My podcasts 2022

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You can find the previous year’s selection here:

My podcasts 2021

I do spend a lot of time listening to podcasts, generally in between things, like travelling. However, there is a limit to how many you can consume in a week and that’s why I need to be very discerning about what I listen to.

Regulars

These podcasts are ones that I generally won’t miss an episode of.

Windows Weekly

The latest Microsoft news with some fun and entertainment along the way. Paul Thurrott’s musing make this podcast alone something worth listening to.

The Tim Ferriss Show

Some really great advice, business insights and strategy. Also lots of life lessons that I have found work really well for me. A weekly must listen for me.

Hardcore History

These tend to be quite long, like reading a book, but a very good and very interesting. Luckily, they are not that frequent, so it can make a nice change from all the tech stuff

The Intrazone

All the latest news and information about SharePoint, OneDrive for Business, Teams and more directly from Microsoft.

Sync Up

A podcast focused on the Microsoft files experience around OneDrive from Microsoft.

MJF Chat

Mary Joe Foley interviewing someone in the technology field. What I really like about these are they are short and to the point. Makes it much easier to listen to on a regular basis.

Darknet Diaries

Really well produced cybersecurity focused podcast. Has a nice variety of topics and the content is good and well researched. If you enjoy the security side of IT you’ll love these episodes.

Security Unlocked

Largely focuses on Microsoft security and people inside Microsoft working on security. There are plenty of super smart people there but can be a little narrow at times, however, it does give you insight into the investments Microsoft are making around IT security.

Currently evaluating

These podcasts I listen to frequently, but maybe not every episode. Some of these may eventually get cut from the roster. Anything here has to provide real business value for it to remain long term.

Risky Business

I tend to only listen to the news and updates section, the sponsored content not so much. It has lots of good information across the general IT security landscape but also comes with a fair amount of unsolicited opinion and bias.

Microsoft Cloud Show

Tends to be somewhat developer focused and this means that stuff outside that wheel house can be quite wrong. You also get an amount of opinion and bias in the commentary, which again can, at times, be based on incorrect or irrelevant information. Regularly, loses focus to cover topics which may not be of interest to many.

Modern Finance

Another Kevin Rose project that looks at the latest developments in blockchain, cryptocurrency, web 3.0 and more. Kevin’s superpower is spotting trends early, that’s why I listen.

Once off podcasts

Think of these more of a book you’d read or a TV show you’d watch.

The Lazarus Heist

Another well produced podcast from the BBC that follows the trails of and attempt to steal and launder billions of dollars. Apparently, additional episodes are coming later this year. If you like Darknet Diaries, you’ll like this.


I churn through these mostly at 2x speed to allow me to get through as much content as possible. I do have a few other podcasts on my current podcasting app. I am always on the lookout for good podcasts business, technology, history, whatever. So if you can recommend something you like, I’m all ears. These days, if you have a topic of interested, you’ll find many podcasts you can listen to. Don;t be shy to try them and throw away ones that don’t suit you until you find what you like.

Finally, of course, there is my own podcasting effort:

Need to Know podcast

which covers the Microsoft Cloud (typically Microsoft 365 and Azure) as well as business topics. I encourage you to have a listen and me know what you think. 2022 will be the twelfth year that it has been available.

Hopefully, there is something of interest to you in what I listen to. Feel free to let me know as well as any recommendations you may have, as I said, I’m all ears!

My Business Books – 2022

Check out my recommendations from last year:

My Business Books – 2021

Honourable mentions that I read last year:

– The Dichotomy of Leadership: Balancing the Challenges of Extreme Ownership to Lead and Win – Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

– Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance – Angela Duckworth

– Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals – Oliver Burkeman

You can follow all the books I read and want to read over at Goodreads where I have an account. You can also view my activity via:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/708903-robert?shelf=read

Here’s my current top business books in order:

1. The Art of War – Sun Tzu

The all time classic on strategy. As relevant today as it ever was. A very short read but very deep.

