Binary Option Definition and Example - Investopedia

On the trend of Arnesonian/Blackmoor-style 2d6 games

In the latest edition of the Questing Beast newsletter, Ben Milton (ludifex) wrote a bit about what I would call "Arnesonian 2D6 opposed-roll systems". These are stripped-back, old-school, Blackmoor-style games that pretty much just use one basic die mechanic of rolling against each other with the winner getting to say what happens, or scoring a hit in combat. Notable examples include Landshut and Just Halberds, although I've seen quite a few other variants. I know the OSR community has something of an attachment to tradition and a certain view of simplicity, but I can't help finding these systems kind of archaic and clumsy. I feel like the system is being spread around just because of its Arnesonian roots, and that very few people are interest in thinking about the mathematics, the odds of success, the effect of modifiers, the ability to get similar results in a more streamlined manner, etc.
(Aside: Shout out to an exception in the form of Alex Schroeder, who actually wrote a very brief booklet called Understanding 2D6 Math which deserves praise as much for the presentation of the information as the clarity of explanation—I particularly like the first table, where the axes are represented by actual die faces, which makes the matrix immediately more tangible as you can literally look up the result of any two combinations of D6 rolls in a very intuitive way. However, even this booklet doesn't actually apply the math to game design at all.)
Essentially, a lot of the stuff that we normally think about when designing our games goes out of the window in favour of doing it the way that Blackmoor did because the origins of the hobby are seen as inherently cool and/or correct. For instance, a lot of these systems have either success or failure, with no real significance afforded to high or low differences between the two opposed rolls. This means that the outcome is essentially binary. I'm not sure I see the advantage of having two people roll against each other to get an outcome that's essentially binary: couldn't you just have one person roll against a target? Wouldn't that give you the same probabilities with less effort?
I'll admit that I generally dislike opposed-roll systems anyway, so this may be something of a personal bias or bugbear, but at least some systems make the full spread of possible outcomes actually meaningfully different. I can accept the opposed rolls in Fate because there is actually an important difference between beating my opponent by 1 and beating them by 8, for instance. The full scale (potentially rolling +4 against your opponent's -4) means that both people rolling is actually important to getting the probability distribution. I'm not convinced that's the case with binary 2d6 systems, where what really matters is my odds of beating my opponent by at least 1, and the actual amount I beat them by is irrelevant.
Some versions of Landshut seem to remedy this a little, by introducing partial/mixed successes and bonus damage for high rolls. However, those aren't applied consistently across versions of the game, they're often optional, and the "bonus for high rolls" is only applied to combat damage as far as I know, so it doesn't affect huge chunks of the game at all.
The thing that really confuses and bugs me about this is that the default chance of beating your opponent in these systems is 50% if you just have to roll at least the same as them and very nearly 45% if you have to roll over them, IIRC. Compare that to a system that works like D&D's AC, where it essentially takes what should be an opposed roll and makes it into a roll vs an 'average' (10.5) result for the opponent: with the average rounded down to 10, like in D&D (which rounds fractions down by default but with a minimum of 1, in most cases), you have a 55% chance of rolling at least the same and a 50% chance of rolling over them, and with the average rounded up to 11 (which .5 would be in the absence of a general rule to round down), you have a 50% chance of rolling at least the same and a 45% chance of rolling over them.
(Aside 2: To my mind there's actually no reason we can't just use fractional averages as-is, even though I don't know of any game that does that. Maybe GURPS? Anyway, that would mean that you'd need to roll an 11 to beat an opponent by default, giving a 50% chance of success, but with the interesting side-effect that you no longer need a rule to handle "draws". Instead, any roll you didn't win would be lost. I see that as a nice bonus because I don't really care to have some specific rule just to produce an awkward third outcome 5% of the time and make the math more difficult to compute.)
So if you really want to hew to the existing probabilities as closely as possible, just round up to 11 and require the rolling player to roll over that. That gives us the 45% chance of success we want. What happens when we start applying modifiers? A +1 takes your chances of success up to 50%, a -1 takes your chances down to 40%, etc. This is all simple D20 math we know inside out by now: our chance of success increases/decreases by 5 percentage points with each +1/-1, until we hit 100%/0% (or 95%/5% in games/mechanics that specifically always allow both success and failure).
How does that compare to the 2d6 method? A +1 on that takes us from 44% to 56%, whereas a -1 takes us down to 34%. A +2 gives us 66%, while a -2 gives us 24%. These are rounded off because the actual numbers are messy. Essentially the first couple of modifiers make a difference of about 10 percentage points each (double that of the same modifier to a D20). But then it starts to get weird: while a +3 offers another ~10 percentage points on a +2, a +6 offers only another 5 percentage points on a +5, for instance. No doubt some people will see this dynamic effect of bonuses (which essentially means that if you are already pretty sure to succeed, another advantage won't make much difference, whereas if you are already pretty sure to fail another disadvantage won't make much difference) as a desirable thing in a die mechanic, while others prefer the transparent linearity of a D20.
Another issue here is granularity: a +1 bonus on a D20 is "smaller", allowing bonuses to be given out without affecting the balance of power quite as much. Of course some people will say "+1 bonuses are rare in these games", but I'm not sure that's entirely true: I've seen BlackmooLandshut-style games that give out +1 bonuses quite liberally, with some giving a +1 for each relevant profession/special ability/etc a character has, and others featuring examples that talk quite casually about +3 bonuses, etc. Again, this might be a personal preference to a point, but there are potential advantages to greater granularity.
I think doing ludological archaeology on these games is entirely fine and respectable: I have as much desire as the next person to know how the Blackmoor campaign was actually played at the time and to think about how this might inform our games and so on. But do we really want to design our own games based on these rules without any critical thought about the point and effect of these rules, and whether there are better methods available? I'd like to at least see some critical thought about the shortcomings of these systems and approximations of their dynamics and tone and practicalities that might achieve the intended goals even better. If nothing else, at least this has offered me an opportunity to consider my preferred OSR mechanics (in a way the reinforces my preferences!)...
submitted by lukehawksbee to osr [link] [comments]

KSP Loading... The KSP franchise expands

KSP Loading... The KSP franchise expands
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Welcome to our official newsletter, KSP Loading…! If you want to learn about all the current developments of the KSP franchise, then this is the place to be!

Kerbal Space Program 2

Last week at the opening night of Gamescom we announced the forthcoming sequel and newest addition to our franchise, Kerbal Space Program 2! This sequel will be expanding upon what makes Kerbal Space Program great and will bring space exploration to the next generation with exciting new features that will delight veteran and new players alike.

We’re excited to introduce you to Star Theory Games, the developer studio behind Kerbal Space Program 2!

Learn about the new development team joining the franchise by watching the Developer Story Trailer. Watch our Cinematic Trailer below to see what we’ll be bringing to KSP2!
So what can you expect in 2020, when Kerbal Space Program 2 comes out of the VAB? These are just some of the features, you’ll be able to enjoy:
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Improved Onboarding

Rocket science can be a bit overwhelming sometimes and one of the things that Star Theory has set their minds towards is helping facilitate newcomers on their journey to become space explorers. With new animated tutorials, improved UI, and fully revamped assembly and flight instructions, it will be easier than ever to put your creativity to the test, all without sacrificing any of the challenge from the original game.
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Next Generation Technology

Kerbal technology is taking major steps forward in Kerbal Space Program 2. With next-generation engines, parts, fuel, and much more, prepare to venture farther within and beyond the original star system!
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Colonies

Long term colonization of celestial bodies has become a priority for Kerbalkind. Gather resources to construct buildings, space stations, and habitations, as well as find and process unique fuel types. Eventually, these colonies become advanced enough for vehicle construction, propelling them towards deep space and beyond. It’s time for Kerbals to become a type 2 civilization!
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Interstellar Travel

With their next-gen tech, colonies, and resource gathering, Kerbals will reach new levels of exploration: interstellar travel. That’s right, in Kerbal Space Program 2, you’ll be able to discover extrasolar systems with whole new celestial bodies to explore. Among them: Charr, a heat-blasted world of iron; Ovin, a ringed super-Earth with relentless gravity; Rask and Rusk, a binary pair locked in a dance of death; and many more to reward exploration. What mysteries await in these alien worlds? It will be up to you to find out!
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MultiplayeModding

Modding has always been an essential part of KSP and with Kerbal Space Program 2 it will continue to be so. The technological developments made to the foundations of Kerbal Space Program 2 will build on the beloved modding capabilities of the original game, as well as deliver on the long-requested addition of multiplayer. Soon players will be able to share the challenges of deep space exploration. We’ll reveal more details on these and more features at a later time, so stay tuned!
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Click here to see these and more screenshots in high-res.

PAX West 2019

Want to see the behind-closed-doors presentation of KSP 2 gameplay? Come by booth 1909 during normal show hours to chat with the developers, take a photo with the Jeb statue, see the presentation, and grab a PAX West exclusive KSP Flag! If you take a photo there be sure to tag @KerbalSpaceP and use #BuildFlyDream.

Kerbal Space Program Update 1.8

We are all very excited for what’s coming in 2020, but until then, there is still plenty of KSP for everyone to enjoy! Squad will continue to support the current game, and as some of you may have seen, there is some really cool stuff coming in the next update for the game [Click here to read Squad’s statement in regard to the KSP 2 announcement.
Squad’s goal will always be to provide the best experience for all KSP players. The gameplay experience will be improved even further for KSP1 with the 1.8 update. Here are some more details of what you can look forward to in this latest update.

Celestial Body Visual Improvements

If you’ve been following KSP on social media, you might have already learned that new high-quality texture maps & graphic shaders are being implemented for various celestial bodies. In update 1.8 you’ll find high quality texture maps for Mun, Duna and a few other Celestial Bodies that will be revealed along the way.
If there are any concerns that the update might hinder the game’s performance on your computers, rest easy knowing you’ll be able to select the celestial bodies’ shader quality in the settings to low (legacy), medium or high. Even for the legacy option, you can expect texture stretching errors to be vastly improved. With the high-quality option, pixel density will be maintained regardless of camera distance to the celestial body, as well as a lack of tiling problems. All in all, celestial bodies will look sharper and more realistic. Take a look for yourself.

Unity Upgrade

Update 1.8 brings an improvement that Squad has wanted to introduce for some time now - an upgrade to the underlying engine of the game to Unity 2019.2
With this upgrade there are some long-desired performance and graphic improvements, some of which come out of the box, and some which will allow further enhancements down the road.
These include:
  • KSP will now run under DX11 on the Windows platform (DX9 will no longer be supported) which allows many graphical improvements, such as those on the planetary textures.
  • A new PhysX version with the associated performance and precision improvements.
  • GPU instancing to improve rendering performance.
  • Incremental garbage collection to reduce frame rate stutters, particularly in modded installs.
  • And many others.
While this version will have a larger impact on many mods, more than 1.6 or 1.7, the process has been tested and is relatively fast. Still, there will be several changes, due to the introduction of the Roslyn compiler, which brings full C#7 support and moving to full .NET 4.x API (.NET 3.5 support is deprecated). There will be continued efforts to reduce significant impact for Modders, but the belief is this time around the benefits of this upgrade far outweigh the drawbacks.

New Parts for Breaking Ground

Update 1.8 will also include some exclusive treats for owners of the Breaking Ground Expansion. A new set of fan blades and shrouds will continue to push the creativity of KSP players even further. By combining these fan blades with small electrical rotors and the new shrouds, you’ll be able to increase the performance and thrust of your propellers. Use them to create drones, ducted fan jets, or anything you can imagine.
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Improvements are also being made to robotic part resource consumption, with better info on consumption and new improved options for power-out situations.
Remember, you can share and download crafts and missions on Curse, KerbalX, the KSP Forum and the KSP Steam Workshop.
That’s it for this edition. Be sure to join us on our official forums, and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Stay tuned for more exciting and upcoming news and development updates!
Happy launchings!
submitted by UomoCapra to KerbalSpaceProgram [link] [comments]

Part 2: Tools & Info for Sysadmins - Mega List of Tips, Tools, Books, Blogs & More

