2019 Community Jewels

If you’ve been following us for our 31 days of ConfigMas this year then you know we are highlighting a lot of fun and shiny things about the Microsoft Endpoint Manager platform. I also think it’s worth mentioning the other champions who work tirelessly each year to also bring goodness to our little community. I am often asked from many conference attendees for advice on how to stay in the know, and if it wasn’t for the community I would probably be completely lost. Today’s ConfigMas is about saying thanks to the many folks who have spent tireless hours making great contributions that benefit us all.

Shiny tweeps, bloggers, podcasters, and Youtubers

  1. Cathy Moya (@CxPCathy). Cathy has been on fire for the Women IT Pros community. She also has the lovely task of keeping us #MEM and Windows for IT MVPs in line. She maintains useful lists on Twitter to help you get started in various areas such as finding product team members on Twitter, MVPs to follow, and highlighting women IT pros.
  2. Adam Gross (@AdamGrossTX). Adam puts out great content and recently became an MVP. If you didn’t already know, Adam maintains resourceful blog. Check out his three-part series on converting ConfigMgr error codes to plain text for reporting. Also worth mentioning is his collection of task sequence hacks.
  3. Jan Ketil-Skanke (@JankeSkanke). Jan is a fantastic friend to me and has been a great sounding board. This is important because I think we all need a friend who is willing to listen and be a voice of reason. Jan is a super shiny person for the community to know. He can answer any Intune related question you throw at him. He contributes on the SCConfigMgr blog. Also, he works so hard to bring the Experts Live conference to Norway. Organizing an event of any size is a lot of work and Jan’s passion to work on an event this large shows how much he cares for the community.
  4. Sandy (Yinghua Zeng @sandy_tsang). Sandy is one of those friends that you go without seeing forever and then meet up like you just saw each other three hours ago. I never knew diving into the community would bring such awesome people into my life. Sandy is an MVP and maintains her own blog while also contributing on the SCConfigMgr blog with posts covering topics such as setting up co-management and the idle notification tool.
  5. Jordan Benzing (@JordanTheITguy). I’ve never heard Jordan complain about anything. I love his positivity. If you’re new in the community, I recommend spending some time with him because he’s down to earth, easy to talk to, and knows his stuff. Jordan also contributes on the SCConfigMgr blog. His PowerBI dashboards are quite shiny.
  6. Jörgen Nilsson (@ccmexec). Jörgen is a long-time MVP and rightfully so because he puts out awesome OSD tools (as well as other tools) and hosts a blog called ccmexec.com. He also co-organizes the Swedish usergroup SCUG.SE.
  7. Justin Chalfant (@SetupConfigMgr). Justin might be best known in the community as the founder of Patch My PC. He is at every community conference supporting as a sponsor (user groups too). Did you also know that he has a great library of ConfigMgr explainer videos?
  8. Michael Niehaus (@mniehaus). Michael is a long-time community champion. Even while serving in a marketing role at Microsoft he still provided technical deep dives in his blog posts and conference sessions. He now has a new blog where he is rapid fire publishing new content.
  9. Oliver Kieselbach (@okieselb). Oliver is an MVP and hosts his own blog where he covers modern management topics. He also contributes on the SCConfigMGr blog. He is quite knowledgeable about Delivery Optimization which makes him extra shiny.
  10. Bill Bernat (@ITSystemsMan). Bill is a TED speaker and mental health advocate. His TED talk (over a million views!!) is nothing less than brave, and awesome. He also runs a site called stayawesome.com. He can be booked as an event speaker or speaker coach which makes him a fantastic community resource for anybody looking to improve their speaking skills for user groups, conferences, or aspiring TED talkers. Bill also hosts a community driven podcast which highlights awesome people and tools within our community.
  11. Donna Ryan (@TheNotoriousDRR). If you haven’t caught any of Donna’s speaking sessions you’re missing out. She’s a fantastic speaker who knows her stuff and she’s quite active in the community too. Donna hosts her own blog and contributes on the SCConfigMgr blog. Donna is also the creator of WIM Witch.
  12. Anoop Nair (@anoopmannur). Want to talk about a person on fire for the community? MVP Anoop is your guy. He hosts two blogs, com and How to Manage Devices. He also hosted a full day user group in Bangalore for local IT pros who focus on device management. Anoops guides and posts are a great place to start when you begin your journey working on the Microsoft Endpoint Manager platform.
  13. Mick Pletcher (@mick_pletcher). Mick is an MVP and focuses on PowerShell. He hosts a PowerShell podcast with fellow MVP Harjit Dhaliwal (@hoorge) as well as his own blog where you can find automation gems for IT pro administration tasks such as scripting the installation of the ConfigMgr client in an MDT sequence. Alongside his blog, Mick publishes his tools on github for community access. Mick and Harjit hosted their PowerShell news podcast live at Microsoft Ignite this year.
  14. Prajwal Desai (@PrajwalDesai). Prajwal is an MVP and hosts both a blog and a forum. Prajwal has been active in this blog since 2012, bringing tips and tricks to the community. His online form is an invaluable place to find answers to issues. Back in my ConfigMgr admin days, I found quite a few answers via his forum.
  15. Niall Brady (@ncbrady). Niall is an MVP, speaker, and author. Niall hosts his own blog and forum. Niall creates great how-to resources and in-depth conference session recaps. I have a few fun facts about Niall: I once accidentally locked myself in the bathroom of Niall’s home! When I first started working with ConfigMgr, Windows-Noob was the first resource that was recommended to me. Second was Rhonda Layfield. Then I finally found my way to that other Swedish guy 😉. So, what I’m saying here is that Niall was the first ConfigMgr influencer for me.

