My Favorite Things: 2017

My Favorite Tech Web Sites / Tools

My Favorite Tech Web Sites / Blogs

My Favorite Tech Web Sites / References

My Favorite Podcasts (iTunes, Google Play, PodCast Addict, etc.)

  • Freakonomics Radio
  • NPR Fresh Air
  • Malcolm Gladwell – Revisionist History
  • The Joe Rogan Experience
  • Invisibilia
  • 60 Minutes
  • The Tim Ferriss Show
  • Planet Money
  • Star Talk with Neil deGrasse Tyson

My Favorite Wife

  • My first and only wife: Kathy

My Favorite Children

  • Our four: Rachel, Sarah, Gabrielle and Zachary

My Favorite Cat

  • Oreo (our only cat)

My Favorite Dog

  • Dory and Emily (tied for first place)

My Favorite Drinks

  • Coffee
  • The Glenlivet
  • The Glenfiddich
  • A good Root Beer Float
  • Water

My Favorite Musicians / Bands (new to me only)

My Favorite Laptops

  • HP Elitebook 9470m Folio

My Favorite Pet Supply

My Favorite Tools

  • Snap-On
  • DeWalt

My Favorite Beers

  • Sam Adams Utopia
  • Dogfish Head 120, Palo Santo Maron, and Three Philosophers
  • St. Bernardus Abt. 12

My Favorite Wines

  • Merlot
  • Malbec
  • Pinot Noir
  • Tempranillo

This is a very VERY short list.  I could add much more.


Interview – 5 Places You Could Get Lost Within and Not Mind at All

This time the question was: “Name (up to) 5 places you could easily get lost within for hours, and not mind at all.

Amy Casto @AdaptivaAmi

  1. Anywhere there are horses
  2. BÃ¥stad Sweden
  3. Antelope Island near Salt Lake City, UT
  4. Iceland
  5. Gulf of Mexico

Niall Brady @ncbrady

  1. Kitwe, Zambia. Because I grew up there as a child.
  2. Victoria Falls, Zambia. Because it is the most amazing place you will ever visit or see.
  3. Kariba dam and Kariba dam lake. Amazing place to be.
  4. Diarmuid and Grainne cave in Sligo, Ireland. Wow, what a view, both outside and inside (pot-holing).
  5. Ben-Bulben Sligo. A mountain with many different faces.

Julie Andreacola @jandreacola

  1. Any big research library
  2. a County Fair
  3. Reddit
  4. Forest Service roads in the mountains in my Jeep
  5. New York City. Hmm, that’s a pretty eclectic mix.

Jon Szewczack @VBJV

  1. Any hiking trail.
  2. A beach
  3. When I was younger: a Suncoast Video store.
  4. Detroit auto show – I have never been there but I can imagine that it would be just a sublimely blissful way to spend a day.
  5. In water boat show in Miami. The sheer extravagance on display is mind-numbingly weird in a very pleasant way.

Maurice Daly @modal_it

  1. Microsoft HQ
  2. Porsche Factory
  3. Lamborghini Factory
  4. Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory
  5. Corona Bottling Plant

Nicke Kallen @znackattack

  1. Diving any place with good visibility. Being under water and breathing while there is exhilarating.
  2. A good book. Kicking off a journey to an imaginary place or time is a way to checkout from reality.
  3. A rabbits hole. Like wikipedia, or that issue that spawns new findings all the time.

Me @skatterbrainzz

  1. Fry’s
  2. Twitter
  3. Nature and Hiking Trails
  4. New York City
  5. Abandoned structures

An American IT Pro Guide to Microsoft Experts

You’re an American. You love country/rap/pop/ranchero music.  You probably spent your first $300 on a Celtic armband tattoo, just like your friends have. You drive the same Dodge Challenger/Ford Mustang/Chevy Camaro/Toyota Camry/Nissan Sentra/Honda Civic, as everyone else. You ride your Harley with a standard-issue Nazi war helmet and the traditional black leather chaps and vest, with fingerless gloves. You drink serious beers like Bud, Miller and Michelob. You use sophisticated phrases in casual conversation, like “F-ing A, bud!”, “butt hurt”, “snowflake”, “libtard”, “gender agnostic”, and “Trumper”.  When someone doesn’t understand your English question, you just yell it louder and it has to work.