2. The Millionaire Fastlane – M.J. DeMarco

I love the brutal honesty of this book. It doesn’t mince words about what it takes to shift from a pay check to actually living the life you want.

3. The Tipping Point – Malcolm Gladwell

The world is all about not what you know but who you know. This book explains exactly how this works and how to use it to your advantage.

4. The Four Hour Work Week – Tim Ferriss

Many people believe this book is about shirking responsibility. It is in fact a blueprint for how to free up your time to do things you want and enjoy. It will challenge the way you look at your career.

5. Secrets of the Millionaire Mind: Mastering the Inner Game of Wealth – T. Harv Eker

The successful are defined by a different mindset. This mindset can be learned. It can be trained. This is a great book to show you how to do just that.

6. Talent is over rated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everyone Else – Geoff Colvin

Demonstrates that the best comes from implementing a system. Having a system allows you to focus on the right thing and do that work that is required. If you want to take yourself to an elite level, beyond just good, then read this book.

7. Book Yourself Solid: The Fastest, Easiest, and Most Reliable System for Getting More Clients Than You Can Handle Even If You Hate Marketing and Selling – Michael Port, Tim Sanders

You can’t survive in business without a steady flow of customers. Selling to people is the wrong approach, you instead need to attract them to your business. This book helps you achieve exactly that.

8. Profit First: A Simple System To Transform Any Business From A Cash-Eating Monster To A Money-Making Machine – Mike Michalowicz

Business is about making a profit. This then gives you the freedom to do what you want with that profit. This book helps you focus on profit and setting up systems to make the most of the profit you generate.

9. Barking Up the Wrong Tree – Eric Barker

Conventional wisdom does not always apply and in some case can actually be detrimental. Challenging what is taken for granted should be in the play book of everyone who wants to achieve at the highest level. Important lessons can be learned in the strangest places and form the strangest people. Have an open mind and you might be surprised at what you have believed to be bad in fact turns out to get just what you need.

10. Unbeatable Mind: Forge Resiliency and Mental Toughness to Succeed at an Elite Level – Mark Divine

Another mindset book. Business is not always going to be easy or take the intended route. This is when you need to have the determination to see your plans through to success. This book shows you how to develop the mental toughness to make this happen.

11. Mastery – Robert Green

Excellent read with lots of great strategies to take away. Excellence is not a talent it is a skill. That means that it takes hard work to achieve, but hard work is available to everyone, yet few choose the path. There is no secret to Excellence, it is something only time and effort will reward you with and iof you choose that path you’ll be one of the few.

12. Tools of Titans – Tim Ferriss

There are few books that take the learnings for so many exceptional people and puts them at your fingertips. This is one such book that packs a lot of business and life learnings between the covers.

13. Predictably irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape our Decisions – Dan Ariley

Although we like to think logic and rationality rule our world emotion is by far the more powerful influence. Understand this in the context of business and you are well on your way to understanding why people make the decisions they do and how to best profit from them.

14. Extreme Ownership – Jocko Willink and Lief Babin

Moving beyond blame is tough. This book illustrates the ownership of the problem and the environment is a key to success in the military or in business. It is a path few will elect to take voluntarily, however more may do so after reading this.

15. Peak Performance: Elevate your game, avoid burnout and thrive with the science of success – Brad Stulberg

Success is largely about developing a winning system. This book show you how to approach that pragmatically. If you want to see results use this book to help you build the system.

16. Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking – Malcolm Gladwell

The older you get the more experience you get. This experience is aggregated in your ‘gut feel’. Trusting your ‘gut’ may not appear rational but this book will help you understand why it is in fact your best option in many cases.

17. The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play – Neil A. Fiore

Plenty of great productivity learnings in here that help you take action. It shows you how to focus on the right stuff in the right priority. Even if you are not a major procrastinator there is plenty in this book that you can take away.

18. The One Thing – Gary Keller

Multi-tasking is a myth. Focus is the key to success to bringing all your resources to bear in unison makes a hell of a lot of difference. Most people can’t do it, so those that can stand a much greater chance of success.

