Fireball Whisky Ice Cream

There’s no point in making “regular” ice cream. The ingredients to make ice cream at home are fairly pricey and the quality ice cream you can buy at the grocer is about as good as you can make at home.

So I pretty much only make boozy ice cream that you cannot buy.

For reasons I forgot, I was challenged to make Fireball Whisky ice cream.

Challenge accepted!

Below is the recipe I used. I took a basic whisky custard recipe and adjusted it to my needs.

I grated a cinnamon stick in the blender to add to the cinnamon punch of the ice cream. No clue if it was 2 teaspoons. Probably less. But you can always add more in after the cream starts churning in the ice cream maker to suit your needs. I know I added more than 1/3 cup Fireball because the ice cream is a little soft. I’m thinking that’s due to the alcohol preventing a full freeze. The original recipe called for 1/4 cup. But that’s not enough. So boost it to 1/3 cup but don’t go much higher like I did.

Fireball Whisky Ice Cream
2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
8 large egg yolks
1/3 cup Fireball Whisky
1/2 vanilla bean
1 teaspoon fresh ground cinnamon + extra to taste.

Take a cinnamon stick or two and pulverize it in a blender/coffee grinder/food processor.

In a 4-quart saucepan, combine milk, cream, and roughly half the sugar. Set over high heat, and cook, stirring occasionally and not over-zealously, until the mixture comes to a boil, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks and remaining sugar until smooth, heavy, and pale yellow, about 30 seconds.

When cream mixture just comes to a boil, whisk, remove from heat, and, in a slow stream, pour half of it over the yolk-sugar mixture, whisking constantly until blended. (This is called tempering the eggs, so that they do not scramble.)

Return the pan to stovetop over low heat. Whisking constantly, stream yolk-cream mixture back into pan.

With a wooden spoon, continue stirring until the mixture registers 165 to 180 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 2 minutes. Do not heat above 180 degrees or the eggs will scramble. The mixture should be slightly thickened and coat the back of spoon, with steam rising, but not boiling.  Stir in the whisky.

With a sharp knife, cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise then scrape out the tiny seeds on the inside. Add the vanilla bean and the seeds to the cream mixture.

Add the cinnamon to the cream mixture.

Remove from heat and strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl.

Taste. If it needs more cinnamon….Whisk in the cinnamon then set aside to cool. When mixture has cooled a bit, cover and refrigerate for several hours until well chilled. Press plastic wrap over the surface to prevent a skin from forming.

When the cream has fully cooled (at least three hours in the refrigerator), pour it into the ice cream maker and follow the vendor instructions from there.

 

UC Now Apps Updated

This is what the Windows 10 Mobile version looks like, for those curious if that is still a thing. Yes, it’s still a thing.

Every so often, the spirit moves me and I take the time to update the Windows 10 and Android apps that I have out there. And this weekend, the spirit moved me.

For those unfamiliar with the apps, they are a central point for things related to Exchange and Skype for Business. So in one place you can see the latest blog posts that have been published but also quick access to TechNet, Tech Community, YouTube Videos, Twitter feeds, etc.

In this version there is also a little bit added for Office365 and Microsoft Teams. It’s not much. If you have resources you’d like added, please let me know in the comments.

Here is a summary of the changes made to the Android app:

  • Added Tech Community links
  • Added Skype Operations Framework link
  • Added YouTube video pages
  • Added Thought stuff video blog
  • Added Three 65.live link
  • Added Tech Community links for Office 365 and Teams
  • Fixed Link to Test Connectivity website
  • Updated link for Skype Dialing Optimizer
  • Updated link for UC Architects
  • Removed Lync Certified Devices module
  • Removed Lync Press module
  • Latest version of app framework so ostensibly bug fixes and performance enhancements

The Android App can be found at this link.

Here is a summary of the changes made to the Windows app:

  • Added Tech Community links
  • Added Skype Operations Framework link
  • Added YouTube video pages
  • Added Thought stuff video blog
  • Added Three 65.live link
  • Added Tech Community links for Office 365 and Teams
  • Updated link for Skype Dialing Optimizer
  • Updated link for UC Architects
  • Reorganized everything into groups to more quickly get to the technology you’re interested in
  • Latest version of app framework so ostensibly bug fixes and performance enhancements

The Windows 10 updates can be found at this link.


For those interested in Apple devices, there is not and there will not be a version of this app for those devices. Instead, please visit UC-Now.com.

Presence Lying, Like a Pro

One of the great things about Skype for Business is you can see if a remote person is available for a chat or if they are busy in a meeting. Taking advantage of the presence capabilities is a very useful tool.

However, some people try to game the system and artificially set their presence. They may set their presence to “Away” when they are actually available just because they don’t want to be bothered by anyone. Yet those same people are more than happy to send you an IM while they are “Away”.

