Tips

What is CMTrace?

By Garth Jones CMTrace is a real-time log file viewer for System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) Current Branch and SCCM 2012. I originally wrote a blog post about CMTrace back in 2014, so I thought that it was time to update it. In this post I’ll tell you why I like using CMTrace because you may have noticed that I often refer to it when I need to review SCCM log files. I’ll also tell you where you can find CMTrace and I’ll give you a couple of helpful tips! What Makes CMTrace a Must-Have Tool? There are numerous reasons to use this tool, but here are a few of my favorites: -Log files can be reviewed in real time as they are updated. -Multiple log files can be merged together. -Error messages are highlighted in red. -Warning messages are highlighted in yellow. -You can highlight text ...

Website Performance and Lessons Learned

By Garth Jones In the first post of my blog post set on website performance, I talked about HTTPS and why it is important. Google and other search engines give higher rankings to sites with SSL certificates (what you need for HTTPS). More importantly, though, end-users tend to trust sites with an SSL certificate more than those without this certificate. In the same post I also talked about Content Delivery Network (CDN) and how this helps websites load faster. If your site is slow, end-users will be more likely to abandon it. In the end a slow site will cost you money as you lose customers to your competitors! My next blog post (to be published on LFC Hosting) will show you how tools such as, YSlow, can be used to help locate problems on your website. Knowing what problems you need to fix ...

How to Test Website Performance before CDN

By Garth Jones In my last blog post, I provided some background about what Content Delivery Network (CDN) is, the usefulness of having an HTTPS site, and I also talked about Extended Validation SSL HTTPS certificates (i.e. SSL certificates). In my next blog post, I will go into more details about the different types of SSL certificates. In this blog post I’m going to test my website’s current performance by using a couple of speed test tools before I start using Content Delivery Network (CDN). I keep asking myself, how can I demonstrate that I’ve improved my website’s performance? What are my site’s baseline numbers? How much of a difference will CDN make? There only seem to be two tools out there that will allow me to test my website’s performance. As an aside, I was surprised to see that...

Combining Two WQL Queries in One Collection

Garth Jones In a recent forum post someone asked for help with combining two WQL queries (see below WQL Query 1 and WQL Query 2) into one query. It is possible to combine two WQL queries into one, but it all depends on what both queries are looking for. In the simplest terms, WQL is NOT SQL and not everything you can do in SQL will work with WQL. It takes time, patience, and practice in order to know what queries to combine and to confirm that the results from a WQL query are correct. This blog post will talk about your options when it comes to combining two WQL queries. In this example WQL Query 1 involves creating a collection for all computers without the ConfigMgr client installed, and WQL Query 2 involves creating a collection for all computers that haven’t had contact with the Config...

Petya/NotPetya Kill Switch and SCCM

By Garth Jones There’s yet another WannaCry variant out there and this time it’s called Petya! I heard about a method in ZDNet from Amit Serper that will prevent this variant of WannaCry/Petya from infecting computers. This method involves creating a file called perfc with no file extension. In my opinion this is solely a stop-gap measure, but in spite of its apparent short-comings, I decided that I’d figure out a way to easily implement it by using System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) and Configuration Item (CI). I’m going to use SCCM 1702 in my example below, BUT there isn’t any reason why it shouldn’t work with all versions of SCCM going back to 2007. I wrote this script in PowerShell, and I will use this script for both CI checking and CI remediation. $win=$env:windir $strFileNam...

Five Tips for Query Designer

In Garth Jones’ previous blog post, Query Designer in SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS), he showed you how to access Query Designer (also known as Design Query in Editor and Graphical Query Designer) within SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS). With Query Designer you can create SQL Server queries by using a graphical interface. The benefit of using this tool is that as you change or select items within the interface, the SQL Server query is automatically updated for you! Read more about the five tips that Garth Jones thinks will make your experience with Query Designer even better! For more details about Query Designer, please see these online docs: Graphical Query Designer and Graphical Query Designer User Interface.

