Tom Archer's Blog

Windows and Web developer with Social Media tendencies

Rosenberg Grand Jury Transcripts Released

I’ve always had a personal fascination and academic interest in cryptography, codes and espionage.

So I was especially pleased to see on MSNBC tonight that the transcripts of the grand jury testimony of Ethel Rosenberg and Ruth Greenglass were released today by the National Archives – as a result of a lawsuit filed by the National Security Archive.

Julius and Ethel Greenglass Rosenberg were alleged American communists who were executed in 1953 after having been found guilty of conspiracy to commit espionage. The charges were in relation to the passing of information about the American atomic bomb to the Soviet Union. (Ruth Greenglass was Ethel’s sister-in-law and provided key testimony against Ethel)

The guilt of the Rosenbergs and the appropriateness of their sentence have been the subject of perennial debate and from the little I already know about from reading these documents, they are only going to add fuel to that controversy.

Sadly, U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein decided to make public the grand jury testimony of 36 of the 46 witnesses but not that of David Greenglass (Ethel’s brother). Citing the objections of David Greenglass and two other living witnesses, the judge claimed that their privacy rights “overrides the public’s need to know.” How many lives has the government and media destroyed (Can you say “Richard Jewell“?) while supposedly serving the “public’s right to know” and now we’re supposed to believe that the privacy of a witness to a crime committed over 50 years ago is more important than the rights of citizens to see for themselves if a miscarriage of justice occurred? Is it me or does our government have less respect for our collective intelligence each passing year?

That little diatribe aside, I’m definitely looking forward to carving out some time to read through the documents that marked a critical time and issue in our country’s history.

  1. List of Witnesses Interviewed (including interview, pages numbers and page counts)
  2. Downloadable options for reading transcripts

September 12, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Laura Chappell’s Fave Network Forensic Tools

Last day at Tech*Ed and Laura Chappell is presenting her favorite products – most (obviously) focused on network forensics. The ones I especially liked are the multifunction NetScan Pro Tools, KeyGhost and – if you have kids (or are a kid at heart) the SumoBot Competition Robot Set:

June 13, 2008 Posted by | Network Forensics, Security, TechEd | 2 Comments

Getting great interview at Tech*Ed

As part of a podcast series our MVP Lead team is doing, I’m interviewing MVPs who are at the IT Pro week of Tech*Ed. So far, Ross Pfaff (Office System), Toni Savage (Microsoft Dynamics SL) and today … Arvin Meyer (Microsoft Access). Had great conversation with the always entertaining Arvin. When I get back to Seattle, I post the text of the interviews on my blog with a link to the audio!

June 12, 2008 Posted by | TechEd | 4 Comments

Marcus Murray Tech*Ed session on hacking

As a C/C++/Assembler programmer, I’ve always been interested in security and exploits. Working now at Microsoft, I had the opportunity to work closely with the Security team in getting the Windows SDK to pass various security measures in order to ship. During this time, I met security guru Michael Howard, read his book and learned much from those experiences.

I just completed watching a session that – after 20+ years of attending such conferences and sessions – was the most impressive session I’ve seen. Called “A  Hackers Diary: How I Can Hack Your Vulnerable Services and How You Can Stop Me” and given by Marcus Murrary, the session had great live demos, was perfectly and covered a complex topic in a very short period of time. I’ll definitely be reading much more of Marcus’ work and be checking out many of the tools he discussed. Look for some articles from me on this topic as this session really excited me about getting back into this passion…

June 11, 2008 Posted by | Security, TechEd | 6 Comments

Interviewing MVPs at TechEd

Fellow MVP Lead Brian Boston started an initiative to interview MVPs and other influencers and post them as podcasts. Since I’m at Tech*Ed, I volunteered to interview a couple of my MVPs.

Over the first two days, I’ve talked to two MVPs:

* Ross Pfaff – An Office System MVP, Ross has been an MVP since 1994 (way before I joined MSFT) and has some great anecdotes to share

* Toni Savage – A Dynamics SL (previously Solomon) MVP, Toni is a joy to talk and also has some great stories to share.

Over the next day or two, I’ll post a verbatim of our chats as well as links to the podcasts.

PS: If you are at Tech*Ed and would like to be a part of this, email me at and we can talk!!