(continued from part 1)
Unlocker is a tool to help delete those irritating locked files that give you an error message like "cannot delete file" or "access is denied." It helps with killing processes, unloading DLLs, deleting index.dat files, as well as unlocking, deleting, renaming, and moving locked files—typically without requiring a reboot.
IIS Crypto's newest version adds advanced settings; registry backup; new, simpler templates; support for Windows Server 2019 and more. This tool lets you enable or disable protocols, ciphers, hashes and key exchange algorithms on Windows and reorder SSL/TLS cipher suites from IIS, change advanced settings, implement best practices with a single click, create custom templates and test your website. Available in both command line and GUI versions.
RocketDock is an application launcher with a clean interface that lets you drag/drop shortcuts for easy access and minimize windows to the dock. Features running application indicators, multi-monitor support, alpha-blended PNG and ICO icons, auto-hide and popup on mouse over, positioning and layering options. Fully customizable, portable, and compatible with MobyDock, ObjectDock, RK Launcher and Y'z Dock skins. Works even on slower computers and is Unicode compliant. Suggested by lieutenantcigarette: "If you like the dock on MacOS but prefer to use Windows, RocketDock has you covered. A superb and highly customisable dock that you can add your favourites to for easy and elegant access."
Baby FTP Server offers only the basics, but with the power to serve as a foundation for a more-complex server. Features include multi-threading, a real-time server log, support for PASV and non-PASV mode, ability to set permissions for download/upload/rename/delete/create directory. Only allows anonymous connections. Our thanks to FatherPrax for suggesting this one.
Strace is a Linux diagnostic, debugging and instructional userspace tool with a traditional command-line interface. Uses the ptrace kernel feature to monitor and tamper with interactions between processes and the kernel, including system calls, signal deliveries and changes of process state.
exa is a small, fast replacement for ls with more features and better defaults. It uses colors to distinguish file types and metadata, and it recognizes symlinks, extended attributes and Git. All in one single binary. phils_lab describes it as "'ls' on steroids, written in Rust."
rsync is a faster file transfer program for Unix to bring remote files into sync. It sends just the differences in the files across the link, without requiring both sets of files to be present at one of the ends. Suggested by zorinlynx, who adds that "rsync is GODLY for moving data around efficiently. And if an rsync is interrupted, just run it again."
Matter Wiki is a simple WYSIWYG wiki that can help teams store and collaborate. Every article gets filed under a topic, transparently, so you can tell who made what changes to which document and when. Thanks to bciar-iwdc for the recommendation.
LockHunter is a file unlocking tool that enables you to delete files that are being blocked for unknown reasons. Can be useful for fighting malware and other programs that are causing trouble. Deletes files into the recycle bin so you can restore them if necessary. Chucky2401 finds it preferable to Unlocker, "since I am on Windows 7. There are no new updates since July 2017, but the last beta was in June of this year."
aria2 is a lightweight multi-source command-line download utility that supports HTTP/HTTPS, FTP, SFTP, BitTorrent and Metalink. It can be manipulated via built-in JSON-RPC and XML-RPC interfaces. Recommended by jftuga, who appreciates it as a "cross-platform command line downloader (similar to wget or curl), but with the -x option can run a segmented download of a single file to increase throughput."
Free Services
Temp-Mail allows you to receive email at a temporary address that self-destructs after a certain period of time. Outwit all the forums, Wi-Fi owners, websites and blogs that insist you register to use them. Petti-The-Yeti says, "I don't give any company my direct email anymore. If I want to trial something but they ask for an email signup, I just grab a temporary email from here, sign up with it, and wait for the trial link or license info to come through. Then, you just download the file and close the website."
Duck DNS will point a DNS (sub domains of duckdns.org) to an IP of your choice. DDNS is a handy way for you to refer to a serverouter with an easily rememberable name for situations when the server's ip address will likely change. Suggested by xgnarf, who finds it "so much better for the free tier of noip—no 30-day nag to keep your host up."
Joe Sandbox detects and analyzes potential malicious files and URLs on Windows, Android, Mac OS, Linux and iOS for suspicious activities. It performs deep malware analysis and generates comprehensive and detailed reports. The Community Edition of Joe Sandbox Cloud allows you to run a maximum of 6 analyses per month, 3 per day on Windows, Linux and Android with limited analysis output. This one is from dangibbons94, who wanted to "share this cool service ... for malware analysis. I usually use Virus total for URL scanning, but this goes a lot more in depth. I just used basic analysis, which is free and enough for my needs."
Hybrid Analysis is a malware analysis service that detects and analyzes unknown threats for the community. This one was suggested by compupheonix, who adds that it "gets you super detailed reports... it's about the most fleshed out and detailed one I can find."
JustBeamIt is a file-transfer service that allows you to send files of any size via a peer-to-peer streaming model. Simply drag and drop your file and specify the recipient's email address. They will then receive a link that will trigger the download directly from your computer, so the file does not have to be uploaded to the service itself. The link is good for one download and expires after 10 minutes. Thanks to cooljacob204sfw for the recommendation!
ShieldsUP is a quick but powerful internet security checkup and information service. It was created by security researcher Steve Gibson to scan ports and let you know which ones have been opened through your firewalls or NAT routers.
Firefox Send is an encrypted file transfer service that allows you to share files up to 2.5GB from any browser or an Android app. Uses end-to-end encryption to keep data secure and offers security controls you can set. You can determine when your file link expires, the number of downloads, and whether to add a password. Your recipient receives a link to download the file, and they don’t need a Firefox account. This one comes from DePingus, who appreciates the focus on privacy. "They have E2E, expiring links, and a clear privacy policy."
Free DNS is a service where programmers share domain names with one another at no cost. Offers free hosting as well as dynamic DNS, static DNS, subdomain and domain hosting. They can host your domain's DNS as well as allowing you to register hostnames from domains they're hosting already. If you don't have a domain, you can sign up for a free account and create up to 5 subdomains off the domains others have contributed and point these hosts anywhere on the Internet. Thanks to 0x000000000000004C (yes, that's a username) for the suggestion!
ANY.RUN is an interactive malware analysis service for dynamic and static research of the majority of threats in any environment. It can provide a convenient in-depth analysis of new, unidentified malicious objects and help with the investigation of incidents. ImAshtonTurner appreciates it as "a great sandbox tool for viewing malware, etc."
Plik is a scalable, temporary file upload system similar to wetransfer that is written in golang. Thanks go to I_eat_Narwhals for this one!
Free My IP offers free, dynamic DNS. This service comes with no login, no ads, no newsletters, no links to click and no hassle. Kindly suggested by Jack of All Trades.
Mailinator provides free, temporary email inboxes on a receive-only, attachment-free system that requires no sign-up. All @mailinator.com addresses are public, readable and discoverable by anyone at any time—but are automatically deleted after a few hours. Can be a nice option for times when you to give out an address that won't be accessible longterm. Recommended by nachomountain, who's been using it "for years."
Magic Wormhole is a service for sending files directly with no intermediate upload, no web interface and no login. When both parties are online you with the minimal software installed, the wormhole is invoked via command line identifying the file you want to send. The server then provides a speakable, one-time-use password that you give the recipient. When they enter that password in their wormhole console, key exchange occurs and the download begins directly between your computers. rjohnson99 explains, "Magic Wormhole is sort of like JustBeamIt but is open-source and is built on Python. I use it a lot on Linux servers."
EveryCloud's Free Phish is our own, new Phishing Simulator. Once you've filled in the form and logged in, you can choose from lots of email templates (many of which we've coped from what we see in our Email Security business) and landing pages. Run a one-off free phish, then see who clicked or submitted data so you can understand where your organization is vulnerable and act accordingly.
Hardening Guides
CIS Hardening Guides contain the system security benchmarks developed by a global community of cybersecurity experts. Over 140 configuration guidelines are provided to help safeguard systems against threats. Recommended by cyanghost109 "to get a start on looking at hardening your own systems."
Podcasts
Daily Tech News is Tom Merrit's show covering the latest tech issues with some of the top experts in the field. With the focus on daily tech news and analysis, it's a great way to stay current. Thanks to EmoPolarbear for drawing it to our attention.
This Week in Enterprise Tech is a podcast that features IT experts explaining the complicated details of cutting-edge enterprise technology. Join host Lou Maresca on this informative exploration of enterprise solutions, with new episodes recorded every Friday afternoon.
Security Weekly is a podcast where a "bunch of security nerds" get together and talk shop. Topics are greatly varied, and the atmosphere is relaxed and conversational. The show typically tops out at 2 hours, which is perfect for those with a long commute. If you’re fascinated by discussion of deep technical and security-related topics, this may be a nice addition to your podcast repertoire.
Grumpy Old Geeks—What Went Wrong on the Internet and Who's To Blame is a podcast about the internet, technology and geek culture—among other things. The hosts bring their grumpy brand of humor to the "state of the world as they see it" in these roughly hour-long weekly episodes. Recommended by mkaxsnyder, who enjoys it because, "They are a good team that talk about recent and relevant topics from an IT perspective."
The Social-Engineer Podcast is a monthly discussion among the hosts—a group of security experts from SEORG—and a diverse assortment of guests. Topics focus around human behavior and how it affects information security, with new episodes released on the second Monday of every month. Thanks to MrAshRhodes for the suggestion.
The CyberWire podcasts discuss what's happening in cyberspace, providing news and commentary from industry experts. This cyber security-focused news service delivers concise, accessible, and relevant content without the gossip, sensationalism, and the marketing buzz that often distract from the stories that really matter. Appreciation to supermicromainboard for the suggestion.
Malicious Life is a podcast that tells the fascinating—and often unknown—stories of the wildest hacks you can ever imagine. Host Ran Levi, a cybersecurity expert and author, talks with the people who were actually involved to reveal the history of each event in depth. Our appreciation goes to peraphon for the recommendation.
The Broadcast Storm is a podcast for Cisco networking professionals. BluePieceOfPaper suggests it "for people studying for their CCNA/NP. Kevin Wallace is a CCIE Collaboration so he knows his *ishk. Good format for learning too. Most podcasts are about 8-15 mins long and its 'usually' an exam topic. It will be something like "HSPR" but instead of just explaining it super boring like Ben Stein reading a powerpoint, he usually goes into a story about how (insert time in his career) HSPR would have been super useful..."
Software Engineering Radio is a podcast for developers who are looking for an educational resource with original content that isn't recycled from other venues. Consists of conversations on relevant topics with experts from the software engineering world, with new episodes released three to four times per month. a9JDvXLWHumjaC tells us this is "a solid podcast for devs."
Books
System Center 2012 Configuration Manager is a comprehensive technical guide designed to help you optimize Microsoft's Configuration Manager 2012 according to your requirements and then to deploy and use it successfully. This methodical, step-by-step reference covers: the intentions behind the product and its role in the broader System Center product suite; planning, design, and implementation; and details on each of the most-important feature sets. Learn how to leverage the user-centric capabilities to provide anytime/anywhere services & software, while strengthening control and improving compliance.
Network Warrior: Everything You Need to Know That Wasn’t on the CCNA Exam is a practical guide to network infrastructure. Provides an in-depth view of routers and routing, switching (with Cisco Catalyst and Nexus switches as examples), SOHO VoIP and SOHO wireless access point design and configuration, introduction to IPv6 with configuration examples, telecom technologies in the data-networking world (including T1, DS3, frame relay, and MPLS), security, firewall theory and configuration, ACL and authentication, Quality of Service (QoS), with an emphasis on low-latency queuing (LLQ), IP address allocation, Network Time Protocol (NTP) and device failures.
Beginning the Linux Command Line is your ally in mastering Linux from the keyboard. It is intended for system administrators, software developers, and enthusiastic users who want a guide that will be useful for most distributions—i.e., all items have been checked against Ubuntu, Red Hat and SUSE. Addresses administering users and security and deploying firewalls. Updated to the latest versions of Linux to cover files and directories, including the Btrfs file system and its management and systemd boot procedure and firewall management with firewalld.
Modern Operating Systems, 4th Ed. is written for students taking intro courses on Operating Systems and for those who want an OS reference guide for work. The author, an OS researcher, includes both the latest materials on relevant operating systems as well as current research. The previous edition of Modern Operating Systems received the 2010 McGuffey Longevity Award that recognizes textbooks for excellence over time.
Time Management for System Administrators is a guide for organizing your approach to this challenging role in a way that improves your results. Bestselling author Thomas Limoncelli offers a collection of tips and techniques for navigating the competing goals and concurrent responsibilities that go along with working on large projects while also taking care of individual user's needs. The book focuses on strategies to help with daily tasks that will also allow you to handle the critical situations that inevitably require your attention. You'll learn how to manage interruptions, eliminate time wasters, keep an effective calendar, develop routines and prioritize, stay focused on the task at hand and document/automate to speed processes.
The Practice of System and Network Administration, 3rd Edition introduces beginners to advanced frameworks while serving as a guide to best practices in system administration that is helpful for even the most advanced experts. Organized into four major sections that build from the foundational elements of system administration through improved techniques for upgrades and change management to exploring assorted management topics. Covers the basics and then moves onto the advanced things that can be built on top of those basics to wield real power and execute difficult projects.
Learn Windows PowerShell in a Month of Lunches, Third Edition is designed to teach you PowerShell in a month's worth of 1-hour lessons. This updated edition covers PowerShell features that run on Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2 and later, PowerShell v3 and later, and it includes v5 features like PowerShellGet. For PowerShell v3 and up, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 and later.
Troubleshooting with the Windows Sysinternals Tools is a guide to the powerful Sysinternals tools for diagnosing and troubleshooting issues. Sysinternals creator Mark Russinovich and Windows expert Aaron Margosis provide a deep understanding of Windows core concepts that aren’t well-documented elsewhere along with details on how to use Sysinternals tools to optimize any Windows system’s reliability, efficiency, performance and security. Includes an explanation of Sysinternals capabilities, details on each major tool, and examples of how the tools can be used to solve real-world cases involving error messages, hangs, sluggishness, malware infections and more.
DNS and BIND, 5th Ed. explains how to work with the Internet's distributed host information database—which is responsible for translating names into addresses, routing mail to its proper destination, and listing phone numbers according to the ENUM standard. Covers BIND 9.3.2 & 8.4.7, the what/how/why of DNS, name servers, MX records, subdividing domains (parenting), DNSSEC, TSIG, troubleshooting and more. PEPCK tells us this is "generally considered the DNS reference book (aside from the RFCs of course!)"
Windows PowerShell in Action, 3rd Ed. is a comprehensive guide to PowerShell. Written by language designer Bruce Payette and MVP Richard Siddaway, this volume gives a great introduction to Powershell, including everyday use cases and detailed examples for more-advanced topics like performance and module architecture. Covers workflows and classes, writing modules and scripts, desired state configuration and programming APIs/pipelines.This edition has been updated for PowerShell v6.
Zero Trust Networks: Building Secure Systems in Untrusted Networks explains the principles behind zero trust architecture, along with what's needed to implement it. Covers the evolution of perimeter-based defenses and how they evolved into the current broken model, case studies of zero trust in production networks on both the client and server side, example configurations for open-source tools that are useful for building a zero trust network and how to migrate from a perimeter-based network to a zero trust network in production. Kindly recommended by jaginfosec.
Tips
Here are a couple handy Windows shortcuts:
Here's a shortcut for a 4-pane explorer in Windows without installing 3rd-party software:
(Keep the win key down for the arrows, and no pauses.) Appreciation goes to ZAFJB for this one.
Our recent tip for a shortcut to get a 4-pane explorer in Windows, triggered this suggestion from SevaraB: "You can do that for an even larger grid of Windows by right-clicking the clock in the taskbar, and clicking 'Show windows side by side' to arrange them neatly. Did this for 4 rows of 6 windows when I had to have a quick 'n' dirty "video wall" of windows monitoring servers at our branches." ZAFJB adds that it actually works when you right-click "anywhere on the taskbar, except application icons or start button."
This tip comes courtesy of shipsass: "When I need to use Windows Explorer but I don't want to take my hands off the keyboard, I press Windows-E to launch Explorer and then Ctrl-L to jump to the address line and type my path. The Ctrl-L trick also works with any web browser, and it's an efficient way of talking less-technical people through instructions when 'browse to [location]' stumps them."
Clear browser history/cookies by pressing CTRL-SHIFT-DELETE on most major browsers. Thanks go to synapticpanda, who adds that this "saves me so much time when troubleshooting web apps where I am playing with the cache and such."
To rename a file with F2, while still editing the name of that file: Hit TAB to tab into the renaming of the next file. Thanks to abeeftaco for this one!
Alt-D is a reliable alternative to Ctrl-L for jumping to the address line in a browser. Thanks for this one go to fencepost_ajm, who explains: "Ctrl-L comes from the browser side as a shortcut for Location, Alt-D from the Windows Explorer side for Directory."
Browser shortcut: When typing a URL that ends with dot com, Ctrl + Enter will place the ".com" and take you to the page. Thanks to wpierre for this one!
This tip comes from anynonus, as something that daily that saves a few clicks: "Running a program with ctrl + shift + enter from start menu will start it as administrator (alt + y will select YES to run as admin) ... my user account is local admin [so] I don't feel like that is unsafe"
Building on our PowerShell resources, we received the following suggestion from halbaradkenafin: aka.ms/pskoans is "a way to learn PowerShell using PowerShell (and Pester). It's really cool and a bunch of folks have high praise for it (including a few teams within MSFT)."
Keyboard shortcut: If you already have an application open, hold ctrl + shift and middle click on the application in your task bar to open another instance as admin. Thanks go to Polymira for this one.
Remote Server Tip: "Critical advice. When testing out network configuration changes, prior to restarting the networking service or rebooting, always create a cron job that will restore your original network configuration and then reboot/restart networking on the machine after 5 minutes. If your config worked, you have enough time to remove it. If it didn't, it will fix itself. This is a beautifully simple solution that I learned from my old mentor at my very first job. I've held on to it for a long time." Thanks go to FrigidNox for the tip!
Websites
Deployment Research is the website of Johan Arwidmark, MS MVP in System Center Cloud and Datacenter Management. It is dedicated to sharing information and guidance around System Center, OS deployment, migration and more. The author shares tips and tricks to help improve the quality of IT Pros’ daily work.
Next of Windows is a website on (mostly) Microsoft-related technology. It's the place where Kent Chen—a computer veteran with many years of field experience—and Jonathan Hu—a web/mobile app developer and self-described "cool geek"—share what they know, what they learn and what they find in the hope of helping others learn and benefit.
High Scalability brings together all the relevant information about building scalable websites in one place. Because building a website with confidence requires a body of knowledge that can be slow to develop, the site focuses on moving visitors along the learning curve at a faster pace.
Information Technology Research Library is a great resource for IT-related research, white papers, reports, case studies, magazines, and eBooks. This library is provided at no charge by TradePub.com. GullibleDetective tells us it offers "free PDF files from a WIIIIIIDE variety of topics, not even just IT. Only caveat: as its a vendor-supported publishing company, you will have to give them a bit of information such as name, email address and possibly a company name. You undoubtedly have the ability to create fake information on this, mind you. The articles range from Excel templates, learning python, powershell, nosql etc. to converged architecture."
SS64 is a web-based reference guide for syntax and examples of the most-common database and OS computing commands. Recommended by Petti-The-Yeti, who adds, "I use this site all the time to look up commands and find examples while I'm building CMD and PS1 scripts."
Phishing and Malware Reporting. This website helps you put a stop to scams by getting fraudulent pages blocked. Easily report phishing webpages so they can be added to blacklists in as little as 15 minutes of your report. "Player024 tells us, "I highly recommend anyone in the industry to bookmark this page...With an average of about 10 minutes of work, I'm usually able to take down the phishing pages we receive thanks to the links posted on that website."
A Slack Channel
Windows Admin Slack is a great drive-by resource for the Windows sysadmin. This team has 33 public channels in total that cover different areas of helpful content on Windows administration.
Blogs
KC's Blog is the place where Microsoft MVP and web developer Kent Chen shares his IT insights and discoveries. The rather large library of posts offer helpful hints, how-tos, resources and news of interest to those in the Windows world.
The Windows Server Daily is the ever-current blog of technologist Katherine Moss, VP of open source & community engagement for StormlightTech. Offers brief daily posts on topics related to Windows server, Windows 10 and Administration.
An Infosec Slideshow
This security training slideshow was created for use during a quarterly infosec class. The content is offered generously by shalafi71, who adds, "Take this as a skeleton and flesh it out on your own. Take an hour or two and research the things I talk about. Tailor this to your own environment and users. Make it relevant to your people. Include corporate stories, include your audience, exclude yourself. This ain't about how smart you are at infosec, and I can't stress this enough, talk about how people can defend themselves. Give them things to look for and action they can take. No one gives a shit about your firewall rules."
Tech Tutorials
Tutorialspoint Library. This large collection of tech tutorials is a great resource for online learning. You'll find nearly 150 high-quality tutorials covering a wide array of languages and topics—from fundamentals to cutting-edge technologies. For example, this Powershell tutorial is designed for those with practical experience handling Windows-based Servers who want to learn how to install and use Windows Server 2012.
The Python Tutorial is a nice introduction to many of Python’s best features, enabling you to read and write Python modules and programs. It offers an understanding of the language's style and prepares you to learn more about the various Python library modules described in 'The Python Standard Library.' Kindly suggested by sharjeelsayed.
SysAdmin Humor
Day in the Life of a SysAdmin Episode 5: Lunch Break is an amusing look at a SysAdmin's attempt to take a brief lunch break. We imagine many of you can relate!
Have a fantastic week and as usual, let me know any comments or suggestions.
u/crispyducks
submitted by crispyducks to sysadmin [link] [comments]

