Products and Equipment I use

If you are planning on writing your own blog, setting up a lab environment, making a podcast or wonder what tools I use to make my life easier, then hopefully you will find this page useful. It’s simply a collection of what I use and why I think it’s good.

Software

When writing articles, blog posts or trying out something new I rely on a few useful tools:

  • RoyalTS – I use this on my Mac to manage Remote Desktop and SSH connections to my lab servers.
  • RDCMan – On Windows I prefer to use this to manage Remote Desktop connections when working with customers.
  • SnagIt Pro – Invaluable on Mac and Windows to grab and annotate screenshots in my blog articles.
  • Camtasia Studio – Great for recording webcasts and short video tutorials.
  • WordPress – The back-end software for this blog. I self-host, but only because I have my old CarPC site to keep online. A free account on WordPress.com is all you really need, though.
  • MSDN Premium Subscription – Provided by Microsoft, this provides me licenses for my lab.
  • Office 2013 – I write most of my articles and presentations in Office, purchased as part of an Office 365 subscription.
  • Apple’s Pages – As I use a Mac and iPad, I’ll do some writing in Pages so I can chill on the sofa while I write. I always punt it into Word to fix formatting though.

Lab Server

My lab server is invaluable, and I use it to test out ideas, write documentation and of course build the labs that I use for my articles on various websites.

I only have one lab server, and it runs Windows Server 2012 R2 and Hyper-V. I enable deduplication (with the VDI optimisations) to save space on my lab server, which comprises of:

  • Core i5 CPU
  • Gigabyte Motherboard
  • 32GB RAM
  • 500GB SATA disk for Windows System and ISO storage
  • 480GB Crucial M500 SSD drive for Virtual Machines

In addition to the MSDN licence for Microsoft software, I also use on occasion:

Cloud Services

As regular readers know, a lot of these articles relate to public cloud services. For both writing articles, and to extend my lab environment I use:

  • Office 365 – both paid for tenant for personal use, MVP extended trials, and standard trial licences for articles.
  • Windows Azure – I use VMs both to host this website on CentOS 6.3, and across multiple regions with site-to-site VPN connection to home (via my Windows 2012 lab server) extending my lab network so it extends across continents.

Podcasting Equipment and Software

If you have listened to The UC Architects podcast and would like to try to make your own, this is the hardware and software I use:

  • Rode Podcaster  – A broadcast quality microphone with a USB connection. Crucially has a headphone socket for 0-latency monitoring so I can monitor my own levels when I record. I bought my Rode with the arm and shock mount.
  • Sennheiser HD 25 SP – I use these with my Rode Podcaster to monitor the recording.
  • Lync 2013 – We use Lync both on-premise and in Office 365 to meet for the Podcast, and use Lync 2013’s recording as the basis for editing.
  • Audacity – To provide backup recordings of each individual, and to actually edit each episode we use Audicity.
  • Audio Hijack Pro – I use this on the Mac to record both sides of the Lync conference, as Lync for Mac cannot do this.

If you found this useful, and are looking for books about Exchange, check out my Recommended Reerence Material page.