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, 2014

Exchange Server Mailbox Quotas

I am not sure about other Exchange Server Email infrastructure administrators, but I find it challenging to come up with reasonable mailbox quotas AND implementing them in a time efficient and coherent manor. The goal is to set maximum mailbox size quotas that work for all involved: I.T. Departments and various employees and respective departments. All of this needs Managerial or Exec approval, of course! If quotas are not set (and enforced), then typical modern employees will have huge mailboxes. We live in a world of HTML-based emails and sometimes large attachments. Over time, it all adds up. Also, implementation of quotas should be done efficiently. Although employee mailbox quotas CAN be set individually, this can be very time-consuming and cumbersome as time goes on.

The long-term goal is to get thee to a Cloud mail service, in my opinion. Being a Microsoft systems Engineer, I would favor Office 365, which incidentally has a baseline of 25 Gigabytes maximum PER USER mailbox size as of late 2014. Nice! But for most companies and organizations, cloud services are either a project in the making or not in the picture yet for whatever reason. Some may be worried about security or simply not be willing to change just yet, or some may be waiting for pricing to come down.

Whatever the reason, for those hosting Exchange Server on premises or at a Datacenter, reasonable quotas are the way to keep storage (disk space) costs reasonable. Solid RAID'd SATA drives, for example are not like a home PC hard drive (anyone still using?), which can be bought for a small price. I am referring to small to medium sized companies here, so if assuming hundreds or thousands of employees, you can see how costs can grow immensely for server-level or SAN drives.

Exchange Server can house numerous mail 'databases'. Each database can house hundreds or thousands of user mailboxes. Now, Mailbox quotas can and should be set at the database level and therefore filter downward. Individual Mailboxes can override this as needed. So databases can be set up according to department needs, or employee classification. An Executive or owner obviously gets more space than an entry level administrative assistant. Simple example, but useful. The challenge can come over time, as employees transition in-house, get promoted, get approval for a quota override of the Database quota. Mailbox Database design changes over time, as a reflection of organization growth or shrinkage.

One of the easiest ways to do this is to use the Exchange Management Shell to implement a top level scheme:

'Set-MailboxDatabase -Identity YOURDBNAME -IssueWarningQuota 1900 -ProhibitSendQuota 2000'

This sets the warning for the quota to ~ 1900 MegaBytes as the employee approaches the actual quota itself, @ 2000 MegaBytes ('2 Gigs').

December 1, 2014

Interesting Microsoft Purchase of Windows Phone App Maker

I normally get what is needed from my Windows phone Outlook, but some searching and sorting type of improvements would not be turned down.

Microsoft Acquires Email Startup Acompli to Give Outlook a Mobile Advantage

"Microsoft has acquired the mobile email startup Acompli, the tech giant announced today on its website.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the tech news site Re/code reports that Microsoft paid over $200 million.
Acompli makes an email client for Android and iOS designed to make common but sometimes complex tasks—such sorting messages, sending typical responses, and finding attachments—much easier to accomplish on mobile devices. But even though it runs on devices from competing companies—Google and Apple—the app seems like a good fit for Microsoft. The product has long been focused on selling software to large companies—Microsoft’s bread and butter—and it already plugs into Microsoft’s primary email server software, Exchange."


November 19, 2014

XBOX Live, Azure Experience Outages

This is not the best news, as I am embarking on some Azure based projects at work. Come on now, all you expert Microsoft Engineers - make it happen (work / fix)!

Btw - What about all that redundancy? ;>

"Xbox Live Goes Down Again: Second Major Outage This Month [Updated]"


November 4, 2014

VMWare 4.x Version Still Offers Windows 3.1

I miss the Windows 3.1 days! ;>

Ok, so I realize that this version of VMWare is about 5 years old but Windows 3.1?? Really? Even in 2009 that was a bit ... outdated?

