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)

October 30, 2013

Quick Exchange 2010 Mailbox Export To PST Guide

A quick and easy guide to exporting a former employee's Exchange 2010 mailbox to archive or PST.

First, let's assume you have all your ducks lined up: healthy Active Directory (AD) and Exchange 2010 infrastructure is in place, and you have Exchange Administrator rights AND have Exchange PowerShell installed. One last thing, be sure to have a folder to export to. I like to keep it short. I created a E:\PSTs share on a large data drive. Be sure the folder props are shared + accessible in UNC style (\\server\foldershare). I have a monthly reminder to push these PSTs off site to our Cloud for archiving purposes.

Now, let's say an employee is 'let go'. Although disabling the AD account keeps the email flowing, I usually change the password, leave the account open. Forwarding is set up to a Manager or whoever is responsible Asap. I.T. folks need to push this sometimes else some critical emails will go into a black hole and you are on the hook!

Open Mailbox Properties, go to Mail Flow Settings, then Delivery Options. Sometimes Managers like to jump on the laptop to check the user's files and email (like local archives as well) so I just give them the new password. The former employee does not know the new password, so this is as good as a disable as far as VPN, email, remote access is concerned.

Anyway, after a decision is made to fully close down the account / mailbox open the Exchange PowerShell and type:

[PS] C:\Windows\System32> New-MailboxExportRequest -Mailbox username -FilePath \\ServerName\PSTs\USername.pst

Of course fill in the username or login name as needed as well as your share UNC. The PST should have the employee's username in it for organization purposes.

After a few minutes, depending on size, use these commands.

[PS] C:\Windows\System32> Get-MailboxExportRequest | Get-MailboxExportRequestStatistics

[PS] C:\Windows\System32>Get-MailboxExportRequest | Remove-MailboxExportRequest

It is best to verify that the PST can be opened within your Outlook. Be sure your user account has Full access to the PSTs folder from which you are opening - no need to copy the PST to your PC.
Outlook (2010) / File /Open / Open Outlook Data File
Again, assuming you have permissions to the PST folder, this works well.

October 3, 2013

Windows 8.1 3D Printing

First, Microsoft uses the Windows Phone (Nokia Lumia 1020) to unleash a monster 41 Mega Pixel Camera. Now they are using the 8.1 release to highlight 3D Printing. Of course many users will not much care nor need 3D printing, but the fact that Microsoft is targeting niche techies and graphic artist types with this phenomenal technology and capability is very promising. They are clearly going in the right direction by choosing specific goals and drilling the technologies home. In other words, they are nailing it in specific cases.

Oh, and 3D printing looks hella cool! And that is exactly the reaction Microsoft needs to generate more and more from potential customers, especially surrounding Windows 8.x technologies.

"A lot was going on at Microsoft's Maker Faire tent: massive robots were hurling themselves at one another, puppets were crashing cars and gamers were creating whole worlds. It was another innovation that took center stage, however. That wild and crazy leap forward — none other than Windows 8.1.
On a given day, the simple addition of the number one behind a decimal point wouldn't trump giant robots. But that is not this day, for this particular update to Microsoft's OS actually brings us something wonderful: 3D printing.
Bundled with bug fixes and the like is an interface that makes connecting and using your 3D printer as simple as plugging it in. Once your 3D printer is connected to your Windows PC, the OS detects the device as if it were something as old-hat as a traditional laserjet 2D printer. The appropriate drivers are downloaded and you're good to go. So toss out those software CDs and complex setup instructions and join Microsoft in the future."

Read it here:

Lumia 1020 Phone Review

ZDNet review gives very good grades to the Lumia 1020. An Executive at work has one of these. They are very sleek.


September 13, 2013

SQL + Exchange Services Stop After Windows Server 2008 Updates

Rookie Mistake, even though I am an IT 'veteran'.

As a Systems Administrator, I am always trying to time Windows Automatic Updates perfectly. It's one thing to install updates on a solo PC, laptop, or tablet. You manually click the Automatic Updates, sit there and watch them install, and hopefully they go smoothly. These days, Windows updates usually do go smoothly. But for a mid sized or large company or organization, these need to be automated. It is the same in a UNIX, Linux or other environment.

Without going into detail, Windows Updates can be automated via a tool called WSUS. The updates are downloaded to a central server and from there, via group policies, they are pushed out to the local domain servers and workstations. Usually  a reboot is involved, which can be scary on critical servers. It also can be a sweaty experience!

Of course, in a perfect world a networked and domain environment would be duplicated in a test environment. Like I typed, 'a perfect world'. It is easier said than done, and some companies do not allocate resources for a test environment. These companies, oddly enough, rely entirely on MICROSOFT ENGINEERS to test Windows updates properly before pushing them out to the world! But I digress ...

The Rookie Mistake was entirely on me. I properly had spread out the Updates via my WSUS server. Workstations on 1 day, then Member Servers over the Weekend, spread apart from the DC's time frame. I would check alerts to verify all servers came back online and services were up etc. Any Sys Admin knows ugly Netlogon and other errors can be generated as a DC reboots. Member servers start to panic when they cannot contact Active Directory and security related services. Because the Windows Domain Controller holds the keys to the Kingdom, it is imperative that a DC be active during restarts.

So, the point: One key item possibly overlooked by some administrators: separate Domain Controller and Member Server Group Policies, especially regarding update schedules.

I had done this initially but one day, carelessly, I was trying to get the DC updates done at a different time for scheduling purposes. The reason was that I wanted them done closer to the morning so I could fix quicker if there was indeed an issue. In my infinite (non) wisdom, I erroneously scheduled the new day + time for automated updates to be exactly the same as the schedule for the member servers. Again, this may seem fine on the surface, but again, certain services from member servers NEED to contact a domain controller continuously in order to start successfully. Exchange 2010 and SQL 2008 come to mind! Services like SQL Server and Exchange's Information Store will literally STOP if there is no contact with a Domain Controller, but mainly when there are simultaneous reboots amongst all DC s and Member servers.

So, do not forget to schedule Domain Controller Windows Updates at least 1 hour apart from Member server updates. Brief reboots of the DC (s) while Member Servers are running are OK, but simultaneous reboots can be problematic. And always have services alerts running, in case there is a problem. I use Netikus Event Sentry for this (it is a solid product), and you can weed out the non critical services from the critical.

