Technology Made Simple
Thursday September 29th 2022



SysPrep Windows

Microsoft Windows LogoEvery single time it comes to me setting up a bunch of servers in a cloned environment, I always need to sit down and try to remember how this works or end up searching the web for the answers that I am looking for. So enough it enough and I wanted to take the time today to get it on here, so I know exactly where to look.

In case you haven’t encountered Sysprep before, it is a Microsoft tool that allows you to create a base OS image and then re-package it. This base image can have all your programs already installed on it. You can then create a cloned image and when you boot the new image, it is like booting Windows up for the first time, except with all your software packages already installed. You’ll get to setup options like choosing a new computer name, the SIDs are regenerated, etc. Note if you didn’t SysPrep your OS and just imaged it, you may have some problems, as the OS’s SID are the same.

Now Each version of Windows requires it’s own version of the Sysprep to run. The SysPrep tool can be found on your installion disks in :\Support\Tools\

Creating the Sysprep Image:

  1. Open <CD/DVD DRIVE>:\Support\Tools\ and extract setupcl.exe, setupmgr.exe, and sysprep.exe to C:\Sysprep.
    Note in this example C: is your system drive. If you installed Windows to another drive letter, use that drive letter instead of C:
  2. Run setupmgr.exe from C:\Sysprep.
  3. The Setup Manager wizard starts. Click Next…
  4. Create new… Next…
  5. Select “Sysprep setup”. Next…
  6. Select the correct OS version… Next…
  7. Select “No, do not fully automate the installation”… Next…
  8. Enter Name and Organization, Time Zone, Product Key, and Workgroup or Domain. The other settings can remain defaulted.
    Note that you don’t want to specify the computer name since you will be creating multiple computers from the base image and you don’t want to specify the admin password, even encrypted. If the sysprep program can extract the password from the answer file, so can any hacker worth their salt.
  9. Click Next… through to the end.
  10. Finish… Save to C:\Sysprep\sysprep.inf. OK…
    Wait while Setup Manager finishes.
  11. Cancel… (It’s the way to end the installation, Microsoft was weird at labeling that last button)
  12. Run sysprep.exe.
  13. Click OK.
  14. Ensure that “Don’t regenerate security identifiers” is UNCHECKED. You want to regenerate the SIDs when each new clone boots.
  15. Click Reseal, OK to confirm that you want to regenerate SIDs, and wait for the system to shut down.

On Newly Cloned Servers:

  1. Boot the cloned server.
  2. The Windows Setup wizard will appear. Next…
  3. Accept the license agreement. Next…
  4. Enter a new computer name and administrator password. Next…
  5. Windows will boot and you can log in with the administrator password you just entered.
  6. When prompted, click “Yes” to update your product activation.
  7. Select “Yes, let’s activate Windows over the Internet now”. Next…
  8. Update this server… to go to Microsoft Update.
  9. Once you’re ensured that your patches are up-to-date, you can close the browser and click Finish…

You should now have a fresh copy of Windows. You can create as many cloned servers as you need for your network.  Make sure that you have a license for each server that you bring up.

NOTE:  After writing this blog and attempting to do it with Windows Server 2008, the step above need to be slightly changed directions here: SysPrep for Windows Server 2008

Q&A Moday: Exchange 2007 E-Mail Forwards


I am new to the Exchange 2007 environment, I’ve worked with Exchange 5.5, 2000, and 2003 and I’m running into a problem that I don’t know how to fix.  I have a user who wants to forward all incoming e-mail from our email server to his personal GMail account.  I loaded his Outlook profile on my computer and set up a rule to forward all messages to his GMail account.  His GMail account is getting his emails from internal users, but when an external e-mail address sends him a message it just sits in the inbox and doesn’t forward to his GMail address.  All internal mail gets forwarded without a problem, but external mail just wont go….help


I ran into this same problem once, and only found one way around it.

1. In Exchange Management Console create a Mail Contact and enter the as the External E-Mail Address.  (Make sure you substitute THEUSERNAME for the actual address)

2. Then under the User Mailbox properties of USERNAME@YOURCOMPANY.COM under Mail Flow Setting >> Delivery Options check the ‘Forward to:’ field and then browse for the Mail Contact you created in step 1. Also Check ‘Deliver message to both Forwarding address and mailbox’

No real ideal why it needs to be this way, but it’s the only way I have found to forward mail in 2007.