June 11, 2008 Posted by | Microsoft MVP Program, TechEd | Leave a comment

Dumping Twitter for a While

I’m changing my online communications strategy for a while. The combination of Twitter’s poor performance/reliability, less than stellar adoption and lack of options/features has led me to believe that Twitter might not be the best way to share my opinions and experience regarding the MVP Program, MVPs and “community” in general. Therefore, I’m going to go back to blogging more consistently to communicate that information.

June 11, 2008 Posted by | TechEd | 3 Comments

20 Great Places to Visit and Enjoy While in Seattle – Part 5 of 5 (Shopping)

Part 4 (Tours)

In this – the last installment to the 5 part series on Seattle highlights – I thought I’d cover a part of Seattle that will benefit both MVP and MVP-family member alike: shopping places from which you can find that unique item to commemorate your experience in the Emerald City.



Bellevue Square Mall ( – One of the staples that I grew up – especially in the South – is the shopping mall. I’m not talking about your typical little shopping center where you have a dozen or so stores on one level. I’m talking about the overdone U.S. version where you have a minimum of 3 floors spanning hundreds of stores that enable you to spend hours wandering around “window shopping”, eating at a food court that has cuisine from all over the world and buying something special when the temptation gets too great.


One of the best shopping malls on the Eastside (the area east of Seattle – such as Bellevue and Redmond – where Summit attendees will attend Product Group Sessions) is the Bellevue Square Mall. Located just a few minutes from the Microsoft main campus, the Bellevue Square Mall offers more than 200 stores that range from established favorites (Crate & Barrel, Macy’s, Nordstrom, etc.)  to one-of-a-kind discoveries that cater to niche demographics (e.g., A|X Armani Exchange, Urban Dogs and more).


Another great benefit to the Bellevue Square Mall is its location. Nestled alongside Lincoln Square (that houses The Parlor and Lucky Strikes venues I wrote about earlier) and the Bellevue Place (which contains the famous Danny’s Broiler steakhouse), this area has something for everyone in very close proximity. While very easy to find, here’s a map that gives directions to the downtown Bellevue area.


Pacific Place ( /) Located in downtown Seattle, Pacific Place is one of Seattle’s premier shopping, dining and entertainment centers. This stunning four-story complex features many upscale designer stores such as Tiffany & Co., Max Mara, Coach, and many more as well as an 11-screen AMC Theatres cinema. Note that all movies starting before noon on Friday, Saturday and Sunday are only $5!


In addition to the beautiful architecture of the mall itself and the great stores from which to purchase something for you or a loved one, the mall houses several restaurants, one of which is sure to please your palate. If you like good Italian food, I personally recommend Il Fornaio. Another great eatery is the Pike Place Chowder – the only chowder outside of New England to ever win “The Great Chowder Cook-off”.


Pike Place Market ( – You can’t talk about shopping in Seattle without at least mentioning the famous Pike Place Market area – one of the oldest marketplaces in the U.S. Started in 1907, the Seattle landmark is home to small farmers, craftspeople, merchants, and restaurateurs.


One of the Market’s most popular attractions is Pike Place Fish Market, where employees throw three-foot salmon and other fish to each other rather than passing them by hand. When a customer orders a fish, an employee at the Fish Market’s ice-covered fish table picks up the fish and hurls it over the countertop, where another employee catches it and preps it for sale. In fact, the “flying fish” have become such an icon of this area that the routine has been shown on the sitcom Frasier as well as being featured on The Learning Channel. It’s a definite crowd-pleaser where many gather just to watch the synchronized pitch-and-catch routine!


Another place to visit is Sol Amon’s Pure Food Fish. Sol Almon has been in the Pike Place Market for over 50 years – the longest tenure of any vendor. In fact, Sol himself frequently chats with visitors and helps them to choose which fish is best on that day for that person’s taste. On a very special note, today, April 11, is Sol Amon Day (as designated by the Seattle City Council) to commemorate Sol’s dedication of service to the market and its neighborhood.


The name Starbucks Coffee and Seattle have become synonymous around the world. This coffeehouse chain was actually founded near Pike Place Market. That store was relocated to Pike Place Market in 1976, where it is still in operation. Unlike all the other Starbucks stores in the world, this store still features the original logo – a bare-breasted siren that was modeled after a 15th century Norse woodcut. The branch also features a large pig statue, which is a landmark throughout the Market.