I readjusted the schedule to separate the Updates again, and ... lesson (re) learned!

September 12, 2013

Trade in your iPad for a Surface, Get $200

Trade in your iPad, Get a min. $200 gift card. Use towards the purchase of a Surface or other cool

You can also get discounts for military, student, status and others!


September 2, 2013

Windows Phone Sales Making Inroads

Inroads are being made by Windows Phone, especially in newer markets. Android and iPhone are still well ahead in the USA. But in emerging markets the Windows phone is doing rather well.


August 13, 2013

AT&T U-Verse Gives Away Free Kindle Fire

Normally when a large company promises gadgets or other enticements IF, and only if, you order THEIR service/product,  you become skeptical. So, when AT&T U-Verse came up with a free Kindle after ordering their cable, internet, and phone bundle I was pleasantly surprised not only with their 2 year pricing contract ($125 monthly for all 3), but with the free gadget offering a swell. It was almost mentioned in passing, and to be honest with you, I almost forgot about it.

This is where I thank AT&T. And no, I do not work at nor for AT&T. In fact, like many (some?)others, I have had issues with AT&T from time to time. But it's important to pay compliments to large companies and providers as well! I love their U-Verse service. It is very reliable and enjoyable all around. Awesome!

Tangentially, getting back to the 'free gadget': I was offered a free item out of several offerings. From AT&T, the choices:

"New U-verse Internet Customers Can Take Their Pick: A Free Xbox 360, SONOS PLAY:3, Kindle Fire or Nexus 7 Tablet"

This was from a few months ago. I have no idea if the offer is still valid, but I am sure they have similar offers. I must tell you the item I chose rocks! I chose the Amazon Kindle Fire 7 HD. It is an awesome little guy. It packs a punch. It is a little too tied into the Amazon ecosystem, but hey, the little tablet was free, thanks to AT&T. I let my 8 year old son use it. We have already logged into our local public library and downloaded a few books to read for free. The WiFi on the Kindle Fire is speedy. It joined the AT&T Wireless network within seconds. It has all the social networking Apps and much more. Of course, an Amazon account is required, and they make purchases EASY (that's their objective after all ;>). So far, I have not purchased anything, but I have surfed the web via its Silk browser, read a few free Kindle eBooks, and


U-Verse Blog Entry

August 9, 2013

Delete Windows Server 2012 Virtual Hard Disk

I noticed on Windows Server 2012 Datacenter edition that deleting a virtual hard disk is a little tricky. This is by design, of course. Imagine deleting your Production server database or web site after a clean up or maintenance cycle. It is not easy to do. If there is a an actual hard drive associated with a Hyper-V virtual machine, it is impossible to delete without tearing things down first. This is good. But even with excellent clustering, replication or {insert fail over of your choosing}, it's still not good to remove a virtual machine 'by mistake'.

But let's say you need to clean up the virtual machines and drives on a large server? The Volumes, Drives, and/or Disks can grow rapidly. Before you know it, you do not know what is what. You can really see this by the location of your Virtual Hard Disks and Hyper-V files (config files). This can get messy if you are storing the virtual machines in different places (don't do this). So, let's say a few test servers are set up quickly. Some testing is done and as you are about to remove all virtual disks and machines associated with these testers, you get called off on another project or emergency. You will get to these disk 'another time'.

But it is forgotten. Before you know it you need some space over n your Exchange Servers. A clean up of unused machines is needed to reclaim space.

This is what I learned. The first step occurs before any of this, when planning out your infrastructure. Namely, pay attention to Virtual Machine NAMING SCHEME. Be sure there is a rhyme and reason to it. In the modern age, you likely do not want to call the virtual machines by the company name + number, i.e. CoolStartup1, CoolStartUp2, etc. What happens if the company gets bought, renamed? Also, it is helpful to use function in the names: ServIIS1 or SERVER_SSL1, etc. This is important as in time, you may need to remove servers from the virtual environment. In other words, be organized.

To remove a Virtual Hard Disk, you first need to locate it, then detach it. First, I verified the ones CURRENTLY IN USE. Screen shots are nice for your own reference. These are not to be touched.
Next up: open Computer Management/Storage/Disk Management. This area is clear on a home laptop, but on a fully raided beast of a Windows Datacenter 2012 Server, this can be blinding. Depending on your scenario, you may have dozens and dozens of Data Partitions and Disk drives. Verify your Disk to be deleted is correct. Right-click the Disk (#), and select Detach VHD (Virtual Hard Disk). In the Detach Virtual Hard Disk window, verify all is good. You will see the name of the .VHDX file that is associated with your virtual machine to be deleted. Hopefully, the names of your machines are logical. Then you can confirm.

This clears it from this interface. But in order to delete the virtual machine's folder, the one with the large .VHDX file, you may need to find the SYSTEM RESERVED drive within Disk Management. Right click the virtual hard disk and try to Mount. This should yield a System Reserve drive letter. That needs to be deleted, then you should be able to delete the .Vhdx.

August 7, 2013

Toshiba Windows 8 Laptop for $314

Toshiba Direct is offering a new Windows 8 laptop for $314. Yes, you read that right. If you are a student, for example, this is outstanding. Don't forget, as cool as iPads are, they do not have a lot of storage (disk) space, and also, the screens are TINY. Small screens are fine for using Facebook and Twitter, not so good for doing real work or study.

Detail are below.

Toshiba Satellite C50-ABT2N11 Laptop

  • Intel® Celeron® processor 1005M
  • Windows 8 (Windows 7 Professional option available)
  • 4GB DDR3 memory
  • 320GB (5400RPM) hard drive
  • Touchscreen Option Available
  • Mobile Intel® graphics
  • DVD SuperMulti Drive
  • 1366x768 TruBrite display
  • Wi-Fi® 802.11 b/g/n
  • Dedicated numeric keypad
  • Integrated webcam
  • Starting at 5.3 lbs

  • http://www.toshibadirect.com/td/b2c/customlanding.to?page=Windows_8_Laptops&src=MAXG&cm_mmc=SEM_Direct_Google

    Windows 8.1 Update

    So ... Windows 8.1 shall be released soon. What is this all about? In sum, Windows 8.1 is akin to a nicely done coat of fresh paint over the original version 8. It is an update. A couple of simple key points:

    1. IT IS FREE. Makes sense? It is simply an update to Windows 8.

    2. Searching is easier: when you mouse or touch down to the lower right of Windows 8, you see the Search function. It has been divided into 3 separate search areas: Apps, Settings, Files. With Windows 8.1 the searching is combined, and includes web results. It is done by Bing technology.
    [I am still not 100% sure whether or not Settings are also searched in this all-in-one update]

    3. SkyDrive is the default location for saving files. I think this is awesome. I do not think Microsoft does enough to tout its SkyDrive nor the integration with the former Hotmail and everyday PCs or tablets etc. If you have not saved anything to SkyDrive, give it a try. Save a few test files to it. If you have a Windows phone, you can see them from there. You can log into your Outlook.Com account from any PC in the world and retrieve that cool picture or important Word Document.