October 20, 2014

Server 2012 Virtual Machine Start Fails

Hyper-V Manager within Windows Server 2012 (Datacenter Edition) can sometimes produce an odd error when attempting to turn on a typical virtual machine or VM after it has been shut down:


This error might make sense if the user is not logged in as an Administrator, but really what organization gives Windows 2012 Datacenter Hyper-V access to a standard user? In other words, the error indicating "the user has not been granted the requested logon type" makes little sense because the Administrator account normally has full control of everything. On the other hand, there are a variety of logon types that MIGHT not be granted even to an Administrator account within the server world. A quick workaround for the above is: open Services MMC and restart Hyper-V VM Manager [NOTE: this does NOT restart all the other VMs, if any, but only the service itself!]:


The VM that is shut down will turn on automatically once done. Or it can be turned on manually. This depends on how the automatic start up settings of the VM are configured. There is a full 'fix' for the 'logon type' matter, but this resolution takes under 5 seconds so it works for me, seeming as most VMs are not normally placed in a non running state - why have them around if that is the case?

Create a Linux Virtual Machine on Azure in Minutes

Wait ... what does a Linux virtual machine have to do with Microsoft? Well, in the Microsoft Azure world, virtualization is all encompassing: the idea is to support the business's or organization's overall needs through cloud and virtual technologies. Microsoft recognizes that Windows is not the only game in town when it comes to operating systems. Many, many organizations utilize Unix or Linux as well. And in Azure, a Linux virtual machine can easily be set up within minutes.

For those who remember setting up or installing a 'Nix operating system over a decade ago, this process is almost incomprehensible with its ease of installation. You certainly do not have to grapple with the once common graphics or network card driver issues ;>

Quick tutorial video from Azure on installing Ubuntu in the Azure Cloud:


October 8, 2014

Windows Server 2012 ISO Mount

I want to thank Microsoft from the bottom of my heart for automating and completely cleaning up the mounting of ISO images! ISO's are the de facto standard for Operating System (or SQL Server, Office, and others) installs these days. From the perspective of bits and bytes, ISOs are efficient, sleek, compressed packages. But in years past, they were sometimes ... cumbersome to deal with.

In the virtualized world, it is important to have an ISO 'mounted' automatically. What does this mean? It means you click the ISO and within a split second the ISO transforms itself into a standard combination of installation binaries, or files and folders that are needed to perform an installation. The mount appears as just another 'on-the-fly' drive created in Explorer. From there you click the .Exe or .Msi and begin.

Back in the 'old days', Systems Administrators had to rely on 3rd party freeware or paid software to properly handle ugly ISOs. These did not always work as promised and frequently offered separate challenges. But this is no longer needed. For example: let's say there is a need to install Windows Server 2012 Standard with Datacenter edition. No, I do not mean do an install while visiting your Datacenter, I mean installing a virtual machine (server) within the virtualized Windows 2012 Datacenter edition, the host. [as an aside, the ISO for Standard Edition and Datacenter Edition for Server 2012 is same].

Once, the OS is paid for and downloaded, then within the Hyper-V Manager, the new virtual machine process can be pointed to the ISO. It is transparently handled behind the scenes. And, mainly for demo purposes, the ISO for the server OS ISO can be double-clicked and mounted as well. Automatically the mount produces the needed "Setup" file. The below can also be done for Windows Deployment Services (WDS). The files below would look different, but WDS needs to have Windows 7 or 8 ISOs, for example, mounted so that the WDS server can pass needed images.

October 1, 2014

Windows 10 Preview Release

Windows 10 Preview is available. You must sign up for it, but remember this is EARLY, pre-release. You are essentially a guinea pig. Expect bumps.

But it can be fun to do betas [putting it on an old spare PC or laptop is best, provided you have nothing to lose on it]!


Microsoft to Skip Windows 9, Going Straight to Windows 10

Microsoft will skip version 9, and will instead go to straight into version 10 sometime in the next year or so. This is very interesting, and one wonders: what COULD have been with Windows 9?! Not really, it's just a number after all. But this is interesting, given the dramatic shifts away from PCs over to tablets or "phablets" [assorted phone devices + tablets] or more importantly, hybrid style laptops that can be adjusted to become a hand held tablet. Microsoft will need to be extremely aggressive in order to maintain any sizable chunk of business sales in any future workstation, hybrid device, and smart phone markets, given the enormous success of Google and Apple lately.