Tools & Info for MSPs #2 - Mega List of Tips, Tools, Books, Blogs & More

(continued from part #1)
Unlocker is a tool to help delete those irritating locked files that give you an error message like "cannot delete file" or "access is denied." It helps with killing processes, unloading DLLs, deleting index.dat files, as well as unlocking, deleting, renaming, and moving locked files—typically without requiring a reboot.
IIS Crypto's newest version adds advanced settings; registry backup; new, simpler templates; support for Windows Server 2019 and more. This tool lets you enable or disable protocols, ciphers, hashes and key exchange algorithms on Windows and reorder SSL/TLS cipher suites from IIS, change advanced settings, implement best practices with a single click, create custom templates and test your website. Available in both command line and GUI versions.
RocketDock is an application launcher with a clean interface that lets you drag/drop shortcuts for easy access and minimize windows to the dock. Features running application indicators, multi-monitor support, alpha-blended PNG and ICO icons, auto-hide and popup on mouse over, positioning and layering options. Fully customizable, portable, and compatible with MobyDock, ObjectDock, RK Launcher and Y'z Dock skins. Works even on slower computers and is Unicode compliant. Suggested by lieutenantcigarette: "If you like the dock on MacOS but prefer to use Windows, RocketDock has you covered. A superb and highly customisable dock that you can add your favourites to for easy and elegant access."
Baby FTP Server offers only the basics, but with the power to serve as a foundation for a more-complex server. Features include multi-threading, a real-time server log, support for PASV and non-PASV mode, ability to set permissions for download/upload/rename/delete/create directory. Only allows anonymous connections. Our thanks to FatherPrax for suggesting this one.
Strace is a Linux diagnostic, debugging and instructional userspace tool with a traditional command-line interface. Uses the ptrace kernel feature to monitor and tamper with interactions between processes and the kernel, including system calls, signal deliveries and changes of process state.
exa is a small, fast replacement for ls with more features and better defaults. It uses colors to distinguish file types and metadata, and it recognizes symlinks, extended attributes and Git. All in one single binary. phils_lab describes it as "'ls' on steroids, written in Rust."
rsync is a faster file transfer program for Unix to bring remote files into sync. It sends just the differences in the files across the link, without requiring both sets of files to be present at one of the ends. Suggested by zorinlynx, who adds that "rsync is GODLY for moving data around efficiently. And if an rsync is interrupted, just run it again."
Matter Wiki is a simple WYSIWYG wiki that can help teams store and collaborate. Every article gets filed under a topic, transparently, so you can tell who made what changes to which document and when. Thanks to bciar-iwdc for the recommendation.
LockHunter is a file unlocking tool that enables you to delete files that are being blocked for unknown reasons. Can be useful for fighting malware and other programs that are causing trouble. Deletes files into the recycle bin so you can restore them if necessary. Chucky2401 finds it preferable to Unlocker, "since I am on Windows 7. There are no new updates since July 2017, but the last beta was in June of this year."
aria2 is a lightweight multi-source command-line download utility that supports HTTP/HTTPS, FTP, SFTP, BitTorrent and Metalink. It can be manipulated via built-in JSON-RPC and XML-RPC interfaces. Recommended by jftuga, who appreciates it as a "cross-platform command line downloader (similar to wget or curl), but with the -x option can run a segmented download of a single file to increase throughput."
Free Services
Temp-Mail allows you to receive email at a temporary address that self-destructs after a certain period of time. Outwit all the forums, Wi-Fi owners, websites and blogs that insist you register to use them. Petti-The-Yeti says, "I don't give any company my direct email anymore. If I want to trial something but they ask for an email signup, I just grab a temporary email from here, sign up with it, and wait for the trial link or license info to come through. Then, you just download the file and close the website."
Duck DNS will point a DNS (sub domains of duckdns.org) to an IP of your choice. DDNS is a handy way for you to refer to a serverouter with an easily rememberable name for situations when the server's ip address will likely change. Suggested by xgnarf, who finds it "so much better for the free tier of noip—no 30-day nag to keep your host up."
Joe Sandbox detects and analyzes potential malicious files and URLs on Windows, Android, Mac OS, Linux and iOS for suspicious activities. It performs deep malware analysis and generates comprehensive and detailed reports. The Community Edition of Joe Sandbox Cloud allows you to run a maximum of 6 analyses per month, 3 per day on Windows, Linux and Android with limited analysis output. This one is from dangibbons94, who wanted to "share this cool service ... for malware analysis. I usually use Virus total for URL scanning, but this goes a lot more in depth. I just used basic analysis, which is free and enough for my needs."
Hybrid Analysis is a malware analysis service that detects and analyzes unknown threats for the community. This one was suggested by compupheonix, who adds that it "gets you super detailed reports... it's about the most fleshed out and detailed one I can find."
JustBeamIt is a file-transfer service that allows you to send files of any size via a peer-to-peer streaming model. Simply drag and drop your file and specify the recipient's email address. They will then receive a link that will trigger the download directly from your computer, so the file does not have to be uploaded to the service itself. The link is good for one download and expires after 10 minutes. Thanks to cooljacob204sfw for the recommendation!
ShieldsUP is a quick but powerful internet security checkup and information service. It was created by security researcher Steve Gibson to scan ports and let you know which ones have been opened through your firewalls or NAT routers.
Firefox Send is an encrypted file transfer service that allows you to share files up to 2.5GB from any browser or an Android app. Uses end-to-end encryption to keep data secure and offers security controls you can set. You can determine when your file link expires, the number of downloads, and whether to add a password. Your recipient receives a link to download the file, and they don’t need a Firefox account. This one comes from DePingus, who appreciates the focus on privacy. "They have E2E, expiring links, and a clear privacy policy."
Free DNS is a service where programmers share domain names with one another at no cost. Offers free hosting as well as dynamic DNS, static DNS, subdomain and domain hosting. They can host your domain's DNS as well as allowing you to register hostnames from domains they're hosting already. If you don't have a domain, you can sign up for a free account and create up to 5 subdomains off the domains others have contributed and point these hosts anywhere on the Internet. Thanks to 0x000000000000004C (yes, that's a username) for the suggestion!
ANY.RUN is an interactive malware analysis service for dynamic and static research of the majority of threats in any environment. It can provide a convenient in-depth analysis of new, unidentified malicious objects and help with the investigation of incidents. ImAshtonTurner appreciates it as "a great sandbox tool for viewing malware, etc."
Plik is a scalable, temporary file upload system similar to wetransfer that is written in golang. Thanks go to I_eat_Narwhals for this one!
Free My IP offers free, dynamic DNS. This service comes with no login, no ads, no newsletters, no links to click and no hassle. Kindly suggested by Jack of All Trades.
Mailinator provides free, temporary email inboxes on a receive-only, attachment-free system that requires no sign-up. All @mailinator.com addresses are public, readable and discoverable by anyone at any time—but are automatically deleted after a few hours. Can be a nice option for times when you to give out an address that won't be accessible longterm. Recommended by nachomountain, who's been using it "for years."
Magic Wormhole is a service for sending files directly with no intermediate upload, no web interface and no login. When both parties are online you with the minimal software installed, the wormhole is invoked via command line identifying the file you want to send. The server then provides a speakable, one-time-use password that you give the recipient. When they enter that password in their wormhole console, key exchange occurs and the download begins directly between your computers. rjohnson99 explains, "Magic Wormhole is sort of like JustBeamIt but is open-source and is built on Python. I use it a lot on Linux servers."
EveryCloud's Free Phish is our own, new Phishing Simulator. Once you've filled in the form and logged in, you can choose from lots of email templates (many of which we've coped from what we see in our Email Security business) and landing pages. Run a one-off free phish, then see who clicked or submitted data so you can understand where your organization is vulnerable and act accordingly.
Hardening Guides
CIS Hardening Guides contain the system security benchmarks developed by a global community of cybersecurity experts. Over 140 configuration guidelines are provided to help safeguard systems against threats. Recommended by cyanghost109 "to get a start on looking at hardening your own systems."
Podcasts
Daily Tech News is Tom Merrit's show covering the latest tech issues with some of the top experts in the field. With the focus on daily tech news and analysis, it's a great way to stay current. Thanks to EmoPolarbear for drawing it to our attention.
This Week in Enterprise Tech is a podcast that features IT experts explaining the complicated details of cutting-edge enterprise technology. Join host Lou Maresca on this informative exploration of enterprise solutions, with new episodes recorded every Friday afternoon.
Security Weekly is a podcast where a "bunch of security nerds" get together and talk shop. Topics are greatly varied, and the atmosphere is relaxed and conversational. The show typically tops out at 2 hours, which is perfect for those with a long commute. If you’re fascinated by discussion of deep technical and security-related topics, this may be a nice addition to your podcast repertoire.
Grumpy Old Geeks—What Went Wrong on the Internet and Who's To Blame is a podcast about the internet, technology and geek culture—among other things. The hosts bring their grumpy brand of humor to the "state of the world as they see it" in these roughly hour-long weekly episodes. Recommended by mkaxsnyder, who enjoys it because, "They are a good team that talk about recent and relevant topics from an IT perspective."
The Social-Engineer Podcast is a monthly discussion among the hosts—a group of security experts from SEORG—and a diverse assortment of guests. Topics focus around human behavior and how it affects information security, with new episodes released on the second Monday of every month. Thanks to MrAshRhodes for the suggestion.
The CyberWire podcasts discuss what's happening in cyberspace, providing news and commentary from industry experts. This cyber security-focused news service delivers concise, accessible, and relevant content without the gossip, sensationalism, and the marketing buzz that often distract from the stories that really matter. Appreciation to supermicromainboard for the suggestion.
Malicious Life is a podcast that tells the fascinating—and often unknown—stories of the wildest hacks you can ever imagine. Host Ran Levi, a cybersecurity expert and author, talks with the people who were actually involved to reveal the history of each event in depth. Our appreciation goes to peraphon for the recommendation.
The Broadcast Storm is a podcast for Cisco networking professionals. BluePieceOfPaper suggests it "for people studying for their CCNA/NP. Kevin Wallace is a CCIE Collaboration so he knows his *ishk. Good format for learning too. Most podcasts are about 8-15 mins long and its 'usually' an exam topic. It will be something like "HSPR" but instead of just explaining it super boring like Ben Stein reading a powerpoint, he usually goes into a story about how (insert time in his career) HSPR would have been super useful..."
Software Engineering Radio is a podcast for developers who are looking for an educational resource with original content that isn't recycled from other venues. Consists of conversations on relevant topics with experts from the software engineering world, with new episodes released three to four times per month. a9JDvXLWHumjaC tells us this is "a solid podcast for devs."
Books
System Center 2012 Configuration Manager is a comprehensive technical guide designed to help you optimize Microsoft's Configuration Manager 2012 according to your requirements and then to deploy and use it successfully. This methodical, step-by-step reference covers: the intentions behind the product and its role in the broader System Center product suite; planning, design, and implementation; and details on each of the most-important feature sets. Learn how to leverage the user-centric capabilities to provide anytime/anywhere services & software, while strengthening control and improving compliance.
