My favourite tools and resources as a Consultant

As a Consultant I get to see many different setups, some strange, some that completely break the “norm” and some that try and follow “best practice”, but, lets face it the term “Best Practice” is all very well and good but what does it actually mean? What’s right for one environment may not be right for another. Anyway I’m getting side tracked here.

Regardless of the customer sites I go in to I always have a default set of tools and resources I use so I thought I would list them here (in no particular order).

Google

This has to be one of the most used resources for me! I feel like a fraud some times going to a customer site, but 9 times out of 10 the error I am presented with if I’ve not come across it before then Google is the default go to resource. Personally, I think that deciphering Google search results sometimes is a task in its self or knowing what kind search string to look for also.

Greenshot

I take a lot of screen grabs when I’m working and whilst there is the Snipping tool built in with Windows Greenshot allows me to assign a key to a certain screen grab task:

  1. capture the entire screen
  2. capture the current active window
  3. capture a region
  4. capture the last region

Greenshot not only captures it to the clipboard but it also saves a copy to a specified location

ADModify

This tool is one of the best tools for any AD Admin. it gives you the ability to edit multiple AD users attributes in one go. its pretty easy to get the syntax wrong for this so you do need to be careful, however, one of the features I like most about it is that there is an undo option!

I use this for various tasks like removing email addresses from user accounts for specific domains eg when the EmailAddressPolicy had the doain.local address applying to all users and you need to remove from all users for a Hybrid Setup or something.

its also great for bulk adding additional addresses so that users who do not have the EmailAddressPolicy applied can get things like the .mail.onmicrosoft.com address in a hybrid environment for example or you want ti bulk as SIP:prefix@domain.com to set the users SIP Address in AD.

I typically use for adding additional Exchange Attributes but there are so many more optoins for which it can be used for.

Putty

I use putty a lot from time to time to test port 25 for example on a customers server. I have a VM in azure that I can RDP on to and then perform a telnet through Putty to their mail server just to verify that they have added addresses requested to the firewall rules. Putty is also used for when I SSH on to my Ubuntu VM in Azure.

OneDrive for Business

I work on the road a lot and no office based so it makes sense for all my files to be cloud based. Up until about 3 years ago I was keeping all my files in OneDrive, now I use OneDrive for Business as it is more secure via DLP and IRM Policies being applied and also the ability to allow conditional access. IT also means I can flatten my computer, re-install windows from scratch and within 30-40 min of the computer being back I I have all my files again.

Office Lens

This is a great mobile app that I have running on my iPhone. Its a great app for taking photos of whiteboards, print outs and other documents that you may want to take a photo of. it goes to the point of auto cropping so the image is a clear as possible and very little glare or tilting of any images.

Spotify

Where would we be without music? working from home could become boring and  I’d soon find it hard to concentrate. having some tunes playing in the back ground (for me) helps me get motivated.

Notepad ++

This is a really neat Notepad editor it not only dose it open all type of text/ps/vbs/bat etc…. files it also opens them in new tabs. Also if you for example open your local hosts file up and go to save it and you’ve not opened with admin privileges then you will be prompted to restart with admin rights  rather than having to save a copy and then replace.

I use this a lot for writing smaller PowerShell scripts.

Office XML Builder

This is a great resource for building custom XML files for Office 365 Pro Plus deployments, you can also use it to push out Visio/Project too. it also has a neat MSI app creator too.

OneNote

This has to be one of the most used apps on my Surface, and is pretty much always opened. I have several “Notebooks” configured, one for Scoping Calls, one for Implementations, one for blogging ideas, One for common issues I have come across and some other ones for other needs. OneNote also offers the ability to capture screen shots too.

PowerShell

This is one of the best used resources to gather information from a customer. I have a set of PowerShell Scripts that I can run that gathers information from a customers environment. weather its from AD or Exchange I can usually get all the info I need from a few lines of a PowerShell Scripts.

There are lots of other resources out there that I use and I am sure that there are more that other people use and the guys I work with use, however these are the ones I like to use on a daily basis

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