Review – Karapax iPhone Case by Anker

It is no surprise to many especially my techie friends how much I love Anker and the awesome products this company offers. Over time, I have purchased many products from Anker such as the portable battery chargers, cables, speakers, car mounts, dash cams, and even a portable vacuum cleaner, to name a few. The reasons why I lean towards this company for my gadget requirements sums up to three things: Quality, Value, and Customer Service.

I had the pleasure of using the Karapax brand iPhone case on my iPhone 6 smartphone, and here’s my review:

  • For starters, the case comes in a nice professional looking packaging (as seen in the image above) as opposed to a cheap plastic sleeve, which is often the case with other manufacturers at the equivalent price range.
  • The case is made of carbon fiber, feels strong, is quite flexible, and feels nice when held in the hand.
  • The size of the case is slim and it doesn’t add more bulk to the footprint of the iPhone.
  • The Karapax case fits easily with an iPhone without much effort and the fit is snug and secure.
  • The case can be removed from the phone when needed with ease and without struggle.
  • The case has anti-slip strips on the side and back, and some grooves on the back to give a nice comfortable feel in the hand and to avoid slippery encounters.
  • On the front side, the case provides a lip around the screen to help protect the screen from direct contact with a surface when the phone is placed screen down. It is possible that this raised lip may protect the screen from a minor low level fall but I wouldn’t take the chance especially considering that a surface where the screen makes contact with may have an object such as a small stone. For a side or corner impact, the case may provide some protection, however I have not tested it and do not plan to do so!
  • On my iPhone 6, the cutout around the back camera appears much larger and part of the case sits on the top part of the camera, thus covering it very slightly. Initially, I was concerned, however upon testing the camera for photo and video, I found the case not to obstruct or cause any image quality issues.
  • The side buttons on the case for the power and volume controls are very responsive and work very well.
  • I found no issues using a headphone or charging the iPhone or using the built-in speaker with the openings in the bottom of the case.

I found this case to be useful, reasonably priced, and provides the peace of mind that I need for my iPhone. If you are interested in purchasing this case, you’ll find it on Amazon.

    
    

Check out my quick video walkthrough with the Karapax case:

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Review – Stellar Phoenix Windows Data Recovery

At some point or another we have all faced the dilemma of missing important files such as photos, videos, documents, and even installers to name a few, which were deleted from our systems by mistake or due to various other reasons. “Oops, the file I need is not on my backup drives. I remember deleting it from my computer and emptying the trash bin. Now what do I do?” Well, fret not, we can solve the problem with some 3rd party software which are designed to recover deleted files thus saving the day and mindset!

One such solution is the Windows Data Recovery Professional tool by Stellar Phoenix. If you’re looking to recover your lost or deleted files, folders, documents, photos, videos, and other files, this software does the trick. These are some key features of this product as listed on their website:

  • Recovers data, documents, photos, videos and more
  • Recovers files from hard drive, CD/DVD, SD cards, and USB drives
  • Recovers lost or inaccessible hard drive partitions
  • Create image of entire partition for data recovery
  • Ability to search for lost data in specific folders and recover data

Windows Data Recovery software which I’ll refer to as WDR is quite simple to install and more importantly easy and straightforward to use. The installer file is less than 16MB in size and the installation steps are just a few clicks and you’re done. WDR has two scan mechanisms, Quick Scan and Deep Scan, and in my testing I found the scan for missing files with the Quick Scan method was adequately fast and the results were what I expected. Deep Scan takes a little longer but does a thorough job in recovering all files and folders including raw data, and this would be a good option to use if you don’t find what you’re looking for with the Quick Scan.

Here are some screen captures to highlight how the product works which were captured during my testing. Please note that I used the Professional version which retails at $99, however Stellar Phoenix does provide a free version which has some limitations, such as you can recover up to 1GB of data for free and the file sizes must be less than 25MB. The free option is a good way to try the software and to recover some files when you absolutely need to do so.


When WDR is launched, you are provided with some options as to what you would like to recover. You can select the “All Data” option to choose everything or be selective, then click the Next button.


If you would like to preview files during the scan, you can enable this feature by clicking the cogwheel on the top left corner of the window which will pop-up an Advanced Settings menu with the option to do so. Keep in mind that turning on preview mode can increase the scan time. Check out the other options in Advanced Settings such as File List to target specific file types to speed up scanning and recovery.


Select the location of the recovery desired.


Scanning in progress status.


Results of how much data was recovered with the Quick Scan.


The recovered data as listed in Tree View with files preview turned on.