    After logging into Hotmail (Outlook.Com), a little secret that some do not know: there's a little arrow pointing downward. If clicked, you get the secrets to your kingdom:
    Outlook.Com, People, Calendar, SkyDrive

    There are other new features, fixes, and updates included with the Windows 8.1 release.

    Anyway, here's the official Microsoft Windows 8.1 site

    July 15, 2013

    Windows 2012 Datacenter Virtual Machine Installation

    Imagine having a brand new mondo sized Dell PowerEdge R720 thrown in your lap. Then couple this with Windows 2012 Datacenter, which is essentially a VMWare killer (no way, really?). You spend enough time at the Microsoft Virtual Academy to familiarize yourself with the peculiarities of this Datacenter edition, and really, there aren't enough hours in a day for this! So, it will stretch for months. But it will happen! The following can apply to Server 2012 Standard edition, but that edition maxes out at 2 virtual machines. This will likely not be enough for most people, but if so, great. Otherwise pay extra for Datacenter edition.

    After learning how to configure the basics of Datacenter, like virtual switching and networking, adding Hyper-V etc, then comes the fun part: adding a virtual machine itself to the Server. After opening the Hyper-V Manager, you can easily go to New /  Virtual Machine. Be sure disk space is straightened out beforehand, because the default is straight off the C:\ Drive. If you RAID the actual Terrabyte storage drives, then that's where you need to place all the virtual machines and drives. You can change the defaults for these by going to the Hyper-V Settings of the Server: opposite click the Server (not a virtual machine). Then, under Server, edit the Virtual Hard Disks and Virtual Machines location. Although this can be done manually each time a virtual machine is set up, this defaults to the larger drive location. If you do it manually but forget once, you run the risk of filling traditionally smaller C:\ Drives (the default location).

    Once you are all set there, the install is a breeze, assuming the ISO install file is healthy. The installation is the same as that of Windows Server 2008 R2, with one major exception: it takes only a fraction of the time (5-10 minutes)! This is the nature of Microsoft virtual machine installation.

    Note: the virtual machine restarts in about 15 seconds after the installation, BUT you'll still see the "Press any key to boot off DVD" (or similar). DON'T DO IT. This starts the install all over again. The message goes away in a few seconds, and your new machine pops up.

    Here's my messy screen during an install.

    July 14, 2013

    Charge The Windows Nokia Phone Wirelessly

    Charging a Windows (or any) phone wirelessly? Through a so called wireless "pillow"? What? You mean, no cable to the phone of any sort is involved? To be able to charge a smart phone wirelessly is so cool! Now, it looks like it is possible to do so for under $35. Very nice.

    "We’ve seen the Nokia wireless charging pad go for as little as $25 recently but so far, its fluffier cousin, the “Fatboy” has not had such a deal. Yesterday we reported an offer for $45 but today we can beat that. Truth be told, the Fatboy pillow is the very same wireless charging pad but with a wraparound bed for your precious Lumia.

    That wireless downy combo used to cost upwards of $100 but now you can pick up both for $35 using the Daily Steals website. Even if you don’t like the bed, you can pull away the Velcro and slide out the wireless charging pad to use it naked."


    41 Megapixel Nokia Windows Phone

    Sometime in the next century, like 2101, a smart phone with say a 41 MEGA PIXELS capable camera will be available. Until then, I'll just settle for 5 -10 mega pixels. Right?

    Uhh, no! The new Nokia Windows 8 phone will in fact have just that! It will also have oodles of RAM for the quality leap, given all these fat photos!


    July 2, 2013

    Dell tablet Windows 8 vs. iPad

    Very funny, short Microsoft ad:

    AT+T U-verse Recommendation

    I just updated certain challenges with U-Verse installation a few blog entries below. There were a few minor details - long wait time initially to schedule the install, and a few days without current service in order to set an official order. But now that I have it all set up, I love it. The 6 Mbps internet is very good. It is ample for what my family does online. We are not gamers and do not watch endless movies etc. Not judging, just saying ;>

    I recommend bundled Uverse. Maybe you can get a good deal (push them for a 2 year low bundle):


    Data Deduplication in Windows Server 2012

    Data Deduplication seems to be one of the more interesting benefits of moving towards or upgrading to Windows Server 2012. Here is a nice Tech net summary.

    "I think that this new deduplication feature in Windows Server 2012 will be very popular. It is the kind of technology that people need and I can’t wait to see it in production deployments. I would love to see your reports at the bottom of this blog of how much hard disk space and money you saved. Just copy the output of this PowerShell command: PS> Get-DedupVolume
    • 30-90%+ savings can be achieved with deduplication on most types of data. I have a 200GB drive that I keep throwing data at and now it has 1.7TB of data on it. It is easy to forget that it is a 200GB drive.
    • Deduplication is easy to install and the default settings won’t let you shoot yourself in the foot.
    • Deduplication works hard to detect, report and repair disk corruptions.
    • You can experience faster file download times and reduced bandwidth consumption over a WAN through integration with BranchCache."
    Detailed Article from Tech Net

    June 25, 2013

    Bing Videos on Windows 8.1

    Very, very interesting and mostly informative Windows 8.1 Bing-based search results (Videos). Most branch off to YouTube, but some go to Huffington Post, MetCafe, and DailyMotion etc.


