Vol. 22, #5 - January 30, 2017 - Issue #1116


Corporate e-learning platforms


Editor's Corner

In this issue we examine the subject of providing e-learning to both IT pros and end-users. We share some products, services and solutions you can use for doing this, canned and custom, and ask you our readers to offer your own suggestions for e-learning platforms based on your own experiences (good and bad) in this area. We also have the usual tips, tools, links and fun stuff, plus we dig into our Mailbag and try to answer our latest Ask Our Reader plea for help from our last issue.
I guess e-learning is really just another name for distance learning, right? Well let's see what Dilbert has to say on this topic:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/wewcp789/

Better go check your firewall to make sure it's not overheating.

 

Ask Our Readers - Windows 10 activation question

In Issue #1115 Reader feedback: What? No computer?? we received the following question from a reader named Karl:

Hi, Hello, Thank you for being there! Working for a Non Profit Organization, I received a donation of a number of little Laptop PC with Windows 7 Pro installed. As the machines came from a corporate company of good repute, I didn't think more of it. Two of the PCs upgraded to Windows 10 at the time and activated without a problem. The other donated Laptops still work well and undisturbed on Windows 7 Pro. Now, although still activated, I am being asked to activate the Windows 10 installation be the 27th of January.  

What does your panel of wise persons suggest? Should I reinstall Windows 10 from scratch and hope, that Microsoft recognizes the machine activates it automatically? Should I see and wait what happens? Your answer(s) is (are) much appreciated.

We got several helpful responses to Karl's question (though they may have come too late to be of help to him) so we'll share them here. First off here's some excellent feedback from Microsoft MVP Andre Da Costa:

That message usually appears when the Windows 10 installation is a volume license client. It's possible, the company from which that laptop came was using a Volume License Client utilizing KMS licensing. KMS licenses normally require that Windows installations reconnect to their business network, either by VPN or authenticate on the domain every 180 days.
Since the machine should be properly licensed to run Windows 7 Professional, the current installation can probably be reactivated using the product key on the Certificate of Authenticity sticker. Check the bottom of the laptop chassis or in the battery compartment.
Click Start > Settings > Update & security > Activation > Change the product key then enter the product key located on the COA.
If Karl experiences an error when attempting to activate using the Windows 7 Professional key, then he should contact chat support to get it reactivated. See details in the article "Activate Your Windows 10 License via Microsoft Chat Support" here:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/ca4dt52y/

Some other suggestions in response to Karl's question include the following one from a reader name Quentin:

Karl's laptops are probably running Windows under an enterprise or volume licensing agreement so the licenses may no longer be valid. The good news is that Microsoft are very generous to charities / NPOs and Karl can sign up his charity and purchase new licenses for very modest amounts - £10 to £20.
Microsoft's homepage for charities is:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/t9wk3lhj/

If Karl is in the UK he should use:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/aqsye1v1/

Another, perhaps simpler, solution, is to check the laptops for a license key sticker. Again, the laptops were likely imaged with a corporate license, and Karl will need to use the laptop's original license key. Karl can run 'slmgr /dlv' at an elevated command prompt for details about the license. There's a very easy way to correct the license key: run slmgr.vbs -ipk 11111-11111-11111-11111-11111 (replace the 1s with the correct license key) from an elevated command prompt.
Karl will then need to re-activate Windows using slmgr.vbs -ato

Another reader named Pat said this:

With regards to your question about Windows 10 activation, my personal recommendation would always be to do a clean install on an old machine. It just saves you headaches later on as the Windows architecture inevitably falls apart. This does however pose an issue with the license key, as discussed. There is a way to get around this though.
Windows 10 Pro will let you use a Window 7 Pro license key after the Anniversary update (Build 1607 I believe) is installed. Just install Windows 10 Pro as you would normally, then get the updates installed immediately. Use the 'Express Settings' upon install, as Microsoft have taken certain updates away from people who 'meddle' with the settings when first installing Windows 10. Once Windows 10 is upgraded to the Anniversary update, then enter the Windows 7 key manually in the Properties section of This PC. Coincidentally, I'm currently doing this for a number of PC's myself. Funny old World ?
If you don't have the Windows 7 license key to hand or there are no license stickers anywhere to be seen, you can use a simple VBS script like this one found here:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/33uy9ilr/

to display the key used to activate that particular machine. Just make a note of it before you wipe Windows 7.
Easy as that. Try one first to make sure you can get it working and then do the rest when you feel comfortable with the process.

