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Technology

Google Plethora of Services

From the July 2015 archives of James Lynch’s writings

Google has provided so many services over the years that only employees can name them all. Then again, may only the President of Google could name them all… Never mind, no one could name all of Google’s services provided throughout the years without looking them up!
For the readers of Geek Brain Dump, a list of Google’s present and active services are provided below. Due to the company’s hyper speed development mode, this list is no means exhaustive.
Have you used these common Google services?
Google’s  Web Search Engine
Google Docs
Google Chrome (Web Browser)
Google Hangouts, +Plus, and  YouTube
Site and Blog Administrators
Google Analytics –Measures your website’s visitors and their interaction with website\blog. 
Google Webmaster Tools- See how many times your website’s articles are showing up in search words. What keywords people are typing into the web browser’s search engine prompts your posts to receive impressions. You may find yourself pleasantly surprised at how many impressions Google’s search algorithm is providing for good quality articles even when your website is ranked 1 or 2! 
Additional statements from Google on Webmaster Tools
● Did some queries result in more traffic to your site than others?
● Are your product prices, company contact info, or events highlighted in rich search results?
● Which sites are linking to your website?
● Is your mobile site performing well for visitors searching on mobile?
  In the future, we will dive more into Google and the state of the art technology it takes to run the juggernaut!
Until next time, can you name the Google services you have added to your Internet toolbox?
Permissions of Logo use http://www.google.com/permissions/
Screenshots of Most Google Products
You don’t need our permission when you want to use an unaltered screenshot of our homepage (Google.com) or the search results page for instructional or illustrative purposes. This applies for print (book, magazine, journal, newspaper) or digital (web page, DVD, CD) formats.

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Technology

Bloglovin Benefits and Geek Brain

From the July 2015 archives of James Lynch’s writing Bloglovin Benefits and Geek Brain

Bloglovin’ is a tool I use to keep up with all my favorite blog posts. For a site like Geek Brain Dump, with its daily stream of new articles from the writers here, it makes sure I receive highlighted notifications via the Bloglovin website and the phone app of newly posted articles.
It places the RSS Feeds preview of each new headlined blog article and places it in an organize squared\rectangle layout. See sample and take a look at the like and red heart and share choices for your favorite articles. Your likes and shares matter!
Have you noticed the interesting articles being shared here at Geek Brain Dump? They range from all things technical in the reviews, articles, and how-to. If you do not want to miss one article, Bloglovin’ will even send you a digest at the end of the day.
This is how I keep up with the latest on this website.
Account Setup
In order to set up your account, just go to http://bloglovin.com and click on the sign up button.
After you quickly setup your account through Facebook or e-mail profile, look to the “Search blogs” feature and type in Geek Brain Dump. The website will show up before you even finish typing it.
Select and press the follow button. It will add Geek Brain Dump to your feed.
Hope this makes managing your feeds easy.

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Technology

Facebook at Work is this Service for You

From the pocbooks.com archives of January 2015. Facebook at Work is this Service for YOU?

Facebook is providing companies their own customized version of its social media tool. This article will not be presented as a pros and con commentary, but it will inform you in the second half of the article why this may viewed as an oxymoron [Terms or statements that seem contradictory] company policy by managers and CIOs. That is, if someone brings up using the Facebook at Work service.
How does it work?If you already have a Facebook account, then you know how to share information with family, friends, and use the messaging system? You will pretty much notice the same functionality with the exception of Facebook at Work’s purpose for businesses sole employees (co-workers) access and purported no ads and no tracking, i.e. privacy.
Did you say, “No advertisements showing up?”“This is being reported, Facebook at Work is ads free”
Are you sure the Facebook at Work service will not track and store the company’s internal communications for other reasons outside of my knowledge?“Well, again, this is being reported by Business Insider Australia that, yes, this is the case.
…Facebook at Work will not serve ads or track your data. It will remain a private, closed ecosystem only accessible to those inside a company.
As of the time of this writing, I was unable to find the official (SLA) Service level Agreement policy for the new Facebook at Work product.   Granted, I could have missed it, or because the product is still in the testing phase. This page will be updated as information becomes available.
Tools for this Product
Facebook at Work App in ITunes
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/facebook-at-work/id944921229?mt=8
There are selected companies trying out this new product across multiple platforms, including smartphones, as in android and others.
Is Facebook at Work an Oxymoron?
This is a question not everyone would have to ask? This question comes up for companies that are presently blocking Facebook and have policies prohibiting its personal usage on business property or during operation hours.In Round-Robin type settings, when people just brainstorm and throw out ideas, people (including managers) sometimes make suggestion that go against present company policy.They may feel it is in the interests of progress for the company or business. However, an alert signal will go off in the minds of people who know the company policy and the viable security reasons behind it; i.e. CIO’s. They may rebuttal “We are presently blocking Facebook on the Firewall level, how can we make this work?”
Additional questions may be asked:
• Will some forget at times to sign in/out of their personal and work profile?
• What makes this messaging system worth the change from our present system?
• Will this make us more efficient with productivity and security?
Again, it has to be emphasized, that such questions may only be applicable for ones who have strict policies against the use of Facebook in company environments, yet it comes up in a brainstorming session to change such a policy.
As always, the choice is left up to the decision makers for the company. This article is provided what is the latest news in the Information Technology culture, in which Facebook is playing an enterprising role.

