Mark Minasi's Short (75-90 Minute) Talks

(Recommended only for conference/meeting organizers who want their attendees to learn, enjoy themselves, and demand to return for the next conference.)

Mark Minasi has entertained and informed tens of thousands over the years, which is one reason why he's so much in demand as a conference speaker. Following are the talks that he does most often. These talks generally run best as 75 minute - 90 minute presentations, but can be lengthened or shortened.  

Over the years, Mark has developed and given many different talks, so many in fact that the list of topics was getting a bit out of hand. As a result, we've rebuilt this page as an extremely shortened list of his talks, including only the recent Windows talks and the Software Conspiracy talk. In case you're looking for the older page, it's here.  Here are a few comments on Mark's short talks from a conference in mid-2010:

"Mark Minasi is an excellent speaker. I mean, really, who else can talk about Kerberos and make it interesting??"
"Mr. Minasi is a natural when talking to crowds. Listen to him for only a few moments and you know he knows his stuff inside and out. He kept the presentation exciting and fun. "
"OMG. Mark Minasi is a ridiculously good speaker. He has set a high bar for future presenters to follow. His session was incredibly informative, energetic, humorous, understandable and very fun to attend."
"This is the first time someone has explained IPv6 to me in a manner that I could understand. EXCELLENT JOB!"
"When I grow up I want to be Mark Minasi! Please bring him back next year!!! Best technical presenter on the planet."
"Who doesn't love Minasi???"
"Mark is excellent! If he held a session on making a sandwich, I would attend!"

These short sessions, many of which are taken from Mark's many popular two-day seminars, deliver useful information and skills on technical and planning aspects of Windows' server and desktop operating systems, and, of course, they're delivered in Mark's trademark brand of humor and insight.  Contact our assistant to schedule a talk for your meeting or conference at that e-mail link or call (757) 426-1431 between 12 Noon - 5 PM Eastern time, Monday-Friday.  Mark's latest talks include:

No Sunny Days, but That's Not So Bad:  Clouds in 2016

It's 2016, and almost everybody's in the cloud.  Cloud vendors have indeed delivered on their promises for agile, speedy deployment and cost savings for many customers.  Projects and entire enterprises can be spun up in minutes or hours, and often more cheaply than could be accomplished on-premises. Email SaaS like Office 365, Gmail and the like probably host more mailboxes than anyone else on the planet.   So things seem pretty good, cloud-wise, then…

… Or do they?  According to bestselling tech author, Cloudnostic and speaker Mark Minasi, not  everything that seems real, however, is real.  (Take phantom cell phone vibration, for example.)

In this fast, fact-filled, fun presentation, Mark rounds up The State of the Cloud:  what's good, what's bad and what's about to happen in mankind's latest, most expensive experiment in communications, storage, and computing.  Don't miss it, because if you do, you will never find out how clouds are like potatoes!

Sweet Sixteen, or Just Server 2012R3?  A Glance at the Awesome, the Irritating, the Improved and the Expensive in Server 2016

Server 2016's almost out -- should you be excited or not? Server 2012's arrival a few years ago delivered a huge leap in Server capabilities.  For the first time, Windows Server offered a virtual compute and storage infrastructure that not only rivaled the competition, but cost far less to implement.  Server 2012R2 delivered mainly fixes and small upgrades, as expected, but where does Server 2016 fit in?  Mark Minasi, author of the bestselling 23-year series of Mastering Windows Server books, has the answer, in this quick and entertaining look at Server 2016.  You'll hear why Nano Server, the amazingly tiny, secure and extremely cool feature is great… but may cost you a bundle in licenses.  You'll be surprised to hear about the central Server feature that gets no new improvements at all.  You'll be delighted by the introduction of four simple storage features that propel 2016 storage into "ready for prime time" class.  Upon learning of the "finally!" improvements to Hyper-V and Windows Containers, you may not be to, um, contain yourself.  So don't miss this talk, or you may never know the dark truth about 2016's Server Core.  See you there!

The Case for PowerShell: Why You Should Learn-PowerShell So You Needn't Leave-Industry

Once in a while, Microsoft comes up with a technology that EVERYONE -- devs, IT pros and everyone in-between -- needs to know.  One of those is... PowerShell.  For developers, it's a REPL tool for prototyping and exploring .NET, it's the basis of NuGet, and a way to radically remodel Visual Studio.  For IT pros, it's an automation tool that'll remind you less of "opaque VBScript" and more of Legos, it's  a collection of administrative timesavers, and is increasingly the ONLY way to accomplish some things in Windows.  (It's also gosh-darned addictive, but you'll have to take our word on that.)
Now, that's probably not news to most of the folks reading this.  (We know this because whenever techie speaker Mark Minasi talks to a big crowd and asks, "how many of you have 'learn PowerShell' on your list of 'stuff you have to do really soon?,'" 98 percent of the hands are raised.)  PowerShell, however, can seem like an awfully large topic to learn... so where to start?  Simple:  with this simple, purpose-driven introduction based on Mark's recent webinar of the same name, which had to be run twice because the thousands of people trying to view it crashed the hoster's servers.  Join Mark in this clear, fast-paced jumpstart on Microsoft's premier new admin tool... and Feel The Power(Shell)!

