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Why you crash your motorcycle

via This Is Why You Crash Your Motorcycle—According to Science | Motorcyclist

Access and Manage Office 365 with PowerShell

As businesses large and small move operations to the Microsoft cloud in the form of Office 365, administrators have to face some limitations in the user interface. While very simple to use for basic administrative tasks, some things can only be done using PowerShell, while other tasks are far faster and easier using this scripting tool as well.

In the blog I will show you how to set up your PowerShell environment to quickly connect to your Office 365 service and help you carry out these functions quickly and easily.

The steps will be as follows:

  1. Check your Execution Policy in PowerShell
  2. Check for, or create, a PowerShell Profile
  3. Edit the Profile to add the needed function
  4. Test the connection

Using Windows 7 or Windows 8 you will find that PowerShell is part of the operating system environment. In Windows 7 there is a pinned shortcut on the taskbar. Opening PowerShell either using this pinned application or by using the Start Menu is the first step. While in PowerShell we need to examine your current settings for executing scripts. This is referred to as the Execution Policy and can be retrieved by typing “get-ExecutionPolicy”. If your response is something other than RemoteSigned you need to set a new policy by typing: “set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned”. You can then confirm that your setting is correct by repeating the “Get-ExectionPolicy” command. There are other choices in PowerShell, but this will suffice for our project. For more information in PowerShell type ” help about_Execution_Policies”.

Next, we want to locate the profile that is associated with your PowerShell environment. To learn more about profiles, type “Help about_profiles”. To locate your current profile, if it exists, type $profile. What returns should be a string that shows the complete path to your current profile. When you learn about profiles in PowerShell you will see that there are several locations in which these profiles can be kept and each has a different impact on how stored functions and scripts might be accessed on your machine.

If no profile exists, you will need to create one. You can test for the existence of a profile by typing, “test-path $profile”. If the response is False, we need to create one, if the response is True, you can simply type $profile to check the path as I pointed out above.

To create a new profile type the following:

if (!(test-path $profile)) {new-item -type file -path $profile -force}

This command tests for the existence of a profile and if none (!) exists, creates a new one.

Now the heavy lifting, which is to create a script or function to help you automatically log on and connect to your Office 365 service. First type, “notepad $profile”. While in Notepad, type the following code:


function admin365

{        $LiveCred = Get-Credential;$Session = New-PSSession -ConfigurationName Microsoft.Exchange -ConnectionUri https://ps.outlook.com/powershell/ -Credential $LiveCred -Authentication Basic -AllowRedirection;Import-PSSession $Session



Don’t forget the braces, {}.

This code does three things: 1.) It creates a function called “admin365”, 2.) prompts you for your credentials on Office 365 in the form of a dialog box, and 3.) creates a new session to connect you to your Office 365 environment and extends the commands available for you to manage your Exchange environment. Notice the use of a semicolon to separate commands in the string. Items starting with a “$” indicate variables in PowerShell.

Save, the notepad file. Exit from PowerShell and restart a new PowerShell session, which will now utilize your new profile. Since this profile has defined a function for your use, call it from the command line by typing “admin365“. A dialog box will pop up. Enter your credentials, click OK and wait for the connection strings to finish. Once done, you can type “get-command” to see all the new commands that are now at your disposal to help you manage your environment.

Now you can do work in Office 365 using PowerShell. Want to get a list of users? Type, Get-User. Want to see information concerning a user’s mailbox? Type, “Get-mailbox username | fl“. To set maiobox permissions, type “set-mailboxpermission username -Accessrights moreparameters. ” For what follows in parameters see “help set-mailboxpermission”. To see all the commands available, type “get-command”.

Using PowerShell can be very helpful, but there is much to learn about this scripting environment. Consider using on-line tutorials and instructor-led classes provided by Microsoft.

Accessing SharePoint Data and Libraries

Once data has been added to your SharePoint Libraries and Lists, it would be convenient to access and manage this information using familiar tools that were used when data was local our hard drives or on a local network.

