Knowledge Center

  • More Reports for the Masses from SCCM

    by Paul Heuring | Feb 04, 2016
    In an earlier article, I went through two useful ways to receive reports from System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager as alternatives to using the SCCM Management Console to run reports. Subscriptions are indeed a fine way to ensure that a report is available when and where you need it. Sometimes, however, a user might want to run a report just once instead of a regular update.
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  • Linux on Azure Certification: A Symbol of Peace

    by Meredith Quinn | Feb 02, 2016
    Google, Apple, Amazon…. Microsoft definitely has its share of rivals, competing in everything from cloud computing to operating systems. Yet, when it comes to server administration, none of these technology giants poses a threat except Linux.
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  • Upgrade to System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager SP1

    by Jerome Jones | Jan 28, 2016
    One of my students recently asked how to upgrade from System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager to R2 SP1. Here are the steps to perform the upgrade.
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  • Teamwork Made Easier with Office 365 Groups

    by Meredith Quinn | Jan 26, 2016
    In a modern work environment, it can be extremely difficult to get coworkers on the same page, especially as files and discussions are spread all over different databases. Office 365 Groups puts an end to the madness by allowing users to create a collective work space to get projects done efficiently.
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  • Reports for the Masses from System Center 2012 Configuration Manager

    by Paul Heuring | Jan 21, 2016
    Administrators have access to the reports from the SCCM Administration Console, but what about the rest of us? For that we can rely on both subscriptions and the Report Manager website. For this blog, we’ll focus on the subscriptions.
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  • Cloud Wars Are Producing More Than Just Fluff

    by Meredith Quinn | Jan 19, 2016
    Earlier this month, Amazon Web Services kicked off the New Year by announcing a 5% price cut to select instances running Linux. Not to be outdone, Microsoft has also recently announced a 10-17% price drop for its Azure Dv2 Virtual Machines. This back-and-forth may seem exhausting to spectators, but cloud customers have seen legitimate benefits from the rivalry over the last two years.
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  • Active Directory GPO Practices

    by Charlie Hill | Jan 14, 2016
    Group Policies Objects (GPO’s) are one of the most common, and most powerful tools in Active Directory. GPO’s are used to configure nearly every aspect of network control, yet there is a great deal of pain and suffering introduced by less-than-perfect policies. With a few simple rules, you can reduce the headache factor, while making your job easier, and making you better at it.
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  • The Cheapest Way to Fill the Cybersecurity Workforce Gap

    by Meredith Quinn | Jan 12, 2016
    For the past few years, a growing shortage of cybersecurity professionals has caused IT executives around the globe to become desperate for skilled IT workers in this field. The 2014 Cisco Annual Security Report estimated the need for 500,000 to 1 million qualified security workers internationally, projecting this number to rise to 1.5 million by 2019.
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  • Cisco Certification: Is It for Me?

    by Dan Muniz | Jan 07, 2016
    This question really has two broad groups of interested readers. Those that are relatively new to IT and those that are interested in seeking ways to advance their careers and earning potential within the industry.
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  • The Big Deal about Big Data

    by Meredith Quinn | Jan 05, 2016
    It has become increasingly apparent that the hot new commodity in business is big data. As technology continues to affect every aspect of our lives, from buying trends to travel habits, companies who are able to collect, organize, and analyze this data are rising to the top.
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  • Work Folders Part 2: Syncing Process

    by Charlie Hill | Dec 31, 2015
    During initialization, the data directory, version database, and download-staging directory are created on a device. The version database helps to keep a local copy of the data in sync with the data on file server.
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  • The SMAC Stack: A Continuing Trend for 2016

    by Meredith Quinn | Dec 29, 2015
    As the year comes to a close, we begin to look back on some of its most popular trends. While some will continue to grow, others will fizzle out.One trend that’s sticking around for 2016? The SMAC stack.
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  • What is BYOX, Exactly?

    by Meredith Quinn | Dec 22, 2015
    With a myriad of technology choices currently available, employees have developed specific preferences when it comes to using phones, tablets, apps, and internet browsers to get work done. Why carry around a company Blackberry and a personal iPhone when you can get it all done on one device?
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  • Work Folders Part 1: Overview

    by Charlie Hill | Dec 17, 2015
    User access to data was once a simple matter: Connect the company’s computer to the network, grant the employee access to the data. In today’s universally connected world, it’s more complicated.
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  • Create a Unique Holiday Greeting Card with Photoshop

    by Meredith Quinn | Dec 15, 2015
    If you’ve ever sent out or received holiday cards, you know that they’re an easy way to maintain business connections or just keep up with friends and family. This year, instead of trusting a drug store kiosk, try making your own holiday photo card with user-friendly design tools in Adobe Photoshop.
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  • What is the MTA certification?