Windows as a Service Explained:  Really, I've to Upgrade Windows Every Year?

One first things we learned about Windows 10 was that it was the last Windows.  That's why it was so jarring to subsequently learn that Microsoft will actually release one or more new versions of Windows annually.  So, in other words, while Windows 10 is the last version of Windows, it's, um, not finished, and probably never will be.
Odd as it sounds, the idea of a constantly-changing Windows stems from a relatively popular and decade-old software development approach called “agile.” Microsoft’s label for this never-finished Windows is "Windows as a Service.”  In just a few words, basically Microsoft will roll out a new version of Windows every six months, and you’ll need to upgrade your systems to that new Windows within a year… or your system won’t get security patches any more.
While that sounds a bit nutty, it may herald some truly positive changes for Windows users and administrators, and in any case Windows admins really need to understand the ins and outs of this rapid-fire pace of Windows upgrades. 
Fortunately for them, veteran Windows expert and bestselling author Mark Minasi has assembled this concise, entertaining short talk explaining Windows as a Service from start to finish.  After sitting in this talk, you'll know how high flights are different from low flights, how to control what branch your updates live on, and basically how not to tear your hair out about the new ever-changing Windows.  See you there!

Move the Old, Exploit the New, and Prosper: Digging for Office 365 Gold

Every day, more and more organizations are shutting down their Exchange servers and moving to Office 365 for one simple reason:  they expect to save money.  But, as some have ruefully discovered, inadequate planning or weak migration tools can lead to a botched move… and it only takes a couple days' downtime to eat up those cost expected savings.  Even if your O365 move is successful, though, far too many organizations don't realize that they're leaving money on the table  by seeing O365 as simply email SaaS, when in actuality it offers much more.  Tremendous amounts of cloud storage in OneDrive for Business.  Dead-simple collaboration tools in O365's SharePoint Online.  A Skype for Business host that lets you run online meetings with hundreds of attendees as well as support for essentially unlimited in-organization instant messaging.  Add Yammer Enterprise and the Delve tool, and you'll see that even the most basic Office 365 subscription includes at least one extra tool that your organization can use and profit from… and best of all, you've already paid for it.  If you aren't currently using Office 365 or, more likely, have Office 365 and are only using it for email, Join veteran industry author, speaker and techie Mark Minasi in a quick look at all that purchased-but-unexploited O365 gold!

Understanding Windows 10/2016's Super Security:  VSM, Trustlets, Credential Guard, Device Guard and More

With Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016, Microsoft introduced several new security technologies that simplify securing Hyper-V virtual machines and significantly protect Windows 10 from malware.  They are significant game-changes in the computer security business and they, um, have one little problem:

They're really complicated to understand and setup.

Fortunately, however, Windows security author Mark Minasi -- the guy whose books actually explained what UAC and Windows Integrity Levels (WILs) do, as well as whose tools "chml" and "regil" gave you complete control of WILs -- has spent a lot of time with Isolated User Mode, Virtual Security Mode (no, it's not a virtual machine, no matter what anyone tells you), Credential Guard and Device Guard, and has prepared a quick talk that explains the underlying techs, what hardware you need to make it work, and how to get it running.  You'll learn about the Isolated User Mode, IUM) which creates a basically truly unassailable place ot store passwords.  You'll see the (big) difference in the new "Guards," Device Guard and Credential Guard.  You'll know if your computer's hardware is up-to-date enough to use the new tools, and you'll find get a quick summary of the new security tools added by Windows 8/8.1 that you probably heard of… but will really like.   Attend this talk and be the first person on your block to get VSM running!

Windows Clusters for Beginners: From Highly Fearful to Highly Reliable in 75 Minutes!

Running Windows servers?  Great.  Making them more reliable with Windows clusters?  No?  Hey, that's got to change,you're SO gonna love 'em.  Listen... Since 1998, Windows clusters have helped admins deliver network services (file/print, SQL, Hyper-V, etc) more reliably.  Clusters build on the simple principle of "two heads are better than one."  That means that let's say we've got two SQL/Hyper-V/file servers, each of whom have, say, a one percent chance of failure.  Glue 'em together to create a "two-node"  cluster, and you can end up with a SQL, Hyper-V or file server with a joint expected failure rate of as little as 0.01 percent.  Until the advent of Server 2012, however, clusters were expensive both hardware- and software-wise, and complex to set up, and so many techies gave them a miss, and that's a shame.  With Server 2012, Windows clustering gets quite a bit cheaper, but unfortunately the vast majority of Windows Server admins are still not using this great, now-inexpensive in-the-box technology.  That's a shame, as Server 2012 and later let us employ "champagne availability on a beer budget."

While clustering is useful, many folks aren't using it because they just don't have the time to learn how to put it together... and that's why you should attend this talk.  Join Mark Minasi, author of the best-selling Mastering Windows Server series in a fast, fun, award-winning (really!) explanation of Windows clusters.  We guarantee you'll never build a cluster again without hearing someone singing, "can I get a witness???" in your head!