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Technology

Rednote Book a Tool You Need

From the archives of pocbooks.com July , 2015. Rednote Book an Underestimated Tool You Need

From Helpdesk tickets to spreadsheets, people who are active Information Technology professionals have used it all to keep track of things.

There are times when you have several tasks hit you all at the same time. To complete these tasks they will require multiple steps and notes. Still, the phone keeps ringing, and you are right in the middle of some configuration change. Now you may say, this is what helpdesk tickets are for, right?

Yes, they are. But have you ever typed in brainstorming thoughts that you just know you may never need them again, and those thoughts are just creating a lot of smoke in your documented notes that will one day be a knowledgebase? This is just one of the reasons Information Technology Professionals would want to use Rednote Book.

In the 2 minute video below, I show you in a typical day interruptions and progress you may experience; but also how Rednotebook can keep you on track. The focus will be on the following

Hashtags
Search Feature
Spell Check

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Technology

Microsoft SQL Server Express Editions Benefits

Perceptive Readers, Here from the pocbooks.com archives July 19, 2014.

The Enterprise level SQL Server edition has more features and possibilities than technologist would ever implement unless he or she is working with an enterprise level organization, i.e., Microsoft may be the only organization using them all.(Just kidding… Well, who else uses every single feature offered?) This is where the SQL Server Express Editions provide a significant alternative. The SQL Server Express Editions Microsoft provides are limited to:
● 1 processor socket (4 cores)
● 1 GB of memory per database instance
● 10 GB Maximum relation Database size

There are additional limitations that we will not mention here, due to the reason you can gauge from the 3 items already noted, whether Microsoft’s SQL Express will fill the need with smaller scale usage for server and web applications.

  1. It is great for your Windows lab environment
  2. You should be able to choose all default settings during the install.
  3. The bare minimum; yet, powerful features of SQL, will provide what you normally need without the learning curve confusion. You can constantly build upon your knowledge of why and when additional features are needed after you get the fundamentals down.
    SQL Express Server can be upgraded to other featured pack versions like standard and enterprise.
    SQL Express Server is free.
    Even though Microsoft presently has a SQL 2014 Server express edition available for download, often technologist will use a few versions behind; IMHO and others, it is a good practice to allow time for the bugs to be found in newer versions of software before production use, hence I’ve provided a link to
    Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Express
    http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=29062
    Grab the most commonly used components. Install in the A , B order.

A) SQL Server 2012 Express
B) SQL Server Management Studio 2012 Express
Hope this helps you with your setup know-how of SQL. Note the differences between Microsoft’s SQL Server & MYSQL. As you develop small to medium size applications it is good to be familiar with both. At the very least, you can test and decide if you will upgrade to a higher version of Microsoft’s SQL in the future. But for today, you can get basic experience with minimum to free costs.

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Technology

The Truecrypt Encryption Era

From the July 8, 2015 archives

The Truecrypt Encryption Era – The Loss of the Era Explored Part 1

For Security Consultants and home users feeling comfortable with using Information Technology, It was a time of wisdom.

