Hi, I’m Mike and this is how I work

Where are you located?

Located in North New Jersey. Born and raised!

What is/are your current gig (s)?

Currently, I’m a DevOps Engineer. I also do public speaking at Microsoft meet-ups, write a tech blog, and formerly did a podcast called The rollback. My newest is being an E-Trainer on Techsnips 🙂

What’s one word to describe your work?

Ever-changing. In the world of DevOps and being agile, the ability to change direction quickly is necessary. 

What apps, software, or tools can’t you live without?

  • Google Keep – I take notes and set reminders for myself.
  • Podcast app on iOS – I love listening to podcasts on my way to work.
  • Chrome – Even though it eats all of my RAM, my bookmarks are life!
  • OneNote – Keeping notes for things like new blogs, new things I learn, and topics to cover, etc.
  • Visual Studio Code – VSCode has become my go-to editor. With all of the extensions, it’s a no-brainer.
  • PowerShell ISE – I personally like testing my code in ISE. It feels cleaner to me for testing purposes.
  • Windows Terminal – I now work in a Microsoft environment after coming from a Linux environment. I missed my terminal on my Mac SO much. The ability to open new tabs, change between servers, and not have to worry about a GUI. With Windows Terminal, it brings comfort for Linux folks to Windows.
  • Slack – Slack has become a way that I not only keep in touch with co-workers whenever, wherever, but a way to keep in-touch with my friends as well. 
  • 1Password – One-stop shop to store passwords. After LastPass had a security breach a few years back, I switched over to 1Password and never looked back.
  • Amazon Kindle – To read all of the tech books that I buy on Amazon on-the-go
  • Docker Desktop – I use Docker a lot for work and personal projects. The ability to spin up containers for testing purposes on Windows is far more efficient than needing a Linux VM.
  • Azure DevOps – One stop shop for my Kanban board, CI/CD, Wiki, etc.

What does your workspace look like?

My desktop is a custom-built rig. 8th gen I7, 16GB of RAM, 500GB SSD, 1TB WD Black edition for storage, and an RTX 2080 (I’m a PC gamer). My laptop to the left is a Dell XPS. 7th gen I7, 32GB of RAM, and a GTX 1050Ti. I love it for traveling. Below my desk is a Dell T450 Tower Server. I run ESXi 6.7 on it.

What’s a typical workweek look like?

It honestly all depends. My company is global, so sometimes I have meetings late in the evening and work during the day. Typically I’m in the office by 8:30 and out between 5:10-5:20 and work on things at night. I have 2 and a half-year-old son, so I try my best to keep a work/life balance while keeping in mind that I work hard so he has the best life possible. 

What do you like the best about your role?

I like that DevOps is really hot right now. A lot of the new tooling that comes out always has a DevOps mindset. I’m a firm believer that DevOps isn’t a role, but a philosophy you practice. I really enjoying the tooling that comes with practicing DevOps.

What’s something about you that no one knows about?

I’m very into my hair and styling. Blow-dry, comb, gel. It has to be perfect 🙂

What do you listen to while you work?

Typically house music.

What do you wish you could change about your work?

Nothing at the moment. No job is perfect, so I just roll with it.

Is there anything else you’d like to add that might be interesting to readers?

First and foremost, thank you for taking the time to improve your tech chops and take your knowledge to the next level. Not everyone has it in them to do that, so know right off the bat that you stand out. Work hard but always ensure you make time for family and friends. 

Hi, I’m Gregor and This is How I Work

Where are you located?

Glasgow, Scotland, where the sun always shines 🙂

What is/are your current gig (s)?

Head of Development Services for Sword IT in the UK

What’s one word to describe your work?

Cloudy

What apps, software, or tools can’t you live without?

  • Spotify – I love to listen to some music when the office gets busy, Trance tunes keep me going all day
  • ReSharper – I’ve always loved ReSharper and it’s just a given for me these days
  • Postman – When testing out API’s I use Postman and would recommend it if you’re not using it
  • Fiddler – I always like to see what’s going on and Fiddler is amazing at what it does
  • Azure DevOps – I use this daily for all of our projects and I think it’s awesome.

