Weekly quickTIP

Office 2007 and Group Policy Control -- You Need It

Microsoft makes managing Office easier done than said, as long as you remember the GPA templates. Plus: quick guide to espresso for admins.

We administrators often deal with Microsoft Office in a relatively unmanaged state. Office's installation routine allows for the component-wise installation of just those pieces you want your users to use. But once the installation is complete, controlling its configuration wasn't something we often concerned ourselves with.

But that doesn't need to be the case. For the latest versions of Office, Microsoft has released a set of pre-generated Group Policy Administrative Templates that allow you to lock down, centrally control, and otherwise manage the configuration of your Office installations. If you haven't incorporated these templates into your regular Group Policy management, you're losing out on the ability to control virtually every facet of Office.

For Office 2007, these Administrative Templates are located at the Web site. Downloading them provides you with 15 ADM files that contain plenty of configurable and controllable settings within the Office suite. Getting down into very detailed settings, these Administrative Templates enable control of things like default save location and file types all the way down to nitpicky items like "Disable the Free/Busy item in the person name Smart Tag menu." Whew!

Templates are available not only for the traditional Office components like Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint and Outlook, but also for newer services like the Outlook Calendar Printing Assistant, Groove client, Office Communicator, OneNote and SharePoint. Publisher, Visio, InfoPath, and Project get similar attention.

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In a bizarre twist within a Microsoft world of ADMX files, the Office 2007 Administrative Templates all arrive as old-school ADM files, which means you won't be adding these templates to your Central Store.

The easiest way to use them is to copy them to the C:\Windows\Inf folder on the computer where you plan to use the Group Policy Management Console. Once there, the GPMC will automatically add the templates into each GPO you edit.

The Best Coffee on the Planet
Let's take a break from the usual IT madness and talk about something real important to me: One pervasive characteristic of we IT people is our overwhelming support of caffeinated beverages. Whether your vice is Mountain Dew, Red Bull or just plain coffee, the ol' caffeine is what keeps many of us going on those 34-hour days.

For me, coffee is my passion. So much so that a few years ago I invested in this professional-level espresso machine, the Expobar Brewtus. It's not cheap, but at the same time, rated for some 20 or more years of service lifetime if you keep 'er clean.

Along with machines of that quality also comes a fairly cantankerous need for the very best of fresh-roasted coffee. In fact, I've become so much of a coffee snob, that I won't put any coffee in the machine that's not been fresh roasted within the past few days. There are three places here in the country who have what I consider to be the very best coffee on the planet. They all have Web sites, so I figured I'd share them with you.

http://www.espressovivace.com -- First, the very best coffee anywhere comes straight outta' Seattle. David Schomer's coffee house is the birthplace of much of today's modern espresso-making science. Get yourself some of the Dolce and some of the Vita to try them both. He'll fresh roast them and FedEx next-day-air them to you the next day. It's a religious experience.

I've even bought his book, Techniques of the Barista, which singlehandedly has helped me make a better cuppa' Joe every single time, while at the same time annoying my wife when I complain that others can't. If you have an espresso machine and don't have this book, then you're probably doing something wrong with your technique.

http://www.kaladicoffee.com -- The second is Kaladi Coffee, right here in Denver. I've chatted a number of times with Mark Overly about his place and his coffee-making over time. Unfortunately, I moved a few years ago to a different part of town, which means I don't get over there as much. Their coffee is similarly roasted right onsite and is always fresh. His Peru Andes Gold is so good, it can kill you.

The unique thing about Mark's beliefs is that he is one of the people who believes that coffee should be stored in the refrigerator. This is a huge debate in the coffee world, and although this disagrees with David's advice, I tend to agree with Mark on this one.

http://www.copperdoorcoffee.com -- The new kid on the block, Copper Door Coffee is a place that's recently opened shop near my house here. If you live close enough (and I mean really close), Sinjin will even deliver it to your door. He does extremely-small-batch coffees, so much so that an order might take an extra day or two as he waits for them to collect into a large enough order to send out. But it's worth the wait. His dark Columbian and dark Brazil roasts are impressive.

Do you have other roasts or roasters that just blow you away? I'd love to hear about them. Either send me an e-mail or -- better yet -- post it as a comment so we all can see.

My Brewtus just loves to make new friends...

About the Author

Greg Shields is Author Evangelist with PluralSight, and is a globally-recognized expert on systems management, virtualization, and cloud technologies. A multiple-year recipient of the Microsoft MVP, VMware vExpert, and Citrix CTP awards, Greg is a contributing editor for Redmond Magazine and Virtualization Review Magazine, and is a frequent speaker at IT conferences worldwide. Reach him on Twitter at @concentratedgreg.

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