Vol. 23, #29 - July 23, 2018 - Issue #1191

WServerNews Spotlight: Enterprise IT 

Free Tool for Monitoring Exchange Server Status & Performance 

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SolarWinds® Exchange Monitor is a free tool that allows users to monitor Microsoft® Exchange™ Server 2013 and 2016. Get basic information about the server’s metrics, services, and database availability group (DAG) status. Add as many Exchange Servers as you wish. Simply click the “Add Server” button and fill IP address/domain name and credentials.

Download Free Tool


Editor's Corner

This past week I spent a couple of hours with two colleagues who work for large companies and it brought to mind again how challenging again it can be to be responsible for managing IT in enterprise environments. After our meeting I spent another hour or so searching online for guidance relating to some of the technical matters we had discussed, and in this week's newsletter I'm going to share some of what I found. Hopefully those newsletter readers who work in large organizations will find some benefit in this, but if you have some other problem you're facing that I haven't covered here then shoot me an email at [email protected] and I'll make it an Ask Our Readers question in a future issue of WServerNews.

 

Remote Desktop Web Client

Remote Desktop Services (RDS) is one feature of the Windows Server platform that many administrators rely on for both provisioning applications and server troubleshooting. While I'm not a huge fan in general of most web-based administration tools (long live the MMC lol) I do think that Microsoft's new Remote Desktop Web Client is something that many Windows Server admins are going to find useful. This new client tool was just released yesterday and can be added to an existing Windows Server 2016 RDS deployment side by side with the RDWeb role by simply running a few PowerShell commands. The client will also presumably be included as part of the upcoming Windows Server 2019 operating system when it comes out -- let me offer a prediction here -- next year. More info on the Remote Desktop Web Client can be found in this post on Microsoft's Enterprise Mobility and Security blog, and for some screenshots see this earlier post as well.




Group Policy version confusion

Both my colleagues have worked for organizations where the infrastructure contains a mix of different Windows Server versions with Active Directory not always being on the most recent version of Windows Server deployed. What with Windows Server 2008, 2008 R2, 2012, 2012 R2, 2016 RTM, and 2016 v.1709 (or just Windows Server version 1709 depending on who you talk to) it's not hard to come down with a nasty case of version confusion. Then there's the fact that you sometimes need to download and deploy new versions of administrative templates (ADMX/ADML files) in your domain so you can configure and manage your environment using Group Policy. The question arose whether there might be some easy way of finding out exactly which versions of ADMX/ADML files one has deployed in their Active Directory environment. The answer it turns out is simple. Well, almost. Mark Renoden has the details in this post on his blog.

 

Deploying virtual machines to Hyper-V

One of my colleagues has Hyper-V hosts in his environment and he was wondering if there was a "quick and dirty" way of "semi-automating" the deploying of new virtual machines based upon clones of existing virtual machines. Of course that's what VM templates are made for, but unfortunately you need System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) if you want to use that approach to automating virtual machine deployment. A little searching on our own TechGenix website brought up this article by Brien Posey which explains how you can easily create and clone simple, generic Windows VMs, without the hassle of creating a VM template or a traditional deployment image.



Lee's troubleshooting guides for Microsoft Office

Finally it's perhaps an unavoidable fact of life that much of the sysadmin's time is spent not maintaining servers nor troubleshooting network problems but writing reports for upper management. If you're in that bucket then you know what I mean. And you've probably also thrown you're hands in the air many times and shouted unprintable words at the foibles and frustrations of using Microsoft Office programs like Word, Excel, and Outlook. 

Well there's help for those who want it. Lee Stevens has put together his own troubleshooting guides for these three applications and they're full of helpful tips that Lee discovered firsthand as he struggled to work with Microsoft Office. You can find Lee's guides here:

Lee's Word Troubleshooting Guide

Lee's Word Troubleshooting Guide

Lee's Outlook Troubleshooting Guide

Be sure to reader the comments readers have posted to Lee's articles and I encourage you to try posting your own questions to Lee via the comments form on these articles.

 


Tip of the Week

Got any IT pro tips you'd like to share with other readers of our newsletter? Email us at [email protected]

De-clutter your life as an IT pro

IT pros don't spend all their time juggling hardware or installing software. They also create proposals, fill out work orders, write reports, survey clients, and do lots of similar things. Being able to quickly create online forms and surveys may help you shave hours each week off the amount of non-technical stuff you need to deal with as a busy IT pro. Formsite can help. It allows you to create professional-looking forms and surveys using drag-and-drop. You can then share your forms via a secure link to your form or by embedding it into a page on your website. Check it out today! After all, did you become an IT pro so you could write boring Microsoft Word documents every evening?

