Vol. 21, #25 - June 20, 2016 - Issue #1085
This week's newsletter raises a question we'd like our readers to answer: What do you use to block online ads in your office or corporate environment? We'll talk about a few things we've tried for our own business but what we're really looking for is for some of our readers to share the solutions they've implemented and how well they have been working for them. I guess there's a simple philosophical question here, isn't there? Should the Internet be free or shouldn't it? I love the way Dogbert tries to bring clarity to this question:
Ask Our Readers: WServerNews has almost 100,000 subscribers worldwide. That's a lot of expertise to tap into. Do you need help with some issue or need advice on something IT-related? Got a question you'd like us to toss out to our readers to try and answer? Email us at email@example.com
Last week in Issue #1084 Catching up on Windows 10 we included an item about "Upgradegate" and included a few links to posts by Paul Thurrott, Susan Bradley and others about Microsoft's latest bullying move to further alienate the small business and consumer segments of their global customer base. Michael, a reader who works for a technology group based in California, USA was particularly taken by Susan's post as she's a highly-respected long-time Microsoft MVP. Here's the email he sent us:
I read Susan Bradley's post. Susan has been thoughtful, resourceful, and loyal to Microsoft over the years. I am disappointed as well with this dark turn Microsoft has taken.
Why is MS sullying their reputation by this bullying? I suggest we need to follow the money. Gotta be greed.
Windows 10 is the key vehicle whereby MS hopes to build a database of our online behavior as a catch-up move to Google, Facebook, and to a lesser extent, Amazon and Apple. The value of that information is so high MS is aping Google. Google gives away all of its software in exchange for our information, and is a huge profitable company. MS thinks, "If it works for Google, why not us?" And now that it is not working, at least on the timetable MS wants, the bullying has started. We consumers are worth so much more to MS as a source of information than as a buyer of operating systems.
What this suggests to me is the bigger rip-off is we, the software users, are not being properly compensated for the information we provide, anonymized or otherwise. Indeed we should be paid to use Google or MS, or any software that collects data on our online behavior.
Another reader named Jackie sent us this story that illustrates the kinds of problems people have been experiencing because of Microsoft tricking them into upgrading to Windows 10:
My college-aged son was tricked into upgrading to Windows 10. It installed itself despite the fact that the Dell website said clearly that his model of laptop was not compatible with W10, period.
His laptop bricked, and he called me in an absolute panic (of course he had not made backups of all of the college work he had on the machine.) Half the time I spent on the phone calming him down, and the other half was spent walking him through doing a "Last Known Good Configuration" reset, which worked (thank Heavens!)
His next care package from home included a flash drive big enough to backup his college work on.
Next, here is what a reader named Steve has to say on this topic:
When I'm on vacation I do my best to stay as disconnected as possible, in order to preserve what little sanity I have left after 30+ years in IT. I just returned from a break so when I saw your latest newsletter upon my return with the details about Microsoft changing their upgrade "suggestions" yet again, it was still news to me.
Like so many others, I have been annoyed and frustrated at the way Microsoft has been evolving their attempts to mislead me into upgrading. I have become tired of having to watch for the reappearance of KB3035583, and then the eerily similar KB3123862. I was happy to see the Never10 utility from GRC but I fear that it's only a matter of time until Microsoft just deploys some new trickery to get around these defences.
I also dread the inevitable day in the future when I accidentally let down my guard and accept some list of 20+ supposedly important security updates without reading the fine print for each and every one of them and inadvertently end up with Windows 10 attempting to install itself on the PC that I rely on constantly. If this actually comes to pass, I doubt if I will be angry enough to change because I still need and use Microsoft systems on a daily basis for my work but I think it's a terrible way for a world-class company to be treating their customers.
Thanks for your top-notch reporting -- Keep it up!
Thank you! Finally here's an email we received from Adam who works for a small business that provides computer support for small businesses:
I work for a Mom and Pop computer company, in Mendon Vermont. Just me and the boss. I have been fielding calls, from people with windows 10 upgrade issues, for weeks now. We service small businesses (~1-20 employees) and individuals. Many of these small business's use hardware with proprietary software. Many of them can't afford to update that software. The "forced" upgrade to 10, has hurt many of our clients. Rolling back to the previous O.S. is chancy at best. Many of our customers don't want to learn a new O.S. Especially the older ones. There is a consistent failure of windows 10 to get the drivers for video and printers right. The upgrade also removes sharing of folders on a network, why? If you use autoruns, you will find many entries marked "file not found" relating to WMC , Wow64, and Parental control. These are Microsoft's own software, why can't these entries be removed during the upgrade? WTF Microsoft? The 10 upgrade also removes things like CCleaner, "not compatible". If you reinstall it, it works fine, again WTF?
