Updating the Country Field in Active Directory

Wanting to have all users to have the country ‘Australia’ in Active Directory, I thought it would be a simple PowerShell command. Get all the users you want and set a field to ‘Australia’. However, it’s more complicated than that.

As you can see from the above, the Country/region field is a dropdown, where you can select the country. If you look in PowerShell using ‘get-aduser username -properties *’, there’s 4 fields that get populated with this setting:

c : AU
co : Australia
Country : AU
countrycode: 36

Trying to just change one of these fields will result in an error such as:

Set-ADUser : A positional parameter cannot be found that accepts argument ‘Au’.
Set-ADUser : A positional parameter cannot be found that accepts argument ‘Australia’.
Set-ADUser : A value for the attribute was not in the acceptable range of values

The answer is that all fields need to be set at the same time. The C and Country fields are based on ISO 3166 codes, with Australia being AU and 36.

The resulting command would end up being:

set-aduser adam.fowler -Replace @{c="AU";co="Australia";countrycode=36}

Of course this can be done on a boarder scale by using ‘get-user’ with a larger scope, and piping that into the set-aduser command:

get-aduser -filter "company -eq 'Contoso'" | foreach {set-aduser $_ -Replace @{c="AU";co="Australia";countrycode=36}}

That’s all that’s required to change the field.

Hide Edge Button from IE11 Tab

A feature that’s popped up in IE11, is the little Edge icon next to the new tab icon. Not something I’d want in the enterprise space:

Thankfully, it’s easy to disable. There’s a group policy policy called “Hide the button (next to the New Tab button) that opens Microsoft Edge” which can be found in User Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components/Internet Explorer\Internet Settings\Advanced Settings\Browsing\ . 

If you can’t see this policy, make sure you have the latest ADMX files from Microsoft – Windows 10 1703. If you haven’t had much to do with adding ADMX files to your environment before – they should be centralised, and Microsoft have a great guide you can follow.

Bonus tip – If you have internal sites that use a single word (e.g. intranet) you can enable the policy “Go to an intranet site for a one-word entry in the Address bar” which will check for an internal site starting with that name before using the word in your default search engine. This one’s actually an old policy that I hadn’t noticed before!

 

Lenovo Yoga 910 Review

Just over a year ago, I received the Lenovo Yoga 900 laptop to review. Since then, an unfortunate accident occurred when I closed the laptop onto the end of a USB cable, creating a horrible crunching sound and cracking the screen.

Lenovo Australia have come to the rescue and provided me a newer Yoga 910 to review instead! How does it compare to the Yoga 900?

 

The new boxed Lenovo Yoga 910

For starters, here’s the specs with the red options matching what my laptop has:

Processor
• 7th Gen Intel® Core™ i5-7200U Processor (3 MB Cache, 2.5 GHz, 3.1 GHz max)
• 7th Gen Intel Core i7-7500U Processor (4 MB Cache, 2.7 GHz, 3.5 GHz max)

Operating system Windows 10 Home 64-bit Display
13.9″ FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS
• 13.9″ UHD (3840 x 2160) IPS

Graphics
Intel HD Graphics 620 in processor

Memory
8 / 16 GB DDR4 2133MHz

Webcam
Integrated 720p HD Camera

Storage Solid State Drive (SSD), via PCIe NVME:
256GB / 512 GB / 1TB

Dimensions (W x D x H)
323 x 224.5 x 14.3 mm

Weight
Starting at 1.38 kg

Case colour
• Champagne Gold
• Gunmetal Grey
• Platinum Silver

Case material
Aluminium

Battery life
• FHD model: 15.5 hours

Keyboard
Full-size keyboard, backlight, 6-row, multimedia Fn keys

Touchpad
One-piece multi-touch touchpad

Fingerprint reader
Yes, Hello support

Audio
HD audio, 2 x JBL® stereo speaker with Dolby® Audio Premium certification dual array microphone combo audio/microphone jack

Wireless LAN
11ac, 2×2, Wi-Fi + Bluetooth® 4.1

Ports
• 2 x USB 3.0 (1 x Type-C with video-out, 1 x Type-A)
• 1 x USB 2.0 (support DC-in function)
• Combo audio/microphone jack

Specs on the box

The Yoga 910 is another high end consumer laptop, following in the steps of laptops such as the Yoga 900S, 900, 3 Pro and 2 Pro. It feels very solid, and is slightly heavier than the Yoga 900, probably due to the aluminium chassis. Eric Xu did a great writeup comparing the two which is worth reading if you’re deciding which one to get.