    June 17, 2013

    AT&T U-verse Woes Before I even Have It - UPDATED

    I was so excited to begin the transition to AT + T U-verse. I have separate accounts with 3 separate companies for Internet, TV, and Phone. Also, AT + T U-verse is offering a lock in 1 year commitment @ some very competitive pricing: $109 for mega channels, decent Internet and phone service. You have to hang on to it for 1 year minimum but pricing is for 2 YEARS!

    Very nice, right? Well ... I go through the online ordering, and choose the 3 packages: 250 mins for U-verse phone (should be enough), 200 U-verse cable channels, and 6 MBPS Internet, again for $109/month for next 2 years. Awesome! Wait ... I just got an email saying there is a problem: AT + T sees I have service already so order cannot proceed unless it is canceled. Weird. So, my traditional land line needs to be canceled prior? Hmm, I wonder how the timing of this can work out? It gives a number to call. I call, and they explain the above and that my current number can be ported over, but I need to be transferred to a separate person to cancel current service.

    First problem: 10 minute wait. I usually do not use this but ...... Lol

    Major problem: AT + T, being the mega Demi God or Goddess of all things telecommunications cannot build into this Uverse order a transition of my phone service, that I have through ... AT + T ...into new U-verse service? It is up to me to call the very same company, AT + T, to cancel current phone service in order to enable Uverse?

    Wow. Anyone have the Comcast number handy?


    UPDATE -
    I was wrong. Or at least I did not understand all the details. Maybe AT + T could have explained it a bit better, but .... Yes, I did indeed have to disconnect my current DSL before getting a Uverse installation date set, but further research shows that this is common practice. Comcast requires the same. The reason is that the phone signal can only handle one provider at a time.

    So, true enough I had to endure a few days without the DSL. However, I was able to get AT + T out in 5 days, and the install went extremely well. I got a smaller receiver that is sleek, along with a very efficient Wireless router. The features of the remote control and Uverse itself are immense. It takes a little time to learn, but is worth it.

    In addition, the internet is solid, and the phone works super well. It's been a week and no issues. I very much recommend U-Verse!

    June 2, 2013

    Windows 8.1 Update Details

    A thorough overview of the Windows 8.1 update can be read from this MSDN Blog. Some changes in the following areas are covered: Personalization, Store/Apps, Search, IE, and Cloud Connectivity - This last one is very exciting and can possibly be a file server + backup replacement, at least for smaller businesses.

    Yes, Windows 8.1 is FREE. As it should be! After all, it is a revision, similar to a Service Pack.


    Windows 8.1 Update Overview

    Here is an excerpt from the New York Times on the recent release of Windows 8.1
    It is a nice, simple overview of the major changes in Windows 8.1, a free update to the Windows 8 Operating System. In other words, the Start menu is covered ;>

    After Bumpy Start, Microsoft Rethinks Windows 8

    " ... Windows 8.1 looks virtually indistinguishable from Windows 8 in many respects. People who dislike its colorful mosaic of tiles will not find much in the new software to change their minds.
    That’s because it is unlikely, as a practical matter, that people will be able to entirely escape the tile-based interface in Windows 8.1, even though Microsoft is making it easier to avoid it. As expected, the new operating system will allow people to configure the software so that they start in desktop mode — the “classic” Windows interface with a taskbar at the bottom of the screen, a background image and applications with traditional menus — whenever they boot up their PCs.

    Microsoft didn’t allow this with Windows 8. Even if their destination was desktop mode, where Office and millions of legacy Windows applications run, Windows 8 users had to pass through the tile screen, an inconvenience to many. It’s noteworthy that Microsoft will still put users in the tile interface by default when they start up their machines.

    Microsoft is also reincarnating the Start button with Windows 8.1, though it won’t behave exactly like the Windows Start buttons of yore, the primary way Windows users found and launched applications for decades.

    There will be a Windows flag icon in the bottom left corner of the taskbar in the Windows 8.1 desktop. But clicking — or, if you have a touch device, tapping — the button will simply return you to the tile-based interface, from which you can launch apps. People can get to a more traditional looking menu of applications from the Start button, but they have to configure the system to do that.
    What these changes mean is that someone who makes the effort to reconfigure the operating system will be able to spend most of their time in the classic desktop interface. In practice, Microsoft will keep nudging them in the direction of the tile-based interface at every opportunity because it believes that is the future of Windows."

    NY Times Tech Blog

    May 29, 2013

    Windows Server 2008 running SLOW

    Server Manager Tool Locking Up My Server

    I have had this recent issue with some Windows Server 2008 R2 (s). The server is slowing down tremendously, administrator log ins can take a very long time, and overall performance is terrible. It seems like it has happened all at once, so maybe a recent Windows Update is to blame. I have not had time to figure out exactly what may be the cause, but I use WSUS (update services) on a scheduled basis, so all my servers are updated together. My main concern was stopping the pain.

    Although I don't always use the built in Server Manager tool, I determined that in fact this tool is the culprit. I opened it on one of the servers and it locked up terribly - and brought everything else to a standstill. CPU and RAM usage spiked for lengthy periods. On one server I was even getting an error within the Server Manager tool, even after multiple refresh tries.

    Remember that as the Server Manager is customized, changes are actually saved in the profile (usually the Administrator profile). So, we have to essentially clear some temp files to clean out some stale cache. Sound familiar?

    Solution? Open Server Manager, but be sure to give it ample time to fully open. If you force close it then the situation is even worse. Once opened, go to File/Options and then click "DELETE FILES". Restart the Server Manager Tools (NOT the whole server). It is not going to save large amounts of space. In fact, it has nothing to do with this (may range from 500 KB - 3 Megabytes). But it looks like if Roles and Features are edited a few times, i.e. added/removed from the server, then the old settings hang around and cause trouble.

    The above worked instantly for me. Hope it helps!

    May 21, 2013

    Lenovo Windows 8 for $279.99

    Don't look now, but ...an IdeaPad for $279.99. Again, I don't work at BestBuy (no offense to anyone who does, but THANK GOD, because they work work very hard ;>) ...but this is a 'phat' deal!

    "Lenovo - IdeaPad 15.6" Laptop - 4GB Memory - 320GB Hard Drive - Black"


    Xbox One is Coming

    It looks really fancy, and Xbox One will surely try to maintain its dominace over all competitors. It should be a true "all in one entertainment system".