It was a time of practicality.

It was a time of good advice.

It was a time of data protection.

In the year 2004, when Windows XP was the popular operating system, the program called Truecrypt arrived on the scene.

People who were interested in the product were able to download, install it, implement the basic setup; and use it all under 30 minutes.

Still Truecrypt possessed powerful encryption features!

(Humor) Why back in the day, when you gave a laymen definition of encryption: “The process of converting something that is readable into unreadability. Only the right key can unlock the code to make it readable again.” – JAL; you would then show a Truecrypt picture.

For ones who want the technical education, see Dictionary of Networking published by Sybex.
Encryption: “The process of encoding information in an attempt to make it secure from unauthorized access, particularly during transmission. The reverse of this process is known as decryption.”

Truecrypt was programed with the ability to implement the following algorithms:
AES
Serpent
Triple DES
Twofish
AES-Twofish
AES-Twofish-Serpent
Serpent-AES
Serpent-Twofish-AES
Twofish-Serpent
A lot of choices to choose from for sure. Who developed Truecrypt? This seems to be a guarded secrete in itself and only those who need to know, know the names of the developers. This may or may not change in the future. The millions upon millions of downloads attest to the value of the developers work.

Now consider the questions below that will be answered in the next article:

  1. Why were people interested in this product?
  2. Why did some consultants recommend it?
  3. How did some consultants implement it?
  4. Are there viable choices consultants are recommending now?

Be sure to get your answers in the article
“The Truecrypt Encryption Era – Security and Peace of Mind Part 2”

Only at GEEK BRAIN DUMP!

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Technology

WSUS Quick Client Fix for Windows Server Update Services

Perceptive Reeaders, do you remember this from the July 1, 2014 archives.

Here is your scenario:
You are presently on a Windows 2008 Domain… Try again you say?
How about a Windows server 2003 domain? If you say anything earlier, then it is something to reevaluate. As an FYI, Windows Server 2003, like the old Windows XP,  (still feels strange calling Windows XP old), is fast approaching the end of its life cycle date. See the reference date below.
Microsoft Windows Server 2003 R2 Standard Edition (32-bit x86)
Life cycle support Extended in Date July 14, 2015
Either way, back to the issue at hand on a problem you can sometimes run into with (WSUS) Windows Server Update Service clients.
1) You perform an upgrade of Windows XP to Windows Vista.
2) You perform an upgrade of Windows Vista to Windows 7.
3) You perform a system restore on any Windows client operating system.
Sometimes the client system will get a requested software update stuck in the registry that will keep requesting a security, critical, or some other update; after you know it was already installed and no longer needed. If you restart the system about 3 times and it keeps repeating the notification to download and install the persistent update, this next step will save you time on further troubleshooting tips. Hopefully, you will get to the point where a problem of this type will quickly become recognizable for Windows workstations. “Time, to save some time.”
Do the following steps and this will most likely solve your problem.

1) Turn off WSUS service on the workstation
2) Rename “SoftwareDistribution” in the “Windows” directory to OLD
3) Do a GPUPDATE /FORCE command.
4) Restart the workstation and make sure your WSUS service starts again.

  • After the above steps, a new SoftwareDistribution folder will be created with the appropriate settings and it should take care of your problem. For Network Administrators, depending on your network’s group policy software updates scheduled times, you may not receive new updates until then (Like if you schedule for weekend 2 am\pm installs). After it is working, to save you space, delete the OLD SoftwareDistribution folder
    Additional note: Even though this is taking into consideration your system is joined to a domain, you may still will want to create a local WSUS MMC to view WSUS settings to see if you have static old settings that need changing. Save the MMC on your desktop until no longer needed.
    *Additional Note- Just because I drew attention to the Windows 2008 and 2003 domains, this problem can still appear on a client joined to a Windows Server 2012 domain.
Categories
Technology

Twitter Perceptive Readers Technology Video

What have you observed about Twitter? Here is an in-dept consideration of decisions they made as an IPO or public company.

Categories
Technology

SendGrid and Exchange E-mail Administration

From the pocbooks.com archives Aug 14, 2017 SendGrid by Eli and James on Exchange E-mail Administration.