19. Deep Work – Cal Newport

Distractions are wasted energy and time that you’ll never get back. You’d be amazed at how distracting the modern world is. If you can minimise these distractions you can focus more and be far more productive.

20. The E-Myth – Michael Gerber

The classic on ‘procedurising’ your business and creating a structure that doesn’t need you to survive. The simple secrets inside this book can transform any business from hardship to joy.

Let me know what you think. Do these work for you? What’s your top business reads? I’d love to hear.

My Apps 2022

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I remain a low volume mobile app user. I very selectively install apps on my device. Less is definitely more for me.

To see what I was using at the beginning of last year check out the article:

My Apps – 2021

My daily driver when it comes to a phone is an upgraded iPhone 12 pro Max currently but I also have a Surface Duo 2 as a backup. The other device that I use apps on is my iPad mini.

My most used apps on mobile devices over the last year were:

Castro on iOS to listen to all my podcasts on iOS.

Lastpass password manager and authenticator. for general password management.

Microsoft Authenticator – I use this for a number of select web sites as well as Microsoft 365.

Car Play – Connects to my daily drive to provide the ability to listen to podcasts as well as use Waze for navigation.

OneNote – is a must on every device I own. Syncs all my notes to every device. Allows me to not only truly have my information everywhere I am but also capture information quickly and easily.

OneDrive – This mobile app now not only allows me to manage my Microsoft 365 files but it also incorporates the more advanced Office Lens technology that scans and uploads, documents, whiteboards, etc.

Tripview – One of the few apps that I have happily paid for. I use this to let me know the Sydney train schedule to help me get around when I need to negotiate the ‘real world’. Although not much travel is happening at the moment, this app is super handy for negotiating local public transport.

Audible – If I can’t read my Kindle then I can normally always listen. This app allows me to listen to my audio books where ever I am. This and Castro on iOS are probably the most used applications on my devices.

Amazon Kindle – If I don’t have access to my Kindle then I can still read my books. In my case that will most likely be on my iPad. I also use the Kindle app on the iPad when the ebook has a lot of images that sometime don’t display well or are too small for the Kindle device.

The following as currently only iOS:

Oak – For mindfulness, breathing and meditation.

Rode Reporter – which I use for recording many of my presentations when I am out on the road, which ain’t so much these days but still a handy app to have.

Of course I have all the social media apps, such as Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook on my devices.

I also have all the Microsoft/Office 365 apps. The ones I use the most are probably To-Do, Outlook, SharePoint, OneDrive, Teams and Yammer, although Word and Excel also get used regularly. Just about every Microsoft Office 365 service has an app that you should have on your mobile device. On my Android I am also using Edge as the primary browser along with the new Edge Insider. I also have the Brave browser on my devices as do not use Chrome at all.

I’ve also added the Intune app to all my devices so they can be better managed.

Some occasional ones I use include:

Get Pocket

Duolingo

– Uber

– Amazon music

I use the normal personal apps for things like Internet banking and so on. I also use Blockfolio for monitoring cryptocurrency.

One my iPad, which also serves as a personal entertainment device, I have the streaming services Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

The above are my used apps across my various mobile devices. My aim to try and keep the app standard across all the devices and as few as possible. I try and standardise as on the Microsoft apps on all platforms. I certainly use a wide variety of apps on my devices by prefer the desktop versions if available.

Celebrating anniversaries with Power Automate

A very common requirement is to remind people about anniversaries. In a business this could take the form of birthdays or commencement dates. It could, however, just as easily be any sort of event that happens on a certain date.

Previously, I’ve shown how to:

Send recurring tweets using Microsoft Flow

However, in this case, instead of simply rotating through a list of posts we want to match today’s date to a date on a list and then broadcast the message that corresponds to that date entry.