The recovered data as listed in File Type view with files preview turned on. Select the files or folders desired for recovery and click on the Recover button. If the Quick Scan did not locate what you were looking for, you have the option to run a Deep Scan as seen above.


Select a location where you would like the recovered data saved to. Clicking on the Advanced Settings link provides some additional options such as compression option, recovery option, and file filter option as seen in the images below:


For testing purposes, I deleted a folder called “mvp award kit” which included several files which was located in D:\install\ path. I selected a file for recovery as seen above and selected the path C:\local\Recovered as the destination for the saved data. WDR adds a folder named “#Root” along with the original folder names where the file was previously located, thus preserving it’s file structure.


Results of how much data was recovered with the Deep Scan.


Example of the extensive data recovered using the Deep Scan mode.

I’m impressed with the speed of this tool and the amount of lost data it is capable of recovering. The one con I found with this tool is that it crashed when a new scan for a new location was performed while the software was previously opened after a previous scan. It could very well be my system as I was able to launch the software and re-run a new scan quickly. Bottom line, this is a “stellar” tool and does what it claims to do. The company provides a ton of information on the software product page including an FAQ and download for trial. They are also quick to respond to inquiries. Give it a try and hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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Review – Microsoft Systems Center Endpoint Protection Cookbook

System endpoint security is a critical aspect of modern day computing and we all have had our fair share in dealing with malware infections, and in some cases ransomware and cryptolocker attacks in our organizations. Microsoft has made great efforts in mitigating these security risks by providing a superior product called System Center Endpoint Protection (SCEP) for enterprises and Windows Defender which by default is included with Windows 10.

A System Center Configuration Manager (ConfigMgr or SCCM) or a Microsoft Intune administrator is familiar with SCEP as it is the way to administer and manage SCEP in the enterprise. However, there are many aspects and intricacies of SCEP one is not aware of and has not fully utilized, and should. While I was dealing with some SCEP updates and anti-malware policies in my organization, I came across this awesome book written by Nicolai Henriksen, a Microsoft MVP in Enterprise Mobility. I decided to write a non-biased review of this book and credit the wonderful information contained within it.

Nicolai’s SCEP cookbook is well written and vetted by another well respected Microsoft MVP in Enterprise Mobility, Ronni Pedersen, who I often interact with on social media on all things ConfigMgr. This book is shy of 200 pages and is laid out in eight easily digestible chapters and covers everything you need to know about SCEP from soup to nuts. You’ll learn how to plan and get started with SCEP, configuration, operations and maintenance, updates, security and privacy, configure advance protection, troubleshooting, and malware handling to name a few. It’s an information filled book with great tips and how to’s, and I particularly enjoyed how Nicolai included little segments throughout the book with tidbits such as “Getting ready….”, “How it works….”, and “How to do it….” which was perfect for my learning and understanding of the various concepts presented.

The Table of Contents of this book:

As a ConfigMgr admin who has been working with the product for a number of years including working with System Center Endpoint Protection, I have learned things that I didn’t know, picked up some tips and tricks, have a better insight and understanding of SCEP, and I have gained a great reference for the product. I highly recommend this book to all ConfigMgr and Intune admins. This book is available for purchase in Kindle and Paperback format on Amazon. If you would like to connect with Nicolai and have some feedback or suggestions, you’ll find him on Twitter as @nicolaitwitt.

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Review – System Center Configuration Manager Reporting Unleashed

SCCM_Reporting_Unleashed

System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM / ConfigMgr) is a robust and complex tool used by SysAdmins to manage systems in their organizations. Similarly, working with reports, creating reports, and generating reports with ConfigMgr can become a complex task and challenging.

We all know that the built-in reports are not the best and often don’t yield the results we want to achieve. To get around some of the limitations, you either need to create your own reports or use third party solutions such as the wonderful reports from Enhansoft which are easy to install, configure, and to use. Well, Garth Jones, the owner of Enhansoft has released an awesome book to help clear the mystery of reports and make it super simple for anyone to follow the step-by-step instructions with the intelligently laid out chapters. The high level contents of the book is provided below but it doesn’t come close to listing the in-depth wealth of information this book provides.

SCCM_Reporting_Unleashed2

Whether you’re a beginner and want to learn how to create and work with ConfigMgr reports, or an expert who want to improve your reporting skills and rock it to the next level, this book is for you – I highly recommend it. The book is available on Amazon and comes in various formats. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Garth, who contributes tremendously to the ConfigMgr community via Twitter, Facebook, and various forums, to name a few.

Garth Jones – @GarthMJ
Enhansoft – @Enhansoft

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