Vol. 19, #48 - December 1, 2014 - Issue #1008
Managing BIOS configurations
- Editor's Corner
- Save these electrons!
- From the Mailbag
- Managing BIOS configurations
- Tip of the Week - Toggling the UI in Win 8/8.1
- Recommended for Learning
- Microsoft Virtual Academy
- Quote of the Week
- Admin Toolbox
- Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
- Events Calendar
- Webcast Calendar
- CloudCON 2014
- Register for Webcasts
- Tech Briefing
- Enterprise IT
- System Center
- Windows PowerShell
- SharePoint, Exchange, and Office
- Recommended TechGenix Articles
- Recommended articles from websites in TechGenix Network
- Windows Server News
- Welcome to the world of Azure DocumentDB
- Why and how to use VM templates
- Per-user licensing isn't all it's cracked up to be
- Cloud Computing advice from your peers
- WServerNews FAVE Links
- Five-year-old passes Microsoft exam
- Dog Drives Car
- Semi-Truck Jump Over A Formula 1 Car - Epic World Record
- Wonder Vehicle ZIL-29061
- Perfect Spot For Watching Airplanes Coming In For A Landing
- WServerNews - Product of the Week
- New Veeam Availability Suite v8 is here!
- SAVE THIS NEWSLETTER so you can refer back to it later for helpful tips, tools and resources!
- FORWARD THIS NEWSLETTER to a colleague who you think might find it useful!
- SEND YOUR FEEDBACK to [email protected] if you have any comments or suggestions!
- SEND YOUR FEEDBACK to [email protected] if you have any comments or suggestions!
This week's newsletter is all about managing the BIOS configurations of large numbers of computers. As any reader of Dilbert knows, management can either make or break a company. Good management means happy employees and lots of profit. Bad management means miserable employees and...maybe even more profit. Either way, it's the managers who usually benefit as this comic strip illustrates:
Save these Electrons
Got any features or design changes you hope to see in the next version of Windows? Submit them here in the Windows Feature Suggestion Box:
Microsoft Security Bulletin MS14-068 - Critical
There's an urgent out-of-band security update from Microsoft that you may want to apply right away to your environment. Here's the description:
"This security update resolves a privately reported vulnerability in Microsoft Windows Kerberos KDC that could allow an attacker to elevate unprivileged domain user account privileges to those of the domain administrator account. An attacker could use these elevated privileges to compromise any computer in the domain, including domain controllers."
More info here:
From the Mailbag
Last week in Issue #1007, Network Storage--do it yourself? we talked about whether do-it-yourself network attached storage (DIY NAS) is a viable option for businesses or a potential sinkhole for your time and money. At the end of my editorial I provided links to some Synology NAS products, and an astute but anonymous reader informed us that just last week Synology launched new versions of their SMB-targeted NAS appliances. AnandTech has a review of the 8-bay Synology DS1815+ here:
In Issue #1006 Resources for Windows 10, I mentioned in "Ask Our Readers - Secure BYOD with an iPad" that while our own business has been able to avoid the BYOD (bring your own device) bandwagon until now, we were currently looking for recommendations for what antimalware software one could install on an iPad if one was going to allow BYOD access to Windows Server-based corporate resources with the iPad. One reader named Tom deflected our question as follows:
My one question would be why iPads since the laptop/tablet combos (Windows) available today run absolute circles around iPads. Then, security of these devices would fall in line with the already present security for the Windows environment, and unnecessary measures to fit a square peg into a round hole are avoided. This is not an anti Mac question/comment, it's merely a common sense question given the devices now available.
That's a good question, but our answer is simple: our associates all have iPads :-)
We're still looking for answers to our question however, so if you have any suggestions please email us at [email protected]
Also in Issue #1006, I expressed some of my reservations about the current state of the revived Start menu in Windows 10 Technical Preview. Several readers echoed my reservations, but one reader named Valerie actually had something intelligent to say about the new Start menu:
I'm quite happy they brought the start menu back, and just like you, I wasn't fond of all those tiles in it at first. But after using it for a couple days, I came to actually like it.
Those are the "live" tiles, meaning they update in real-time. Though I'm not a sports or politics follower, I enjoy weather info, as well as little number telling me how many new e-mails I got.
All tiles are re-sizable to your liking, and if you don't want one, just delete it, or delete them all!
Thanks Valerie. It's easy to fall into disparaging things without really giving them a chance. I'll be sure to examine the new Windows 10 Start menu more closely now as a result of your comment.
Another reader named Trip however shared a different perspective concerning the upcoming changes happening in Windows 10:
I never missed the start menu in windows 8. I always thought it was just as easy to hit the windows key and start typing the file or program name. However, I didn't spend a lot of time in the metro interface either. After a little time, I found myself with a touch screen laptop and used the metro interface more and more. I miss the metro interface much more than I missed the start menu. The ugly combination of the two doesn't seem to do either justice. If Microsoft would just let you enable or disable the metro interface like it was in its previous incarnation, I would be very happy.
