Microsoft User Experience Virtualization (UE-V) in action

by Dmitry Kirsanov 20. April 2012 14:41

A few days ago Microsoft released beta of their new technology called User Experience Virtualization, or UE-V. The name implies that it has something to do with virtualization, but it’s just a buzzword. What UE-V does – it synchronizes user settings across workstations, in real time.

Imagine, that you have to log into multiple workstations, and what you want to have is the same settings of all applications you are using in your work. For example, spelling options in Microsoft Office, the layout of buttons, menus and colors – all the little pains that accumulates into the strong headache of roaming for some.

UE-V vs. roaming profiles

The roaming profile could be the answer, but for most of us it’s not. Some of us don’t even have the Active Directory profiles, but still desire the same user experience throughout the environment (translation to human language: every desktop of yours looks and behaves the same).

The difference with roaming is also in fact that in UE-V you only synchronize what you want to, not everything. So it works faster and has less space for errors.

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Essentials of Microsoft Internal Security Policy

by Dmitry Kirsanov 11. April 2012 07:41

Microsoft Security Essentials logo

Here’s some morning fun for security experts out there.

A few days ago I needed to arrange a payment to Microsoft. The credit card used in transaction wasn’t available the week after transaction, when the company decided to charge it. Not a big deal, I only needed to provide the details of an alternate card. Here is the fragment of an e-mail I’ve got regarding the issue:

“Due to security policy, we strongly recommend you send these details via fax or attached to an e-mail. Please do not type these details in the e-mail body. If you wish, you can provide us with these details via phone.”

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The Art Of Hiring: 10 Worst Mistakes in a Cover Letter

by Dmitry Kirsanov 30. March 2012 01:25

An offer that you can't resistThis is my first article about the hiring process, even though I’ve been on both sides of the barricades for many years and for a long time thought and even taught people about some aspects of hiring process, as well as accumulated knowledge from them.

As you know, I am training IT specialists, and their reason for training, either explicitly expressed or subtle, is to find a better opportunity which would return the investment into training. In other words – to change the job.

Even though it’s not the beginning nor the end of the hiring process, and even not the most important part of it, the cover letter could either “make or break” the first impression of the HR (human resources) manager of your future employer.

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SCCM For Poor - Windows Intune at Glance

by Dmitry Kirsanov 8. February 2012 13:00

imageHow many products of major brands float under your radar, unnoticed and unevaluated? Perhaps Windows Intune is one of them, but if you are Windows system administrator – that’s the one product you should know about, whether you’re using it or not. So this post is about Windows Intune.

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Software as a Service at Glance

by Dmitry Kirsanov 29. January 2012 15:00

Software as a paid ServiceI am beginning the series of articles about various SaaS solutions offered by various companies – some known and some that you probably haven’t heard about, and since all of them share that characteristic of being the SaaS solution, it is important to describe first what SaaS is.

In the upcoming series I am going to describe multiple SaaS services and focus on the alternative ways to have the same functionality. My goal is to describe each of them so you could understand them without digging into the documentation or waste time trying. More...

What You Should Know About Modern IT Certifications - at Glance

by Dmitry Kirsanov 12. December 2011 22:30

Microsoft Certifications SchemaOne of the most frequent questions I get as a trainer, is about certifications and their real value. Opinions regarding certifications vary from “useless piece of paper” to “paramount” and the reason for so diverse opinion is either experience or lack of it. In this post I will try to explain modern IT certifications from a more practical point of view.

During my career of Information Technology Trainer, while spending most time training system administrators and software developers in various disciplines, I’ve also got a lot of valuable feedback from HR specialists and business owners. I’ve organized seminars on certifications to explain their value or in some cases – lack of it, and realized that certifications are like Terra Incognita for vast majority of HR specialists and even IT managers. But it shouldn’t be that way, so this post is also for HR and those who aren’t certified yet but think about whether it’s necessary or not. More...

Securing Corporate Identity - 3 Things You Shouldn’t Leave Behind

by Dmitry Kirsanov 5. December 2011 16:57

The new culture of making business “more social” brings so many new possibilities and chances, it’s hard to analyze the consequences of every step you take. We are doing so much in order to use the latest features of the web, that don’t recognize the jeopardy hidden in most innocent things we do.

In October of 2011 I took an experiment, which lasted for two months and gave me so interesting results, that I couldn’t resist to share. For some of you these findings could be shocking and reveal something new, but the reason for the experiment was purely to prove what seemed logical even without the experiments. More...

And one ring to rule them all

by Dmitry Kirsanov 27. November 2011 13:08

As discussed previously, there is a noticeable trend in casual IT these days – cut spending on IT infrastructure management as much as possible. Companies are using all chances to eliminate the “human factor” from systems administration, and while it’s scary for incompetent administrators, it adds to the innovation factor of modern IT management offering.

So it’s quite controversial trend. But trends of that kind are very natural for innovation. Let’s see what it’s all about.

There are two questions, depending from who you are – either CEO or IT professional. If you manage the company, any company, then the question is – how much your IT infrastructure costs, and how much – the IT department?

By IT infrastructure I mean all the computer devices you are using in your business, your internet connection and costs of ownership. The IT department, on the other hands, are people and servers used to make the rest of the company operational.

Depending from your personal qualities, chances are that as CEO you dream about getting rid of all the IT guys, as usually keeping own system administrator looks like having own telecommunications specialist just because you own a bunch of phones.

The trend these days is to fulfil that dream. To create service which would substitute your entire IT department without your employees noticing any change. Imagine, that you give up all your expensive servers, all your expensive IT administrators and their rooms, by simply signing up for online service for a fraction of previous monthly expenses of your IT department.

If you are system administrator, on the other hands, then perhaps you think that it’s hard to replace you and your knowledge, so the question for you is simple – what do you know?

What if that service will care about antivirus, updates, backups, software deployment, license management, asset management, various policies and would provide users with answers to all their questions and arrange local company to fix hardware problems at the best price and speed? What would you do against the power of totally automated workflow system, backed up by top IT professionals somewhere in the middle of nowhere?

One of the first birds of the trend is system called Microsoft Intune. You probably know their Windows Small Business Server (SBS) – the Windows Server for poor, available since 2003 and now it’s Small Business Server 2008. The difference between normal Windows Server and SBS is that you don’t have to be a professional Windows System Administrator to operate it. Wizards replaced the command line tools (literally, replaced – some tools are simply not available), you can do anything using your mouse. Also, it comes together with Exchange, which is installed and managed automatically. If you have a decent server hardware – it will everything you need to power a company with up to 500 workstations. Still, you would need to have an IT guy who would take care about stuff.

Well, the reason why I mentioned SBS is that Microsoft Intune is a natural enhancement to SBS offer, but now you can go to the web page and manage your environment without all that Computer Science – everything through one nice looking Silverlight powered web page. And it allows you to do most of the stuff I mentioned before, allowing your CEO to fire half of your IT department.

But you know how it works – someone should provide a platform, and others will build their offers on it. That’s true for just about every product of Microsoft – the network of partners doesn’t fail. So expect Intune to become a platform to something more dramatic, as well as inspiration for copycats. Most likely we’ll see similar solutions from Citrix, VMWare or whoever else. And this will end the system administrator career as we know it.

So, CEOs should enjoy the new offering and take a waiting stance, while still employed system administrators should plan their training – if what you do can be covered by some cloud offering, your next and last assignment will be to implement it in your company.

I will publish video presentation of Windows Intune soon, so you will see what I am talking about.

Updating currency exchange rates in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011

by Dmitry Kirsanov 22. November 2011 08:36

As promised earlier, I’ve created a small utility which updates currency exchange rates for currencies used by Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 server. It’s fast, reliable and can be run in unattended mode, so you can set it once and forget about it.

A bit about Microsoft Dynamics CRM first

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 is the most advanced CRM system created so far. It allows you to keep track on your customers, partners and rivals and monitor relations in real time. So you can create marketing campaign for all your customers in Denmark with turnover higher than 200 000 euro and who’s main industry is Finance. And send them personalized proposal. And each of that customers will reply to manager, assigned to that customer. And you will track the success of that action in real time, being able to test your genius as CEO. Well, not only that. More...

Team Foundation Server 2010 for Developers - part 1

by Dmitry Kirsanov 21. November 2011 02:50

As I finished the series of presentations for Quality Assurance specialists on Team Foundation Server 2010 Test Manager, it was obvious to continue with TFS and now do it for the biggest audience of it’s users – for .NET developers.

Microsoft Visual Studio is the most advanced RAD platform made so far. We could argue about the languages and platforms, like .NET vs. J2EE or ASP.NET vs. Ruby, but one thing is for sure – when you are software developer, no matter what language you are using, the Visual Studio is the most advanced and friendly platform  for any level.

Saying that, Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010 (that’s the official name of the product) is a very advanced and sophisticated part of Visual Studio, arguably the most advanced product Microsoft created, apart from operating systems.

Systems administrators having hard hours installing it, developers spend hours learning it’s concepts, but then it starts working and software development becomes a pleasant and highly productive process.

Once you’ve started working with TFS, you can’t imagine working without it on any more or less complex team project. It takes the burden of source and version control, the whole agile workflow, sophisticated automated testing, control over policies and a lot more.  That’s definitely a product which costs every penny of it’s price.

All right, enough praises. You should make your own conclusions and for that you should see it in action. While the previous demonstration for QA specialists was convincing enough to use TFS as the platform for automated testing and main environment for testers, now we are going to talk about the main, biggest and greatest part of Team Foundation Server 2010 – the one meant for software developers.

In this first demonstration we are exploring the source control, but as everything is linked in TFS, we also touch working with code and some best practices. In the next part we will explore the source control deeper, before moving further to more complex and wonderful parts of Team Foundation Server 2010.

Team Foundation Server for Software Developers part 1

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