Finally, reader Mark who works at a university says:

Your reader's question about Windows activation sounds a bit suspect. I would hope that a corporation that utilized KMS activation did not donate some computers running against KMS as that would effectively be donating computers with no operating system. I would suggest that Karl first open a command prompt and type "slmgr /dlv" without the quotes. A window will pop up with detailed license information. If the sixth line down, Product Key Channel:, reads, "Volume:GVLK" then he has virtually no Windows license. Also, typing "slmgr /ato" without the quotes into a command prompt will usually provide a much better message about activation failure than the GUI. As a non-profit, the combination of Linux and Libre Office have a strong value proposition that may be worth looking into. Libre Office in particular has strong compatibility with Microsoft Office files.

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 wsn@mtit.com



From the Mailbag

Last week in Issue #1115 Reader feedback: What? No computer?? we shared some reader feedback we received on whether the personal computer (especially running Windows) has a future or not, particularly as far as young people are concerned. Our reader feedback generated even more reader feedback (that's what feedback does, right?) and we're including a bit more here. First, reader Bruce from Minnesota, USA who works in Windows Server Support for a government agency took issue with much of the tone of the previous feedback as follows:

I believe there are some real disconnects from reality with the latest issue "Reader feedback: What? No computer??"
There were a number of negative comments about younger people, for example:
•"a decline in all forms of literacy with young people nowadays…"
•"like most young people they're not very self-aware…"
•Everything under "What? Just grow up!!"
Having some children in this demographic and having worked with a lot more "kids", I find this type of attitude toward our future leaders of tomorrow quite disconcerting and disconnected from the reality I witness. Either that, or people talking like that are like some of the folks in the Greatest Generation that said we would always amount to nothing.

And here's what Chris who works for a computer services business in Christchurch, New Zealand has to say on the topic:

I think that I can tell you some things about your readers:

• In spite of what a number of them are saying about the demise of the PC I bet none of them are reading WServerNews on a phone or ipad.
• If they are then they are quite young and don't needed glasses yet and I bet they have a PC somewhere else.
I think that all we are seeing is a drift from those people who never really needed a PC anyway to something more suited to their less technical requirements. In the past you could only read email on a PC but now that can be done on a smartphone then they migrate to that. PCs are still required in all the niche markets that they have been used in in the past - photo editing, video editing, serious document creation (as opposed to those only filling in spaces), extensive email use (especially where earlier emails need to be referred to) and a host of other needs that just cannot be performed on a smartphone or ipad.
My own uses of various devices only changes when the functionality I require becomes available on the various platforms. And since one of these is being able to read the screen that tends to limit my use of small devices like smartphones and smaller tablets. And the smaller devices means slow because performance generates heat and only the larger devices can handle this.
In the past I have used my ipad for email, reading the news and reading books. This use has dropped to reading books only because the ipad has got too slow and the screen is now too small. So I shuffle my uses between the best devices. I lose some convenience BUT I gain this loss back by the better features of the better device.
So yes I guess that does mean less sales for PCs but most definitely not their demise.

If readers have any more thoughts on this subject they can send them to us at wsn@mtit.com
Two weeks ago in Issue #1114 Just trust us! we explored the subject of whether companies that provide cloud services can be trusted on matters of security and control of cloud services purchased by customers. Tom who runs an IT consultancy business in the North East of Scotland commented on this as follows:

In the last few years we've had to migrate clients away, with effectively little notice, from two products that were simply withdrawn by the suppliers:
• LogMeIn's Cubby file sharing service
• Webroot's email filtering and archiving service
We try and persuade our clients that they either need their data on-site with backups in the cloud, or their data in the cloud with backups on-site. Finding cloud services that facilitate an easy way of configuring the latter position is very difficult/impossible, they just say "trust us"!!!!!