Lenovo Yoga 910 Ready to go

While looking incredibly sleek and professional (especially in this gunmetal grey version, which to me is just black), it is a fingerprint magnet. That’s the price you pay to look this nice it seems. Another point that stands out is the bezel around the screen – very thin on all edges apart fro the bottom. At first this looks a little strange, but I quickly got used to it.

I’m happy with the 1920 x 1080 screen resolution this particular laptop has, and the screen quality itself was high with great viewing angles – so don’t feel that you have to go for the 4K res option unless you really want it.

The watch hinges are back again, and they seem even sturdier than previous models. They allow the laptop to bend all the way around (as all Yogas do), and I didn’t experience any screen wobble at all when typing.

Lenovo Yoga 910 Keyboard and Trackpad

The keyboard buttons are nicely laid out, with full size arrow keys. Home and End require the Fn button, but they’re easy to reach. The trackpad itself is quite large, with the single clicky style rather than being a solid no-click style that’s found on most of the X1 series, such as the X1 Yoga. The backlit keys also work well to see in the dark, and the addition of the fingerprint reader combined with Windows Hello allows for a very quick and effortless login.

Test

Lenovo Yoga 910 Right Side

Lenovo Yoga 910 Left Side

As you can see in the above side shots, there’s very few ports. Power is provided by the new standard USB-C which was also on the X1 Tablet, and will probably be standard on all laptops eventually. Beyond that, there’s one USB-C out and one USB 3.0 port. Of course a USB hub will give you more ports if you need it, or you can look into a USB-C dock that will provide a bunch of connection types. Yes, we still call them ‘docks’ even though we don’t dock them anymore.

The battery life is impressive – 15.5 hours. It’s hard to test and keep track of that time to see how accurate it is. Windows 10 thinks there’s still over 10 hours left on 50% remaining, and I’ve been using it sporadically in the last few days next to me.

Performance wise, there is nothing lacking in what you’d expect from this laptop. High end gaming or running several virtual machines isn’t what this laptop (nor most laptops) can do, but it’ll serve most purposes for years.

The Yoga 910 contains some small benefits and improvements over the Yoga 900 – price being equal, the 910 is the laptop to pick. There’s no reason to upgrade from a 900 to a 910 though, and anything older is a decision you’ll need to make for yourself. If you have a laptop that works for you and isn’t slow, then stick with what you have.

JB Hifi’s display on the flagship Dell, HP and Lenovo consumer laptops

If you’re looking to compare similar laptops, Dell and HP have their own offerings. Dell has the XPS 13 while HP has the Spectre x360. As I haven’t used either, I can’t comment on which I think is better, so check them out for yourself.

For myself, the Yoga 910 will be my new main laptop for personal use. It’s powerful, sleek and really nice to use. I can’t really fault anything about it – maybe more USB ports would be nice but I’m generally only going to use one for a USB memory stick occasionally, so that doesn’t bother me.  While on a recent cruise, the laptop was used in tent mode to watch some movies – the long battery life meant I didn’t need to worry about having it plugged in while watching. Warning: If you do go on a cruise, watch out for those towel animals. They get up to a lot of mischief!

EveryCloud Mailflow Monitor – Free!

Update 9th May 2017:

Worth noting that I received a couple of what I’d consider pushy emails from Manage Protect, beware of this if you decide to sign up.

Original Post:

I get a lot of sales emails asking me to blog about a product, which usually I ignore. However, EveryCloud’s email sounded interesting:

EveryCloud has launched a Free Mail Flow Monitor, that checks an 

organisations Email is flowing 24/7 and alerts users to problems.

Current services like this cost around $30 Per Month ($360 Per Year) Per Domain.

Free for Partner and End Users.

This will be the only free service of it’s kind.

You can watch a video here

You can view the full release here.

This is discussion about Free Mail Flow Monitor in Reddit

Free is a good price, but often these deals are too good to be true. I found their FAQ page to hopefully answer what catch there was:

OK, so it’s actually free, and it makes sense why they’re doing this. It’s simple and light, and alerts you if an email doesn’t go in and out of your organisation that’s sent every 5 minutes.

I decided to test this on my personal Office 365 instance. After signing up, you’re given the instructions on what’s required. The main part is to set up a mail address that forwards emails back to them.

Not wanting to use up an Office 365 license, I found a guide on “How To Forward Office 365 Email Address To External Address Without A Mailbox” which is very simple to do, it’s just setting up a mail user contact that goes to an external email address . As the guide points out, you’ll need to wait hours before it works. For me, I had another step to do as I had a catchall on my domain. I added an exception to the catchall rule for the address set up, waited a bit, and it started working. There’s a nice ‘test’ button that will send an email on demand while you wait, and confirm if the round trip works or not.

