Summit in Redmond, Washington.  She told me that it was indeed a shame that a couple of very well known PowerShell MVPs told her that they had never received a Dr. Scripto Bobble-Head.  She was disappointed that there was nothing that she could do for them, but alas, they were a limited edition one-time deal, and even if there was budget to make a new batch (there isn’t) it would diminish the cachet of the existing ones to make more.  She told me the name of the MVP who did not have one, and I immediately recognized it.  It is a shame that he did not have one of these prized (??) collectibles.

‘Teresa, you know your friendship has meant the world to me for many years, and I cherish the gifts you gave to me.  However I know that this MVP is very deserving.  As such, I am willing to part with my limited edition, extremely rare, priceless collectible Dr. Scripto Bobble-Head in order to right what you perceive to be an injustice.  If you give me the shipping address of the MVP, along with a cheque for $2,500.00 made out to cash, I will ship it to him.’

…Okay, the part about the cheque was made up… and I embellished a bit, but the long and the short of it was that when I returned to Canada I was going to look (carefully) through the boxes that my office was packed into to find Dr. Scripto, and if I was able to find it I would give it to the MVP in question.

As you can see from the picture, Dr. Scripto has been located.  He is alive and well, with nary a scratch on him.  He has spent several years – good years – sitting on my desk, but alas, he is needed elsewhere.  When I prepare for my next trip to the USA I will wrap him carefully so that he will not be damaged in transit to his new home… wherever that may be.

If you do not have your own limited edition Dr. Scripto Bobble-Head, don’t worry… you can still learn to script like a champ using the knowledge he brought forth.  He has his own page on (Doctor Scripto’s Script Shop), his own Twitter account, and a number of YouTube videos (which were obviously not made by anyone with a firm grasp on reality or sanity).  Don’t worry, he will be with you in spirit… and hopefully in good sanity!

Remembrance Day / Veterans’ Day

Ninety-six years ago today at 11:00am the guns fell silent.  The Great War was over.  Unfortunately like every successful movie there was a sequel, and as usual it was much worse than the original.  War has been a part of our world since time immemorial, and to this day we dream of a day when that will no longer be the case.

I would like to invite you all to join me this morning in standing for two minutes of silence.  On Remembrance Day every year those of us who served, and especially those of us who served in combat, ask you to join us to remember our friends, our brothers, who did not make it back.  We ask you to join us for two minutes every year to remember those that we remember every day – every minute of every day – of our lives.

To many the phrases like ‘All gave some, some gave all’ is a catchy phrase.  For those of us who lost friends, whose friends came back missing limbs, who came back with a darkened soul, it is much more than that.  We did not do what we did for honour or glory or the medals that would decorate our chests and eventually find a place in a drawer,  We did it in the hope that our children would not have to.

There will never be another ‘Great World War’ like 1914 and 1939 – the nuclear age and the dissolution of the nuclear superpowers saw to that.  The wars of the immediate past and of the future are very different and for some that makes it harder to recognize them as wars, but they are wars and the toll they take on our soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen is just as harsh; often because of the reception back home it is much harsher and lasts much longer.

Today I ask you to stand at 11:00am with me.  You don’t have to salute and you don’t have to stand at attention, but stand and do not fidget.  Remember the men  and women who put their lives in harm’s way so that our world can be free of tyranny and oppression.  Remember those who got onto boats, planes, trains, and busses to go meet the enemy so that you, your parents, and your grandparents could be safe.  Remember those buried in the fields of Flanders, Ypres, Dieppe, Normandy, and hundreds of other fields beneath crosses and stars and too often unmarked ground… in Europe, the Pacific, in Africa and the Middle East.  On the ground and at sea, they served so that we could live free.

Perhaps the most famous poem that honours our fallen soldiers is by a Canadian named John McCrae.  He served in World War I, was a physician and held the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.  He fought in the Second Boer War earlier, and when the Great War broke out in 1914 he joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force.  Although he was a doctor he opted to join a combat unit, and while he was also the medical officer he was also a gunner.  He believed in duty, and fought for his country and for the British Empire.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
      Between the crosses, row on row,
   That mark our place; and in the skyflanders field
   The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
   Loved and were loved, and now we lie
         In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
   The torch; be yours to hold it high.
   If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
         In Flanders fields.

LtCol McCrae died in January, 1918… he did not see the end of the Great War, nor the publication of his famous verses. We remember him, along with all of the rest.

Lest we forget those who fought for us, protected us, died for us.

SSgt M.D. ‘Taz’ Garvis


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