What does your workspace look like?

My workspace is seriously in need of a revamp, I have an old computer desk, laptop, 2 vga monitors (yes vga), a very old desktop which hasn’t been on for some time and a microphone for recording TechSnips videos.

What’s a typical workweek look like?

I work on different customer projects each week and help my team if they get stuck or just need another pair of eyes or hands or to lend a hand.

What do you like the best about your role?

Managing a team of people all over the UK, it’s my first job managing people and its been great!

What’s something about you that no one knows about?

I was one of the first 50 developers in the World to pass the first Microsoft .NET exams and received a signed copy of Visual Studio from Bill Gates.

What do you listen to while you work?

I listen to various playlists I have on Spotify mostly 90’s Trance Music, I still listen to a State of Trance radio shows.

What do you wish you could change about your work?

I wish I had more hands-on time working with Azure, I spend a fair bit of time on Azure development but I would love to do it full time.

Is there anything else you’d like to add that might be interesting to readers?

I blog at http://gregorsuttie.com, Twitter is @gregor_suttie and I’m trying to spend more time blogging after recovering from blasting through the Azure exams, on that note if I can help with the Azure exams please do let me know. I also play golf twice a week and will be attending Ignite in Florida in November 2019

Hi, I’m Matt and This is How I Work

Where are you located?

Bristol in the UK

What are your current gigs?

I am a contractor and my current title is something like ‘Infrastructure Consultant’. Basically, I do on-prem and cloud(Azure) sys-admin and automation stuff. And, of course, I am a TechSnips Contributor 😉

What’s one word to describe your work?

Multi-Threaded

What apps, software, or tools can’t you live without?-

  • VSCode – I spend a lot of time writing PowerShell code. I started out on ISE but I’ve become addicted to VSCode in the last few years.
  • OneNote and Google Keep – I tend to dump notes into both of these as much as I can. It looks very disorganized, but I use it as a notepad so there are a lot of random words and IP addresses etc in there, and I know what they mean most of the time. I am using hashtags more and more as a simple way to organize my random notes.
  • PocketCasts – I listen to a lot of PodCast on my commute, and this is the app that I have settled on. It’s not perfect, but it does the job and supports speed ramping which helps me consume stuff quickly.
  • Pocket (on Android) – I LOVE Pocket! If you don’t know already it’s a pretty simple app that saves text web pages (ie blog posts etc) with all the formatting stripped out leaving just the text to read. It’s a great way to save blog posts so that you can read them when waiting for a train etc. The killer feature is the “Listen” button that will read the saved pages out to you. This is the first thing I do when I get in the car, ie just hit the button and it will read everything to me while I drive to work. Google Assistant – I am spending more and more time talking to my phone and house!

What does your workspace look like?

At home, I have a simple desk against a wall in a spare bedroom, which has become my office. I have a single ultra-wide monitor (it’s like having two monitors) with the laptop alongside to give another screen. It’s all connected to a USB DisplayLink docking station. It’s a pretty simple setup which works for me and having it against the wall means I can’t see anything that will distract me.

For recording TechSnips stuff, I have lined our airing cupboard (that’s no longer used) with sound insulating foam. I got a bit obsessed with this when I first started recording and probably went a bit far, but at least there is no echo in my recordings now 🙂

What’s a typical workweek look like?

My current job means I have to be in the office Monday to Friday. The office is all hot desks, so the situation isn’t that different from my home desk, just with a lot more distractions. I do a mix of support and project work so each day is different, which I like. Basically, I fix/create/design whatever my customer throws at me.

What do you like the best about your role?

Nothing is the same from day to day, and I work with some really smart people. Ok, there’s always something that doesn’t change, but generally, IT is always changing and I love that. With the advent of ‘cloud’, the pace of change just seems to be increasing. It can be a bit much to keep up with, but I love discovering new shiny ways to solve problems.

What’s something about you that no one knows about?

I used to keep bees until I got stung on the eyelid and had a big reaction that could have killed me. I don’t keep Bees any more!

What do you listen to while you work?

