Technology Made Simple
Sunday August 1st 2021

Q&A Monday: Windows 7 Hide Accounts from Welcome Menu

Question:

We are deploying Windows 7 machines to users that are not the domain, and I want to add some accounts for administration to the machine, but I only want the users to be give the option of seeing the one account they are going to use.  Is there any way to hide the other accounts?

 John Higgins
Oakland, CA

Answer:

*NOTE: To do this involves making changes to the registry, please make sure you know what you are doing, making an incorrect change could cause your computer to no longer work.  Also make a backup of the registry prior to making the change, just in case*

Open up RegEdit.exe

Browse to the following location:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\WindowsNT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon

In the left panel of Registry Editor, right click on Winlogon key and click New then Key.  This will allow you to create a new key under Winlogon, name this new key:  SpecialAccounts, then do the same steps to create another key under SpecialAccounts called: UserList and press Enter.

Now we finally move into the right panel of registry editor, in the blank area right clikc and create a DWORD(32bit) with the name of the user account you want to hide.  (i.e. if your username is Helpdesk, then you’ll name the DWORD Helpdesk)  Double click the newly created DWORD and make the value:

0 to hide

1 to show it again
Now, if you have a have a Windows XP machine that you need to do this with, the directions are a little different please see our other article: Q&A Monday: Hide Accounts from XP Welcome Screen

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

SysPrep a Windows 7 Upgraded Machine

When working in any kind of company, I love imaging computers.  When there is a problem with a machine you can quickly blow down the company image and get the computer or laptop back to the user as quickly as possible.  Recently when working on a Windows 7 image that I had inherited from a previous administrator I ran into an interesting error while trying to run SysPrep on that Windows 7 machine:

sysprep cannot run on a computer that has been upgraded from a previous version

After doing some background research, I found that the Windows 7 image on the server was an updated image, the original laptops came in with Windows Vista, and was upgraded to 7 before the image was created.  So I went online to see if there was anyway to do SysPrep with an upgraded Windows 7 install.  Most articles that I found, just gave you normal directions on doing a SysPrep and none answered this question.  So finally I was able to find the answer, it all lies within a single registry key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\system\setup

There was a key called “upgrade”, that once deleted lets you run SysPrep like normal.  Delete that key and you are good.

 

Q&A Monday: Enable and Disable Proxy via Scripts

Question:

I use my laptop both inside and outside of my company’s network.  It is a company issued laptop and when I am in the office, I am suppose to use their proxy server, when I am out on the road, I’m suppose to use the local connection, which does not have a proxy.  Currently I go into internet settings and enable or disable  the proxy server as needed, what I am looking for is a simpler way to this.  Please help me

Christopher  Sheppard
Northampton, PA

Answer:

While looking into the proxy settings in the Internet Options, I was able to trace it down to a couple of registry settings, but once set up you only need to make a single change to a key.  This key resides in the following place:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings in the ProxyEnable key.

If the key is equal to 1 the proxy setting is enabled (checked) and if it’s 0 the proxy is disabled (unchecked)

*NOTE: As with all registry changes, make sure you know what you are doing, and wrong changes can mess up your computer.  Also make sure you backup you registry prior to making any changes*

 

So to start making an easy to run script, you need to open notepad, and create a registy entry like so:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings]
“ProxyEnable”=dword:00000001

save the file as ProxyEnable.reg (the name doesn’t matter, but the .reg does matter), then open a new notepad and paste the following into it:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings]
“ProxyEnable”=dword:00000000

save the file as ProxyDisable.reg

Now, you can put these on your desktop and import the change, to go from Proxy to without, with only a single icon for each.  If you have another way to do this please let me know, but this is a simple and clean way of quickly switching without going into internet settings.

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

 

Average Mailbox Size Using Exchange PowerShell

PowerShell is now becoming more and more prevalent in Microsoft’s Exchange and Server software.     This scripting language is becoming a must know for Administrators and knowing this scripting can help get all kinds of useful information.  When I was an administrator for an Exchange system, it helped me to monitor the mailbox(s) and databases for their size, so that I could make plans for the future.

The script below gathers mailbox information and pulls the information together and shows it in the PowerShell window.