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The starting point for this process is to create a reference list containing the dates and details you wish to share. I recommend that easiest place to do this is in a SharePoint list, as shown above. Of course, this list can contain as much detail and additional columns as you wish, but for this, I’ll keep it simple and just have two fields. It is important that you have at least one column (here Dateoption) that refers to the current year in which that item will be displayed.

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For simplicity, I have also configured my date column in the SharePoint list to exclude time and display in standard format as shown above. There is nothing stopping you using Date & Time if you wish, it just makes the filtering a little more complex later in this process.

You’ll then want to create a Power Automate Flow that looks like this:

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It all starts with a Recurrence action that will trigger this process once a day like so:

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If you select the Show advanced options in this action like so:

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You can set an exact time when this Recurrence action will be triggered (say 10am). However, since this example is a daily anniversary, we only need to trigger it at any time during the day.

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We now need our process to determine what the current date is and we can do this using the Current time action as shown above.

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Next, add the Convert time zone action. There are two reasons for adding this action. Firstly, the Current time action returns today’s date in UTC which may cause issues if you are not in that time zone like me. Thus, I want the current time BUT I want it as a local value (i.e. to reflect the actual time in Sydney, Australia), thus the Source and Destination time zone field settings.

The second reason for the Convert time zone action is so the time value is in the right format for a comparison test later on in the process. Thus, the Format string field should be set to yyyy-MM-dd as shown.

Now, I need to add the Get items action to actually go and look at what is in my SharePoint list.

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In this action I enter the Site Address and List name, however I also expand the advanced options to reveal the Filter Query field as shown.

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The Filter Query field will limit the items returned by this action to only those that match the filter. Thus, I want the returned items to only be those that match today’s date, which I have correctly formatted and stored in the Converted time action result. Thus, I want to compare the date field from my SharePoint list (here Dateoption) to the Converted time result. It is important to note that I have enclosed Converted time result in single quotes (‘) to convert the value to a string for comparison. It is very important that you do that, otherwise you’ll get errors when your Flow runs.

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With the values that the Get Items action returns you’ll need to perform a number of steps. For this you use the Apply to each action as shown above.

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In the case of this example, I’m simply going to post the text from the Title field in the SharePoint list that matches today’s date into a chat message as shown above. Again, this action could be anything you want, in fact, I’ll talk about how I use this with Twitter later on. For now the expectation is that if there is a match in the SharePoint list for today’s date, then the text for that entry will appear in a Teams chat message.

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We need to do one more thing before we are finished here. As this is an anniversary calendar, we want to increment the current item for today and have it reoccur on the same date next year. To do that we use the Add to time action as shown by adding 12 months to the result date we have determined as shown above.

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Before the new date can be added back to the SharePoint list it needs to be formatted correctly. This is achieved using the Compose action as shown using the following expression:

formatDateTime(body(‘Add_to_Time’),’yyyy-MM-dd’)

You’ll notice that that date format yyyy-MM-dd is the same as the one we set in Convert time zone action earlier.

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All that remains is to use the Update item action to update the item in the SharePoint list with the new date entry just composed. As shown above, the same SharePoint site and list is selected, along with the item ID and Title but the Dateoption field is set to contain our new formatted date output from the previous action.

You can now save your Flow and run a manual test.

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If I look at the chat in my Team I see the expected message that matches the item Title field in the original SharePoint list.

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Also looking at my original SharePoint list I see that the date of today’s item has been incremented twelve months as shown.

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One of the ways that I use this process with Twitter is to regularly post anniversary dates around ANZAC participation from World War One, which are taken from my site ANZACS in France.

The idea is that that the Flow checks this list of dates and then tweets out the text in the Title field if there is a match. Then it increments the PostDate field twelve months ready for next year. You’ll also see that I have added another custom column that records the original date of action just so I can filter and sort easily. Feel free to follow @ANZACSIF to be reminded of these dates.

As I initially mentioned, I believe there are plenty of applications for this type of process in a business. The most common ones I would suggest are for staff birthday and anniversary reminders. The great thing is that with Power Automate it is easy to modify this process to suit whatever need to have. It also makes it easy to edit the events and more if you need to because all you need to do is modify the SharePoint list that this process uses.

