Tag Archives: spent

The Acid Test for Your Backup Strategy

For the first several years that I supported server environments, I spent most of my time working with backup systems. I noticed that almost everyone did their due diligence in performing backups. Most people took an adequate responsibility to verify that their scheduled backups ran without error. However, almost no one ever checked that they could actually restore from a backup — until disaster struck. I gathered a lot of sorrowful stories during those years. I want to use those experiences to help you avert a similar tragedy.

Successful Backups Do Not Guarantee Successful Restores

Fortunately, a lot of the problems that I dealt with in those days have almost disappeared due to technological advancements. But, that only means that you have better odds of a successful restore, not that you have a zero chance of failure. Restore failures typically mean that something unexpected happened to your backup media. Things that I’ve encountered:

  • Staff inadvertently overwrote a full backup copy with an incremental or differential backup
  • No one retained the necessary decryption information
  • Media was lost or damaged
  • Media degraded to uselessness
  • Staff did not know how to perform a restore — sometimes with disastrous outcomes

I’m sure that some of you have your own horror stories.

These risks apply to all organizations. Sometimes we manage to convince ourselves that we have immunity to some or all of them, but you can’t get there without extra effort. Let’s break down some of these line items.

People Represent the Weakest Link

We would all like to believe that our staff will never make errors and that the people that need to operate the backup system have the ability to do so. However, as a part of your disaster recovery planning, you must expect an inability to predict the state or availability of any individual. If only a few people know how to use your backup application, then those people become part of your risk profile.

You have a few simple ways to address these concerns:

  • Periodically test the restore process
  • Document the restore process and keep the documentation updated
  • Non-IT personnel need knowledge and practice with backup and restore operations
  • Non-IT personnel need to know how to get help with the application

It’s reasonable to expect that you would call your backup vendor for help in the event of an emergency that prevented your best people from performing restores. However, in many organizations without a proper disaster recovery plan, no one outside of IT even knows who to call. The knowledge inside any company naturally tends to arrange itself in silos, but you must make sure to spread at least the bare minimum information.

Technology Does Fail

I remember many shock and horror reactions when a company owner learned that we could not read the data from their backup tapes. A few times, these turned into grief and loss counselling sessions as they realized that they were facing a critical — or even complete — data loss situation. Tape has its own particular risk profile, and lots of businesses have stopped using it in favour of on-premises disk-based storage or cloud-based solutions. However, all backup storage technologies present some kind of risk.

In my experience, data degradation occurred most frequently. You might see this called other things, my favourite being “bit rot”. Whatever you call it, it all means the same thing: the data currently on the media is not the same data that you recorded. That can happen just because magnetic storage devices have susceptibilities. That means that no one made any mistakes — the media just didn’t last. For all media types, we can establish an average for failure rates. But, we have absolutely no guarantees on the shelf life for any individual unit. I have seen data pull cleanly off decade-old media; I have seen week-old backups fail miserably.

Unexpectedly, newer technology can make things worse. In our race to cut costs, we frequently employ newer ways to save space and time. In the past, we had only compression and incremental/differential solutions. Now, we have tools that can deduplicate across several backup sets and at multiple levels. We often put a lot of reliance on the single copy of a bit.

How to Test your Backup Strategy

The best way to identify problems is to break-test to find weaknesses. Leveraging test restores will help identity backup reliability and help you solve these problems. Simply, you cannot know that you have a good backup unless you can perform a good restore. You cannot know that your staff can perform a restore unless they perform a restore. For maximum effect, you need to plan tests to occur on a regular basis.

Some tools, like Altaro VM Backup, have built-in tools to make tests easy. Altaro VM Backup provides a “Test & Verify Backups” wizard to help you perform on-demand tests and a “Schedule Test Drills” feature to help you automate the process.

how to test and verify backups altaro

If your tool does not have such a feature, you can still use it to make certain that your data will be there when you need it. It should have some way to restore a separate or redirected copy. So, instead of overwriting your live data, you can create a duplicate in another place where you can safely examine and verify it.

Test Restore Scenario

In the past, we would often simply restore some data files to a shared location and use a simple comparison tool. Now that we use virtual machines for so much, we can do a great deal more. I’ll show one example of a test that I use. In my system, all of these are Hyper-V VMs. You’ll have to adjust accordingly for other technologies.

Using your tool, restore copies of:

  • A domain controller
  • A SQL server
  • A front-end server dependent on the SQL server

On the host that you restored those VMs to, create a private virtual switch. Connect each virtual machine to it. Spin up the copied domain controller, then the copied SQL server, then the copied front-end. Use the VM connect console to verify that all of them work as expected.