Also in Issue #1084 Catching up on Windows 10 we shared a link to an article in The Guardian that lists some of the reasons why it might not be a good idea for me to switch from using an iPad to using a Windows 10 tablet. Not everyone agrees with The Guardian's assessment however--here's what Bill, a Senior Cyber Security & Wireless Engineer based in Atlanta, Georgia, USA has to say on the subject:
I have used Windows tablets since they became available, and they have worked great for me, Windows 10 being the best now in the line of OS's. It just may be my lack of IPADez but the feature set of Apple just does not seem to compare to Microsoft on the business front. I have traveled with my Windows OS tablets all over the world, and prefer it.
OK, I guess I shouldn't judge until I have a chance to try using a Win10 tablet for awhile. I have however been using a Windows 10 laptop for some time now and most of the time I'm quite happy with it, especially with how fast it resumes from sleep mode. But just this week I resumed from sleep and Outlook wouldn't start and soon I ended up with two copies of Outlook running so I closed one and then I had no Outlook running and there were now two *blank* taskbar thumbnails above the Outlook taskbar icon and I tried closing one of the blank taskbar thumbnails and everything froze and I had to hard shutdown the laptop by holding down the power button five seconds and on rebooting it took several minutes until the logon screen appeared...
In other words, stuff still breaks sometimes on Windows 10, and I just want an OS that's *reliable* not one with lots of stylish features.Finally, also in Issue #1084 Catching up on Windows 10 we mentioned that Microsoft has decided to release a "convenience update" for Windows 7 SP1 to help make it easier for businesses who may still need to deploy new Windows 7 computers in their environment. Well it turns out that convenience can have its disadvantages as this reader named Mark informs us:
FYI ... The Microsoft Convenience update you reference in this week's WServerNews newsletter breaks VMware connectivity if you use the vmxnet3 virtual adapter. There's a good chance you're using it because that's the one VMware recommends. See here for more info:
VMware customers should take note concerning this problem.
And now on to the main topic of this week's issue...
Online advertisements are becoming more and more annoying. My latest gripe is video advertisements embedded in web pages that start playing as soon as they come into view as you scroll down the page on your computer, tablet or smartphone. It's just wonderful to be researching some topic and come across a page and suddenly have the speakers on your device start blaring out how you can save money buying this or subscribing to that.
Since we're in the writing and editing business, we're always online researching various topics or reading news or browsing documentation or wading through discussion boards. To minimize the distraction provided by advertisements on these sites, we are currently using a HOSTS file on our PCs that blocks the most popular adservers. The HOSTS file we currently use is maintained by a former Microsoft MVP and you can get it here:
The HOSTS file is updated on a somewhat regular basis (the last update was in August 2015) so it's not completely up to date but it seems to filter out most of the advertisements we have to deal with (except the annoying autoplay video ones). Installing the HOSTS file has a few side effects--for example the Tools page in the Petri IT Knowledgebase is inaccessible when I try to open it from a machine that has the HOSTS file installed, but that simply tells me that their Tools page is more of an advertising vehicle than a resource I might want to use.
Lately however two questions have been hovering around my mind: First, is there a better solution I might want to try for blocking ads on our own business PCs? A colleague recommended another HOSTS file solution:
FWIW this HOSTS file seems to be updated more frequently than the MVP one above.
Or should we be using a commercial software solution like AdBlock?
The fact is we'd probably like to use AdBlock but unfortunately we use Internet Explorer and not Chrome, Safari or Opera which are the supported browsers for that product. Is there an alternative ad blocking application that works with Internet Explorer on Windows 7 / 8.1. / 10? Do any of our readers have any recommendations? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and please include reasons with your recommendations.
Secondly, how do other businesses and organizations (both large and small) feel about online ads? Do they see a business need for blocking ads? Do any large enterprises employ ad blocking solutions? Why or why not? And if they do so, what kind of solution do they employ? How do they manage them? And what about small businesses? We'd love to hear from our readers about any ad blocking technologies they have implemented at their own companies or organizations, along with their business rationale for doing so. Email us at email@example.com and we'll share your comments with our almost 100,000 subscribers around the world so they can benefit from your own experience and expertise in this area.
Got feedback about anything in this issue of WServerNews? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Here's a chance to explore the latest industry trends and Microsoft IT best practices. Watch these courses and hear from Microsoft IT subject matter experts (SMEs) about how we implement new and innovative IT solutions in the Microsoft global enterprise environment, from technology development to maintenance and more.
Dev/Test in the Cloud
Thinking about moving dev/test to the cloud? Watch this course to learn how Microsoft Azure, Visual Studio, and Visual Studio Team Services enable development teams to configure enterprise cloud-ready development and testing environments. See how to make the move and the benefits of doing so. Plus, find out how, as a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement customer, you gain access to lower MSDN rates on virtual machines (VMs), cloud services, and HDInsight, along with reduced rates on other services.
"I do not like work even when someone else does it." - Mark Twain, from The Lost Napoleon
Until next week,
GOT ADMIN TOOLS or other software/hardware you'd like to recommend? Email us at email@example.com
Join live webinar to learn everything about Microsoft Nano Server. We will discuss advantages and potential use-cases, will show you how to start with Nano and take all of its benefits to your data center. Register to attend.