It seems you just can't please everyone, can you?
And now on to the main topic of this week's newsletter...
Managing BIOS configurations
This is a topic that I'm actually not too knowledgeable about, so I'm hoping that some of our more knowledgeable readers will take the time to send us feedback on how they manage BIOS configurations across their own environment.
Centralized, automated management is the pillar of how IT works today. Datacenters wouldn't be possible without the ability to script repetitive tasks and push them out across large numbers of systems. Tools exist for deploying operating systems to bare metal, configuring settings, applying patches, and performing many other repetitive tasks. What about configuring BIOS settings across large numbers of servers or client computers?
Dell has a couple of software utilities that can be helpful here. The Dell OpenManage Deployment Toolkit (DTK) can run scripts to configure BIOS and RAID settings prior to operating system deployment:
For client computers, you could previously use the Dell Client Configuration Toolkit (CCTK) but this has now been replaced by the Dell Command | Configure utility which lets you create profiles of hardware settings for Dell Enterprise client systems:
I'm told by several colleagues that you can easily script these utilities to manage the BIOS configurations of large numbers of systems. Do any of our readers have experience with these tools? Email us at [email protected]
HP has a utility called BiosConfigUtility.exe you can use in conjunction with HP System Software Manager to automate configuration of BIOS settings from a central location. Patrick Söderberg, a Senior Deployment Specialist in Stockholm, Sweden, has written a good blog post that shows how this utility can be used to solve a problem:
Another good resource on this utility can be found at Ultimate Guide:
Do any of our readers have experience with using BiosConfigUtility.exe? Email us at [email protected]
Intel Active Management Technology (AMT) is a firmware technology from Intel that provides a framework for managing BIOS settings of remote machines out-of-band.
I'm told you can use Intel AMT in conjunction with System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) to do this. I haven't tried it yet, but I've found these resources that might help:
What other solutions are available out there for centrally managing BIOS configurations of large numbers of systems? What if you are using OEM-built "white box" PCs or servers? What could you use in that case? Any ideas? Share your knowledge with us at [email protected] so others in our IT community can benefit from your expertise.
Tip of the Week - Toggling the UI in Win 8/8.1
When Windows 8 was first released, many users (including your Editor) felt the transition between the traditional Windows desktop UI and the new Metro (or Modern or Start screen) UI was a jarring experience. For this and other reasons many companies held off upgrading their desktop PCs to Windows 8. The transition between the desktop and Start screen was made less jarring in Windows 8.1 but it still feels like the operating system has two separate user interfaces and not one.
Tom Peacock, one of our readers who characterizes himself as an "IT jack-of-all-trades" sort of guy, offers us this tip on how you can make the experience less jarring for your users:
I waited until I received reports of a 3rd party Start menu for the 8/8.1 platforms, and finally got one: Classic Shell Setup 4.0.4:
After installing, it puts the familiar Win7 Start Menu on the taskbar, and I then take the 'Metro' button and pin it to the taskbar right next to the Start button. Now I can switch back and forth between the two perfectly, and there is absolutely no need for the tile face to show up on the Start menu. Any user who's PC I have set up like this truly is impressed with this redesign.
Tom's own website can be found here:
GOT TIPS you'd like to share with other readers? Email us at [email protected]
This week we have some new and recent books on the Raspberry Pi platform for computing hobbyists:
Raspberry Pi For Dummies (For Dummies)
Make a Raspberry Pi-Controlled Robot: Building a Rover with Python, Linux, Motors, and Sensors
Make: Raspberry Pi and AVR Projects: Augmenting the Pi's ARM with the Atmel ATmega, ICs, and Sensors
Raspberry Pi Home Automation Blueprints
Experimenting with Raspberry Pi
Raspberry Pi Hardware Reference
Raspberry Pi Insider Guide
Raspberry Pi Cookbook
Make: Getting Started with Raspberry Pi: Electronic Projects with the Low-Cost Pocket-Sized Computer
Microsoft Virtual Academy
Some announcements from the Microsoft Virtual Academy:
Azure IaaS for IT Pros Online Event (December 1-4)
Join Mark Russinovich, CTO of Azure, as he kicks off a week of Azure training for IT professionals. Over the course of four days, members of Azure Engineering dive deep into the technologies to help you better understand and build your foundational cloud skills. Register now and following the event you'll receive 50% off Certification Exam 70-533: Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions. Register today!
December 8: Taming Android and iOS with Enterprise Mobility Suite
If you're struggling to implement or work within an enterprise "bring your own device" (BYOD) policy find out how it can be made easier, with the super-informative team of Simon May and Kevin Remde. They offer a high-level and demo-focused look at new enterprise mobility capabilities that make recovery, security, and identity management easier and more flexible. They explore MDM policies, work with SCCM and Microsoft Intune, and offer tons of practical insights. Register today!