This woman does a nice simplistic overview of Microsoft's announcement in this YouTube video.

September 23, 2014

Microsoft OneDrive now at 10 Gigabytes of Storage

I just received this email from Microsoft:

"We’re excited to announce that you can now upload files up to 10 GB from desktop, mobile, and the web! Our goal with OneDrive is to provide a single place for all your files, and we don’t want you to be limited by file size.

The OneDrive Team"

10 Gigabytes of Storage - yikes, I don't know if I have that much. ;>

If you do not know what it is, "OneDrive" used to be "SkyDrive", and it is a Microsoft Cloud based storage area. You can upload pictures, videos, files to OneDrive either as your main working space (as opposed to saving to the Desktop, for example) or it can be a backup area. Either way, this is free disk space essentially ...

September 5, 2014

Wordpress 4.0 is Out!

In another world [Windows Azure], I am using WordPress. I really love WP - it is not only the top blog site software these days, it is the top CMS as well. Put the acronyms aside - WP powers millions of sites worldwide and is basically at the tops of all the charts.

The new + always improved WordPress (4.0) is out!
I always like the 'under the hood stuff', as opposed to 'bells and whistles' stuff ;>

Straight from WP:

Under The Hood


  • Performance and effectiveness improvements to wptexturize()
  • Ensure custom post types nested under top-level menu items get the proper classes
  • Added a src parameter to the embed shortcode
  • Fixes for handling nested shortcodes
  • Make default 'template' argument of the_taxonomies() and get_the_taxonomies() translatable
  • Remove a redundant condition for comment feeds from WP_Query::get_posts()
  • The Customizer now properly honors theme support defaults for background images
  • Installed Themes search now shows a proper "no results" message
  • Improved, more consistent styling for HTML5 input elements
  • Post previews now redirect to the permalink if the post has been published
  • Email and URL input types have been implemented where appropriate in the admin
  • Most uses of extract() have been removed from the core code
  • 3gp mime type support was added
  • wp_handle_upload|sideload() logic was consolidated
  • Remove dead and unused code from dashboard.php following changes in 3.8
  • The operator argument now case-insensitive in tax queries
  • Now possible to disable drag and drop functionality in wp_editor() instances
  • Trigger _doing_it_wrong() when a registered post type or taxonomy slug is too long (20 characters max)
  • Widgets management in the Customizer to leverage the new Panels API.


  • Heartbeat API "experimental" labels have now been removed
  • Improved inline documentation for Media Views
  • Forces an autosave on switch from Visual to Text editor

Bug Fixes

  • Fix a notice with media attached to non-existent post type
  • Fix expanding and collapsing the admin menu on small screen sizes
  • Fix a bug where multiple Add Media buttons shared an ID attribute
  • Fix get_the_ID() not checking for a proper post object
  • Fix current track highlighting in audio playlists
  • Fixed bug with audio player not properly floating around images in the editor
  • Fix a bug where bulk actions would be performed upon clicking the Filter button in some circumstances
  • Fix remove_all_filters() always returning true via has_filter() in some scenarios
  • Fix a notice in wp_reschedule_event
  • Fix paragraph tags not being converted in PressThis for the Text editor
  • Fix get_the_excerpt() not always checking $post->post_excerpt
  • Introduce caching for oEmbed responses
  • Fix an issue where attachment display settings didn't work for galleries
  • Leverage iframe sandboxing for audio and video, allowing arbitrary scripts to be loaded
  • Ensure all plugins have an accurate oEmbed provider list by loading them "just in time"
  • Fixed several problems with formatting of curly quotes, square braces, non-breaking spaces, and related performance issues.


September 4, 2014

Windows Cortana Personal Assistant

The "Meet Cortana" web page. I forgot to include in previous post ...

Check out the video - has lots of details!


I love Windows 8.1 Cortana

It's becoming a love affair. Once I started actually texting, setting up reminders via Cortana and making calls with her as well, I knew all bets were off. Siri who?!