    by John Magill | Dec 10, 2015
    MTA courses and exams were developed for the academic community; however, they are now available at training partners and public testing centers. Entry level support staff members are ideal candidates for this certification and those who have been working in the field that just need to validate their knowledge.
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  • What To Expect From Your QSLive Course

    by Meredith Quinn | Dec 08, 2015
    Some people are skeptical of remote IT training, and that’s understandable. As consumers in the age of internet shopping, we are often cautious of deals that sound “too good to be true.” And the idea of being able to get the same quality IT training at home in your pajamas as you would in a classroom sounds very much “too good to be true.” So what’s the catch?
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  • How To Get Started With IT Certification

    by John Magill | Dec 03, 2015
    Where do I start with certification? Is CompTIA A+ the first certification? This question is asked often, maybe by a new support tech or even a 10-year veteran on the help desk. So what is the answer?
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  • Concise is Nice

    by Meredith Quinn | Dec 01, 2015
    Sure, your reports may have the correct punctuation and grammar, but are they really getting your point across? In an effort to make the report dynamic and engaging, it’s possible that you’ve lost clarity by adding flowery language or too many metaphors. So how do you find a balance?
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  • 7 Gadget Gift Ideas (+5 Fun Stocking Stuffers!)

    by Meredith Quinn | Nov 24, 2015
    Having trouble finding the perfect holiday gift for your gadget-obsessed loved one? Don’t worry, you won’t have to hack into their laptop to investigate their search history this year. We’ve compiled a list of the year’s hottest tech gifts to save you time and sanity. So take a glance and get your shopping done early.
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  • How to Use Steps Recorder

    by Cliff Jones | Nov 19, 2015
    The Problem Steps Recorder was introduced in the Vista operating system, and the name was shortened to Steps Recorder in Windows 8. It’s an excellent tool to help you create documentation and also to capture an issue a user may be experiencing.
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  • The 5 Stages of Team Development

    by Meredith Quinn | Nov 17, 2015
    Maybe you need to prepare your company for an email migration, or you’re moving apartments and you can’t lift that couch on your own. Either way, it’s important that you take the time to prepare your team efficiently.
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  • Excel 2016: Helping Businesses...Well, Excel

    by Meredith Quinn | Nov 12, 2015
    No matter the size of your company, you’ve most likely used Excel to record data, manage projects, or track the performance of your business. When it comes to creating visual representations of data, Excel is universally the favorite among businesses. And with the rollout of the new Excel 2016, it doesn’t look like that will change very soon.
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  • Unlock Your Persuasive Power

    by Meredith Quinn | Nov 10, 2015
    You don’t need to be a sales representative to put the power of persuasion to good use. At one time or another, we all must convince another person to support our cause, buy our product, or join our team. With the right tools, anyone can learn to channel their inner Jerry Maguire and negotiate successfully.
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  • Can You Trust Your Constraints?

    by Jeff Rathjen | Nov 05, 2015
    When a Check Constraint exists on a column, it checks the insertion of new records to determine that the value for that column conforms to the limitations of that constraint. Check Constraints allow us to define what are acceptable values for that column. They are of great importance for ensuring Data Integrity.
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  • The 7 Steps of Proposal Writing

    by Meredith Quinn | Nov 03, 2015
    Writing a proposal can be daunting, even if what you’re proposing is pretty straightforward. You want to present your ideas in the most efficient way possible to ensure that you’re getting through to your audience. So whether you are planning a new budget or trying to make a sale, follow these 7 steps when writing your proposal.
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  • Keep Your Gold Images Golden

    by Paul Heuring | Oct 29, 2015
    It used to go that if you didn’t have a good set of tools, which included a hammer, screwdrivers, wrenches, pliers, etc., you couldn’t work. These days things are a little different.
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  • Set Manageable Goals with SPIRIT

    by Meredith Quinn | Oct 27, 2015
    Ask anyone and they’ll surely tell you they have goals. Ask those same people how they plan to achieve those goals and they may not be so forthcoming.
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  • Upgrading to Skype for Business