This is something I’ve spent a great deal of time experimenting with (honestly I could write a whole blog post on this). I get distracted by background voices and my mind wonders easily. I’ve found that music really helps to block things out and keep me on target, so I try to listen to music that has no lyrics and isn’t too lively (unless I need some screaming music to wake me up).

These are some of the things I have found:

  • There are some great Lo-Fi Hip Hop channels on YouTube (Example: ChilledCow ‘https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSJ4gkVC6NrvII8umztf0Ow’). These are a great continuous flow of music that doesn’t distract too much.
  • I use an App called Coffitivity (https://coffitivity.com/) which plays background sounds like you are in a Cafe. It’s a bit difficult to describe but it’s just like sitting in a Starbucks with all the background burble but you can’t really hear anything of what people are saying. It’s a bit odd but it really seems to work for me. There are loads of other apps that do this and lots of playlist on YouTube as well.
  • Music with no Lyrics works well. ‘Explosions in the Sky’ is one I keep going back to, but sometimes it can be a bit too noisy for full-on concentration.

What do you wish you could change about your work?

I never have enough time to try all the things I want to try out. There is always a burning issue or a deadline to hit when you have found a new method that you want to try out, or a new service in Azure (there seems to be a new one every week). I’d love to just play with the new/shiny all the time but sometimes you’ve got to actually do some work.

Hi, I’m Ahmed and This is How I Work

Our contributors are hard at working building snips and courses for our training partners but surprisingly enough they already have a life outside of TechSnips!

To bring to light our contributors are real human beings, we’re putting on a blog post series entitled How I Work where we get a glimpse into the humans behind the TechSnips contributor.

Today, it’s Ahmed-Al Fakharany’s turn.

Where are you located?

Cairo, Egypt

What is your current gig?

Senior DevOps and Cloud engineer

What is one word to describe your work?

Illuminating

What apps, software, or tools can’t you live without?

Slack, Firefox, Docker, Sublime Text, Terminal

What does your workspace look like?

What does a typical work week look like?

Currently, I work 7 days a week, about 12 hours a day. I’m planning to lower the bar a little in the coming weeks.

What do you like best about your role?

I help people do what they want to do.

What’s something about you no one knows about?

Dogs scare the s**t out of me. I always act like I don’t like them but the truth is: I panic on the first sight of a loose hound!

What do you listen to while you work?

I listen to lots of artists when working (but of course not when recording! My favorite singers: Maroon 5, Ed Sheeran, P!nk, Clean Bandit, among others.

Is there anything else you would like to add that might be interesting to readers?

I wish I could do more time management.

The AWS CDK using C#

If you want to automate the provisioning of your infrastructure in AWS you would use CloudFormation. You can code some or even all your infrastructure with the use of the CloudFormation template language, which is written in YAML or JSON. JSON and more so YAML are very human-readable, providing a way to document your Infrastructure as well.

The disadvantage of JSON and YAML is that it lacks the abstraction and reuse of a general-purpose languages, such as C#, GO, PowerShell and such like. Many times, a few lines of code in one of these languages can much more in JSON or YAML!

Amazon have seemed to notice this, and with the emergence of Pulumi, have developed the AWS Cloud Development Kit (CDK). The advantage to the CDK for AWS customers is that it’s an open source project, so no further cost.

The AWS Cloud Development Kit (CDK) is a software framework allowing you to use a general-purpose language to write code which is then provisioned through CloudFormation. As of the release of version 0.33.0, you can use five different general-purpose languages in the CDK. They are TypeScript, JavaScript, Java, Python and the one I’ll be demoing, C#.

I won’t be going into details on how to get started with setting up your environment to use the CDK with the language of your choice as AWS do a pretty good job themselves, which is detailed here, https://docs.aws.amazon.com/cdk/latest/guide/getting_started.html.

I’m going to talk through creating an app, initializing, compiling and deploying. The App I will be demoing will create an S3 bucket, which will be versioned, named and encrypted. Also, I’ll be adding a life cycle rule to expire any content within 30 days.

There are three parts to consider when using the CDK, they are Constructs, Stacks and Apps.