And now on to the main topic of this week's newsletter…


Corporate e-learning platforms

Training is still important in enterprise environments where productivity is a corporate priority. With budgets under increasing pressure, some organizations and businesses choose to purchase subscriptions to canned training from popular providers like Lynda.com which in the IT area offers a wide variety of online courses for both IT pros and end-users. For example, some of their more popular courses on Windows 10 include:

Computer Literacy for Windows 10
http://www.wservernews.com/go/fhgl3g33/

Windows 10 Essential Training
http://www.wservernews.com/go/9y7fkfxx/

Windows 10 Tips and Tricks
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1uswegim/

Windows 10 Administration
http://www.wservernews.com/go/ob87es2i/

Windows 10: Configure, Secure, and Manage Data
http://www.wservernews.com/go/gq8ms86z/

 

An end-to-end guide

But what if you want to develop your own in-house custom training about some topic, product, or service? What processes should you follow and what tools can you use for doing this in a way that's simple and professional yet effective?

Our own Techgenix.com website recently published a series of articles on just this topic by Bill Raymond, a long-time Microsoft MVP awardee who is also an author, public speaker, trainer, and consultant. You can read the articles in Bill's series here:

Avoid deployment failure with a training and adoption program
http://www.wservernews.com/go/7xaezich/

Recording equipment guide: Create training videos people will love
http://www.wservernews.com/go/yrplvwfl/

Recording software guide: Create training videos people will love
http://www.wservernews.com/go/3zjva52w/

eLearning best practices: Audio
http://www.wservernews.com/go/lx32inwj/

eLearning best practices: The desktop
http://www.wservernews.com/go/b9xtviit/

eLearning best practices: Your voice
http://www.wservernews.com/go/n4ibjt1e/

eLearning best practices: Production effects
http://www.wservernews.com/go/p0pas5ol/

eLearning best practices: Share on Office 365 Video
http://www.wservernews.com/go/vklfc4ml/

 

Some free solutions

What if you're company is in the business of providing training services for customers? Or what if you're a smaller business and want to find a free platform you can use for creating and publishing e-learning courses for your employees? I asked around with some people who are knowledgeable in this area and got a couple of recommendations from them:

Moodle

This is open source software you can download onto your own web server to create e-learning courses for your customers and employees.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/hl1qcanf/

Open edX

This is an open source course management system (CMS) originally developed by EdX, a nonprofit online initiative created by Harvard and MIT with participation from dozens of leading global institutions.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/c5ca0aoz/

 
 

And then there's WordPress…

Finally, I've been told that even good old WordPress (WP) can serve as a powerful learning management system (LMS) provided you use the right plug-ins. For example, check out the WP plug-ins described next.

LearnPress

This plug-in will let you turn WP into an LMS that includes courses, lessons, quizzes and more.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/stl2vsj0/

WPLMS

This plug-in is an e-learning WP theme for course management that's suitable for training centers, corporate training, schools and universities.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/byed3ew1/

More info

More info on WP LMS solutions can be found in this article on the Capterra Training Technology Blog:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/s24u30m7/

 

What about you?

What do our readers use when they need to deliver e-learning training to users or customers? Have you used any of the solutions we've listed above? Do you have any other products or services you can recommend, canned or custom, free or otherwise, for developing or providing e-learning courses? Share your stories and experiences by emailing us at wsn@mtit.com


Recommended for Learning

Announcing the Windows 10 IT Center

Visit Microsoft's new Windows 10 IT Center to find tools, step-by-step guides, and other resources to help you deploy and support Windows 10 in your organization:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/vd9ig6db/

 

Microsoft Virtual Academy 

Our MVP contact has told us about this terrific sale from Microsoft Press:

Save up to 55% on Microsoft Press exam prep books & eBooks

Start studying for your next Windows Server certification! Save on all exam prep books & eBooks at the Microsoft Press Store, including brand new Windows Server 2016 Exam Refs. Sale runs through February 28, 2017. Start shopping!

http://www.wservernews.com/go/23h1v3c7/

 

Factoid of the Week

Last week's factoid and question was as this:

  Black holes are not black. Question: What other N's are also not-N?