If  you have any questions that you want Jim to answer, from business servers to home computers, drop him a line at, and he’ll try to answer your question.  Check back every Monday for a new Question and Answer session, and check back Wednesday and Friday for other technical insights.

Cool Site: Prey Project

In today’s world system admins can’t be too careful about where their equipment ends up, I’ve seen many Admins get panicked when a laptop goes missing, especially when the company doesn’t have a decent check-in and check-out system for their equipment.  Though there isn’t any fool proof way to find a stolen laptop, I’ve recently come across an awesome site to help you track a stolen laptop.

Cool Site: The Prey Project

It is one of the cooler websites that I have come across.  You download the program and install it on your laptop, once installed you have two different ways to use the program.  In a control panel mode or in a stand alone, each mode runs in the background of your laptop.  In the control panel mode, you set up an account with Prey and the program will check with the prey site to see if you have listed the laptop as stolen.  If it’s not, it does nothing.  If it is listed as stolen, you can then send commands and get reports from the laptop, like what programs are running, if it has a web cam pictures from it, what sites it visited and screen shots..  The laptop if not connected to the internet will auto-connect to the first wi-fi it can find to check or send reports.

If you install the program in stand-alone mode, you need to provide a website address for the prey program to check.  If you delete the page that its looking for and the website returns a 404 (page not found error), the laptop knows it’s missing and starts to send the preconfigure reports to an e-mail address specified, so you know about the status of the laptop.

NOTE: Please do not approach any individual who may have a stolen laptop, please turn the information over to the police and let them handle it.  It could be dangerous to try to recover the laptop on your own.

Now this wont guarantee the recovery of your laptop, but it gives you more information that you would of had previously.  In a company a 1% chance of recovering a laptop is better than none, and at least it’s a chance.  Best part is that you activate the program, and it will run undetected so no one will know…and it runs silently and doesn’t effect your processes much, so it doesn’t impact the use of the laptop.

Q&A Monday: Disable Programs that Start with Windows

Every once in a while, I get the following question:


How do I stop programs from running when I start up my computer?


This is actually a very simple process.  The first place would be the check the windows start up folder, by clicking on the Start Bar going to programs and then finding the startup folder.  This is the most basic way to make sure only what you want starts up with the computer.  Though make sure you are careful of what you get rid of some programs may not operate or work they way they normally do if you follow any of the steps I’ve listed or will list.  So make sure you know what you are doing.

There is also a second way of doing this by going Start Button and Run and typing “msconfig”, this brings the system configuration screen:

Once there click on the Startup tab and you will see what programs are slated to run when you computer turns on.  This lets you disable a start up without deleting it, but unchecking the box:

If the box is checked, the program will run, and unchecked it wont.  Make sure you don’t disable any anti-virus support, by just unchecking everything.  Once again unchecking here may cause programs to not work or not fully work, so be careful.

If  you have any questions that you want Jim to answer, from business servers to home computers, drop him a line at, and he’ll try to answer your question.  Check back every Monday for a new Question and Answer session, and check back Wednesday and Friday for other technical insights.

Q&A Moday: Lesser Known Word Shortcut Keys

Microsoft Office LogoQuestion:

I use Microsoft Word, are there any short-cut keys that could help me format my documents?  I’ve asked my IT guys, but they show me how to bold, italicize and etc but nothing really cool…do you know any?


Crtl+Shift+D = Double Underline
Ctrl+] = Increase Font Size
Ctrl+] = Decrease Font Size
Ctrl+Shift+A = Makes Highlighted Text All Caps
Ctrl+= = Subscript Text
Ctrl++=Superscript Text
Alt+Ctrl+C= Copyright Symbol
Alt+Ctrl+T= Trademark Symbol
Alt+Ctrl+R= Registered Trademark Symbol
Ctrl+1= Single Spacing
Ctrl+2= Double Spacing
Ctrl+5=  1.5 Spacing

Since you weren’t too specific, these are the ones that I’ve seen the most of, that I wouldn’t consider common knowledge.