The possibilities are endless thanks to the Power Platform.

CIAOPS Need to Know Microsoft 365 Webinar – January

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Join me for the free monthly CIAOPS Need to Know webinar and the first for 2022. Along with all the Microsoft Cloud news we’ll be taking a look at using OneNote for collaboration.

Shortly after registering you should receive an automated email from Microsoft Teams confirming your registration, including all the event details as well as a calendar invite.

You can register for the regular monthly webinar here:

January Webinar Registrations

(If you are having issues with the above link copy and paste – https://bit.ly/n2k2201 – into your browser)

The details are:

CIAOPS Need to Know Webinar – January 2022
Friday 28th of January 2021
11.00am – 12.00am Sydney Time

All sessions are recorded and posted to the CIAOPS Academy.

The CIAOPS Need to Know Webinars are free to attend but if you want to receive the recording of the session you need to sign up as a CIAOPS patron which you can do here:

http://www.ciaopspatron.com

or purchase them individually at:

http://www.ciaopsacademy.com/

Also feel free at any stage to email me directly via director@ciaops.com with your webinar topic suggestions.

I’d also appreciate you sharing information about this webinar with anyone you feel may benefit from the session and I look forward to seeing you there.

My software and services 2022

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Here’s last year’s post for comparison:

My software and services – 2021

All my PC’s are running the latest version of Windows 10 (21H2) without any issues and none during the upgrade process either. I no longer run any Windows 10 Insider builds as I had trouble backing out of these when I needed to. I still have Office Insider builds happening in my environment. Most production machines I have are eligible for Windows 11 but none have been offered this upgrade as yet, however when it is I will be upgrading.

All Windows 10 Pro machines are directly joined to Azure AD and managed via Intune and Microsoft Endpoint Manager.  Their configurations are based on the Windows MDM security baseline settings. All machines only use Windows Defender for security monitoring and management. Thanks to Microsoft E5 on my production tenant, I am also using Microsoft Defender For Endpoint at the back end for monitoring and investigation of endpoint threats.

The WD Sentinel DX4000 runs Windows Storage Server 2008 and is now effectively obsolete and only maintained for historical purposes and as an archive.

My two main tenants are an Office 365 E5 demo and Microsoft 365 production environments. A mix of Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise machines are all Azure AD joined to the Microsoft 365 production domain. The production Microsoft 365 tenant has Microsoft 365 Business for all users except myself. I have a Microsoft 365 E5 license on which I have configured all the services including integrated PSTN calling via Switch Connect.

I use Microsoft Sentinel to monitor threats across my environments via a single pane of glass.

I use the following major browsers:

Edge – my primary browser across all my devices including iOS and Android. I have it locked down with baseline policies via Microsoft Endpoint Manager.

Brave – I have become increasingly concerned about the surreptitious tracking that many sites perform, especially when it comes to social media sites. I therefore now do all my ‘random browsing’, searching and viewing of social media sites. I became aware of the extent of tracking when I was adjusting the security settings in Edge Insider and found the following:

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Made me realise that I probably need to take this ‘do not track’ stuff more seriously!

– Firefox – I now only use this on my Surface Pro X because Brave doesn’t offer an ARM version.

I have now cranked Edge up to the maximum security level but wanted to isolate the most likely tracking culprits into another browser that was security focused. After some evaluation, I have chosen Brave to be this browser. This is now where I do all the stuff that is more likely to be tracked and now hopefully blocked or at least minimised. I have also set this browser up to use Duck Duck Go as the default search engine, otherwise I use Bing for my production Edge browser. I have completely eliminated Google Chrome off all my machines without any issues and recommend those who are becoming more concerned about their privacy, like me, do the same.

Services like SharePoint Online and OneDrive I use regularly both in the demo and production tenant. I have the OneDrive sync client installed, running and connected to various locations on my production and demo tenants. I can now sync across all my different tenants as well as my consumer OneDrive storage. We have come a long way with the sync client!

