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In this issue
Mailbag. The value of enterprise search tools. Print spooler fiasco. Can you really trust your VPN? Free cybersecurity ebook. How to disable "News and Interests" in Windows 10. Admin Toolbox. Factoid - Rent everything, own nothing? Plus lots more -- read it all, read it here on WServerNews!
Got questions? Ask our readers!
WServerNews goes out bimonthly to almost 200,000 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? You can Ask Our Readers for help by emailing us your problem or question. Do it today!
Our previous newsletter Some thoughts on Windows 11 triggered some responses from our readers Mark Van Noy who is Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Lead Administrator at University of Colorado Boulder in Erie, Colorado, USA also shared these thoughts as a comment at the bottom of my recent TechGenix article Windows 11 and IT pros: It's déjà vu all over again:
So far I am finding Windows 11 a total yawn fest; do I need another store that few use or Android apps on Windows? It is the requirements, specifically TPM 2.0, that I find problematic. Very few custom built PCs have TPM support because MSI, ASUS, etc. do not include TPM on their motherboards. I tried to buy a TPM module for my home computer I built since I am an IT person and ASUS apparently never actually made the part referenced in the manual. Sorry Microsoft, I cannot upgrade to Windows 11 even if I wanted to. There is also the problem with supporting TPM in VDI. Yes, support exists, but how many people have even tried it? Honestly, this announcement from Microsoft just makes me want to spend more time with Qubes (https://www.qubes-os.org/) and OpenSUSE (https://www.opensuse.org/) and less time with Windows outside of work.
Another reader named Dean Baird reached out to us with the following comments:
You requested comments about our first impression of Windows 11 so here are my thoughts. As a now retired former longtime worker in the IT field I have always had several computers in my house of various vintages and have been running the Windows Insider versions on one PC since 2014. With the announced requirements for running Windows 11 my test Windows Insider PC is not able to run Windows 11! In fact out of some eight PCs in the house the only one capable of running Windows 11 is a PC I built early this year. My impression is Microsoft is obsoleting a great many PCs and will royally PO a huge base of users! I have used Windows since the first release many, many years ago but…… I am seriously considering a move to Apple now. The negative part of a move to Apple is the cost. Apple has to be the most arrogant company around when it comes to pricing their product and that really bothers this old man who is now pushing 80 years old! Best regards from a long time reader of your newsletters.
Our congratulations to you Dean on still being a geeky techie nerd after so many years!!
Also in our previous newsletter Michael Friedman asked if any readers wanted to discuss how Microsoft is locking in mobile device management of Microsoft Teams to organizations using Microsoft Intune. We don't want to get into a slugfest over this issue but we'll share one reader's comment on it -- this was sent in to us by Zibonele Dlamini who is a Server and Network Administrator for a bank in Mbabane in the country of Eswatini which was formerly called Swaziland in southern Africa:
I have always complained about this giant monopolizing and systematically shoving their technology down our throats. Unfortunately it seems there is no referee that can call them to order. It seems they have managed to force all roads to Azure and only their technology without tap-ins for other platforms.
Thanks! It's always nice to be reminded of the wide global reach of our WServerNews newsletter!
On another note, several issues ago we included a Factoid about how Google's new Career Certificates could disrupt the college degree. This drew a lengthy response from reader Jeffrey Harris which we shared in our previous newsletter and in which Jeffrey argued the position that university degrees still have value from the perspective of companies looking to hire new people. Wayne Hanks from Perth, Australia responded to Jeffrey's comments as follows:
Regarding Jeffery's comment about higher wages on average for University degrees. While I would agree that currently that appears to be the case, the future, in my eyes, is not looking bright for 4 year degrees that require a multi thousand dollar investment. Many of the universities in Australia have been forced into going online because of Covid and a number of them are looking to make the change permanent. I know that most of the student unions are vehemently against this but that may be because most of their income is derived from on campus students. By providing online learning, universities are reducing the need for expensive lecture space, reducing the carbon footprint of students and lecturers having to find their way to classes and also reducing the need for parking spaces. It also readies students for the potential of having to work from home in the future. Mind you, they have already built this space so it is likely that they will be looking to change how this works in the future. By providing on demand classes, the universities are catering to a younger demographic that is used to getting content when they want it and not at specific times. Of course there will always be a need for those courses that have to be in person because they rely on interaction between student and lecturer, such as the humanities, medicine and law where much of the training is received as much from the interactions in class as they are by the lecture content. There will also be a need for access to equipment and facilities that cannot currently be emulated in VR although I see this becoming more prevalent in the future.