If  you have any questions that you want Jim to answer, from business servers to home computers, drop him a line at, and he’ll try to answer your question.  Check back every Monday for a new Question and Answer session, and check back Wednesday and Friday for other technical insights.

Outlook 2010 Beta Bug Fix

If like me, you downloaded the 2010 Office Beta, you may be  interested to know there is already a path out for the Outlook 2010 portion.  Now Microsoft releasing Patches is nothing new, and I think it’s funny to release a patch for the product prior to it coming out, but that’s exactly what the Beta process is for.  Apparently Outlook 2010 Beta has a problem where it creates unusually large e-mail files that take up a ton of space.  The Outlook product team offered a bug fix for both the 32-bit and 64-bit systems that fixes the problem going forward, yet if you already experienced the problem you’re stuck with it, as the patch only works going forward and doesn’t fix the current issue. This could be a problem if you use an e-mail system that limits its message sizes, like Gmail or BlackBerry.  The bug appears when you use numbered and bullet point lists in a message, this causes a cascading style sheet (CSS) definitions to be added redundantly in each outgoing message, Microsoft says. Once you restart Outlook after you download the patch will remove the extra CSS files from outgoing messages.   “If you use number and bullet lists, close Outlook at the end of each day, and your new outgoing messages will return to their normal size,” wrote Jenny Liu, Outlook Program Manager, in a blog post.
Now to get rid of those huge e-mails, the Outlook team suggests running Conversation Cleanup, which is a new feature in the Outlook 2010, which moves all the older, redundant messages in the user’s e-mail conversations to the Deleted Items folder. Cleanup keeps the most recent message around, Microsoft says, ensuring users have all the content in the conversation while allowing them to delete the redundant messages.

Outlook 2010 Beta Patch

Download Outlook 2010 Beta fix for 32-bit Office 2010
Download Outlook 2010 Beta fix for 64-bit Office 2010

Virtualization Planning

Now when deciding you need to virtualize your network there are some things you need to consider prior to doing so.  Trust me, I thought I had every angle convered prior to my first virtualization, and I ran into some issues, so I wanted to give some tips on things to think of that you may not have, prior to making the jump.

  1. Does my virtualization plan include a single point of failure?
    It’s important to plan your virtual server deployment so that the failure of a single host server will not have catastrophic consequences.  I’ve seen many companies eager to make money saving changes, virtualize their entire network onto a single host…or use a single SAN device to store all their information.  When designing physical networks it’s easier to see a single point of failure…but sometimes in the virtual world, people overlook this.  I worked at a company that has a single SAN device connected to multiple VMware hosts, should a host go down they are fine, since they have VMotion, which will transfer everything to another host…yet if they loose their SAN their entire network will come to a grinding halt.  So try to eliminate the single point of failure, or it could cost you in a pinch.
  2. How many guest machines can each host accommodate?
    One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen some administrators make when moving forward on virtualization, is overloading the host server.  You can not just throw a bunch of virtual machines on a host and assume there wont be a problem.  Though you also don’t need to make sure every physical host has enough for every virtual server, there is some give and take you just need to plan ahead and give some room for growth or high utilization of a server.   Every guest machine is going to different, you’ll need to at least have an idea of where you would like to place each guest machine when you begin the capacity planning process.  I used the host specs, the base-line specs of the soon to be virtual server and played a little tetris like game, trying to get the everything on the server without overloading it and giving it room to grow if needed.
  3. What is the contingency plan if a host server dies?
    While a server failure is never good, its effects are compounded in a virtual environment. I mentioned an above company that had a SAN as a single point of failure, but some hosts can be themselves a single point of failure.  I generally recommend that if you have VMware, you purchase VMotion and keep a spare server available.  When I did a virtualization upgrade I generally take one of the more powerful servers left over from the virtualization make make it a host.  I use the formula…N+1 (N being the number of hosts you need).  This way if there is a fail over, with Vmotion, the servers will be transferred to another host…it may be slower, but you wont have downtime…and you’ll have time to fix the problem host.
  4. What is the most suitable virtualization platform?
    Though I have worked with VMware heavily in my background, you really need to evaluate every network differently.  There are many different virtualization products out there and each one has strengths and weaknesses, and it’s important to make sure what works for you environment.  If not, you may overspend, not get all the features you need, or get under performing software.
  5. Are all my applications supported in a virtual environment?
    Believe it or not, some applications are not supported on virtual servers. I know that some versions of Exchange Server are supported only on physical servers. Before you begin virtualizing your servers, make sure that your applications will be supported in a virtual environment.  I’ve had problems with some software vendors, and they wouldn’t help me because the server was virtualized, so make sure you check prior to making the switch.