In the link below is a review by Eli the Computer Guy on the benefits of using Send Grid.
Eli tells us within ten minutes why he uses this service for Geek Brain Dump.
SendGrid for SMTP Relay
Since Eli the Computer Guy is “smart on” in the application of technology, I will be applying this piece of advice in the near future to some of my solutions. The video is worth your time to watch it.

Eli the Computer Guy Advice Angle
Viewers of Eli the Computer Guy, appreciate that he addresses the “real business world of technology” from an angle of how quickly he can get you up to speed, and making money to support yourself. So if the world of technology is a maze filled with many rooms, his advice helps you to take the quickest route to the room where you belong. This is why IMHO in times past he has recommended instead of learning C, Java, etc.… He may recommend learning PHP instead. The logic is this. If the determined and self-disciplined person really wants to be up and (making money) running in less than 6 months to a year, then PHP would be a smart move for this time frame in Information Technology history. Eli was providing good advice in this area and others. Always keep in mind, a lot of his advice IMHO is a means to an end. Namely, How quickly you can  accomplish the goal of making a living in the technology field, all the while doing a job you love to do

E-mail Administration by Exchange or Linux
Over the past year, Eli intimated more than once (I’m paraphrasing) ‘Why anyone would still learn how to setup and administer an e-mail server whether it is by Microsoft Exchange server or Linux?’ He brings out the nominal cost to purchase the service without the headache of administering an (viewed as a complex beast by a lot of people) Exchange server. He makes valid observations.
Questions deserve appropriate answers. First, allow me to make clear this is not to disagree with Eli on his assessment in general why people and some businesses would pay for hosted services like e-mail. No, Eli once again, is “smart on” in the practicality of a solution that would fit a large number of people and organizations. (SEE first subheading) This heading is to be a complement in the choice of e-mail administration. Inasmuch, why you may still learn to configure e-mail servers and\or do it yourself.
This section will elaborate further on the very people Eli referenced you would pay to receive services like e-mail from them. The multi-leveled Internet, webhosting, e-mail, and service providing companies still need people who can work for them who are proficient with exchange servers and Linux administration.
Therefore, if you desire to be a systems administrator, security advisor or consultant working with not only local but international businesses, you will find out the following:
A) You can be charged with setting up remote offices (around the world) that in general need interoffice communications and other services that will allow productivity to continue even if persons are cut off from the “cloud”, so to speak; for a period of time.
B) The more you know how things work, the more you can be assured the service is being implemented correctly.
Imagine having a person contact you. He\She feels the SLA (Service Level Agreement) is not being fulfilled from their “cloud service” provider with bandwidth issues, vpn, e-mail and you can probably name more services. But the individual who contacted you is unable to even get past tier 1 of their service provider. Because the customer (he\she) is being blamed for whatever the problem happens to be.
You sympathize with the one that contacts you and express further, “Don’t worry, I will take care of it.” What do you think will be the end result? Once you contact the company, Tier 2 or 3 engineers see it in their best interest to address what is happening on their servers.
Things like the (QOS) Quality of Service rules decided to turn off and\or change ports (yes, even on e-mail servers), along with other services, like VPN(Virtual Private Networks), because of the location of the person, company or business. Has a recipient policy become corrupted somehow? All the while it may look like the servers are humming along. You may even find the upper tier levels are aware of the situation.
Maybe, after their conversation with you, they will make improvements with questions like these:

  • Did anyone think to notify the customer?
  • At the very least, shouldn’t tier 1 have been made aware of the changes?

In the end, thankfully, you are able to help the “cloud service” provider to take a look at early on some things that could have been on the “list of things” to do on the weekend.

C) Again, it boils down to what you desire to do. As a technologist and consultant, you will run into clients who do not like to put all their “eggs into one basket.” In other words, keeping mission critical data for local access. It can be replicated\backed up\imaged to the cloud from there. SIDE NOTE: When it comes to cloud services, I recommend a “hybrid” form instead of the whole business being on the Internet. Even if your high-speed fiber channels go down, you still have access you your local data. Keep this in mind about POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service). When the physical structures\connections are in place, they often have the ability to work (dial tone) when Ethernet\fiber channels are down. Breakout a working 56k modem, from the 19 hundreds, and send plain text emails without attachments. You can research the companies that provide dial-up service. Depending on the applicable scenario, think of it as a contingency plan.

