Vol. 22, #6 - February 6, 2017 - Issue #1117

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Fashion over function


Editor's Corner

This week's newsletter is all about the recent trend in web and software development to focus on style over usability, or as clothing designers and architects say, fashion over function. I'll share a couple of examples from Windows 10 and Windows Server to illustrate my thoughts on this subject. And of course we have tips, tools, and other stuff both educational and entertaining so you can kick off your week on a high point.
Speaking of kicking something, guess how Dogbert replied when Dilbert told him he was thinking of getting a tattoo:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/iomey6t5/

 

Ask Our Readers - Accessing clipboard history

A reader named Wayne asked us to ask our readers this question:

Has anyone got any decent suggestions for a basic widget or application that allows access to clipboard history? I find that many times I am editing databases with the same information and use ctrl-c/ctrl-v a lot, but I would like to be able to save information on the clipboard so that I can re-use it. I have tried Ditto but found it a little awkward in use.

If any readers can recommend something to Wayne, please email us at wsn@mtit.com

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

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

 

Fashion over function

Let me start off with a real life example. The other day Ingrid felt her mouth was dry so she took a new pack of gum out of her purse: 

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After struggling with it for several minutes she asked "Can you open it?" I took it and fiddled with it for several minutes holding it up to the light in various ways until finally I saw the almost invisible clear plastic strip you're supposed to use for opening the gum. The trouble is, I could not see where the strip ended i.e. where you're supposed to scratch it with your fingernail, and I kept turning the pack over and over again sliding my fingernail along the strip hoping my nail would catch on something. Finally in frustration I exclaimed "Didn't they used to make strips like these red so you could see them better and see where they end?" 

In my opinion this is a classic example of valuing fashion (or style) way above function (purpose or usability). Whoever designed the plastic enclosure for this pack of gum must have thought that having an old-fashioned red strip for opening it would look dorky and detract from the trendy black-n-green styling of the cardboard packaging. Unfortunately in choosing clear plastic instead of red for the opening strip the designer has ended up making opening the gum challenging for someone whose eyesight is poor or who is trying to open the gum in certain types of lighting environments. (The strip is clearly visible in the above photo, but in the lighting environment of our car's interior it was almost invisible as there was no direct light incident on it to highlight it.) 

Let's now carry this principle of fashion over function into the software world with some examples…


Web sites

I hate it when web designers think that using a light grey font for their website looks cooler/trendier than a plain old clearly readable black font. Does using a light grey font in this TechCrunch article make the contents of the article seem more trendy?

http://www.wservernews.com/go/op8ecoyd/

For contrast check out the Guardian Egyptian font (similar to plain old Times New Roman) used in in the text of this Engadget article:

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

Guess which tech news site I'm going to enjoy reading more often…

Windows Server

When Server Manager was updated with snazzy new "tiles and an "anti-MMC" look in Windows Server 2012, I thought it was pretty cool at first:

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I realized however that it would *remain* cool only if Microsoft eventually went all the way and migrated *all* of their existing MMC snap-ins for server administration into the new Server Manager UI.

But then after trying to use the new Server Manager for a while, I changed my mind and thought, OK so the old MMC console approach let to "property sheet hell" but really what's so hellish about clicking through a bunch of property sheets? Why is this new Server Manager better than the old Windows Server 2008 one? Or why is it better than creating a new MMC console and adding all the snap-ins you need into it? Sure, it *looks* nicer, but how is it more usable? Do I really want to scroll down to find the tile for a role when I want to view events relating to that role or collect performance data on it?

Windows 10

Windows 10 includes a new Settings page (or panel or frame or whatever you call this type of UI feature in Windows 10) that's supposed to supersede the ugly old-fashioned Control Panel in previous versions of Windows (but which is still around for now in Windows 10). But how is a Settings page better than a Control Panel utility, or even a Properties sheet? When I want to configure something in the Internet Explorer browser, I select Internet Options from the menu bar to open a familiar Properties sheet with various tabs, and no scrolling is needed. But when I want to configure something in the new Microsoft Edge browser, I have to click a "V" icon, then click Settings, and then scroll to find the setting I want to change:


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Another great triumph of fashion over function. OK maybe it's easier this way on a touchscreen (tablet) than the old Properties sheet way, but I don't work with Windows 10 on a touchscreen, I use a laptop with a trackpad--and it sucks trying to configure Edge settings (or at least the few that are currently available for the lame new browser) on this kind of system.

App load times

As a final example of the perils of emphasizing fashion over function, take a look at the following VentureBeat article from about a year ago:

Fashion over function: Why app developers are losing users to slow load times

http://www.wservernews.com/go/mdxtx9oq/

Do you think things have improved since then?

What about you?

What examples have you observed in operating systems and applications where style seems to have trumped usability and/or manageability? Do you feel this is a significant trend that needs to be addressed or reversed with software vendors? Share your thoughts and observations by emailing us at wsn@mtit.com and we'll include a selection of reader comments in an upcoming issue of WServerNews.


