Who Am I?

I am a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist, an MCP, an MCSA and a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE). I am also A+ and Network+ certified. I have been working in "IT" for about 15 years now. There is never a dull moment and there is always more to learn.

Web Site: http://www.riguy.com [points to new Azure-based site]

MOST POPULAR POSTS (opens below)

December 2, 2009


Speaking of all things Microsoft, have you tried Bing? Many have, but word is still not out to all. Google still has a majority share of internet searches, but Bing is quite good. I use both. Bing is snazzy and shows amazing images, with embedded optional informational links. Many of the links of course encourage further web surfing, shopping, and planning for the next vacation.
Very cool.



Windows 7 Arrives

By now almost everyone has heard that Windows 7 has arrived. I have worked with it already and it is quite good. It is robust, quick to boot (imagine!), and zippy. It appears Microsoft has heard from its constituents and answered their prayers.

Now .... what am I going to do with this blog title and subject matter? Oh no! Well, anyway for the foreseeable future Vista and XP will remain widespread in the typical Enterprise environment. But Windows 7 will no doubt make significant headway. Expect a boom for Microsoft in 2010.



June 10, 2009

Enable System Restore

Is there any better way to recover from a Vista PC or laptop disaster than System Restore? I think not. To be more specific, is there a better utility that can be used to recover from an operating system or applcation type of problem? Hardware problems aside, it is not uncommon for a faulty piece of ... software (can you say, 'freeware'?) or faulty Windows update to freeze up a workstation. Maybe Vista boots, but locks up after updating some printer software. Or maybe it locks up after Windows Update just finished installing the monster 'DotNet' Framework version 3.5 and all of a sudden the workstation will not boot!?
There are 3 steps to fix problems like the above:
1) Maintaining awareness of system changes (i.e. software updates or new installs)
2) Enabling System Restore Points
3) Restoring the system to a previous point in time

I will save # 2 and # 3 for a future time. But often overlooked is # 1. How many times do people quickly, and without a second thought, install freeware and ignore symptoms of possible problems? If you just installed a new freeware antispyware application, and your system is bogging down dramatically, then you may want to consider unistalling before further issues ensure. Awareness is key. If you notice some problems, i.e. blue screens, sluggishness etc after installing software, then consider it a helpful warning: uninstall it, and ask, did this solve the problem?

# 2 and # 3 will be covered in the future.

Auto-Tag in WinAmp

One more item about my previous blog entry on the WinAmp Auto-tag feature: this can be done in bulk. I realized after the post that I had many songs with no album information, for example. The workaround, per WinAmp's site, is to to this in bulk. Use sort, by clicking 'Album' at top of menu. Sort once or twice to get the songs with blank Album information together. Then select all of these songs, and right click. Finally, select Send To: Auto-Tag, and Apply To. Do the same for any empty information.

June 9, 2009

Cool WinAmp Feature

This is not a Vista note per se, but I cannot believe I am just now discovering this: WinAmp has an Auto-tag feature! What is this? It means the days of empty music library data are over. When one opens WinAmp in order to play local MP3s for example, in the Local Media view can be seen basic song information: Artist, Album, Track #, Title, Length, etc (assuming music files have already been added to the library). However, as we all know, it is very common for song information to be scattered and these fields are frequently empty.

To solve this problem, using WinAmp, in the Local Media view, right click the song, or file, and select "View File Info".

Note the empty boxes.
Now just click Auto-tag and you should see a brief note like this:

Anf finally, you can see this killer Journey song's information has filled in ;>

WinAmp is a very nice application. It is amongst the best media players, IMHO. I recommend it heartily. Now you also can fill in those empty music file descriptions by use of the Auto-Tag feature.


June 8, 2009

Windows Vista Service Pack 2 and Windows Update Services

I pushed out Vista Service Pack 2 successfully on a test station. I am amazed at the fact that Windows Vista Service Pack 2 installed smoothly and well under 25 minutes. This is a service pack, after all, and I was expecting a long time. I used Windows Update Services (WSUS)and do this off hours for workstations, but nonetheless the relatively short install time is a great improvement over some behemoths of the past!

May 7, 2009

Vista Service Pack (SP) 1 Needed Before Installing SP 2?

Yes, Vista Service Pack 1 is required, not just recommended, before installing Service Pack 2. This is unusual, if I am not mistaken, in that previous major workstation operating system (i.e. XP) service packs contained all previous service packs or patches.

Also note that this service pack applies to both Windows Server 2008 and Vista. This speaks to the similarities between the 2 architectures, despite their very different roles.