But seriously, Cortana's voice sounds surprisingly nice & clear, and the search is extremely fast - you do not even have to click a button after a few words are spoken. As soon as there's a pause, she is off on Bing finding information or working the Apps per the given commands. Of course, you need to access Cortana in the first place. I was clumsily going through Internet Explorer on my Windows Nokia Lumia 1020. From there you can hit the tiny microphone to begin voice search functions. Basic search and some other functions were all doable with the previous version that was built into Bing. But now there's a full App for Cortana. However, I either missed the prompt to add to my Start screen upon the Windows 8.1 update (very possible) or it was not offered. The easy fix is to add it: swipe left to open the alphabetized Apps list, go to "C". Hold Cortana down for 2 seconds, then select "pin the start". For me, Cortana is downright critical as my Lumia is not only fun, it's a work phone!

You CAN just hit the search icon itself on the phone (the icon to the right of the Windows Start button), but I do like to have the App on the scree - it has news headlines flashing through periodically, which is useful.

So, after above is done, I held the start screen Cortana for 2 seconds, then dragged the App upward. For me, it belongs on top. Others may want it down further, but consider: Cortana can send texts, make calls, set reminders, set alarms, search for movie theaters or restaurants, and ... tell you a joke. And more.

Open Cortana. Press the microphone to start. Before having fun, you may need to answer a few questions (your name, your interests, depending whether it's been used or not), then that is all - speak clearly and concisely. Happy searching & functioning! Of course, you still type, the old fashioned way. This may be needed, if you're at a loud concert for example.

Siri may be able to do some or all of this (not sure), especially with the new Apple releases coming out soon, but the bar has been set VERY high.

July 21, 2014

Windows App Favorite - Police Scanner 5-0

Well, we all have our app favorites. I admit that I am not an App fanatic per se, neither for my Windows Lumia 1020 nor for my new ASUS Windows 8 home laptop. I use the major Social Media Apps, like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and a few others. I use a few camera Apps for the awesome 41 Megapixel Camera on on my Lumia 1020. I like some news Apps, Musixmatch (better than Shazam, sorry!) and a few others, but my new favorite is a police scanner called 'Police Scanner 5-0'. It has 'police' in the name, but also it covers fire + EMT. They cover a lot of areas in the USA and throughout the world. Sometimes you hear sirens in the distance and you just have to find out EMS, police or fire fighting information! Or you just tune in to a local service or elsewhere for curiosity sake! Great fun.

The Windows App is here:


June 30, 2014

Remote Desktop Printer Redirection

I had a Remote Desktop stumper recently. My company has people all over the United States accessing some of our servers and services over the Internet. They log in with their Windows accounts and get busy on a few work applications. People really like the printer redirection functionality in MS Remote Desktop Services (RDS). This allows for printing from an RDS session straight to their local office printer. So local PC printers and their drivers are virtually 'installed' or redirected from the RDS session back to the PC - this allows for printing a report or spreadsheet to your office printer in Texas from a server being accessed via RDS in California. Pretty cool!

But one day this functionality stopped. It was a busy day and the issue was not considered a top priority, but given medium level status. I checked a few PCs via remote support (using TeamViewer) and did not see anything wrong with the local printers. Employees could print from their PC to their printers. So I restarted the print spooler service on the RDS server. This did not resolve it. I scoured the logs, checked the application settings and it printing requirements. I noticed the administrator printers were not being redirected, i.e. were not showing whatsoever. Normally on an RDS session you can check the profile's printer folder and see you PC's redirected printers readily available.

It turns out there was a service that had suddenly stopped causing the trouble. I had never heard of this service, as seen in this image (screen shot after I started it):

I resolved this issue after having gone into the Services panel: this is a viable, quick way to be sure services are running - sort the columns by startup type, get to the Automatic services and be sure the critical ones are running. Once I started it the issue was resolved. I am not sure why it stopped and also I need to verify whether or not I got an automated alert on this from my monitoring application (and overlooked it?) or if it was not logged for some reason. I will fix that to be sure I get notified as I do with other issues.

But the service is running and employees are printing again and that is a good thing!