Send us your feedback

Got feedback about anything in this issue of WServerNews? Email us at wsn@mtit.com

 

Recommended for Learning

Introducing Microsoft StaffHub for deskless workers

In this YouTube video Microsoft StaffHub Engineer Rich Halbert demonstrates the new StaffHub App for deskless workers. From how workers can gain access to their work schedule, communicate with others in their team and review important information; to how managers can easily create and manage schedules and share relevant information with their team, all the while ensuring IT manageability and control.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/q1k0bwh0/

Learn more here:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/vzo57icp/

 

Microsoft Virtual Academy

SQL Database Fundamentals

Would you like to learn the basics of relational databases? Join us for this look at SQL Database fundamentals, along with those of database management systems and database components. Get an in-depth introduction to the terminology, concepts, and skills you need to understand database objects, administration, security, and management tools. Plus, explore T-SQL scripts, database queries, and data types. Start with a look at creating tables, inserting data, and querying data in tables. Then, learn about data manipulation, optimize database performance, and work with non-relational data. Get practical help on basic database administration, including installation and configuration, backup and restore, security, monitoring, and maintenance. Take this SQL Database tutorial to prepare for additional online courses for database administrators (DBAs), developers, data scientists, and big data specialists. Check it out! 

http://www.wservernews.com/go/9m84n3vz/
  

Factoid of the Week

Last week's factoid and questionwas this:

The biggest threat to the UK's critical infrastructure is the squirrel as described in this BBC News article:


http://www.wservernews.com/go/8w955daw/

Will the next front of technological warfare involve training squirrels for infiltration and combat missions? 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?

Larry says:

They will be AI robots that look like squirrels, but their movements will not be "jerky" enough. They will be too smooth. The best deterrent to smooth is tequila. Nobody is smooth after a couple shots. Placement of the tequila traps will be critical, as the lab techs may find them first.

George from Florida says:

 Suggest we obtain the largest nut possible and station it at the entrance to our facility to keep the squirrels occupied while the rest of us get the company's goals accomplished. We can call this giant nut the Chief, Extremely Overpaid (CEO), a position that already exists in most organizations.

David, an IT Manager in Indiana, USA says:

I had never truly considered the humble "tree rat" to be a threat to my cyber security. The last time I was viciously attacked was while eating breakfast in 1973, when a bright flash of light and a near deafening "boom" resulted in no electricity to my parents' house. I must admit that, with the media not being informed about terrorism at the time, there was no way for a teenager to know that he was a "victim" of a most despicable form of terrorism, that of the "suicide short circuit-er". Unfortunately, with the current (pun intended) war on guns, most teenagers are not adequately equipped with the BB guns necessary to fight this menace.
God! I miss the old days when all I had to worry about was whether my wind up watch was correct!

Wayne from somewhere in Australia says:

Maybe in the UK it is squirrels, but in Australia it can range from ants up to snakes. There have been a number of instances where data cables have been attacked by ants because of the insulation and caused major outages, and many linesmen are particularly cautions when going into underground pits because of the risk of disturbing snakes. As you know everything in Australia is out to kill you :)
BTW I would have thought that the backhoe operator who runs around the countryside digging up cables would be much more of a problem ;) We had one dig up the main CBD fibre in Perth and we were off the air for 3 days.

Now let's move on to this week's factoid:

 
Fact: Heroin was originally marketed as cough medicine.
 
Question: What other substances that are now banned were previously legally available in the marketplace or were included as ingredients in popular foods, beverages or medicines? Email us your answer: 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

Introducing NEW Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows – backup and recovery for physical and cloud-based servers and workstations, as well as for endpoint devices that belong to remote users. 

http://www.wservernews.com/go/l0lw0bpm/

PHP Vulnerability Hunter is an whitebox fuzz testing tool capable of detected several classes of vulnerabilities in PHP web applications:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/ypkl9tjr/

Dns Lock is a tiny free tool which prevents malware from modifying your IPv4 DNS server addresses:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/2v91ii1y/

ETViewer is an easy to use ETW / WPP trace viewer:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/y0soqnmf/

 

This Week's Tips

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

Windows - Resetting admin password (revisited)

One of our tips last week was sent to us by Ted Giesler of Cypress Consulting Group, Ltd who described a tool he has been using for years whenever he needed to reset the local admin password on a Windows computer. Wayne from Australia sent us some additional thoughts on this subject as follows:

I recently had to talk a user through downloading and burning a copy of Hiren's boot CD which has the offline password utility built in. This is a great resource if you have physical access to the machine where the local administrator password is unknown. This can also be built on a bootable USB as well.
The only proviso is that if you have encrypted files on your machine tied to that account, then resetting the password will make these files inaccessible. In most cases this is not a problem.

If any readers have additional suggestions on this topic, send them to us at wsn@mtit.com

Windows Server - Planning RDS

Shannon Green has a helpful tip on TechNet's Tip of the Day site that summarizes some resources you can use for designing and planning a highly scalable Remote Desktop deployment:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/pjv3rp8k/

SQL Server - Using the Query Store

Liliam Cristman has posted an article on understanding and using the SQL Server Query Store feature to simplify performance troubleshooting by helping you quickly find performance differences caused by query plan changes:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/5mmom15h/

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

Life after death: Why many companies still use Windows Server 2003

Much the chagrin of Microsoft, many companies are still using Windows Server 2003. Here's how to stay secure using software that is no longer supported.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/osasp1fx/

Top new Hyper-V features in Windows Server 2016

Users of Hyper-V will be happy to know that Windows Server 2016 includes an array of new features. Let's look at eight of the best.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/duy8v7xz/

9 essential PowerShell security scripts every admin must know

If you're not using Microsoft's PowerShell tool, you should be. These nine scripts and modules can help keep your network secure.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/jgj1oe1w/

Video: Turn SharePoint lists into mobile apps with PowerApps

Does your project team need quick access to SharePoint lists on the go? PowerApps creates apps from your SharePoint data that looks great on mobile devices.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/pfn0pdjk/

Upgrading System Center VMM from 2012 R2 to 2016

Have you upgraded your System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 to the new 2016 version? Here's how to do it as painlessly as possible.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/6wdy6gpl/

 

Tech Briefing

Enterprise IT

Importance of Service Records (SRV) in an Active Directory Environment (WindowsNetworking.com)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/04uu9ved/

Active Directory Insights (Part 15) - Investigating locked out accounts (WindowsNetworking.com)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/5iixgut5/

Office 365

Multi-Factor Authentication in Exchange and Office 365 (You Had Me At EHLO)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/jkkkp5af/

Deep Dive Into Office 365 PowerShell Cmdlets (Part 7) (VirtualizationAdmin.com)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/4sx550ws/

PowerShell

PSScriptAnalyzer deep dive – Part 1 of 4 (Hey, Scripting Guy!)

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

Building a PowerShell GUI (Part 13) (WindowsNetworking.com)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/7mvwmlxi/

Privacy

5 Noteworthy Data Privacy Trends From 2015 (Iron Mountain)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/fqq9vgqt/

European Commission Proposes ePrivacy Regulation (Global Privacy & Security Compliance Law Blog)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/j3jynyce/

SharePoint

Running SharePoint Service Applications in Read Only Mode for Disaster Recovery Farms (Build on SharePoint)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/fsv0yv7p/

SharePoint 2013 Search: Even Better Best Bets with Exact Matching (Eric Dixon's Search Blog)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/5gv63fby/

 

Other Articles of Interest

The what, why and how of the TOSCA cloud standard

No one doubts that the cloud has created a revolution in DevOps, but many cloud enthusiasts don't realize it also created a new DevOps model – the TOSCA. In this exclusive tip, take a closer look at how TOSCA works and what it means for cloud application deployment.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/c7qojmra/

Familiarize yourself with Microsoft SCVMM features and uses

Microsoft SCVMM provides admins with a functional and flexible way to manage virtual environments. To get started today, access this exclusive tip and get to know Microsoft SCVMM templates and profiles, how to deploy a Hyper-V cluster through SCVMM, how to create a SCVMM database backup plan, and more.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/7ht88f51/

Discover the top sources of shadow IT risk for VDI shops

Although the term "shadow IT" has only gained popularity in recent years, it has been an ongoing but evolving problem for IT admins for decades. And even though VDI is often marketed as a technology that reduces shadow IT risk, it remains a problem. In this exclusive tip, explore the top sources of shadow IT risk for VDI shops.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/a7rowqr1/

VMware makes welcome changes in vSphere 6.5

VMware has rolled out a lot of new features in the latest version of vSphere – including features that focus heavily on simplifying the user experience and improving security with built-in security systems. Access this expert tip and take a more in-depth look at these features, how they work and what they do.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/8jqerqnz/

 

WServerNews FAVE Links

This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
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GOT FUN VIDEOS or other fun links to suggest you'd like to recommend? Email us at wsn@mtit.com

Two Tourists Filming An Avalanche That Stops Right In Front Of Them

On a visit to the Torres del Paine National Park in Chile, two hikers encountered an event one does not see every day.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/uc7hz2hd/

'What Is This?' 2 Minute Short Film

An emotional 2-minute short film based on the movie of Greek director Constantin Pilavios 'What is this?'

http://www.wservernews.com/go/v6cw3wl5/

People Are Awesome - Best Of January 2017

The best People are Awesome video clips of the month of January 2017, featuring amazing skills and incredible tricks.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/azzixqw0/

"I've Got Faith" - Canine Freestyle

Hero, the Super Collie, and his trainer Sara Carson perform an incredible dance routine to the song 'I've Got Faith.'

http://www.wservernews.com/go/jl1rs7s4/

 

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.