You post every thought on Facebook as an animated GIF storyboard, that takes ten full minutes to read through.  And you make sure to insist your friends repost it after clicking Like.  You make sure to support the local natural resources, like the striped roadside crumpled fast food bag, the spotted beer can, and the nearly-extinct albino cigarette butt.  You’ve spent days perfecting social media jargon, memes and hash tags, to be just like everyone else.  After all, nothing says “American” like being uniquely unique, just like every other American.

But when it comes to IT professionals, how do you pick out the ones who truly know what they’re doing? It can be confusing, and may require additional amounts of 5 hour Energy Drink just to make sense of it all.

Fear not. Here’s a top 5 list of qualifications to help you quickly determine who really knows what they’re doing when it comes to fixing your broken Microsoft products and services.  After all, everyone know you didn’t break them.  They just stopped working properly after you tried using them without any training, right?

1 – They have a Swedish accent

This is particularly important when explaining how Microsoft products and technologies work.  If you run into trouble, just watch this video a few dozen times.  If you say “Have you been to kackerkacka?” and they respond with “Oh yes, but it’s been a while.“, they might be an impostor.  Be careful not to sound like this guy, since he’s supposed to be German.

2 – They live in Sweden

Their business card has a real, honest-to-God postal address in Sweden.  Sorry, but Norway, Denmark, The Netherlands, and Finland don’t count, but don’t be offended, as it’s only 2017 and there’s plenty of time to steal the trophy.  And don’t even think about considering Stockholm, Wisconsin.

3 – They can explain what Swedish food names actually mean

You become exhausted pointing at random menu items and not being able to stump their ability to explain what the dish is made of.

4 – They’ve actually been to Sweden

They can give relative directions from major landmarks (e.g. “Eeees Nort vest oof Shtock-hoooom. Eeees vay-vay nice!“)

5 – Many of their colleagues, family and friends have names like Sven, Johan, Viktor, Maja, or Elsa

If their parents are Bob and Suzy, you might ask for a birth certificate as evidence.  If they refuse, request a DNA sample.


That’s it. Once you’ve mastered these five (5) complex skill sets, you’re ready to lock horns with any consultant or job applicant that comes your way.

Good luck!

PS – The above is purely for humor purposes only.  Any offense is not intended nor condoned.

Interview – Cris Weber


Your Name: Cris Weber  @cweberits

Official Job Title: Development Architect

Functional role: Consulting / Internal Product Development

Home town: Grand Rapids, MI

1. Describe what you do for a living – to someone who has no idea what it means.

I lead a team of developers to make our consultants and our managed services more efficient by automating everything I can.

2. What aspect or area of technology are you most excited about?

Where to even start… Azure, Windows 10, EMS and ConfigMgr… I love the new MSFT that moves so fast.

3. What gives you the most satisfaction from your job today?

Either the moment where I’ve been working on a problem for hours and I finally solve it or when I finish a product and show it to our engineers and see how much it helps them.

4. Name the 3 most inspiring people in your life or career?

Troy Whittaker – My manager and mentor.

Jeffrey Snover – PowerShell and…

CGP Grey –

5. What 3 books, movies, or other works, have influenced or inspired you the most?

The phoenix project. I’ve worked at companies that are exactly like that book and it helped me bring some sanity to the company.

Time management for sysadmins. – As a sysadmin I used to be overwhelmed with all the things to do. This book has a good system for helping sysadmins out.

Getting things done – I’m kind of a task management nut. So much so that I wrote my own custom task management app that brings scrum and getting things done together… (Yea… I don’t get out much. I do this in my spare time from 5 am to 6 am.)

6. You just stepped out of a time machine in 1100 AD in London or Rome. You have a smartphone in your hand and you demonstrate some of the apps and games to people around you. What happens next?

All of the apps would fail because they require an internet connection. So I would bring up the camera and take a video. Of course then I’m taken to jail for witchcraft because I have stolen their soul in the magic box. Or at least that’s what they think of the video I took of them… It wouldn’t end well. :\

7. What new or promising technology do you see that can’t get here soon enough?

I can’t wait until companies fully embrace Windows 10 and Azure AD Join. As my companies subject matter expert on Windows 10 I talk to a lot of companies about Azure AD Join and it’s implications and benefits. But most companies aren’t ready yet. 8. Do you think the continuous evolution of automation will result in there being very few full time human workers? And if so, what do think people will do?

This is actually a topic that terrifies me. Yes I believe that there will be a large section of the population that won’t be employable. Not because they aren’t smart but because the machines can do their job better/cheaper. I think that we will have to move to a universal basic income. I watch the youtube video humans need not apply ( about once a quarter to remind myself that I need to keep improving so I am not unemployable.

9. There’s never enough time.

10. There’s way too much to learn. I want to know all of the things…

11. What’s something that you wish you could change in your field of work? (Good or bad)

I have encountered many people who don’t believe how windows as a service works or are stuck in their ways because that’s how they have always done things. We are IT Professionals. IT changes and it changes fast. It’s our responsibility to keep up.

12. If you could go back in time to sit down with your younger self at, say, 15 years old, what advise would give yourself?

Dear 15 year old me… Keep working towards your goals. Even if most people don’t understand IT or your passion for it that’s fine. Don’t get discouraged by not being good at school. You’re good at IT and 90% of the things that are happening now don’t matter. So don’t stress so much.

13. You just stepped out of a time machine in 2050 in a major city. What 3 technology gadgets do you see people using around you?

Self driving cars (THANK GOD)

Useful personal assistant AI’s on their phones.

Google glass on steroids and no one blinks an eye at it.

14. You’ve been given the power to bring 2 people back to life from any time in history, for one full day only. Who would they be, and why?

Steve Jobs. I’d love to hear his story and hear what other visions he had but didn’t accomplish before he passed.

Steve Irwin. The amount of passion that he put into his work was very inspiring.

15. What would you like to accomplish in the next 5 years, personal or professional?

I would be like to seen in the community as a thought leader, become a MSFT MVP and overcome my social anxiety to accomplish those two items. There are so many blog posts that I haven’t hit publish on or told others about because of the anxiety of my anxiety around them. But I plan on publishing them this quarter.

Where to find out more about Cris –

Deploy Chocolatey with a SCCM 1706 Script


One of the newest and coolest and most promising features tucked away inside System Center Configuration Manager preview build 1706 is the “Scripts” feature.  There are already some great blog posts that explain what it is, how it works, and what potential it offers, so I won’t try to one-up anyone (reinventing wheels is annoying).  What I want to cover in this article is how to use this feature (in the current, preview state) to deploy and track Chocolatey installations to clients.

What you need to know first:

  • Scripts (for now) can only be deployed to Device Collections and Devices within Collections (not to individual Devices under the “Devices” node itself, nor to Users or User Collections)
  • Scripts (for now) must be approved in order to be deployed
  • Scripts (for now) rely on the exit code (integer) as the success/fail result status (e.g. zero)
  • Scripts (for now) must be written in PowerShell
  • Scripts (for now) cannot be edited, you must delete/recreate them (for now)

Part 1 – Create the Install Script

  1. Expand Software Library and right-click Scripts, select Create Script
  2. Provide a Script Name
  3. Paste (or type) the script code into the edit box, or use the Import button to select a script file to import.  For this example, I’m using the most basic version of invoking the Chocolatey install script as follows:
    Invoke-Expression ((New-Object Net.WebClient).DownloadString(''))
  4. Click Next, and click Next again on the Summary page
  5. Click Close (The script is now in a pending status, awaiting approval)
  6. Right-click on the Script entry, and select the popup “Configure whether script authors can approve their own scripts in the site hierarchy settings.”
  7. Click Next
  8. Select Approve, and click Next
  9. Click Next again, and click Close

Part 2 – Deploy the Script

  1. Expand Assets and Compliance
  2. Expand Device Collections
  3. Right-click on a desired Device Collection and choose Run Script
  4. Select the desired script from the list, click Next
  5. Click Next again, and click Close

Part 3 – Track the Progress

  1. Expand Monitoring
  2. Select Script Status

That’s it from the ConfigMgr console perspective, again: for now.  There is no right-click capability (yet).  However, there is also a client-side “scripts.log” file, located under %WINDIR%\ccm\logs, which provides useful output capture data.

Illustrated Sequence








Stupid Thoughts

“Summary” and “Conclusion” are kind of overused, so I had to try ‘stupid thoughts’ for now.

Please don’t get too wrapped up about the specific vehicle of this blog post (chocolatey). It’s only intended to show “one way to do something with a new feature”.  You could do almost anything you desire, as long as it meets the (current) constraints.

So, you want to stay on Windows 7. At least do these 5 things… 

I have a few customers, that for a variety of reasons, are staying on Windows 7 for a while longer. I don’t necessarily agree with most of them, but I don’t have the magic Darth Vader power ring that forces them to reconsider.

Thankfully, that number is very small. But based on the laws of statistical sampling, I have to assume there are a significant number of others out there hiding under a rock. For the record, I’ve yet to hear a reason that holds water. Most are based on emotion or FUD, or fear of vendor confrontation. 

The budget argument doesn’t hold water either, unless you’re a non-profit that lost all its donors. A for-profit business should be able to rationalize the delayed cost aspects and realize it doesn’t get cheaper from an aggregate metric. And if that isn’t enough, you have ask yourself why you’re still in business. That’s another discussion for beer, pizza and a batting cage. 

Regardless, if you just aren’t going to make the move to Windows 10 anytime soon, here’s a few things I STRONGLY recommend putting into place as soon as possible. Immediately if possible… 

  1. Remove local administrative rights for all users. That’s right, all users. Especially executives. Why include the feared golfer group? Because they are target zero for a hungry hacker. After them would be IT admins and IT minions. IT admins should be using separate privileged accounts. 
  2. Keep everything patched. If you have a patching process in place already, double check that it’s really working. So many customers are convinced it’s fine, and when they actually look again, they find gaping holes. If you don’t anything in place yet, WSUS is free, and it’s better than nothing. 
  3. Remove SMBv1. I don’t need to elaborate on this. If you’re not aware of this, search “smb v1 why remove” And it doesn’t matter if you’re 7, 8, 8.1 or 10, remove it. 
  4. Leave UAC and Windows Firewall turned on. I can count the valid reasons for disabling UAC on one finger. And it’s probably not the reason you think it is.
  5. Start lab testing now. Build a few physical and virtual machines, load them up with all your apps and get users on them to see what works and what doesn’t. Make sure they’re configured to meet the previous 4 rules. Note any problems and start finding solutions now. 

Another thing I recommend is to NOT get wrapped around the axle about removing or hiding Windows 10 features that bother you, like Edge and Cortana. Educate users on what to avoid and why. If you can’t provide a clear rationale that users can agree with, ask yourself why. 

Spending a ton of time hiding and removing things just to keep users from touching them seems bad to me. Educating users is always always always the better option. Always. Your job isn’t to create more work for your staff. Smarter users make better use of the tools, and that makes you look better for having provided them for their benefit. 

Get busy moving towards Windows 10. Get busy living, or get busy dying. 

That was deep. Okay, maybe not that deep.