Vol. 21, #28 - July 11, 2016 - Issue #1088

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Getting decent tech support

  1. Editor's Corner
    • Ask Our Readers - Hard drive failures and VMWare ESXi (one suggestion)
    • From the Mailbag
    • Getting decent tech support
    • Send us your feedback
    • Recommended for Learning
    • Microsoft Virtual Academy
    • Quote of the Week
  2. Admin Toolbox
    • Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
  3. This Week's Tips
    • Azure - Migrate classic Cloud Services to ARM
    • Windows 10 - Enable browser extensions in Edge
    • Hyper-V - Setting up Virtual Smart card logon using Virtual TPM for Windows 10 Hyper-V VM Guests
  4. Events Calendar
    • North America
    • Add Your Event
  5. Tech Briefing
    • Azure
    • Enterprise IT
    • PowerShell
    • Security
    • System Center
  6. Recommended TechGenix Articles
    • Recommended articles from websites in TechGenix Network
  7. Other Articles of Interest
    • The AWS vs. Azure race isn't over yet
    • Mastering Microsoft's Hyper-V platform
    • New features in VMware Fusion 8 incentivize Mac users
    • Cheap devices perfect for VDI use
  8. WServerNews FAVE Links
    • Human Slingshot - 0-125 mph (200 km/h) In 1 Second
    • Best Illusion Of The Year Contest Winner 2016
    • 2017 - American Tourists in the UK (Comedy)
    • Awesome Video Footage Of The Lunar Roving Vehicle Driving On The Moon
  9. WServerNews - Product of the Week
    • Deep Packet Inspection for Quality of Experience Monitoring

 

 

Editor's Corner

Getting good quality tech support for your hardware, software or services can be difficult nowadays, and that's what this week's newsletter is all about i.e. what can I do to experience better support from my vendor or cloud provider? Besides yelling at them that is...

Anyways, before we dig into this topic let's bring on the obligatory Dilbert comic strip on this topic:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/ryx317vk/

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 protected]

Ask Our Readers - Hard drive failures and VMWare ESXi (one suggestion)

Several weeks ago in Issue #1084 Catching up on Windows 10 we received a request from Alain, the Director of a company in South Africa that provides procurement and training support to the construction industry, who asked us to reach out to our readership concerning the following issue:

Hi Mitch, thanks again (as usual) for a very informative newsletter. I have just experienced a series of unfortunate hard drive failures, that have left a large dent in my confidence with various platforms. One issue that I have experienced relates to VMWare ESXi Server (barebones install) and a hard drive failure that left two virtual machines that ran off that hard drive not only dead, but completely irretrievable.

Disk Drive programmes abound for monitoring HDD status especially regarding SMART  parameters. These all run on a desktop or server environment, but when running within a VM, there is no real hardware for them to monitor since these machines only have virtual hard drives without SMART monitoring.
Do you have any tips on how to monitor drives for potential failure when running VMWare ESXi?

To date we've only received one suggestion from our readers. Here's what Joseph, the CTO for a family of construction companies based in New Jersey, USA had to say on the matter:

Most hosts today have out of band management (on Dell's it's the iDRAC) and most of them constantly monitor all hardware. It's pretty simple to set up email alerts and SNMP if you want to go that route. If your Host doesn't have OOB, then it's time to replace!!

If any of our other readers have a suggestion concerning this, please feel free to email us at [email protected]

From the Mailbag

Last week in Issue #1087 Reader Feedback: Ad blocking for businesses we examined some products, solutions and hacks suggested by our readers for blocking online ads in corporate environments. Robert, a sysadmin based in Bangkok, Thailand had one additional solution to recommend for doing this:

I'm surprised no one has suggested Privoxy which provides an excellent way to achieve what managing host files does.  I've used it for years without problems.

Here's the home page for this web proxy:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/i9mm27i5/

There's even a Wikipedia page devoted to it:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/d21z9ob7/

A few weeks earlier in Issue #1085 Ad blocking for businesses we included a tip from reader Michael Hallsted who has been using a DataVac Electric Duster ED-500 for years to remove dust bunnies from the back end of PCs. Another reader named Martin who lives in the UK responded to this with a suggestion of his own:

Rather than the fairly expensive DataVac Electric Duster ED-500, can I suggest an electric leaf blower! I use one similar to this:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/87hvpyb7/

Although the one I bought wasn't this expensive (mine was £20 or $30) identical to the one above in the ebay advert but blue in colour. Works great and gets into every nook and cranny.

Using a leaf blower to blow dust from PCs? This is getting to be fun--do any readers have something that can top this? :-)
And now on to the main topic of this week's newsletter...

Getting decent tech support

The topic of tech support is something we've covered a couple of times in the past in this newsletter:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/6ryk119k/

http://www.wservernews.com/go/3t79se13/

This week however I want to pose a question for our readers, namely: How do you squeeze the best possible tech support out of your vendor or service provider when you have a problem you can't resolve yourself?

