Monday, May 29, 2006

Cause of Death: Self-inflicted Wounds; Weapon: Windows Vista Beta 2

Although I've been (somewhat) happily testing the beta of Windows Vista on my desktop machine at work, I'd mostly held off running it on my ViewSonic TabletPC V1250. Some of the beta releases weren't very friendly to tablets, but mostly I refrained because Cisco does not have a VPN client available that can be used to connect Vista to a network. It's not only that I cannot abide the thought of using wireless without some sort of encrypted, secure tunnel, but I happen to use my TabletPC for work, and unless I'm connected to my employer's VPN, I can't even read my new email in Outlook, let alone access the trouble ticket database or install apps on a user's PC via remote access. Since on-call requires me to work from home often, and since much of our wireless network is segregated from the subnets I need to access, running Vista full time would have meant vacillating between:
  • periods of being disconnected (can’t really work in IT that way)
  • allowing my data to float through the ether unprotected (too paranoid for that), and
  • tethering myself to wired connections (too inconvenient for someone who has to move around all day and too insulting to my Tablet, which was made to be mobile).

Fortunately for me, there have been some recent changes. No, Cisco still hasn't done anything to help me out, but my organization has started relying more and more on Citrix (should I be concerned about my Cisco investments?) , and now we're being asked to use the vendor’s Secure Access Gateway. It didn't take me long (after I cleared some space on my hard drive and downloaded build 5384 of Vista Beta 2) to give Vista’s tablet features another try. The new VPN client put up quite a fight, but I politely informed my fractious device that I was the technician, and it was the computer, and that I would win this battle; eventually, I did prevail--sort of. Yes, Secure Access connects, but it also disconnects …and re-connects…and disconnects…and re-connects. Several times an hour, in fact. You know what, though? I’ve been waiting since my beta invitation in September to really put the new OS through its pen paces, so I’m just going live with it, at least until something better comes along. I’m going to hunt for bugs, even if it kills me.

I’ve been supporting computers running Microsoft operating systems since the 90’s. I’m no stranger to frustration or desperation.