Everything in the AWS CDK is a construct. A Construct is an AWS cloud component which we will use to create something, in this case an S3 bucket. The stack is your root construct. It will contain the constructs you have used to define your AWS environment. The main artifact of the CDK is the App, which is the wrapper to deploy your stack or stacks.

Getting started requires you to create a new folder and initialize empty Git repository. Once done, create the app by using the AWS Cloud Development Kit command line calling the command ‘cdk init –language csharp‘. The AWS CDK details these steps, which can be read here, https://docs.aws.amazon.com/cdk/latest/guide/getting_started.html. The main two files I will be working with is of course the program.cs and our own stack cs file. Compiling the app is done with .NET core’s dotnet command line. Worth pointing out as well, this demo is performed using .NET Core 3 Preview 5.

Before defining the Program.cs file, lets create our stack. I’m going to show the completed MyStack.cs file and break down the main areas.

  1. The C# using directive is adding the namespace required to make use of the required constructs to build your environment. The AWS CDK has many namespaces available and are detailed here, https://docs.aws.amazon.com/cdk/api/latest/dotnet/api/index.html.
    To add a namespace, the dotnet command line is used. This is done like so, dotnet add package amazon.CDK.AWS.S3
  2. Creating your own stack is done by inheriting the Stack class. In this example I’ve created the derived class called MyStack.
  3. The stack constructor signature we have inherited with our derived class, MyStack, has three main parameters, which you will notice on all constructs (these are populated when we initialize our MyStack class, which we will come to):
    1. scope – Parent of this stack, usually a Program instance.
    2. name – The name of the CloudFormation stack.
    3. props – Stack properties
  4. Bucket is also a construct which is a part of the amazon.cdk.aws.s3 namespace. The bucket construct is a childof the stack. ‘MyFirstBucket’ is an id of the bucket construct. The bucket props class (BucketProps) gives us the option to name the bucket (line 17). For this bucket I’ve enabled versioning and encryption.
  5. Declaration of a Life cycle rule happens on line 21, in which the properties of Id (naming of the rule) and ExpirationInDays are defined.
  6. The method on the bucket class, AddLifecycleRule, is called to add our life cycle rule previously created in step 5.

Now that we have MyStack.cs file, we can setup the program.cs. Here is how it’s done:

  1. A new object is created from the App class. This line of code already exists when creating a new project with the cdk init command.This is a representation of a CDK program.
  2. We are now using the MyStack class we wrote to create our bucket. The StackProps class is used to allow us to define the AWS account Id and the region where the bucket will be created. By making use of the StackProps class in this way by setting up a new environment allows us to create buckets across multiple accounts and regions.
  3. Lastly, the run method is called to invoke the process of building our bucket.

To pull all of this together we are required to build the project and all of its dependencies. This is done by running the dotnet build command from the directory of our Csharp files, program.cs and MyStack.cs:

We now have a Build succeeded, so let’s deploy our app!

Running from the root folder, run the cdk deploy command:

The above screen gives us the details on the deployment and the steps. Notice that as well as the bucket being created, we have a CloudFormation stack also created.

Checking from within the console, I can see that our work was successful:

The two arrows are pointing at the bucket name and the custom Lifecycle rule we attached.

Viewing the CloudFormation template that our code created can be done through the CDK command line by typing in cdk synth:

I hope this article has shown the great potential in the AWS CDK. The documentation by AWS has greatly improved, with the CDK reference the standout. There is so much more you can do with the CDK, even down to creating your own constructs. So, take a look and get building!

Should you wish to try out this demo yourself, the code shown s up on my GitHub account.

https://github.com/Graham-Beer/AWS_CDK_S3Bucket

Hi, I’m Dave and This is How I Work

Our contributors are hard at working building snips and courses for our training partners but surprisingly enough they already have a life outside of TechSnips!

To bring to light our contributors are real human beings, we’re putting on a blog post series entitled How I Work where we get a glimpse into the humans behind the TechSnips contributor.

Today, it’s Dave’s Pinkawa’s turn.

Where are you located?

Currently in a suburb of Chicago called Crystal Lake, IL.