    You have to check out the preview video:


    April 23, 2013

    Windows 8 Phone Storage Check

    I have discovered the awesome Windows 8 "storage check" on my Lumia 920. The new tool is available in the latest software update. It is really, really good. Storage Check gives an overview of disk usage on the phone and allows for viewing a break down of the Apps installed, and for some Temp files clean up.

    It is a good looking graphical overview of how much space is in use, and of how much is free or available. For example, my phone has 29 Gigabytes of storage (likely it's 30 GB total, with 1 GB going to the OS). 16 GB is in use. You can see the breakdown below. The Details section shows specifics, like how much space is taken by Photos, Email+contacts, Office Documents, Ringtones etc.

    You can also go into Details and clear Temporary files manually, although the OS does this periodically for you theoretically. I had 630 Megabytes of Temp files so I cleared them manually.[I did not screen shot this]. Note that some level of Temp files are normal and cannot be cleared.

    Windows 8 Phone Update

    I installed the latest Windows 8 Phone (Nokia Lumia 920) software update successfully. It went well. The firmware revision numbers do vary slightly. I like comparing before and after to verify the install went well. Again, this is in Settings/About/More Info



    Windows 8 Phone Screen Shot

    One neat little feature of the Lumia 920 Windows 8 phone is the screen shot. On the surface, it is easy as pie. You have to press and hold the Start button and also the Power button at the same time for a quick second or two. But you have to do it just right. It may take a few tries.

    When done right, you will a loud camera picture taking sound sound ("c-l-i-c-k"!). This is a good sign and means success. The screen shot goes into your Photo Albums.

    It may be useful for troubleshooting or app comparisons or to show off your colorful Windows screen to your iPhone friends, who are still stuck with the drab Apple backgrounds and app logos.

    Lumia 920 Windows Software Update

    I recently got a notice that there was a software update available for my Windows phone. Since I was about to head out for some camping with the family, I was not able to do it. In fact, I only wanted to enjoy some nature so I didn't use any technology ;>
    The notification disappeared. I believe it will periodically notify, but I am not sure of the schedule. So, I had to manually force the update by going into the Settings, then "phone update". I selected both options already - "Tell me when updates are available for my phone" and "Automatically download updates if my settings allow it" [in other words, you likely need to be on WiFi].
    I went into Show Details, read the notice and hit Install.
    Piece of cake!

    April 17, 2013

    Intel and Windows to Slash PC Prices?

    Windows and Intel may work together to bring down Windows 8 pricing.

    Suggestion: INCLUDE FREE MS OFFICE SOFTWARE (AT LEAST STANDARD). I know there is cloud based available but ... so too is Google Docs available in cloud...

    "The chip giant is planning to work with hardware makers and Microsoft to bring to market cheap, touch-enabled Windows 8 notebooks powered by the companies upcoming Bay Trail Atom silicon.
    CEO Paul Otellini hopes that "touch-enabled Intel based notebooks that are ultrathin and light using non-core processors" could come to market "as low as $200 probably."


    New HP Windows 8 Laptop for $289.99

    Wha wha wha what?! A brand spanking new HP Windows 8 Laptop for $289.99 at Bestbuy??
    Most of the details:

    AMD E-300 Accelerated Processor with AMD Radeon HD 6310 discrete-class graphics

    Offers enhanced performance.


    For multitasking power, expandable to 8GB.

    Multiformat DVD±RW/CD-RW drive

    Create custom DVDs and CDs.

    15.6" LED-backlit high-definition widescreen display

    With BrightView technology and 1366 x 768 resolution showcases movies and games in stunning clarity.

    320GB hard drive (5400 rpm)

    Offers spacious storage and fast read/write times.

    AMD Radeon HD 6310 discrete-class graphics

    Feature up to 1972MB total video memory for lush images with vivid detail. HDMI output for connection to an HDTV.


    ASUS Wireless Unit rocks!

    I just got a brand new Wireless device at Bestbuy. I think I am in love. It is an RT-N66R, Dual-band Wireless-N900 Gigabit Router. I have been stuck on NetGears for the past 5 years. Although they are generally reliable, I have noticed they 'burn out' faster (1-2 years) and also the web management interfaces are not very good. For example, on my last Netgear wireless router, I changed the SSID passcode or key, and the unit would not allow me back in after applying. I had to pull the plug after 10 minutes. It also got the latest firmware from me. My reward? Signal strength dropped by 80%. It has not been the same since. A complete factory reset did not help. So I took it offline.

    Enter ASUS. My company has been using ASUS laptops now for past year. They are reliable and cost-effective. So, I decided to try the wireless router. This is not meant to be an official nor all-encompassing review.

    All I can tell you is this:
    The ASUS RT-N66R Gigabit Router's range is stellar and the web interface is magical. It is straight to the point, does not waste space on little used bells and whistles, and more importantly, after applying LAN, WAN or security edits, it goes into effect within seconds. The firmware updating is smooth as well.

    So far so good!


    April 7, 2013

    Windows 8 sales are not doing so well. As a result OEMs and Microsoft are dropping the prices.

    "Despite Microsoft's best efforts, it seems that Windows 8 isn't meeting expectations. According to research firm Net Applications, Microsoft's latest OS hasn't even been able to match sales of Vista (which, if you recall, was a major fail for the company). Making matters worse, Microsoft has a long line of unhappy manufacturers — including HP, ASUS, Fujitsu, and Samsung — upset with Windows 8's failure to revitalize an already-sluggish PC market."


    April 3, 2013

    Big Data: Petabytes Are Us

    Speaking of Petabytes ...

    "While the rise of the terabyte (and petabyte) era is terrifying for some, others see it as an opportunity to fundamentally transform how their organisations operate and make decisions.
    According to Gartner, Big Data is forecast to drive $34 billion of IT spending in 2013. But what most people think of when they hear the term ‘Big Data’ almost certainly isn’t what I'm talking about. What many organisations still regard as Big Data – unstructured information contained in emails, electronic documents, social media interactions etc – is just a thin layer in the vast strata of data available to them."

    Read more: http://www.itproportal.com/2013/03/20/rise-machines-why-big-data-getting-bigger-every-day/#ixzz2PRhjVGac

    Windows Server 2012 Storage Capabilities

    I am really becoming impressed with Windows Server 2012 File and Storage Services. You can basically attach iSCSI or NAS or SAN types of devices to a Server 2012 system, and unite all disk space as if it were one logical entity.