May 8, 2014

Asus 15.6 inch is a Rocking Laptop

This ASUS 15.6" laptop comes loaded with touchscreen option. I bought one for the wife, who is not a heavy PC user. She needs it for basics, like e-mail, moderate to heavy web surfing, some file storage on OneDrive. That's mainly it, maybe a little YouTube video streaming to boot as well.
This is the best PC (laptop) deal I have EVER been a part of, and I have worked in I.T. for 15 years.
Again, this is for home use. Yes, the 4 GB of RAM could be better, but trust me, due to the efficiency of Windows 8 and the ASUS hardware capabilities, 4 is more than enough. And 500 Gigbytes hard drive? Wow. I believe in using Microsoft's OneDrive for storage, but this is pretty nice if you have lots of video files!
Did I mention the price? It comes in at $379! No joke. Yes, BestBuy does everything to upsell you on service and warranty additions, but I kindly declined. It's been 30 days, and this hybrid laptop / touchscreen is sweet as ever! My wife initially hated the idea of 'touch' (sounds weird, I know), but now I see her squinting at the screen, while constantly touching, zooming, swiping away! And you can also attach a keyboard and mouse as needed, AND it does have the traditional laptop scroll. That would 3 different mouse options if you're keeping track.
For $379, you cannot go wrong.


OneDrive File Storage

An excellent overview of OneDrive file storage (formerly SkyDrive).  Why keep your files on your laptops or PCs? At the very least, make copies to OneDrive -


March 26, 2014

FREE Microsoft Office Software?

Yeah, I know it's incredible and a bit unbelievable, but it's true - MS Office applications, the very latest, are available ONLINE for free. You open up what used to be called a Hotmail account, and you get Office Apps software for free. Instead of installing the Office software on your PC or laptop or tablet, the software is automatically embedded in your browser. Make sense? If not, who cares, it's there for your free use regardless. Read on.

This includes the famous Microsoft WORD, EXCEL, POWERPOINT and more! It's the best kept secret on the web. If you have a Hotmail account, but do not use it much, then check your account. Get the password reset if you have to or sign up for a new account. Or what about OUTLOOK? Yes, you can use that too! The ubiquitous email client that millions upon millions use for corporate e-mail is now Hotmail. Which is now Outlook. Really, it's OUTLOOK.COM. Get it? Good. Log in.  Then look in the upper left hand corner and click the down pointing arrow. You will see the applications (software). But what about Outlook? Oh yeah, it's there too. Obviously. It's fully integrated!

No matter which application you are working or playing in, you can simply click the arrow button to get to another application. It's always there, so long as you are logged in.

But, but, but what if you want to save a file in the "Cloud"? Yeah, it's there too - it's called OneDrive [formerly SkyDrive]. You just drag and drop files into it. I no longer save files on my Desktop - I just keep them on OneDrive. It's like 5 Gigabytes (7?) of space for free.

How confusing?! Well, I admit to one fact: in my opinion Microsoft has done a TERRIBLE job advertising these kick ass applications widely and easily available on the web. I am in the I.T. field so I happen to take notice of these services, but when I mention to the wife, the in-laws, and some friends, they have no idea what I am talking about. These are semi tech savvy people - like most adults these days. How can Microsoft reach them with the above information? Time will tell, but I recommend some straightforward advertising with images like the one below and frequent mention of he word 'INTEGRATED'! Maybe show real people navigating these apps? I like some of the Surface tablet ads, so maybe they can use those themes. Anyway ...

This is what it looks like, per image below - all you do is sign up for your Hotmail or Outlook.Com email and then just start looking around, maybe create and save a test file.You have nothing to lose. Businesses will incur costs with steep usage, but that is a different story (Bing for Office 365). Oh, and what about Bing? Yeah, Bing is a solid search engine, and it turns out at the top of Bing is a link to Outlook.Com, which is fully integrated with the free software and storage, as seen below, an discussed above! I just have Bing.Com as my default home page. So, this mere 4 letter web site (B-I-N-G) is in fact a secret, super simple door to the world of the below.

Search this Blog or Bing for Windows Phone, which is also fully integrated with these services.

February 19, 2014

Server 2012 Hyper-V Enabling Replication Failure

A fantastic feature of Windows Server 2012 is Replication. For I.T. and other Admins who need to work in the trenches on failover and / or Disaster Recovery specifics, replication is a method of copying data from one server over to another in the event of a server failure or worse, a disaster (i.e. fire, earthquake, building flood, sabotage etc).