Once that’s done, you can then access the dashboard.

Beyond the uptime information, you can also create a policy on how to receive alerts when there’s a mail flow problem – email, sms or call.

I’ll keep this running because it’s free and handy to know when your mail flow breaks (even if it’s something out of your control). As with any free service though, it shouldn’t be the only way to rely on finding out if you’ve got an outage; how do you know if the service is working?

Still, it seems to be a clean and well designed solution to a problem that all email admins face, and I can’t see any downside to using this handy service.

 

* Monitor picture source
** This is not a sponsored post, I just liked the product.

Ultimate Guide to Saving Money Online In Australia

This is a bit out of the ordinary for the sort of post I write, but I’ve had a lot of people ask how I get things cheap. There’s a little bit of effort invovled – but not that much, and generally the effort is far less than the money saved.

Here is my ultimate list of methods to purchase goods online, and get the biggest discounts possible. I’ve been using and refining these for many years and saved lots of money compared to walking into a store.

These options aren’t difficult to use, and combining these methods together should help you reduce your overall spend:

  1. OzBargain – A community driven site where users post and vote for bargains and deals discovered.

    Visit this page regularly to keep an eye on deals that pop up. Use the ‘deals’ section rather than the main page, as the main page only shows items with lots of votes. Use the search function when looking for an item to see if there’s any existing deals (use the All Nodes > Type: Deals (No Expired) advanced option to only see active deals). Failing that, check expired deals to see what sort of prices may be possible, or if it’s worth waiting for another future deal to pop up.

  2. Cashback Schemes –  Where retailers pay the site to advertise, and they give the users a portion of that payment.

    CashRewards^ is the one I use, but there’s also Topcashback amongst othersSign up for this, and use the Chrome extension. A certain percentage of purchases you make on supported websites gets credited back to you, which you can transfer back to your bank account when you have enough. You don’t really have to think about it after that – when you go to a website that CashRewards supports (and there’s a LOT of them, including major ones like eBay, Telstra, Virgin, Microsoft, CatchOfTheDay etc) it’ll pop up asking you to activate the cashback. Sites like aliexpress offer 10%, which is a reasonable return and should be considered when trying to find the cheapest price possible for an item, as well as automatic money back for random online shopping.

  3. Lasoo – This site hosts a lot of Australian stores’ catalogues online, which are searchable.

    When looking for an item, go here and search to see if there’s any good deals on it. It’s a quick way to see if a retailer has a good price on an item you’re going to buy.

  4. Rewards Card – A credit card from a financial institution that rewards points for each dollar spent.

    When doing online purchases, you should be earning points of some sort. Points Hack is a good website to see what deals are happening. Find a credit card that doesn’t cost anything to maintain, or the costs are nullified by their benefits (e.g. an American Express^ is one card I have which gets 100,000 points on signup, and up to 2 points per $1 spent. It costs $395 a year, but it also includes a $400 travel voucher a year and a bunch of other benefits – so I end up saving money). Also link up your points earning card to Paypal, so when doing purchases through that you’ll still earn points.

  5. Frequent Flyer Points – Airlines or hotels who have their own points system that can be used to receive discounts or spend on items.

    Those reward cards sometimes convert straight to a Frequent Flyer program, or they might have their own points system where the points can then be sent off to one of several options. Don’t transfer unless you want to spend the points, as often there will be promotions where a bonus is paid when transferring the points ( e.g. 15% extra points from Virgin). If you know you’ll use them later with that company, transfer when there’s a bonus. The points can then be used against airfares or their online stores, and really it’s points you paid nothing for.

  6. Discount Codes and Coupons – Usually a code to enter at the time of purchasing an item to receive extra discount.

    Most websites have a code option, and it’s worth checking to see if one exists when doing an order. Honey^ is another Chrome addin that is community driven, and able to test and apply all known codes automatically when it recognises a website, to see if you can get any discount. There’s also some other sites it’ll give you points for when doing a purchase, which can be redeemed for Amazon credit. Failing that, there’s coupon sites such as RetailMeNot where you can search for the site you’re on to see what codes might be available. I generally do a Google search for the site I’m on like ‘Coles Online Code’ and check the first few results.

  7. Specialty Search Websites – A site that indexes certain types of items to quickly find the cheapest option.

    You may have to go searching for these. For computer parts, I use Static Ice which shows in price order the results from many different stores. For board games, I use Board Game Search. It’s worth noting that you may find cheaper from the other methods above, but it’s an easy way to price check.