This must have been a tough one because we only received one response to this question which came from Tom who does technology consulting for small businesses in Irving, California. You can find his company website here:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/lb8vqiav/

Tom says:

Consider this sentence:
The paramedic wound a bandage around the wound, but the person wound up in the hospital anyway.
That's why they say that English is the hardest language in the world to learn.

Maybe that's the problem--IT pros spend their school days learning about technology while skipping out of English class because they find it boring ;-)
 
Now let's move on to this week's factoid:
 
Fact: The biggest threat to the UK's critical infrastructure is the squirrel as described in this BBC News article:
 
http://www.wservernews.com/go/m7ad2rrm/
 
Question: Will the next front of technological warfare involve training squirrels for infiltration and combat missions?
 
http://www.wservernews.com/go/l32tjvvq/
 
More importantly, what kind of countermeasures can we possibly deploy to safeguard our own nation's critical infrastructure from targeted attacks by elite units of highly-trained squirrels?Email us your thoughts on this ridiculous subject:
 
Email us your thoughts on this ridiculous subject: wsn@mtit.com
 
Until next week,

Mitch Tulloch



Admin Toolbox

Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without

GOT ADMIN TOOLS or other software/hardware you'd like to recommend? Email us at wsn@mtit.com

SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor provides a simplified user experience for monitoring key aspects of Active Directory’s health and performance. Try Server & Application Monitor Free!

http://www.wservernews.com/go/a4jnqcdm/

DNSQuerySniffer is a tiny network sniffer which detects and displays DNS queries as they're sent on your system:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/popwmvl4/

System.Net.FtpClient is a client implementation of the FTP protocol that is designed to be easy to use and easy to extend:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/hy154bcs/

Homedale is a portable free tool which detects nearby wireless access points, displays their details, and plots signal strength over time:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/rbn4bids/

 

This Week's Tips

GOT TIPS you'd like to share with other readers? Email us at wsn@mtit.com

Active Directory - Mitigating DDNS registration failures

TechNet's Tip of the Day site has a useful article on handling dynamic DNS name registration failures/delays in environments where the updates are managed by a DHCP server:
Tip of the Day: Windows Server 2016 DHCP: Combatting DDNS Registration Failures

http://www.wservernews.com/go/43swa260/

MS Word - Using symbol characters

The Electric Wand blog on TechNet has the following tip for users who work with Microsoft Word or Microsoft Outlook:
Tip o' the Week 362 – Working with symbol characters

http://www.wservernews.com/go/hxlvxwdv/

Windows - Tool for resetting admin password

This tip was sent to us by Ted Giesler of Cypress Consulting Group, Ltd:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/apqp8xve/

 

Hi Mitch, there is a tool I have used since Windows became a real OS back in the last century. The Offline Windows NT Password and Registry Editor:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/6md7dgjz/
lets you reset a local user password as well as enable disabled accounts. I have tried this on every version of Windows up to Windows 10. I just have not had the need to use it on that version yet.

GOT TIPS you'd like to share with other readers? Email us at wsn@mtit.com 

Events Calendar

North America

Microsoft Ignite Australia on February 14-17, 2017 at the Gold Coast Convention & Exhibition Centre, Broadbeach, QLD

http://www.wservernews.com/go/c14gi3l6/

Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) on July 9-13. 2017 in Washington, D.C.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/h59k1ze8/

Add Your Event

PLANNING A CONFERENCE OR OTHER EVENT you'd like to tell our 100,000 subscribers about? Contact info@techgenix.com

New on TechGenix.com

Video: Enable collaboration with SharePoint team sites

Organizations suffer when employees can’t get important information. End this information roadblock by connecting everyone with SharePoint team site.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/mw4nd5c9/

Get a handle on your data with these log-management tools

Your system generates a huge number of logs. But how can you comb through them to see what’s important? Let these log-management tools do the job for you.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/x5vtrnf7/

Real threats in virtualized environments: Identifying and mitigating the risks

As more and more organizations migrate to virtualized environments, IT pros are learning there are risks involved. Here’s how to minimize the dangers.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/yypomrgu/

Should the construction industry partner with cloud companies?