Anyway, I still dispute the necessity, especially in the IT field, of a 4 year degree, which by its nature cannot be particularly specific in software vendors due to rapid development. Add to that the hugely crushing student debt that can be created by loans, and you can see that for many students, online training and short courses are a particularly effective means of training. I understand the need for a uniform way of measuring the performance of people in a particular area, but even now this is difficult without applying your own testing.
So for all those managers out there that only employ graduates, I'm sorry but you are missing some of the best talent. By selecting simply for a piece of paper that many cannot afford to achieve in the first place, you are effectively creating a class system.
Many times the experience that comes with dealing with real world systems outweighs the "education" received in a 4 year degree.
Of course I am biased 🙂 as I do not have a degree.
Several other newsletter readers waded into this topic of the value of university degrees for those of us in the IT profession. Carl Webster, who is widely known and respected in the Citrix community, says:
College Degrees. I tried and failed four times at getting a college/university education. I only found out the reason for the failures in 2019. In discussion with my oldest daughter (who has a masters), a speech pathologist, we talked about one of my great-nephew's recent diagnoses with Dyslexia. I was telling her I had similar issues and explained my issues. She told me my issues had a name, Dysgraphia. When I looked up Dysgraphia, I started crying because I finally learned I wasn't stupid. There were reasons I struggled with reading books, taking notes while listening to someone, walking in a straight line, walking up/down stairs without looking like a drunk, visually comprehending schematics and things in 3D, and writing coherent sentences. Unfortunately, I have yet to find a professional who tests adults for Dysgraphia. With a Dysgraphia diagnosis, most states will hire someone to go to classes with you and take notes.
I use Grammarly to help me not look like an idiot in my writing. If you knew how many words and letters were in my mind typing the preceding paragraph that never made it to my fingers, you would understand why I pay for Grammarly. I wrote an email to Grammarly sales back in 2019 and later learned the CEO read it at its annual conference. He then extended my subscription for a year at no charge.
There is one nice thing about learning in my 60s that I had a learning disability. I never used it as an excuse. I still don't use it as an excuse, but now I understand why I can't take notes at conferences and why I struggle with Visio. As I quickly approach retirement, I am satisfied with my IT career, accomplishments and have no regrets about not finishing any of my attempts at a degree.
And reader Michael Hallsted a long-time IT pro who has been working with computers since the late 1970s and who currently is the "part-time IT guy" for a small manufacturing company sent us the following thoguhts which combined his opinion of both university degrees and whether FTP is still a useful technology for file-sharing (that topic was another of our recent Factoids):
I somehow graduated from university 40 years ago, June 1981. I knew a lot science and engineering majors, and when they graduated and started meeting companies recruiting graduates on campus, they all echoed the same sentiment: college serves to give you a base knowledge of a field, everything you need to perform a job will be taught to you on the job. The main reason large companies recruit from major universities, I was told, is that you can handle tremendous pressure, meet deadlines, and produce quality work in those situations. And that was it. I was told companies did not really care about one's specific area of study, they only cared about how one performed under pressure, and your degree was the proof.
The one thing I noticed, post-college, was my perception of time. During college, I always seemed to have time for anything and everything. Once I graduated and started working, having time for "stuff" just vanished. There was never enough time to pretty much do anything but work. So when I was asked about college by a friend long ago, that's basically what I said… you're young, enjoy your free time, because once you start working, time is no longer free. But back then, college was also a lot cheaper. The cost of college, nowadays, may not be worth it to some.
With good ol' FTP, I still use it. I have a very small personal website, I do my own web pages and upload with FTP. Now, back in the day, when the internet was all new and sparkly, I had some web space, a friend wanted to try out a forum, and I said let me look into it and get back to you. There are database forums (pretty much everything) and flat file forums (like YaBB ). I asked my webhost how does one backup a database forum, and was told that databases are hidden from you and to just use the phpadmin function in one's control panel. I looked at the interface for phpadmin and it was just this mess of options and choices and a help file that made no sense. It totally confused me. But with the YaBB flat file forum, with FTP, I could see everything, back it all up, synchronize folders, and it just made sense to my way of thinking. Now, back to the present day, with literally millions of people using WordPress and other database driven content management systems, who has a backup to anything. People are totally dependent on their web host for backup and restoration of their site, and depending on the web host, good luck with that sort of thing. Anyway, I like FTP because you can see everything, and you do not have to have blind trust in your web host for any kind of disaster scenario.
The topic of whether a university degree is needed or desirable for young people who want to get started in the IT profession is an important one for several reasons. I plan on sharing my own thoughts about this subject in our next issue of WServerNews, so stay tuned!
As usual we welcome all our readers' comments about anything in our newsletters. Email us your feedback.
Some thoughts from our Senior Editor for you to ponder…
The value of enterprise search tools
Quickly finding some information you need can make or break profitability for your business. I discovered this many years ago when Microsoft included powerful new search capabilities in Windows Vista. Suddenly I could find documents on my PC much faster and could use Advanced Query Syntax to search for documents that contained specific items of text within them. Outlook search also worked much better in Outlook 2007 than in previous versions, and this combined with Windows Search capabilities made my work more efficient.
Then reality began to hit. There were many repositories of data in our growing business that we couldn't search easily including databases and special document types. At first we thought we could resolve this situation by creating our own in-house solution around Microsoft Search Server 2010, but we found this difficult to achieve and costly in terms of the effort involved in building it. So we began trying out different enterprise search products that were coming to prominence in the market around that time. We eventually selected one such solution and implemented it, and that lasted us for a while.
But as our business continued to grow we found that more and more of our information was being stored in the cloud instead of on-premises. This started us on another journey to find a product that could span both our on-prem and cloud needs for ferreting out information when we needed it.
Is your ability to find business data limiting the scope and efficiency of your organization? Is the quality of the search tools you have in place at your company impacting the productivity of your employees or satisfaction of your customers? There are many different search products and services offered these days by software vendors and cloud providers. I encourage you to take a look at how well you can quickly find data stored in your repositories and assess whether making use of these enterprise search technologies can provide benefit for your business. Whether your business is small, mid-sized or large, having efficient and reliable search tools can be the difference between success and failure for your business. Find out what's available in the market today, and check out the offerings from this issue's sponsor as well.
Print spooler fiasco
The verdict is still out on whether Microsoft's fix for the print spooler vulnerability on Windows and Windows Server is sufficient or if there needs to be more. Stan Hegt tweeted this helpful flowchart concerning CVE-2021-34527 and it's worth reading thru the entire thread and keeping an eye on it for further tweets. The latest "clarification" concerning Microsoft's guidance for this vulnerability can be found here on the MSRC Blog. In the meantime disabling the print server on your domain controllers may be a good idea because if your DCs get p0wned your whole network has been hacked.
Can you really trust your VPN?
This recent article by Bruce Schneier really got me thinking, take a look:
VPNs and Trust (Schneier on Security)
What do readers who use VPNs think about this? How confident are you about the security and privacy of your VPN product or service, and why? Let us know your thoughts.
Free cybersecurity ebook
Want to learn the basics of cybersecurity? You can download a complete copy of Paul van Oorschot's book Computer Security and the Internet: Tools and Jewels for free, just click on the PDF link for each chapter you want to download. There's an even newer edition of Paul's book coming out soon and you can pre-order it from Amazon.
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Tip of the Week
How to disable "News and Interests" in Windows 10
The June update for Windows 10 installed a News And Interests thingie on my taskbar. I don't like that. Here are three ways you can disable it:
Right-click on your taskbar, select News And Interests, then select Turn Off.
Configure the Group Policy policy setting described in this this blog post by Michael Niehaus.
Use the Registry Editor to configure set the EnableFeeds DWORD registry value under HKLM\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Windows Feeds to 0 (zero).
>> Got any admin tools or software you'd like to recommend to our readers? Email us your recommendations!
MailStore Server is an email archiving solution which enables users to quickly find and restore emails and attachments, even if they were already deleted from the email server:
dtSearch®-Instantly Search Terabytes. Doc. filters for popular file types, emails, databases & web data; 25+ search options; Win/Lin/Mac C++/Java/.NET Core APIs; Azure/AWS FAQs. Enterprise/dev evals.
The native reports of Office 365 do not allow you to measure the individual messaging activity of your telecommuters. Promodag Reports can do it, download a trial version!
GlassWire lets you instantly see your current & past network activity, detect malware, & block badly behaving app:
KeePass is a free, open-source, easy-to-use password manager:
NetLimiter is an Internet traffic control and monitoring tool for Windows:
Factoid - Rent to own, or to never own?
Our previous factoid and question was this:
Fact: The U.S. navy's railgun is finally dead
Question: What a disappointment! I've been waiting to try riding on one of these since I started reading science fiction as a kid. What other long-expected technological advancement that has never been brought to reality has disappointed you?
Wayne Hanks rightly pointed out that I had confused two electromagnetic propulsion concepts in my above factoid:
When you talked about the rail gun being dead, I think you might have been thinking about the electromagnetic trains that are a staple of sci fi. The railgun was never looking at how to transport people, only how to fling a projectile at high speed. For example I would think that the Loop rail that The Boring Company ( Elon Musk's rail arm) would lend itself really well to being done as an electromagnetic train. I have been on a number of monorails that work on this principle as well.
I replied to Wayne by saying, "You know Wayne, I think you're right. I was probably thinking of the electromagnetic spaceship launcher proposed by SciFi author Arthur C. Clarke in the early 50s as I used to read a lot of early SciFi when I was young including novels by Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke and so on."
On now to this issue's factoid:
Fact: In 2030, you won't own any gadgets.
Question: What do our readers think about this Gizmodo prognostication? Utopian or Dystopian?
Email us your answer and we'll include it in our next issue!
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Conference Calendar 2021
NOTE: Conference dates and locations (real/virtual) are subject to change
Black Hat USA -- Jul. 31-Aug. 3 in Las Vegas
Open Source Summit -- Aug. 4-6 in Vancouver, Canada
DEF CON 29 -- Aug. 5-8 (location TBA)
European Cloud Summit -- Sept. 27-29 in Frankfurt, Germany
Open Source Summit -- Sept. 29-Oct. 1 in Dublin, Ireland
VMworld -- Oct 5-7 (virtual)
Black Hat Europe - Nov 8-11 (virtual)
Building SQL DevOps Tools with Kendra Little (RunAsRadio)
When Your Side Project Gets Billions Of Hits – The ICanHazIP Saga (Heavy Networking)
Private Cellular Demystified (Clear To Send)
Kaseya 0day was utter trash (Risky Business)
Did Darth Just Win? (Microsoft Cloud Show)
New on Techgenix.com
Cloud migration with Azure Migrate: A walkthrough
Want to migrate your company's IT workloads to the cloud? This walkthrough from Microsoft's Sarah Lean gives you a road map to get there with Azure Migrate.
When your SSO, EDR, and MDM solutions don't play well with VPN
Putting together a bunch of useful technologies often raises a bunch of problems. Those using SSO, EDR, and MDM may find they don't mesh well with a VPN.
Windows 11 and IT pros: It's déjà vu all over again
Here's an IT pro's take on what's new, exciting, boring, and scary about Windows 11 — with apologies to Yogi Berra.
Cloud datacenters and electricity: A powerful problem
Are cloud datacenters and their insatiable hunger for electricity going to lead us to runaway global warming? One company may have a solution.
Internet down? Hey, what's going on with our cloud service?
Hey, our website is down. Nope, I guess our Internet connection must be down. No, just some parts of the Internet are down...what's going on?
Fun videos from Flixxy
AirCar Flying Car Completes First Ever Inter-City Flight
The AirCar prototype made a successful 35 minute flight from Nitra International airport to Bratislava International airport in Slovakia on June 28, 2021.
Flying Car (1949)
Aerocar International's Aerocar (often called the Taylor Aerocar) is an American "roadable" aircraft, designed and built by Moulton Taylor in Longview, Washington, in 1949.
Awesome Soccer Talent
We don't know his name, but this guy has amazing control over the soccer ball.
Lightning Calculation - "Math Magic"
Mathemagician Arthur Benjamin can solve complex equations faster than a calculator. How does he do it? He'll tell you.
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Full Evaluations (enterprise and developer)