From the Microsoft FAQ on SP 2:

"Why does the SP2 installation require SP1 be installed first?
There are a number of reasons for this, the primary one being the overall size of the standalone package for SP1. Having a cumulative SP2 that includes the updates from SP1 would have made the size too large. Furthermore, because SP2 is a single-servicing model, and since Windows Server already includes SP1, a cumulative SP2 would have meant a needlessly larger file for Server customers. Finally, in the consumer space the majority of customers have already installed SP1 over WU or will be doing so before SP2, so incorporating SP1 into a cumulative SP2 would take unnecessary time and bandwidth."

SP 2 FAQ Link..


May 1, 2009

Vista Service Pack 2 Beta Program Concludes

Vista Service Pack 2, which will include all previously included updates, is coming soon. It had been in beta or testing for a while. In other words, the brave (foolhardy?) were able to try it, if desired. This is essentially being a guinea pig for Microsoft, but hey, someone has to do it. Anyway, at this point in time (May 1st, 2009) the official release of SP2 is not available.

"Service Pack 2 (SP2) for Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista is an upcoming update to Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008. It will provide customer and partner feedback-driven fixes into a single service pack, minimizing deployment and testing complexity. In addition to all previously released updates since SP1, SP2 will support new types of hardware, and will add support for several emerging standards.

As of April 28th, 2009 the Windows Server 2008 SP2 and Windows Vista SP2 Beta program has concluded, thank you for your participation and feedback.

This site will be updated to include Service Pack 2 download details when they are available."
This Technet site has all updates:


Vista Service Pack 1

Windows Vista Service Pack 1 has been out for quite a while now. If you are using Vista without Service Pack 1, then you should really consider updating! Service Packs are akin to makeovers of the operating system. This is the reason they are so large. They are filled with updates to the code, mostly revolving around fixes and patches for security and stability issues.

Not sure if you have Service Pack 1 (SP 1)? To find out, go to Start menu, aka 'Start Search' and type in 'cmd', then type 'ver'. If you have this, then you have Service Pack 1: Microsoft Windows [Version 6.0.6001]. 6001 is a reference to the build number.

Alternatively, go into the system applet within the Control Panel, seen under System and Maintenance. Better yet, go to the Start Search, and type 'system' and open the system applet to look for the version. You can also open "System Information", which will show you the version of Vista as well.

So, in a nutshell, if you only see "Windows Vista", then you are not on SP 1. Get it at Windows Update or download it here:

Service Pack 1


April 6, 2009

Microsoft Spynet and Windows Defender

I have heard from some Vista users that Windows Defender can be a bit confusing when it comes to Microsoft SpyNet. In a typical Vista scenario, you can open the Start menu, type in 'def' in the Start Search, and open up Windows Defender. This is a useful tool that basically keeps an eye on pertinent system changes. If there are unexpected changes, chances are good that you will be notified. Defender can stop spyware and other technical diseases on your system. It cross references your system and software changes with those of other Internet users to come up with a general consensus of what is safe or not.

The confusion I refer to above is with Microsoft SpyNet. In Windows Defender Home, you can see below the Microsoft SpyNet this description: "Join the online community that helps identify and stop spyware infections". I am sure Microsoft intends no confusion by this and its use of "membership" terminology, but some people interpret this to mean possibly a subscription is needed: in other words, sign up and pay up . But in fact this is not a fee based service, it rather provides for some optional means of using Defender: there is basic versus advanced membership or no membership whatsoever, and there is no sign up. If basic or advanced is chosen, software classifications information is sent to Microsoft, but it is very little, and in fact advanced is recommended.

Basic and Advanced SpyNet memberships are similar, with one key exception: in Basic membership, you will note the following line: "With basic membership, Windows Defender does not alert you if it detects software or changes made by software that has not yet been analyzed for risks." Yet, that is exactly the protection that is needed and only 'advanced' membership can provide.

For that reason, it is advised that you choose advanced membership. And indeed there is no fee involved!


January 27, 2009

Vista Shortcuts

Let's face it, sometimes within Vista we really need to get into a system application quickly! Maybe the Firewall or Services need to be opened ASAP. Of course these can be opened within the Control Panel any time. But in order to save a few clicks, typing the command or search keywords is faster. And a few clicks add up to substantial savings over time. For example, to open the Vista Firewall, you can go to the Start menu, Control Panel, Security, Windows Firewall. Pretty easy. But an alternative is to go to the Start menu and in Search type 'firewall.cpl'. It seems like MORE work due to the typing, but really you can just type 'fir' and you will see Windows Firewall show in results.
Other shortcuts to type in the Search:
res: System Restore
sys: System Properties
serv: Windows Services
cmd : command prompt
dev: Device Manager
adm: administrative tools
calc: Calculator
ev: Event Viewer (this is an IMPORTANT one!)

Also, you may see the names of files that have been worked on in the results. This is handy if you forgot a saved file name. Once you get used to typing shortcut commands, you will save time overall.

For some real Vista fun, type in all the letters of the alphabet in the Search area and see for yourself what shows up!(no results for q, x or z on my test system)
More tech fun: