At least one of your New Year’s Resolutions is solved

Posted by kyle on January 2nd, 2015 filed in Learning
Comment now »

Being a tech person – you have probably said to yourself “this year I will get a certification” – worthy resolution (better than giving up chocolate!) but now you are probably wondering what the heck to do next. So here is Kyle’s rough guide to making 2015 your year for getting certified.

  1. Know your product – sounds like a blasé thing to say – but if you are doing a certification for the first time then do it in a product that you know. When Windows Server 2012 was appearing on the scene I was often asked by Windows Administrators – “Should I get certified in 2008 or wait and do 2012?” – to which my answer always was (and is) “get certified in what you know” – there is normally a shortcut be able to upgrade to later products once you have experience in that – but in the short term – go with what you know and work with.
  2. Make sure you know what is on the exam – if you head to the Microsoft Learning exam website (here) you can find the link for the exam that you are going to do and then look at the exam summary. You are looking for a couple of important things –
    1. The “Who should take this exam?” section sets out the audience that the exam is targeted at – this will give you some indication as to the level of knowledge required to be successful with the exam.
    2. The “Skills Measured” section shows the topics that are covered in the exam and the topic percentage – or how balanced the exam topics are. Be aware of a very important phrase in that section: Please note that the questions may test on, but will not be limited to, the topics described in the bulleted text. This is really important to remember – as you are being tested on the overall topics –but not just the sub topics that lay under them – so don’t JUST study the sub topics!
    3. The “Preparation options” section shows the official channels for study, be it an exam prep video, books, practice tests or training. On the topic of Practice Tests – refer to the post on the Microsoft Learning site on the use of braindumps.
  3. Attend training – This might seem self serving as I am a Microsoft Certified Trainer – but I recommend training for a reason other than keeping me in work! In a class you get a chance to mix with others in your industry and role. You also have a chance to ask someone who has expert knowledge in the subject you are studying for. One thing to note with training is this – generally it will cover the topics – but you will also need to make sure you do your own study for the exam.
  4. Followup your training – there are some key places that Microsoft have to make sure you can get hands on practice and also further training. What am I referring to? Hands-on? Use the TechNet Virtual Labs – a great way to extend your learning and practice in a sandbox environment. More training? The Microsoft Virtual Academy – with more courses being added all the time – MVA courses are a great way to extend your classroom training or to update your knowledge (such as a Service Pack release).
  5. Book a date – sounds silly – but book the exam – don’t wait “until you are ready” – here is a hint – you will never be ready! But if you book a date – then you will have a date to work to – and trust me – this is the better way to go.

So – there you go – one of your resolutions sorted – now – about that one for exercising every day……

Cheers and Happy New Year


Kiwi bros – the west island is here for you

Posted by kyle on December 17th, 2014 filed in Learning
Comment now »

Kiwi cousins – mark March 2015 in the diary – by the end of March, Kiwi’s using Office 365 and Dynamics CRM Online will be delivered locally (well localish) from Australian data centres in New South Wales and Victoria. Microsoft made the announcement earlier this month which is great news for New Zealand customers – should mean faster services and possibly even greater uptake.

Microsoft have made assurances that the data will reside only in the Australian data centres – so that means potentially more trust for data sovereignty.

You can read more of the announcement here.

Now that Australia is providing data centres for New Zealand – are we safe to claim the pavlova? Seems like a fair swap to me J



Tis the season to be silly, fa la la, etc – but not too silly

Posted by kyle on December 12th, 2014 filed in Misc
Comment now »

A bit of a random post – on something that is close to my heart because I see a few of my family and friends, technical and otherwise being caught by scams around the internet.

I have written in some length before on the topic of the computer support scam so make sure you have a look at that – however today’s post is about some more scams that you might come across (whether that you realise have or not).

So here is a list of things to look for:

  1. Facebook giveaways – I constantly see this one – “Company XYZ is giving away a new something awesome if you just click like” – so what do you do? Click like and then you get asked to give permissions to your friends, posts, etc… only Company XYZ isn’t actually giving anything away – instead someone has set up a facebook account that has their name or a derivative of it.
  2. Emails from banks – yeah – you know your bank is not going to email you to ask you to validate your account don’t you? You do right?
  3. Likewise a text from your bank asking you to call a number and validate something (like your account or your PIN) is not likely to be the real deal – if you are not sure – call your bank using one of the publicly available numbers for the bank (ie not the one in the text message)
  4. Software installs – this one is a little harder to spot for the average non-tech person. Say you want to install Skype – so you search for it in your preferred search engine (I am not going to debate Bing vs Google here as they are both guilty of this) and you find a link to install Skype – but the first link will not be from but from on the search you do and the day will depend on the result you get back) – so you click on the link and then install some dodgy malware instead.

So what should you do this silly season – make sure that you are cautious on line and in the world – not everyone is out to get you but some people might be more willing to be a little more sketchy than others. Do the simple things – like watching what you click on, install an anti-virus, make sure your computers and devices are all up to date.