Create test restore scenarios of your own! Make sure that they match a real-world scenario that your organization would rely on after a disaster.


Go to Original Article
Author: Eric Siron

Stepping into each other’s shoes leads to better online shopping and a newly innovative relationship for Mastercard and Microsoft | Transform

Mastercard and Microsoft walked a mile in each other’s shoes – or in an update on the old adage, spent three days hacking together – and came up with a new service to make shopping online easier and more secure around the world, not only for shoppers, but also retailers and banks.

The collaborative experience also kicked off a new way of thinking about innovation that promises to lead to even more developments to help e-commerce thrive.

New York-based Mastercard is a leading technology company in the payments space, processing about $20 billion in transactions a day across more than 210 countries or territories. And Microsoft is one of the top e-commerce merchants in the world, with online sales from the Microsoft Store, Xbox, Azure, Office 365 and more.

Both companies have felt an urgency in shifting toward online payments – especially with the increasing popularity of mobile apps and devices – that has made security more difficult even as consumers expect greater ease of use. So they brought together teams of engineers to tackle the issue at the recent Microsoft global Hackathon at Microsoft’s Redmond, Washington, headquarters.

man at table holding credit card and looking at computer screen“Both our infrastructures are used in creating online transactions, so we owe it to our customers to make them safe, secure and simple,” says Raj Dhamodharan, Mastercard’s executive vice president of channel propositions and partnerships. “Through co-innovation our customers benefit, because we’re solving a pain point that otherwise might take years to solve.”

The collaboration comes amid changing cultures at Microsoft and Mastercard that are being fostered from the top down.

“Both companies have shifted their mentality that by partnering and bringing in diverse thoughts, we build better products and work better together,” says Will White, Microsoft’s director of payments. “The benefit is you get true innovation from two companies that have radically different missions, in different industries, with different constituents.”

Mastercard provides payment services to Microsoft’s online stores, and Microsoft sells technology services back. So the Hackathon teams built on that symbiotic relationship and experimented with ways to securely store payment info, exchange credentials and authenticate identity with biometrics – using a PC to make a theoretical purchase of a game on the Microsoft Store as a trial.

Microsoft’s double role as merchant and tech company gave Mastercard engineers a better understanding of the challenges both stakeholders face, says Mohamed Abouelenin, Mastercard’s director of product development and innovation.

“That helped us push the bar in developing new services to help provide the best experience for consumers,” Abouelenin says.

It was the first time Mastercard had participated in another company’s Hackathon. The experience energized both groups and left them wanting more.

“I saw a big difference in my team when they got back, in how they approach their jobs and have a more customer-oriented perception of things now,” says Anand Mallepally, Mastercard’s vice president of cyber and intelligence solutions, whose group is based in St. Louis. Physically being together in Redmond was “a gamechanger” for the engineers as far as seeing situations from each other’s perspectives, he says. “I can foresee more and more innovative ideas now.”

A hand holding a credit card with a chip over a payment machineThat’s crucial at a time when chips on credit cards are stopping more fraud, leading criminals increasingly to focus on online forums instead, says Mallepally, who’s been working on fraud prevention and digital platforms with Mastercard for more than 12 years.

His team has to tread carefully, however, acknowledging that security protocols can bring friction to the shopping experience. Shoppers are turned off when they have to remember passwords or go through extra verification steps; retailers sell less when transactions take extra time; and the banks that issue credit cards incur extra expenses when they have to develop and implement new safety measures. So it’s critical to consider enhancements to improve the consumer’s experience, along with additional protections.

The situation is complicated by a new regulation Europe implemented in September that requires banks to communicate with the customer for two-factor authentication before online purchases – even for recurring charges such as monthly bills for utilities or streaming services.

The bank might send a code to a credit card customer’s mobile phone or email address, for example, and the customer has to type that in on the checkout screen before a purchase can proceed. That’s expected to reduce fraud but increase friction. It’s also expected to be adopted by other markets around the world, including the U.S., in coming years.

index finger resting on phone screenBut biometric authentication on mobile devices – such as a fingerprint scanner – has been approved to allow consumers to skip that step.

That got Microsoft’s White to thinking.

“How do we level the playing field between the mobile checkout experience and the PC checkout experience?” he wondered. “And why can’t we make e-commerce payments as fast and simple as we have in the physical world, where you tap or insert a card and you’re done?”