Picking the Numbers: Are 10 or 2016 (Windows, That Is) Winners for You?

As in the past, Microsoft's told us that there's a new server and desktop version of our favorite OS on the way… but that they can't tell us everything that's in it.  (Apparently it's sort of like Christmas you know your parents are getting you something, but you can't know what it is until The Day, and in this case that day appears to be one in late October.)

On the client side, you already know to get ready for (yawn) yet another new-and-improved UI. But Windows 10 is more than just a pretty or, rather new face.  It integrates with the cloud more smoothly.  It offers a new kind of app that runs on phones, tablets and full-sized computers. (Yes, Windows 10 will run on many of your existing Windows phones.)  It supports an end to passwords … you won't miss having to remember passwords, will you?.  Furthermore, it continues in the Vista-and-later tradition of continuously simplifying upgrades  -- especially the in-place ones! -- and deployment. (Of course, there's that "where did Windows 9 go?" question, but you'll get the answer to that at this talk.)  Perhaps most important of all, though, is the fact that Windows 10 is the last version of Windows that Microsoft will ever ship, and from here on in, Windows will just get new features now and then.  (For example, as you're reading this, Microsoft has theoretically "shipped" Windows 10, but in reality a fairly large chunk of 10's advertised new features don't exist yet -- but you'll hear about that at this talk.)

On the server side, it's clouds again, both on the public and private cloud side.  Improvements to Hyper-V kick things off, extending and strengthening the foundation.  That's followed by changes to storage -- a nifty storage replicator that, unlike SAN "LUN replicators," works between any kind of architecture, and a heck of a lot more cheaply, as well as, well, something they can't tell you yet that'll be pretty neat (but remember, you didn't hear it from us).  Security improves in several ways, including a copy of Defender in every server.  You'll see all kinds of "Software-Defined" things in Server 20176 and, on top of that, there is -- of course -- a pile of new PowerShell capabilities baked into this next Server.  And there's even more things that, um, they're not talking about just yet.

Join Mark Minasi, author of the 20-year series of best-selling Mastering Windows Server books, in this quick, entertaining look at the next crop of Windows.  Attend this session with Mark and he'll convert the new software from a numbers game to a sure thing!

Featured Keynote Talk: "Cloud Computing: A (Lapsed) Economist's View "

For the past few years, we've all heard about "the cloud" and how it'll either save us a billion dollars and make our IT infrastructure more "agile," or that it's a scam and the end of the world for IT pros... so which is it? For the answer, join veteran IT industry watcher Mark Minasi as he dusts off his decades-old microeconomic analysis skills from his 80's stint as a senior economist in Washington and helps you get a handle on clouds. Did you know that a bit of simple math shows that cloud costs should drop significantly in the next ten years? Or that cloud computing might mean the end for some large organizations, but might make great sense for others? Or how about the fact that even though there are three major kinds of cloud vendors, none of those types are named "cumulus," "stratus," or "cirrus," despite the fact that the most catchy name for a cloud-to-cloud communications backbone would have to be "nimBUS?" Come to this talk and discover Mark's Nine Cloudy Conclusions... and have a few laughs in the process!

Popular Keynote Talk: "The Windows 7/R2 Report Card:  What They Got Right, What Got Left Out"

Well, Windows 7 and Windows Server 20008 R2 are finally here, so it's time again to ask:  is it time to upgrade?  Vista didn't entice many to leave XP behind, and Server 2008 can't be found in most IT shops, so are Win 7 and R2 good enough to make you leave behind XP and Server 2003 or, for some Vista and Server 2008?  Join veteran Windows watcher Mark Minasi in a fun, insightful look at what's good, what's bad, what's missing and what's just plain incomprehensible about Microsoft's latest OS offerings.

Mark's "Content-Free, Entertainment-Rich Keynote" — "How To Succeed In The Computer Business"

The rest of Mark's talks focus on technical topics and intend to educate and inform their audience; if they happen to be entertaining as well, then that's of course important — it keeps the audience awake — but getting laughs isn't normally the main focus of Mark's talks.  But in the past few years, clients have sometimes approached us about doing a short 45-70 minute keynote that contained no content at all, just a bit of "Minasi unplugged:" jokes, stories, and offbeat observations from someone with nearly 30 years in the business but who's managed to avoid becoming "assimilated."  Mark agreed to try, and the results have been ... well ... really happy audiences, including one recent attendee who complained that he laughed so hard his face hurt.  So if you need a way to get your conference moving with a laugh, then call us about "How To Succeed In The Computer Business."  Learn the secrets of choosing the right "beta" names, how to create demand for your product even if your company doesn't make any products, as well as the secret of the Next Big Thing in networking.

Windows Technical Talks

This talks are more in-depth than Mark's keynote talks (although many folks chose to run the Windows overview talks as technical talks).

The Network Files, Case #53: Diagnosing Diseases of DNS

Network troubleshooters soon learn that the first place to look when the network stops working is DNS... and soon after that, they learn that the in-the-box DNS troubleshooting tool, nslookup, is a pretty weak answer -- but this session remedies that with a clear, step-by-step set of diagnostic approaches and prescriptions for DNS ills of all stripes.

