Technology Solutions for Everyday Folks

Matt Zaske Online Blog

High Quality Local Talent

That was an amazing performance

Haven't had a more personal post for a while (hope to rectify that in the next few weeks as I've got some stuff queued up), but it seemed fitting to give a short tribute/shout out to some of our regional performance art talent.

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Tales From The 'Duh!' Archive: Command Syntax

Cartoon character pushes zombie back into grave

I had a very long week, which means I'm writing a short post this time around.

Among several seemingly disparate things I accomplished in the last week or so, I spent some time deploying applications via SCCM (soon to be called Microsoft Endpoint Manager/Configuation Manager/#MEMCM per the announcement at Ignite this week).

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Let's Expand Encryption!

Gif of lock tumbler mechanism

This weekend I performed the quarterly actions to update my various letsencrypt certificates, which I've not written about since early May when I'd performed the first set of renewals. Let's Encrypt and SSL For Free are still outstanding services, and I'm super happy with them!

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Who's Font Awesome?

Puppy pointing with text "Who's Awesome? You're Awesome!"

Earlier this year while working on a client project revision, I decided to spruce up the old and dated icon set. This set had been cobbled together from various sources over time (the way you did these things back in the day), and overall lacked a consistent use and/or feel. Some actions had no associated icon, so educated guesses were made to find a matching icon from the existing set...and so forth.

Ultimately, it was time. But where to start?!

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Time for a Drupal Refresh

Old computer mainframe tape disks

So here we are...just over six months into the new Drupal adventure driving the site. Overall I'm much happier with the transition than I'd originally expected, because the general maintenance and upkeep has been pretty much automatic. Scheduled publishing has been a lifesaver, too, because it's a 'set and forget' thing...unless I cross a month's boundary between create and publish dates (more about that in a bit).

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I Took a Break

Pause

As I've noted a few times in the last few months, things have been remarkably crazy and busy. As it always does, this culminates in a late-August/early-September influx of "survival mode" where most everything centers around keeping the fires to a minimum.

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Collection Variables in SCCM Task Sequences

Hello my name is {X} tag

As I've mentioned a number of times in previous posts, on our campus we perform a roughly-annual refresh of multi-user workstations across the institution. This 'multi-user' scope includes machines in classrooms, computer labs, open learning spaces, conference rooms, and so forth.

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A Brief Respite

My Summer 2018 Outdoor Office Companion, Macho

Ahh, August: that "season" of all things chaotic, crazy, busy, and otherwise rushed. See also: back-to-school season.

A time when the rush of all the things that haven't yet been accomplished through the summer converge and, like it or not, must be completed before the new school year(s) begin.

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Environment Context Troubleshooting

Dashed and dotted lines

Broken Context(s). The story of my weekend project.

Due to a number of reasons, mostly well outside my direct control, I spent part of this weekend working through the application and task sequence refresh process for our multi-user workstations...which will need to be finished by August 27.

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Knit Your Best Life

Subaru car 'quilted' with material and the brand 'fiberartsfest.com'

On Saturday, we made the short trip to [West] Fargo, ND for the Fiber Arts Festival, something we'd not previously visited before. For a small-sized gathering, at first sight I certainly didn't expect to spend half the day at the venue. But it's a good little fest, and we well might go again in the future. Saw lots of folks spinning fiber into yarns, working with said product, and using some neat little machines to do it all.

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Dynamically Created Anchor HREFs

Multiple Arows Crossing Paths

Back in the day, namely before Javascript and jQuery were really a thing, the idea of dynamically creating an anchor's HREF attribute required some serious magic and behind-the-scenes wizardry. Or something like Flash. Those were not the days...

A Bit of Background

Several years ago, during a client's web app rebuild/refresh, I decided to clean up some of the gnarly baggage behind their reporting mechanism.

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To The Moon!

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin during the Apollo 11 extravehicular activity (EVA) on the moon

We spent the weekend away from home taking in a production of Guys and Dolls at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, along with a visit to the Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul.