    by Doug Niles | Oct 22, 2015
    There are advantages of having a Sandbox environment (or in our case a classroom environment) because you get to try new items, configuration, installations, then see what happens without effecting a production environment.
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  • The 5 Personalities of a Leader

    by Meredith Quinn | Oct 20, 2015
    Very few of us are born leaders. Mostly, it takes time and experience to cultivate the leadership skills needed to be successful in our careers and personal lives.
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  • What Every IT Budget Needs

    by Meredith Quinn | Oct 15, 2015
    Planning and implementing an appropriate IT budget can seem impossible. Not only must IT professionals use designated funds to maintain existing operations, but they must also look for ways to be innovative within their industry, while also trying to cut costs wherever they can.
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  • A Recipe for the Perfect Resume

    by Meredith Quinn | Oct 13, 2015
    You should put as much care and attention into each resume you send out as the apple pie you bake for Thanksgiving at Grandma’s. Sure it takes a little extra time, but the results are well worth it.
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  • Taxonomy in SharePoint Part 1 – Concepts

    by Daniel Lonergan | Oct 08, 2015
    Organizing and categorizing the information you manage in SharePoint (or any other system) is critical if you want your users to find and retrieve information effectively. SharePoint, without a well-designed taxonomy, would in some ways be like a traditional “brick and mortar” library without a cataloging system.
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  • Time Management Tips That Won’t Waste Your Time

    by Meredith Quinn | Oct 06, 2015
    It’s a problem we all have: Not. Enough. Time. Whether you’re behind on emails or you just can’t get to that pile of expense reports building up on your desk, there never seems to be enough minutes in the day to fully get caught up.
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  • Mastering the Meeting: 5 Steps to Conquer Public Speaking

    by Meredith Quinn | Oct 01, 2015
    Does the idea of presenting in a meeting make you want to take a sick day? Very few of us love speaking in public, but from business meetings to social settings, it’s a skill that’s necessary to several areas of our lives.
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  • Patching Manually Installed Agents in SCOM 2012 R2

    by Jerome Jones | Sep 29, 2015
    Every time I discuss installing the System Center Operations Manager Agent, the question of whether or not to run setup.exe on the installation DVD always comes up. But before you deploy a number of agents manually, it’s important to understand how the agent is patched.
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  • 3 Things to Know About Windows 10

    by Kristen Hess | Sep 23, 2015
    It's been a long time coming, and we're so excited to start delivering new Windows 10 training. Have you heard about some of the new features?
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  • 4 Every Day Project Management Tips

    by Meredith Quinn | Sep 10, 2015
    When most people think of project management, they think of big, complex undertakings like building a skyscraper or developing a software program. But the basics of this process can apply to any task with a start and end date.
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  • Picture Passwords

    by Cliff Jones | Sep 08, 2015
    Picture Passwords are a new feature added in Windows 8. Many security experts consider it to be more secure than a traditional username and password.
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  • Deciphering SIP Codes

    by Doug Niles | Sep 08, 2015
    One of the fun subjects that we talk about throughout our Lync classes is understanding of SIP error codes and the troubleshooting part that goes along with it.
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  • Why Spell-Check Won’t Make You A Better Writer

    by Meredith Quinn | Sep 02, 2015
    Thanks to our digital age, written communication has become more and more prominent with emails and text messages being a prime source of connection among colleagues.
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  • Things That Might Surprise You About SQL Server Management Studio

    by Jeff Rathjen | Sep 02, 2015
    SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) has been around since SQL Server 2005 and is a surprisingly nice environment from which to manage SQL Server. Of course it has its shortcomings and there are 3d party tools that supply either replacements or add-ins to it. However, if you have not given it a through look over, it might be easy to ignore some of its best features, so I thought I would take you on a quick tour.
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  • Using "Now Micro Right Click Tools" with System Center Config Manager R2

    by Jerome Jones | Aug 27, 2015
    When I teach System Center Configuration Manager 2012 R2 course, I’m always asked about tools and utilities that will make the product better. One such utility is called a Right Click tool. What are Right Click Tools? Simply stated, a right click tool is a utility, typically developed by a 3rd party company or developer, which adds functionality whenever an object with the product is right mouse clicked.
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  • Calling versus Called Rules in Trunk Configuration

    by Doug Niles | Aug 25, 2015
    During the Enterprise Voice section of our classes, we define multiple Trunks in the Topology builder then publish to the Central Management Store. For those of you who have done this before that in itself is nothing new. What’s always the fun part is the discussion on how to configure the Trunk after you’ve published it.
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  • Hybrid Cloud: Because Why Settle?