Give your troubled DNS queries a thorough workup with Network Monitor, and find out why those dynamic updates aren't happening. Get the scoop on the dread "EDNS flu," an ailment endemic to Server 2008 and 2008 R2 boxes. Take your DNS system's pulse with DNSLint. Take a sample of your DNS output with a close examination of your logs, and more. Attend this talk and you'll soon be known as "Doctor DNS!"

-Become familiar with common DNS troubles and their solutions
-Know the best DNS troubleshooting tools and how to use them
-Grasp effective DNS troubleshooting techniques
-Find out about NEW DNS problems that appear on newer versions of Server, and their solutions

Night of the Living Directory: Understanding the Windows Server 2008 R2 Active Directory Recycle Bin

Windows Server 2008 R2 brought a number of nice changes to Active Directory, but the number one crowd pleaser had to be the Active Directory Recycle Bin, a useful tool for undeleting Active Directory objects that have been deleted, so to speak, "before their time." Powerful and useful as the Recycle Bin is, however, there is more to it than a bit of clicking and dragging, as there is no Recycle Bin GUI built into R2 -- the only in-the-box way to make use of the Recycle Bin is a set of PowerShell commands. (There ARE third-party GUIs for the Recycle Bin, though, as you'll learn in this talk.) How long can something stay "dead" before it can't be revived? Must we reboot our domain controllers to un-delete things? Is there a way in an R2 domain to delete something and ensure that it CAN'T be revived? Find out in this fast-paced, comprehensive look at the new Active Directory Recycle Bin, presented by Mark Minasi, author of some of the best-selling books on Active Directory around!

Automating Your AD:  Operate and Document Your Domain More Easily, Automatically and Repeatably With Windows' Free Tools

Still administering your AD the click-and-drag way?  For most AD admins, the answer is sadly "yes," and often for the same reason:  busy AD admins just don't get the time to learn how to use the many free AD automation tools built right into Windows... until now.  Join Mark Minasi, AD expert and author of over 150 installments of the popular "Windows Power Tools" and "This Old Resource Kit" columns, in a clear, example-filled explanation of some of the best in-the-box Active Directory automation tools.  First, you'll learn bulk account creation with CSVDE and LDIFDE.  Then we'll take a quick peek under the hood of AD's structure with ADSIEdit to enable us to speak a bit of "LDAP-ese," a skill we'll need to take the next step and start benefiting from 2008 R2's 76 new Active Directory-oriented cmdlets.  With these new cmdlets, you can often convert a task that once required a few hundred clicks -- or two days of VBScripting -- into just a few commands.

What's that you say, you don't have 2008 R2?  No problem; Mark will show you how you can get the PowerShell tools running on any 2003-based AD.  Or perhaps you don't know PowerShell yet?  No need to worry, as this talk tosses in enough PowerShell basics to enable anyone comfortable with Active Directory to get productive with the AD PoSH cmdlets in no time.  We guarantee that every attendee will scratch his or her head and say, "hey, I could use that!" at least once in this talk!

DNSSEC and Windows: Get Ready, 'Cause Here it Comes!

Question: when is your bank's Web site NOT your bank's Web site?

Answer: after some criminal hijacks your bank's DNS domain, fooling you and other bank customers into divulging your usernames and passwords to that criminal's Web server. (And anti-phishing software can't help here!)

DNS was long considered to be the safe, secure bedrock of the Internet. In the past few years, however, an age-old, fundamental set of DNS vulnerabilities have led to attack approaches like the online banking theft scenario (which, by the way, is not simply a fantasy -- a proof-of-concept attack of its type unfortunately worked quite well). What to do? The answer among most Internet infrastructure experts is to implement a series of DNS extensions collectively called "DNSSEC," a technology first proposed in 1997.

Despite DNSSEC's age, you've probably either never heard of it or never had a reason to care much... but that's all changing. Since 2009, DNSSEC implementation has kicked into high gear. Many important top-level domains like .gov, .org and much of the root zone are now on board with DNSSEC, with .com and .net compliance soon to follow.

The good news, then, is that DNSSEC's finally getting some traction and so the bad guys' opportunity to seize control of DNS is being steadily eradicated. The bad news is that unless your Windows client and server software understand DNSSEC, then you and your users sadly get no protection from DNSSEC at all. In order to play in (and benefit from) this secure new world, you need to understand how to configure and maintain DNSSEC-smart systems.

Join uber-DNS-geek Mark Minasi in a look at what exact problem DNSSEC tries to solve, how it does it, and how Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 implement that solution. DNSSEC is one of the foremost "gotta learn it" technologies of the next couple of years even if you DON'T plan to sign your zone, so don't miss this talk from the only guy who can explain DNS things and still keep you awake!

IPv6 for the Reluctant: What To Know Before You Turn It Off

"IPv6 is never gonna happen," right? For good or ill, that's not true. At our current rate -- assuming no growth in demand for IPv4 addresses -- we will exhaust IPv4 addresses by the end of 2012. That's right... by New Years 2013, there won't be an IPv4 address to be had for love or money. (And IPv6 is an essential part of Windows Server 2008 R2's nifty DirectAccess "invisible VPN... but that's a story for another day.)