    With the iSCSI Target Storage Provider, a Windows System Administrator can easily and more readily manage "iSCSI virtual disks and snapshots from an iSCSI initiator" (from Windows Server 2012 Helpfiles). It is easily installed or added as a role, under File and Storage Services, under Server Manager.

    Terabytes and Terabytes and even Petabytes of data, here we come!

    Dell PCs on 2 Gigabytes

    Dell, Dell, Dell .... when, pray tell will you stop putting a whopping 2 Gigabytes of RAM as your baseline laptop or PC? If you click over to Dell and start shopping for a simple laptop or PC, you better note that the starting price is low partly because they hardly put in any RAM.

    Please, Dell - it is 2013. 2 GB of RAM is NEVER enough these days, and you know that. This is Windows 8 we are talking about! Windows should take them to task for this. Isn't their recommended base 4 Gigabytes of memory?

    Stop this practice. You should put 4 GB RAM as your baseline.

    Concerned Customer ;>

    March 21, 2013

    New Pandora on Windows Phone

    Pandora is available for the latest Windows Phones. They have an offer for "ad free" through end of the year!

    "Experience ad-free Pandora when you listen on your Windows Phone through 2013.  Only Windows Phone has Pandora with no ads and no monthly streaming limit…for FREE. Windows Phone brings you the Pandora you love and gives it a unique Windows Phone twist, allowing you to pin your favorite stations to the Start screen, or see what’s playing by glancing at your Pandora Live Tile. "

    Rock on!


    March 19, 2013

    $299 Dell Inspirons with Windows 8

    Dell Inspirons with Windows 8 for $299 are widely available! Still!

    I touched on this model being sold in a special package recently, on this blog (at Best Buy).

    But the price seems to be available on many sites.

    Standard Bing search:

    iPhone Fan Tries Windows Phone

    Interesting series from an iPhone user (enthusiast) who tries out a Windows phone on Lumia 920. He starts out on the negative side, per below, but adds some positive feedback as well. It seems like a fair article. I certainly have some complaints about battery life myself.

    However, I really am impressed by the Windows phone overall. I used an iPhone for THREE years before getting my Windows phone.

    I can honestly say that I would hyperventilate for months on end if my Windows phone is ever taken away from me. It would take months to recover, and I'd probably have to go to a ... Blackberry or something.
    From the article:

    "I miss my iPhone.

    In my first week with Windows Phone—specifically, the Nokia Lumia 920—I had a bit of a honeymoon phase: I was wowed by the device’s impressive display, the clever home screen, and its powerful lock-screen features. Two weeks in, the frustrations started to get to me: Notifications are seriously lacking, TellMe is a lousy facsimile of Siri, and the keyboard’s autocorrect features aren’t quite up to snuff.

    Now that I’ve spent more than three weeks on my Windows Phone journey, a more nuanced picture has begun to take shape: My list of annoyances continues to grow, but so too does my list of Windows Phone features that I wish Apple would emulate on iOS."

    Read the TechHive article here

    Windows Security Concerns?

    Who isn't worried about computer security these days. It seems in the past few years, the true guilty parties regarding security flaws are non-Microsoft companies, such as Google and Adobe.

    "Non-Microsoft security flaws the real culprit, analysis finds"

    "Despite the number of Microsoft programs, only 14 percent of the vulnerabilities in the top 50 were caused by its software, a drop that continues a well-established trend towards third-party security flaws in recent years.
    On the face of it, the top offenders in the top 50 were Google's Chrome with 291 vulnerabilities in 2011-2012, Mozilla Firefox with 257, Apple iTunes with 243, followed by Flash Player on 67, Java on 66, and Reader on 43.
    Peer into Secunia's slightly convoluted presentation of the figures and it becomes clear that there is some double counting here; a Flash vulnerability will show up as a flaw in browsers as well as itself for example.
    It's not clear why Secunia didn't state this more explicitly, but there is plenty of independent evidence that the top offenders for vulnerabilities in popular programs are mainly Java, Adobe's Reader and Flash browser plugins and Apple's iTunes."

    PC World Article

    March 12, 2013

    Ping Firewall Exception for Windows Server

    This one gets me every time. I set up a new Windows 2008 Server within a virtual environment, like VMWare, for example. I may do this remotely, so I like to give the good old "PING" command to verify it's live after granting a static IP address. Anyway, I go to the command prompt, and type, 'ping x.x.x.x" (X's = the 4 octet based IPs). Easy enough. Hey, everyone likes to do some pinging once in a while, right?

    But what happens if you know or at least strongly believe your server is live, but you cannot ping it? Usually the local Windows Server 2008 or other firewall is the culprit. Assuming a hardware firewall or another 3RD party firewall is not blocking ports or traffic, then we need to add the PING ports to an exception list. In other words, allow the server to be pinged.

    If you are not the Network or Systems Administrator, then you are barking up the wrong tree. [I love that expression].

    Go to the server's Start menu and type in 'firewall adv' (no quotes). Open "Windows Firewall with Advanced Security". Go to the Domain profile. If this is a proper domain Server, then the other options should not even matter. Select Inbound Rules. If you peruse the standard rules to the right, you will not see PING. But you will see File and Printer options. Specifically you want to right click (ok, left-click if you're left handed) the top 2, the ones with ECHO and ICMP in them, and enable.

    When pinging, you are in fact looking for an echo reply back, measured in milliseconds (ms). Enable them both, even if not using IPv6. You may use that sooner than you think. Again, enable these, then ping away, even from within and outside of properly routed inter-connected distant inter networks!
    File and Printer Sharing (Echo Request - ICMPv4In) - Enable
    File and Printer Sharing (Echo Request - ICMPv6In) - Enable

    Oh ... and ...
    What exactly does 'ping' stand for? It stands for, 'packet internet groper'.

    March 5, 2013

    Windows Twitter App Logo Disappears

    As mentioned in a recent post, the Twitter App for Windows 8 came out. I installed it on my Lumia 920.

    Not a disaster or anything at all (I mean, at all), but the blue bird logo did disappear from the Start Screen tile. Oh no! I had no idea how much it means to me (sniff).