I regularly use Microsoft Teams which is now my main messaging application. All the CIAOPS Patron resources like the intranet, team, etc all reside in the Office 365 E5 demo tenant but I connect to it on my desktop normally via an Azure B2B guest account from my production tenant. Thus, I can admin the Patron resources in a browser if need be but I get the same experience on my desktop as any Patron would. Handy to know what works and doesn’t work with Microsoft Teams guest access. Thanks to Microsoft E5 and Switch Connect, I also have Teams connected as a phone.

I use Lastpass to keep my passwords and private information secure. It allows me to do things like generate and store unique passwords for each website that I sign up for. It is also available across all browsers on my machine (including Microsoft Edge). I also now also use Lastpass to store secure notes.

The extensions I run in all my browsers are:

LastPass

GetPocket

I use Microsoft Power Automate for automation as well as Azure Functions.

For my email newsletters I use Mailchimp.

My preferred public social networks for business, in order are:

1. Twitter

2. Linkedin

3. Facebook

I consume a lot of content from YouTube both for business and personal interest. I also also use YouTube extensively for my publicly available training video training.

Microsoft Office desktop software is still part of my everyday workday via applications such as Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc. I use the desktop version of Outlook on my Surface Pro 7 which lives on my desk but I only use Outlook Web App on my travelling Surface Pro 6 device. I could happily not use Outlook on the desktop any more I believe but I still use so I understand the experience for most users. However, I do see the day when Outlook on the desktop begins to lose its appeal.

One of the things I have added to my desktop version of Outlook is a digital certificate that signs every email that I now send. This helps the receiver confirm that the message they have received is in fact from me and that it hasn’t been altered in any way. There are some issues when people attempt to reply to these emails from a mobile device but I believe a fix from Microsoft is coming..

The key application from the suite for me is OneNote. OneNote is my go to Swiss Army knife for just about everything digital. I use it to capture all sort of data. I even use it as a diary as I have detailed previous here:

One of the ways I use OneNote

The reason OneNote is key is because:

1. Just about everything I put in there us searchable

2. It is freely available across all platforms.

3. All my information is synced and accessible on all devices.

4. It is available on the web or offline if needed.

There are now two version of OneNote, the Windows store OneNote and OneNote 2016. I am a big user of OneNote on my iPad mini with the Apple pencil. This combination has allowed me to totally eliminate my paper notebooks for things such as journaling.

I use Pure Text to easily paste information, especially to and from OneNote as only text.

I am now a big Microsoft To-Do user. I use it to keep many tasks and items that I need to follow up. I love how it is available on all my devices and syncs across them all as well.

I use Windows terminal now for things like PowerShell execution and Microsoft Whiteboard for demonstrations and training.

Microsoft PowerToys allows me to customise my desktop layouts using FancyZones.

Another key service I use everyday along with Office 365 and OneNote is Azure. Typically, I use it for running up virtual machines that I test various things with but I also use it to backup my local data as well as that of other members of my family using Azure Backup.

Azure desktop backup

I have also now implemented an Azure site to site VPN as well as Azure SMB File storage to start moving my data into. I use Microsoft Sentinel to monitor all my services and machines in one single console and tell me about any incidents.

There is just so much that can be done with Azure and I pretty much use it everyday.

I still have a copy of some private data in Truecrypt but that is only as a backup. Nearly all of my data now lives in Microsoft 365 protected with things like Windows Information Protection and other Microsoft information protection options. All my Windows 10 machines run with full disk encryption thanks to Bitlocker, but stuff like financial and customer data live inside Microsoft 365..

In the last year I implemented Windows Defender Application Control (WDAC) to provide application control to improve security in my environment.

To capture my desktop for my online training academy or my YouTube channel I use Camtasia. I use SnagIt to capture screen shots and add highlights and emphasis to these. Snagit allows me to capture complete screens or specific areas quickly and easily.

