Create a Bing Custom Search

I detailed in a previous article how I had created a custom search:

A dedicated Microsoft Cloud Search Engine

The benefits were that I could target it to a specific set of URL’s to search through when producing a result. It also eliminated many of the commercial elements you see in common search engines. This makes it much cleaner and faster.

The good news is that you too can easily go and create your own custom search. Before you do so however, you will need to have an Azure subscription as there are generally costs that are incurred depending on the functionality you desire. the Custom Search capability is found under Cognitive Services in Azure. However, the easiest way to start creating your own custom search is to visit:

https://www.customsearch.ai/

and sign in with your tenant credentials.

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You’ll come to the above screen first. Simply select I agree and then the Agree button below to continue.

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You can go through he Welcome messages if you wish.

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Next, select the Create new instance button at the bottom of the page.

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Give your instance a name (here Demo) and select Ok.

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You’ll then end up on the above page where you can input the URLs you wish to have be part of your custom search.

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Just keep adding the URL’s you desire. As you do you’ll notice a yellow banner appear at the top of the page as shown above. This is a reminder that you need to Publish your results for them to be visible to others.

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When you do elect to publish you will see the above dialog. Press the Publish button to continue.

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You should begreeted with a successful result, as shown above. You can return and keep editing the environment or you can select the Go to production environment option.

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In the production environment, if you now select the Host UI menu option on the left, the windows on the right will show you a dialog box towards the button as shown above. Copy this URL.

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If you Paste this URL into a new browser window, you should see your custom search engine as shown above.

Pretty easy to get going right?

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If you navigate to the Azure portal and search for Cognitive services you should see your new Bing CustomSearch as shown above, along with any other services that utilise Cognitive Services (here a Q and A bot).

You can go in here and customise different aspects of your Custom Search, which I’ll cover off in up coming articles. However, hopefully, you see how easy it is to get started creating a Custom Search in Azure. Remember, you can always test out what I have created using this here:

https://bit.ly/ciasearch

Need to Know podcast–Episode 244

Sarah Young from Microsoft joins us again to talk about Azure Sentinel. We run through what it is and why you should be using it to protect your IT environments. Brenton joins us as well to cover off the latest news and certifications he has achieved. Listen in for all the details.

This episode was recorded using Microsoft Teams and produced with Camtasia 2020

Take a listen and let us know what you think – feedback@needtoknow.cloud

You can listen directly to this episode at:

https://ciaops.podbean.com/e/episode-244-sarah-young/

Subscribe via iTunes at:

https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/ciaops-need-to-know-podcasts/id406891445?mt=2

The podcast is also available on Stitcher at:

http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/ciaops/need-to-know-podcast?refid=stpr

Don’t forget to give the show a rating as well as send us any feedback or suggestions you may have for the show.

Resources

Sarah Young

@contactbrenton

@directorcia

L400 Sentinel Ninja Training

MS Tech Community Sentinel blog

Sentinel GitHub repo

Sentinel documentation

MS Security Community webinars

Defender ATP for Linux now GA

Defender ATP for Android

OneDrive Roadmap Roundup – May 2020

PowerPoint Live is now generally available

What’s New: Livestream for Azure Sentinel is now released for General Availability

Azure responds to COVID-19

20 updates for Microsoft Teams for Education, including 7×7 video and Breakout Rooms

Outlook for Windows: Signature cloud settings

An easier way to connect using PowerShell

If you visit my Office 365 GitHub repository, you’ll find a whole of scripts there you can use for free. A subset of those scripts are designed to make connecting to the various Microsoft Cloud service easier. For example the script:

https://github.com/directorcia/Office365/blob/master/o365-connect-exov2.ps1

allows you to easily connect to Exchange Online using the version 2 module.

While all of this helps, it can still be a bit trickly for people to know what to run when to get connected. So, with that in mind I have created this script:

https://github.com/directorcia/Office365/blob/master/c.ps1

which when run by simply typing

.\c.ps1

in the PowerShell command line

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will now pop up a dialog as shown above and allow you to select which service which wish to connect to.

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Even better, you can also select multiple services in this same window. You simply use the CTRL and SHIFT keys to select multiple item, just as you do in any Windows desktop application (like Windows Explorer for files say).