We get IPv6 in-the-box with Vista, Windows 7 and Server 2008 and 2008 R2. Your first reaction when you see an IPv6 address like "fe80::5efe:" might be: "Hmmm... that’s a lotta colons, and I KNOW what comes out of colons!" But is that the RIGHT reaction? Join veteran Windows explainer Mark Minasi in a look at the latest version of IPv6… and whether you’ll want to leave it on or turn it off. In this whirlwind tour, Mark explains the motivation for IPv6 and the technologies behind its implementation (which saves you from having to read 30 RFCs), adding useful notes on the Microsoft-specific aspects of Windows' IPv6 implementation.  Attendees to Microsoft's Management Summit (MMS) 2010 ranked this talk #1 above 130 other talks... come attend and see why!

Ten (Or More) Things You Probably Don't Know about Windows Server 2008 R2

Okay, so maybe you've read about or even played around with Windows Server 2008 R2.  You know a bit about Active Directory's PowerShell cmdlets, DirectAccess, BranchCache and the new backup program.  It's all great stuff, but... did you know that R2's the first print server whose spooler service WON'T crash just because a print driver failed?  Or that R2's DHCP server service has a cool new MAC filter feature, combined with helpful new support for split scopes?

Well, that's just the start.  Ever needed to resize a VHD?  R2's got command-line support for that, as well as a whole new kind of built-in SMB cache.  And of course you know that R2 shores up your system's security by blocking those scary old 1980s LM-type logons -- but did you know that R2's got the tool that you need to smoke out and stomp those persistent early 90s NTLM logons?

Join server geek Mark Minasi in a fast-paced review of all of the R2 features that haven't really gotten the attention that he thinks that they ought to, complete with demos and step-by-step instructions to try them out in your own network.  Hey, what would be crazier than paying for a new server operating system and not squeezing all of the juice out of it?

Windows Logons Revealed

Every day we log into our Windows systems. But what really happens when we do? How DO our workstations and our domain controllers exchange logon information without revealing our passwords? For that matter, how are our workstations able to find DCs even on days when the local DC's sick? Let veteran Windows explicator Mark Minasi show you how logins work, how they can not work (and how you can fix them) as well as how to better secure them -- as well as giving you the tools to understand where Microsoft's login protocols are and aren't so secure.  Once you're done, terms like "ticket-granting service" and "service principal name" will be clear as a bell!

Cracking Open Kerberos: Understanding How AD Knows Who You Are

When used for simple authentication, then Active Directory's authenticator-of-choice Kerberos is trouble-free: set up an AD, Kerberos just works and that's it. But start to add AD-aware servers and services, or try to understand how a read-only domain controller differs from a full DC, and all of sudden there's a LOT to know -- and ticket granting tickets, pre-authenticators, and session keys are just the start, as anyone who's attended security techie Mark Minasi's highly-rated "Windows Logins Revealed" in previous TechEds knows. But what's this about "delegation," or, in Server 2008, "CONSTRAINED delegation" -- is it only permissible between consenting adults? And what's an "SPN," the thing that the invaluable "setspn" utility assists with? Once past that, you may find that some of your users seem to be logged onto AD but aren't really, due to the frightening-sounding "token bloat." What's all of this (it's good news, really), and what can it do for (or to) you? Find out when Mark resumes the mantle of Revealer of Windows Logons, explaining all this -- and more -- while keeping that trademark Minasi energy and humor.

Can Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2 help secure your network better – and what will it cost?

A look at the list of Windows 7's seven premier "big" new features (VHDs, the UI changes, libraries, BranchCache, DirectAccess, AppLocker, Bitlocker To Go) will reveal that three out of that seven (the last three) are security-related items. In this talk, Windows security consultant and writer of the world's best-selling Vista security book Mark Minasi puts these and other Win7 and Server 2008 R2-related security features under the microscope, explaining the good, the bad, the inexpensive and the pricey.

How Windows 7/R2 Change Windows Storage... Can You Say "VHD?"

Load Windows 7 or Server 2008 R2 on a system, and you'll notice something sorta strange: there's no boot record or BCD folder. Look at other Win7/R2 systems, and you may notice something even stranger: there's only one file on the hard disk, and yet you can boot the system and run a normal Windows system. What's going on here? Simple: Windows 7 gets a lot of press for its faster-than-Vista performance and newer user interface, but there's a lot more to it also, including native support of VHD files (that's how a one-file system boots) as well as a new default disk structure, support of direct-to-disk ISO burning, and more. Whether you're going to Windows 7 sometime soon or five years from now, you'll want to be prepared for the changes that Win 7 brings to storage -- and who better to prepare you than veteran Windows explainer Mark Minasi? Join Mark for this quick look at what's new in Win 7/R2 storage!