Have a suggestion on another scam that needs to be added to the list? Leave it in the comments and I will add it!



Want a hot date?

Posted by kyle on December 12th, 2014 filed in Learning, Windows 10
Comment now »

Of course you do! So here it is – January 21st 2015 – there I said it. The reason this is a good date to remember? Microsoft’s Brandon LeBlanc announced on the Windows blog today that 21st Jan is the day for the next big Windows 10 announcement – “The Next Chapter”. So what is the next chapter? Well – the general supposition is that it will be the Windows 10 Consumer Preview – remembering until now that we have seen the Windows 10 Enterprise preview (and Windows Server 10 and System Center vNext for those following along).

There will be a webcast as well – with Satya Nadella, Terry Myerson, Joe Belfiore and Phil Spencer all presenting. When the details are posted I will be sure to update with the links. In the meantime – the blog post is here.



OneDrive to rule them all – selectively

Posted by kyle on December 7th, 2014 filed in Windows 10
Comment now »

As you know I have recently been testing Windows 10, and as some of you know I use OneDrive a lot – which has been fine until the last major build of Windows 10 – at that point Microsoft made a change to the way that OneDrive syncs. After updating to build 9879 I had an issue with OneDrive that was over and above the underlying feelings about the changes to how sync is happening. I just could not use OneDrive – basically when I launched it I was being prompted to set it up again and then that crashed.

To fix that issue I uninstalled OneDrive and then reinstalled it (I am referring to the desktop application here just in case you were wondering). During setup I then had to provide a new location for the OneDrive storage (as the existing one could not be used – this was a little annoying as I had to then resync files)

I then selected a few folders to sync. I generally only try and keep a few folders on my local machine (my current daily runner is a Dell XPS 13 with a 128Gb drive – so I try to keep it clean as possible – I should point out that this has been the case for the last couple of machine and I find using OneDrive to store the majority of files and just bring down what I need when I need it has been awesome).

So – what about unsyncing? If I wanted a file or folder to be only online? In Windows 8/8.1 I just right click the folder and select online-only and the space frees off my local machine. How do I do that in Windows 10 OneDrive? Well – turns out it is easyish – not as intuitive as Win8/8.1 but once you know it is pretty simple.

So – here are the steps:

  1. Right click on the OneDrive icon in the System Tray


  2. Select Settings

  3. Click on the Choose folders Tab and then click Choose folders


  4. Expand the Folders you want to make available only online and then uncheck them

  5. Click OK and then the files will be removed from your local computer.

Now – to me that is not the easiest method in the world if I am honest – and also it takes away the selection at the file level that I used to have – but time will tell how this shakes out – in the meantime that method works for most of what I want to achieve.

In other OneDrive news I saw a really useful sounding utility today (I have not tested it at all but will try to have a play with it sometime this week) which enables copying of content from Google Docs/Drive, Box, and OneDrive content into SharePoint Online or OneDrive for Business – so if you are making the move from another storage to OneDrive for Business (Office 365) – then get a hold of Drive2Office365 from here.



Updates Schmupdates – the fast ring just got faster

Posted by kyle on November 26th, 2014 filed in Windows 10
Comment now »

Well – kind of. You recall that I mentioned a little bit ago about the fast and the slow ring for the Windows 10 Technical Preview and that the fast ring got the flights first, then once everyone was happy – then the slow ring would get the update. That is how it has worked for the last couple of updates. This month was a little different. Apparently some folk had issues with the fast update for this month – that took us all to build 9879 and so due to that the slow ring was delayed. (Still following?)

Anyway – fast forward to now – and the slow ring is now getting the update to 9879 and the fast ring also are getting a patch. Now – it is KB3019268 – which you would normally find out about here. Yet – that seems not to give you too much data – or any really. So, there are fixes – but no real details as to what they are. If you are on the fast ring – open Windows Update and you will see the update listed there for installation.

If you are on the slow ring – then you will only need to install the overall update to take you to the new build and the patch will already be installed and configured for you.

Speaking of which – if you do want to do a completely clean install of the build – you now can – the ISO files are available to download now from Microsoft. You can grab them from here.




To RT or not to RT, that should be a question

Posted by kyle on November 24th, 2014 filed in Learning
1 Comment »

I was reading through Neowin last week and came across a story by Brad Sams about how you could pick up a Surface 2 for the bargain price of $US199 (In the US only mind you). One of the first comments on the article read “RT? No thx” which I thought was a really shortsighted dismissal of the Surface 2. I have seen other comments on Twitter such as “Friends don’t let friends buy RT”. To that I say – if you were a friend you would check what they actually needed first.