The following list summarizes several of the ways in which SharePoint data can be managed:

  1. Access the SharePoint library or list directly using your web browser
  2. Use Windows Explorer to open your library
  3. Place shortcut to your library in the Favorites area of Windows Explorer
  4. Use SkyDrive Pro (Office 2013) or SharePoint Workspace (Office 2010) to synchronize data to your local hard drive from the SharePoint library
  5. Use Outlook to synchronize data
  6. More…

All the screenshots that follow come from the recently updated Office 365/SharePoint site or from Office 2013. You already have access to the new SharePoint sites, but the Office 2013 update on your machines will be coming soon.

This is not intended to be a full training session, but an overview of several options for maintaining the contents of your SharePoint libraries.

Open in SharePoint Library

This is the most direct and simple method to see, retrieve and upload file objects to your library. Using a browser, you can choose to manage your library by uploading single or batch numbers of files to the library. Opening the file while using your browser will give you the choice to open using either the Web App or, if installed, a local desktop version of the same application. The desktop application is more fully functional and, in some cases at least, may be required to help you do your job completely. Data in the library can have other “meta” data associated with it. This meta data further describes your file that makes it easy and convenient in SharePoint to customize the views by which you can see and navigate large numbers of file objects in the library. Searching for data in your library is especially quick , returning large quantities of data almost instantly. However, you can only work with one item at a time from the returned list.

Open In Windows Explorer

With your SharePoint Library already open, you can choose to open it in Windows Explorer. With this option, selecting files to drag-and-drop for copying or moving into other file system folders or SharePoint libraries is a snap. Double-click on a file to open it up in its associated application. If you want to insert a file as an attachment into an email this is the most convenient way to do it. All data still resides only on the SharePoint site and library.

When you finish your work and close this window, there is no history of it having been opened to go back to the same library. So…… next……

Place Shortcut to your library in the Favorites area of Windows Explorer for repeated access

While your library is open in Windows Explorer, right-click on Favorites in the left-side navigation area of the Windows Explorer window. Choose, “Add current location to Favorites”. You will then notice a new reference to your library appear under the Favorites section so that you can repeatedly access the same library. Again, you can you drag-and-drop, or Cut and Paste to move data objects between libraries, your local system, and you can use familiar techniques to create sub-folders within the library if necessary. Once again, all file still only exist in the library unless you manually copy or move them elsewhere.

SkyDrive Pro/SharePoint Workspace

An alternative to the above is to synchronize your data between your local hard drive and the SharePoint library. This also means that data is available if you are not currently connected to a network. A SkyDrive app has been around for a while that does the same thing for home users or those people using a personal SkyDrive account. With SharePoint, these applications are referred to as SkyDrive Pro (Office 2013) or SharePoint Workspace (Office 2010). Initializing SkyDrive Pro is a simple matter of choosing it from the Start Menu on your local machine (under Office 2013). The application will ask you for the library you wish to synchronize and then continue to save local copies of the data to your hard drive. Or you can choose to synchronize directly from your opened library. You can choose as many libraries as you see fit to keep synchronized. As changes are made to the file either locally, or on the SharePoint library itself, those modifications are kept synchronized between the two locations. This technique then uses your local file system to index files and content to make searches complete quickly. Since the returned list of “hits” is local, you can multi-select to work on several files at the same time. While there is a difference between the two applications, SharePoint Workspace works to accomplish the same goal using Office 2010. Remember, data is now kept in both locations from a security vantage point and needs to be protected. Since this is synchronized data, not a backup or redundant copy, if you make and error within the file, that same error will be synchronized.

An easier option to sync your library is right within the library itself. After opening your chosen library you will see a menu on the top right similar to the image below. Choosing “Sync” will put a local copy of the contents of your library on your disk. In each case, the results of the synced library can be found under Favorites and the SharePoint shortcut, as illustrated below.

Connect to Outlook

Another option, with the library open in your browser, choose “Connect to Outlook”. With this option, your library can be viewed within your Outlook application and within OWA. Double-clicking on any document will open it up using the local desktop application. Using the special previewers built in to Outlook, documents can be viewed or read without even opening up the application. And since this information is cached locally on your machine, you can access it without being connected to any network.