After you have made your selection, those individual service connection scripts will be run.

Of course, the assumption is that you have all of my scripts (including the individual connection scripts) in the same directory. If not, then the connections will not be made. However, if you have ‘cloned’ what I have into a single location on your machine, then you should be all good.

I also created this short script:

https://github.com/directorcia/Office365/blob/master/r.ps1

which you can run at the PowerShell command prompt via:

.\r.ps1

to remove any currently loaded PowerShell sessions as well, quickly and easily.

Hopefully, this new ‘master connection’ script will make it easier for people to connect to the Microsoft Cloud services they need.

Make you you check back regularly to my Github repository for any updates and additions

Need to Know bot for your Microsoft Cloud Q and A

Recently I wrote an article about using Microsoft At to create,

a dedicated Microsoft Cloud Search engine

Another form of AI that is available is a chatbot service for questions and answers. Many people have seen these already on web sites, where a helpful customer service rep appears on your web page asking if you need assistance. I have now created a similar chat experience which I have christened the CIAOPS N2Kbot.

You’ll find the N2KBot here:

http://bit.ly/n2kbot

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When you first arrive you’ll see a page like that shown above. simply enter your question in the lower line (where it says type your message” and then press enter). I haven’t as yet automated it greet you as personally I find that annoying. So for now, you can interact manually.

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You’ll see above that if I ask “what is aip” I get a response back about Azure Information Protection.

SNAGHTML19eeb575

At the bottom of the page, you’ll also find a link to add the N2KBot to your Team if you want, as shown above.

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You can have it as a private bot or inside a channel if you wish. Once installed you activate the bot by starting a line with @n2kbot and then asking as question, like:

@n2kbot what is aip

as shown in the above example.

What is interesting about this chatbot versus the custom search engine I created previously, is how people so far have interacted with it. Most have treated this chatbot like a search engine, expecting to give them the exact answer to the question they asked. A chatbot really isn’t that. It is basically a list of question and answer pairs. That is, if you type in this (or close to it), then answer with this. It doesn’t search the web, it looks to it’s pre-programmed question and answers pair largely.

You can prime the chatbot with your own custom questions and answers or you can target web links. Sites that have lots of FAQs (frequently asked questions) on it ingest very well into the bot. However, it is important to remember that chatbots are not search engines.

So where could I see chatbot playing a role? I think they would work well for adoption, that is people asking basic questions about OneDrive for example (i.e. “How do I upload to OneDrive”) or things like “What is Sway”. So think of chatbots more as a way to answer common questions in an automated way. When you actually sit down and have a look at how many times the same or similar questions get asked you begin to appreciate the role that chatbots could play.

I am still testing this chatbot concept out in the area of providing information specifically on the Microsoft Cloud but, as I said, I can see an initial benefit in things like adoption, which I have started working on. In an upcoming article, I’ll show you how easy it is to create a chatbot like this in Azure. However, the idea for this preliminary article is to get you thinking about:

1. The differences between chatbots and search

2. Where a chatbot may make sense in your business. That is, what information is going to help with?

Once you have that, then creating an effective chatbot will be much easier in my experience.

In the meantime, feel free to have a play with the N2KBot and let me know your thoughts. It is far from perfect and only runs on the cheapest plan, so it might be a bit slow initially when you use it. However, once ‘awake’ it should perform normally. If you have some suggestions for the questions it should be able to answer, let me know, I’m very interested to hear other people’s thoughts on this.

My aim with all this, is to get the cogs in my head turning about where this new “AI” technology can effectively be applied. They are certainly beginning to turn in mine.

A dedicated Microsoft Cloud Search engine

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Recently, I have been working with the Microsoft AI tools typically provided via Azure. Personally, I don’t like the term “Artificial” when it comes to AI because I really don’t believe that it is truly ‘Artificial” as yet. I therefore far more prefer the term ‘Automated Intelligence’.

Terminology aside, I have been looking at where these new “AI” style technologies can be utilised effectively. One of most common questions I hear is finding ‘good’ information about Microsoft Cloud technologies. It is all there in traditional search engines but it gets mixed in with everything else. So what I have done is used Azure Search to configure a service at:

http://bit.ly/ciasearch

that only searches through links that I have provided. The idea is to provide a quality set of links from Microsoft and others that provides the best information about the Microsoft Cloud. The idea being is that you get all the benefits of traditional search engines, less the advertising and across a list of high quality but specific sites. Hopefully, that means the chance of you finding what you are looking for to be much higher and of a better quality.

