October 2015 Round Up

Taken at the Brisbane Kite Festival

Welcome to November! I’m going to say it… I can’t believe how fast the year is vanishing. Just a few more very busy weeks ahead and then it’s time to wind down for the summer holidays.

Taken at the Brisbane Kite Festival
Taken at the Brisbane Kite Festival

October was a huge month for me, being my first full month of self-employment. Here’s a round up of what happened.

Exchange Server 2016 reached RTM, kicking off another exciting wave for on-premises Exchange customers. I stayed up until 2am here to join in the buzz as the news broke on Twitter. Since then I’ve been writing a bunch of tutorials to help people get started with this new version. You can find them all linked from my Exchange Server 2016 resource page. Lots more to come.

I also launched the Exchange Server Pro Podcast. Starting a podcast has been on my mind for a long time and I finally have the time to do it. I’ll share more details about exactly how I put it together, such as the various tools and services I use for it, in an upcoming article. The reception so far has been very positive. A big thanks to all of my guests so far who have been on the show, and to those of you who have provided feedback after listening.

Probably the biggest controversy during October was the sloppy reporting of an OWA backdoor in Exchange. I wrote my own take on this mess here, and fellow MVP Mike Crowley and I discussed it on episode 4 of the podcast.

We released a new eBook in October, the Complete Guide to Managing Hybrid Exchange Deployments. This is a continuation of our ongoing experiments with self-publishing and eBooks. We received a lot of feedback from people that Office 365 for Exchange Professionals is a large book covering more than they personally want to learn about Office 365. So we tool several chapters, edited them for clarity and continuity, and then released them as a shorter eBook that focuses solely on Hybrid Exchange. Judging by the response there is a healthy demand for this particular topic and format, so we’ll be considering other ways to break down the Office 365 content into smaller eBooks in future as well.

I didn’t spend much time writing PowerShell scripts in October but I did manage to release one – Set-MailboxQuota.ps1. This script simplifies the basic admin task of increasing or decreasing a mailbox user’s quota (e.g. you want to bump their quota up by 5%). If you use mailbox quotas in your org check it out and let me know what you think.

On a more personal note I struggled with the first world problem of iPhone battery drain, eventually discovering that the FaceBook app for iOS was the cause. After removing the app my iPhone 6S battery life has been great. Oddly the app reinstalls itself from time to time. I suspect this is happening during iTunes sync. FaceBook is apparently aware of the battery drain issues, but even the latest version of the app I tried last night had the same problem, so I’ve removed it again.

I’ve been trying to expand my skills outside of the Microsoft IT pro space and signed up for a programming course at OneMonth.com. I’m starting with the Python/Django web development course and I have to say it’s been really interesting. I like the way OneMonth structures the courses so you actually build something real, instead of just learning abstract concepts. When I finish I plan to get the app running on Azure which should also be a very educational process.

One final note, now that I’m spending more time working out of coffee shops and public spaces (the State Library of Queensland is an excellent place to spend the day) I wanted to make sure I was protecting myself while I’m on free wifi networks. After using the 14 day trial of Freedome by F-Secure I’ve just signed up for a full year’s subscription. It’s fantastic value, so if you’re a roaming worker go check it out.

By Paul Cunningham

Paul is a writer and entrepreneur living in Brisbane, Australia. He enjoys spending time with his family and running in the mountains. Paul was the founder of Practical 365, a former Microsoft MVP, and Pluralsight trainer. Paul is also on Twitter and Instagram.