I use Microsoft Teams to record my podcasts, which I then produce with Camtasia. These are uploaded to Podbean where they syndicated across various network.

To compose and publish blog articles I use Open Live Writer. My blog lives on WordPress.com.

My web site and Battlefields site live on Squarespace.

The majority of images I get, like the one at the top of this article, I get from Pexels. Pickit is also another great option.

For improved meeting management productivity I use Microsoft FindTime.

Having recently purchased a Duo 2 device I have it connected to my Surface Pro 7 using the Microsoft Your Phone app.

I use Visual Studio Code in which I do most of my PowerShell editing and publishing. The end result typically is my GitHub repository where you will find a range of scripts and other resources that I maintain regular. With Visual Studio Code I can edit publish and sync all my machines and my GitHub repository no matter where I am. Very handy.

Here are also a few of the other items I use regularly that are not for business:

Amazon Prime Video – only place to the latest The Grand Tour action. I also liked the Jack Ryan series and well as the Gymkana Files but most of this viewing is now on my iPad mini.

NetFlix – Seen a lot of great stuff this give all the time in lock down but most of this viewing is now on my iPad mini.

XBox Live Gold – access to all the online Xbox goodness.

Duolingo – language learning, Japanese and Italian at the moment but most of this access is now on my iPad mini.

I try and keep my production machines as ‘clean’ and free of unused software as possible. I ensure that they are updated regularly. Any software testing that I need to do is typically done on a virtual machine in Azure.

So there you have it, the major software and services that I use regularly. I continue to search out additional software that will improve my productivity. If you use something that you’ve found really handy, please let me know and I always keen to explore what works for others.

My Gear 2022

You can take a look back at last year’s gear here:

My Gear 2021

there were/are some major changes happening with my assortment.

Surface Duo 2 – My ‘Google’ phone. This as a ‘secondary’ or backup phone. It has all the Microsoft apps installed on it and is connected to my Microsoft 365 production account. Most importantly, it has the Microsoft Authenticator app for MFA access for certain apps. I’ll need to spend more time with this device as it is quite different from a ‘normal’’ phone. I also have the latest Microsoft Surface pen which I really like. It is probably the best ‘electronic scribing’ device I have used.

I have relegated my Pixel 4XL phone now to the testing bench.

iPhone 12 Pro Max – Is now my main mobile device having replaced the old iPhone XS Max last year. I traded the XS Max in for the full amount on offer (around $600 from memory) and used this as a credit on the newer 12 Pro Max, which I decided to buy outright. With the contract expiring and a re-evaluation of how I use my phone I downgraded my calling plan and purchased the new phone outright. it ended up being much cheaper that way.

After a few years of living the ‘iPhone lifestyle’ I gotta admit I still don’t get people’s fanaticism about it. Yes, it is well engineered, better than most I’ll readily admit, but at the end of the day it is just a phone for me. I have a few common apps I use on it, apart from all the Microsoft ones, but honestly, I just use it as a phone not as a surrogate friend.

Surface Pro 7 – This is my main desktop machine. Being the same form factor, it just slotted directly into my Kensington SD7000 Surface Pro Docking Station I already have in place. This meant that my Surface Pro 6 device has been relegated to my backup or travelling device (which kinda didn’t happen at all in 2021 now did it!).

The only real noticeable difference with the Surface Pro 7 is that it is a little faster, however it is the machine that I use most day to day and has performed flawlessly.

Surface Pro 6 – Moved from being my primary desktop to being my backup and travelling machine. I use it pretty much every day as an adjunct to my main machine. It lives on my secondary Kensington SD3500v docking station connected to a full screen and acts as my onsite backup in case my main machine fails or is unavailable for some reason. It is also a handy way to test things from outside my environment by hot spotting to my phones.

Surface Pro X – I use this machine as a ‘lite’ travelling desktop as well as a whiteboarding machine for demos and training. Give that it comes with the Surface Pen and has a nice large screen and will lie flat it makes the prefect device for scribing. I also use this device for writing note into places like OneNote. Perhaps not the most effective use of the device but it beats the iPad when it comes to scribing hands down in my books.