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When you search for an item, as shown above, it works exactly like any other search engine. It supports the same query syntax (AND, OR, INCLUDES:, etc) and will return you a list of results as shown above from the material that it indexes.

Of course, any search engine is only as good as the information that it crawls, and I continue to add sources on an ongoing basis. However, if you wish to suggest a URL to include in the CIA Search then you can do that via:

https://bit.ly/ciasearchsubmit

I’ll review each submission and all to the engine if it is of a high enough quality.

The more people that use the CIA Search the better it will become, so please share this with others whom you believe may receive benefit.

Need to Know Podcast–Episode 242

In this episode Brenton reports back on his encounters with the AZ-900 certification exam. Spoiler alert – he passed! Congrats. I also speak with Nicki Borell all about information protection and labelling in Microsoft 365. of course Brenton and I bring you up to date with everything in the Microsoft Cloud. We hope you enjoy the listen.

This episode was recorded using Microsoft Teams and produced with Camtasia 2020

Take a listen and let us know what you think – feedback@needtoknow.cloud

https://ciaops.podbean.com/e/episode-242-nicki-borell/

Subscribe via iTunes at:

https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/ciaops-need-to-know-podcasts/id406891445?mt=2

The podcast is also available on Stitcher at:

http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/ciaops/need-to-know-podcast?refid=stpr

Don’t forget to give the show a rating as well as send us any feedback or suggestions you may have for the show.

Resources

@nickiborell

SharePointtalk.net

YouTube – Technology and Me

Nicki Borell – – Linkedin

www.nickiborell.com

www.xpertsatwork.com

@contactbrenton

@directorcia

Announcing OAuth 2.0 support for IMAP and SMTP AUTH protocols in Exchange Online

Making it easier to stay caught up with Cortana in Microsoft 365

General availability of Azure Files on-premises Active Directory Domain Services authentication

Security baseline (DRAFT): Windows 10 and Windows Server, version 2004

AZ-900 exam

Windows 10 2004 update

Audio

Need to Know podcast–Episode 240

Mark O returns! Brenton returns! it’s the come back show, just in time for the end of COVID lock down. Mark O’Shea and I talk about the swag or recent changes to the Microsoft 365 Business suite of products. Brenton and I also bring you up to date with all the very latest Microsoft Cloud news as well. What a return it is!

This episode was recorded using Microsoft Teams and produced with Camtasia 2020

Take a listen and let us know what you think – feedback@needtoknow.cloud

https://ciaops.podbean.com/e/episode-240-mark-oshea/

Subscribe via iTunes at:

https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/ciaops-need-to-know-podcasts/id406891445?mt=2

The podcast is also available on Stitcher at:

http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/ciaops/need-to-know-podcast?refid=stpr

Don’t forget to give the show a rating as well as send us any feedback or suggestions you may have for the show.

Resources

@intunedin

@contactbrenton

@directorcia

Marl O’Shea’s blog

What’s New in Microsoft Teams | Build Edition 2020

Announcing Microsoft Lists – a new Microsoft 365 app to track information and organize work

Announcing Microsoft Lists – Your smart information tracking app in Microsoft 365

Now Live – SharePoint home sites: a landing for your organization in the intelligent intranet

The new Yammer public preview

Enable a combine MFA and SSPR registration experience in Azure AD

Evolving Azure AD for every user and any identity with External Identities

Audio

Creating a WVD Session Host in the Azure console

Before you launch into creating host pools in Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD), you’ll need to do some preparations. I’ve detailed those previously here:

Moving to the Cloud  – Part 1

Moving to the Cloud – Part 2

Moving to the Cloud – Part 3

What you need for Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD)

Creating a WVD host pool in the Azure console

this article will show you how to add hosts (i.e. Virtual Machines (VMs)) to the host pool you have already created.

Open the Azure portal and navigate to Windows Virtual Desktop in your tenant and you should see the above screen.

Select the option for Host pools from the menu on the left as shown.

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You should now see a list of Host Pools already created. You’ll need to have at least one host pool to continue, so if you don’t have one yet, you’ll need to go and create it.

