The 'How to' Blog

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June 25, 2013  9:19 AM

Top 5 resources for SharePoint 2013

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As with the release of any new technology, there tends to be an immediate shortfall in information available to users as they look to get to grips with the new system. Following the general release of SharePoint 2013 in March (it went on release to Microsoft Volume licensees MSDN and TechNet subscribers in late 2012), Administrators and Developers a like were searching the web looking for handy guides, new info and the latest updates on the new instalment.

3 months on as the dust begins to settle and there appears a wealth of information on the Inter Web, Firebrand has compiled the top 5 resources for all thing SharePoint 2013. (nb. IT Knowledge Exchange would definitely be in the top 5 if you weren’t already on their site reading this.)

 SharePoint IT Pro Blog –

An obvious choice, the SharePoint IT Pro Blog is brought to you by the Microsoft Experts who are currently working on SharePoint IT Professional content. The Blog contains a repository of information including the latest updates on all the changes to SharePoint 2013, as well as a comprehensive series of ‘how-to’ guides helping to get to grips with all the features in the new system.

Definitely check out Bella Engen’s current series “How to set up a product-centric website in SharePoint Server 2013”. Bella is currently on Stage 15, wowzer.

TechNet – SharePoint Section –

As with any Microsoft Technology, TechNet should always be high on your list resource pools when searching for the latest information. The platform acts as a portal to a variety of information sources and is arguably Microsoft’s largest collection of centralised information for their enterprise products.

TechNet offers a SharePoint centric section that caters to both Admins and Developers. Not only does it cover SharePoint 2013, but also the recent versions including SharePoint 2010 and SharePoint 2007. From here, you can access the SharePoint library (where all technical documentation is held) and find learning roadmaps amongst other handy guides, download the latest versions and updates for SharePoint, or simply head to the forums where you can ask and answer questions.

The aforementioned SharePoint IT Pro Blog is also an extension of the TechNet platform.

Joel Jeffery’s Blog – Resident SharePoint expert at Firebrand –

Another resource that is well worth a mention is our resident SharePoint expert Joel Jeffery. Joel is a SharePoint Architect and Subject Matter Expert for versions 2007 through to 2013, as well as being an official Microsoft Certified Trainer.

Joel’s Blog contains a plethora of ‘how-to’ guides on SharePoint 2013 and 2010, links to other valuable SharePoint resources and the occasional mention of his live support service SharePoint Doctors. Our Joel is also a lyrical superstar when it comes to teaching SharePoint, check out his SharePoint song.

SharePoint - Song

(Nb. Image opens in new window as I couldn’t embed the video)

SharePoint Pro –

SharePoint Pro was designed for both Developers and Admins and is packed with the content and coding required to build, deploy and manage world-class SharePoint sites. The platform is an independent collaboration managed by Penton Media and is supported by SharePoint experts not associated with Microsoft. The site is segmented across 5 clear sections, SharePoint 2013, SharePoint 2010, SharePoint 2007, Administration and Development making it fairly clear cut when you are looking for support.

As well as the latest news and support guides, SharePoint Pro offers a weekly newsletter as well as hosting regular on-line and in-person events to talk about SharePoint matters.

Stack Exchange –

Our final resource is from popular Q+A platform, Stack Exchange. The site is a network of free to use, community-driven Q+A sites with a sub-section devoted to SharePoint.

Ask questions for which you have no answer to a community of SharePoint enthusiasts and experts. There is of course the risk of being provided incorrect answers, thankfully the community element nullifies this issue, as members can validate or quash answers. Search previous queries, help answer questions and become part of a wider SharePoint community.

Final word

So there we have it, 5 invaluable resources to stick in the bookmarks section whenever you have questions or concerns with SharePoint 2013, or perhaps if you just want the latest gossip or an update patch.

Think we’ve missed a trick? Got a SharePoint resource you think deserves a place in our top 5? Why not drop us a comment and let us know.

Until next time…..

About the Author: 

Ed Jones works for Firebrand Training heading up community engagement within the Marketing department. Ed spends his days thinking up topics for surveys, article titles and concepts for engaging infographics. You can check out a range of his most recent work via the Firebrand Press Page.

June 19, 2013  3:59 PM

How to use Hyper-V Replica in Windows Server 2012

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In this article, we will look at another new feature in Windows Server 2012, Hyper-V Replica. First thing you need to know, it’s like sheep, in the sense that for the plural you don’t add an s on the end. I felt pretty foolish bandying about the term ‘hyper-v replicas’ only to be corrected by one of our Windows Server Instructors, so avoid my mistake and remember it’s always Replica, never Replicas.