What are your current gigs?

Full-time Systems Administrator
I also teach CompTIA courses at a local community college once a week (12-week classes, up to 3 times per year)
TechSnips Contributor

What’s one word to describe your work?

Ever-changing (Technically two words? Oh well!)

What apps, software, or tools can’t you live without?

OneNote – Miscellaneous note taking, very organizable, and easy to store in any cloud storage provider (OneDrive / Google Drive, etc)
Google Calendar – Life is crazy, but made so much easier with shared calendars even in my personal life.
ToDoist – Where the calendar helps keep my brain organized long-term, ToDoist is treated like my bullet journal for the coming next 7 days. The nicest part for me is re-occurring events, like reminders for workout days, garbage pickup, etc that can be set.
PowerShell – My go-to for just about everything work-wise if I can help it. I attribute much of my career growth to taking on this language.

What does your workspace look like?

At home, I have an office space carved out for myself just off of the family room.
2 monitors, gaming PC, and a shelf stuffed with IT related books I’ve accumulated over the years.

What’s a typical workweek look like?

Lately, it’s been Mondays and Fridays working from home, with Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday in the office.
On nights/weeks that I have class, I typically work from the office because it’s closer to campus (even if it’s on a Monday)

What do you like the best about your role?

The challenge of proper prioritization. Every day there is a new task at hand, and by some stroke of luck, I can context-switch my brain very efficiently.

What’s something about you that no one knows about?

I’m a certified scuba diver, that will probably never scuba dive again!
Having passed my final dive test with my class, all of whom were fine, I experienced decompression sickness!

What do you listen to while you work?

Soundcloud / Amazon Music have been my go-to for a while, listening to podcasts of various DJs or sets of their music from festivals.
When I listen to music while working, it can’t have lyrics otherwise it’s distracting for me.
Artists I’ve liked for this lately: Nora En Pure, Eric Prydz, Above & Beyond

What do you wish you could change about your work?

While I get to partake in creating scripted solutions for problems, oftentimes my day is spent discussing problems and how to solve them instead of being hands-on in the console. My current goal is to up the ratio of time spent scripting vs. time spent answering emails, etc.

Is there anything else you’d like to add that might be interesting to readers?

The PowerShell Summit was an amazing and eye-opening experience, which has been great to share with co-workers and other community members about the learnings there.

Don’t Forget that Some People Can’t See Colors

Did you know that estimates say that up to 8 percent of males (and .5 percent of females) have issues seeing some colors?  Nobody is sure why, but many of us are affected by this problem. I was almost thirty before I realized that when people said something like “he’s turning red with embarrassment,” they were being literal. I had always thought it was just an odd saying. It’s surprising how many minor, day-to-day, things are based on colors.
  • What color hair does she have?
  • What color was that car?
  • Is the grass green or turning brown?
  • Is that steak rare or medium?
And then there are some larger issues to deal with.
When I first learned to drive I had to teach myself that the middle light meant slow down, top meant stop, and bottom meant go. While the colors of the lights don’t all look quite the same to me (which allows me to compare them to each other) none of them look like the colors people tell me they are. To me, the bottom light is an off white, and the other two are different shades of red. When it comes to those single, flashing lights, I have nothing to compare to so have no idea what they are. I always assume they are red, just to be safe.

When I was nineteen I joined the Navy and was interested in the nuclear program. During my physical they did a vision test which included some color testing.
Can you see anything here? I can’t.
After miserably failing that, they informed me that they didn’t want me anywhere near something nuclear if I might connect (or cut) the wrong wires.

A few years after that I started a PC repair shop and consulting company to help home users and small business owners. One of my reasons for doing this was because I could build custom PCs and sell them for quite a bit less than the big brands of the time. While building a PC is pretty straight forward, back then there were many wires that weren’t labelled so I frequently ran into color coded diagrams.