Hopefully these tips along with my other suggestions from [Virtualizing Domain Controllers]  will help you with what you need to get started onto the virtualization path.

Q&A Monday: Re: Looking for a Job

On February 5th 2010, I did a blog, talking about my experiences and some tips about looking for a job [Looking for a job] and I got the following question.  Rather than just answer the questions in the comments, I thought it would warrant an follow up entry.  Though I got e-mails saying the tips helped, I also got the following call for help.

Blaine Selby says:

I have tried all that you have listed and still have not found a job. Any other advise?


Well I’ve defiantly been in the field looking actively for a job in this market, being unemployed and all.  The key thing to remember is that you are selling yourself.  If the tips mentioned in the earlier blog didn’t help, you may need to look critically at your current process.  If you’ve spent any time as a tech (which would explain why you’re reading this blog), you need to go through a troubleshoot your application process.

  1. If you aren’t even getting call backs, then the first thing that you need to look at is your resume.  As someone who has hired people, when a position is opened in this economy then the resumes start pouring in.  Depending on the person hiring, they many only look at your resume for a couple of seconds scanning for keys words or phrases and if they don’t see them, they get tossed aside.  The old saying is that you only have one chance to make a first impression…and that impression is your resume.  You can elaborate and explain your experience…but your resume can’t.  So make sure that your resume is the best it can me, but even if you have problems there, pay a service to re-craft your resume to get it to it’s best.
  2. If asked about what salary you are looking for be weary to disclose that.  I’ve been asked in an interview what price I am looking for, and since I’m out of a job, I tend to respond, “I am open for salary and want to see what your company, should I be hired, see what I am worth.”  This is because I want a job, but don’t want to throw out a number lower than they were thinking, then I’ll be offered that number.  I’ve never said, I’m looking for $$ salary and been offered more than that, usually only that.  Now some times you can’t get away with not saying a number, well then say the number, but make sure you aren’t looking for a helpdesk tech making $100,000, because you’d be darn lucky if you can find that job.  Make sure you’re asking for fair market value for the job, but from experience, that can be a wide range of pay for jobs.
  3. If you get to the interview and that’s where you are having the problem, that’s where you need to focus you attention on.  I’ve been nervous and havn’t done well in an interview and I blame that for not getting certain jobs, so the interview is important.  If you can get constantly to the interview and then nothing from there, you need to look at how you interview.  Some people just don’t know how to talk to a future employer and you can scare them away.  Recently I was interviewed and I froze up, and couldn’t think clearly…I was later told that I came off as “not a people person” and a “work alone kind of guy”, now if you know me, these things aren’t true, but shows you how what you say can help or hurt you.

Those 3 things should give you a more wide understanding, and hopefully help you in finding a job.  If you’re having problems finding a job, and you keep constantly looking, then you need to look at something you are doing.  I’ve made tons of mistakes in interviews, and I always taken it as a lesson and tried to fix it.  Even though I am still unemployed, I apply for atleast 10 jobs everyday…talk to recruiters everyday….work my contacts everyday…not always the same contacts and the same recruiters everyday…but different ones…and I know that I’ll find the right job.

If  you have any questions that you want Jim to answer, from business servers to home computers, drop him a line at, and he’ll try to answer your question.  Check back every Monday for a new Question and Answer session, and check back during the week for Jim’s other technical insights.

Google Sync and Outlook 2010 Beta

    If you are like me, you usually rush to download the newest beta’s that are released, and for some bragging rights, you loose some functionality.  That was the case with me and my download of the Office 2010 Beta, I use Google Sync to sync my Google and Outlook calendars, yet the Google Sync doesn’t support the new 2010 Beta.  Now a geek like me isn’t just going to sit here and go sync-less until 2010 Officially comes out and Google Sync supports it.  I decided to play around with it, and I got it to work…and here’s how.  But before I start please make sure you read all directions thouroughly before starting and make sure you have a full backup prior to attempting the change.