Let me start off by giving my own answer based on years of experience working closely with a large software vendor. Whenever we have worked with this vendor we have used a set of remote access tools provided to us by them so we can gain secure access to resources located on their internal corporate network. We have also had smartcards and passwords issued to us by this vendor which provide the necessary credentials for logging onto their network.

Now because of password policies enforced by this vendor, we have needed to change these passwords regularly every 90 days to ensure continued access. Unfortunately the particular configuration of the PCs we use for gaining remote access to their network means that we have to phone their tech support hotline when we want to change our passwords (i.e. the tools they provided us for resetting our passwords ourselves won't work because of the way the security of our own PCs). So what this means is every three months I need to call a phone number and press a series of numbers to select the option that will connect me with someone who can help me by resetting my remote access password.
Sounds easy enough, right?

The problem of course is that resetting a password is considered by the vendor's tech support department as a "low priority" issue that can be handled by a support person who resides offshore in a low-income country, has minimal training, and follows a script that doesn't include the weird security configuration of our particular setup. As a result, when I press 2 then 4 then 7 then 9 to select the "Reset your RAS password" option, I end up with someone who doesn't understand my problem and keeps trying to get me to try steps I know aren't going to work for me. Then after repeated attempts of my trying to explain to them why their script won't work in my case and what they actually need to do, they eventually give up and hand me off to someone higher up the ladder (but still offshored) and I have to explain everything all over again and hope that this time they get it.
Anyways, you can guess how frustrated this makes me. You've never experienced anything like that before with tech support, right?

Well, eventually I found a simple solution to my problem. Instead of pressing the phone buttons to select the "Reset your RAS password" option, I decided one day to try pressing buttons that would select an option for a more complicated issue, namely the "Problems with RAS connectivity" option. My reasoning was that something more complicated would be handled by a better trained and more experienced support person, and my guess paid off--I was immediately transferred to someone in-country who from the way he talked obviously knew his stuff!
So after he asked me some identification questions and asked me what the problem was, I said plaintively "Could you please help me? I need you to reset my password, I can't do it myself because etc." He immediately understood my problem and had my password reset in under a minute.

There are really two bits of wisdom here, I think. First, do whatever you can to get an *experienced* support person on the other end of the line right from the start. And second, plead for help. After all, you don't want that person to say they don't handle such trivial matters and transfer you to someone offshore to handle you (and I mean "handle" you).
Does this sound ethical? Well, how ethical is it for a company you bought something from or partner with to provide you with poor tech support that ends up frustrating you and wasting half an hour of your valuable time?
I'd love to hear from you readers out there if you have any other tips or suggestions on how to get decent tech support from vendors or providers who seem to be committed at all cost to withholding it from you. Email me at [email protected]
And while you're at it, you might want to take a look at the following recent article in the New York Times:

Why tech support is purposely unbearable

http://www.wservernews.com/go/2jerki15/

Sound familiar?

Send us your feedback

Got feedback about anything in this issue of WServerNews? Email us at [email protected]

Recommended for Learning

New on Microsoft Channel 9:

(Part 1) How to Setup and Protect Hyper-V Virtual Machines with Azure Site Recovery
In this episode we will show you how to set up Azure Site Recovery to enable disaster recovery for on premise server environments. One of the many benefits to virtualizing work loads is that it makes it easier to take advantage of tools like Azure Site Recovery. In this episode learn why you would use ASR and Hyper V replica in concert and review configuration considerations.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/c77h5nqm/ 

(Part 2) How to Setup and Protect Hyper-V Virtual Machines with Azure Site Recovery
In this second episode on Azure Site Recovery we will walk through more configuration options and considerations including establishing protection groups. We will also test and demo our configuration to validate performance and prove that we have configured everything correctly.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/5pgmckq0/

Microsoft Virtual Academy

Managing Authentication Using Microsoft Passport

Microsoft Passport provides two-factor authentication infrastructure that integrates with Windows Hello and attempts to replace or augment user passwords for devices, organizational systems, and applications. In the newly available on-demand course, review current Passport functionality, architecture and deployment methods, and upcoming enhancements. Watch now! 

http://www.wservernews.com/go/aa52g0wi/

 Quote of the Week

Quote from the Boss: "Teamwork is a lot of people doing what I say."
--attributed to a Marketing executive with Citrix Corporation


Until next week,
Mitch Tulloch

Note to subscribers: If for some reason you don't receive your weekly issue of this newsletter, please notify us at [email protected] and we'll try to troubleshoot things from our end.