    Resolution?  I removed the App from the screen by holding the tile with my finger for a few seconds, and then hitting the pin. This takes it off the Start screen. Swipe right, go to the Twitter app, hold it down for a few seconds and select "pin to start".

    Windows 8 Apps Offerings Increase in Number

    Windows 8 Apps are pretty small in number compared to Apps for Apple and Android. But they are on the rise, if only slightly. The projection is that they will hit 40,000 for February or March of 2012.

    "The number of Windows 8 apps made specifically for the US market now stands at 30,045, according to MetroStore Scanner. Again, that number is about 4,000 more apps in the store compared to January's stats; China still has the largest number of localized Windows 8 apps with 31,067 apps in the Windows Store."

    Apps Article here

    Seagate to Stop Making 7200 RPM Drives

    Interesting. It looks like Seagate is really looking at SSDs for the future.

    "7,200 RPM spindle motors use about 46% more energy that 5,400 RPM motors and run considerably hotter as a consequence. Of course the total energy used by a hard disk drive depends upon the actual usage and power saving modes, and caching of data can reduce the energy used by a HDD in a computer system.
    SSDs using flash memory consume considerably less energy when they are operating compared to HDDs. However SSDs are considerably more expensive for a given storage capacity compared to HDDs (about 10X or more in $/GB) and this has hindered wide-spread adoption of SSDs in computers. Seagate has said that they are discontinuing their 7,200 RPM 2.5-inch HDDs in favor of lower power 5,400 and hybrid HDDs."

    Read the Forbes Full Article

    February 28, 2013

    New Windows 8 Phone Twitter

    The new Windows 8 Phone Twitter update just came out. It is version (if you must know).
    I downloaded and installed it on my Lumia 920 last night. I love it. The App is much more reflective of the general Twitter web interface. I love it!

    February 26, 2013

    Windows Server 2012 Server Core

    I am reading up on Windows Server 2012 now that I have a trial version installed. It is pretty sleek. There are many intriguing facets to Server 2012. One item I find especially interesting is using Server Core with some GUI tools. Server Core  is the default install. It is basically command line driven. It essentially means there is no GUI. No Internet Explorer. No Server Manager. No Explorer (what?!).

    Hello command line. Goodbye mouse?

    Not completely. With Server 2012, it is now possible to go with the Server Core, but also install basic GUI tools, like Server Manager, in order to Manage from the mouse, so to speak. Using the Power Shell within the usual Windows command line (aka DOS), an administrator can quickly install a feature. Luckily, I am a bit used to Power Shell because I use it off of Exchange Server 2010 Servers. It takes a little practice but is very handy. So, in order to get the Server Manager GUI tools working OVER the Server Core GUI-less shell, go to Power Shell and type:
    install-windowsfeature server-gui-mgmt-infra

    The Server Manager installs after a reboot.

    This allows for the more direct, familiar and comfortable Server Manager tools. Personally, I prefer this but it is good to know command line as well. Also, and more importantly, for many company endeavors in  Production or Business server environment, servers are used for very specific functions. Sometimes this occurs in server farms or load balancing scenarios. The need for a Graphical User Interface on each server is not really needed. Server Core not only suffices, but it uses fewer resources. This is a way to trim the fat, so to speak and conserve disk space and other resources.

    And with Server 2012, Microsoft has made it easy to add Server Manager, for example, on the fly if needed.

    February 18, 2013

    Windows Phone 8 Updates, PT. 2

    Here is the Microsoft summary of their updates, which you can get 'over the air', or download from either WiFi or Cellular broadband.

    The Update is # 8.0.10211.204

    Check which one you have:
    In the App list, tap Settings > About > More info.

    Read about the Updates here

    Windows 8 Phone Updates, called Portico

    Windows 8 Phone updates are out. For the Nokia updates, check this out:


    February 12, 2013

    Samsung ATIV tablet with Windows 8

    I have the Samsung ATIV Smart PC in my hand. It is astonishingly wonderful. Although Samsung refers to this device as a "Smart PC", I call it a  ... tablet. But I get the Marketing - this tablet really can be a PC for most folks, whether on a personal, home level or in a business sense.

    But believe me, this is not your standard PC nor an average laptop. This is a tablet that not only zips around from App to App, or even Desktop to App, this tablet TURNS HEADS. Sit in a public space or walk around with one in hand and you will see what I mean.

    Once you figure out how to turn off the "Autorotate", this device is awesome. Autorotate moves the screen from vertical to horizontal on the fly. Sometimes, it seems the screen moves if you even flinch slightly. There may be a way to tune it, but the button on top of the tablet next to the On/Off switch turns it off/on. It's all long screen or horizontal for me.

    The 1.8 GHz Atom processor is more than ample for this tablet that can pass for a modern day workstation. The RAM is slim at 2 Gigabytes, so this device may not be for hard core science, mathematical or business reporting numbers crunching users. But outside of those requirements, it can handle most tasks smoothly.

    The Windows 8 tablet swiping takes some getting used to. But once you start gently swiping in the corners, as opposed to tapping hard (like I did initially), navigation is fairly easy and makes sense. A lower right hand corner Windows 8 swipe yields Search, Share, Start (menu), Devices, and Settings. Now I am wondering, how did I ever carry on my Windows work without these?

    One tip: if new to Windows 8 on a tablet or touch screen, master how to find Search. Anything, and I mean anything, can be found via Search. It's really the same as the Windows 7 Start/Search feature. Hit the Windows logo (which all Windows 8 devices have now), and you get the shiny default Windows 8 screen if you are lost. Scroll to the right, and there is Search. Gently start touching the lowest right corner, and swipe towards center screen. Search via narrowing it down to Apps, Settings, Files [Apps is default]. This was how I got to the Network settings: I selected Settings and typed in network. All sorts of related results.

    The AT&T 4G is built into the device, i.e. on the board, so to speak. The built on nature of a 4G card increases the price of the unit a bit. It is worth it, though. Speeds are spot on and do not disappoint at 9 Megabytes download and 7 Megabytes upload speed. That is sweet speed!

    This ATIV is being offered at $699 at AT&T. Data plan required. There are similar (and less expensive) devices available if you can make do with finding WiFI connections when needed or if you will always be using it or working in the same location or two. But having the always on broadband modem (4G) built right into this device is a real convenience. As always, monthly data charges ensue.

    Check out the details and 'specs' on this wonderful Samsung ATIV!