You've been Away 18 hours yet still sent me an IM?

You’ve been Away 18 hours yet still sent me an IM?

 

I’m no fan of being a Presence Liar, but there are some decent reasons to do it.

Some people schedule “meetings” so that they can have time to get actual work done.

But what if you work remotely and, you know, screw around a bunch. You don’t want your boss to look at your status all the time and see “Away” because you aren’t using your PC much while napping.

How can you game the system?

By default, your status changes from Available to Away after 5 minutes of not using your mouse or PC. Having to touch your PC once every 5 minutes is totally preventing me from napping during the workday.

One solution is to download a little bit of software to take this pain away from you. Caffeine is one option (I haven’t tried it). Apparently this utility simulates pressing the F15 (not a typo) key every 59 seconds. This one fakes mouse movements every so often.

So that’s an easy and free fix. But what if you work in an environment where you can’t install any software on your computer? Or what if your company scans your PC for software like this and you end up on a report and a call form your boss?

Is there a stealthier way to stay “available” while napping?

Yes, yes there is.

Welcome to the world of Mouse Jiggler.

jiggler

This little bad boy is the answer to all your napping-during-work-while-still-being-“available” dreams. As far as Windows is concerned, you just plugged in a generic HID-compliant mouse. As far as you are concerned, you are now moving the mouse every so often – just enough to keep the screen awake and your status as Available.

So how does Windows see this? Generic Mouseville, Population one.

I ran a Belarc Advisor report against my PC and all it did was report this:

HID-compliant mouse (4x)

I actually have 2 real mice connected plus the Mouse Jiggler. Not sure what that fourth one is!

I also downloaded some random USB reporting tool and I found the Mouse Jiggler in my list of USB devices.

usb

 

So how much and how often does the mouse get moved?

Excellent question.

I used a mouse recording utility, set it to start, then left the room to watch some football. I came back and saw the below output.

mouse-recorder

 

The very first entry is me clicking “record” with my mouse so we can ignore that entry. Thereafter, everything is being input by the Mouse Jiggler.

The second column is the X-Axis, the third column the Y-Axis, and the 4th column is elapsed milliseconds since last movement.

The first action happened after almost 6 minutes. The Jiggler moved the mouse 1 pixel. Three minutes later, the mouse was moved 7 pixels. And then after about the same delay, the mouse was moved 8 pixels.

This is enough movement to keep my Skype for Business client listed as Available.

It also keeps the screensaver off. This is useful if you work somewhere that sets the screensaver lockout duration to 1 minute.

According to the Mouse Jiggler website, there are plenty of reasons other then napping while “available”:

Presenters use Mouse Jiggler because it allows them to present without the screensaver popping up in the middle of the presentation. Employees who are unable to change their system sleep settings or install unapproved software on their computers find Mouse Jiggler convenient to keep screen savers or login screens from activating.

IT professionals use the Mouse Jiggler to prevent password dialog boxes due to screensavers or sleep mode after an employee is terminated and they need to maintain access to their computer.

Computer forensic investigators use Mouse Jigglers to prevent password dialog boxes from appearing due to screensavers or sleep mode. With many computer hard drives now employing full-disk encryption, such modes can greatly increase the time and cost of a forensic investigation.

 

I don’t care about those. I just like to know that I’m always Available, even while napping.

And if my boss is reading this, I am only writing this as an overview of a device related to my expertise, not because I’m nappinzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…..

 

My first publishing experience. Windows NT 4.0 anyone?

6 27 16 3 29 PM Office LensThe book I recently released – Enterprise Voice in Skype for Business Server 2015 – was not my first publishing credit. No, to find that, I need to take you back to 1997 and the book Windows NT Troubleshooting and Configuration.

I was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana. Unbeknownst to many, there is a bit of an industry in publishing tech manuals in that city. You know those “…for Dummies” books? That franchise is at least partially run out of Indianapolis.

The publisher of this particular book was Sams Publishing, also based out of Indianapolis. Because of this, as you start networking throughout the Indianapolis tech community, it won’t take long until you run into a bunch of people who have written at least a chapter or two in a published book.

And it was through this that I was given the opportunity to write two chapters in this book:

 

  • Chapter 30: Windows NT and Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol
  • Chapter 34: Integrating Windows NT and UNIX.

Back in the day, I was a bad-ass at Windows NT. That’s not just some boasting. I’ll challenge my 27 year old self against anyone on Windows NT. I lived it. It was how I was making my living…building and supporting Windows NT networks. This was mostly for small businesses in the Indianapolis area but I had one account that had about 1,500 people in a dozen or so locations. There were two global companies where we supported one of the divisions in Indianapolis.

