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As many of you know I left Microsoft to pursue other adventures when I did my first gig with Rakuten in the fall of 2013. The plan was, according to the managers I spoke with, for me to return to Microsoft when I got back from Japan.
That obviously did not happen.
I will not go into any detail about what or why or when… but the last three years have been interesting… while I retained my MCT credentials and continued working with Microsoft technologies, my affiliation with the organization became strained. I was pretty sure that my days of working with them were behind me.
There is a quote from a novel from one of my favourite authors: The present is like the past and the past is the present, heya? The last word might give away that the book was Noble House by the late, great James Clavell. And so it is that after several months of discussions and background checks and much more, this morning I walked back into the offices of Microsoft Canada to pick up my new badge. I am a vendor this time around, as opposed to a business guest which is what I was previously. What does that mean? I guess it doesn’t matter. I’m back.
While my role will not be community focused as it once was, I will nevertheless be blogging about technologies that I use and work with.
Thanks to all of you who were concerned and interested… and no, I assure you I will not be drinking or serving any Kool-Aid this time around!
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!
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.
This week-end’s grand opening of the Microsoft Store in Square One (Mississauga, Ontario) has been a truly amazing time. Saturday was busy all day – people lined up to buy Microsoft Surface devices, Xbox One, games, software, accessories, and some simply came to get concert tickets. Whatever the reason, there were hundreds of people here from morning until night.
I arrived at 8:15 – well over two hours before the scheduled opening. I was surprised to see there were hundreds of people lined up in three different lines – people who specifically wanted concert tickets (they were giving away tickets to see Weezer Sunday at the Powerade Centre in Brampton), people who wanted to buy the Surface Pro (the door crasher special was a Surface Pro 128 for $399), and people who just wanted to come in to see the store. Additionally there was a fourth ‘V.I.P. Area’ for partners, MVPs, and guests from the four charities that were invited to take part in the opening festivities.
Although there was music, a Twitter Wall, and a couple of Xbox One stations set up, there was not a lot to see before 11:00. The staff came out a few times to give out prizes ranging from portable speakers to Xbox prizes and even a couple of Weezer-autographed guitars. However aside from that the only thing we were able to look at was the Microsoft curtain – the entire store was blocked off by a white curtain… and from time to time we would hear some pretty exciting stuff from behind that…
At 11:00am the staff came out. Steven Grebenc is the store manager, and he was the first to speak. After that Claudia Ferris, the vice president of Marketing & Operations of Microsoft Canada, spoke for a few minutes. She and Steven gave away over a million dollars in software donations to four charities, including Community Living Mississauga and Girl Guides of Canada.
Although the local Member of Parliament made an appearance, the real Belle of the Ball was Hazel McCallion, the 94 year old mayor of Mississauga. She was as energetic and engaging as any speaker I’ve heard, welcoming the Microsoft Store into her city and congratulating Microsoft on being such a long-standing corporate citizen of her city. She was invited to cut the ribbon officially opening the store, and when she did the curtain was dropped, and dozens of Microsoft Store employees were waiting behind it cheering, dancing, and welcome everyone in. They welcomed and high-fived everyone who came in, and really made everyone feel welcome.
Over a thousand people were lined up to buy the Surface Pro, and that line did not abate right into the evening. At closing time there were still dozens of people in the store, looking around, asking questions, and buying products of every shape and size.
Although the tablets and laptops were the big sellers, there was a lot of curiosity around the 3D printer, a desktop device selling for $2,199. It was busy making tchotchkes of all sorts over the week-end, including models of airplanes and rocket ships, hearts, key-chains, and more.
Although Alec usually works out of the Yorkdale Mall store he was on hand all week-end drawing caricatures on his Surface Pro. He does great work, and if you find yourself in one of the stores see if he is around to draw yours!
Of course every Microsoft Store has a theatre, and that space in Square One is managed by Justine. At noon she handed me the mic, and I was the announcer/emcee for the day announcing several Microsoft MVPs speaking on all sorts of topics, as well as community events such as the gaming session with We Got Game.
A great time was had by all, and if you have never been to a Microsoft Store opening week-end you really should try to get to one (there is one coming up in Calgary in the next few months). However even if you are not able to get to an opening, you should drop into one of the stores because they really are great places to see and experience new technologies, try out devices, and learn from experts – whether as one-on-one or in the theatre as a member of the audience.
The tech is great, the deals are amazing, and the staff are just incredible. Come on down and see what I mean!
What a day… I arrived at Square One reasonably early this morning expecting to be one of the first people in line to get into the new Microsoft Store. I wasn’t even in the first 200! Fortunately I had registered as an MVP and was ushered into the VIP section.