Speaking of the pig, her name is Rachel and she’s the Market mascot! Located at the corner of Pike Place under the “Public Market Center” sign, Rachel is a nearly-600 pound bronze piggy bank! It is considered good luck to empty your pockets of any loose change and rub Rachel’s snout. Rachel receives around $9,000 annually in many different currencies where the money is used to fund the Market’s social services.


On that note, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that there is much more to the Market than merchants, flowers, and fish. The Market includes one of the biggest food banks in King County, giving out 50,000 bags of groceries each year and is home to a low-cost medical clinic, assisted living community, as well as a senior center.  There are over 500 low-income apartments and a pre-school and day care center for parents who work downtown making the Marketplace both a great tourist attraction as well as a wonderful community service that aids many in need.


This brings my series to a close. I hope you all enjoyed our time together and can glean from my meanderings some useful information on fun and exciting things to do while in our fair city.

April 15, 2008 Posted by | Microsoft MVP Program | 5 Comments

20 Great Places to Visit and Enjoy While in Seattle – Part 4 of 5 (Tours)

Part 3 (Museums) Part 5 (Shopping)

Last time, I talked about some of the unique museums to visit while in the Seattle/Bellevue area. Today, I’ll cover a few of the shouldn’t-miss tours that will make your visit to the Emerald city a memorable and educational one.



Argosy Cruise ( – Don’t be put off by the term “cruise” as the Argosy Cruise takes only about 2 hours. However, during that time, you’ll see the city of Seattle from arguably the most natural and beautiful vantage point: the water. There are four daily tours that run year-round from the Seattle, Lake Union and Kirkland City Docks. All have live narration, wonderful views and feature some of Seattle’s most famous places. When my kids came to visit last summer, we purchased the City Pass, which includes the Argosy Cruise. The City Pass is a discounted package that allows you to see 5 of Seattle’s most famous attractions – all of which I’ve described a bit in this series. After seeing all 5 sites, the kids were adamant that the Argosy Cruise was by far their most favorite. Not only does the cruise include tons of great education regarding the area, its history and dissertations on topics such as how the cargo ships function, but there’s also great stories such as why a certain hotel that extended over the water had to be temporarily shut down. I won’t ruin that story for you, but will highly recommend taking a couple of hours to enjoy this relaxing cruise.


Boeing Tour ( –Like many, Michael Crichton’s novel Airframe piqued in me a much greater interest regarding the world of aircraft mechanics than I would have ever thought possible. As a result, my first journey upon landing in Seattle almost three years ago was to visit the world-famous Boeing Tour – located in Everett (about 25 miles north of Seattle).


The tour begins with a couple of short films. The first is a moving picture collection of aircraft built by Boeing. The second film is an accelerated-photographic sequence showing the construction of a Boeing 747 from beginning to end. After the films, your group is led to the factory entrance, where you will walk to the observation level above the factory floor. An interesting factoid is that this edifice is the largest building in the world by volume (472,000,000 cubic feet). Once inside the factory, you’ll see the airframes in various stages of manufacture as they are custom-built for airlines around the world.


Special Notes: This is a popular destination for many so I would suggest making reservations at least 24 hours in advance. While you can sometimes purchase walk-up tickets – especially before summer – I would suggest calling their ticket office (425-342-8500) to see if they have walk-up tickets available.


Another word of caution is that the Boeing Tour Center does not accept credit cards. Therefore, you’ll need to ensure that you take enough cash on hand to pay for the tickets as well as any memorabilia you wish to purchase from the gift shop.


Pioneer Square Audio Tour ( The Pioneer Square Audio Tour is a rather unique journey through Pioneer Square where you simply pay a small fee and in return they lend you an IPod Shuffle (you’ll need to give them your identification as collateral) that is used to self-guide you through the area! The voices on the Shuffle are from tour guides who will enthrall you with fascinating stories about Seattle’s wild-west history as you walk through a rich tapestry of diverse locally owned, mom-and-pop stores, antique malls, art galleries and more.