Quote of the Week
"I've come from nowhere, and I'm not shy to go back." --Jason Statham
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New Veeam Availability Suite v8 for vSphere and Hyper-V is packed with 200+ new features and enhancements to enable the Always-On Business by delivering Availability for the Modern Data Center. It provides recovery time and point objectives of < 15 minutes for all applications.
UserLock restricts, monitors, alerts & audits all user logon activity on Windows Servers. Empowering IT to monitor, record and automatically block all unauthorized or suspicious access.
Get your FREE VMware or Hyper-V healthcheck! Pinpoint rogue VMs, prevent VM sprawl & reduce time spent troubleshooting by 60% with Virtualization Manager from SolarWinds. Try it free today.
AutoHotkey unites hotkey and text macros and offers a powerful scripting-language:
ZoomIt is a screen zoom and annotation tool for technical presentations that include application demonstrations:
Registration is now open for CloudCON 2014, an informative online conference for Administrators and other IT Professionals within the global IT community. This online event is hosted by CloudComputingAdmin.com and takes place on Thursday, December 11, 2014 at 11am EST | 10 am CST | 8am PST | 4pm BST.
This annual live conference is a convenient opportunity to learn from many leading experts and vendors who serve the Cloud Computing and IT Administrator community. Examples of focus session topics include:
- Keys selecting and migrating to cloud technologies, while avoiding the common pitfalls
- Tips, techniques, and strategies IT should know to manage both hybrid and cloud services
- Common and security risks that come with a hybrid or cloud infrastructure, and how to counter these new threats
- New technologies to help make cloud management and security easier and less time-consuming
- What IT needs to know about big data, policy management, social technologies, cloud messaging…and more.
Registration is free and you will be able to attend the live event and/or view the recording of the vendor sessions that you wish to join.
Convergence 2015 on March 16-19 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Microsoft Ignite on May 4-8, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois, USA
Add your event
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Register for Webcasts
Add your Webcast
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Is B2T ( Business 2 Things ) the Next Big Thing for IT ? (The Citrix Blog)
Survey: Industry Average Data Center PUE Stays Nearly Flat Over Four Years (Data Center Knowledge)
System Center Virtual Machine Manager for Beginners (Part 5) (VirtualizationAdmin.com)
How to create a private cloud step by step with System Center Series (Manuel Puron's System Center Blog)
PowerShell Essentials (Part 2) (WindowsNetworking.com)
Clean up user profiles with PowerShell (4sysops)
Storage planning for Hyper-V Hosts (Part 6) (WindowsNetworking.com)
Recovering Data from a Failed Synology NAS (AnandTech)
SharePoint, Exchange and Office
Using Mail Protection Reports (MSExchange.org)
Managing Mailbox Databases settings using PowerShell (MSExchange.org)
Getting Started with AWS - Part 1
Exchange Server 2013 Backup and Restore 101 - Recovering individual items (Part 2)
Time to Say Goodbye to Windows Server 2003 - Preparing for Migration (Part 2)
Secure Sharing: Collaboration without Compromise (Part 2)
Deep Dive into Hyper-V Network Virtualization (Part 5)
Welcome to the world of Azure DocumentDB
Microsoft Azure has a range of data storage options such as blob, file, and relational database storage – and now, there is another way to store data with Azure DocumentDB. Learn about Azure DocumentDB and the benefits it offers to developers and DBAs alike.
Why and how to use VM templates
Consistency is crucial for large organizations when it comes to VMs, as it makes the deployment process more efficient and predictable. So, how do you ensure consistency? Using VM templates can help, but only if they are created correctly. Get tips and best practices on VM templates, and decide if they are right for your organization.
Per-user licensing isn't all it's cracked up to be
Microsoft's recent move to offer per-user licensing for desktop virtualization is major. However, you absolutely must proceed with some caution. Find out about the perks associated with per-user licensing and get an inside look at some of the pitfalls and hidden dangers to look out for before diving in head first.
Cloud Computing advice from your peers
Your peers have completed post-project reports detailing their cloud computing experiences, including challenges faced, costs incurred, and benefits gained. Access this report by weighing in on your own cloud priorities and projects.
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]
Five-year-old passes Microsoft exam
Would you hire this guy?
Dog Drives Car
SPCA dogs are so smart, they even know how to drive a car - if you give them the proper instructions:
Semi-Truck Jump Over A Formula 1 Car - Epic World Record
A giant semi-truck jumps over a speeding Formula 1 car and sets a world distance record of 83 feet and 7 inches (25 meters):
Wonder Vehicle ZIL-29061
Rotary snow terrain vehicle, designed to search for cosmonauts in the inaccessible areas:
Perfect Spot For Watching Airplanes Coming In For A Landing
Waddington airfield in Lincolnshire, England is the perfect spot to see F16, F18, B-17, Saab 2000 and even the Avro Vulcan close-up when they come in for a landing:
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.