Microsoft Message Analyzer 1.4 comes with enhancements and new features based on community feedback:
SSL Server Test is a free online service performs a deep analysis of the configuration of any SSL web server on the public Internet:
GOT TIPS you'd like to share with other readers? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
In the Mailbag of Issue #1084 Catching up on Windows 10 we included a couple of recommendations from readers for vacuum cleaners you can use for safely getting rid of the dust bunnies on the back of PC cases, dust on components inside, and keyboards. Reader Michael Hallsted wrote to us with his own suggestion:
Cleaning out the inside of a computer... I have owned a DataVac Electric Duster ED-500 for years now, and it is a beautiful piece of equipment. It feels heavy for its size, it feels natural and comfortable in the hand, solid, well-made, and can clean out years of accumulated dirt and dust... it is just a wonderful product:
Michael knows a thing or two about maintaining computers as you can learn from this two-part interview I did with him on WindowsNetworking.com:
Richard Hay has a slide show on Windows Supersite that shows how you can set up and use DropBox on Windows 10 instead of the less friendly (in my opinion) OneDrive cloud storage that comes by default when you use your Microsoft Account to log onto your Windows 10 machine:http://www.wservernews.com/go/3yxtiy0t/
Fred Lange has an article on Windows Secrets that describes how you can perform some steps to resolve most updating problems by completely resetting Windows Update on your machine:http://www.wservernews.com/go/ln9c40n9/
2016 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference on July 10-14, 2016 in Toronto Canada
Ignite on September 26-30, 2016 in Atlanta USA
PLANNING A CONFERENCE OR OTHER EVENT you'd like to tell our 100,000 subscribers about? Contact email@example.com
The Risk of Running Obsolete Software (Part 4) (WindowsSecurity.com)http://www.wservernews.com/go/0ve46yld/
Taking Control of VM Sprawl (Part 15) (VirtualizationAdmin.com)
A Free PowerShell Script to Configure a Hyper-V Host (Altaro blog)
How to Successfully Create a Hyper-V Cluster Using Virtual Machine Manager (Part 10) (WindowsNetworking.com)
Building a PowerShell GUI (Part 6) (WindowsNetworking.com)
WMI classes and Storage cmdlets (Richard Siddaway's Blog)http://www.wservernews.com/go/ye3t8fgi/
Interview: Maintaining Legacy Software (Part 1) (WindowsNetworking.com)
Three posts of interest to those managing SMB servers (Small Business Susan)
Register SCOM MG to OMS using PowerShell (System Center Blog)
Automatically Upgrade the ConfigMgr Client (SCCM Guy's Blog)
Email Security with Digital Certificates (Part 2)
Deep Dive Into Office 365 PowerShell Cmdlets (Part 4)
PowerShell for Storage and File System Management (Part 12)
Introduction to Microsoft Azure Security Center
Are you struggling to have a solid cloud management strategy? For starters, it may be best to take a closer look at your application workflow and select the right mix of tools. Find out more:
DevOps methodology can ease the tension of developing and distributing software in a standard environment; how can it improve a VMware environment? Find out what exactly DevOps is and how it applies to a classic VMware environment.
From the basic principles of hyper-convergence to the competitive nature of the hyper-converged market, get started on your path to hyper-converged enlightenment with these five tips from our editors.
There are many good use cases for VDI, but perhaps none is more compelling than work-from-home companies managing remote employees. The advantages: It creates a controlled environment and makes it easier to provide support, manage licenses and ensure security. Learn more:
GOT FUN VIDEOS or other fun links to suggest you'd like to recommend? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
A Mexican Air Force pilot demonstrates the effects of centrifugal force by pouring and drinking a glass of water without spilling it while doing a loop:
Roberta Mancino flies her wingsuit over and through the volcanic smoke of Villarrica - one of South America's highest active volcanoes:
A Brazilian bird 'Seriema' picks up a golf ball and bounces it on the sidewalk:http://www.wservernews.com/go/5vx9tbcv/
A funny sketch about Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson by Irish comedian Dave Allen - from the BBC comedy and sketch show 'Dave Allen At Large.'
Mitch Tulloch is Senior Editor of WServerNews and is a widely recognized expert on Windows administration, deployment and virtualization. Mitch was lead author of the bestselling Windows 7 Resource Kit and has been author or series editor for almost fifty books mostly published by Microsoft Press. Mitch is also a ten-time recipient of Microsoft's Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award for his outstanding contributions in support of the global IT pro community. Mitch owns and runs an information technology content development business based in Winnipeg, Canada. For more information see www.mtit.com.
Ingrid Tulloch is Associate Editor of WServerNews and was co-author of the Microsoft Encyclopedia of Networking from Microsoft Press. Ingrid is also manages research and marketing for our content development business and has co-developed university-level courses in Information Security Management for a Masters of Business Administration program.