Windows Server Hyper-V is needed. It is, believe it or not, relatively straightforward if following the Microsoft link documentation on bottom of this post. One thing I forgot is enabling firewall rules for replication traffic! So when I finalized a replica set up, I got an ugly and inaccurate error mentioning something along the lines of "Enabling Replication Failed, be sure logon locally rights are assigned". It's an ugly error, BUT the fix is easy. This has nothing to do with log on rights, which is good for me, because I have Group Policies that lock the member servers down.

The documentation mentions enabling what is basically web port 80. Replication uses web ports. I naturally missed this on one of the servers - these rules need to be opened on BOTH the replica server sender and the replication receiver. Go into each Advanced firewall tool on your Datacenter server editions (sender + receiver), and verify like below. You do this for Inbound Rules. There are two needing to be enabled, per bottom of this screen shot.

Once I did this, one of my VMs replicated with no issues from one Datacenter server to another.
Happy replicating!

Hyper-V Replica Overview:

February 16, 2014

Disk Cleanup, system error memory dump files

Ever run a disk cleanup on, say, a Windows Vista system, for example? I got an older Toshiba Satellite laptop (5 years old). It's on the slower side as applications and Internet in general require more and more resources over time. I started scanning, using Windows disk cleanup, and saw it stuck at 'Scanning:system error memory dump files' -->> 15 minutes upon Disk Cleanup. That's WAY TOO LONG. What to do? I went into "Problem Reports and Solutions", then Advanced Settings on the bottom. At 'For all users, turn Windows problem or error reporting" = OFF.

Of course, these reports supposedly help in diagnosing issues, but they seem to clog the system up, at least on Vista OS. I have never once benefited from a WER report. At worse, WER can be turned on later. At best, you can speed up the Disk Clean Up process and maybe cleanup a little room (disk space) as well.

Internet Explorer Bing Bar

Ever decide to take the plunge and load up the "Bing Bar"? The Bing Bar seems to have everything conveniently located right at the top of Internet Explorer. It has quick links to Facebook, News, Weather, Search, Slacker Radio, Games etc. No wait! There's more. I'm kidding. No, actually there is more. But that's the point - they cram way too much into the Bing Bar. I love Bing, use it all the time. It makes for a great homepage.

But as for Bing Bar, guess what happens when you boot up your PC, and log in, then open IE? You wait. And wait. Some may consider the inconvenience of the delay in opening IE (5-20 seconds) worth it, because they use EVERYTHING on the Bing Bar. But I do not, and if you agree, get rid of it. The starting point: click the 'X' on left side of Bing Bar, and
agree to Disable (or at least hide it). Also, you want to Disable Bing Bar Helper.

January 26, 2014

Azure Cloud Services

I have ventured slowly but surely into Microsoft's Cloud offering. It is called Azure, and is starting to pick up steam. They have multiple monster sites or datacenters worldwide. They have crazy geo caching going on, with thousands of servers, and supposedly major 'green' intitiatives (all the rage these days). From a personal perspective, it is feasible to set up shop there and simply create a new web site. The sites are free, but you get charged for usage. I am still exploring that part - I assume they will be competitive with the others. We shall see.

You can use WordPress or Joomla or many, many more web or blog or CRM offerings. You still need to register your domain at an official registrar, like GoDaddy or Network Solutions. After that, you'd need to point your DNS to the Azure location. You can get your IP address off the Dashboard. So, something like this ...
GoDaddy DNS Manager: www.yoursite.com >> 166.xx.xx.xx (this would be the Microsoft Azure provided IP address). So point your 'www' A record to the new Azure IP. After that, you just log into Azure or use remote desktop to access your new virtual world.

Ditto for a business - they would benefit most from the services, give the enterprise wide offerings. My company is having me explore various Cloud options and this one seems the best. We are a Windows shop, with Server versions 2008 R2 + 2012, and also MS SQL. But Azure's offerings extend well beyond those offerings, including many Linux flavors and Oracle database, to name a few. They have a 30 day trial offering: