Office 365 soon to be Microsoft 365

On Tuesday, April 21, 2020 Microsoft’s premier Software as a Service (SaaS) offering officially becomes Microsoft 365. It is a very interesting change, considering how incredibly popular Office 365 is. There must be some high-level branding change going on in Redmond, Washington. Regardless, it will be … Microsoft 365. I am sure people will be calling it “Office” or “Office 365” for years to come!

Windows 10 Upgrade for Windows 7

I have not worked with Windows 7 in quite a while, but lately I have learned that Microsoft has been very generous with a FREE Windows 10 upgrade. So long as you have a viable, licensed copy of Windows 7 on your computer, it should be doable. Many older PCs or laptops have the license key on the outside of the machine.

It is surprisingly easy to upgrade although it can take a few hours, depending on the age of your computer and your Internet speed.

The free upgrade to Windows 10 essentially all happens within the Media installation tool. It will assess your current computer and/or operating system and then download the full Windows 10 operating system. You can also download an image to a USB flash drive and boot straight off of that. But if you want to do an in-place upgrade while logged into your Windows 7 computer, the Media tool is easiest. Back up all your files to a USB drive etc. or to the Cloud [Microsoft One Drive, Google Cloud or similar]. Again, you can upgrade your computer to Windows 10 while logged into your Windows 7. You should not lose any files, but back up all the files beforehand to be safe.

This is the link to the Media installation tool. Go to the “Download tool now” or the “using the tool to upgrade this PC to Windows 10” link for more information.

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10

Windows 10 Media Installation
Windows 10 Free Upgrade

Outlook Sweep For a Tidy Inbox

The Outlook “Sweep” function is your friend. Do you get bundles of emails from the same business, organization, vendor etc.? Do they add up over time to mountains of mostly meaningless information? Me too! Although one can argue that Outlook can be a receptacle for endless amounts of email, I prefer a neater, tidy Inbox. Some of this is simply a reflection of my personality. But I have noticed times when searching for an actual IMPORTANT email can get challenging due to the high volume of needless emails blurring the search results.

Again, the Outlook Sweep tool is NOT intended for important emails. But when I get endless coupons from CVS, Walmart or never ending political or fundraising email solicitations, it is time to train my Outlook to dispose of these emails after a certain amount of time. In this example, I decided to move Wells Fargo bank emails of a certain sort [wellsfargo@connect.wellsfargoemail.com] – they tend to be Marketing oriented with a sprinkling of services or feature enhancements etc. The emails may be useful occasionally, but not mission critical in my life. So, I do not quite want to unsubscribe completely [again, there MAY be a useful tidbit every now and then] but I certainly do not need these emails hanging around for years!

This is for the personal, free Microsoft Outlook. In the Inbox, I just select the email in question, choose Sweep, then send to Deleted, but only after 10 days. There are several options, but this is the one I like. If I have not checked the email within 10 days, then I do not need it. Use carefully, be sure NOT to use this with important emails.

Microsoft Training and Certifications Overview Poster

This new online Microsoft poster is an excellent overview of all the certifications available with Microsoft in 2019-2020 and beyond. In my opinion, it is really laid out nicely and I appreciate their clarity with the top level 4 categories:

Apps and Infrastructure; Data and AI; Modern Workplace; Business Application

I personally am focused on the “Apps and Infrastructure”, as that is more in line with my Systems Administration background. But honestly all four areas are very interesting. I have already completed AZ-900 and am now focusing on the Azure Administrator – the below is only a snippet of the entire poster, which lays out possible career paths for all levels of Windows IT pros.

Microsoft Certification Poster condensed URL:

Http://aka.ms/TrainCertPoster

Kubernetes, or K8s

I did not know about the short hand reference to Kubernetes: “K8s”. I am studying to take the Microsoft Azure Administrator certification exam and came across this little fun fact on the Microsoft “Learn” web site, which I am using to prepare. It has great modules for both conceptual and hands-on lab learning. But I must admit, K8s is a new one to me!

Windows 10 Update History

One can never get enough of Windows 10 Update History. I found the latest Windows 10 news interesting in that version 1903 and 1909 are nearly identical. There does seem to be some change. The latest versions are interoperating, meaning version 1909 is a master switch for 1903.