More Options

Another option, called “Export to Excel” will create a spreadsheet with all the objects in your current library and additional fields of data that correspond to information such as Modification Date and Modified By. Clicking on the link in the first field in the spreadsheet will access the document via the network and its associated URL.

Have fun choosing your preferred options for accessing data in SharePoint. This mix ‘n match capability allows you to customize how you need to work with different kinds of data in your team site!

Business Benefits to Windows 8

By now, you have likely read about several of the key features found in the new Windows 8 operating system from Microsoft. One question that businesses, particularly small businesses, may ask is “How does this benefit me?” While everyone may have their own opinion on this, I have tried to categorize what I see as some of the major benefits to utilizing Windows 8 in your company.

Part of the effort is to get by all the talk about the missing Start button! There’s no question there is a learning curve to adapt to this new interface, but the Start Screen replaces the Start button, and as more devices go touch, along with some adaptations proposed in the new Windows Blue, I believe we will all see the advantages. It’s not like we haven’t been here before as newly introduced OS’s and applications cause us to re-familiarize ourselves with the interface.


How much effort will it take to get to the new Windows 8. Maybe not much! There is a direct upgrade path from Vista SP1 and Windows 7. For XP users there has always been a a bit more work due to registry/driver changes.

The hardware requirement is quite minimal. 1 GHz or faster processor with support for PAE,NX and SSE2, 1 GB RAM (32-bit) or 2GB (64-bit), 16/20GB storage, and DirectX 9 for video. Of course, required doesn’t mean optimal and your own environment will really determine how much resource your machine requires. Certain features may require additional hardware support (e.g. for Hyper-V processor support for SLAT, certain screen resolution to support snap apps, etc.) The message is that unlike other migrations that required increased memory, change in processor architecture or storage, if you have a recent machine you are probably good to go for basic Windows 8!

An exception I have noted, is the Hyper-V support in Windows 8. This requires a processor that can enable Secondary Level Address Translation (SLAT). Depending on the age of your machine, you may find this missing.

Full Windows Experience on x86-Based Tablets

Windows 8 will be available on a variety of hardware platforms and we will be able to see the same interface with x86-based Windows 8 Pro tablets and tablet-laptop hybrids, as they’ll offer the new metro-style Start screen in addition to the full Windows environment. This means that tablet users can have the same familiar Windows applications, including a full copy of Microsoft Office 2013, and Metro-style apps on both their desktop PC and their mobile device. For the IT staff this means not having to relearn new OS interfaces and being able to apply current knowledge and products for IT management.

Bear in mind that these benefits apply only to x86-based tablets loaded with Windows 8 Pro. Tablets with ARM processors running Windows Run Time (RT) will support only the Metro-style apps, so they won’t be able to deliver the full Windows experience.


Win 7 Compatibility

Microsoft says apps and utilities that run on Windows 7 will run on Windows 8, meaning that enterprise software and development investments should be protected. This is true, but only to a point. Legacy Windows apps, including those written for Windows 7, will not run on the ARM-based version of Windows 8 for tablets.

Windows Store

The Windows Store, while lagging behind others in the current marketplace will benefit business in application deployment. Applications delivered via the Windows Store will need to meet a high standard for guaranteed use and security within the Windows 8 system.



Windows 8 will include a new feature, called Client Hyper-V, that offers the same Hyper-V virtualization capabilities that will be available in Windows Server 2012. Developers, IT administrators, and power users who need to run virtual operating systems inside Windows will have much more advanced capabilities than were available with Windows Virtual PC and Windows XP Mode. This includes support for 64-bit virtual OSs, wireless networking interfaces, and sleep/hibernation modes. Virtual machines can also be moved to and from Hyper-V on Windows Servers, including support of live migrations where the virtual machine can stay online during a transfer.

Multi-Monitor Support

Although Microsoft estimates the percentage of Windows users with multiple monitor installations in the low double-digits, for those people , multiple monitor support has often been frustrating, requiring add-ons in order for things to work as expected. For example, in a three-monitor setup, the taskbar appears on only one monitor. While this isn’t a huge problem, it is a frustration. Windows 8 adds, for example, a multiple monitor taskbar and the ability to have different backgrounds on each display. While the background images won’t matter much, having the taskbar across all screens will make life a bit easier for the 13.48% of desktop-based power users that use two displays.