Whether or not you rent the audio, I would suggest visiting Pioneer Square as the area comes alive at night with dancing, live music, and great food. In fact, there are so many bars in this area that locals refer to it as the “bar district”. There’s definitely much fun to be had here! During the day, the area’s shopping offers opportunities to purchase items such as difficult-to-locate classic books and antiques.  Finally, you will want to check out the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park – a museum that tells the story of the gold rush days of the Yukon miners. 


Special Notes: This tour is available in both English and Japanese!


Qwest Tour ( – The Qwest Field tour is a definite must-see for the football or soccer fan. The tour – lasting a little over an hour – enables you to see Qwest Field (the home of the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks, and men’s and women’s Seattle Sounders soccer teams) in ways that most of us would never otherwise be able to enjoy. This includes visiting the press box, lounging in a luxury suite, journeying downstairs into the visitor’s locker room and walking onto Qwest Field. Note that still photography is allowed.


Safeco Field Tour ( – For the baseball fans visiting Seattle, the Safeco Field Tour enables you to visit the home of the Seattle Mariners – Safeco Field. As with the Qwest Field Tour, you will be able to visit the press box, luxury suites, and visitor’s clubhouse. In addition, you can sit in the actual team dugout to get the view of the field normally only afforded major league baseball players.


Seattle Underground Tour ( – One of the most educational tours regarding Seattle’s storied history is the Underground Tour. The Underground is actually a network of subterranean passageways and basements in downtown Seattle that was originally ground level in the mid-1800s. However, after a devastating fire – known as the Great Seattle Fire – destroyed 33 city blocks, the city made two critical decisions that came to define the area. First, they mandated that all new buildings use stone or brick in order to help ensure against similar disasters in the future. Second, they decided to re-grade the streets one-to-two stories higher than the original street grade. This meant that part of the city was literally underground and only accessible by using strategically placed ladders! For many reasons that are explained on the tour, the underground spaces eventually fell into disuse and became dilapidated. In 1965, the first Seattle Underground Tour was started. Actually, it was then called “Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour” after the man who came up with the idea of profiting from this unused, long-ago abandoned space. I won’t tell you any more than that as the tour guide has lots of great and very humorous stories regarding the area, people, and decisions of the time!

What’s Next?

In this post, I’ve detailed 5 great tours to enjoy while in Seattle that will educate you on the Emerald City’s history, one of its most famous neighborhoods, and two of the newest and most high-tech ballparks in the country. We’re now only a couple of days from Summit so the next – and last installment – to this series will cover some great places to shop while in Seattle!

April 15, 2008 Posted by | Microsoft MVP Program | 3 Comments

20 Great Places to Visit and Enjoy While in Seattle – Part 3 of 5 (Museums)

Part 2 (Attractions) Part 4 (Tours)

Here’s another installment of my little series on the cool places to visit while in Seattle during the 2008 Global MVP Summit. In the past two articles, I’ve covered Activities and Attractions, respectively. This time around, we’ll take a look at four of the most fascinating and intriguing museums in the Seattle and Redmond/Bellevue areas.



Rosalie Whyel Museum of Doll Art ( – Located 15 minutes to the east of Seattle in downtown Bellevue, the Museum of Doll Art contains one of the world’s foremost private collections of dolls. In fact, the museum – which features more than 1,200 dolls dating back several centuries – was named the winner of the prestigious 1994 Jumeau Award for the Best Private Doll Museum in the World. The museum’s vast collection includes 17th century wooden dolls, 19th century China dolls and the original Barbie as well as museum exhibits featuring miniatures, teddy bears and many other doll-associated memorabilia. Knowledgeable curators are on hand to discuss the artistry, history, and technology of dolls as well as answer questions from patrons.


An especially pleasing touch to this wonderful museum is that its architecture and décor were specifically designed and built to house dolls. Built with Victorian influences, the museum houses a gorgeous English garden through which you can stroll while taking in the sights. You’ll definitely want to take a camera with you and have plenty of time to view not only the dolls, but their surroundings as well.


Finally, the museum store offers the opportunity to purchase everything from antique dolls to modern collectibles. They even have people on hand that can help you should you be in a situation – such as myself – where you knowledge of doll art is much less than your desire to pick up something special for someone in your life that enjoys and treasures these small wonders.