Having laboured that point more than enough let’s move on to taking a look at what it is, put simply it’s a disaster recovery solution for virtual machines and comes retrofitted to every version of Windows Server 2012. Essentially the function creates a replica (hence the term) of a live Virtual Machine stored on a remote server, then in the event of any complications you can ‘failover’ to the replica and bring the virtualised workload back online. The system updates changes every 5 minutes so you’ll never be far behind.
Now you know what it is, we’ll teach you how to use it in the following handy infographic. The guide comes straight from our resident Windows Server expert Ed Baker and takes you through the following stages.

1. What you need to get started.
2. How to install the Hyper-V role and create a Replica
3. Repeat the above process for additional servers
4. Cover scenarios in which failover occurs

We’d love to get your feedback on the graphic and if there are other functions in Windows Server 2012 you’d like to familiarise yourself with. Why not drop us a comment?

About the Author: 

Ed Jones works for Firebrand Training heading up community engagement within the Marketing department. Ed spends his days thinking up topics for surveys, article titles and concepts for engaging infographics. You can check out a range of his most recent work via the Firebrand Press Page.

June 18, 2013  3:26 PM

Managing Multiple Servers with Windows Server 2012

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The age of the internet and the expansion of Cloud Computing has largely eradicated the existence of single server companies. The life of a Windows Server Admin is not so simple any more, as depicted by our previous graphic,  a majority of companies now operate multiple versions of Server OS systems simultaneously.  Having to check the performance and monitor for issues across multiple servers can be both tricky and time consuming. Not to mention remoting into 10’s of Servers being both inefficient and annoying.

Those lucky enough to be using Windows Server 2012, dubbed the ‘Cloud OS’, will no longer have this issue. The latest Server OS comes retrofitted with a powerful new function as part of the ‘Server Manager’ interface.

Admins using this Server OS can get a multi-server view of the environment, not only that they can check performance and troubleshoot issues on the fly from a central location. In the following graphic, Windows Server Instructor Ed Baker takes you through the powerful new feature and teaches you exactly how to Manage Multiple Servers in Windows Server 2012.

If you have any questions or want to see other guides for Windows Server 2012, why drop us a comment?

About the Author: Ed Jones works for Firebrand Training heading up community engagement within the Marketing department. Ed spends his days thinking up topics for surveys, article titles and concepts for engaging infographics. You can check out a range of his most recent work via the Firebrand Press Page.

June 10, 2013  1:29 PM

Five steps to protect you and your business from hackers

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About the Author: Edward Jones works for Firebrand Training as a Content Strategist within the Marketing department. Edward spends his days thinking up topics for surveys, article titles and concepts for engaging infographics. You can check out a range of his most recent work via the Firebrand Press Page.

Hacking and cyber-crimes have reached new, scary levels of sophistication. The last two years have seen the likes of Sony, Nintendo, LinkedIn and even the CIA’s security being compromised. From an individual’s point of view, there are a few best practices which help prevent security breaches. While no one can guarantee fail-safe security measures, the following steps will make life difficult for the hacker:

1 – Get a better password

It’s amazing how many still use obvious passwords, which even the most inexperienced of cyber criminals could guess. For example, using your name and date of birth is a very weak combination, since such information is now easily accessible via social media etc.

Best practice for passwords includes:

• Don’t reduce. A mixture of characters, such as the odd exclamation mark instead of the number ‘1’, or ‘&’ instead of ‘8’ makes your password less guessable
• Don’t re-use. Use different passwords for different sites. Having one account hacked is bad enough
• Do recycle. Change your password frequently, and comprehensively.

2 – Get protection

One of the most fundamental steps. You need up-to-date, anti-virus and anti-malware software. There is some brilliant free software available. And switch-on your firewall too.

3 – Keep up-to-date

There are usually frequent updates released for operating systems and other software. These updates often improve security flaws. Hackers will know to target out-of-date versions if a security weakness is identified.

4 – Don’t lose it

Carrying sensitive data on a device is risky – but sometimes it’s needed. Look after your USB stick, external hard drive, laptop and iPhone. And encrypt everything in case the worst happens.

5 – Secure your wifi

Never connect to an ‘open’, untrusted wifi network. When you do connect, ensure you’re accessing the wifi via WPA (Wifi Protected Access). WPA2 – the most modern wireless security standard – is supported by most operating systems, and is difficult to hack.