  1. Get HxD Editor
  2. Goto you Outlook 2010 Installation Folder and Backup your Outlook.exe file (C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office14), I suggest copy and pasting the Outlook.exe file into the same folder.

    Backing up Outlook.exe before making modifications

  3. Open up HxD Editor and browse to Outlook.exe
  4. Click on Search and Then FindUse the Search Function in HxD
  5. In the search field search for 14.0.0

    Find the Version Number in HxD

    Find the Version Number in HxD

  6. You should find it, only one time

    Found 14.0.0 in HxD Editor


    Hightlight the 4 (DO NOT DELETE IT)

  8. Replace the 4 in 14.0.0 with a 2 making it 12.0.0

    When Highlighted Change the 4 to a 2

  9. Save the change…and your done, your Google Sync should now work with 2010 Beta, because we make Outlook 2010 Beta, report to other programs it’s outlook 2007, which is a supported version.

    Save the changes to the Outlook.exe

Please remember that when doing this please, read all the directions first and make sure you have a complete backup before attempting this change.

Looking for a job

I have been absent from my regular posting due to the fact, that I myself have been found laid off and looking for a job.  Because I haven’t been actively working with technology its been hard for me to sit down and write a blog.  All of a sudden it came to me today, I know I am not the only technology professional  who is caught in this circle of hell, and I could write what I am doing to look for a job, as tips to help others out there.

1. Treat Job Hunting as a Job
I make sure that during an unemployment period you keep to your regular habits.  Despite my want to sleep all day or play Call of Duty Modern Warfare.  I set my alarm and make sure that I am up and looking for a job and constantly sharpening my skills.  One of the things I notice is people just tend to get frustrated and just give up or scale back their search after they get no where…it takes time to find the right job.  Also sharpening skills is extremely important, I try to learn new programs and new things at home.  As a tech I usually have a spare PC at home, so I load it up with Windows Server or Linux and try something I havent tried before, then try new things with it.  It sounds silly, but at home is a nice safe development environment  to test and learn new things.

2.Work your Network
One of the things I have learned, is that your network of people, friends and colleagues is the best place to mine for jobs.  My ex-colleagues and friends have been the best source for tracking down job opportunities for me.  Having one set of eyes is very limited when looking for a job, but having over two dozen eyes looking for me can cover a lot more ground than just I could.  Also, it gives you the ability to use their network to mine for jobs, I can’t tell you the number of friends who have sent me e-mails from their friends or co-workers who have jobs that I could apply for, these jobs would have gone unknown except for my network of friends and ex-colleagues.

3.Only go for jobs you want
Most people who find themselves out of work, tend to apply for any job that remotely has anything to do with what they use to do.  The problem is, that if you take a job that is underneath your skill set, you might not be happy with the outcome.  Though most people will have the any job is a good job, your potential employeer may be aware of your want to get a better job.  Most employers spend money on hiring you and training you, and if you bounce at the first sign of a better job, it’s money wasted.  It’s a job employers market meaning they get the choice…and a bouncer is not someone they want.  I can tell you that from personal expereince, when I saw someone with a recent job accepted (within the last couple of months), I listed them as a bouncer, and eliminated them from my choices.

4. Sell Youself
One of the things people forget is that it’s not just your skills that get you a job, it’s your personality.  I tend to think that the jobs that I have had, I was hired by my personality, my resume got me in the door, but my selling myself is what actually got the job.  People say a first impression is important, and that’s the way I look at my resume, it’s the first impression, to see if I meet their minimum requirements..then when they contact me, it’s up to me to make myself worthwhile to them.  Most companies want someone who can communicate well and will get along with staff.  Also don’t feel bad to brag a little bit, but just dont over-do it.

5. Know the Company
Just like an company that advertises makes sure their ads are targeted to a particular market, make sure you tailor your communications and yourself to the company you are interviewing with.  The best way to do that, is to know the company.  This will help you tailor your questions, you interview style.  Even though I personally think it’s dumb, but make sure you know about the company you are interviewing at.  In a tight economy any little advantage helps, and it may be stupid but every little thing helps.

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