Shiny Tools

  1. 2Pint Software CI for enabling BranchCache. I’ll admit a very strong bias on my decision to put this tool on the list. I also love that I work for a company that gives away almost all its code in the name of keeping costs down for IT shops and making life easier us. That’s super shiny. Underneath their curmudgeonly exterior, the 2Pint boys Phil (@phil2pint) and Andreas (@AndHammarskjold) are extremely generous with their time and contributions. Just don’t tell them I said so.
  2. Gary Town Blog. If you haven’t already bookmarked Gary Blok’s (@gwblok) blog, take a quick minute to do it now. Gary works alongside Mike Terrill (@miketerrill) and some other fantastic folks at Big Bank. Since the organization is quite large, Gary and his team have come up with some tried and true OSD solutions and shiny task sequence downloads.
  3. Enhansoft free reports. Every month you can download a free reporting tool from Enhansoft. Enhansoft’s founder Garth Jones (@GarthMJ) is also a cornerstone of the community. Garth can be found supporting conferences such as Ignite and MMS as well as participating as a speaker. He is another person who has an uncanny talent of making community newcomers feel welcome.
  4. Johan Arwidmark’s (@jarwidmark) Hydration Kit. Personal bias aside, Johan’s hydration kit is a must-have solution for anybody wanting to seriously test ConfigMgr in a lab and take their knowledge (and career) to the next level. The hydration kit is a set scripts that do the work for you to setup an environment but leave you enough freedom to customize it as you see fit. You can find the download and instructions on his blog, Deployment Research.
  5. OSD Builder. This is a great tool for offline image servicing. It can add language packs, features, updates, and other customizations. OSD Builder was created by David Segura (@SeguraOSD). David is a blogger, MMS speaker, and community champion.
  6. SCConfigMgr Modern Management Tools. The Modern Driver Management and Modern BIOS Management tools are game changers for IT pros who are responsible for not only managing and deploying the company computers but also keeping drivers and firmware up to date. Both tools are a set of PowerShell scripts and webservice that automate the download, import, deployment, and management of drivers and BIOS. These tools were a joint effort by Nickolaj Andersen (@NickolajA) and Maurice Daly (@modaly_it) aka the pillars of SCConfigMgr.
  7. Image Factory. It’s a PowerShell solution to automate the MDT build and capture task sequences. Image factory was created by MVP Mikael Nystrom (@mikael_nystrom). Mikael is a family friend and honorary family member. He’s a die-hard community contributor and lives to share his findings. Mikael hosts his own blog, speaks at conferences, and is even known to dress in a bunny costume from time to time.
  8. Toast Notifications. This solution allows the ConfigMgr client to call the built-in Windows 10 toast notifications as a dialog box for communicating with users. It was created by MVP Martin Bengtsson (@mwbengtsson). Martin hosts his own blog filled with information about the Microsoft Endpoint Manager platform as well as PowerShell and Windows 10 resources.
  9. Fully Update Software Update Maintenance It’s essentially one script to rule them all in regards to fully automating software updates in ConfigMgr AND has logging. That’s pretty shiny. Its creator, Bryan Dam (@bdam555), has been taking the community by storm with his edgy tweets and high-demand speaking sessions. Bryan hosts his own blog and occasionally wears adult onesies.

Shiny Conferences and Events

You can’t beat the networking you get at conferences. I know it can be quite difficult to get budgets and approvals for conferences. That’s why I started focusing on conference and even session-level recaps. If you’re lucky enough to attend a conference either because your employer is sending you, or you’ve saved up to send yourself, here’s a list of conferences that I recommend because I have attended both as a speaker and IT pro.

  1. Microsoft Ignite + Microsoft Ignite the Tour. While Microsoft Ignite can feel large and overwhelming, it is a great place to get up to date info about the Microsoft Endpoint Manager platform, meet face-to-face with members of the product team, and in general network like crazy. Ignite is held annually at a large convention center in the US. Ignite the Tour is a smaller version (in size, not amazing content) which makes the experience accessible to folks across the globe.
  2. MMS (organized by Brian Mason (@abetterpc), April Cook (@ugeeku), Greg Ramsey (@ramseyg), and probably some other cool folks I’m forgetting). MMS is a fun exercise in drinking from the firehose and doesn’t lack for any networking experiences. MMS is held each May at the Mall of America in Minnesota. Recently the conference has been hosting “editions” which are smaller versions (again in size, not features) of the main conference elsewhere in the country giving folks an opportunity to attend at a different time of the year.
  3. TechMentor is an IT pro conference that is held in various cities in the US making it a great option if you want to hit a conference but need some flexibility in scheduling.
  4. Experts Live fka System Center Universe is a global community driven conference.

Online Communities

  1. FWSMUG is a 100% online user group. We wanted to remove the obstacle of time, travel, possible cost to attend by moving the group to an online platform. We’ve been sponsored by some great companies in the past and 2Pint Software recently gifted us with a subscription to Go To Webinar which made our online dream a reality.
  2. Youtube: Harjit and Prayer Show. This channel is run by my good friend and MVP Harjit Dhaliwal (@Hoorge) and Prayer Solanky (@TheITJedi) with more than 55 episodes spanning over 3 years. You can get conversational style IT news in each episode. The most notable videos on their channel is the Ignite tips and tricks which are useful for first timers as well as seasoned conference goers.
  3. Women IT Pros group is an online community group founded by Cathy Moya (@CxPCathy). The group meets monthly and provides a forum for women IT pros to come together as a community for encouragement, advice, and fellowship. You can get started with the group and post your intro in the Tech Community forum.