    by Meredith Quinn | Aug 20, 2015
    As it continues to gain ground over local data storage, cloud computing gives individuals and businesses the ability to easily store and share data over the internet. And while a public cloud has better served the majority of businesses in the past, utilizing a private cloud has been shown to have tremendous benefits to certain types of industries.
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  • Data Collector Sets

    by Cliff Jones | Aug 12, 2015
    Data Collector Sets were added to the Performance Monitor tool with the release of Windows Vista. They provide an easy way to capture a systems overall performance and also a way to generate alerts when an unfavorable condition occurs, such as running out of disk space.
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  • Microsoft's New Recertification Process for MCSE - BI

    by Saskia Schott | Aug 11, 2015
    Need to recertify your MCSE-BI? Read about Saskia Schott's experience with the new path for recertification through Microsoft Virtual Academy.
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  • BitLocker To Go

    by Cliff Jones | Jul 28, 2015
    BitLocker was first introduced in Windows Vista and it has been evolving since then. BitLocker protects your data by encrypting it. In Windows 7, the ability to right-click on a drive to enable BitLocker protection was added. Another important BitLocker feature added in Windows 7 is BitLocker To Go. That is the focus of this topic.
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  • Degree vs. Certification: Which Is More Beneficial to a Career in IT?

    by Meredith Quinn | Jul 21, 2015
    While some hiring managers still place college degrees high on the list of desirable qualities for potential employees, most in the IT industry admit that it isn’t a determining factor when looking for new hires.
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  • SQL Server 2008: Database Auditing Standards and Best Practices

    by Steven Allen | May 13, 2015
    This will be the first in a series of blog posts in the next several months designed to touch on many of the topics covered in QuickStart’s SQL Server 2008 training courses; mores specifically database auditing with guidance and discussion for SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2. If the next version of SQL Server (code named ‘Denali’) adds or changes this, I will cover that towards the end of the series. In this first blog, we’ll look regulatory requirements, general organizational security practices, and auditing best practices for databases irrespective to the DBMS chosen. The second blog will continue looking at best practices, specifically what audit event data needs to be in the log and protecting audit systems and data. In the third blog, I’ll discuss the available auditing methods in SQL Server 2008/R2 and the advantages and disadvantages of each one. In the fourth and fifth blogs we’ll do a deeper dive into two specific auditing mechanisms, SQL Server Audit (built-in fine grain auditing introduced in SQL Server 2008), SQL Server Event Notifications (introduced in SQL Server 2005).
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  • Sequencing Identity Numbers in SQL Server 2012

    by Jeff Rathjen | May 13, 2015
    Identity columns are nothing new in T-SQL. They are great when you want a unique number to be automatically assigned every time you insert a new record. The trouble is that while they are unique within the table, they are probably the same between tables. Every table with an identity column has a 1 for the first record, a 2 for the second, etc. Of course you can set the seed and increment for the identity column to something other than (1,1), but you still have to manually track which table has which seed. Trying to track that is destined for failure. What we really need is a way to have automatically assigned numbers for new records, but ones which are guaranteed to be unique across any table that uses them. Of course, you know I wouldn’t be writing this if there weren’t a solution. In SQL Server 2012, Microsoft introduced something called the SEQUENCE object that does this very thing.
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  • Top 5 Commands in PowerShell

    by Saskia Schott | May 13, 2015
    Which commands are you always going to need to use, and will use with every new command or module as you write PowerShell? 1. Get-Help. You use this to read the help file for a cmdlet: Get-help . So you see a script that uses Test-connection, and you want to see what you can do with it: get-help test-connection. If you want to see it in a separate window, in PowerShell v3 and higher: Get-help Test-connection –showwindow. This opens full help in a separate window. You can limit what you see to just examples by changing the settings (upper right hand corner of the window). Get-help has other parameters: -examples, -parameters, -full or –detailed, which result in help being shown to you in your PowerShell session. Online help (use the –online parameter) will open a browser window to the proper MSDN help page.
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  • Microsoft Report Builder 3.0

    by Saskia Schott | May 13, 2015
    With the release of SQL 08 R2, Microsoft is making Report Builder 3.0 available. It has been a long road from the original Report Builder 1.0. It was a little clunky, not very intuitive, and was dependent on Report Models. Report Models are an abstraction of the data, and are generally designed by the BI Developer to expose data to the Business User for report creation.
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  • PowerShell Credentials and SecureStrings, Part II

