Windows Office Exchange Connections 2007 Probably the longest day of the conference, the middle day starts early and ends late!  The main party is still going on outside, and I just got back from a pretty good walk around the Grand Cypress resort.  Lets see, what was today…

Starting with a nice continental breakfast, with Florida’s excellent fresh Orange juice, it got me ready for the keynote of the day – Attacker Trends and Techniques: An Update with presenter Steve Riley of Microsoft.  Steve’s reputation on security & Microsoft is well deserved.

The first session (there were 5 today!), was New Features in PKI and Certificates for Longhorn and Vista by Brian Komar of IdentIT.  I’ve been to many sessions presented by Brian, and he never fails to bring the complexities of PKI, Certificates, and Security into sharp focus that’s easy to understand.  Vista/Longhorn has significant improvements in the handling of certificates that address many user requests.

Session two was Reimaging the File Share: Automating and Provisioning Secure Business Data Shares with Dan Holme of Intelliem.  Both Jon and I got a lot of ideas that we want to bring back and have worked into the project plan for next year (if we can’t squeak it in this year).  Mainly to go back and pick up the user/group/permissions provisioning that we left on the table after our Windows Server 2003 upgrade & Active Directory implementation project in 2004.  Lots of ideas for role-based scripted processes and procedures.  One of the best sessions for practical application so far!

Mark Minasi - Windows Connections 2007 After a quick break, session three was lead by the ever-lively Mark Minasi of Minasi Research and Development.  Titled Windows Vista Security: The Hidden Truth, Mark really dove into a number of reasons for Vista’s User Account Control and why it should be left in place.  Also, demonstrated was how to automate legacy software compatibility.

Lunch was a buffet style of Italian classics, with a nice hour afterward to catch up on email and such before getting back into the sessions.

For Session four, attended the Using SharePoint Designer as a Workflow Tool hosted by David Gerhardt of 3Sharp.  A fascinating tool, the usefulness was quickly demonstrated, and I am certain that this tool will be in my solution arsenal in the near future.

Last session (number five) was again with the irrepressible Mark Minasi.  This time the topic was Name Resolution: DNS, WINS, and NetBIOS in Longhorn.  True to his word, the mysteries of WINS and NetBT were unraveled.  Another great entertaining, informative session.  No wonder why Mark gets the rave reviews he does – he earns it.

Finally, the day was wrapped up with a fantastic Western theme (in Florida?) party with grilled steak, beans, and the whole works.  They need a better beer selection (bring on the Sam Adams), but that’s the only thing I could find wrong with it all!  Good music and fun networking with peers from around the US and the world.  Any IT Pro (Windows OR Unix) should plan on attending one of the bi-annual Connections conferences if they can make it.

Two more days – one main conference day tomorrow, and one post-con course on Thursday.  Then back home to the snow!

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