 

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]

If native Office 365 reports are not sufficient for you and if you need more details on your email traffic such as the sender, recipient and email subject, try PROMODAG Reports for free now!

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


Have you ever had issues with corrupt PST files? Then you should give the free trial of MailStore Server a try. It´s an email archiving solution, easy to install and supports most email systems.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/prcr7e1x/


Do you protect your Hyper-V & VMware VMs against data loss? Altaro VM Backup is a hassle-free and affordably priced virtual machine backup solution. Don’t miss out - grab your FOREVER FREE copy now.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/o779sep8/


Enroll in free PowerShell course. Timothy Dewin will introduce you to specific extensions for different platforms, make an overview of cmdlets and show the scripts to perform a variety of tasks.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/zqpk3sri/


VeraCrypt provides a solution for encrypting sensitive data -- everything from portable, mountable volumes to entire hard disks:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/qys3ol7e/


Seagate DiscWizard lets you quickly install your new disc drive with wizards that guide you through the processes of creating and formatting partitions on your disc drive, transferring data, and backing up your data:

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


NewFileGo watches files for changes to trigger a command:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/hqfe85do/

 

 

Book Corner

Have you written and/or published a book you'd like us to review? Send us a free copy and we'll review it in an upcoming issue of WServerNews! For more info contact us at [email protected]


Practical Free Alternatives to Commercial Software (Apress)

Everyone loves free software in this cost-conscious world we live in. This new book by Steve and Grace Oualline fills a gap by not only pointing us to a number of free software programs but also explaining why they're useful and how you can get the most out of using them. Rather than taking an exhaustive approach the book focuses on a few key free software offerings in a number of important areas: a free web browser (Firefox), a free office suite (LibreOffice), graphics and multimedia programs (GIMP, Inkscape, Dia, GnuCash, Audicity, OpenShot, and DVDStyler), and cloud-based services (Gmail, Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Backup/Sync). The book even ends with a bunch of free games you can have tons of fun with including SuperTuxKart, Xonotic, FlightGear, and more. The book is well written and explains concepts clearly. It uses lots of screenshots to illustrate you can perform various common tasks using each program. So it's written with beginners in mind, but in a style that even so-called experts like myself can easily learn from it. We're still trying out LibreOffice for our own business and the tutorials in this book have been considerably useful to us in this regard. I've also used Audacity myself as an amateur musician, and I wish I had had this book before I got started trying to use the program as it can be quite complex to navigate. Practical Free Alternatives to Commercial Software is available in paperback form from Amazon here:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/kn0jo0vw/



Factoid - Online translation no longer sucks

Last week's factoid and question  was this:

Fact: IBM is launching what it calls a "skinny mainframe" for cloud computing.

Question: When was the last time you saw a real old-fashioned mainframe computer? And when was the last time you used one?

Surprisingly no one responded to this question so let me answer it myself. The last time I used a mainframe was when I took a course in APL programming in university. Note that's "APL" not "APPLE". If you've never programmed in APL, be glad! And the last time I saw a mainframe was when I worked as webmaster for a dot-com startup in the mid-90s. We had to co-locate one of our Solaris servers at a nearby university and when we walked into the super-air conditioned mini-datacenter room, there was an old IBM System 360 sitting asleep in a corner. What amazed me was how small it appeared now that it was no longer sitting in an operating center surrounded by white-shirted operators as in days of yore. 

If any other readers would like to share mainframe memories, feel free -- email me at [email protected]

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

Fact: Online translation has steadily improved in recent years to the point where it no longer sucks.

Source: This "fact" is based on my own personal anecdotal experience.

Question: Which in your opinion is the best online translation web page?