  8. Price Matching – Some retailers will offer a price match guarantee which can be worth your time.

    EB Games is a good example here – their normal prices aren’t very good, but they’ll price match with almost any advertised price. If it’s more convenient to go to their store than another, it can save you a bunch of hassle. OfficeWorks is even better as they’ll beat any advertised price by 5%. If you find a great online deal, but Officeworks has the item too, you can easily save another 5%. On big ticket items that can easily be worth the hassle of going into a store.

  9. Gift Cards – Cards that can only be spent at certain stores

    The cards themselves provide no extra value, but often they can be bought for less than their face value. For example, WISH cards which are redeemable at the Woolworths group of stores can be bought for 5% less than their value through a variety of different methods, possibly through a service you already use. 5% off your groceries each week adds up fairly quickly for very little effort.

  10. Entertainment Book – A book full of discounts

    There’s a few of these around, but the Entertainment Book is one of the most popular. Although it costs $70, using it twice when going out for dinner will generally cover the cost of the book. Beyond that, you’re saving money. Meal deals are usually 2 for 1 or 25% off which are reasonable savings. You’ll also get those gift cards at 5% off (e.g. JB Hifi, BWS, Jetstar ) which again can pay for itself very quickly. If you have to fly Jetstar, it’s nice to get a discount.

  11.  Overseas Fees – When making a purchase from overseas, it’s often in a a foreign currency.Credit card companies normally charge an extra fee when purchasing in a different currency than AU. There’s often bargains to be found overseas, which are much cheaper (even after shipping!) than anything you can find locally. For this reason, it’s good to have a credit card that won’t charge you extra to do this. The two favorites are the Bankwest Zero Platinum MasterCard and the 28 Degrees Platinum Mastercard – both have no fees on overseas purchases, and no annual fees. Amazon in different countries often comes through with great pricing, and is worth keeping an eye on.

If you think I’ve missed something or have anything to share, please comment so I can review and update this list. I’ve avoided things that require lots of effort to maintain.

^ These are affiliate links, meaning I get a few $ if you use them. If you don’t want to use those links, go to the site manually – but there’s no negative impact to you for doing so.

Samsung Gear VR Competition

After winning Netwrix’s Sysadmin Blog Award for Tech Tips, the prize of the Samsung Gear VR has turned up today for me in the mail.

I’ve decided to give this away as a prize instead – I have opened it to make sure it wasn’t damaged in transit as the box is a little beaten up, but haven’t used it as I don’t have a Samsung phone :)

Simple and straight forward, use the widget below to enter. Worldwide entry allowed, assuming the local post office will let me send it to you and I’m not breaking any international laws.

If the winner wants to do a review or share a photo of them with the prize, I’d gladly share that on my blog too, but this isn’t a requirement.

I’m also not a supporter competitions that promote spamming, so there’s no entries for sharing this. Good luck!

 


A somewhat beat up box, but the contents are fine!

Samsung Gear VR Competition

Checking CSV Against Active Directory Users

I’ve written before on how to update Active Directory from a CSV. This time, I’ve got a CSV list of users that I want to check are valid users against my Active Directory (AD) environment.

There’s a huge amount of ways this can be done, and this is just one of them. If you have others, or ways to improve this I’m always keen to hear!

This script assumes you have a CSV file with the header (first line) with the word ‘users’. Here’s an example CSV file: myusers.csv

Below is the PowerShell script I wrote. I’ve also written about ‘If’ and ‘Else’ before, so read that if you want some clarification. The user list I have is based on User Principal Name (UPN) rather than just username, so I’m searching AD to see if there’s a match or not.

Import-Module ActiveDirectory

$Data = Import-Csv myusers.csv

foreach ($user in $data){
$upn = $users.user
$check = $(try {get-aduser -filter "userprincipalname -eq '$upn'"} catch {$null})
if ($check -ne $null) { }
else { "$upn Doesn't Exist" }
}

What I’m doing here is setting each line of the CSV as the $UPN variable to search for. Then using the ‘Try‘ function, I’m catching if there is no result/match (null). If there’s a match, it won’t equal null, so display nothing. Else, show the UPN via the $UPN variable and follow that with ‘Doesn’t Exit’.

This way, I will only get results back from each AD search where the UPN in the CSV doesn’t match a user’s UPN in my AD environment – and I get to see what those results are.

This script method can be applied in many different ways of course, but it was the first time I’d used the Try function, and it worked really well.