I never caused a fire, but I did wire things incorrectly more than once.
When DSL started to appear in my town I was able to get a contract with one of the larger ISPs to install and configure DSL modems. They aren’t hard to set up, but they caused me some embarrassment. Once connected, they check for DSL signal on the phone line and a light blinks to let you know the status.
Error codes were not a pattern of blinks (which would have been great) but were color coded. Consider how awkward it is to call your client over, point to the little blinking light, and ask what color it is. I eventually learned to say that I needed another pair of eyes and would intently stare at the monitor while having them tell me the LED color.

In today’s tech world the issues are different, but still there. My cell phone has an LED that flashes for alerts. It can flash different colors for different things, but they all look pretty much the same to me. I’ve run into many games over the years where the character colors all look the same. Some web sites use link colors that (to me) look identical to the regular text so I have no idea there’s a link to click on. If you are in IT and design anything for others to use, please keep us color disadvantaged folks in mind. Make your error codes show a number or blink in a pattern, not just depend on a changing color. If you have to use color-coded wires, please label them too. Making a web site or game? Offer a black and white or ‘color blind friendly’ version, too. We may be a minority, but there are millions of us. Making millions of people happy with your product certainly can’t hurt.

How to Remove Built-in Windows 10 Apps

Windows 10 includes a number of built-in apps ranging from basic apps like Calculator and Weather to more task-focused apps like Mail and Photos. While these built-in apps are fine for most situations, in a business environment, they may be inappropriate, redundant or unsupported. Very often, these apps are my pose a security risk.  The problem is that Microsoft doesn’t make it easy to uninstall some of these apps. There is no uninstall button when uninstalling using normal methods. The built-in apps must be uninstalled through PowerShell. Before we get started, I do not recommend uninstalling all the packages. Many of them are needed for the Windows 10 “Experience” and others, like the .NET framework, are needed for other programs. Be picky about which applications to uninstall. You can reinstall all the applications and I will have a PowerShell command to just that at the end of this article

Different sets of packages

There are actually two different kinds of applications that we will be working with.
  • AppXPackages – Applications installed with the operating system
  • AppXProvisionedPackages – Applications installed as part of the user profile first time set up.
The first step is to get an inventory of the applications that are installed. To do that start PowerShell with elevated privileges. For the AppxPackages we can enter the command Get-AppxPackage.
The provisioned packages have a slightly different command and also need the -Online parameter. The -Online parameter denotes that we want a list from the current online operating system as opposed to an image file located in a local directory. This will present a list of all the details regarding each package. This is a rather verbose listing and all I am interested in is the Nameof the package for the AppxPackages and the DisplayName for the provisoned packages.
Details of get-appxpackage listing
Listing for get-appxprovisionedpackage
To make things a little easier, let’s pipe the results through Select-Object and select the Name and the DisplayName properties. This will give us a list like the one below. This list is easier to work with. Now we can easily copy and paste the applications were are interested in.
Output of get-appxpackage | select object name

One trick that I use is to save the results to a text file and then open that file in Visual Studio Code. For example: Now that we have our list, we can start building our script. Selecting the applications from the list that you want to be uninstalled, build a simple array and populate the names of the applications into the array as seen below. I have given my array a variable called $ProvisionedAppPackageNames.
With my array populated with the specific applications I want to be removed, we can now set up the for loop to step through each package to uninstall.
If for any reason you want to reinstall all applications, type in the following command in an elevated PowerShell console

How to Whitelist Programs using Software Restriction Policies

If you have end users (and who doesn’t?) you should be worried about what they might try to run or install on their computer. Some people just don’t pay attention, clicking on any box that may appear.

Others simply think they can do whatever they want on their work machine.

But, for the most part, people simply don’t understand that an innocent appearing pop up may actually be something that they don’t want.

Antivirus software can help, but we all know it’s far from foolproof.  Another great idea is to make sure your users are not local administrators.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop them from installing all programs, just those that go into protected areas like the Program Files folder.  Anything that installs under a profile, like most browsers (and most crypto infections) can install with only user-level access. So what’s an admin to do? Whitelist!

