Free Microsoft Official Training Resources

Microsoft Virtual Academy

Eval Center

Hands-on Labs


Office 365

MS Feeds




Free books

This is a MVA link to a number of free Microsoft Press books, but it hasn’t been updated since a year ago, kind of outdated:

I would recommend this link from Eric Ligman, updated every summer, huge number of books, there is even a PowerShell script that you can download them all at once:

This site has quite a few rich format content regarding SharePoint:

CloudAcademy’s Introduction To Microsoft Azure

The 7 section CBT course is just a plain voice reading through the scripts.  I would rather read more up-to-date web pages on  Compare to other courses in the market, this one has no value, just a waste of time and money.

Jordan remains on Summer Time

Simple and short if you have some business with Jordan and/or have computers or servers running in that country:

Jordan’s government has canceled the switch from Daylight Saving Time to Standard Time this year. The Middle Eastern country was originally set to turn the clocks back 1 hour on Friday, October 26, 2012. However, with the new decision made on Wednesday, October 24, Jordanians will remain on Daylight Saving Time (DST), which is UTC+3.

What to do if your computers are running on Microsoft Windows?  Waiting for next, probably out-of-band “DST cumulative update” release from Microsoft.  Here is a capture from MS Jordan on Facebook, they call it hotfix.

News source:

Related Microsoft sites:

Again, Microsoft Azure charged about $5 a month for an empty database.

Now I realized, I shouldn’t have touched this MS Azure cloud again when I received a newsletter from Windows Azure Team.  All I did one day last month after I saw that email was created an empty web site, a cloud service, an empty database and a storage.  Not a single byte has been put in so far because I still cannot figure out what would the next step be, even to say ‘Hello World”.


Last time I wrote about Azure I have the conclusion that a 200MB database in MS cloud could cost user more than $25,000 each month, so this time I haven’t put a single bit in db01 database I just created.

Now it’s happening again, when my credit card expired by the end of June, they sent me two email today (July 1st), reminding me I should update credit card info and also I owe them $0.20 for the first day of July, for nothing.

The Azure billing detail is more sophisticated than the hydro and gas bill:

  1. I don’t know why they charged me 0.016129 ConsumeUnits for an empty database, there is nothing in it, but at least it’s consistent everyday.
  2. The ConsumeUnits of the website are different every day.  Why?  I have nothing, not even one html file in the web site, what has been consumed differently everyday?


This is what Azure charged in June for the empty services.



And this is what MS cloud charged for July 1st, plus tax I assume.


This could be the reason – I enabled four services in June 8th although I didn’t have time to touch them again, but the SQL service charged me for an empty database, which might have consumed some kilobytes on their virtual hard disk somewhere in the cloud.

The unreasonable part is the SQL service was not even working when I logged in yesterday.


I don’t bother call Microsoft support for the error this time.  I called for some other Azure questions last time, it seemed they don’t care.  I am not sure if it’s because I told them I wanted to try (preview) Azure from SMB (small & medium businesses) standpoint or else.  Bottom line, it’s Microsoft product, if Microsoft people don’t care, why should I?

I just deleted everything  under the account, gonna pay a few loonie or toonie to the MS foundation since they claimed I owe them (maybe in fine print somewhere).

Bye Azure!

Why do I see failed connection to sip* on proxy firewall?

From time to time, we saw attempts on proxy or firewall trying to go out for the following destinations:

Because the domain is reserved in RFC 2606, those hosts don’t actually exist, so all the attempts failed.  Consider the number of users in the network, how many resource had been wasted due to this kind of nonsense traffic?  If there is a proxy configured, the client will periodically send requests to the proxy, the proxy then need to authenticate and process the request.  If user has direct connection, the DNS need to resolve this non-existing hostname every few minutes.  Think if there are 1000 users in the same situation in your network.

Here is the log that shown on the proxy server from one client, the attempts repeat every few minutes:

The question then became where the traffic are from and how to stop them.

SIP is the keyword, it must be from an instant messaging client.  So on the client machine, we found only Office Communicator was installed but not configured ever since.  The Sign-in address (URI) was the default, and somehow it starts observing or connecting to all three hosts mentioned in the begining of this article.

imageI searched the Internet for similar complaints, most of those have three hostnames are Microsoft official documents – OCS Deployment Guides and Communicator Testing Guide.  The domain are real examples in those documents.

There is only one thread in Microsoft online community discussed about the issue.  worb68_ocs brought up the same concern that I have.  The only answer that closes to the root cause was from Turgay Ongun in Microsoft:

When you install the Communicator client and run it as the very first time, the textbox where you enter your SIP address is

If by mistake, any user click the sign in button without entering his/her SIP address, then the communicator tries to find the edge server for for SIP address.

All other answers were not quite straight forward.

So the next step is either remove Office Communicator if user is not using it, or configure it by a correct sign-in address, or disable automatic login if it’s not in use all the time.

Microsoft should also do something in their next release of Office Communicator or Lync client, they should leave the Sign-in address blank or lead user by a wizard to put in some more meaningful address/URI instead of just dropping a example like

Here is the thread address:

Some extend readings:

Were you on free flight OLSB? Now MSFT is kicking you out to the Cloud… Let us know when you touch the ground.


Can my website be transitioned automatically to Office 365?

You must manually recreate your website in Office 365. To do this, you must copy and paste your text, pictures, and any other website elements you choose to move.


Microsoft has been struggling with its online service since long time ago, maybe since it bought HoTMaiL 14 years ago.  Then it started MSN, including MSN Messenger and MSN Spaces, later rebranded to Windows Live, it also named its small business service to Office Live.  But in recent years, MS re-shuffled all its online service again.  Stopped Live Spaces last year, made Office Live and Live Office more confusing.  Pushing the MS cloud – Azure, including a lite consumer version called Skydrive.  Changing Office Live to Office 365,  et cetera.

But all these are going to fail.  MS had failed on Web 2.0, it has also failed on Social Networking (remember Wallop?).  Now they bet on the Cloud.  If there is no philosophical change in its online business, MS is going to fail again.  Let me tell you why?

(to be continued)

Microsoft should release something officially about TMG, otherwise it’s losing customers.

Have the reports of TMG’s death been greatly exaggerated?

Back last spring, we reported – with more than a little concern – Gartner’s Magic Quadrant Report that stirred up a tempest in a teapot when they said Microsoft had informed them that they wouldn’t be shipping another full version of TMG and no longer intended to compete head-to-head with other vendors in the secure web gateway/firewall space. I wrote about it in my blog on this site and even did an editorial about it over on TechRepublic. In case you missed it, you’ll find it here.

The whole thing was exacerbated by the fact that Microsoft would neither confirm nor deny all the rumors that were swirling around in response to Gartner’s statement. As time has gone on, the confusion and consternation has deepened.  Customers and MVPs have been asking questions about the future of TMG and not getting many answers. In some ways that seems ominous – but some of us have started wondering if maybe it’s actually a good sign.

Certainly there have been some encouraging developments. In October, Microsoft released Service Pack 2 for TMG 2010, which was more than just a bug fix; it introduced several new functionalities, with a new Site Activity report, new look and feel for error pages, and the ability to use Kerberos authentication when deploying an array using NLB.

Why would Microsoft come out with a Service Pack for a product that had been declared “as good as dead” months before? As with all Microsoft products, the company will continue to support TMG for at least ten years from the date of this service pack, so it seems there’s some life in the old gal yet.

Last month, Richard Hicks reminded us that TMG was celebrating its second birthday.

But it’s important to remember that number refers only to the product named Threat Management Gateway. TMG actually has a much longer history than that, as the successor to the very popular ISA Server 2006, which itself evolved out of Microsoft Proxy Server.  So saying it’s two years old is, in some ways, like saying that if you go to court and get a name change, you can reset your age to zero and start all over again. Much as some of us who are getting up in years might wish we could do that, it really doesn’t work that way. TMG has been around for a while and it has matured into an excellent product.  Abandoning it at this point wouldn’t be like dumping the Kin because you realize you’ve made a mistake.

But this whole name change thing has me wondering if maybe we didn’t take Gartner’s statement literally enough. Just because Microsoft might have said they wouldn’t be shipping another full version of their Threat Management Gateway, does that mean the product itself is necessarily going away? They could have said they weren’t going to ship another version of ISA Server after 2006, too – and that would have been technically correct.

Who knows? Maybe TMG is just getting ready to undergo another evolutionary cycle. It’s hard for me to believe that Microsoft would really just throw away the technology after working so hard to get it right. That would be almost like suddenly deciding to get out of the web browser business after coming from behind to overtake Netscape.

Another thing that has me rethinking the “demise of TMG” is Microsoft’s all-in commitment to the cloud. There have been a number of security breaches this past year that have thrown concerns over cloud security into the limelight. If Microsoft hopes to be a serious contender for top cloud provider status, it’s imperative that they demonstrate their commitment to security. And they already have the technology, in TMG, to do that.

Now, I don’t have any inside information on this; if Tom knows anything, he’s sworn to secrecy. So it’s all speculation on my part, and maybe it’s just wishful thinking during a season when wishes rule, but sometimes no news really is good news. And it wouldn’t be unthinkable if all the outcry from those otherwise happy TMG customers (and potential customers who were considering deploying TMG) over the Gartner report caused Microsoft to take a second look at the decision (if there ever was a decision to begin with). So, at least while ‘tis the season to be jolly (and optimistic), I’m going to dare to hope that we’ll eventually find out that TMG is next year’s comeback kid.

Happy holidays to all who celebrate.

See you next month (or should I say “next year”?)  – Deb.