Windows 10, versions 1903 and 1909 share a common core operating system and an identical set of system files. As a result, the new features in Windows 10, version 1909 were included in the recent monthly quality update for Windows 10, version 1903 (released October 8, 2019), but are currently in a dormant state. These new features will remain dormant until they are turned on using an enablement package, which is a small, quick-to-install “master switch” that simply activates the Windows 10, version 1909 features.”

Full details:

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4529964/windows-10-update-history

Cloud Billing and Surprise Costs

When you are studying for Azure Cloud exams and working off the Microsoft Learn website, then realize your personal Azure account is GROWING

Shocked at the Bill!
Azure All Resources

The reality is that the bulk of these costs is covered, given that the Learn site utilizes sandboxes for on-hands learning. But there were a few situations where using a regular Azure account was required. Also, for the purposes of learning and certification exam preparation, these resources can simply be deleted.

Of course, it is always best to monitor costs. The Azure Management section provides for helpful cost analysis, budget monitoring and optimization tools.

WordPress 5.3 Block Editor and Twenty Twenty Theme

WordpPress 5.3 was just released. I just upgraded my blog’s WordPress version, and 5.3 is really moving aggressively forward with the Block Editor and all of its latest enhancements.

WordPress 5.3

The WordPress Twenty Twenty Theme is introduced with the 5.3 version of WordPress, along with all of the new features.

WordPress Twenty Twenty

Twenty Twenty introduces a very interesting advancement: a new typeface, called, “Inter”. It is a variable font format for default themes. It will supposedly help increase site load times due to its handling of font load file storage.

WordPress Update

My personal favorite is the automatic image rotation – FINALLY someone thought to get this done!

WordPress Twenty Twenty

Microsoft Azure Storage Security

I am studying the Microsoft Azure Administrator modules off of the Microsoft “Learn” website. It is a great free resource to learn some of the hottest and most relevant modern Cloud technologies. This one particular area piqued my interest: data storage security. I know that many businesses and various leaders are pessimistic about the protection of their Cloud data. It makes sense. Why would any leader not think about the way in which their organization’s data is stored in the Cloud? To many leaders, the notion of their valuable data being moved to and handled in the Cloud does not necessarily make them feel warm and fuzzy [as we may see in the commercials ;> ]. Instead they have a healthy cynicism of their data handling. I agree with the healthy cynicism.

But Microsoft Azure has many ways in which to secure data. These include, but are not limited to, proper network security rules to block out most or all traffic; access control lists; strict internal roles based access; and good old-fashioned data encryption.

Azure automatically encrypts all data as it is stored or written to the cloud, i.e. is stored “at rest” [meaning, it is sitting on the disk, so to speak]. Any file that is written to Azure storage is encrypted with Storage Service Encryption (SSE). It is 256-bit AES encryption. This is very powerful encryption and is an industry standard. My favorite part of the SSE is that this encryption of the data that gets stored to disk does NOT affect performance. So, there is no degradation whatsoever to services. Encryption involves scrambling of bits and bytes and generally takes some resources, but Microsoft accomplishes this with no hit to resources.

Of course, in addition to the SSE security, the actual virtual disks themselves, if applicable, can be encrypted as well with ‘BitLocker’ for Windows or ‘dm-crypt’ for Linux . But I wanted to focus only on the Storage Security Encryption at this point. And this SSE should help any leader breathe a sigh of relief when thinking about their data security.

Microsoft Learn can be reached here

SonicWall 802.11ac WiFi Access Points

SonicWall SonicWave 802.11ac [Wave 2] access points target multiple market types: retail, hospitality, healthcare, education, transportation, government & financial institutions, construction, and transportation. These versatile APs [access points] go above and beyond the usual offerings, with their security radio scanner, Capture Security Center and WCM or WiFi Cloud Manager capabilities.

SonicWall Stacked Wave 2 AP

Some stand out SonicWall Wave 2 AP feature details:

  • Assist with HIPAA & PCI compliance to protect customer or patient data
  • Can power on IP phones in hotel rooms
  • Monitor networks in real-time, complete with audit logs
  • Mesh technology for easy WiFi expansion
  • Capture ATP-driven “Deep Memory Inspection” of traffic
  • Ruggedized outdoor APs with solid “IP67” ratings for harsh weather

Read all about the SonicWall Wave 2 APs