Insights that Inform

Sparkhound consultants are knowledge-seekers, skill-builders and problem-solvers by nature. This is where we share what we've learned and what we think about what's new (and next) in our industry. If anything you read sparks a question, fire away.

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Houston Flood Recovery Checklist and Tips

WHERE DO I START? Flooding is a traumatic experience — we unfortunately know what you are going through. Hopefully this list, built from first-hand knowledge, can help you organize a recovery game plan. This list assumes that water has receded from your home and you are beginning recovery. Download the PDF HERE

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3 Ways Managed IT Saves Corporate Dollars [Research]

Over the past twelve months, Sparkhound has dug into developing case studies while researching mid-size and enterprise organizations for common IT support challenges. Our findings have been surprisingly similar across markets, but especially comparable within the healthcare, financial and industrial space. Here are our top three market findings backed by the 2016 HDI Technical Support Practices & Salary Report.

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Countering the Negative Effects of Sitting

Since the rise of technology over the last several decades, more jobs than ever involve sitting at a desk in front of a computer.  In 1960, about 50% of American jobs required moderate physical labor.  Now, about 86% of American workers sit all day for their jobs.  Recently, you may have heard this phrase: “Sitting is the new smoking.”  Scientific studies have shown that a...

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Getting Started with Xamarin Test Cloud

There are tens of thousands of unique mobile devices being used every day. Ensuring your mobile app not only runs, but runs well on all of these devices can be a daunting, if not an impossible task. Purchasing more than a few devices is not fiscally feasible. A great service that closes the gap on the number of devices to test on is Xamarin...

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Why Sponsor Your Local SQLSaturday?

SQLSaturday events are free, community-driven, and community-attended technical training events, created by hours of volunteer labor by local user group organizers. These local user group organizers, driven to help their local/regional IT scene, are authentic representatives of their community.  Folks in attendance are local or regional IT professionals who are enthusiastic about their careers, to the point where they gladly spend most of their Saturday...

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Bourbon Tasting - A Blind Taste Test

First of all, let it be said that this blog article is for fun — I hope it inspires your next gathering of friends, neighbors or co-workers!  Several of us Sparkies recently discovered Larceny, a relatively new brand on the bourbon scene although rooted in history. It's been a favorite of mine for sure. Inter-office "who found the best price on Larceny" has been going on for...

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How to Be Prepared for the Next Cyber-Attack

Over the weekend, an estimated 300,000 PCs in 150 countries were infected by the WannaCry “ransomware.” It was the fastest-spreading cyber-attack in history affecting as many as 9000 machines per hour. While experts around the globe continue to dissect the attack and determine the underlying motive, now is a great time to ensure your business has a solid security posture.

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How to Create Single-File .NET Applications

Have you ever been working on a remote computer and suddenly found your favorite tool (notepad++, 7-zip, etc.) was not installed? It can be a real bummer to stop what you're doing in order to find and install that program, assuming that you even have the rights or permission to do so. Tools like this feel like they should be very portable, perhaps just a single...

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Setting up an ASP.NET Core Project with Angular 2 Utilizing Angular CLI

We all reach a point in our software development careers where we want to pioneer some new technology that is in preview or has just hit full release. The problem we often run into is the lack of resources and documentation because of its newness. These resources are often critical whether you are troubleshooting a minor bug or setting up an entirely new project that...

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The Importance of User Experience

As technology keeps expanding and increasingly more of our everyday tasks are being automated, there are lots of companies turning to custom application development for business solutions. Custom development is a great way to create applications that are personalized for your company and task, but all too often the users are overlooked in the process. As an Application Development Consultant, I have seen project teams...

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The Importance of Marketing Yourself

In your professional field, who are you? Do other professionals know who you are? If you were to go on an interview right now at another company in your local area, would they have at least heard of you beforehand?  Take a second and Google yourself. Now, search for your name plus what you do. Keep it kind of generic, like "seth valdetero developer". What do...

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Intentional Networking

How many of you receive this same email two or three times a day: "Hello, we have 24,683 qualified (insert technology name here) leads just ready for you close, please contact me ASAP to see how we can help you close more business!" It must be effective at some level because someone is buying this line, but good grief, there are so many better ways...

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Sparkhound at SQLSaturday Birmingham THIS WEEKEND!

(The massive boardroom at Sparkhound corporate headquarters in Baton Rouge, tucked deep inside an active volcano.) "Birmingham!? This is LSU Tiger country!" "I know, right, why'd we even open an office there?" "Because of all the quality client relationships we've esta-" "Nevermind that! Let's send our two most unpronounceably named consultants to speak, that'll show em!" "Hey, instead, and hear me out... why don't we send our top SharePoint consultant and our...

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Detect Image File Types Through Byte Arrays

      Have you ever needed to know the file type of an image?  Did you know that certain image file types when read as a byte array have the same collection of bytes every time?  Instead of checking for an image type by looking for the extension in the file name it’s best to look at the byte array making up the file and...

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When Automapper Is Not 'Auto'

When mapping between two different objects, like domain objects and DTOs, Automapper is one of the tools you can use. In theory, Automapper saves developers time and code by “auto” mapping objects they specify. Without Automapper, developers would have to create logic to map every property of their objects together. Automapper works great when the properties of the mapped objects have identical names and types...

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What Can Azure Do For Your Data?

In 2010, Microsoft released what they called at the time “Windows Azure”, a service-providing Windows Server operating systems in the cloud.  In 2014 the service/product was rebranded as Microsoft Azure because it became so much more than simply offering Windows in the cloud. Fast forward to today, Microsoft Azure provides companies with over 600 Azure services in the following main categories: Infrastructure, Platforms, Development, Mobile, Storage...

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Tax Season = Scam Season

I'm sure everyone is aware that taxes will be due in a little over 2 months; corporations, small businesses, and individuals are scrambling to collect documentation to file on time. In all the mass confusion and stress, there are thieves plotting against you to steal your data. Sparkhound just wanted to send out a quick reminder to spark conversation and awareness in your organization.

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Automatically and Dynamically Adjust AllowedMPs Registry Key

NOTE: This blog entry and these configurations are specific to only a few versions of System Center 2012 Configuration Manager R2 (CU3, CU4, and CU5). If these configurations are done on any version of ConfigMgr before CU3, they will simply be ignored. If these configurations are done on any version of ConfigMgr after CU5 (2012 SP2 or 2012 R2 SP1 and above), they will...

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What is Cyber Liability Insurance and Do I need it?

Over the last few years, one of the more frequently mentioned topics among Boards of Directors and Executive Management has been Cyber Liability Insurance.  Many Information Security and Risk Professionals have been aware of this product and its benefits, and in most situations, were the ones who brought it up to BODs and Executive Management. This post is intended to give a brief overview of Cyber Liability Insurance, why it...

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ADFS 4.0: Now Allowing You to Authenticate via LDAP

While speaking with an IT buddy of mine the other day, a topic of ADFS came up. My buddy had told me he had some struggles getting a SharePoint farm to authenticate with ADFS. His situation was as such: 2 domains – One called EXTERNAL (where vendor accounts are stored) and one called INTERNAL (where internal users are stored)1 SharePoint 2013 farm – Farm is...

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