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 [email protected]

With a multitude of sensors and a vendor agnostic platform, PRTG Network monitor enables you to use ONE solution to monitor your entire infrastructure including applications, software, hardware, cloud & virtual environments.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/sc8ljfzs/

Be the first to get the Beta of the new Veeam Agent for Linux. Backup Linux instances anywhere, enjoy great flexibility in Linux restore options and leverage Veeam Backup & Replication granular recovery features.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/phfhe1eo/

SysKit is a powerful monitoring solution that allows you to get a clear understanding of your server environments based on the Citrix XenApp, MS Remote Desktop Services, RD Gateway, Windows Servers, and more:

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

ASAP Utilities is a powerful Excel add-in that fills the gaps in Excel:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/2e9wbqg0/

Support and Recovery Assistant helps users troubleshoot and fix issues with various Office 365 apps and services:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/foozzn0u/

This Week's Tips

GOT TIPS you'd like to share with other readers? Email us at [email protected]

Azure - Migrate classic Cloud Services to ARM

Pierre Roman has a video that explains how you can move IaaS resources from Classic to Azure Resource Manager without downtime in this CANITPRO.NET blog post:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/tlj1z6u5/

Windows 10 - Enable browser extensions in Edge

Anthony Bartolo demonstrates with a video how to enable extensions in the new Edge browser in Windows 10:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/lf5yuivz/

Hyper-V - Setting up Virtual Smart card logon using Virtual TPM for Windows 10 Hyper-V VM Guests

Raghav Mahajan, a Technical Advisor for one of the Microsoft Active Directory support teams, explains how you can configure your Hyper-V environment to enable virtual smart card logon to VM guests using the new Windows 10 feature called virtual Trusted Platform Module (vTPM):

http://www.wservernews.com/go/hwiw7gr3/

Events Calendar

North America

2016 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference on July 10-14, 2016 in Toronto Canada

http://www.wservernews.com/go/s1hv2esa/

Ignite on September 26-30, 2016 in Atlanta USA

http://www.wservernews.com/go/3u3k3at3/

Add Your Event

PLANNING A CONFERENCE OR OTHER EVENT you'd like to tell our 100,000 subscribers about? Contact [email protected]

Tech Briefing

Azure

Introduction to Microsoft Azure Security Center (WindowsSecurity.com)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/up2fxf86/

Using Azure RMS for Generic File Protection (Mark Renoden)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/wkbz4z63/

Enterprise IT

Which Enterprise HDDs to use for a Content Server Platform (StorageIO)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/w5gcvns1/

Containerization Proliferation: The Docker Effect (Part 6) (WindowsNetworking.com)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/bvav3i3d/

PowerShell

Building a PowerShell GUI (Part 7) (WindowsNetworking.com)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/2ut8zytv/

Using PowerShell DSC to deploy update packages (WindowsNetworking.com)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/s1fhfjvy/

Security

BYOS: Bring Your Own Security (WindowsSecurity.com)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/r1nueoep/

Preview: First look at Windows Defender Advanced Threath Protection (Thoughts About Windows)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/a1us25yq/

System Center

Configure Device Group Mapping in Microsoft Intune (SCConfigMgr)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/h2mvv241/

Customize SCCM ConfigMgr without Scripting (Anoop)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/13v5kohg/

Recommended TechGenix Articles

Using the Office 365 Hybrid Configuration Wizard (Part 6)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/1aocb973/

Interview: Evolution of Win Mgmt

http://www.wservernews.com/go/iosz8u3k/

Application security redux It’s All about the Apps (Part 6)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/xub6sr2h/

Installing and configuring Citrix StoreFront 3.5 (Part 1)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/lb0qnavg/

Other Articles of Interest

The AWS vs. Azure race isn't over yet

AWS has held public cloud market supremacy for quite some time, but as of late Azure has been creeping up.  Click below as our experts give an in-depth look into both AWS and Azure as well as a better glimpse into the services they offer.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/1l8tblys/

Mastering Microsoft's Hyper-V platform

Ever since its debut, Hyper-V has been used by IT admins across the IT landscape.  However, what my IT pros don't know is that there are a number of ways to boost its performance.  Master Microsoft's virtualization and hypervisor platform with these five tips to Hyper-V performance tuning.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/5z3ie7id/

New features in VMware Fusion 8 incentivize Mac users

From specialized Fusion Pro features to compatibility with Windows 10, there are a number of reasons Mac users should consider updating to VMware Fusion 8. Discover all of its features in this complimentary tip from our editors.

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

Cheap devices perfect for VDI use

Here's a little secret: The benefits of inexpensive VDI endpoints don't end with saving money. Even the most inexpensive thin clients, such as cheap -cost Google Chromebooks, can also improve security and make endpoint management easier.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/l9dyib8z/

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 [email protected]

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Human Slingshot - 0-125 mph (200 km/h) In 1 Second

Chris McDougall goes from 0-125 mph (200 km/h) in one second - catapulted 300 feet into the air - at an acceleration of 6G:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/wtw7i7u7/

Best Illusion Of The Year Contest Winner 2016

The 'Ambiguous Cylinder Illusion' by Kokichi Sugihara changes reactangles into circles when viewed in a mirror:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/6d68gj3e/

2017 - American Tourists in the UK (Comedy)

American tourists visit the UK in 2017 - one year after the UK voted to exit the European Community:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/3ivbyhw9/

Awesome Video Footage Of The Lunar Roving Vehicle Driving On The Moon

Awesome footage of the Apollo 16 Lunar Roving Vehicle rolling about the surface of the moon:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/3paqbkb9/

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.