Surface Pro 3 – Continues to work fine and function as a test machine in my production environment. This allows me to apply policies via Microsoft Endpoint Manager before applying them to my main production machines.

Surface – I have had an original Surface version 1 for many years now. The keyboard has long since broken by the system still works fine, although somewhat under powered with only 4GB of RAM. This machine is now a dedicated device on a separate test tenant. This allows me to test Autopilot and other settings on it regularly. This machine is not suitable for Windows 11.

iPad mini 5th Gen – I decided I wanted a smaller ‘notebook’ size table to use like a paper diary, amoungst other things, so I went out and bought an iPad mini.

I also now use this iPad mini with the Apple pencil, which generally works well. The secret is to get a good case for both the iPad mini and the pencil. My choice was:

Finite Case with Pencil holder

which I’d certainly recommend as it is flexible, tough and cheap.

The only major downside of the iPad mini is that battery life is a lot less than the full size iPad, which is understandable. I have however never run out of juice but you do notice the power levels fall away quickly when compared to the full size version. I like that the iPad mini comfortable fits on my desk, works will with the Apple pencil and is much more transportable than the larger version. I was a little concerned that the screen size would be too small to enjoy movies and read web pages, etc but that hasn’t proved to be the case. I happy use it lying back on the couch to watch a variety of programs and read web sites.

All in all I’m very happy with this devices as a replacement for a paper diary or notebook, although I hope that Duo 2 can take over this role soon.. When you add in everything else it can provide as well I’m happy to say that apart from my desktop PC, this is probably the device I use most.

D-Link Wireless N300 Model Router DSLG225 – to allow connect to the NBN broadband network.

Ubiquiti – I have a variety of Ubiquiti equipment in place including a  Security Gateway. All these have worked flawlessly and I can’t recommend this gear highly enough.

Docking station – I still love my Kensington SD7000 Surface Pro Docking Station. It is a really neat device, that suits most modern Surface Pro devices. It is slim, compact and now all me to have 3 external monitors off the one Surface devices (as you can never have enough screen now can you eh?). I can plug in all my devices, microphones, phones, etc to it and all the cables are hidden at the back. I also like that you can adjust the screen up and down, a bit like a Surface Studio.

Occasionally, one of my monitors goes dark and a few seconds later comes back, kinda like it is doing a reset or refresh. Maybe I need to update some drivers? Apart from that it continues to perform flawlessly.

The original Kensington SD3500v has now moved to work with the travelling PC when it is running in my office and that is also working well, making it a truly ‘plug and play’ experience when I get back from road trips.

WD Sentinel DX4000 – Thanks to the cloud and a decent broadband connection, I have now pretty much eliminated this device, although I still maintain it in a very minor capacity. Unless it completely fails, i doubt I will ever get rid of it and it does make a good place to store back ups of things like photos.

Amazon Kindle – Still have this but it has now largely been superseded by the iPad mini for reading books. I still love my Kindle but if I can have one less device then I’m going to take that option. so for now, the Kindle has been relegated as a backup.

Xbox One S – Still use it to watch YouTube, Netflix and Amazon video but now playing more games thanks to Minecraft Dungeons and Call of Duty game.

My major hardware investments in 2021 where:

1. iPhone 12 Pro Max

2. Surface Duo 2

The items that I retired from front line operations last year where:

1. iPhone XS Max

2. Pixel 4XL

2021 didn’t see too many changes overall. I will admit that I have my eye on a Surface Pro 8 replacement for the Surface Pro 7 depending on how things pan out this year. I doubt I’ll be upgrading to the new iPhone 13 as I don’t see any major benefits for the costs. I want to focus on getting the most from my Surface Duo 2 given its price. I also hear rumours of a Duo 3, so hopefully I’ll be able to trade in Duo 2 in if I decide to.