What Server 2008 R2 Does for Your Active Directory

Windows Server 2008 R2 here, and that means new tools for directory service IT pros. For the occasional admin, Active Directory Users and Computers is still around, but now it's got a task-oriented sibling, the "Active Directory Administrative Center (ADAC)." What's that, you're not a GUI fan? Then you'll smile when you learn that under the hood, ACAD just kicks off command-line PowerShell commands to get its work done, which brings us to 2008 R2's premier AD advance -- more than 70 PowerShell cmdlets.

That might well be enough to justify an "R2" upgrade, but there's more: an "AD recycle bin" that lets you undelete things that were, um, accidentally eliminated. A centralized, secured way to create and manage service accounts. ADLDS (what was once called ADAM) as well as AD both get new functional modes, and R2 supports "offline domain joins. For the details, don't miss this fast-paced, entertaining presentation from Mark Minasi, author of the world's best-selling books on Active Directory!

Name Resolution 2008 Style: DNS, WINS, and NetBIOS in Vista and Later

Soon we'll have "NT Server 6.1" -- Vista's big brother, also known as Server 2007, 2008, or Longhorn. And with that comes improvements in, well, just about everything, including one of Windows' most important pieces of plumbing -- name resolution. Yes, you've heard it before, but with Longhorn, it looks as though WINS may really, finally, actually... die. Or not; we'll see.

Besides the changes to WINS, the big name resolution story is, of course, DNS. What's new in 2007/8 DNS? And, better, what small features of 2003's DNS might you be missing out on? Come to this session with The Master of Name Resolution, popular speaker and writer Mark Minasi, to find out!

DCs Get Better: 2008's New DCPROMO, Read-Only DCs and More

2003's Active Directory is pretty good, but, honestly, it could be better. Branch office DCs are a real pain both from a security and a bandwidth point of view. But Longhorn Server/Server 2007 offers some relief with the concept of a "read-only domain controller" that flexes Kerberos' muscles in a way that Windows hasn't really before. You'll get the ability to dial in exactly which user accounts are stored on a branch office DC, as well as new encryption options to make it theft-proof. But that's not all -- DCPROMO gets a facelift and, well, it needed it. Find out about this and other upcoming Longhorn domain controller and AD improvements with bestselling author Mark Minasi!

Cracking the DaVista Code:  the Best Things You're Not Using in Vista

So you got yourself some powerful PCs and you put Vista on your desktop.  Pretty neat, eh?

But it might be neater, you know.

After all, Vista's basically a complete re-write of Windows.  So while everyone's focused on Aero Glass or Previous Versions, it's easy to miss some of the not-so-obvious but useful things in the latest version of Windows -- things like takeown, icacls, or Vista's ability to resize already-formatted partitions without having to reformat them, to name just a few.  Join Mark Minasi,  author of Administering Vista Administration: the Big Surprises and Mastering Vista Business, in his quest to squeeze the last bit of neat new functionality out of Vista, while perhaps getting a few laughs in the process!

Windows Power Tools: Administration at “C:\>” Level

Still doing administration from the GUI? Well, that works, of course – but while GUIs are nice for now-and-then tasks, you can get a lot more done from the command line and, even better, you can stuff your favorite command lines into Notepad to create the world’s simplest administration tool.

The hard part, of course, is getting started – and who better to help you than Mark Minasi, whose “This Old Resource Kit” and “Windows Power Tools” columns have discovered and explained the best Microsoft command-line administrations tools for the past eight years. While the “altitude” – that is, high-level nature – of GUIs are nice, really getting the job in the least amount of time needs a more down-to-earth, “C:\>-level” approach. Join Mark and see how to run "command" Windows to do your bidding!

Uncovering Service Pack Gold: The Best Stuff You're Still Not Using in XP SP2, 2003 SP1, and R2

(The talk that scored in the top ten of TechEd 2006's 450 sessions!)

The SP Twins -- XP's Service Pack 2 and 2003 Server's Service Pack 1, as well as that giant service pack called "R2" -- have been out for quite a while, and most of us have deployed them for their fixes and greater security. But are you using EVERYTHING that SP1/SP2 offer? Well, unless "access-based enumeration," "IPsec bypass,""auditusr.exe,""binary behaviors" and "mime sniffing" have a place in your security vocabulary, then perhaps you're not getting the most out of your service packs! This session provides the step-by-step ways to squeeze all of the security juice out of the SPs, including clear and complete explanations of how to hide folders from unauthorized users, per-user auditing via AUDITUSR, how to create an ActiveX whitelist or blacklist for Internet Explorer, how to use Windows Firewall in combination with IPsec bypass to fine-tune access to a set of servers... and a lot more. Attend this session and you will immediately learn how to secure your systems better... for free.

The Accidental DBA's Guide:
Mastering MSDE and SQL Server 2005 Express, Microsoft's "Mandatory" Databases

Microsoft has released tons of free network management utilities over the years. But recently they've all had one thing in common: they need a real-live SQL Server to run. And unless you want to shell out a few kilobucks for SQL Server 2000 or 2005, then you're going to be using the Microsoft SQL Server Desktop Engine (MSDE) or its successor SQL Server 2005 Express Edition (SSX). They're just like SQL Server... except that they don't have any GUI administration tools. In this comprehensive talk, Mark solves the plight of the "accidental DBA" with a top-to-bottom look at what MSDE/SSX are, how to install then, how to secure them and run them, including 25 "cookbooks" to solve common problems and perform basic maintenance. SQL administration's not just for DBAs any more, so who better to make it easy than master elucidator Mark Minasi?