Network Warrior: Everything You Need to Know That Wasn’t on the CCNA Exam is a practical guide to network infrastructure. Provides an in-depth view of routers and routing, switching (with Cisco Catalyst and Nexus switches as examples), SOHO VoIP and SOHO wireless access point design and configuration, introduction to IPv6 with configuration examples, telecom technologies in the data-networking world (including T1, DS3, frame relay, and MPLS), security, firewall theory and configuration, ACL and authentication, Quality of Service (QoS), with an emphasis on low-latency queuing (LLQ), IP address allocation, Network Time Protocol (NTP) and device failures.
Beginning the Linux Command Line is your ally in mastering Linux from the keyboard. It is intended for system administrators, software developers, and enthusiastic users who want a guide that will be useful for most distributions—i.e., all items have been checked against Ubuntu, Red Hat and SUSE. Addresses administering users and security and deploying firewalls. Updated to the latest versions of Linux to cover files and directories, including the Btrfs file system and its management and systemd boot procedure and firewall management with firewalld.
Modern Operating Systems, 4th Ed. is written for students taking intro courses on Operating Systems and for those who want an OS reference guide for work. The author, an OS researcher, includes both the latest materials on relevant operating systems as well as current research. The previous edition of Modern Operating Systems received the 2010 McGuffey Longevity Award that recognizes textbooks for excellence over time.
Time Management for System Administrators is a guide for organizing your approach to this challenging role in a way that improves your results. Bestselling author Thomas Limoncelli offers a collection of tips and techniques for navigating the competing goals and concurrent responsibilities that go along with working on large projects while also taking care of individual user's needs. The book focuses on strategies to help with daily tasks that will also allow you to handle the critical situations that inevitably require your attention. You'll learn how to manage interruptions, eliminate time wasters, keep an effective calendar, develop routines and prioritize, stay focused on the task at hand and document/automate to speed processes.
The Practice of System and Network Administration, 3rd Edition introduces beginners to advanced frameworks while serving as a guide to best practices in system administration that is helpful for even the most advanced experts. Organized into four major sections that build from the foundational elements of system administration through improved techniques for upgrades and change management to exploring assorted management topics. Covers the basics and then moves onto the advanced things that can be built on top of those basics to wield real power and execute difficult projects.
Learn Windows PowerShell in a Month of Lunches, Third Edition is designed to teach you PowerShell in a month's worth of 1-hour lessons. This updated edition covers PowerShell features that run on Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2 and later, PowerShell v3 and later, and it includes v5 features like PowerShellGet. For PowerShell v3 and up, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 and later.
Troubleshooting with the Windows Sysinternals Tools is a guide to the powerful Sysinternals tools for diagnosing and troubleshooting issues. Sysinternals creator Mark Russinovich and Windows expert Aaron Margosis provide a deep understanding of Windows core concepts that aren’t well-documented elsewhere along with details on how to use Sysinternals tools to optimize any Windows system’s reliability, efficiency, performance and security. Includes an explanation of Sysinternals capabilities, details on each major tool, and examples of how the tools can be used to solve real-world cases involving error messages, hangs, sluggishness, malware infections and more.
DNS and BIND, 5th Ed. explains how to work with the Internet's distributed host information database—which is responsible for translating names into addresses, routing mail to its proper destination, and listing phone numbers according to the ENUM standard. Covers BIND 9.3.2 & 8.4.7, the what/how/why of DNS, name servers, MX records, subdividing domains (parenting), DNSSEC, TSIG, troubleshooting and more. PEPCK tells us this is "generally considered the DNS reference book (aside from the RFCs of course!)"
Windows PowerShell in Action, 3rd Ed. is a comprehensive guide to PowerShell. Written by language designer Bruce Payette and MVP Richard Siddaway, this volume gives a great introduction to Powershell, including everyday use cases and detailed examples for more-advanced topics like performance and module architecture. Covers workflows and classes, writing modules and scripts, desired state configuration and programming APIs/pipelines.This edition has been updated for PowerShell v6.
Zero Trust Networks: Building Secure Systems in Untrusted Networks explains the principles behind zero trust architecture, along with what's needed to implement it. Covers the evolution of perimeter-based defenses and how they evolved into the current broken model, case studies of zero trust in production networks on both the client and server side, example configurations for open-source tools that are useful for building a zero trust network and how to migrate from a perimeter-based network to a zero trust network in production. Kindly recommended by jaginfosec.
Tips
Here are a couple handy Windows shortcuts:
Here's a shortcut for a 4-pane explorer in Windows without installing 3rd-party software:
(Keep the win key down for the arrows, and no pauses.) Appreciation goes to ZAFJB for this one.
Our recent tip for a shortcut to get a 4-pane explorer in Windows, triggered this suggestion from SevaraB: "You can do that for an even larger grid of Windows by right-clicking the clock in the taskbar, and clicking 'Show windows side by side' to arrange them neatly. Did this for 4 rows of 6 windows when I had to have a quick 'n' dirty "video wall" of windows monitoring servers at our branches." ZAFJB adds that it actually works when you right-click "anywhere on the taskbar, except application icons or start button."
This tip comes courtesy of shipsass: "When I need to use Windows Explorer but I don't want to take my hands off the keyboard, I press Windows-E to launch Explorer and then Ctrl-L to jump to the address line and type my path. The Ctrl-L trick also works with any web browser, and it's an efficient way of talking less-technical people through instructions when 'browse to [location]' stumps them."
Clear browser history/cookies by pressing CTRL-SHIFT-DELETE on most major browsers. Thanks go to synapticpanda, who adds that this "saves me so much time when troubleshooting web apps where I am playing with the cache and such."
To rename a file with F2, while still editing the name of that file: Hit TAB to tab into the renaming of the next file. Thanks to abeeftaco for this one!
Alt-D is a reliable alternative to Ctrl-L for jumping to the address line in a browser. Thanks for this one go to fencepost_ajm, who explains: "Ctrl-L comes from the browser side as a shortcut for Location, Alt-D from the Windows Explorer side for Directory."
Browser shortcut: When typing a URL that ends with dot com, Ctrl + Enter will place the ".com" and take you to the page. Thanks to wpierre for this one!
This tip comes from anynonus, as something that daily that saves a few clicks: "Running a program with ctrl + shift + enter from start menu will start it as administrator (alt + y will select YES to run as admin) ... my user account is local admin [so] I don't feel like that is unsafe"
Building on our PowerShell resources, we received the following suggestion from halbaradkenafin: aka.ms/pskoans is "a way to learn PowerShell using PowerShell (and Pester). It's really cool and a bunch of folks have high praise for it (including a few teams within MSFT)."
Keyboard shortcut: If you already have an application open, hold ctrl + shift and middle click on the application in your task bar to open another instance as admin. Thanks go to Polymira for this one.
Remote Server Tip: "Critical advice. When testing out network configuration changes, prior to restarting the networking service or rebooting, always create a cron job that will restore your original network configuration and then reboot/restart networking on the machine after 5 minutes. If your config worked, you have enough time to remove it. If it didn't, it will fix itself. This is a beautifully simple solution that I learned from my old mentor at my very first job. I've held on to it for a long time." Thanks go to FrigidNox for the tip!
Websites
Deployment Research is the website of Johan Arwidmark, MS MVP in System Center Cloud and Datacenter Management. It is dedicated to sharing information and guidance around System Center, OS deployment, migration and more. The author shares tips and tricks to help improve the quality of IT Pros’ daily work.
Next of Windows is a website on (mostly) Microsoft-related technology. It's the place where Kent Chen—a computer veteran with many years of field experience—and Jonathan Hu—a web/mobile app developer and self-described "cool geek"—share what they know, what they learn and what they find in the hope of helping others learn and benefit.
High Scalability brings together all the relevant information about building scalable websites in one place. Because building a website with confidence requires a body of knowledge that can be slow to develop, the site focuses on moving visitors along the learning curve at a faster pace.
Information Technology Research Library is a great resource for IT-related research, white papers, reports, case studies, magazines, and eBooks. This library is provided at no charge by TradePub.com. GullibleDetective tells us it offers "free PDF files from a WIIIIIIDE variety of topics, not even just IT. Only caveat: as its a vendor-supported publishing company, you will have to give them a bit of information such as name, email address and possibly a company name. You undoubtedly have the ability to create fake information on this, mind you. The articles range from Excel templates, learning python, powershell, nosql etc. to converged architecture."
SS64 is a web-based reference guide for syntax and examples of the most-common database and OS computing commands. Recommended by Petti-The-Yeti, who adds, "I use this site all the time to look up commands and find examples while I'm building CMD and PS1 scripts."
Phishing and Malware Reporting. This website helps you put a stop to scams by getting fraudulent pages blocked. Easily report phishing webpages so they can be added to blacklists in as little as 15 minutes of your report. "Player024 tells us, "I highly recommend anyone in the industry to bookmark this page...With an average of about 10 minutes of work, I'm usually able to take down the phishing pages we receive thanks to the links posted on that website."
A Slack Channel
Windows Admin Slack is a great drive-by resource for the Windows sysadmin. This team has 33 public channels in total that cover different areas of helpful content on Windows administration.
Blogs
KC's Blog is the place where Microsoft MVP and web developer Kent Chen shares his IT insights and discoveries. The rather large library of posts offer helpful hints, how-tos, resources and news of interest to those in the Windows world.
The Windows Server Daily is the ever-current blog of technologist Katherine Moss, VP of open source & community engagement for StormlightTech. Offers brief daily posts on topics related to Windows server, Windows 10 and Administration.
An Infosec Slideshow
This security training slideshow was created for use during a quarterly infosec class. The content is offered generously by shalafi71, who adds, "Take this as a skeleton and flesh it out on your own. Take an hour or two and research the things I talk about. Tailor this to your own environment and users. Make it relevant to your people. Include corporate stories, include your audience, exclude yourself. This ain't about how smart you are at infosec, and I can't stress this enough, talk about how people can defend themselves. Give them things to look for and action they can take. No one gives a shit about your firewall rules."
Tech Tutorials
Tutorialspoint Library. This large collection of tech tutorials is a great resource for online learning. You'll find nearly 150 high-quality tutorials covering a wide array of languages and topics—from fundamentals to cutting-edge technologies. For example, this Powershell tutorial is designed for those with practical experience handling Windows-based Servers who want to learn how to install and use Windows Server 2012.
The Python Tutorial is a nice introduction to many of Python’s best features, enabling you to read and write Python modules and programs. It offers an understanding of the language's style and prepares you to learn more about the various Python library modules described in 'The Python Standard Library.' Kindly suggested by sharjeelsayed.
SysAdmin Humor
Day in the Life of a SysAdmin Episode 5: Lunch Break is an amusing look at a SysAdmin's attempt to take a brief lunch break. We imagine many of you can relate!
Have a fantastic week and as usual, let me know any comments.
Graham | CEO | EveryCloud
Fyi - I've set up a subreddit /itprotuesday, where we feature / encourage posts of some additional tools, tips etc. throughout the week. Pop over and subscribe if you’re interested.
submitted by crispyducks to msp [link] [comments]

IT Pro Tuesday #64 (part 2) - Mega List of Tips, Tools, Books, Blogs & More

(continued from part 1)
Captura is a flexible tool for capturing your screen, audio, cursor, mouse clicks and keystrokes. Features include mixing audio recorded from microphone and speaker output, command-line interface, and configurable hotkeys. Thanks to jantari for the recommedation.
Unlocker is a tool to help delete those irritating locked files that give you an error message like "cannot delete file" or "access is denied." It helps with killing processes, unloading DLLs, deleting index.dat files, as well as unlocking, deleting, renaming, and moving locked files—typically without requiring a reboot.
IIS Crypto's newest version adds advanced settings; registry backup; new, simpler templates; support for Windows Server 2019 and more. This tool lets you enable or disable protocols, ciphers, hashes and key exchange algorithms on Windows and reorder SSL/TLS cipher suites from IIS, change advanced settings, implement best practices with a single click, create custom templates and test your website. Available in both command line and GUI versions.
RocketDock is an application launcher with a clean interface that lets you drag/drop shortcuts for easy access and minimize windows to the dock. Features running application indicators, multi-monitor support, alpha-blended PNG and ICO icons, auto-hide and popup on mouse over, positioning and layering options. Fully customizable, portable, and compatible with MobyDock, ObjectDock, RK Launcher and Y'z Dock skins. Works even on slower computers and is Unicode compliant. Suggested by lieutenantcigarette: "If you like the dock on MacOS but prefer to use Windows, RocketDock has you covered. A superb and highly customisable dock that you can add your favourites to for easy and elegant access."
Baby FTP Server offers only the basics, but with the power to serve as a foundation for a more-complex server. Features include multi-threading, a real-time server log, support for PASV and non-PASV mode, ability to set permissions for download/upload/rename/delete/create directory. Only allows anonymous connections. Our thanks to FatherPrax for suggesting this one.
Strace is a Linux diagnostic, debugging and instructional userspace tool with a traditional command-line interface. Uses the ptrace kernel feature to monitor and tamper with interactions between processes and the kernel, including system calls, signal deliveries and changes of process state.
exa is a small, fast replacement for ls with more features and better defaults. It uses colors to distinguish file types and metadata, and it recognizes symlinks, extended attributes and Git. All in one single binary. phils_lab describes it as "'ls' on steroids, written in Rust."
rsync is a faster file transfer program for Unix to bring remote files into sync. It sends just the differences in the files across the link, without requiring both sets of files to be present at one of the ends. Suggested by zorinlynx, who adds that "rsync is GODLY for moving data around efficiently. And if an rsync is interrupted, just run it again."
Matter Wiki is a simple WYSIWYG wiki that can help teams store and collaborate. Every article gets filed under a topic, transparently, so you can tell who made what changes to which document and when. Thanks to bciar-iwdc for the recommendation.
LockHunter is a file unlocking tool that enables you to delete files that are being blocked for unknown reasons. Can be useful for fighting malware and other programs that are causing trouble. Deletes files into the recycle bin so you can restore them if necessary. Chucky2401 finds it preferable to Unlocker, "since I am on Windows 7. There are no new updates since July 2017, but the last beta was in June of this year."
aria2 is a lightweight multi-source command-line download utility that supports HTTP/HTTPS, FTP, SFTP, BitTorrent and Metalink. It can be manipulated via built-in JSON-RPC and XML-RPC interfaces. Recommended by jftuga, who appreciates it as a "cross-platform command line downloader (similar to wget or curl), but with the -x option can run a segmented download of a single file to increase throughput."
Free Services
Temp-Mail allows you to receive email at a temporary address that self-destructs after a certain period of time. Outwit all the forums, Wi-Fi owners, websites and blogs that insist you register to use them. Petti-The-Yeti says, "I don't give any company my direct email anymore. If I want to trial something but they ask for an email signup, I just grab a temporary email from here, sign up with it, and wait for the trial link or license info to come through. Then, you just download the file and close the website."
Duck DNS will point a DNS (sub domains of duckdns.org) to an IP of your choice. DDNS is a handy way for you to refer to a serverouter with an easily rememberable name for situations when the server's ip address will likely change. Suggested by xgnarf, who finds it "so much better for the free tier of noip—no 30-day nag to keep your host up."
Joe Sandbox detects and analyzes potential malicious files and URLs on Windows, Android, Mac OS, Linux and iOS for suspicious activities. It performs deep malware analysis and generates comprehensive and detailed reports. The Community Edition of Joe Sandbox Cloud allows you to run a maximum of 6 analyses per month, 3 per day on Windows, Linux and Android with limited analysis output. This one is from dangibbons94, who wanted to "share this cool service ... for malware analysis. I usually use Virus total for URL scanning, but this goes a lot more in depth. I just used basic analysis, which is free and enough for my needs."
Hybrid Analysis is a malware analysis service that detects and analyzes unknown threats for the community. This one was suggested by compupheonix, who adds that it "gets you super detailed reports... it's about the most fleshed out and detailed one I can find."
JustBeamIt is a file-transfer service that allows you to send files of any size via a peer-to-peer streaming model. Simply drag and drop your file and specify the recipient's email address. They will then receive a link that will trigger the download directly from your computer, so the file does not have to be uploaded to the service itself. The link is good for one download and expires after 10 minutes. Thanks to cooljacob204sfw for the recommendation!
ShieldsUP is a quick but powerful internet security checkup and information service. It was created by security researcher Steve Gibson to scan ports and let you know which ones have been opened through your firewalls or NAT routers.
Firefox Send is an encrypted file transfer service that allows you to share files up to 2.5GB from any browser or an Android app. Uses end-to-end encryption to keep data secure and offers security controls you can set. You can determine when your file link expires, the number of downloads, and whether to add a password. Your recipient receives a link to download the file, and they don’t need a Firefox account. This one comes from DePingus, who appreciates the focus on privacy. "They have E2E, expiring links, and a clear privacy policy."
Free DNS is a service where programmers share domain names with one another at no cost. Offers free hosting as well as dynamic DNS, static DNS, subdomain and domain hosting. They can host your domain's DNS as well as allowing you to register hostnames from domains they're hosting already. If you don't have a domain, you can sign up for a free account and create up to 5 subdomains off the domains others have contributed and point these hosts anywhere on the Internet. Thanks to 0x000000000000004C (yes, that's a username) for the suggestion!
ANY.RUN is an interactive malware analysis service for dynamic and static research of the majority of threats in any environment. It can provide a convenient in-depth analysis of new, unidentified malicious objects and help with the investigation of incidents. ImAshtonTurner appreciates it as "a great sandbox tool for viewing malware, etc."
Plik is a scalable, temporary file upload system similar to wetransfer that is written in golang. Thanks go to I_eat_Narwhals for this one!
Free My IP offers free, dynamic DNS. This service comes with no login, no ads, no newsletters, no links to click and no hassle. Kindly suggested by Jack of All Trades.
Mailinator provides free, temporary email inboxes on a receive-only, attachment-free system that requires no sign-up. All @mailinator.com addresses are public, readable and discoverable by anyone at any time—but are automatically deleted after a few hours. Can be a nice option for times when you to give out an address that won't be accessible longterm. Recommended by nachomountain, who's been using it "for years."
Magic Wormhole is a service for sending files directly with no intermediate upload, no web interface and no login. When both parties are online you with the minimal software installed, the wormhole is invoked via command line identifying the file you want to send. The server then provides a speakable, one-time-use password that you give the recipient. When they enter that password in their wormhole console, key exchange occurs and the download begins directly between your computers. rjohnson99 explains, "Magic Wormhole is sort of like JustBeamIt but is open-source and is built on Python. I use it a lot on Linux servers."
EveryCloud's Free Phish is our own, new Phishing Simulator. Once you've filled in the form and logged in, you can choose from lots of email templates (many of which we've coped from what we see in our Email Security business) and landing pages. Run a one-off free phish, then see who clicked or submitted data so you can understand where your organization is vulnerable and act accordingly.
Hardening Guides
CIS Hardening Guides contain the system security benchmarks developed by a global community of cybersecurity experts. Over 140 configuration guidelines are provided to help safeguard systems against threats. Recommended by cyanghost109 "to get a start on looking at hardening your own systems."
Podcasts
Daily Tech News is Tom Merrit's show covering the latest tech issues with some of the top experts in the field. With the focus on daily tech news and analysis, it's a great way to stay current. Thanks to EmoPolarbear for drawing it to our attention.
This Week in Enterprise Tech is a podcast that features IT experts explaining the complicated details of cutting-edge enterprise technology. Join host Lou Maresca on this informative exploration of enterprise solutions, with new episodes recorded every Friday afternoon.
Security Weekly is a podcast where a "bunch of security nerds" get together and talk shop. Topics are greatly varied, and the atmosphere is relaxed and conversational. The show typically tops out at 2 hours, which is perfect for those with a long commute. If you’re fascinated by discussion of deep technical and security-related topics, this may be a nice addition to your podcast repertoire.
Grumpy Old Geeks—What Went Wrong on the Internet and Who's To Blame is a podcast about the internet, technology and geek culture—among other things. The hosts bring their grumpy brand of humor to the "state of the world as they see it" in these roughly hour-long weekly episodes. Recommended by mkaxsnyder, who enjoys it because, "They are a good team that talk about recent and relevant topics from an IT perspective."
The Social-Engineer Podcast is a monthly discussion among the hosts—a group of security experts from SEORG—and a diverse assortment of guests. Topics focus around human behavior and how it affects information security, with new episodes released on the second Monday of every month. Thanks to MrAshRhodes for the suggestion.
The CyberWire podcasts discuss what's happening in cyberspace, providing news and commentary from industry experts. This cyber security-focused news service delivers concise, accessible, and relevant content without the gossip, sensationalism, and the marketing buzz that often distract from the stories that really matter. Appreciation to supermicromainboard for the suggestion.
Malicious Life is a podcast that tells the fascinating—and often unknown—stories of the wildest hacks you can ever imagine. Host Ran Levi, a cybersecurity expert and author, talks with the people who were actually involved to reveal the history of each event in depth. Our appreciation goes to peraphon for the recommendation.
The Broadcast Storm is a podcast for Cisco networking professionals. BluePieceOfPaper suggests it "for people studying for their CCNA/NP. Kevin Wallace is a CCIE Collaboration so he knows his *ishk. Good format for learning too. Most podcasts are about 8-15 mins long and its 'usually' an exam topic. It will be something like "HSPR" but instead of just explaining it super boring like Ben Stein reading a powerpoint, he usually goes into a story about how (insert time in his career) HSPR would have been super useful..."
Software Engineering Radio is a podcast for developers who are looking for an educational resource with original content that isn't recycled from other venues. Consists of conversations on relevant topics with experts from the software engineering world, with new episodes released three to four times per month. a9JDvXLWHumjaC tells us this is "a solid podcast for devs."
Books
System Center 2012 Configuration Manager is a comprehensive technical guide designed to help you optimize Microsoft's Configuration Manager 2012 according to your requirements and then to deploy and use it successfully. This methodical, step-by-step reference covers: the intentions behind the product and its role in the broader System Center product suite; planning, design, and implementation; and details on each of the most-important feature sets. Learn how to leverage the user-centric capabilities to provide anytime/anywhere services & software, while strengthening control and improving compliance.
Network Warrior: Everything You Need to Know That Wasn’t on the CCNA Exam is a practical guide to network infrastructure. Provides an in-depth view of routers and routing, switching (with Cisco Catalyst and Nexus switches as examples), SOHO VoIP and SOHO wireless access point design and configuration, introduction to IPv6 with configuration examples, telecom technologies in the data-networking world (including T1, DS3, frame relay, and MPLS), security, firewall theory and configuration, ACL and authentication, Quality of Service (QoS), with an emphasis on low-latency queuing (LLQ), IP address allocation, Network Time Protocol (NTP) and device failures.
Beginning the Linux Command Line is your ally in mastering Linux from the keyboard. It is intended for system administrators, software developers, and enthusiastic users who want a guide that will be useful for most distributions—i.e., all items have been checked against Ubuntu, Red Hat and SUSE. Addresses administering users and security and deploying firewalls. Updated to the latest versions of Linux to cover files and directories, including the Btrfs file system and its management and systemd boot procedure and firewall management with firewalld.
Modern Operating Systems, 4th Ed. is written for students taking intro courses on Operating Systems and for those who want an OS reference guide for work. The author, an OS researcher, includes both the latest materials on relevant operating systems as well as current research. The previous edition of Modern Operating Systems received the 2010 McGuffey Longevity Award that recognizes textbooks for excellence over time.
