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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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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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Streamline Methods with a Generic Response

         Building software applications requires planning, communication, and organization.  Developers are sometimes left to make their own coding decisions without having any team standards.  Some development teams like unit testing, some teams like everything dynamic, some teams like agile, and some teams have short projects that only last a few weeks.  It can be difficult to create an efficient development process in...

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Using PowerShell to Convert Exchange Distribution Groups to Office 365 Groups

Back in May 2015, during the Microsoft Ignite convention, there was a session called “Evolving distribution lists with Office 365 Groups” (available online). The session described the integration with Outlook 2016 (no plans exist to back port the technology to Outlook 2013) and then went on to investigate how Microsoft views Office 365 Groups as a better alternative to old-style distribution groups. Distribution groups have...

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Azure MFA – A Cloud Solution that can also fit on-premises

Let's start with a little hypothetical story… You are an IT admin and are heading to work on what should be a typical Tuesday. You sit in traffic, grab your favorite coffee or energy drink, and pull into the parking lot to discover that you must park on the other side of the campus and walk to the front door, in the pouring rain. To top it off...

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3 Ways to Expedite SharePoint ROI

A recent Microsoft study placed ROI on an average $200,000 SharePoint deployment at 12 months.  So why do more than 35% of SharePoint projects lose momentum after launch? With the basic SharePoint value proposition of “The whole is worth more than the sum of its parts” and companies looking to level their individual silos of data storage and collaboration, more CIOs are looking to...

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Forging a Defense against Cross-Site Request Forgery

Modern web development is a constant battle against fire-breathing dragons and undead zombies! Ok, maybe that description is a bit of an exaggeration, but we certainly fight our fair share of security pitfalls and shady agents looking to utilize weak links for nefarious purposes. One small mistake is all it takes to cause data to be leaked, money to be lost, and customers to become unhappy 😞 (sad customer). But like...

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Keeping Your Data in Order

Data, data, data.  It seems to be all around us now. Everywhere you look there is data stored electronically.  Storing this data is easy, but retrieving the data sometimes can be slow and painful.  An efficient way to SELECT this data is the use of indexes: clustered and non-clustered. By default, SQL Server will insert a row of data into the table as it is...

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Drawing Shapes on Google Maps

Google Maps is great for finding locations and giving directions but it offers a lot more functionality than just that. Google Maps provides the ability to draw lines and shapes directly on the map. In this post, we will discuss how to draw on Google Maps.

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Office 365 Modern Authentication: What it is and why you should be using it

Office 365. We know what it is. We’ve heard the name and you probably know someone that has migrated from their on-premises Exchange organization to it. And if your company is one of those who has migrated to Office 365, then you are probably aware of the one struggle that everyone who’s ever moved to 365 has had to deal with – saving credentials for...

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Five Scariest SQL Server Data Types

'Tis the season for "scary" things, so in the spirit of the fun, I present the five scariest data types to see in the design of your SQL Server tables. These decisions are much more than a "what's new" or personal preference. Poor data type choices have significant impact on storage, not just on disk, but in backups and in memory. At scale, poor data type...

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Does one password reset cost your company $7 or $70 every time? The password is...

$70. At least that's how much each password reset costs according to recent Forrester Research. No way, right? Not so fast. Gartner Group studies reflect an average of 20%-50% of all help desk calls are password resets.  Think 70 bucks for 'Welcome123' is steep? Let's back in the costs starting at the dreaded "OMG, what's my password" moment. After 3 unsuccessful attempts at 8:15am, you remember that you've only got...

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Building graphs in SharePoint 2013 using JSOM

There was once a beloved web part called “Chart web part” in SharePoint 2010, and boy was that nice to have. However, SharePoint 2013 and SharePoint Online no longer have this capability, so we have to build the web part from scratch—which is much easier to do than it sounds. In this article, I have a document library with a workflow behind it. This workflow...

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Xamarin Dev Days

Xamarin Dev Days are free day-long trainings for mobile development happening all over the world. They are put on by local Xamarin experts and user groups and are a great opportunity to either get started or hone your existing mobile development skills.

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Creating a Modal Popup (Dialog) in Xamarin.Forms

Xamarin.Forms is great for making cross-platform applications; however sometimes it can be difficult to create specific UI elements cross-platform. In this post, we will go over how one can create a modal dialog without having to write any custom renderers. Looking through the Xamarin.Forms library, an obvious option would be to call the method Navigation.PushModalAsync and pass in the page that you want to display...

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