Cracking Open The Post Office: SMTP Server A to Z

The Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) is the engine that makes Internet e-mail run -- send mail to and it's SMTP that does most of the heavy lifting. That's why NT 4, Windows 2000, XP and 2003 have all included a fairly powerful IIS SMTP service. As a matter of fact, it's the tool that Exchange uses to handle your Internet e-mail.

As with any powerful tool, IIS's SMTP service isn't always simple to configure. In this session, NT veteran and champion explainer-of-the-obscure Mark Minasi uncovers the SMTP service.

Attend this entertaining, fast-paced talk and you'll learn how to put SMTP Server to work as a "smart host" protecting your Exchange server from the hostile Internet. Or just use it as a free-of-charge backup Internet e-mail server for those times when your main e-mail server is offline or unavailable. You'll see how to diagnose and troubleshoot undelivered Internet e-mail. You'll know how to secure your SMTP server against spammers, denial of service attacks and other threats while at the same time ensuring availability to your internal and traveling users. (Do you know how EXACTLY which services you can turn off and still have SP1's IIS 6.0 SMTP Server work? This session will show you.) You'll find out how to use SMTP Server to host multiple e-mail domains and of course you'll learn everything you could ever need to know about relaying -- that there's "good relaying" and "bad relaying," what it really means, what problems it presents and how to solve them. You'll uncover how the Pickup, Drop, Queue and BadMail folders, the event logs and SMTP logs interact to help you diagnose undelivered messages. Finally, you'll get a look at the extensive event scripting capabilities of SMTP Server.

The Art Of Network Troubleshooting: How To Fix Any Network Problem

Network software and hardware comes and goes, protocols grow and change, and what we do with networks expands all of the time, but one thing doesn't change: how often we use the words "network" and "not work" in the same sentence. One day we'll just plug it all in and it'll just work, but for now, "to network is to troubleshoot." In this talk, veteran networking consultant, teacher and writer Mark Minasi shares the twelve immutable laws of troubleshooting any network problem.  Zen archers are reputed to be able to hit a target blindfolded; with this talk, you can become a Zen network troubleshooter and fix network problems with both hands tied behind your back!

Securing Your Microsoft Network:  A Dozen Tips

Let's be clear:  designing and implementing a good security takes time and money, and it's a pretty good idea to invest that time and money.  But if you've short on time then this session is the next best thing.  In just a few minutes, you'll learn a bunch of short tips which don't take much time to implement and that can shore up your system's security.  Windows 2000 and 2003 (and even NT 4) include a ton of security features — but unfortunately they don't enable them by default.  Join network geek and writer Mark Minasi in a series of quick and dirty suggestions that'll help you caulk over some of those security holes!

Practical Active Directory Troubleshooting:  Causes and Solutions

AD's pretty reliable -- quite reliable, in fact -- sometimes things go wrong anyway. Domain controllers can get disconnected from other DCs, leading to replication problems and group policy failures. DNS can get stupid, leading to... well, leading to a wide variety of troubles. Administrators can be distracted while changing something in AD, laying waste to entire sections of AD -- and creating a need for fast repair. And even IF none of those things happen, Active Directory is just a database, and even the best database needs a bit of database administration. Join battle-scarred AD veteran Mark Minasi in an examination of what can go wrong with AD, what to do about it, and maybe even have a few laughs in the process.

Tuning and Monitoring XP, 2000, and Server 2003

Microsoft says that 2000, XP and .NET are "self-tuning" and in fact it's true that they require less tweaking than some of the competition. But there are some very important things to watch in order to keep your servers and workstations in peak condition and to squeeze the most power out of your OS. In this session, Windows techie Mark Minasi shows you which Performance Monitor counters to watch and what to do to maximize your PC's performance, whether the PC's on your desk on in a rack.

Troubleshooting DNS In an Active Directory World

Your Active Directory's acting up, but where to look to find the trouble -- Active Directory Users And Computers? Sites and Services? Domains and Trusts? Nope, in most cases the problem lies in DNS. DNS failures can lead to logon problems, group policy mysteries, and more -- as you'll learn in this nuts-and-bolts session.

You can't be a black belt AD troubleshooter (or even a green belt AD troubleshooter) without an in-depth knowledge of how to make DNS work FOR AD, not AGAINST it. In this session, Windows networking techie Mark Minasi and author of the million-selling Mastering Windows Server series reveals the most common DNS problems and puzzles -- "who IS that guy in my event log, anyway?" -- and how to solve them.

Understanding DNS — the Foundation of Active Directory

Over the years, NT administrators have learned how to work with three basic "infrastructure" tools — WINS, DNS and DHCP. But how well have we really learned about DNS? The truth is that NT 4.0 really didn't need DNS all that much, and most NT admins never had to do anything more challenging than set up a basic "domain" for DNS and pop a couple of records into that domain.