Query Designer in SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS)

By Garth Jones The other day I was showing a ConfigMgr Administrator how to write a query and also how to create drill-throughs from within his reports. I began by recommending that reports should be created in SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) and then the finished SQL Server query should be copied over to SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT). I was surprised when one of the first questions that I was asked was, “Where in SSMS is the Query Designer window?” I wasn’t too sure what that meant, so I asked him to show me. I must admit that it’s been a long time since I’ve looked at the Query Designer interface within SSDT, so I wasn’t sure where it was in SSMS. I told him I would get back to him about it and he suggested that this would make a good blog post topic. Query Designer is a great way to ...

SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT) and RDL Versions

By Garth Jones You built your report using SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT) which saves the RDL in the SQL Server 2016 format. That’s great, but now you need the native RDL in the SQL Server 2008 R2 format. In this blog post I will show you where to find the SQL Server 2008 R2 RDL in SSDT. While I was attending the Midwest Management Summit at the Mall of America (MMSMOA) in May, I gave a presentation on SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT) 2016. I talked about how I love using the new SSDT because you can use it with different versions of SQL Server (2008 to 2016) when creating dashboards and reports. After finishing a report or dashboard with SSDT, you can then upload/publish it to your SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) reporting site/website. SSDT will do this by uploading the appropriate versio...

Why Can’t I Access My SSRS Site Remotely?

By Garth Jones While I was troubleshooting a Software Updates (SU) issue (there’s a long story here that I will skip!) I ran into an access issue with my SQL Server Reporting Services’ (SSRS) site. This blog post will talk about how I solved this problem. In my lab, I have both a CAS (central administration site) and a primary site. I do all of my administrative work from the CAS, including all reporting functions, so I don’t use the primary site at all for reporting. By the way, unless you have over 150,000 computers in your environment you really shouldn’t have a CAS, but that is a topic for another day… On my workstation, I connected to the Reporting Point (RP) on the CAS, but I wasn’t getting the results I expected, so I tried connecting to the RP on my primary site. Instead of connect...

I Need a Color Palette for My ConfigMgr Reports, Now What?

By Garth Jones One of the questions that I get asked about is how someone without a visual arts background can create a color scheme or palette for ConfigMgr dashboards or reports. If you create ConfigMgr dashboards, reports, or websites, applications, etc., you know that color plays an important role. I’ll admit that I’m not great at mixing colors together, but over the years I’ve learned a few tricks. This blog post will cover two related topics on the subject of choosing a color scheme or palette. First, I will show you how to duplicate a color scheme by discovering what hex color codes to use. Second, I will show you how to design a color palette around a logo. If you follow my blog posts, you will know that at various times I have talked about the Hot Dog color scheme within Windows f...

AVMA License Keys for Windows Server 2016

By Garth Jones What are Automatic Virtual Machine Activation (AVMA) license keys? AVMA license keys are used to license virtual machines (VMs) hosted on Windows Server 2016 or 2012 R2. For more details about AVMA license keys see this article. By using the AVMA feature, you can reduce your VM licensing costs as your VMs will be covered within the existing host servers’ licensing. See the licensing data sheet for more details. The table above shows that you get unlimited VMs with Windows Server Datacenter Edition and two VMs for Standard Edition. In either case the AVMA license keys are what you should use to activate the VMs on the server. What are the AVMA license keys that you should use? In Joseph’s blog post, Fun with AVMA, he lists the Windows 2012 R2 AVMA license keys, but what are t...

Where is SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS)?

By Garth Jones SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) is NOT installed as part of the SQL Server install anymore, so you might be wondering, where can I get it and how do I install it? This blog post will answer those questions. Similar to most software these days, SSMS is updated regularly, so in order to locate the most current version browse to this page: Download SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS). It’s here where you will find the latest download. What is SSMS? SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) is a tool for accessing (via writing and executing queries) and managing SQL Server instances (changing properties). It is useful to have the SSMS tool on your workstation as it allows you to manage SQL Server without having to use remote desktop (RDP) to the server and then launch SSMS (if SSM...

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