Time Management for System Administrators is a guide for organizing your approach to this challenging role in a way that improves your results. Bestselling author Thomas Limoncelli offers a collection of tips and techniques for navigating the competing goals and concurrent responsibilities that go along with working on large projects while also taking care of individual user's needs. The book focuses on strategies to help with daily tasks that will also allow you to handle the critical situations that inevitably require your attention. You'll learn how to manage interruptions, eliminate time wasters, keep an effective calendar, develop routines and prioritize, stay focused on the task at hand and document/automate to speed processes.
The Practice of System and Network Administration, 3rd Edition introduces beginners to advanced frameworks while serving as a guide to best practices in system administration that is helpful for even the most advanced experts. Organized into four major sections that build from the foundational elements of system administration through improved techniques for upgrades and change management to exploring assorted management topics. Covers the basics and then moves onto the advanced things that can be built on top of those basics to wield real power and execute difficult projects.
Learn Windows PowerShell in a Month of Lunches, Third Edition is designed to teach you PowerShell in a month's worth of 1-hour lessons. This updated edition covers PowerShell features that run on Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2 and later, PowerShell v3 and later, and it includes v5 features like PowerShellGet. For PowerShell v3 and up, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 and later.
Troubleshooting with the Windows Sysinternals Tools is a guide to the powerful Sysinternals tools for diagnosing and troubleshooting issues. Sysinternals creator Mark Russinovich and Windows expert Aaron Margosis provide a deep understanding of Windows core concepts that aren’t well-documented elsewhere along with details on how to use Sysinternals tools to optimize any Windows system’s reliability, efficiency, performance and security. Includes an explanation of Sysinternals capabilities, details on each major tool, and examples of how the tools can be used to solve real-world cases involving error messages, hangs, sluggishness, malware infections and more.
DNS and BIND, 5th Ed. explains how to work with the Internet's distributed host information database—which is responsible for translating names into addresses, routing mail to its proper destination, and listing phone numbers according to the ENUM standard. Covers BIND 9.3.2 & 8.4.7, the what/how/why of DNS, name servers, MX records, subdividing domains (parenting), DNSSEC, TSIG, troubleshooting and more. PEPCK tells us this is "generally considered the DNS reference book (aside from the RFCs of course!)"
Windows PowerShell in Action, 3rd Ed. is a comprehensive guide to PowerShell. Written by language designer Bruce Payette and MVP Richard Siddaway, this volume gives a great introduction to Powershell, including everyday use cases and detailed examples for more-advanced topics like performance and module architecture. Covers workflows and classes, writing modules and scripts, desired state configuration and programming APIs/pipelines.This edition has been updated for PowerShell v6.
Zero Trust Networks: Building Secure Systems in Untrusted Networks explains the principles behind zero trust architecture, along with what's needed to implement it. Covers the evolution of perimeter-based defenses and how they evolved into the current broken model, case studies of zero trust in production networks on both the client and server side, example configurations for open-source tools that are useful for building a zero trust network and how to migrate from a perimeter-based network to a zero trust network in production. Kindly recommended by jaginfosec.
Tips
Here are a couple handy Windows shortcuts:
Here's a shortcut for a 4-pane explorer in Windows without installing 3rd-party software:
(Keep the win key down for the arrows, and no pauses.) Appreciation goes to ZAFJB for this one.
Our recent tip for a shortcut to get a 4-pane explorer in Windows, triggered this suggestion from SevaraB: "You can do that for an even larger grid of Windows by right-clicking the clock in the taskbar, and clicking 'Show windows side by side' to arrange them neatly. Did this for 4 rows of 6 windows when I had to have a quick 'n' dirty "video wall" of windows monitoring servers at our branches." ZAFJB adds that it actually works when you right-click "anywhere on the taskbar, except application icons or start button."
This tip comes courtesy of shipsass: "When I need to use Windows Explorer but I don't want to take my hands off the keyboard, I press Windows-E to launch Explorer and then Ctrl-L to jump to the address line and type my path. The Ctrl-L trick also works with any web browser, and it's an efficient way of talking less-technical people through instructions when 'browse to [location]' stumps them."
Clear browser history/cookies by pressing CTRL-SHIFT-DELETE on most major browsers. Thanks go to synapticpanda, who adds that this "saves me so much time when troubleshooting web apps where I am playing with the cache and such."
To rename a file with F2, while still editing the name of that file: Hit TAB to tab into the renaming of the next file. Thanks to abeeftaco for this one!
Alt-D is a reliable alternative to Ctrl-L for jumping to the address line in a browser. Thanks for this one go to fencepost_ajm, who explains: "Ctrl-L comes from the browser side as a shortcut for Location, Alt-D from the Windows Explorer side for Directory."
Browser shortcut: When typing a URL that ends with dot com, Ctrl + Enter will place the ".com" and take you to the page. Thanks to wpierre for this one!
This tip comes from anynonus, as something that daily that saves a few clicks: "Running a program with ctrl + shift + enter from start menu will start it as administrator (alt + y will select YES to run as admin) ... my user account is local admin [so] I don't feel like that is unsafe"
Building on our PowerShell resources, we received the following suggestion from halbaradkenafin: aka.ms/pskoans is "a way to learn PowerShell using PowerShell (and Pester). It's really cool and a bunch of folks have high praise for it (including a few teams within MSFT)."
Keyboard shortcut: If you already have an application open, hold ctrl + shift and middle click on the application in your task bar to open another instance as admin. Thanks go to Polymira for this one.
Remote Server Tip: "Critical advice. When testing out network configuration changes, prior to restarting the networking service or rebooting, always create a cron job that will restore your original network configuration and then reboot/restart networking on the machine after 5 minutes. If your config worked, you have enough time to remove it. If it didn't, it will fix itself. This is a beautifully simple solution that I learned from my old mentor at my very first job. I've held on to it for a long time." Thanks go to FrigidNox for the tip!
Websites
Deployment Research is the website of Johan Arwidmark, MS MVP in System Center Cloud and Datacenter Management. It is dedicated to sharing information and guidance around System Center, OS deployment, migration and more. The author shares tips and tricks to help improve the quality of IT Pros’ daily work.
Next of Windows is a website on (mostly) Microsoft-related technology. It's the place where Kent Chen—a computer veteran with many years of field experience—and Jonathan Hu—a web/mobile app developer and self-described "cool geek"—share what they know, what they learn and what they find in the hope of helping others learn and benefit.
High Scalability brings together all the relevant information about building scalable websites in one place. Because building a website with confidence requires a body of knowledge that can be slow to develop, the site focuses on moving visitors along the learning curve at a faster pace.
Information Technology Research Library is a great resource for IT-related research, white papers, reports, case studies, magazines, and eBooks. This library is provided at no charge by TradePub.com. GullibleDetective tells us it offers "free PDF files from a WIIIIIIDE variety of topics, not even just IT. Only caveat: as its a vendor-supported publishing company, you will have to give them a bit of information such as name, email address and possibly a company name. You undoubtedly have the ability to create fake information on this, mind you. The articles range from Excel templates, learning python, powershell, nosql etc. to converged architecture."
SS64 is a web-based reference guide for syntax and examples of the most-common database and OS computing commands. Recommended by Petti-The-Yeti, who adds, "I use this site all the time to look up commands and find examples while I'm building CMD and PS1 scripts."
Phishing and Malware Reporting. This website helps you put a stop to scams by getting fraudulent pages blocked. Easily report phishing webpages so they can be added to blacklists in as little as 15 minutes of your report. "Player024 tells us, "I highly recommend anyone in the industry to bookmark this page...With an average of about 10 minutes of work, I'm usually able to take down the phishing pages we receive thanks to the links posted on that website."
A Slack Channel
Windows Admin Slack is a great drive-by resource for the Windows sysadmin. This team has 33 public channels in total that cover different areas of helpful content on Windows administration.
Blogs
KC's Blog is the place where Microsoft MVP and web developer Kent Chen shares his IT insights and discoveries. The rather large library of posts offer helpful hints, how-tos, resources and news of interest to those in the Windows world.
The Windows Server Daily is the ever-current blog of technologist Katherine Moss, VP of open source & community engagement for StormlightTech. Offers brief daily posts on topics related to Windows server, Windows 10 and Administration.
An Infosec Slideshow
This security training slideshow was created for use during a quarterly infosec class. The content is offered generously by shalafi71, who adds, "Take this as a skeleton and flesh it out on your own. Take an hour or two and research the things I talk about. Tailor this to your own environment and users. Make it relevant to your people. Include corporate stories, include your audience, exclude yourself. This ain't about how smart you are at infosec, and I can't stress this enough, talk about how people can defend themselves. Give them things to look for and action they can take. No one gives a shit about your firewall rules."
Tech Tutorials
Tutorialspoint Library. This large collection of tech tutorials is a great resource for online learning. You'll find nearly 150 high-quality tutorials covering a wide array of languages and topics—from fundamentals to cutting-edge technologies. For example, this Powershell tutorial is designed for those with practical experience handling Windows-based Servers who want to learn how to install and use Windows Server 2012.
The Python Tutorial is a nice introduction to many of Python’s best features, enabling you to read and write Python modules and programs. It offers an understanding of the language's style and prepares you to learn more about the various Python library modules described in 'The Python Standard Library.' Kindly suggested by sharjeelsayed.
SysAdmin Humor
Day in the Life of a SysAdmin Episode 5: Lunch Break is an amusing look at a SysAdmin's attempt to take a brief lunch break. We imagine many of you can relate!
Have a fantastic week and as usual, let me know any comments.
Graham | CEO | EveryCloud
submitted by crispyducks to ITProTuesday [link] [comments]

Decred Journal — June 2018

Note: You can read this on GitHub, Medium or old Reddit to see the 207 links.

Development

The biggest announcement of the month was the new kind of decentralized exchange proposed by @jy-p of Company 0. The Community Discussions section considers the stakeholders' response.
dcrd: Peer management and connectivity improvements. Some work for improved sighash algo. A new optimization that gives 3-4x faster serving of headers, which is great for SPV. This was another step towards multipeer parallel downloads – check this issue for a clear overview of progress and planned work for next months (and some engineering delight). As usual, codebase cleanup, improvements to error handling, test infrastructure and test coverage.
Decrediton: work towards watching only wallets, lots of bugfixes and visual design improvements. Preliminary work to integrate SPV has begun.
Politeia is live on testnet! Useful links: announcement, introduction, command line voting example, example proposal with some votes, mini-guide how to compose a proposal.
Trezor: Decred appeared in the firmware update and on Trezor website, currently for testnet only. Next steps are mainnet support and integration in wallets. For the progress of Decrediton support you can track this meta issue.
dcrdata: Continued work on Insight API support, see this meta issue for progress overview. It is important for integrations due to its popularity. Ongoing work to add charts. A big database change to improve sorting on the Address page was merged and bumped version to 3.0. Work to visualize agenda voting continues.
Ticket splitting: 11-way ticket split from last month has voted (transaction).
Ethereum support in atomicswap is progressing and welcomes more eyeballs.
decred.org: revamped Press page with dozens of added articles, and a shiny new Roadmap page.
decredinfo.com: a new Decred dashboard by lte13. Reddit announcement here.
Dev activity stats for June: 245 active PRs, 184 master commits, 25,973 added and 13,575 deleted lines spread across 8 repositories. Contributions came from 2 to 10 developers per repository. (chart)

Network

Hashrate: growth continues, the month started at 15 and ended at 44 PH/s with some wild 30% swings on the way. The peak was 53.9 PH/s.
F2Pool was the leader varying between 36% and 59% hashrate, followed by coinmine.pl holding between 18% and 29%. In response to concerns about its hashrate share, F2Pool made a statement that they will consider measures like rising the fees to prevent growing to 51%.
Staking: 30-day average ticket price is 94.7 DCR (+3.4). The price was steadily rising from 90.7 to 95.8 peaking at 98.1. Locked DCR grew from 3.68 to 3.81 million DCR, the highest value was 3.83 million corresponding to 47.87% of supply (+0.7% from previous peak).
Nodes: there are 240 public listening and 115 normal nodes per dcred.eu. Version distribution: 57% on v1.2.0 (+12%), 25% on v1.1.2 (-13%), 14% on v1.1.0 (-1%). Note: the reported count of non-listening nodes has dropped significantly due to data reset at decred.eu. It will take some time before the crawler collects more data. On top of that, there is no way to exactly count non-listening nodes. To illustrate, an alternative data source, charts.dcr.farm showed 690 reachable nodes on Jul 1.
Extraordinary event: 247361 and 247362 were two nearly full blocks. Normally blocks are 10-20 KiB, but these blocks were 374 KiB (max is 384 KiB).