April 29, 2013  3:46 PM

Windows 8 Refresh and Reset – How to

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About the Author: Ed Jones works for Firebrand Training as a Content Strategist within the Marketing department. Ed spends his days thinking up topics for surveys, article titles and concepts for engaging infographics. You can check out a range of his most recent work via the Firebrand Press Page.

Ok, so in the last two posts we have covered Family Safety and File History in Windows 8. You should now have the power to prevent data loss and protect your kids whilst surfing the web, it’s time to move on to Refresh and Reset. This feature has been designed as an alternative to re-installation of Windows 8.

If you’ve ever had to re-install a Windows Operating Sytstem, that is if you can even find the original OS disk and the access key, then you know it’s a time consuming and often arduous task. Windows 8 has put Refresh and Reset at your fingertips to give you a powerful and quick alternative. So you’ve filled you PC to the brim, its lethargic and that little loading timer is driving you to despair, you now have two alternatives to the re-install.

Refresh – less severe of the two options, Refresh allows you to remove all downloaded applications and games whilst keeping all personal files and Windows Store purchases.

Reset – this is the more severe option, so consider carefully before using. This is a complete factory reset, no files, downloads or purchases, a fresh OS with default system settings in place. Good as new.

So lets learn how to put these features into action with the following infographic created by my colleagues at Firebrand Training.

April 25, 2013  3:28 PM

Windows 8 Family Safety – How To

FirebrandInstructors Profile: FirebrandInstructors


About the Author: Ed Jones works for Firebrand Training as a Content Strategist within the Marketing department. Ed spends his days thinking up topics for surveys, article titles and concepts for engaging infographics. You can check out a range of his most recent work via the Firebrand Press Page.

Welcome to the latest instalment looking at the new features in Windows 8. In our last post we took an in depth look at File History, the automated back up feature that allows Windows 8 users to create regular back ups of all files, favourites and contacts to an external device. Today we look at Family Safety, which adds an extra level of security to protect children when using their PC and browsing the web. Family Safety was designed for adults concerned about the type of content their children can be exposed to while surfing the web. Microsoft responded by building in a variety of new control’s that parents can administer to a child’s profile.

Family Safety Features

Lets take a look at some of those protocols in a little more detail:

App Restrictions – worried about your kids purchasing or downloading inappropriate apps, or simply don’t want your PC clogged with the latest version of Candy Crush? This feature allows you to restrict applications being downloaded through the Windows Store.

Game Restrictions – this feature allows parents to protect their children from downloading or installing violent/disturbing games. The system works on ratings from child friendly to 18+ red band games, so you can choose to prevent installation of certain/any type of game.

Time Limits and Curfew – limit how long your child can access their account in a single day or simply set access times, no late night surfing web or playing games till the early hours.

Web filtering – prevent your kids from visitng website deemed unsuitable, or simply logging into eBay and spending all your money on clothes and Xbox games before you get the chance to.

Activity Reporting – keeps tabs on the time your kids access the web and what they’re looking at. Check you out you cyber sleuth you.

Requests – this is a function through which your kids can request access to materials you can then approve or deny.

Learn it

You know what it does, now learn how to use it with this Infographic. The content was written by Gary Fildes, lead Windows and Apprenticeship Instructor for Firebrand Training

April 24, 2013  11:28 AM

Windows 8 File History – How to

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About the Author: Ed Jones works for Firebrand Training as a Content Strategist within the Marketing department. Ed spends his days thinking up topics for surveys, article titles and concepts for engaging infographics. You can check out a range of his most recent work via the Firebrand Press Page.

As we move past the 6 month mark of living with Windows 8, we begin to see the gradual and somewhat natural transition from the consumer market to Windows 8. As new PC’s are purchased with Windows 8 retrofitted and the enterprise sector begins the slow upgrade from Windows 7 (….or Windows XP for some) a growing community are getting to grips with Windows 8 and all the new features. In the next few posts, Firebrand plan to take you through some of these powerful and useful new features.

First up we look at File History in Windows 8.

What is File History?

File history is the new automated back up tool built into Windows 8, by activating the function you can create a secure external back up of all documents within you libraries, contacts, favourites and even your Microsoft Sky Drive. The function also allows you to create historical versions of individual documents, allowing you to role back to older versions. No more losing your files, no more BSOD nightmares (you’re not a true techy if you are unfamiliar with the BSOD Acronym).