The construction industry will stand to gain a lot by partnering with cloud companies. Are you ready to make this transition?

http://www.wservernews.com/go/o70rgzlt/

5 must-have Windows 10 apps for IT Pros

Whether you're an IT pro or simply a tech enthusiast, here are some of the best Windows 10 apps that can simplify your life and make you more organized.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/b0z37c8v/

 

Tech Briefing

Cloud computing

Quickly deploy RDS 2016 in Azure (Hybrid Cloud Best Practices)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/hi5knkrp/

Cloud Storage Concerns, Considerations and Trends (InfoStor)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/1d04nhmi/

Enterprise IT

Creating a fully updated Windows 7 image (Part 2) (WindowsNetworking.com)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/r1rgx6kc/

When to implement ultra-dense storage (Dell/Intel)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/53uxo9lt/

Exchange Server

Deploying Skype for Business Server (Part 1) Preparing Active Directory (MSExchange.org)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/dibzckhl/

Deploying Skype for Business Server (Part 2) - Preparing the environment (MSExchange.org)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/3hs23ps5/

Hyper-V

The Downside of Windows Server 2016 for Virtualization Admins (Virtualization Review)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/zmbsuow9/

Hyper-V optimization tips (Part 6): Network performance - DCB (VirtualizationAdmin.com)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/tbh2eyzz/

Storage

Stop using SMB1 (Server Storage at Microsoft)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/lgi1tc3t/

Overview Review of Microsoft ReFS (Reliable File System) and resource links (StorageIO blog)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/yi5vcby0/

 

Other Articles of Interest

Choose the best Google cloud instance types for your workloads

Like other public cloud providers, Google Cloud Platform offers a range of instance types from which users can choose, in addition to custom machine types. In this tip, explore some guidelines to help you choose the best Google cloud instance types for your workloads.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/pdqgs8uz/

Five features good user profile management tools should include

User profile management helps VDI shops support persistent personalization even when running non-persistent virtual desktops. But finding the right tools can be tricky. To help find the best profile management option, access this tip to learn five features the top user profile management tools should include.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/9z3fv9q1/

Weigh the differences between Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V checkpoints

Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V offers two new types of checkpoints: standard and production. How can you determine which one to use for your virtualized workloads? In this tip, you’ll learn the differences between these two checkpoints, which checkpoint you should use, and how to enable and create them within your own environment.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/kd5qb0f4/

Agent vs. agentless: Monitoring choices for diverse IT ops needs

IT operations staff evaluating agent vs. agentless monitoring products will find a balance of pros and cons for each. But the obvious winner varies depending on the situation. In this tip, find out how to solve the agent vs. agentless monitoring dilemma.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/yh2l6f2h/

 

WServerNews FAVE Links

This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff

GOT FUN VIDEOS or other fun links to suggest you'd like to recommend? Email us at wsn@mtit.com

Amazing Magic Trick With Coffee Mug - Criss Angel

While telling a story about his grandmother in a cafe, Criss continues to astound us with his amazing magic:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/ncw2arj5/

Amazing Badminton Play At The World Superseries 2016 Dubai

An amazing play by Mads Conrad-Petersen and Mads Pieler Kolding (Denmark) vs. Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda (Japan).

http://www.wservernews.com/go/bnzqt7we/

The Rock Climber

The classic video of legendary solo climber Dan Osman climbing the 400 foot 'Bear's Reach' rock in in 4 min 25 sec:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/sma8lvej/

Abba - The Last Video

ABBA's 2004 music video in which four small puppets created by Jim Henson try to get a recording contract by playing a medley of some of the band's biggest hits:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/c52cpid8/

 

WServerNews - Product of the Week

 

WServerNews - Editors

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.