Haiku #38

Where's Waldo? And where

Is Carmen Sandiego?

CS Address Book.


One thing you can count on here at the Lync Server PowerShell blog is this: we'll always give you the real story about Microsoft Lync Server 2010, both the good and the bad. For example, the good? Lync Server is probably the world's foremost platform for unified communications. And the not-so-good? Lync Server is definitely not the world's foremost platform for playing video games.


As hard as that might be to believe.


How can we say that Lync Server is not a great platform for playing games? Let's take one example. Probably one of the first games ever invented was hide-and-go-seek. Not only that, but hide-and-go-seek has maintained its appeal as times have changed. For example, did books become our primary entertainment outlet? Then enter Where's Waldo?, a series of picture books in which children (of all ages) scanned through a set of complicated illustrations, looking for the ubiquitous Waldo.


Note. Well, except in the United Kingdom, where children look for the ubiquitous Wally. And in Denmark, where they look for Holger. And Iceland, where they look for Valli. And Israel, where they look for Efi. And – well, etc., etc.


But wait, you say. No one reads books anymore; everyone spends all their time playing video games. That's fine: not only has Waldo (and his faithful dog, Woof) made the transition to video games, but one of the all-time favorite video games is Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, a game in which you scour the world searching for the evil villain Carmen Sandiego.


Note. Yes, it's true: Carmen Sandiego is coming to Facebook starting February 9, 2011.


Unfortunately, though, Lync Server just can't compete with these classic games. Where's Waldo? Well, if you're running Microsoft Lync all you have to do is type Waldo into the Search box and, within seconds, you'll be able to see the whereabouts of all your Waldos. Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego? Again, type Carmen Sandiego into the Search box and you'll have your answer almost immediately. In fact, depending on Carmen's privacy settings, you'll be able to see a picture of her, know that she's currently in the office (but on the phone), and that she won't be free until 3:00 PM this afternoon. That's useful for information, but doesn't make for a very fun video game.


Note. Although, even at that, it sounds like it's still way more fun than the E.T, the Extra-Terrestrial video game. Upon its release, E.T. was labeled "convoluted and inane", "monotonous", "dull and disappointing", and "the worst thing ever created."


Oh, wait: that's what people say about the daily Lync Server PowerShell haiku. But they didn't seem to like E.T. any better.


So why is Lync Server such a lousy platform for hide-and-go-seek type games? Part of the blame lies with the Address Book server, which acts as an intermediary between Active Directory and Lync Server 2010. The Address Book server ensures that the user information stored in Lync Server is in synch with the user information stored in Active Directory. This is done by periodically synching Address Book files with information stored in the User database.


Even worse (at least from a video game standpoint), Address Book servers periodically generate index files that can be downloaded to any computer running Lync 2010. When a user needs to find Waldo or Carmen Sandiego, all he or she has to do is search through those index files and they can quickly and easily find the person they're looking for. That's great for people who need information in a hurry. But it's not going to replace Angry Birds any time soon.


Note. We should probably mention that there is a little bit more to the Address Book server than we let on; for example, instead of searching through files stored on their local computer, users can also search the Address Book by using a Web service. But you get the idea.


And if you're thinking, "OK, searching for contacts might be easy, but I bet that managing those Address Book servers is a real challenge," well, we're afraid you'll have to think again. Thanks to the Address Book configuration cmdlets (Get-CsAddressBookConfiguration, New-CsAddressBookConfiguration, Remove-CsAddressBookConfiguration, and Set-CsAddressBookConfiguration) managing your Address Book servers turns out to be a snap, too. For example, suppose you want to configure all of your Address Book servers to synchronize with the User database every 2 minutes. (The default is to synchronize every 5 minutes.) Okey-doke:


Get-CsAddressBookConfiguration | Set-CsAddressBookConfiguration –SynchronizePollingInterval 00:02:00


And that's kind of fun, wouldn't you say?


OK, maybe not. But it is quick and easy.


Note. In case you're wondering, the polling interval 00:02:00 means 00 hours:02 minutes:00 seconds. To set the polling interval to one hour and 15 minutes we'd use this syntax: 01:15:00. Your polling interval can be any time value between 5 seconds (00:00:05) and 3 hours (03:00:00), inclusive.


You can also configure Address Book server settings at the site scope as well as the global scope; that provides a way for to have, say, different polling intervals at different sites. For example, this command creates a new set of Address Book configuration settings for the Redmond site:


New-CsAddressBookConfiguration -Identity site:Redmond -KeepDuration 15 -SynchronizePollingInterval 00:10:00


And sure, it doesn't sound like a lot of fun. But that's what people said about Farmville, which – as of September, 2010 – had over 62 million active users (about the same number of people as read the daily Lync Server haiku).


Anyway, we apologize for the fact that Lync Server isn't a very good platform for playing video games; unfortunately, we made the thing just too darn good and too darn efficient. (And don't expect things to change in the next version; although still in the early planning stages, that version promises to be even better and even more efficient.) Because we feel bad about that, we did a little digging and discovered that Microsoft has another product –"Xbox" – which apparently has something to do with video games. As near as we can tell it doesn't have call parking, media bypass, or even unassigned numbers (!). But it might be fun anyway.


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