Museum of Flight ( – Located just 10 minutes south of Seattle, the independent, non-profit Seattle Museum of Flight is one of the largest air and space museums in the world. Attracting more than 400,000 visitors annually, the museum’s collection includes more than 150 historically significant air- and spacecraft, an airpark, the original Boeing manufacturing facility and even an area from which you can pay to have certified pilots take you up into the skies in a two-seater where you can channel your inner Red Baron!


When you park at the Museum of Flight, you’ll first see a number of antique planes – including World War II fighter planes – parked on the lawn in front of the “Great Gallery”. From there, you’ll typically enter the Great Gallery – a 3 million-cubic-foot, six-story glass-and-steel exhibit hall currently containing 39 full-size historic aircraft. 23 of these aircraft – including the nine-ton Douglas DC-3 – hang from the space-frame ceiling! The aircraft were specifically selected to trace the history of the first century of flight.


Once inside the Great Gallery, there a number of permanent and temporary exhibits to peruse. One to specifically call out here is the “Red Bar”. Originally built in 1909, Red Bar is the original manufacturing facility of The Boeing Company. Donated to the Museum of Flight by the Port of Seattle in 1975, this structure was subsequently moved to its present location at Boeing Field/King County International Airport that same year. Within the Red Barn you won’t want to miss is the The Boeing Story 1916–1958, which contains rare historical aviation and Boeing artifacts. In addition, there is a re-created factory workshop that shows the Red Barn as it was used during production of the Boeing Model C and Model 40! It takes very little imagination to walk about the Red Barn and transplant yourself back in time almost a hundred years where you can almost feel the sensation of aviation pioneers making history in this one-of-a-kind location.


The Airpark is located about half a mile’s walk from the Great Gallery and contains several noteworthy aircraft such as Air Force One, the very first 747, the original 737, a Boeing 727, and even a sleek Concorde. What’s really great is that you can board these planes and see what they look like from the inside – a special treat as the supersonic Concorde transport was retired in 2003. (Note that admission to the Airpark is free when you purchase a ticket for the Flight Museum.)


Pacific Science Museum ( – Located near the Space Needle in Seattle, the Pacific Science Museum – voted a “Top-50 Family Attraction” by Zagat Survey – is highly recommended to anyone “who loves science and even those who don’t”. You’ll definitely want to set aside several hours for a trip to the Pacific Science Museum, or “PacSci”, as the museum houses an enormous collection of hands-on exhibits, IMAX movies, interactive displays, laser fantasy shows, a planetarium and much more.


Here are a few of my favorites for myself and my kids:


Body Works – For those of us who are chronologically older – but still young at heart – you should visit the Body Works section where exhibits enable you to test your reaction time, gauge how much energy you produce on a “Calorie Bicycle” and try out computer games in the Nutrition Café. This is actually my favorite part of the museum!


Kids Works – Another great area is the Kids Works area where you can see yourself on television as the guest meteorologist in the KING5 First Alert Weather Center! Freeze your shadow on the Shadow Wall. Experiment with water at the stream table. And for the smallest scientist, there’s a special area just for tots where even the youngest of your clan can enjoy and learn!


Dinosaurs: A Journey Through TimeMichael Crichton and Jurassic Park turned many of my generation into amateur dinosaur buffs. This exhibit contains seven roaring, robotic dinosaurs in a lifelike environment and enables you to explore the Mesozoic world with interactive exhibits, real fossils, and dioramas. You can even stand in a giant duckbill dinosaur and take the controls of an “Air and Iron Lizard” (called a “Pneumoferrosaurus”) in order to understand how animatronic dinosaurs work. For more information on this area, I would suggest reading the Teachers Pre-Visit guide as it contains great information regarding exhibit itself and the dinosaurs on display.


Seattle Art Museum ( – Located in downtown Seattle near the waterfront and Pike Place Market, the Seattle Art Museum (or SAM) is one of the world’s most famous museums with a collection of Asian, African and Native American art. Of particular note for visitors is the fine collection of modern art produced by Pacific Northwest artists. The African art display itself is a wondrous display of masks, jewelry, and pictures of the people from the tribe in West Africa (who lent these pieces to the museum).


