TechVirtuoso

Get the most out of Evernote

December 8th, 2010 at 2:09 PM  5 Comments

I’m a huge fan of Evernote. It ranks right up there with Gmail in terms of applications I live my life in. When people sit down with it for a while and begin to use it, or have someone explain all the interesting ways it can enhance their productivity, it doesn’t surprise me that they become as hooked to it as I am.

I first became exposed to it when I got an iPhone 3G in 2008. It had existed as a platform a couple years before that and was popular with the Windows Mobile & Tablet PC crowd, but wasn’t really on my radar. At the time, I dismissed it as nothing more than a note taking app for the iPhone. The only reason I started using it was because I wanted something that would sync the notes on my iPhone to another system, since iTunes didn’t do it at the time. Not really something I’d adjust my workflow around.

Sure I’d used it off and on, but it hasn’t been until the last few months that I’ve come to realize all the ways it can be used. It’s more than just a simple mobile app, it exists on nearly every platform and helps sync your documents, notes, images and throughts between computers and between mobile devices. Their cloud keeps all your clients linked together and helps put the data and knowledge you keep in their service ready for use at any time.

I’ve decided to share some of the exciting ways I use (or have seen it used) to make myself more organized, more productive and less scatter brained.

Evernote has begun to replace my normal Windows file system for keeping track of data. Now obviously, when I say everything I don’t mean put your iTunes library in Evernote, or your Adobe Lightroom catalog. No, I’m talking about all your text files, PDFs and screenshots. The stuff that the normal system administrator has scattered all around their hard drives, but would greatly benefit from a centralize repository.

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Two great tools for the low/no budget sysadmin

April 7th, 2010 at 11:30 AM  4 Comments

We all know how in our struggling economy, finding effective tools that help us do our jobs, and not breaking our shrinking budgets, is getting harder and harder. A fellow in Ireland by the name of Dan Cunningham (his website is here, follow him on Twitter here), who just happened to post in post in the comments of our previous articles, has written two very excellent looking tools for the low/no budget systems administrator. Both of these will be going straight into production in my office ASAP.

Dan also has some useful tools for encoding video content on his blog, both of which are worth taking a look at.

Workstation Migration Assistant

wma_mainThe Workstation Migration Assistant is a visual wrapper for Microsoft’s User State Migration Tool, designed to simplify the capture / restore process for your end-users, and at the same time being highly configurable so that it can be customised to suit your organisations needs.

Some of it’s features include:

  • Migrate via a pre-defined network storage location, external USB drive, or user-specified location. USB drive detection is automatic, and you can decide whether drives below a certain size are ignored (ie, memory sticks)
  • Optional Hard Disk Health Check will run a CHKDSK prior to capture and fix errors if any are found
  • Optional Encryption using a pre-defined company encryption key, or per-user customised encryption (for highly sensitive data that can’t be stored on a server without being encrypted)
  • Use different configurations for “XP Only” (XP > XP) migrations via Standard (XP > Vista and Vista > Vista)
  • Automatically run pre and post-capture / restore scripts and programs (very useful to further configure machine settings)
  • Migrate domain only accounts, or domain and local
  • Automatically exclude certain domain or local accounts from the migration
  • Automatically send log files to an e-mail address via SMTP after the migration
  • On-screen status during every stage of the migration, including ETA
  • Option to limit migrations to a certain size, i.e. if over 20GB of data to backup, then fail and inform user. This is also overridable
  • Automatic checks for USMT installation and optional download
  • Command-line automation

It requires .NET Framework 2.0 on both the capture and target machines | Download

Software Compliance Tool

The Software Compliance Tool is a small application designed to reduce the overhead in managing unwanted applications in a business environment. While Windows Vista and Windows 7 have made a lot of headway in easing reduced user rights into the Enterprise, it’s still very common that Local Administrator rights are given to end users. The reasoning for this is usually to work around application compatibility (both external and in-house). However, this introduces the ability for end users to install whatever they want on their computers, including games, peer-to-peer software and security vulnerable applications. It is the company’s responsibility to ensure that copyrights are not infringed, and that their network is secure.

The Software Compliance Tool will try to automatically remove any applications which are contained on your custom-built “blacklisted applications” policy.

Some of the features include:

  • Can automatically remove most Windows Installer (MSI) based installations
  • Uninstall Strings for non MSI-based installs can be supplemented with switches (ie, “/S” for silent)
  • Blacklist allows partial name matches (ie, “Mozilla” will blacklist all Mozilla applications)
  • Blacklist allows version matches (ie, allow all versions greater than v1.6.5, remove all previous versions)
  • Blacklist, but allow exclusions based on Active Directory Users or Groups
  • Blacklist policy is encrypted to prevent tampering or reading by users
  • AD Exclusions list is cached and encrypted, to allow running SCT off-domain
  • Simple SQL logging to allow tracking of policy breaches (and potentially further action for repeated breaches)
  • Extremely fast execution. Can be run from your Active Director login scripts

It requires .NET 3.5 to run, and must be run as a local administrator to successfully uninstall applications. | Download