Whitelisting is a process where you select a list of programs and allow only those programs to run.  If a user tries to run (or install) anything not on the list, it will fail with an error similar to this:

 

There are many third party programs out there that can implement whitelisting, but Windows Server already has this ability built in.  If you are using Pro versions of Windows on your Desktops you can use Software Restriction Policies (SRP).  If you are using Enterprise versions you can use the more full-featured Applocker, but most small businesses will find SRP is more than enough.

Software Restriction Policies are configured via Group Policy, and work just like any other GPO.  You can configure it as a User or a Computer GPO and then apply it however you like.  You can even set up SRP via Local Policy on machines that are not on a domain.

SRP offers several ways to add programs to the whitelist.

  • By path.  This is the broadest method, allowing you to add entire folders. This is the method used to add the default items, like the Windows folder.  This should only be done with paths that you trust and that cannot be written to by your Users.  If your user has write access, the path isn’t safe because the User could put anything in there.
  • Programs by filename. This allows you to specify a particular location (like c:\MyProgram) and only allow a certain filename to run from it.  This is a little more restrictive than allowing an entire folder, but if the User can write to this location there is the chance that they might delete the real program and replace it with something of their own.  For less tech-savvy users, though, this isn’t very likely to happen.
  • Network Zones. This allows programs if they come from a trusted site, like your local Intranet. While this option exists, it seems unlikely that any SMBs would ever use it.
  • Hash rules. With this option, SRP will create a hash of the file you want to allow and then it will be allowed to run no matter what folder it happens to be in.  This is considerably more secure than a path rule because only this exact file will be allowed.  If you ever need to update the file, you’ll need a new rule to create a new hash.
  • Certificate rules. These are probably the most secure type, because they are based on a certificate from the manufacturer.  Because of this, they require more work from the PC and can slow down processing.  Each time you run a program with a Certificate Rule applied it has to check in with the Server to see if the Certificate is valid and if it’s expired or not.  When the certificate does expire, you’ll need to create a new rule.

While it sounds somewhat intimidating, getting SRP up and running really isn’t that bad.  I’ve created a snip on the basic setup here:

https://techsnips.io/snips/how-to-create-a-basic-software-restriction-policy-srp-via-gpo/

And the NSA has a handy (somewhat outdated) PDF here:

https://apps.nsa.gov/iaarchive/library/reports/application-whitelisting-using-srp.cfm

As long as you remember to test your settings on a small group before deploying to the entire network, you’ll find SRP to be fairly painless.  Whether you decide to use SRP, Applocker, or another option, with whitelisting your network will be safer than ever before.

 

TechSnips is Now a Community Platform

When I started TechSnips just eight months ago, I had originally intended to recruit contributors, help them get their short videos on techsnips.io and sell subscriptions. This didn’t turn out like I had originally intended at all. Time to pivot!

We’re now no longer just snips, but we now have a snip and a growing course program that I’m really excited about. Unlike snips, our course program is helping us grow financially which allows me to make this announcement.

Relaxing the Snip Contract

For many years, I’ve been heavily involved with a technical community; the Microsoft community to be specific. I’ve been a Microsoft MVP for five years now and have thoroughly enjoyed both getting to know other people and more importantly helping so many professionals in the careers.

With that being said, as of yesterday, when a new TechSnips contributor joined us, they were required to sign a contract stating that they were not allowed to host their snips on any other platform. They were allowed to link to their videos but under no circumstances were they allowed to take the actual edited video that’s hosted on techsnips.io and make copies of it.

This contract was based on our old business model and was already outdated. That era is over.

As of today, I’m announcing that all TechSnips contributors are free to do with their snips whatever they please. Every TechSnips contributor now is granted a non-exclusive, perpetual license on every snip they produce through our publishing platform granting them to use their snips wherever and however they want granted they don’t modify the video.

Also, to prevent any conflicts with moonlighting policies, all contributors have the right to not get paid by TechSnips making techsnips.io a true, community platform helping technology professionals without letting money/tax issues get in the way.

All contributors now are able to get their videos professionally edited, hosted on techsnips.io, promoted for free and get the ability to take their final snip and share it with their community!

I hope this shift to make our snip format and platform completely free and accessible to everyone continues to encourage greater community involvement and to give everyone a chance to help others in their own technical community!

-Adam