The Hackathon teams found an answer to both, with an extra measure of innovation thrown in.

They decided to leverage the infrastructure Microsoft already has with its Windows Hello technology, which allows 900 million Windows 10 users to access their devices with a fingerprint or facial recognition, instead of a password. Through their combined efforts, they came up with a new feature that screens the user’s biometrics again and then, as long as they match the Windows Hello identification, automatically authenticates the buyer and approves purchases. The new service will give banks and merchants the assurance they’re dealing with actual customers, and shoppers won’t have to go through additional steps to prove themselves.

And the solution can be used across many types of computers, laptops and tablets, without requiring people to own or use a specific device, as the mobile-phone offerings do.

woman on couch holding credit card and looking at computer screen“It’s a solution that neither Mastercard nor Microsoft could have done on our own,” says Matt Rossmeissl, Microsoft’s general manager for commerce engineering operations. “We each had to bring our own expertise to the table to get this done. They’ve got the relationships with the banks, and we’ve got hundreds of millions of Windows devices out there.”

Biometric authentication is built to make online shopping easier for everyone, but it will be especially helpful for those with disabilities, says Priyanka Banerjee, a senior program manager under Rossmeissl. Entering a code for two-factor authentication is a difficult process for anyone who’s blind, for example, or can’t use their fingers to type, especially since those codes are time-limited and expire quickly. But biometric authentication removes that friction.

“Microsoft is very focused on inclusiveness and accessibility, and that’s something that hadn’t yet been thought of in this scenario” by financial services companies, Banerjee says. “What we have built can be extended to those with disabilities, with no extra setup required, and we can make the experience of everybody better.”

The collaborative process is also helping to bring the concept to market faster. The Hackathon engineers were able to accomplish in a few days together what would have taken a month or more apart, says Mallepally.

“We created a prototype in only a week’s time, and I think that will change the relationship between us and Mastercard going forward, because we’ll be more willing to try new things and go do growth hacking,” Microsoft’s Rossmeissl says. “We have at least 10 conversations in parallel going on with Mastercard now.

“If you approach a challenge with an open mind and go into it thinking that what we produce will be better if we work together and leverage our unique independent strengths, we’ll find solutions to problems that could be far better than what we could have done if we’d tried to solve them ourselves.”

All photos provided by Mastercard.

Go to Original Article
Author: Steve Clarke

Wanted – cheap laptop

Hi guys…..

So i went and spent loads of money on a nice slim hp laptop, me and the missus were going to get one each but her one worked fine, she dont like change so i took full pleasure in getting myself something nicer than 2 machines that weren’t as pretty

Long story short, my 1 year old has just learned to walk, and poured a glass of juice over her laptop. Were not gonna claim it on house insurance to avoid premiums, but i spend all the money a few months back on a nice new one. Not looking to spend a fortune. Just need something to get her buy, possible with good battery life

Anyone looking to sell

ps her old one was a hp pavilion with a passive cooled Pentium, 4gb ram, 256gb ssd, but the battery was a monster at 7-10 hours. She mainly uses it for uni work, so some light word processing , power point, internet , some spotify and the occasional sims 4 round up

Go to Original Article
Author:

Wanted – cheap laptop

Hi guys…..

So i went and spent loads of money on a nice slim hp laptop, me and the missus were going to get one each but her one worked fine, she dont like change so i took full pleasure in getting myself something nicer than 2 machines that weren’t as pretty

Long story short, my 1 year old has just learned to walk, and poured a glass of juice over her laptop. Were not gonna claim it on house insurance to avoid premiums, but i spend all the money a few months back on a nice new one. Not looking to spend a fortune. Just need something to get her buy, possible with good battery life

Anyone looking to sell

ps her old one was a hp pavilion with a passive cooled Pentium, 4gb ram, 256gb ssd, but the battery was a monster at 7-10 hours. She mainly uses it for uni work, so some light word processing , power point, internet , some spotify and the occasional sims 4 round up

Go to Original Article
Author:

WATCH: Hackathons show teen girls the potential for AI – and themselves – AI for Business

This summer, young women in San Francisco and Seattle spent a weekend taking their creative problem solving to a whole new level through the power of artificial intelligence. The two events were part of a Microsoft-hosted AI boot-camp program that started last year in Athens, then broadened its reach with events in London last fall and New York City in the spring. Check out the wrap-up video from the three U.S. events:

YouTube Video

“I’ve been so impressed not only with the willingness of these young women to spend an entire weekend learning and embracing this opportunity, but with the quality of the projects,” said Didem Un Ates, one of the program organizers and a senior director for AI within Microsoft. “It’s just two days, but what they come up with always blows our minds.” (Read a LinkedIn post from Un Ates about the events.)