You know what it is, learn how to use it.

Right,  now you know all about the features of File History, follow this how to guide created by Firebrand Training and in a matter of minutes you’ll know exactly how to set it up. In our next post we’ll run you though Family Safety, the powerful security feature protecting your kids while they surf the web and use their PC.

If you have any feedback or commentary you’d like to add, feel free to get in touch.


April 18, 2013  2:11 PM

Three steps to protect your PC from a hack attack

FirebrandInstructors Profile: FirebrandInstructors

The computer is part of just about every aspect of our lives. Most transactions are completed online – from the email conversations to online banking. This all makes life easier – until a hacker spoils our fun. Having your bank account emptied is no laughing matter.

The hacker has many identities. Ranging from the prankster, to the full-blown criminal. Either way, malware and viruses becoming ever-more sophisticated. But there’s one constant…

For a virus to ‘work’, it must be opened by a human (that could be you). Once that’s happened, there’s no telling what evil deed the virus has the power to instigate. That’s where some simple awareness comes in. If you know the basics, chances are you won’t be giving a hacker your bank details any time soon.

It really is this simple

Be it through a wire or in the air, there are countless ways for a virus to hit your PC. While good security software is essential, developing great security awareness is key. Remember that the potential for malware or transferring viruses is always present.

Hackers will always prey on their easiest victim. Keep these three steps in mind, and you’ll ensure that it’s not you:

1. Get anti-virus software!

You’d think this would be obvious. There’s even free anti-virus software out there. Always keep it up-to-date

2. Hide behind a firewall

Does what you expect. This is the virtual wall between you and your nosey neighbour (aka the hacker). Firewalls prevent unauthorised connections to your network.

3. Maintain tireless wireless

Chances are you’ll be connecting to the internet wirelessly. It’s a little bit like shouting your credit card details to a friend across a crowded room. Anyone between you and your friend (the router) can hear those details. It’s possible for the hacker to position themselves between you and your router. Look up wi-fi man in the middle attacks, and you’ll be tempted to never go online again.

But creating a long, un-guessable password for your wi-fi connection will stop the hacker in their tracks. You can also get a little more technical, and switch-on encryption. This will give you an extra layer of security.

Stick to the above and you’ll be cyber safe. Just beware of complacency – because the hacker will be waiting for you to drop your guard.

Author Bio: Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry.

April 9, 2013  11:36 AM

Win Free Training for Life with Firebrand Training

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If you are on IT Knowledge Exchange then chances are you work in technology; either that, or you are lost and a long way from Kansas Toto. Lets assume you are the prior, one of the best ways to boost your technical knowledge and improve your chances of career progression and salary increase is through training and certification. Don’t believe me, check out Microsoft’s studies outlining the benefits of certification. Don’t believe them, check out IT Jobs Watch and look at salaries for  popular job titles, then compare them with associated certifications, those with certification will earn on average 15-20% more. If that’s not enough, then I can’t help you.

Anyway, if you’re in IT, then you know the cost of training isn’t cheap, especially classroom training. Your typical MCSE Server course can range from £1000 to £10,000 dependent on the number of exams your looking to take, Project Management certifications from £500 to £3000. Convincing your line manager to free the budget for training isn’t exactly a walk in the park either. But what if you could take every certification you ever wanted for Free? Well here at Firebrand Training we have launched Free Training for Life, a competition whereby one luck winner will win as the competition states Free Training for Life on any of our portfolio of courses.

Microsoft? Cisco? Oracle? PMI? EC-Council? CompTIA? The list is almost endless, so whether you want a career as a Project Manager earning up to £100,000, a Chief Enterprise Architect on £122,000 or an Information Security Risk Manager on £135,000 (the list of jobs is endless), then we’ve got the certification to help you on your way, did we mention it’s Free?

So what are you waiting for? Join the competition now at –

Then share your unique URL and if someone else enters you get an extra ticket in the lottery.

Competition Closes –  23:59 GMT, Sunday 1st September 2013.

April 8, 2013  2:15 PM

All You Need to Know about PMP Certification

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About the Author: Ed Jones works for Firebrand Training as a Content Strategist within the Marketing department. Ed spends his days thinking up topics for surveys, article titles and concepts for engaging infographics. You can check out a range of his most recent work via the Firebrand Press Page.