So when the opportunity came up to write a chapter or two, I jumped at it.

But as time passed, I lost my copy of the book. I gave one to my mom but when I went to visit her a few weeks ago, the book was gone. And in the mists of time, I forgot the name of the book too! I just remembered it had a mostly green cover.

Thanks to the Internet and an hour of my life, I saw a book that looked really familiar. My name wasn’t in any of the online sites where I found it, but I had a feeling this book was the one. So I bought a used copy for ~$6USD including shipping. It showed up today.

And there is my name!

6 27 16 3 30 PM Office Lens6 27 16 3 31 PM Office LensBelow are pictures of some of the pages I wrote. I remember doing a lot of work on this book, setting up a lab, etc. This was before VM’s were a thing so I had to have at least 2 PC’s. I forget the exact configuration. I’m old and this is trivia that is apparently no longer relevant to me. Or probably to you.

So here you go, a few snippets from the long lost book which was my first foray in the publishing world.

 

6 27 16 3 32 PM Office Lens6 27 16 3 36 PM Office Lens

6 27 16 3 38 PM Office Lens6 27 16 3 38 PM Office Lens 16 27 16 3 39 PM Office Lens

 

I Wrote a Book

Early Cover without "2015"

Early Cover without “2015”

Some of you may be aware that I recently published a book – Enterprise Voice in Skype for Business Server 2015. Visit www.evs4b.com for full details.

This post is not specifically about the book. It is about why I wrote that book and the joy of doing that. </sarcasm>

I originally started writing the book over 3 years ago while we were still basking in the glory of Lync 2010. I spent some time and roughed out the chapters I wanted to write. I then went ahead and wrote a few chapters. For reasons lost to my aging memory, I quit writing that book. My guess is because Lync 2013 was released.

It kept gnawing on me over the following few years that I should return to the book and finish it off.

So at the end of May 2015 I took 1 week off work with the explicit goal of reviving the book project. Apparently like most authors with time on their hands, I spent most of my time napping, watching TV, and hanging out with friends. I did not end up spending a full week on the book.

But I did make progress. I realized I wrote much less than I had remembered. I thought I was about 4 chapters in when in reality it was barely more than two. And it was a good thing I didn’t get much further.
1.) I had to re-do all of the screen shots to show the new Control Panel

2.) So many mistakes

Over time, we tend to get better at things like being able to walk or ignore politics. In my case, I got better at Enterprise Voice. Much better.

Though I didn’t accomplish much during that week in May, it did get this whole project going again. Part of the project was building up a real-world environment at home. I didn’t want to use any of my work resources for any of this to avoid any conflict of interest. So I upgraded one of my servers at home and then built up a whole new home environment from scratch – including building two Asterisk servers (though in the end I only really needed one). With this in place I was able to test and validate everything in the book.

See all of that PowerShell in the book? Every one of those lines was successfully run in my lab before it ever made it into Word.

I probably averaged about 15 hours a week working on the book between the end of May 2015 and December 2015. Some weeks I didn’t work on it at all. Other weeks I worked deep into the night day after day.

As I was writing this and making good progress, the project continued to become more daunting, not less. I kept thinking of more topics to write about. One could write a whole book just about Exchange UM. How was I going to learn all of the details and intricacies of that and fit that into this book? What about Response Groups and Call Admission Control?

Some time in October I was driving from Nashville, Tennessee to Columbus, Ohio to meet some friends there to watch a Columbus Crew MLS game. (Go Crew!). On the drive I was listening to some of the MS Ignite conference presentations. Somewhere during that time it dawned on me that I could easily focus the book based on how Control Panel is laid out. If I focus on the Voice Routing tab, I’ll be able to cover all of the key features and readers new to the topic will only have to focus on one section.

After I got done with that I decided that it wouldn’t be too much more work to write about Call Park and Unassigned Numbers found in the Voice Features tab. And ….why not throw in Dial-In Conferencing too.

But that was it. I now had a properly framed book, topic wise.

But the problem was…my Word document got corrupted. I was about 90% of the way done with the book when Word decided to crash every time it opened the document. Sure I had backups but I would basically lose a weeks work because I wasn’t backing up as often as I should have been. Interestingly, the document opened up just fine via Word Online. I did open a personal case with Microsoft support but they couldn’t figure the problem out either.

This knocked the wind out of my sails for about 2 weeks before I could get myself motivated to fix this the hard way.

So I went to my backup and basically copy/pasted from Word Online into Word on my PC. I also spent a while making sure I had every possible backup option in Word enabled. I also started manually doing a whole bunch of “Save As…” moves whenever I got done with a few paragraphs. After recovering the file I never had a corruption again.

My sister has a Masters Degree in Art from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. So she was the obvious choice to do the cover art for me. The cover is from an original installation she did for (I believe) her Masters thesis. She snipped off a part of that installation and let me use it for the book.  The squiggly lines on the first page of the book are also from one of her original works though, taken out of context, it just looks like some squiggly lines! Check out her website at www.jessicadadams.com to see more of what she does including the full context of the cover art.

If you look deep enough into the minutia of the book, you’ll see that it is published by Edgehill Publishing. Who are they? “They” are a friend of mine named Andrew Young. He has self published 2 of his own technical manuals – Expert Advisor Programming for MetaTrader 4 and Expert Advisor Programming for MetaTrader 5. He used to live on Edgehill Avenue in Nashville so there you have the name of the publishing company. He has a few extra ISBN numbers laying around so he gave me one in exchange for buying him some beer.

back_cover-Early

Early back cover.

That’s how business gets done.

Any book like this needs a technical editor. As I was writing this book, I had the name Ken Lasko in the back of my mind as the first person I would ask to do the technical editing. Once I had the book ready for the first pass, I reached out to Ken via Twitter. I’ve been reading his blog for a few years and it focuses heavily on Enterprise Voice. He also has given several presentations at events like Lync Conference and Ignite. I feel fortunate that he agreed to do the technical editing. He provided a lot of feedback that not only makes the book more readable but also more accurate. At least half of the call-out boxes in the book are directly in relation to Ken’s feedback. Plus he also never mentioned to me that he thought the book was rubbish so it was a good confidence booster that a respected MVP like Ken did 2 tech editing passes on the book.

Once I thought the book was ready to go live, I needed to figure out how to get the book formatted for CreateSpace. CreateSpace is the self-publishing division of Amazon. I was under a time crunch to get this book published. I had no idea how to do it – not to mention a few formatting issues I couldn’t figure out. Through dumb luck I stumbled across the website www.peopleperhour.com where there are a bunch of freelancers who claim to have helped put dozens (if not hundreds) of properly formatted books into publication via CreateSpace. I reviewed a few online resume’s and selected Luanne T. to do the work. She has been incredible. I am way under-paying her for her time but I hope to get her a fair payment soon. She basically had to reformat the whole book – including the hundreds of images. The Kindle version is also a fork off the original document so that had to be formatted differently.With her masterful assistance, the book fit all of CreateSpace’s criteria on the first pass.

After submitting the book, I ordered a proof copy to make sure that the book looked good on printed paper. I spotted a few grammatical and formatting errors but I was focused on making sure all of the screen shots were clear and legible. I showed the book to a few friends the day I got it. They flipped through it and said it looked good.

So I pulled the trigger and on 16 March, 2016 the book was published.

I then read the paperback book all the way through.

I can’t explain it but I’ve read the book front-to-back about 5 times but reading it in paperback I found a bunch of errors. Between my readings, Ken’s readings, and Luanne’s work formatting the book, how can so many little mistakes pop up? it’s beyond me. So I put together an errata that can be found on www.evs4b.com.

But this is the modern publishing age. So I can fix this.

I edited the Kindle manuscript before submitting it to Amazon.  So the Kindle version should be free of everything listed in the Errata. I also re-submitted the paperback manuscript to CreateSpace with all of the fixes. If the printed date in the back of the book is after 21 March 2015, then you have the updated version and the errata does not apply to you.

I’ve mentioned throughout this little blog posting that I’ve had a deadline and had to get this book published quickly. The reason is that I accepted a new job a few weeks ago to be a Senior Consultant at Microsoft. My first day is tomorrow (28 March 2016). Releasing the book before I start at Microsoft avoids any conflict of interest or having people buying the book thinking that this was written by a “Microsoft person”. The next version of this book (probably when the next version of Skype for Business gets released) will probably have to go through the whole Microsoft process for an employee releasing a book.

So because of that deadline, I had to blast through the proofing section so I apologize to any of you with a book that requires the errata. There are no semantic errors in the book but a few hyphens are missing on some PowerShell commands along with some weird and random grammatical issues.

Now I have to hope people will buy this book. I need to sell about 100 copies to recover my personal financial investment and break even on my out of pocket expenses. I then need to sell a whole bunch more to cover the amount of time I poured into the book. I’m less concerned about recovering that money. I wrote this book because I am passionate about the topic and there is no single resource this in-depth on this topic.

As I was writing it, I had an imaginary reader. This imaginary reader did not have English as their first language . This imaginary reader was given a project to add Enterprise Voice  to their existing Skype for Business implementation. For good portions of the book, this is the person to whom I am talking.

I hope that the book is easy to read yet detailed enough to get the job done.

Now, have your company buy the book for you so I can be motivated to re-do all of this with the next release of Skype for Business!