The problems these girls tackled aren’t kid stuff: The girls chose their weekend projects from among the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, considered to be the most difficult and highest priority for the world.

The result? Dozens of innovative products that could help solve issues as diverse as ocean pollution, dietary needs, mental health, acne and climate change. Not to mention all those young women – 129 attended the U.S. events – who now feel empowered to pursue careers to help solve those problems. They now see themselves as “Alice,” a mascot created by the project team to represent the qualities young women possess that lend themselves to changing the world through AI.

Organizers plan to broaden the reach of these events, so that girls everywhere can learn about the possibility of careers in technology.

Related:

Go to Original Article
Author: Microsoft News Center

Hackathons show teen girls the potential for AI – and themselves – AI for Business

This summer, young women in San Francisco and Seattle spent a weekend taking their creative problem solving to a whole new level through the power of artificial intelligence. The two events were part of a Microsoft-hosted AI boot-camp program that started last year in Athens, then broadened its reach with events in London last fall and New York City in the spring.

“I’ve been so impressed not only with the willingness of these young women to spend an entire weekend learning and embracing this opportunity, but with the quality of the projects,” said Didem Un Ates, one of the program organizers and a senior director for AI within Microsoft. “It’s just two days, but what they come up with always blows our minds.” (Read a LinkedIn post from Un Ates about the events.)

The problems these girls tackled aren’t kid stuff: The girls chose their weekend projects from among the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, considered to be the most difficult and highest priority for the world.

The result? Dozens of innovative products that could help solve issues as diverse as ocean pollution, dietary needs, mental health, acne and climate change. Not to mention all those young women – 129 attended the U.S. events – who now feel empowered to pursue careers to help solve those problems. They now see themselves as “Alice,” a mascot created by the project team to represent the qualities young women possess that lend themselves to changing the world through AI.

Organizers plan to broaden the reach of these events, so that girls everywhere can learn about the possibility of careers in technology.

Related:

Go to Original Article
Author: Microsoft News Center

For Sale – HP ProBook 6470b , i5-3360M, 8GB RAM and 500 GB 7.2K hdd

Hi guys,
Selling
HP ProBook 6470b, i5-3360M, 8GB RAM and 500 GB 7.2K hdd
It is about 5 years old and spent first three on the docking station. Was not in use for about 18 months and about 6 months ago I brought it back to life by installing new Hitachi HDD and Windows 10 Pro (HP version, 1803 and activated). I cannot see any mark on it and it is very clean (see the picture without the back panel ). Battery lasted two and half hours playing you tube music videos at full screen.

Delivery cost is included within my country, will be 2-3 day delivery from parcel2go, you are welcome to collect.

Spec
i5-3360M
8GB RAM
500GB 7.2K Hitachi hdd
Screen res 1600×900
DVD writer
Original 90w HP power supply

IMG_20180725_152239.jpg

IMG_20180725_152144.jpg

IMG_20180725_152451.jpg

IMG_20180725_153201.jpg

Price and currency: 135
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: Bank transfer , paypal gift or cash on collection
Location: Manchester
Advertised elsewhere?: Not advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I have no preference

______________________________________________________
This message is automatically inserted in all classifieds forum threads.
By replying to this thread you agree to abide by the trading rules detailed here.
Please be advised, all buyers and sellers should satisfy themselves that the other party is genuine by providing the following via private conversation to each other after negotiations are complete and prior to dispatching goods and making payment:

  • Landline telephone number. Make a call to check out the area code and number are correct, too
  • Name and address including postcode
  • Valid e-mail address

DO NOT proceed with a deal until you are completely satisfied with all details being correct. It’s in your best interest to check out these details yourself.

For Sale – HP ProBook 6470b , i5-3360M, 8GB RAM and 500 GB 7.2K hdd

Hi guys,
Selling
HP ProBook 6470b, i5-3360M, 8GB RAM and 500 GB 7.2K hdd
It is about 5 years old and spent first three on the docking station. Was not in use for about 18 months and about 6 months ago I brought it back to life by installing new Hitachi HDD and Windows 10 Pro (HP version, 1803 and activated). I cannot see any mark on it and it is very clean (see the picture without the back panel ). Battery lasted two and half hours playing you tube music videos at full screen.