Email your answer to [email protected]

 

Conference calendar

North America

>> Got an IT conference happening in North America that you'd like to promote in our newsletter? Email us at [email protected]

Black Hat USA -- Aug 4-9 in Las Vegas, Nevada USA

http://www.wservernews.com/go/7sh7nwg1/

TechMentor -- Aug 6-10 in Redmond, Washington USA

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

SharePoint Fest -- Aug 20-24 in Seattle, Washington USA

http://www.wservernews.com/go/g2a0ve3a/

VMworld -- Aug 26-30 in Las Vegas, Nevada USA

http://www.wservernews.com/go/uxzv2p3k/

Microsoft Ignite -- September 24-28, 2018 in Orlando, Florida USA

http://www.wservernews.com/go/gazjf8nl/

IT/Dev Connections -- Oct 15-18 in Dallas, Texas USA

http://www.wservernews.com/go/gc41am7l/

 

Europe

>> Got an IT conference happening in North America that you'd like to promote in our newsletter? Email us at [email protected]

VMworld Europe -- Nov 5-8 in Barcelona, Spain

http://www.wservernews.com/go/o7th53ea/

Cybersecurity Leadership Summit -- Nov 12-14 in Berlin, Germany

http://www.wservernews.com/go/d5li13hw/

European SharePoint, Office 365 & Azure Conference -- Nov 26-29 in Copenhagen, Denmark

http://www.wservernews.com/go/qo5pp1z5/

 

Australia/Asia

>> Got an IT conference happening in Australia or Asia that you'd like to promote in our newsletter? Email us at [email protected]

No conferences listed at present.

 

New on TechGenix.com

New Citrix Workspace App launching later this year

The new Citrix Workspace App will help you access all of your workspace services, including virtual apps, desktops, SaaS apps, files, and mobile apps.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/kz9ooiak/


Top 10 rising container startups to watch in 2018-2019

Here's a list of the movers and shakers among container startups that will make waves over the next year. Be sure to keep an eye on them.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/i8ls78f1/


Crisis management: Your 5-step guide to surviving IT emergencies

No matter how well you plan, you will have a systems failure. Responding quickly to IT emergencies may make the difference between a controlled problem and a catastrophe.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/2ondh65p/


The one crucial aspect of IT disaster recovery everyone forgets about

Does your IT disaster recovery plan include testing, risk assessment, and recovery options? Good. But you may be overlooking something very important.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/x34cq2bz/


Flex your PowerShell muscles with PowerShell comparison operators

Creating a good PowerShell script without using operators is next to impossible. Here's how you can use PowerShell comparison operators to pump up your scripts.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/dxllhh9w/

 

Fun videos from Flixxy

Impossible Coin Magic Trick Fools Penn And Teller

Ryan Hayashi is a samurai and magician with a great sense of humor. He has won five European magic championships:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/v7fil8qs/


It All Depends On Your Point Of View

Like so many things in life - everything you preceive depends on your point of view:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/1m5bn5fn/


Electric Flying Car - For The Price Of An SUV

BlackFly, the all-electric flying car that 'anyone can pilot' can travel 25 miles at speeds of 62mph:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/e60w62il/


TMC Dumont - Futuristic Motorcycle With Airplane Engine

Retired F1 driver Tarso Marquez built this motorcycle with hub-less wheels and powered by a 300 horsepower Rolls-Royce aircraft engine:

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

 

 More articles of Interest

Not sure how to start with DevOps? Here's one option

A new consulting firm with roots in Netflix and Amazon aims to help even legacy-heavy companies ship software faster. It starts with 15 metrics and small wins. Tune in to learn more.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/7f3ztlzq/


Three AWS budget challenges that plague enterprises

Based on their size, companies face unique challenges around budget management in the cloud. Follow this expert advice to keep your costs in check.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/te69bl41/


In a serverless architecture age, infrastructure still matters

Sorry, developers, but infrastructure still matters, even as serverless architectures and containers diminish their central role to build new applications. Read this to learn more.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/c0jnbueo/


Why we still use Apache Ant tool in Java build and deploys

Plenty of companies still use the Apache Ant tool in Java development cycles and as part of their continuous deployments. Here's why Apache Ant is still a great choice for CI/CD.

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

 

 

Need help from the IT pro community?

WServerNews goes out each week to more than 500,000 IT pro subscribers worldwide! That's a lot of expertise to tap into. Do you need help with some technical problem or are looking for expert advice on something IT-related? Ask Our Readers by emailing your problems and/or questions to us at [email protected]

 

Send us your feedback!

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

 

WServerNews - Product of the Week

Free Tool for Monitoring Exchange Server Status & Performance 

Image

SolarWinds® Exchange Monitor is a free tool that allows users to monitor Microsoft® Exchange™ Server 2013 and 2016. Get basic information about the server’s metrics, services, and database availability group (DAG) status. Add as many Exchange Servers as you wish. Simply click the “Add Server” button and fill IP address/domain name and credentials.

Download Free Tool

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.