Now – without going into the ongoing Microsoft support of RT – still waiting to head Windows 10 mentioned with RT – but just looking at what you get in a Surface 2 – and then why it might be ok for you – here are a few factors to consider:

  1. Don’t believe what your “trusted advisor” might say without researching for yourself. A lot of IT Pro’s that I know have dismissed Surface 2 without actually seeing what you get for your buck.
  2. There are limitations – not avoiding them – there is – the big one is that you can only run applications from the Microsoft Store (or those that are preinstalled – more on that shortly). You also cannot put any extra addins for Internet Explorer – plugins, etc will not work.
  3. You get Office – not a time bombed version, not an eval version, a full version of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. (One thing to note with Excel is that you cannot run macros – so if that is important then this is not for you)
  4. You get a lightweight device with great screen resolution – 10.6″ at 1920 x 1080 and a battery life of 10 hours.
  5. Miracast support – this is an oft overlooked thing – so wireless display available.

For me the last 2 are the big ones – I have presented a class able to wander about the room with my Surface 2 wirelessly connected to a projector running virtual machines. Now – were the virtual machines running locally on the Surface 2? Obviously not – but they were running in a HTML5 page and I also could have used Remote Desktop to access a full server if needed (obviously this means you need to have access to a server which most normal people won’t – but then most normal people won’t run a virtual machine J)

So – when I have people ask me for a recommendation on a device – I always start the conversation with – “what do you need to do?” Rather than – “forget about solution xyz as I don’t like It”, if your “trust advisor” doesn’t ask that simple question – then you might need to find another one..




What is an OOB update and why should you care?

Posted by kyle on November 20th, 2014 filed in Windows 2008, Windows 2008 R2, WIndows 2012, Windows 2012 R2
Comment now »

So – firstly – an OOB update is short for Out of Band update – in Microsoft terms, it is an update that is outside of the regular monthly “Patch Tuesday” cycle. Normally this is reserved for urgent patches and those that really do need your attention. So when you see an out of band update, or a critical security bulletin – then make sure you have a look to see if it applies to you and the systems you manage.

This week Microsoft issued Security Bulletin MS14-068 (yeah – sexy name right?). The actual issue is “Vulnerability in Kerberos Could Allow Elevation of Privilege (3011780)”. Essentially there is a possibility that an attacker could use a standard user account and then make it have the same privileges as a domain administrator. The attacker has to have a valid domain account to start with – but then after that – then if they know the exploit then yes – you are in trouble. And don’t think this is blue sky thinking – there are known targeted attacks already happening.

So – does this apply to you? If you have a Windows Server 2003 and above then – yes it does. There is also a patch for Windows Vista and above on the client side – although it is part of a defense in depth policy rather than due to a risk.

For further details – head here



Windows 10 – Technical Preview Fundamentals for IT Pros

Posted by kyle on November 18th, 2014 filed in Learning, Windows 10
1 Comment »

Coming up this week there is a free Microsoft Virtual Academy course which will give you a great insight into the enhancements in Windows 10 from an IT Pro perspective – a technical overview of the technical preview as such.

The official blurb reads IT Pros, want a sneak peek at enhancements in Windows 10? Get a technical overview, and find out how these improvements can help you meet your enterprise IT and security challenges, including device management, multifactor authentication, and deployment, plus a familiar UI for end users.

In this Jump Start training with live Q&A, join us as the lead Windows 10 Enterprise Product Managers roll back the covers on the Windows 10 Technical Preview. Learn about new UI enhancements, find out how management and deployment is evolving, and hear how new security enhancements in Windows 10 can help your organization respond to the modern security threat landscape. Be sure to bring your questions!”

The session will be recorded however if you have a chance to attend live, then you will be able to ask questions of such folk as Simon May, Michael Niehaus, Brad McCabe, Chris Hallum and Fred Pullen.

The reason I mention it will be recorded is that it is November 20th 9am-1pm PST, which means that it will be Friday 21st 3am-7am Brisbane time, or 4am – 8am AEDT, for those in NZ – 6am – 10am. I will be attending live – but if you are not keen due to the time – then make sure you grab the recording when it becomes available.

Register here



Do you like it fast or do you like it slow?

Posted by kyle on November 14th, 2014 filed in Windows 10, Windows Insider Preview
Comment now »

That has become the important question – around Windows 10 naturally. Microsoft has now given those on the Windows Insider Preview program the option to join the fast update option or the slow option (Slow is the default).

So what is the difference? Well – it is probably obvious – if you want to be on the bleeding edge of the Preview program – then you can adjust your update speed. If you are still keen for updates but want to take it a little easier and wait for what is potentially more stable builds – then you want to take the slow option. (Of course, as discussed in previous posts – you are on the edge anyway if you are on the Insider program – but with the fast updates you are a little closer to the sharp side)

Microsoft refers to these as Rings – so you are on the fast ring or the slow ring – if you are on the slow ring you will get the update from the fast ring still – just not straight away.

So – how do you get on the fast ring?

In PC Settings, Update and Recovery, Preview Builds, there is now an option for the speed. Choose the Fast option. If you then click Check now, that will force the system to check immediately.

If you don’t click check now (or if you are already on the latest build then you will simply get the next update automatically delivered via Windows Update during your next normal maintenance window.

  • Locations of visitors to this page