Delivery cost is included within my country, will be 2-3 day delivery from parcel2go, you are welcome to collect.

Spec
i5-3360M
8GB RAM
500GB 7.2K Hitachi hdd
Screen res 1600×900
DVD writer
Original 90w HP power supply

IMG_20180725_152239.jpg

IMG_20180725_152144.jpg

IMG_20180725_152451.jpg

IMG_20180725_153201.jpg

Price and currency: 135
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: Bank transfer , paypal gift or cash on collection
Location: Manchester
Advertised elsewhere?: Not advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I have no preference

______________________________________________________
This message is automatically inserted in all classifieds forum threads.
By replying to this thread you agree to abide by the trading rules detailed here.
Please be advised, all buyers and sellers should satisfy themselves that the other party is genuine by providing the following via private conversation to each other after negotiations are complete and prior to dispatching goods and making payment:

  • Landline telephone number. Make a call to check out the area code and number are correct, too
  • Name and address including postcode
  • Valid e-mail address

DO NOT proceed with a deal until you are completely satisfied with all details being correct. It’s in your best interest to check out these details yourself.

For Sale – HP ProBook 6470b , i5-3360M, 8GB RAM and 500 GB 7.2K hdd

Hi guys,
Selling
HP ProBook 6470b, i5-3360M, 8GB RAM and 500 GB 7.2K hdd
It is about 5 years old and spent first three on the docking station. Was not in use for about 18 months and about 6 months ago I brought it back to life by installing new Hitachi HDD and Windows 10 Pro (HP version, 1803 and activated). I cannot see any mark on it and it is very clean (see the picture without the back panel ). Battery lasted two and half hours playing you tube music videos at full screen.

Delivery cost is included within my country, will be 2-3 day delivery from parcel2go, you are welcome to collect.

Spec
i5-3360M
8GB RAM
500GB 7.2K Hitachi hdd
Screen res 1600×900
DVD writer
Original 90w HP power supply

IMG_20180725_152239.jpg

IMG_20180725_152144.jpg

IMG_20180725_152451.jpg

IMG_20180725_153201.jpg

Price and currency: 165
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: Bank transfer , paypal gift or cash on collection
Location: Manchester
Advertised elsewhere?: Not advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I have no preference

______________________________________________________
This message is automatically inserted in all classifieds forum threads.
By replying to this thread you agree to abide by the trading rules detailed here.
Please be advised, all buyers and sellers should satisfy themselves that the other party is genuine by providing the following via private conversation to each other after negotiations are complete and prior to dispatching goods and making payment:

  • Landline telephone number. Make a call to check out the area code and number are correct, too
  • Name and address including postcode
  • Valid e-mail address

DO NOT proceed with a deal until you are completely satisfied with all details being correct. It’s in your best interest to check out these details yourself.

For Sale – HP ProBook 6470b , i5-3360M, 8GB RAM and 500 GB 7.2K hdd

Hi guys,
Selling
HP ProBook 6470b, i5-3360M, 8GB RAM and 500 GB 7.2K hdd
It is about 5 years old and spent first three on the docking station. Was not in use for about 18 months and about 6 months ago I brought it back to life by installing new Hitachi HDD and Windows 10 Pro (HP version, 1803 and activated). I cannot see any mark on it and it is very clean (see the picture without the back panel ). Battery lasted two and half hours playing you tube music videos at full screen.

Delivery cost is included within my country, will be 2-3 day delivery from parcel2go, you are welcome to collect.

Spec
i5-3360M
8GB RAM
500GB 7.2K Hitachi hdd
Screen res 1600×900
DVD writer
Original 90w HP power supply

IMG_20180725_152239.jpg

IMG_20180725_152144.jpg

IMG_20180725_152451.jpg

IMG_20180725_153201.jpg

Price and currency: 165
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: Bank transfer , paypal gift or cash on collection
Location: Manchester
Advertised elsewhere?: Not advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I have no preference

______________________________________________________
This message is automatically inserted in all classifieds forum threads.
By replying to this thread you agree to abide by the trading rules detailed here.
Please be advised, all buyers and sellers should satisfy themselves that the other party is genuine by providing the following via private conversation to each other after negotiations are complete and prior to dispatching goods and making payment:

  • Landline telephone number. Make a call to check out the area code and number are correct, too
  • Name and address including postcode
  • Valid e-mail address

DO NOT proceed with a deal until you are completely satisfied with all details being correct. It’s in your best interest to check out these details yourself.