D) There is always a need for experienced individuals who can not only understand these tools, but can teach and implement such tools, if necessary, services that branch out from the spine of the Internet.

Hence, to recap the points. Eli, who has high value to his opinion in the technology field, has provided good advice in this area of using SMTP relay services.

As an informational note, it was shared if you are planning to work in some of these “cloud service” providers or being an enterprise level systems administrator, it is more than helpful to have such knowledge of Linux administration of e-mail and exchange server’s experience.

FYI, Exchange server administrators still make an average salary of 25-40 dollars an hour; or 50k and above a year.

(Humor) Even though most Exchange administrators (Early 2,000) are no longer able to exercise a secondary skill with crossword puzzles at their desk for half a work day until called upon, if this is still something you find of interests, it is helpful to learn the ins and outs by having at the very least a lab environment with an Exchange or Linux e-mail server present. – (Smile) You Exchange administrators. We know you work hard. (You can go back to sleep now)

IHMO-As always, the Internet is ever evolving, these are just points of observation up this point of 2014. You have to decide what works best for your life.

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Technology

Systems Administration Skills and Judgment Calls

From the pocbooks.com archives (October 2014): Systems Administration Skills and Judgment Calls Notebook of IT

The purpose for this series of articles is to help with making good judgments in deciding what software and tools to use on your home and business network.

The situations Systems and Network administrators are encountering today is more complicated than what the general public believes.

“What do you mean? They teach students in school today how to setup a home network.”

Yes, in many schools, the curriculum includes using a computer, connecting to wireless networks and how to download apps. Hmm, well the students have already taught and graduated themselves in how to download apps.

All the same, this is not what I mean by complicated. The search engine definition for complicated is “consisting of many interconnecting parts or elements; intricate.”

There happen to be so many “interconnecting parts” (software) on the internet that the younger generation is viewing everything as safe.

“Hey, turn on this.” “Download that.” “Give access to what? OK, I will.”

The BYOD (Bring\Buy your own devices) can crash a network to a slow crawl or standstill and if you don’t have tools to track it down… let’s just say the network is no longer yours.

Will you face this Scenario?

Back in the days when the command line of choice was called DOS (Disk Operating System) for Windows computers, if you just purchased a 100 to 300 page manual on DOS you could track down and resolve problems on a LAN (Local Area Network). Back then, it was common for bots\hackers to scan websites, much like today, to find vulnerabilities. Once they found an open FTP (File Transfer Protocol) port they would break in and upload\store pirated movies on the server’s hard drives. Oooh wee! Your 100 gig hard drive storage that would take a life time to fill up was now loaded and part of a Darknet type of system.

Oh, the phones would ring off the hook. Why is the website slow? I can’t use the network! I bet your mother no longer wants you over for dinner!

So, you sit back and wonder how you are going to fix this problem? Oh, I forgot to add one more thing. Even though your webserver is hijacked, you don’t know at the time if this is really the problem. You don’t even know that the hard drive is filled up with movies because the hackers created an invisible directory.

What? How can an invisible directory be created and store more than 50 gigs of short movies on it without you knowing it? If the directory was invisible, how did you find it?

All good questions… And it will be shared with you what I, *cough*, I mean how a scenario like this can be solved.

In this “Notebook of IT” series, we will talk about the following topics noted below here at Geek Brain Dump. As I share some of these tidbits with you, it will also help US to remember and make good decisions when it comes to Systems administration. At times, I will make short videos to show you why a tool or choice is valuable. By no means do I know everything, but what I do know is that if you are managing a network, you should know what is going on with the software and traffic. This doesn’t mean you work 24 hours a day. It means, that if a severe threat comes along to your systems; and it will at least once in your IT career, you will have a step-by-step method to lock down your network, solve the problem(s), reestablish a baseline and get back up and running within hours if not less. CAVEAT: If the threat is that severe, you will be happy to resolve it by the COB (Close of Business)

These are some of the topics we will address:

 Firewalls
 Security
 Websites
 Virtualization
 Documentation
Tools
Disaster Recovery
Caution-What to watch out for
Until next week, have a good one; and for others, a cold one.