ASICs

Update from Obelisk: shipping is expected in first half of July and there is non-zero chance to meet hashrate target.
Another Chinese ASIC spotted on the web: Flying Fish D18 with 340 GH/s at 180 W costing 2,200 CNY (~340 USD). (asicok.comtranslated, also on asicminervalue)
dcrASIC team posted a farewell letter. Despite having an awesome 16 nm chip design, they decided to stop the project citing the saturated mining ecosystem and low profitability for their potential customers.

Integrations

bepool.org is a new mining pool spotted on dcred.eu.
Exchange integrations:
Two OTC trading desks are now shown on decred.org exchanges page.
BitPro payment gateway added Decred and posted on Reddit. Notably, it is fully functional without javascript or cookies and does not ask for name or email, among other features.
Guarda Wallet integrated Decred. Currently only in their web wallet, but more may come in future. Notable feature is "DCR purchase with a bank card". See more details in their post or ask their representative on Reddit. Important: do your best to understand the security model before using any wallet software.

Adoption

Merchants:
BlueYard Capital announced investment in Decred and the intent to be long term supporters and to actively participate in the network's governance. In an overview post they stressed core values of the project:
There are a few other remarkable characteristics that are a testament to the DNA of the team behind Decred: there was no sale of DCR to investors, no venture funding, and no payment to exchanges to be listed – underscoring that the Decred team and contributors are all about doing the right thing for long term (as manifested in their constitution for the project).
The most encouraging thing we can see is both the quality and quantity of high calibre developers flocking to the project, in addition to a vibrant community attaching their identity to the project.
The company will be hosting an event in Berlin, see Events below.
Arbitrade is now mining Decred.

Events

Attended:
Upcoming:

Media

stakey.club: a new website by @mm:
Hey guys! I'd like to share with you my latest adventure: Stakey Club, hosted at stakey.club, is a website dedicated to Decred. I posted a few articles in Brazilian Portuguese and in English. I also translated to Portuguese some posts from the Decred Blog. I hope you like it! (slack)
@morphymore translated Placeholder's Decred Investment Thesis and Richard Red's write-up on Politeia to Chinese, while @DZ translated Decred Roadmap 2018 to Italian and Russian, and A New Kind of DEX to Italian and Russian.
Second iteration of Chinese ratings released. Compared to the first issue, Decred dropped from 26 to 29 while Bitcoin fell from 13 to 17. We (the authors) restrain ourselves commenting on this one.
Videos:
Audio:
Featured articles:
Articles:

Community Discussions

Community stats: Twitter followers 40,209 (+1,091), Reddit subscribers 8,410 (+243), Slack users 5,830 (+172), GitHub 392 stars and 918 forks of dcrd repository.
An update on our communication systems:
Jake Yocom-Piatt did an AMA on CryptoTechnology, a forum for serious crypto tech discussion. Some topics covered were Decred attack cost and resistance, voting policies, smart contracts, SPV security, DAO and DPoS.
A new kind of DEX was the subject of an extensive discussion in #general, #random, #trading channels as well as Reddit. New channel #thedex was created and attracted more than 100 people.
A frequent and fair question is how the DEX would benefit Decred. @lukebp has put it well:
Projects like these help Decred attract talent. Typically, the people that are the best at what they do aren’t driven solely by money. They want to work on interesting projects that they believe in with other talented individuals. Launching a DEX that has no trading fees, no requirement to buy a 3rd party token (including Decred), and that cuts out all middlemen is a clear demonstration of the ethos that Decred was founded on. It helps us get our name out there and attract the type of people that believe in the same mission that we do. (slack)
Another concern that it will slow down other projects was addressed by @davecgh:
The intent is for an external team to take up the mantle and build it, so it won't have any bearing on the current c0 roadmap. The important thing to keep in mind is that the goal of Decred is to have a bunch of independent teams on working on different things. (slack)
A chat about Decred fork resistance started on Twitter and continued in #trading. Community members continue to discuss the finer points of Decred's hybrid system, bringing new users up to speed and answering their questions. The key takeaway from this chat is that the Decred chain is impossible to advance without votes, and to get around that the forker needs to change the protocol in a way that would make it clearly not Decred.
"Against community governance" article was discussed on Reddit and #governance.
"The Downside of Democracy (and What it Means for Blockchain Governance)" was another article arguing against on-chain governance, discussed here.
Reddit recap: mining rig shops discussion; how centralized is Politeia; controversial debate on photos of models that yielded useful discussion on our marketing approach; analysis of a drop in number of transactions; concerns regarding project bus factor, removing central authorities, advertising and full node count – received detailed responses; an argument by insette for maximizing aggregate tx fees; coordinating network upgrades; a new "Why Decred?" thread; a question about quantum resistance with a detailed answer and a recap of current status of quantum resistant algorithms.
Chats recap: Programmatic Proof-of-Work (ProgPoW) discussion; possible hashrate of Blake-256 miners is at least ~30% higher than SHA-256d; how Decred is not vulnerable to SPV leaf/node attack.

Markets

DCR opened the month at ~$93, reached monthly high of $110, gradually dropped to the low of $58 and closed at $67. In BTC terms it was 0.0125 -> 0.0150 -> 0.0098 -> 0.0105. The downturn coincided with a global decline across the whole crypto market.
In the middle of the month Decred was noticed to be #1 in onchainfx "% down from ATH" chart and on this chart by @CoinzTrader. Towards the end of the month it dropped to #3.

Relevant External

Obelisk announced Launchpad service. The idea is to work with coin developers to design a custom, ASIC-friendly PoW algorithm together with a first batch of ASICs and distribute them among the community.
Equihash-based ZenCash was hit by a double spend attack that led to a loss of $450,000 by the exchange which was targeted.
Almost one year after collecting funds, Tezos announced a surprise identification procedure to claim tokens (non-javascript version).
A hacker broke into Syscoin's GitHub account and implanted malware stealing passwords and private keys into Windows binaries. This is a painful reminder for everybody to verify binaries after download.
Circle announced new asset listing framework for Poloniex. Relevant to recent discussions of exchange listing bribery:
Please note: we will not accept any kind of payment to list an asset.
Bithumb got hacked with a $30 m loss.
Zcash organized Zcon0, an event in Canada that focused on privacy tech and governance. An interesting insight from Keynote Panel on governance: "There is no such thing as on-chain governance".
Microsoft acquired GitHub. There was some debate about whether it is a reason to look into alternative solutions like GitLab right now. It is always a good idea to have a local copy of Decred source code, just in case.
Status update from @sumiflow on correcting DCR supply on various sites:
To begin with, none of the below sites were showing the correct supply or market cap for Decred but we've made some progress. coingecko.com, coinlib.io, cryptocompare.com, livecoinwatch.com, worldcoinindex.com - corrected! cryptoindex.co, onchainfx.com - awaiting fix coinmarketcap.com - refused to fix because devs have coins too? (slack)

About This Issue

This is the third issue of Decred Journal after April and May.
Most information from third parties is relayed directly from source after a minimal sanity check. The authors of Decred Journal have no ability to verify all claims. Please beware of scams and do your own research.
The new public Matrix logs look promising and we hope to transition from Slack links to Matrix links. In the meantime, the way to read Slack links is explained in the previous issue.
As usual, any feedback is appreciated: please comment on Reddit, GitHub or #writers_room. Contributions are welcome too, anything from initial collection to final review to translations.
Credits (Slack names, alphabetical order): bee and Richard-Red. Special thanks to @Haon for bringing May 2018 issue to medium.
submitted by jet_user to decred [link] [comments]

[Dev Blog] Uprising 1.10 Overview and Patch Notes ~CCP Frame

http://dust514.com/news/blog/2014/12/uprising-1.10-overview-patch-notes/
Dear DUST community,
CCP Rouge and CCP Rattati here yet again and now we are bringing you some news of the next release, but first wed like to review the latest changes to DUST 514.
image
Uprising 1.9 has been received very well by the DUST 514 community, and we have seen many veteran players return after a hiatus. The new and updated content has been performing very well and the gameplay updates have shaken up the battlegrounds in a positive way.
Of course we will carry on making balance tweaks with Hotfixes, named or otherwise. Furthermore, on 9th of December, DUST 514 will be updated with the release of Uprising 1.10.
In the aftermath of Uprising 1.9, the community has asked for further insight into the development process and we are proud to announce the following new communication portals in the spirit of community-driven development, so keep an eye out for imminent announcements on the Forums:
Uprising 1.10 will add a number of features and changes specifically requested by the community and here you will find a brief explanation on the biggest upcoming changes:

NEW ORBITAL STRIKES

Squads in Public Contracts will now be able to earn additional Off-Map Support in the form of EMP Warbarge Strikes, bombardments that only affects shields and deployed equipment, and Laser Warbarge Strikes, a high powered surgical strike, each obtained for a specific amount of War Points.

DAILY MISSIONS

We all want to improve the new players experience and therefore, all players will be offered ten random Daily Missions every day. Completing each Mission will grant rewards, and completing a certain number of Missions will grant an additional reward. Incomplete Missions can be replaced with new Missions for AUR (if they are proving to be too difficult or unwanted by the player). Our hope is that these Missions will give all players short-term objectives and ways to earn ISK and items while they progress into the more competitive and rewarding nature of Factional Warfare and Planetary Conquest.
image
Daily Missions screen

ENCRYPTED STRONGBOXES AND DECRYPTOR KEYS

For those players who desire high quality items above all, especially some of those new Officer Weapons, Sidearms and even Dropsuits, we have added two new Items to the End of Match Salvage: the Encrypted Strongbox, containing high value gear, and the Hacked Decryptor Key. Hacked Decryptor Keys can also be earned by completing Daily Missions and/or purchased for AUR.
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Salvage is accessible via Neocom - Market option
image
Strongboxes and Keys are your Salvage Assets

GAMEPLAY EXPERIENCE

Meta Level of Items is now shown in the Marketplace, and the Meta Level of Fittings as well, being the sum of all gear on the Dropsuit (including the Dropsuit Meta Level). We hope that players will appreciate this small change and look forward to further UX improvements like these.
Clone Reanimation Units now have a Passive Scan with a Scan Precision of 35 dB and Scan Range of 15 m for increased enemy awareness before spawning in to battle while Drop Uplinks now have a Passive Scan with a Scan Precision of 35 dB and Scan Range of 5 m.
By popular demand, each players Loyalty Rank will be displayed in the Kill Message, when achieving Kills while Victims rank will not be shown. This option can be toggled on/off in the Settings menu in the NEOCOM.
Passive Scans have been a very powerful form of battle tactics, and very dominant in Planetary Conquest. We wanted to make the experience less binary and more dynamic so Passive Scans will from now on be in the form of three concentric circles, centered on any Dropsuit. The closest circle has the strongest Scan Precision (lowest), the middle circle has normal Scan Precision and the farthest circle has the weakest Scan Precision (highest). Scanning modules (Range Amplifiers and Precision Enhancers) as well as passive Scanning skills affect each of these three scans as before.
We updated some of our graphics tools allowing us to add and change the color of many effects. We will be adding more over time, but for now some Dropsuits, Projectiles and Weapons will now have a more prominent and differently colored visual effect (did someone say purple laser beam?).
image
New visual effects (Work in progress)
The Logistics Dropsuits will be getting more recognition as the primary Support role with the addition of Equipment Bandwidth. Players can now deploy Equipment as long as their sum of Equipment Bandwidth Cost does not exceed their Dropsuit Bandwidth Capacity and of course Logistics will have the highest Bandwidth. Going above the Bandwidth Capacity will result in the self-destruction of deployed Equipment, in the sequence it was deployed. Therefore a new Attribute, Bandwidth Cost (Mb/s), has been added to all deployable Equipment. On top of that all Equipment now has a tiered Scan Profile, getting better with each tier so Logistics can choose to deploy Equipment that is more difficult to locate. The final Logistics buff is then the addition of improved WP rewards per tier of Nanite Injector.
Players switching to a new dropsuit at Supply Depots will now inherit the shield and armor percentage from the former dropsuit to prevent exploits.
Added a Guardian War Point bonus, for every War Point earned within 50 meters from an Objective, an additional 25% War Points are granted.
Enemy orientation has been removed from all scan results as it was deemed too powerful
The following dropsuit attributes have been added to the Fitting Information screen, as modified by Skills and Modules:

DUST 514 ROADMAP AND FEEDBACK

Moreover, as we are forming our roadmap for DUST 514, which is still work in progress, we would like to invite you, our players, to participate with us in its creation and suggest features and ideas to the Trello board right here. We are looking forward to your feedback and ideas on both Trello and Forums!