Select the host pool you wish to add hosts machines (i.e. VMs) to.

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In this case, I selected Host Pool P2 and see the above screen which should also see some similar. You will note that this Host Pool currently has no Session Hosts in it. To add a Session Hosts (i.e. a VM), select the Session hosts from the menu on the left as shown above.

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Select the +Add button on the right as shown to add a new host VM.

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You’ll now be stepped through a host creation wizard. There generally won’t be anything you can change on this initial page, because the settings are determined already by the Host Pool. So, select the Next: Virtual Machines > button, at the bottom of the page, to continue.

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Select the Resource Group and the Location (i.e. data center) for the host machines. I’d suggest that you keep all of these together in the same data center.

Next, select the Size of the VMs you wish. Have a think here. Any machines you also add to this Host Pool will need to match any machines you add to this pool down the track. So, have a think about how machines you are likely to need in total before you select the size of the VM you want.

Now select the total number of VM’s you wish to create at this time. Again, start small and grow if you need to is the suggestion. That helps keep costs down. You can also enter a Prefix that will be added to each host as it is created. This make it easy to keep track of which hosts below to each pool. My best practice if to use an identifier that let’s you know what pool this host is part of.

When complete, scroll down for more options.

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Next, you’ll need to select where to get the image to put on hosts (i.e what initial operating systems and any additional apps). You can use your own custom image if you wish, but you’ll need to have it prepared beforehand. Here a standard one from the gallery is selected.

Then, select the type of hard disk you wish for the hosts.

These hosts need to live on an existing VNET and Subnet that need to have been set up prior. Again, it’s important that this VNET, and other resources live in the same region. If you mix regions, then some of the resources may not show in the wizard. Best practice again, is to keep all of the WVD infrastructure together in the same region.

If you wish to access these hosts directly from the Internet via something like RDP, you can give them a public IP address. This can be handy for troubleshooting but is not recommended best practices as they will be exposed to attack when running. By default, hosts in a pool are only accessible via the WVD service.

Scroll down the screen for more options.

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If you have configured a sub domain or want to use specific OU’s in your domain for these these new hosts, you’ll need to set the Specify domain or unit option to Yes and add the appropriate configuration.

In my case, as I detailed here:

Moving to the Cloud – Part 3

I set up Azure AD Domain Services, specifically for WVD. Best practice, when I did that, was to create a subdomain like:

ds.domain.com

Thus, I needed to select Yes, here and enter the whole subdomain into the field that appears. You don’t necessarily have to do that, it all comes down to how you have configured your networking. But make sure you put the right entry here or adding hosts will fail.

The last fields on this page ask you for an account to be used to join the hosts to the domain. This can be the source of plenty of pain and frustration. My advice, is to test and ensure that this account actually can manually logon to Azure without MFA and also can actually add machines to the domain. Remember, this join account can’t have MFA enabled due to the automated nature of the join process about to take place. This may require manually adding a VM to the domain using this account, to verify before completing this wizard. Also, be aware that if you get the wrong details and continue with the wizard, not only will the attach fail but the account you are using might get locked out! So, lots to be aware of here and I highly recommend double checking everything as this is the most common point of failure in my experience. Remember, once the hosts are joined you can disable the login for your join account to keep it secure.

When you have made all your selections, press the Next button at the bottom of the page to continue.

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Add any tags you wish on this screen and then select the Next button at the bottom of the screen to continue.

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Azure will then evaluate your selections and let you know if there are any issues that require attention.

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If the validation passes, you should see a green banner at the top of the page as shown and the Create button at the bottom will become available. Select this to continue.

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You should then see the deployment process begin as shown above.

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It will then continue on, through the various stages and take around 10 minutes to complete. That may vary depending on the amount and size of hosts you wish created.

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If all goes as expected, you should then be greeted with a successful deployment page as shown above.

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If you look at the hosts you just created in the Host Pool, you may see their status as Upgrading as shown above. This shouldn’t take long to complete.

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and a few minutes later, the host status should be Available as shown above.

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If you click on any individual host, you should see a summary screen like that shown above.

That completes the process of adding hosts (VMs) to the Host Pool. The next step will be to give users access to these machines which I’ll cover in a upcoming article.