Put plainly, being a Project Manager is tough. You are responsible for understanding a range of processes, implementing the correct strategies and making best use of the tool available, and god forbid it all goes wrong there is only one person to blame. The practice of Project management allows organisations to significantly improve the efficiency and productivity of their organisation; this means improved profits, so it is no surprise that Project Managers are in high demand. It’s also a highly rewarding role offering work variety, competitive salaries and long term career prospects, so it comes as no surprise that competition is higher than ever.

So in an increasingly competitive marketplace, how do you stand out from the crowd? Past experience is critical, however an increasing volume of professionals are turning to project management certification as a way of elevating themselves above the average Project Managers CV. Certification is proof of knowledge and endorsement from an independent third party that you can apply the necessary practice.

Top of the list is PMI’s Project Management certification.

More about PMP Certification

Like other professions, there is a membership association in place for the project management profession – it’s called the Project Management Institute (PMI). Regarded as the World’s leading professional association for Project Management their flagship offing is the Project Management Professional (PMP), which is a globally recognised and transferable project management credential; moreover, this program is the very first certification to be honored with the ISO 9001 quality certification.

The members of PMI enjoy direct access to the skills, knowledge, networking opportunities, educational support, and everything else required for a business to yield positive results through portfolio management, program management, and project management. According to the most recent Project Management Salary Survey, your PMP certification will give you increased marketability to employers and a higher overall salary, responses from over 30,000  project managers is fairly compelling results. By now you’ll probably find yourself asking, how do I obtain a PMP credential?

Are you eligible for a PMP Credential? 

Due to the ever increasing status of the cert, to even apply, you must now have either:

  • Five years experience of project management accompanied by 7500 hours of leading and directing projects, 35 hours of project management centric education and a secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree, or the global equivalent).


  • A 4 year degree (bachelor’s degree or the global equivalent) 3 years project management experience accompanied with 4,500 hours leading and directing projects and 35 hours of project management education.

Not only do you need to meet the eligibility criteria, you also need to pass the PMP examination. An especially designed test that includes 200, multiple-choice questions.

Misconceptions of PMP

Some candidates think they have a strong project management background, so they don’t have to prepare seriously for the exam. It’s nothing but a misconception. The test is designed to be tough and checks your knowledge and understandings of different project management related concepts. The difficulty of attaining the certification ensures an employer quickly understands that a candidate with a PMP certification has a solid foundation of experience and possesses sufficient knowledge of every issue related to the field of project management. Therefore, it is important to prepare vigorously otherwise you could easily fail your PMP exam.

How to ensure you attain your PMP Certification

Aside from meeting the pre-requisites, to give yourself the best chance of passing the exam and securing your certification there are several training routes you can go down:

Classroom learning – whilst a more expensive option, classroom learning offers a structured environment conducive to learning with a qualified instructor to help prepare you, thus improving your chances of winning. There are range of Official PMI training providers which includes Firebrand who offer a 4 day all inclusive PMP bootcamp designed to fully prepare you for passing the exam.

Self-Study – for the self-disciplined amongst you, not looking/unable to invest significant funds in training, self-study is a viable option. As always there a range of official and non-official study guides available on Amazon, the benefit/downside of this method is that it’s up to you when and how you chose to study.
Distance Learning – This falls somewhere in between self-study and classroom learning both in cost and structured/unstructured training. The market is currently flooded with a range of operators offering varying levels of service with interactive video learning and live instructors on hand to help you if you get stuck.

Pros and Cons of Obtaining a PMP Certification

By now you should know all about the PMP and how to obtain it, lets take a look at some of the pro’s and con’s some of which have already been included earlier in the article.


  • According to figures from IT Jobs Watch the average Project Manager (without certification) earns £50,000 per annum, whereas Project Managers who are PMP certified command an average salary of £57,500, a 15% increase!
  • As a universal certification, PMP is applicable to and coveted by a wide range of industries offering a wide array of career opportunities across the globe.
  • PMP is regularly listed among the top 10 in demand certifications as reflected in this recent post from Tech Republic.


  • As a reflection of demand and its high reputation the pre-requisites are tough, if your just entering the project management sector it may be a long time till you become eligible.
  • Preparing for the exam is expensive if you wish to get the right kind of training to ensure you pass, of course this can be nullified if your company is paying or by increased salary offsetting the cost of training.


Having read the article you should now know what PMP is, whether your eligible, common misconceptions, methods of training and the Pros/Cons of obtaining the certification. So now all you need to know is whether it’s right for you and if so when you start training. Good Luck.


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