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What's That Join Again?

Visualization of SQL Joins

In the interest of hopefully saving Future Me some time, I'm writing this little bit so as not to have to stumble to remember a simple premise:

How do I LEFT JOIN the same table more than once in a query?

For as many times as I've had to join a table more than once (effectively as a certain type of generic lookup table), you'd think I'd have this memorized. But I always get caught forgetting to proper alias both joins.

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That's A Wrap, and Happy Summer

As I wrote about two weeks ago (while in mid-run), we just had our early summer theatre production. It was, in my opinion, a very successful run...though bittersweet to see it end after two weekends (and six shows). We had a great and consistent audience, which speaks well to the attempt at doing a show over two weekends in June. Our next board meeting will reveal the "final" financial result of our activities.

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Auto-Determine Primary IP Address

IPv4 address representation in dotted-decimal notation

One of the things I've baked into our production task sequence for "multi-user devices" is a secondary way to automatically determine a device's use case while in the WinPE stage. The primary, preferred way to determine use case is by the use of SCCM collection variables, but those require a known object (in the proper collection) to function as designed. Thus, for all rebuilds of known devices, the use case is figured out by collection variable.

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It's A Half-Wrap!

Tortilla Wrap Sandwich

If we've ever met in person, you'll likely know that I'm a theatre (yes, theatre) nerd, and I have been for a long time. I should write about my theatre history at some point in time.

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Batch Ship Data to Google Team Drive

Moving Data

A few weeks ago, I wrote a brief bit about capturing webcam images. This post expands on the initial process: specifically, what to do with the images once procured.

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With Summertime Comes Summer...Projects

Yard work with dog mowing lawn

This was going to be a real post, with some real substance (or at least something).

But then it happened:

Yard Work and Summer Projects

We had a reasonably nice weekend to do some outdoor work. While it's never complete, and always seems to be some sort of re-envisioning, the need to get some stuff done around the house has consumed my time these past few days.

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Capturing Your Internet-Connected Webcam Images

Puppet bird with binoculars

Over the years, we've had a few public Internet-connected cameras pointing at various places around campus. We've used them for publicity and other purposes since the mid-1990's, and starting in around 2010 would sometimes be called upon to create a sort of time-lapse video of activity from one of said cameras.

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Running On Empty

Running on Empty GIF

I have known this for many years, but I reaffirmed my assessment this past week.

I am a creative. I seriously enjoy making things.

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Windows Scheduled Tasks with Powershell

Mechanical Mathematical Calculator

As I struggled to find looked for inspiration for this week's post, I wound up looking within...oddly enough as I was reconfiguring my email out of office response (the below is what I had for my time at MMS):

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MMS: Drinking From the Fire Hose

Drinking from the fire hose

I spent last week at MMSMOA, a conference I cannot recommend enough for anyone working in the Microsoft/Windows/Systems Management space. The main event, held at the Radisson Blu Mall of America, is a solid four-and-a-half days of deep technical material, networking, sharing, and more!

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Hey, Let's Re-Encrypt!

HTTP vs. HTTPS

The time has come...to renew some Let's Encrypt SSL certificates! Doesn't seem like 90 days has passed since I originally wrote about trying out Let's Encrypt as a service to generate free, trusted SSL certificates with a limited lifespan (90 days versus the more commercially-focused 1-3 years).

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What's In Your Lunch Bag?

Winnie the Pooh prepares to eat

Many of those I work and associate closely with know that I'm pretty often a routine machine. I'll be writing more about the various things I've turned into simple routines, automatic processes, and so forth.

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Performance Can Matter

Performance Measure

I've had this written down as a topic suggestion for some time, and to balance/counter my post a couple weeks ago regarding performance, there's absolutely another side to that coin.

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Thoughts? I've had [more than] a few

Herding Cats

I survived!

Yup, three (very different) presentations in as many months. All a resounding success!

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Does the Performance Matter?

Does it matter?

