Friday, November 04, 2005

Windows Connections - Thursday Sessions

It just keeps getting better. Even though I’m certainly winding down with conference fatigue, the quality of the presentations is consistently high and very informative. This morning’s keynote, for instance, was from an actual Microsoft employee, Steve RileyDebunking Security Myths.

It was fairly light as far as technical content goes, but Steve admitted that upfront. The point of the keynote is to fire up the audience, and that is exactly what he did. In the process, Steve attacked what he and his co-author Jesper Johannson call “security theatre”. This is a phrase Jesper coined to point out the nonsense we encounter daily in which true security risks are routinely ignored and the insignificant becomes a ”problem”. Steve gives the example in his book of the security protocols at airports where little old ladies with toenail clippers have to surrender their “weapons” while black belt Karate experts pass unimpeded.

Steve had another session later that I attended as well (I also purchased his and Jesper’s book, Protect Your Windows Network From Perimeter to Data) entitled Troubleshooting TCP/IP. The latter session wasn’t as well prepared. In fact, Steve admitted as much, saying that he finished the slides at 10:00 pm last night. Even though he went overtime in his presentation, there were quite a few slides he was unable to use. And his comments on IPsec filtering didn’t really fit the tone of the rest of the talk.

I attended another Exchange session with Jim McBee Is RPC over HTTP Right For You? Sounds delightful, I know. Actually, Jim, who is obviously a mild-mannered and humble person, did an admirable job of detailing how to configure both the server and the client to allow remote users to connect to Exchange using Outlook 2003 on a Windows XP Professional machine from outside the firewall. Yes, there is still VPN and Outlook Web Access, but if the vast majority of remote users want only to get at Outlook in the same way they would from within the firewall, Steve’s suggestions will help the IT Pro “make it so”.

Lucky for me, I got to attend one other session with Dan Holme. I learned today that before he became an IT guru, Dan was an improvisational comedian, something which might explain his phenomenal ability to think on his feet, although I haven’t caught him making anything up (to the best of my knowledge). Dan’s session AD Design, Delegation, and Security Brainshare was unlike any other presentation at the conference. He intentionally put the “connections” back in Windows Connections, opening up the floor from the very beginning to questions and comments from the 100 or so attendees. But he was also prepared to “play the dance mix” when there weren’t enough questions to continue.

Finally, Ruth Morton and I met some more Canadians! I met two guys from the University of Western Ontario at breakfast, while Ruth and I met a colleague from the University of Waterloo at the break in the afternoon. At lunch, we met someone from Kansas who we will keep in contact with as we both try to establish user groups in our respective regions.

No, we didn’t win any of the draws at the end of the conference. Yes, I have the red-eye flights to catch before I’m back in “home country”.

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