User Interface

Metro UI

Microsoft’s touch-friendly Metro interface could be a boon for mobile workers like delivery personnel or store clerks who need to keep their hands free as much as possible. Workers could view and log key business data with the touch of an icon on Windows 8 tablets. Microsoft is also giving enterprise application developers the tools they need to create custom Metro apps for their businesses. Those apps will be capable of feeding real-time business data to Live Tiles on the home screen, and can be distributed internally so workers don’t have to go outside the firewall to download them from the Windows Store.


Did I already mention touch? With the growth in mobile devices of all types, tablets, phones, hybrid, touch-centric interfaces is the direction we are headed. And if there was any doubt, the just-leaked view of Windows Blue, indicates that Microsoft is not retreating on its position.


Learning the interface means being able to be more productive on multiple devices. Synchronization of account information and data between multiple devices means quicker access to data, less cross system compatibility or application issues, and less user training or support.


Windows To Go

Windows To Go means users can take their workstation with them.

The new Windows To Go feature in Windows 8 Enterprise will allow you put a clean install or an existing Windows 8 image onto a 32GB or higher USB thumb drive or a portable drive and boot it from another PC.

Windows To Go can be useful for telecommuters and temporary contractors, because they can essentially fit an entire PC environment–loaded with the all the apps, settings, and files they need–in their pocket and boot into it with their own PC. This would be much more efficient than having to carry a physical computer from place to place. Windows To Go could also make the perfect backup OS for PCs that become infected or corrupt. And it can be managed by and secured with standard enterprise management tools such, as SCCM (System Center Configuration Manager) and Active Directory group policies, just like an ordinary Windows PC. The USB drive can also be encrypted with BitLocker to prevent data theft if it’s ever lost or stolen.

Secure Boot

UEFI Replaces BIOS to Enhance and Secure Booting. Microsoft will require that new PCs bearing the Windows 8 logo use a new boot solution called Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI), which will significantly improve the boot process and experience.

You’ll see much faster boot times, on the order of 8 seconds from pressing the power button to being in Windows. This, along with less need for restarts, can help increase productivity in the office and save IT personnel time when applying upgrades or installing software.

Safeguards built into UEFI can also help save the IT department time and resources over the long term. Secure Boot prevents unauthorized operating systems from loading, and Early Launch Anti-Malware (ELAM) protects against boot loader attacks. UEFI will also allow remote diagnostics and repair of computers within the pre-OS environment. So instead of physically sending a technician to visit a PC experiencing boot issues, it might be possible to repair and restore the machine over the network.


Another security feature, BitLocker drive encryption is a holdover from Windows Vista, but will run best on PCs equipped with the Trusted Platform Module, which may need to be enabled in the BIOS settings. Microsoft said that in Windows 8 BitLocker encrypts drives more quickly, meaning a reduction in worker downtime while data is being encrypted. One way it achieves this is by handing encryption off to hardware, and also by only encrypting used parts of the disk drive. Free spaces are encrypted later as they come into use


Direct Access was supported in Windows 7 and Server 2008, but it has gotten easier to deploy with Windows 8 and Server 2012. Direct Access avoids the need to deploy costly, hard to manage VPNs for your mobile and remote users with an always on solution. Letting users have safe, secure access to your core network (and Group Policies) is important for IT staff supporting remote users.

Windows Defender

In Windows 8, anti-virus software is supported using Windows Defender. Security Essentials is no longer supported on Windows 8, and the earlier distinction between anti-malware and anti-virus has been eliminated.

SmartScreen ARS

Windows 8 features built-in software that’s designed to guard against employees downloading malicious applications, which could be programmed to steal corporate data or wreak havoc on a network. Smartscreen Application Reputation Service warns users when an application they are about to download is more likely to be unsafe. It works by comparing the app to known reputation data. Commonly used apps from trusted vendors get the green light, while more obscure software triggers a warning.

New network authentication methods

Microsoft added support for a several new network authentication types to Windows 8. The WISPr (Wireless Internet Services Provider roaming) protocol allows users to roam from one Wi-Fi hotspot connection to the next, regardless of which ISP is running the hotspot, much as a cell-phone user is able to roam between cellular carriers.

The EAP-SIM, EAP-AKA, and EAP-AKA Prime (EAP-AKA’) protocols can provide native authentication when connecting to mobile 3G/4G broadband networks. And the addition of support for the EAP-TTLS protocol means that enterprises and campuses won’t need to install a third-party client on PCs when implementing this 802.1X authentication type on their networks.

New Recovery options

Windows 8 brings two new recovery options (Refresh and Reset) that could help save IT personnel and users’ time when a PC becomes infected or corrupt, or when they’re being readied for disposal or reuse. Each of these recovery options can be initiated via the Metro-style Settings app within Windows, via the new boot Windows Recovery Environment (RE) menus, or even via booting from a Windows To Go USB drive.

Refresh keeps all the personal data, Metro-style apps, and important settings, and then reinstalls Windows. According to Microsoft, this can all happen in less than 10 minutes regardless of how much personal data is backed up. While it doesn’t keep the traditional desktop applications, it saves a list of them in an HTML file (without the license keys, however) that will appear on the desktop. If you create an image backup of your PC ahead of time, however, Refresh will restore your PC to that image. This would include any desktop applications that were installed at the time of imaging, and your most current personal data, Metro-style apps, and important settings would all be restored.

Reset removes all data and then reinstalls Windows so the PC is in the same condition as when it was started the first time. According to Microsoft, this can take anywhere from less than 10 minutes if BitLocker encryption is enabled, to up to 25 minutes if it isn’t enabled. The Regular option simply erases and formats the drive before reinstalling Windows, while the Thorough option writes random patterns to every sector of the drive to significantly reduce the chances of data being recovered.

Network Performance

SMB 3.0

SMB 3 is another behind the scenes improvement. But, when fully implemented, it’s one that users will probably come to appreciate. Server Message Block has been the base protocol for exchanging file and folder data over a Microsoft network. It is now in its third release. SMB 3 brings to the table major performance and feature improvements. SMB 3 also boasts encryption in transit and other features, including a new feature known as SMB multichannel. This allows the system to use multiple network channels, increasing overall throughout and adding fault tolerance to the environment.

Stephen Foskett has written a definitive guide to what’s new in SMB 3. It’s worth a read.

File System


Tightly integrated into Windows 8 is support for the data portability in the way form of Microsoft’s cloud solution, SkyDrive. Users logging on with their Microsoft Account (formerly LiveID) will have immediate access to the storage provided within their SkyDrive account. Users get 7GB of storage for free and more is available for an added cost.

SkyDrive Pro

SkyDrive Pro isn’t really a Windows 8 feature, but takes the concept of SkyDrive and applies it to SharePoint libraries, for easier, faster cloud based storage in a more managed enterprise environment. This will be a standard feature of Office 2013 and Office 365.

Storage Spaces

Chances are you haven’t heard about this one either! Storage Spaces allows the user to use any combination of storage technolgies, USB, SAS, Serial and combine them into a singular storage space. This space can then be subdivided into logical storage containers, and can even be used to provide forms of data-mirroring, redundancy, and reliability so that if a disk fails it can be easily replaced and data reconstructed. The drives can be of varying sizes. If you decide that your storage space is too small, you can just replace one of your drives with a larger one to give you the headroom you want! This same technology is available within the Server 2012 family.


Network Management Improvements

Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 include many new and enhanced networking features useful for administrators. Native NIC (network interface card) teaming provides network connection load balancing and failover by bonding two or more network interfaces. The updated Server Message Block (SMB) protocol improves the availability, performance, administration, and security of file shares and storage resources, with new features like encryption and transparent failover.


See above. Less expense, less maintenance. Earlier versions of Direct Access were a bit daunting to deploy, but this has been improved for Windows 8 /Server 2012. From a management perspective, beginning with Windows Server 2012, deploying DirectAccess behind a border router or edge firewall is now fully supported. It is no longer required to have public IP addresses assigned to the DirectAccess servers external interface.