If you’re in town, SAM is always a great way to explore the art collections from all over the world for inspiration, enjoyment and education. And it’s an especially great opportunity now with a unique exhibit called the Collection of Roman Art. This exhibit – on loan from the world-famous Musée du Louvre, or Louvre, portrays nearly 300 years of imperial Roman life and history. The exhibition includes almost 200 pieces – many of which are in the United States for the very first time! – from the world’s most famous museum.

What’s Next?

In this post, I’ve detailed 4 of the most beautiful and educational museums in the Seattle area. With the Global Summit less than a week away, I’ll cover Tours in my next post so that you’ll have plenty of time to purchase your tickets and make reservations!

April 15, 2008 Posted by | Microsoft MVP Program | 3 Comments

20 Great Places to Visit and Enjoy While in Seattle – Part 2 of 5 (Attractions)

Part 1 (Activities) Part 3 (Museums)

Hello again to the MVPs that will be joining us for the Global MVP Summit 2008. In the previous post to this series, I listed several activities for folks that are new to the Seattle area. Today, I’ll be talking about some of the unique attractions that you won’t want to miss while visiting our city.



International District ( – Seattle’s International District (also known as “Chinatown”, or simply “I.D.”) offer an incomparable eclectic blend of Asian Pacific cultures unlike any other you’ll find in the continental United States. In an area covering roughly 40 square city blocks, the I.D. is a single neighborhood inhabited by people of Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Vietnamese, Korean, Thai, Laotian, Cambodian, Burmese, and other Asian cultures.


Aside from exposure to such a diverse array of cultures, many visitors to this area are drawn by the delectable collection of Asian restaurants, unique specialty shops and heritage sites.


Specifically, I would recommend visiting the Asian supermarket Uwajimaya. You’ll also want to journey across Fifth Avenue from Uwajimaya Village to the Union Station office complex, which was built where abandoned Union Pacific Railroad tracks once ran and is now home to much of’s operations.


For more information about the I.D., be sure to visit their Web site and check out the map to plan your journey into a truly unique U.S. tourist destination.

Space Needle ( – As shown in the opening credits of the popular 90’s sitcom Frasier, the main image associated with Seattle is the world-famous Space Needle.


Built for the 1962 World’s Fair, the Space Needle

Standing 605 feet tall,


Located about 30 minutes from Seattle and 10 minutes from the Redmond campus, MaryMoor Park is the most popular park in King County and one of the most diverse in the Puget Sound area, Marymoor Park attracts more than 3 million people per year to its 640-acres of diverse activities and visual rewards.


Included in the fun are soccer, baseball and cricket fields/pitches, the largest off-leash dog area in the state, a velodrome (where you can see live racing every Friday evening), large rocks for climbing and an RC (Remote Control Flying Field).

As you can see, Marymoor Park is a locale for many physical activities as well as a beautiful setting for enjoying nature and watching others being active. Here is a map to help find your way around this large area as it’s easy to miss many of its wonderful offerings.


Finally note that MaryMoor park is located next to the Redmond Town Center – a nice little collection of restaurants and shops. If you do venture over that way and happen to fancy a great burger and the best shake in the Seattle, ask for Mario or Kirsty and tell them that Tom sent you!

Seattle Zoo – ( – Bicycle riding is one of the most popular activities in the Northwest United States as punctuated by the proliferous number of bike routes running throughout the state of Washington. In fact, Redmond – with its annual city street bike race and the state’s only velodrome (see the section for Marymoor Park) is widely recognized as the bicycle capital of the Northwest”.


In keeping with that reputation, Recycled Cycles (located in Seattle) specializes in renting new, used and reconditioned bikes for trips along “The Burke” where you and your family can enjoy the spectacular views of the area’s waterways and mountains.


The Burke trail is an easy-to-moderate ride for almost any skill level and has lots to offer along the way, including natural habitats, playgrounds for the kids, restaurants (and yes, restrooms!). At the end of the trail, you can even take time to visit Seattle’s wine country!

What’s Next?

In this post, I’ve detailed 4 of my favorite activities that I share with friends and family when they visit the Seattle area. Hopefully, at least one of these will tickle your fancy. In the next entry to this series, I’ll cover “Museums”!



April 13, 2008 Posted by | Microsoft MVP Program | 3 Comments