This is not my first Microsoft Store opening. I was at the opening of the Yorkdale store in 2012, and it was amazing. I suspect that today’s opening however shattered any records. There were well over 1,500 people waiting when Mayor Hazel McCallion cut the ribbon shortly after 11:00am.
The ongoing flow of traffic lasted all day – at 4:30 there were still hundreds of people lined up to buy a Surface Pro 128 for $399. While I do not know how many they sold, I am sure it was well over a thousand.
As was the case at Yorkdale the CSM handed me the microphone to emcee the events at the theatre, and I got to announce a few fellow MVPs, a gaming convention brought in by We Got Game, and even a world renowned Call of Duty player who goes by a name that I can only remember as Goom Jar (I will confirm that later).
As I have been busy all day I have not had time to blog, but I promise to sit down tomorrow or Monday and post the pictures I took… if you follow me on Titter (@MGarvis) you would have seen some of them already.
Congratulations to the crew here for a great event, and I invite you down to the store to see what they have… a lot of great stuff, and a lot of great people!
A few days ago I posted a quick post called Free Skype Premium for a year! and I got a few interesting questions about the voracity of the offer. Some of you were worried that it was a scam, and believe me I am the first person to say you should be skeptical. However before I posted about it I checked it out.
As one reader noted, the first thing I look at is the domain name. Behind all of the mess of incomprehensible much, every URL you browse to on the Internet will begin http:// or https:// and will be followed by child domains, sub-domains, and eventually the parent domain – for example I might, if we were larger, have a page with the URL http://we.all.love.mitch.garvis.ca/And?Wish/himAndHisFamily/?Well. The actual domain is directly to the left of the first (really the third, but I don’t count the two in http://) slash. So while a phishing scam might use http://188.8.131.52/we.all.love.mitch.garvis.ca/And?Wish/himAndHisFamily/?Well the first slash is after the numbers, which means that it is a scam.
Unless my domain name itself has been compromised – if someone has actually hijacked the DNS (Domain Naming Service) of garvis.ca they cannot create a child domain to it… so they could no easier use http://scam.garvis.ca than I could http://garvis.skype.com.
The link to the Skype offer was https://collaboration.skype.com/promotion/?cm_mmc=AFCJ%7C1250_B1-_-11129583-1225267. To the left of the first slash is collaboration.skype.com. This means it came from Skype.
Now let’s look at the next objection I got. ‘This page does not have a Skype logo on it, it doesn’t have Skype’s (or Microsoft’s) branding or look and feel. That is a big red flag.’
That is something that you would definitely take pause at… the only thing on this page that looks remotely like Skype is the colour they used for the top line. While this is a good observation, it is something that I throw away when determining the legitimacy of the page. I have examined hundreds or more phishing schemes and hijacked sites, ranging from banks to credit cards to e-commerce sites to the White House and United States Department of Justice. No matter how good the look and feel might be, they cannot get beyond the technical – if the domain name is right, then either the domain itself has been compromised… or it’s legitimate. In truth, most phishing scammers spend more time on look and feel because they understand that most of us would look for that first… if they wanted to hijack your Skype password, they would spend the time to make the site look legitimate, including the colour scheme and logo.
The next concern was that we entered our e-mail address, ticked the appropriate box, and clicked on SEND… and nothing happened. We didn’t get an e-mail right away (or even ten minutes later) as we were promised. Actually we were not promised that… we were told to ‘Look out for the voucher codes coming to your inbox in the next 48 hours…’ Well most of us are not that patient, and we assume that while some sites do claim it will take that long, we should really be getting something in the next fifteen minutes.
We shouldn’t be so impatient… especially when out of the blue someone offers us something for free. In fact, I posted the article just after 1:00am on December 18th (EDT) and received the e-mail at 10:27am on December 20th (EDT)… so in fact it was closer to 58 hours than 48. Okay, no problem… It was later than they promised, but it came. Thank you Skype for giving me a free service that I will absolutely use, and I forgive your slight tardiness .
As I had been promised in the original invite, I saw this screen – my vouched was successfully redeemed. However it did say that it would take no more than 15 minutes, so it could still be a scam, right? Well a few seconds later the bottom-right corner of my screen popped up with this Notification… and I knew I had gotten what I asked for. Thank you Skype, I will use the Premium services well!
Folks you will not want to miss this! Microsoft Press is giving away the ebook Introducing Microsoft System Center 2012 R2: Technical Overview. It is written by Mitch Tulloch, Symon Perriman, and the System Center team… and is a great way to get up to speed on Microsoft’s private cloud!