PATCH NOTES

Here are the full Uprising 1.10 patch notes:
New Player Experience
submitted by new_eden_news_bot to dust514 [link] [comments]

ED official Twitch stream #2 - QA summary

Disclaimer: just a rough editing, can contain mistakes, spelling and grammar errors. If you find one, please let me know in comments
#1 Whatever Sidewinders are typically used for mining?
Answer: Most ships can be adapted for mining role. Sidewinders wouldn't be generally used for most mining, but [they can be used] for sort of stealth/rogue mining operations, to sneak in, get some precious metals and sneak off.
#2 One of thing in alpha 4 that it's gonna have AIs capable of piracy, so as you already know there's gonna be supercruise, which allows you to travel across interior of systems, at quite frankly ridiculous speeds, and while you flying among you can be intercepted, so what it basically means that you can be pulled out of supercruise.
#3 Pirates can request cargo, and players can surrender them, staying alive.
#4 As mentioned in newsletter, star field background will be generated (not painted skybox) starting from alpha 4.
#5 Targeting subsystems (mostly cargo bay) drops more canisters with multicannons than with lasers?
Answer: that's probably correct, as multicannons do more penetrable damage than lasers do. So one of the key things is that you can use different weapons with different advantages. Multicannons will smash trough armor, lasers are good at draining shields, missiles do massive area damage. So this is the case for picking right weapon for right job.
#6 Another big thing wich will change for alpha 4 is that we will have initial pass on our hyperspace fx rather than rotating Sidewinder, which some of you are excited to see.
#7 Colonized space will slowly expand, but how new systems will choose their allegiance?
Answer: essentially we will design that. So we can manually input events. These include things like colonization of new systems, famines, wars, even changes of allegiance, so whatever new system is Imperial or not is down to us; however we also factor into that is culmination of pirate activities in those regions. So, if it's next to Imperial space, and there has been lot of support for Imperial missions, and players looking at/upon Imperial interests, that's quite likely there will be new Imperial system there. One of things we want to support is deep range exploration.
#8 About instancing - at this point there are two servers. If you log in in one, you can't play on another. So for alpha and initial beta stages that will remain the case. However, we will have shiny new match making system, and intent for that is it will match people and will put on right server instances, so if you play with friends, you will be on same server.
#9 Ultimate aim for game is that you build networks of contacts trough out in galaxy - you might find someone who is very good at shooting lasers; he's very specific to certain station; The same way for black market trading - if you are smuggler, you need to build a network of contants to make sure you can sell these goods or get right missions; at very start of the game you will get very low level contacts. Missions will be very good source of generating new contacts for you. It is not finalized fully yet - introducing contacts between players is on cards. Will see.
#11 How economy model coming along? Will we see NPCs trading, traveling between stations? And if so, will trading activities of these ships affect stock market prices at space stations?
Answer: There are two things here. First, economy model is affected by two factors - we have background simulation (we haven't quite determined "the tick" yet [redditor note: this means how frequently system is updated according to latest data]), basically, process is supply and demand for that particular market. On top of that we have players trading, and they have additional weight to effect on what happens, so for example if you around blowing up all trading ships leaving system, you knock out their trade. We want to make sure that players can "feel" how they influencing world around them. It's not executive control game in a sense that you can take over space station, or take over capital ship, but working together (or on your own) you're part of the world that cycling around you. Second, we don't emulate economy that way [by individual NPCs trading], but other way around - so economy [as part of background sim] basically generates NPC traffic - according to it's size, goods produced and traded, etc.
#12 Federal ship bond mission will be harder.
#13 New ships - Anaconda, Eagle, Type 9. Five ships in total in alpha 4 and first premium beta build.
#14 Inflatable stations - it's a concept of quick deployment of space stations. Players certainly won't control them not for initial release. But one of ideas we actually have is large ships that act like stations. So idea is that we can deploy these at strategic points to allow longer range exploration. You will be able to get fuel and service, they won't be destroyable.
#15 What are options for ship's field maintenance?
Answer: Idea is that we have repair bots and nano technology, so that you can equip exploration ships with, and yeah they will enable you to travel further, but you will need service at some stage. That's part of the plan of expanding galaxy, and that's reason why we are excited to have galaxy we can change over time, t.i. we can keep step with this exploration, so we just keep expanding known universe outwards.
#16 Later down the beta process we will add passenger transportation game play, and with it, some of passenger liners.
#17 Any comms in alpha 4?
Answer: Not at this point no. Various forms of comms will be added trough beta.
#18 Is hyperspace going to be seamless? And if it will be, will it be time relative with reaching different distances?
Answer: Certainly intention long term is make it seamless. And it will be pretty much most of the way for alpha 4 and certainly beta. The length of sequence is time with couple of factors - in game play sense you will be jump bigger jump drives which will jump quicker, we want to have some advantages in investing in bigger engines.
#19 Are there plans for Imperial version of Eagle (as currently we have seen only Federal version)?
Answer: True, we will look into this further.
#20 How long beta will be?
Answer: It will be extended process.
#21 Are all systems in alpha 4 Independent?
Answer: No, we have couple of Federation worlds, one Independent world and there's Anarchy as well.
#22 Is beta expected date 30th May is hard date or it may slip?
Answer: We are doing everything we can to make sure that it's a hard date.
#23 Flying trough binary star system - in between two stars will your ship ripped apart?
Answer: No. (half of answer is lost due of glitch in stream)
#24 Will all backer systems and stars will be in alpha 4 galaxy map?
Answer: Most of them will be, some waiting for details. No for space stations, will be added later as galaxy map will be improved trough beta.
#25 Any ideas about thargoid ship designs?
Answer: Yes. Intention is keeping some of elements from previous games.
#26 will contact binaries be implemented?
Answer: David is huge fan of contact binaries. This is something we want to implement.
#27 I am more of miner, trader, constrution guy? Is that something I will be able to do for a living in the game?
Answer: Certainly mining and trading. I expect those to be sort of core ways to get credits in game. About construction not so much, not at this stage anyway.
submitted by Pecisk to EliteDangerous [link] [comments]

Backup and VCS systems during development of our game: Anamorphine. Part 2 & 3 of 4

And we're back! Our part 1 is here
Having spoken to a mod of the community, we agreed it would be best to do a bigger post this time, so here goes: Setting up Sparkleshare and Perforce. Something to note before we start, all Client applications were installed on Windows 7, and all Server applications were installed on a hosted Linux server running Ubuntu.
_ Sparkleshare Sparkleshare is an open source git based dropbox alternative that we had investigated when we initially had started talking about Anamorphine a few years back. For this new backup endeavour, we had given Sparkleshare a chance but had found it, and git in general, ill-suited for large binary transaction management which are a big part of working with UDK. Today we use sparkleshare to keep track of our text files, which includes our unrealscript code and our unreal editor configs.
_ Why Sparkleshare? This is a good question: Why use Sparkleshare, which removes any fine grain control over your repo, instead of another visual tool like Tortoisegit or even just a simple git shell? The reason we went with Sparkleshare is because only one of us actually works on the code base, but we all need the code to be updated. Sparkleshare gives a programmer control through git while giving other people in the team a dropbox experience. People are much more comfortable with a tool like that when their engagement with the content is low, but still requires them to have the content up to date.
_ Setup the Sparkleshare Client You can download sparkleshare clients from their website: http://sparkleshare.org/. Since we are using UDK, a windows only engine, we are using the windows clients. I suggest downloading and installing the client first since they generate ssh keys that you need for the host setup.
_ Setup the Sparkleshare Host A great feature of sparkleshare is that you can setup your hosting using either pre-existing services like github and bitbucket, or host them on your own server, which is the solution we employed. The instructions are clearly listed on the sparkleshare website if you choose to do as we did using their dazzle tool.
_ Additional Notes Since Sparkleshare is a git based tool, which means you can leverage all of those tools during development, but in order to do that, you will need access to the private key generated during client setup. This is the key path on windows: C:\Users\ramy\AppData\Roaming\sparkleshare\. This is where you would get your key to use in your own git shell or with pageant on windows. We also use a web based git project explorer: https://github.com/klaussilveira/gitlist which we password protect behind a simple .htaccess file. This allows us to take a look at the code and its revisions without having to necessarily go through the git interface or the sparkleshare interface.
_ Perforce Perforce is a proprietary tool developed by Perforce Software. It is a tool that will be commonly found in use at different game development studios thanks to its proper handling of large binary files. UDK also has P4 integration, which was key to our decision to use it. It also offers great features that are very difficult for distributed version control systems to mimic such as file locking. Since February 2012, perforce has offered a free license of their product as long as it was being used by less than 20 people and 20 workspace. This is a great offer and one we have capitalized on for our version control solution.
_ Setup the Perforce Host I did not find Perforce to be as easy to setup as Sparkleshare was, to say the least. Go ahead and download the P4 server, P4D, and the P4 command line client, P4, over at http://perforce.com/downloads/Perforce/20-User. We are using the latest 64-bit Linux installer (2013.2). The server hosting all the perforce files also has a user called “perforce” with it’s own home directory. This user is the one who runs and manages perforce. Once you have downloaded p4d, execute it in daemon mode:
$ p4d -d
The perforce Daemon will start after printing a short message, from the p4d help page:
After successful startup, p4d does not normally exit. It merely outputs the following startup message : Perforce server starting... and runs in the background.
After running p4d, we will add types to its type map, run: p4 typemap and add the following entries:
binary+w //....u text //....uc binary //....udk binary //....upk
If you don’t want to restrict the use of P4 to certain accounts, then you can skip to the next step since P4 will, by default, automatically create accounts and workspaces as clients connect to them.
When P4D is first launched, each users accessing it can impersonate any another user, so let’s add some passwords by running p4 passwd like so:
$ p4 user -f new_user $ p4 passwd -P new_password new_user
This would create the user “new_user” and set the password “new_password” for the user “new_user”. Next we need to limit which user is a super user. If no super user is defined, any user can choose to become the super user, so it's important to run this command after having created the relevant accounts.
Use the command “p4 users” to list all existing users and “p4 user” to modify those users. When you are ready to set which user is to become the superuser, run “p4 protect”, here is what our P4 protect looks like:
Protections: write user * * //... super user perforce * //...
This says, on the first line, write permission is granted for user * (wildcard meaning any users) from * (any) client or host id * to access the following depot paths //… (all paths, recursively, starting from the root: //).
pro tip: three consecutive dots when talking about file paths in perforce ( ... ) means "recursively from this point onward." 
On the second line it is stated that super permission is granted to user “perforce” from all host ids to access all paths. And that’s it, your Perforce server is setup and secure with admins and passwords, time to configure the clients.
_ Setup the Perforce Client Download the P4V client from http://perforce.com/downloads/Perforce/20-User. This time we are using Windows 64 bit clients. It’s important to note that clients and server daemons need to be version compatible, so always download the version that can correctly connect to your P4 server.
The P4V tool (Perforce Visual) is a GUI tool to access the perforce server by providing an easy to use user interface. When first starting P4V you will be presented with an Open Connection prompt asking you which server to access using which credentials, it looks like this.
The default server port for a Perforce server is 1666 and this is still the case using our setup. If this is a first time setup, a new workspace should be created before connecting. If you had set up a user passwords in the previous step, then you need to start P4V and connect to the server by entering your credentials every 24 hours (I believe). A password prompt will appear after completing the Connection prompt posted above. View this page for an overview of how to use P4V: http://www.perforce.com/perforce/doc.current/manuals/p4v-gs/01_p4v-gs.html
Once connected to the server, we need to change some configuration options in UDK to enable its VCS options. Open the “DefaultEditorUserSettings.ini” file in UDKGame/Config/ and change the source control section to match this:
[SourceControl] Disabled=False
And on the next startup of UDK, you should be prompted to find your workspace. If P4V was started before UDK, it should have no problems in automatically finding your workspace. When right clicking on assets in the asset browser, the Source Control menu context should be filled with clickable options. When editing a package that has not been checked out, UDK will now show a notification bubble in your taskbar asking you to “click here to check the file out” and a checkout prompt when attempting to save the file. Files that are already checked out will now have a different icon and you can even see who has which file checked out and if the file is locked or not. The documentation for source control with UDK is located here: http://udn.epicgames.com/Three/SCCIntegration.html
_ Additional Notes We had considered using Perforce with ssl but we found that UDK was not supporting this feature, causing us to drop it. Adding a file to Perforce can sometimes be a hassle with UDK, so we do that step straight in P4V as a matter of convenience (But I've never had problems adding packages though, only maps for some reason). If you installed UDK in another drive than C, then it should be noted that Perforce does not work accross disk letters, but we can address that on the next post!
_ Next post, like this one, will come next week and it will explain how to tie both your sparkleshare repository with your P4 workspace. Please check out our game, Anamorphine. We're on tumblr: http://anamorphine.com/ and facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AnamorphineGame
ninja edits: formatting.
submitted by ramy_d to gamedev [link] [comments]

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