    by Steven Allen | May 13, 2015
    In my first blog post on using secure passwords in PowerShell scripts, I discussed methods in PowerShell to keep passwords and other secure strings secure in memory and protect against memory dump attacks and the like. I showed how to use those secure strings to run commands either an alternate username and password if the commands ask for those or by building and using PSCredential objects for those commands that expect a full credential objects. At the end of the blog I showed how to convert that secure string to a regular encrypted string using the Windows Data Protection API (DPAPI). While highly secure, that method of encrypting the string is limited to that one user account on that one computer by the way it uses the Windows DPAPI.
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  • Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF) v4

    by Saskia Schott | May 13, 2015
    Wait, what’s a MOF? Microsoft Operations Framework? Why would I need that? In the 1980’s there was a movement to create standards for managing IT within the British government. The result was the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) was initially published as a series of books between 1989 and 1996. It documented IT best practices without regard to platform, nationality, industry or size of organization. The sponsoring organization, the Central Computer and Telecommunications Industry, (CCTA) enlisted experts from various telecom and computer companies to write and edit the guidance. Microsoft was one of those companies.
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  • SharePoint Designer Governance

    by Steven Allen | May 13, 2015
    I hear these and many similar comments and questions all the time in my SharePoint Site Administrator/Power User classes: “Oh, I can’t do that because my company won’t let us use SharePoint Designer.” “I’d like to create a workflow, but no one is allowed to use SharePoint Designer.” “How do I get my company to let me use SharePoint Designer?”
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  • 3 ways to Monitor with PowerShell

    by Saskia Schott | May 13, 2015
    A student in a recent class asked for a script that could take every command a user typed into PowerShell and send it to a csv file for monitoring purposes. That prompted me to think about the choices you have with PowerShell. He didn’t want to capture history after the fact, with a ‘get-history’ command, since the user could easily have run ‘clear-history’ resulting in the removal of the commands they had run to that point. That made me think about what his choices were. His chosen alternative was to send events to the PowerShell event log, however, when monitoring anything, you could also decide to send data a SQL database. My thanks to David W for his question, and his eventual script, which you can see below.
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  • Auditing Tools in SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2

    by Jeff Rathjen | May 13, 2015
    This is the third article in a series discussing database auditing. The first article discussed the need to audit from various governmental mandates and best practices of auditing just the data you need to meet requirements. The second article discussed the auditing log data best practices, both what event data to include in your audit logs and the need to protect your audit log systems and data from tampering. This article will look at the various tools that we can use for auditing and the pros and cons of various tools that SQL Server 2008 provides to us administrators and developers to enable auditing compliance.
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  • PowerShell Credentials and SecureStrings, Part III

    by Steven Allen | May 13, 2015
    In my first blog post on using secure passwords in PowerShell scripts, I explained how the .NET Framework uses Strings and a new object type, SecureStrings. SecureStrings have several features that protect against attacks to read string values from memory, not the least of which is that the string is encrypted from the start in memory. I then introduced the Get-PSCredentialcmdlet that will prompt for a username and password and store that password in a SecureString property, with the property incidentally named “Password”. An alternative discussed there, when only a SecureString is needed and not a full credential, was the Read-Host cmdlet with the –AsSecureString parameter.
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  • PowerShell Credentials and SecureStrings, Part I

    by Steven Allen | May 13, 2015
    I frequently get asked questions in my PowerShell classes about providing credentials to commands and scripts, including storing passwords in scripts. In this blog post I’ll discuss how the .NET Framework handles strings and why that behavior is undesirable for working with passwords and other secure strings of data. I will also discuss methods of providing passwords, credentials, and other secure strings into our commands and scripts interactively. At the end I will introduce a method of securely saving credentials so that a script can be executed without prompting for passwords, although the script must be executed by the user who entered the credentials. In a follow up post, I’ll discuss options when you need multiple people to execute scripts with saved credentials.
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  • Top 5 PowerShell Scripting Sources

    by Saskia Schott | Mar 25, 2015
    In a recent class, I pointed out to students some of my favorite scripting sources, and found that some students had found one or two, but not all my favorites. So, since PowerShell is all about finding the right script, here are my top five websites for PowerShell scripts. And, by the way, the right script might be the one that does exactly what you need, or it could be the one that does something very close to what you need, and you can modify.
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