    February 10, 2013

    SkyDrive, Spotify, Windows 8

    Some random SkyDrive, Office 2013, Spotify on Windows 8 updates:

    "A billion Office documents have been saved to SkyDrive, Microsoft announced today. This number will surely grow with Office 2013 using SkyDrive as the default save location.
    Previously, editing those documents with the Office Web Apps required a Microsoft account. Microsoft has changed that policy. While a Microsoft account is still required to have your own SkyDrive and documents, you can now edit other people's documents to which you've been invited even without an account; you just need the invitation link. This should make co-authoring simpler and more accessible....\

    Way back at the Windows Phone 8 launch last year, Microsoft promised that Spotify was coming to the platform. Windows Phone 7 had a Spotify client, but it's one of the small selection of apps that weren't compatible with Windows Phone 8 due to its use of native code. The new free app is still a "beta," and it comes with a 30-day Spotify trial."

    Thanks to ArsTechnica for the update

    Windows Surface Pro as Benchmark

    I read this interesting analysis of the new Windows 8 Surface Pro. He mentions that Microsoft's purpose for producing Surface on its own was really intended to spur OEMs like Dell and Lenovo into producing more for less. It's an interesting point.

    "Windows Surface Pro sold out at its US release last weekend. iTWire thinks it is a good product but more importantly it is a good benchmark for others to improve on – and they are. MS entered the tablet fracas for one reason, to shame or spur its OEM partners on to releasing better tablets that it was – let’s call it a benchmarking exercise.

    So what is the Pro benchmark? Around $900 buys you: an Intel core i5 1.7Ghz quad core processor and graphics; 4GB ram; can have 64 or 128GB of SSD (not lower cost flash memory) storage (but typically the OS and programs will chew up about 30GB of that); has a 10.6” 1920 x 1080 HD 16:9 screen; 10 point multi-touch; Wi-Fi N and Bluetooth 4.0; USB 3.0 port; microSDXC card slot; Mini Display Port (HP standard - why not mini HDMI?); a headphone jack; microphone; front and rear 720p cameras (assume 2MP); and a Wacom Pen - all in a 903g package.
    Most importantly it is full Windows 8 Pro operating system – not the Surface Windows RT version (around $600) that valiantly tried to enter the iPad/Android arena"
    Article here

    Tough, Rugged Tablet

    Panasonic, of all companies, is apparently the leader in that niche market of rugged laptops and tablets. Not Dell. Not HP. Not even Apple.

    It looks like they are marketing a rugged Windows 8 Pro tablet: ToughPad FZ-G1. By rugged, they mean the devices can be dropped, run over and operate in 20 or 100 degrees with no problem.

    Panasonic's Rugged Tablet

    January 29, 2013

    Free Microsoft Technical Support

    Microsoft is offering a Free Answer Desk. In other words, they will offer free support to you for your Windows PC or laptop. They will assist with software install/uninstall, diagnostics, spyware removal etc. Very cool!

    "Answer Desk is here to help you

    Come in to find out about the range of services we offer including:
    • Performance Tune-up
    • Extended Diagnostics
    • Software Install/Uninstall
    • Hardware Install
    • Virus and Spyware Removal"
    Here is their link:

    MS Answer Desk

    January 16, 2013

    Lumia 920 Windows 8 Phone Supplies

    Interesting read regarding the apprehension Nokia had about Windows 8 phone sales.

    "We’ve all heard the reports that Nokia’s Lumia 920 is selling out amongst retailers, although to be fair some have questioned if this might be due to a lack of supply rather than actual excitement of the product. However at the rate the Lumia 920 is topping AT&T’s charts on Amazon, it’s safe to say that there is a certain amount of excitement surrounding the Windows Phone 8 handset, but at the same time it seems that the skeptics might have been right about the short supply. In a conference call with leading investors and analysts, Nokia’s CEO Stephen Elop admitted that sales of the device would have been a lot faster had there not been any supply-side issues.

    While some of the supply issues were legitimate, Elop admits that they decided to introduce the Lumia 920 in a very deliberate and thoughtful manner. Apparently they were worried that the phone might not be met well which would then leave them with a surplus of units that were unsold ..."

    UberGizmo Article

    January 10, 2013

    Tablet Sales Are Hot

    Tablet sales are red hot, according to this Memphis Business article. It appears there will be no stopping this trend. Many people mistakenly believed that smart phones were the wave of the future, but let's face reality: one cannot get real work done off a smart phone. Send, receive email from a smart phone? Yes. Maybe look at a PDF or JPEG? Yes. Install some apps for low level of productivity? Yes. But the human eyes are not meant to stare at such small spaces for extended periods of time. So, yes PCs and Mac boxes will go away. Laptops will be around for a little longer but eventually most workers of the world will use a hybrid laptop/tablet to get work done. They will be durable, have lots of hardware resources (RAM, drives) and be touch screen based.

    "At the D8 conference in 2010, Steve Jobs boldly predicted that tablet computers soon would surpass notebook computers in total sales.
    Just three years later, his prediction is about to be realized.
    According to the NPD DisplaySearch Quarterly Mobile PC Shipment and Forecast Report, tablet shipments are expected to reach 240 million units this year, well beyond the 207 million notebooks that are expected to ship.
    It’s a radical change in the computing market. In 2012, one company, Apple Inc., thoroughly dominated the tablet category in a way that no single entity ever has in the laptop market."

    Here is the reference

    January 4, 2013

    Dell Windows 8 Inspiron at Best Buy

    I kid you not, I just got this Windows 8 Dell Inspiron 15 at Best Buy for $299 ($335 with tax) in San Francisco. I bought it as a gift. It is not online at that price, unfortunately - at least I have not found it. I was actually looking for something else, but really, when do you come across a strong laptop with the newest and latest Windows operating system for $299? It was in a semi large box, and believe it or not, included a USB mouse, 1 year of Trend Micro anti virus and an 8 Gigabyte USB flash drive. Huh? For $299?

    It is listed at $479 at the Best Buyweb site, which is a decent deal as well. But it may be worth a visit to your nearby Best Buy to see if you can snag this decent laptop for $299.

    Note: I do not work at Best Buy - I am simply mentioning a GREAT deal as I see it.

    Best Buy Web Ad for this Inspiron