The more you know, the more damage you can do!

I want to be clear, the problems with the website yesterday were my fault.  I broke all sorts of cardinal rules that I would never think of doing on a client’s server, and completely wrecked mine (temporarily!).

You know what they say about the shoemaker’s children going barefoot; when Service Pack 2 for Exchange was release I was all over my clients with reasons to implement fast, and they all did.  So when Rick and I were trying to configure my Mobile 5 device to sync to my Exchange Server using Push technology, I was embarrassed before my friend by the realization that a year after release my own server was running on SP1.  I bowed my head in shame and promised him that it would be fixed that very night.

Of course I am in Ottawa and I am always a little weary about doing real work to production machines when physical access is unavailable; I knew that if I did damage I would not be able to get my hands on the physical box for another two days.  However what I had to do was really basic stuff, and did not anticipate blowing things up too badly.

Of course the SP install went well but then without thinking, as I am apt to do with SBS when things change, I reran the CEICW.  In this morning’s National Post crossword puzzle there was a clue whose answer was WHOOPS.  That is exactly what I felt the second I pressed GO.

For those of you who are (and for those who are not) SBSers you know that the CEICW (Configure E-Mail and Internet Connection Wizard) is a great way to make things right with connectivity.  What you might or might not realize is that as soon as you have multiple external IP addresses – a non-standard configuation for SBS – you should disable the CEICW forever, as it will always break things beyond simple repair.

A second tip that I always tell my fellow SBS Admins is that if you have created or altered ANY of your ISA (Internet Security and Acceleration Server) firewall policies, to export these before you run the CEICW, as it alters them often in ways that are unpleasant.

To make things worse I did not have access to my network documentation, so when I started playing with ISA and IIS configurations (on a server that I am not currently the primary administrator) a lot of it was educated guessing.  Unfortunately I knew Daniel was on an airplane so I started playing around.  Soon my host Bradley Bird (VP, Ottawa Windows Server User Group) came in and we set up two Terminal Server connections and started searching for answers.  To our credit we were almost there when Daniel came back on-line, and took us across the goal line to victory.

All in all the website (and more) were down for about two hours Thursday evening, and I take responsibility for it.  I also credit Daniel and Bradley for getting it back up as quicly as they did.  I also look forward to retiring the current server early in the new year when our new corporate sponsor gives us a faster and more reliable server on which to host MITPro, because then I will be able to break anything I want without affecting the community!

To all of our members who are celebrating this week I want to wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Channukah, Kwanza, and any other festival I may forget.  To all of you I wish you all the best for a happy and healthy New Year and look forward to seeing you all in 2007.

Giving Back to the community – from the newsgroups.

I thought this was an interesting post for you all to read.  I have benefited a thousandfold from giving back to the community but I do it because of passion.  Let me know what you think!


> Guys,
> I want to start giving back to the IT Community, and start helping
> out.  I would appreciate if you guys could answer some of the below
> questions.

> 7.  What do I need to do to make sure I get credit for giving back to
> the community, this way I can work my way up to an MVP?
> 8.  How else can I become part of the IT community and start giving
> back and networking?  Any Ideas?
> I appreciate you taking your time to respond to my posts, and I plan
> to begin giving back to the IT community, and hope we can become
> friends. 


7. If you are spending time giving back to the community with the intent of earning credit for it and being nominated an MVP, take up another hobby.  What I do is very time-consuming and if I had started out with the intent of getting credit for it I can tell you that the rewards were not worth the effort.  There are great advantages to being an MVP, but the thousands (yes, thousands) of hours I have spent over the past two years could have been better spent and enjoyed if I did it for the reward.  Do it for the passion, and if you are serious and true (and not obviously gunning from the getgo for reward) we notice you and you will be nominated.  That will not happen in 2006 or 2007 if you are starting now.


8. Find a local user group and participate.  Contribute to on-line forums.  Write blog posts about relevant (and sometimes irrelevant) topics that will be useful and interesting to your peers.  I started the Montreal IT Professionals Community two years ago because there was a void but honestly I would have been better served joining an existing group, and participating and attending seminars.


Remember Julio that we all exist on a scale.  A combination of our experience and expertise will eventually place you in the right place on that scale.  Those on the lower end ask questions.  Many of those questions will be… less informed.  When you start rising on the scale your questions will start being more informed, and you will start answering but will still mostly ask.  You rise on that scale by answering more questions intelligently.  I am not saying that I do not ask questions – I do.  But the questions I ask are much more advanced.  The issue is the higher you are on the scale, the fewer people who can answer your questions.  It also increases your likelihood of being noticed.


Good luck!




Time to move on.

I was confirmed as President of MITPro at our first board meeting on January 5th, 2005.  Since then I, with the help from a select few dedicated individuals, have built the Montreal IT Professionals Community into a vibrant and incredible group of professionals that is respected within the international IT Pro community as a leader and as an innovator. 

At the first Annual General Meeting I was elected to a two-year term as president through January, 2008.  Frankly when I wrote the by-laws I suspected that I would stay on through the maximum allowed four years, through 2010. 

For several reasons – some of them I will share and some are my own – I have decided that at the upcoming AGM on January 16th, 2007 I will step aside as leader of the group, and allow my Executive Vice-President, Daniel Nerenberg to take over.  At that meeting I will support the election of Majida Rhazi as Executive Vice-President and hope that we will have a full room of members to stand with me in supporting that slate.

The last two years have been incredible, and the decision to step aside was a difficult one to come to.  I learned a long time ago that you should take as long as you need to make a decision but once you make it stand by it.  That is why last week, on December 6th at the VIP Cocktail Party at Hurley’s I announced my decision.  I want to thank you all for your support and words of kindness over the past years, and wish Daniel success in his new role as leader.

The following is the text of the speech I wrote to deliver at the VIP Cocktail Party.  At a certain point I was unable to see the page so I winged it, but I hope that I stayed true to the message.

Original Text of my Resignation Speech – December 6th, 2006

A little over two years we embarked upon a journey that has brought us to where we are.  The establishment of the IT Professionals Community of Montreal has brought so many of us together over this time to learn, advance as professionals, and in many cases meet new friends. 

I am very proud of the accomplishments we have achieved since the beginning.  I have had a lot of help from a lot of people who share the credit for everything we have accomplished – dozens of successful events, and a study group that to date is directly responsible for eighteen new Microsoft Certified Professionals.  People at Microsoft consistently refer to MITPro as the most organized user group in the country.  I prefer to think of us as a community and that is reflected in the name we chose that is now known not only in Montreal but worldwide within the IT world.

My leadership of MITPro has opened doors to me that I could never have imagined possible two years ago.  I have enjoyed the opportunity to work with several teams within Microsoft, the most prominent being the Evangelism team at Microsoft Canada but also with Microsoft Learning and the Small Business Server team.  I have had the opportunity to collaborate on exams and have influenced the direction of the Small Business Specialist Program worldwide.

Partly because of my friendship with my VP Daniel Nerenberg I have achieved several certifications that I would not have pursued were it not for a little friendly competition between us.  That has allowed me to grow professionally and I credit Daniel with that, as well as for where the group is today.

We have achieved so much over the years and many – too many – give me too much of the credit for those accomplishments.  It is time for someone else to start getting the kudos.  I have come farther than I ever thought I could and though there is much left to be done I am going to leave that to others.  At our Annual General Meeting on January 16, 2007 – almost two years to the day after my leadership was affirmed at our inaugural board meeting – I will step down as leader of the Montreal IT Professionals Community and will confirm a new leadership under Daniel Nerenberg.  

Over the past year a couple of others have stood out and demonstrated their passion and willingness to contribute to the leadership and direction of the group.  Among them are Richard Fagen, our Secretary/Treasurer and Majida Rhazi, our Executive Member without portfolio.  Both have done outstanding jobs at supporting Daniel and I and I hope that they will stay on – I will support the election of Majida to the position of Executive Vice-President because I feel that her track record of leading successful community organizations has been a real asset to me, and will be the best tool that our new president can have to lead this vibrant and organic organization of professionals into the future.

Our community should never have been about me; community is about its members.  There have been times over the past two years that I have forgotten that and I hope that you will all forgive me that.  From my conversations with Daniel and Majida I am confident that they – with their Executive and Board – will form a leadership team that can do more for you the members more than I could ever have done.  I will always be available to offer advice and words of wisdom.

Thank you for the last two years.  These years leading this group has truly changed my life and I leave with a heavy heart, but like a parent letting go of a grown child I know I am doing the right thing by letting go – and will not hesitate to move back in if they step out of line!

As a parting note I want to thank Daniel, Richard, Majida, and my boards of directors from the past two years.  I would also like to thank several people from Microsoft Canada – Rick Claus and the entire IT Pro Evangelism team; John Oxley, Harp Girn, Jeff Ewin and Dottie Horne for their support from the beginning; without you – without ALL of you – MITPro would not be the success it is today.  I know you will all continue to work together and will make me proud.