Now, with Active Directory, everything's changed. DNS stands at center stage and in fact you'd be crazy to even start implementing Active Directory before you had your DNS infrastructure nailed down. If you're not exactly sure what a "DNS forwarder" or "DNS slave" is, if you're fuzzy about the difference between domains and zones, if you were thinking that you'd expose the same set of DNS domains to the outside world as you do to your corporate network, then attend this entertaining, amusing — and informative tutorial. DNS can be dull — unless Mark's explaining it!

Active Directory Planning, Concepts and Migration

Just getting started designing your Active Directory structure?  Or did you just get "dropped" into an existing AD shop?  You've probably heard that there's something called an organizational unit, something called a domain — which is somehow different than an "ancient" old NT 4 domain — as well as forests and trees.   And DNS fits in here somewhere; will you have to replace all of those DNS servers?   In fact, the major message that most people seem to get about AD is the "Everything That You Know Is Wrong."  Fear not, for two reasons:  first, in many ways AD isn't that different from what's come before and, second, you can come to this talk and have it all explained in just over one hour!  You'll learn when to use domains versus when to use organizational units (as well as what they are!), how to design your new name space, why having four types of groups is simpler than having two types of groups, how to lay out your sites and, of course, what a site is in the first place.  Then you'll find out about the two migration approaches, "in place" versus "clean and pristine," and which is right for you.  When offered in the past, this talk fills rooms up quickly — so get there early to see the AD introduction that got Mark banned from presenting at Microsoft events!

Understanding Active Directory Replication

Walk through the processes involved with Active Directory Replication step-by-step. Discover exactly how to configure your Windows 2000 Domain Controllers to take maximum advantage of the replication process. You will also learn the potential problems you may encounter and how to plan for and avoid many common errors.  But most important, you'll learn how to use command-line and GUI-based tools to track — and sometimes prod — replication to make it do your bidding!

Group Policy Troubleshooting

Group policies are a great tool but a potential nightmare. On the one hand, they let you do more support and administration while sitting at your desk than while wearing out your shoe leather; but on the other hand, when they go wrong, they provide the opportunity with just one click to bring an entire enterprise to its e-knees. In this session, best-selling Windows 2000 author Mark Minasi looks at how they work and what do when they seem not to work.

Hardening Windows 2000 and 2003 Systems

Once upon a time, all you had to do to make a server or workstation useful was to just install it and configure it to the client's needs.  Unfortunately that's now only part of the job.  Nowadays we've also got to tailor it AGAINST the needs of the other clients on your systems -- the bad guys.  Configuring a system to be harder to attack isn't hard; it just requires understanding and implementing an array of settings.  In this informative and enjoyable talk, explains how you can make your system as dirtbag-proof as possible, and as simply as possible.

The Secrets of Effective Technical Talks: How to Explain Tech Without Tucking Them In!

One of the most essential professional skills in any organization is communication: you've got to be as successful in talking to the carbon units as you are in talking to the silicon units, or even your greatest ideas will fall on deaf ears. (At least, that's the case until the silicon units start controlling salaries and budgets.)

The sad fact, though, is that most of us hate the idea of presenting ideas and concepts, whether in giving a short training session on a new piece of software or in pitching a new IT project to the boss. People fear public speaking more than death, some authorities claim and that may be true, but that fear's easily fixed -- just learn twelve steps to effective presentation, and you'll find that giving talks can be a whole lot of fun.

Today's tough economic times have led many of us to wonder what skills we'll need to stay in IT over the next five, ten or twenty years; come to this talk to improve, enhance and polish what may well be the most important of those skills. Join popular twenty-five-year veteran techie presenter Mark Minasi, five of whose talks TechEd 2008 attendees ranked in the top ten out of 450 presentations, as he explains The Twelve Tips To Topnotch Technical Talks in this fast-paced, entertaining and informative explanation of, well, how to give an explanation!

Software Quality — Why the Software We Use Is So Bad and What We Can Do To Fix It

Software has defects. (The programmers have taught us to call them "bugs," but they're defects nonetheless.) That, in and of itself, is not terrible: virtually every product has defects. What's amazing about shrink-wrap software, however, is the sheer number of defects. Popular operating systems, word processors, Internet browsers and e-mail packages have literally hundreds or thousands of defects — can you imagine buying a microwave oven, a hamburger, a house or a car with thousands of defects?   

Of course you can't. In our society, we normally put purveyors of low-quality products out of business. So why is software different?  Simple:  because we allow it to be different.

In this provocative talk based on his hard-hitting book The Software Conspiracy:  Why Software Vendors Create Faulty Products, How They Can Harm You, and What You Can Do About It, software industry veteran journalist Mark Minasi discusses why we accept low-quality software in the first place, why it doesn't seem to get much better, and presents a concrete multi-point plan that YOU, the software consumer, can follow to fix the software industry. Using startling examples (did you know about the bug in a pickup truck's computer that killed a child?) and wry wit to make his points, Mark will keep your attendees on the edge of their seats as he first describes the problem, then offers solutions that we should adopt — and soon.

Some of the largest IT conferences in the country have featured this popular talk; call now to add it to your next meeting!