Back around 2015 or so, I wrote a simple Powershell script which basically re-populates Active Directory (AD) group membership based on data procured from our central systems. Two primary AD groups in particular are synchronized to our print management system, PaperCut, which pre-provisions accounts and access so folks handling monetary transactions don't have to create accounts, etc.

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It's Presentation Season!

Wizardry

As I mentioned a month ago, I've taken the opportunity to commit to more speaking/presentation engagements than ever before, in an attempt to better inspire folks and do more technical evangelism. It just happens to be that I have three things lined up in as many months!

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Auto-Transpose Data

Geeks and Repetitive Tasks Graph

Many years ago, an individual in our office retired and the position was not replaced. For several reasons, this was an appropriate decision: the landscape of IT and our localized service portfolio had, for lack of a better phrase, stabilized. Our team was more often innovating in ways involving or prioritizing partnerships over custom builds or infrastructure requirements. We were appropriately consuming centralized services made available as a commodity.

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I Own You, Drupal View!

I Own You

As I tweeted about in victory a week ago, I managed to finally get my Drupal taxonomy term view(s) to do what I wanted:

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Auto-Generate OSD Computer Name

Typos Happen

Last summer while re-designing and upgrading our primary task sequence for the "multi-user devices" in our fleet (computer labs, learning spaces, etc.), I decided to tackle what had become a bit of a perennial problem: device naming.

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Hocus Focus

Focus Cartoon

It's been a long last few weeks. Actually, make that the last month. At times it's felt impossible to focus. On anything. And there are many things:

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We Have Liftoff!

Hovering Cat

Liftoff.

Finally.

Aside from some style tweaks likely to come around, the underlying technical bits I've been ignoring or had on the list to address (looking at you, tag views) are now in place and working as I'd expect. There's a pesky bit I've ended up handling in a more manual sense, at least for the short term: content view by tags.

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"Just Reload It"

I needed to fix a library-level theme item. And since it's been a while since I last made a change like that (this was all before the original switch to the production Drupal instance), I couldn't remember if it involved uninstalling/reinstalling the theme...or simply clearing the cache.

So I chose the heavy-handed option. What could possibly go wrong, right?

WRONG.

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Hey, Let's Encrypt!

As I'd mentioned in the past, one of the key reasons for changing up my personal hosting plan was to support Let's Encrypt, the free and open Certificate Authority. In 2019, there is absolutely no need for a regular old website or service to pay some exorbitant rate for an SSL certificate. The premium options (extended validation and such) are an entirely different arena--think banking and other services--but those are out of scope for everyday Joe.

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Speak your mind caller, we're on the air!

Better late than never?

As of today, the new site is out of maintenance mode and fully live. Hallelujah!

I look at it and see all of its quirks and flaws...and things unfinished. And I let my "good" override my "perfect." For now.

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A Minor Delay

What a week it's been. Primarily holed up inside 24/7 as we reached record lows with windchill. Our lowest temp reached -33°F, and with the wind we had would've made it feel like closer to -55°F. Dangerously cold. "Historically" cold. Things (schools, businesses, etc.) wound up being more or less shut down from about Tuesday morning through Thursday afternoon. It's certainly the coldest I could remember for the better part of 25 years (it was the mid-1990's).

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The Drupal Learning Curve

To embrace the cliché, "The best laid plans of mice and men..."

I was on track.

It was going to happen.

The new site was to be launched as expected.

But my perfectionist side jumped in and started nagging:

If you fix that one thing first...it'll be better.

That function needs some adjustment before you should go live.

Are you sure that style/block/node/view is the right one?

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It's [Well Past] Transition Time

As the last full refresh of mzonline.com was fully thirteen years (!?!) ago, ca. 2006, one can say it was time for something new.

I'm super glad I had built the old site out with a tableless and (for its time) clean and well-structured design. While it's been a bit dated for several years, with the exception of the site itself not being terribly responsive (for mobile and alternate screen sizes) it's had a good run.

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