By putting the DirectAccess server behind a NAT firewall, client communications will be delivered exclusively using the IP-HTTPS IPv6 transition protocol. If you are using Windows 8 there is nothing to worry about in terms of performance and scalability because Windows 8 clients leverage NULL encryption for IP-HTTPS traffic.

However, Windows 7 clients cannot utilize NULL encryption and will instead encrypt all traffic using SSL/TLS . This will result in double encryption, which will dramatically impede performance and scalability.

Branch Cache

Windows 8 improves on the features and capabilities of Branch Cache. Branch Cache allows Windows applications that use network protocols to cache files and content locally from the remote server. Since files are stored locally, it will reduce application response time and reduce network traffic by avoiding another retrieval via the WAN. This helps users in remote locations to be more productive and experience faster response times.

Enhancements in Windows 8 to Branch Cache streamline the deployment process. It optimizes bandwidth over WAN connections between content servers and remote clients. Remote computers using Windows 8 can now access data and files and run applications in a more secure, efficient, scalable way.

Performance is improved by reducing data transfer size requirements through cache encryption, using data de-duplication, and minimizing block sizes.

Improved Task Manager


Supporting users in the new world means getting IT staff up to date. Fortunately, there is a large ecosystem for training, starting with the Microsoft Learning Partners. Learning Is incremental, since applications and features are reasonably well understood from Windows 7. For example, there are no earth-shattering changes to the architecture of the registry, Group Policies will apply to new systems in the same manner as before, etc. Learning can demonstrate how to carry out familiar tasks more quickly, another business benefit.

Even users can benefit in reduced training by having the same operating system on multiple devices. Learn a skill and apply it to multiple devices.


There is more we could write about, but I thought it was important that we all got past the discussion about only a couple of the features of Windows 8 to see how we can all benefit from this latest technology. We have looked at many of the most common areas when evaluating the benefits of a new system: usability, upgrade and equipment requirements, security, performance, manageability and training. I think you will conclude that Windows 8 has far more to offer than the Start Screen!

What’s Big Data?

As Big Data takes on ever-increasing challenges in helping to make sense out of massive amounts of information, this article helps us undertand its true impact….


Some people say big data is wallowing in the trough of disillusionment, but that’s a limited worldview. If you only look at it like an IT issue it might be easy to see big data as little more than business intelligence on steroids. If you only see data science as a means to serving better ads, it might be easy to ask yourself what all the fuss is about.

If you’re like me, though, all you see are the bright lights ahead. They might be some sort of data nirvana, or they might be a privacy-destroying 18-wheeler bearing down on us. They might be both. But we’re going to find out, and we’re we’re going to find out sooner rather than later.

This is because there are small pockets of technologists who are letting their imaginations lead the way. In a suddenly cliché way of saying it, they’re aiming for 10x…

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Getting the most out of your bandwidth provider!

The following link is an article on the Computerworld site by author Mark Gibbs and highlights several tools that you might find helpful in estimating the bandwidth speeds you are getting from your provider. Nothing worse than paying for bandwidth you are not receiving, or user complaints about network service! An earlier post gave some basic tips on calculating basic bandwidth requirements for your own environment. Once you know what you need, and have purchased the necessary service, its important to occasionally check and see if you are getting what you paid for!.


As the article headline suggests, a basic calculation of some bandwidth requirements that you may need to estimate for your own situation. As we add new cloud based services and telephony components to our application mix for employees the incremental demand on bandwidth can be easily overlooked, resulting in some very unhappy staff.

TeraGo Networks

Following our posts about choosing the right Internet Service Provider (ISP) and internet technology for your business, many of you had a follow up question; How do I know how much bandwidth my business needs? This is a great question because if you get too much bandwidth, then you end up paying for more than you need. If you get too little, your employee’s productivity can suffer, which can impact your company’s bottom line.

Although it’s a fairly straight forward question, the answer is somewhat complicated because every business has different needs. Also, those needs can be subject to change, depending on a multitude of variables. For example, if your business is seasonal, then you will require more bandwidth during the peak season and less during the off season. Other variables may include employee size, office location, or how your team uses the connection. If your employees are sending hundreds…

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