 

<———–Start Script———–>

# Retrieve the list of mailboxes from the specified mailbox database
$listOfMailboxes = Get-MailboxDatabase "Mailbox Database 1081629644" | Get-Mailbox
# Initialize the counter variables that we'll use
$mailboxCount = 0
$mailboxTotalItemCount = 0
$mailboxTotalSize = 0
$mailboxAverageSize = 0
$mailboxAverageItemCount = 0
# Start a loop that will count stats from individual mailboxes
foreach ($individualMailbox in $listOfMailboxes)
    {
       # increment the mailbox count by 1
       $mailboxCount++
       # Get the name of the current mailbox so that we can...
       $individualMailboxName = $individualMailbox.Identity.DistinguishedName
       #... quickly and easily get stats from that mailbox
       $individualMailboxStats = Get-MailboxStatistics -Identity $individualMailbox
       # Get the size of the mailbox in MB and save it in a variable
       $individualMailboxSize = $individualMailboxStats.TotalItemSize.value.toMB()
       # Get the number of items in the mailbox and save it in a variable
       $individualMailboxItemCount = $individualMailboxStats.ItemCount
       # Add the size of this mailbox to a running total
       $mailboxTotalSize = $mailboxTotalSize + $individualMailboxSize
       # Add the number of items in this mailbox to a running total
       $mailboxTotalItemCount = $mailboxTotalItemCount + $individualMailboxItemCount
    }
# Calculate the average mailbox size
$mailboxAverageSize = $mailboxTotalSize / $mailboxCount
# Calculate the average number of items per mailbox
$mailboxAverageItemCount = $mailboxTotalItemCount / $mailboxCount
# Display the results to the user
Write-Host "Total Number of Mailboxes in database: $mailboxCount"
Write-Host "Total Size of Mailboxes:               $mailboxTotalSize MB"
Write-Host "Total Items in Mailboxes:              $mailboxTotalItemCount"
Write-Host "-------------------"
Write-Host "Average Mailbox Size:                  $mailboxAverageSize MB"
Write-Host "Average Items per Mailbox:             $mailboxAverageItemCount"
<-----------End Script----------->

If everything ran correctly and you don’t see any errors, you will see the below displayed.

Total Number of Mailboxes in database: 320
Total Size of Mailboxes:               412270 MB
Total Items in Mailboxes:              14757
-------------------
Average Mailbox Size:                  1288 MB
Average Items per Mailbox:             46.115625

 

We’re Back from Blackout

    First, I would like to apologize to anyone who found the blackout of this site inconvenient.  We blacked out our site in solidarity with 75,000+ sites who joined together, in the largest online protest  (to date), to try to let congress know to stop the SOPA and PIPA bills from passing.  These bills would kill the internet as we know it, and anyone with a real ear to the internet could tell you they wouldn’t solve the problem and people who wanted to, could have gotten around it.

Though the day of internet protest is over, this doesn’t mean our actions should be over as well.  As long as there are non-technical people in congress trying to regulate what they don’t understand (yea, I know they do it alot), these bills will always be a threat, and lurking in the shadows.

While I understand the concerns of the people pushing SOPA/PIPA to protect their intellectual property, there is no reason to destroy the internet in the process.  The internet has worked so well, because it is free and limiting it only hurts those who don’t know the ways around.  But you’re asking what you could do to help:

Here are a few easy things you can do:

  • Educate yourself about how SOPA and PIPA work, don’t just take anyone’s word for it.
  • Print and mail letters to your state’s senators and representatives, urging them not to support this. Physical mail is harder to ignore than email. It piles up. You can find representatives’ addresses here and senators’ addresses here. Remember that PIPA is a Senate bill and SOPA is a House of Representatives bill.
  • Call your senators and representatives on the phone and urge them not to support the bills. See above links for phone numbers or click here to get a quick list of representatives based on where you live.

Let your elected representatives know that censoring the Internet is something you do not and cannot support. Congressmen care about getting reelected. If everyone reading this plays their part, these bills will be killed.

Change IE Bookmarks Location

Recently in my job, I was looking for a way to keep as much data on the server as possible and making the Windows boxes hold as little data as possible in case of a crash.  While I already redirect the “My Documents” drive to the server (note only if you trust your users do this).  We as an office generally use Internet Explorer for browsing (with some exceptions), and wanted to change the locations of the Folder.

Well after some looking around, I found the keys that need to be modified.  This involves modifying the registry for the current user logged in.  As I always warn:  If you are editing your registry, it is recommended you know what you are doing, and you make a backup of the regisry in case anything goes wrong.

In the Registry, you’re looking at the following subkeys:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\ShellFolders

and

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\UserShellFolders

Look in the right pane for the Favorites value. Note the full path to the Favorites folder.  From those two keys, you just type where you want the files to go, and reboot the system and re-login as that user.

Q&A Monday: IT Education

Question:

Jim,
For someone looking to segue into IT, what is the most direct educational route to take- tech school, university, or career diploma program? In general, what do you recommend for a good IT foundation?

Tony DiPaciner
Philadelphia, Pa

 

Answer:

Like most questions in IT, there is a lot of debate for the best route into the Information Technology field.  I personally went with a specialty school (which offered a diploma, but I went for a degree) and have been happy with the choice.  The tech school method I would consider one of the quickest paths into the Information Technology field.  You get the information you need, the hands on experience to help, and than quickly into the field.  The downside to these kind of diploma schools is that, they tend to quickly flood the market with IT professionals with the same credentials all competing for the same jobs.
If you are more inclined to go to a 4 year college, you are required to take courses outside of the technology field, but with the flooded market, some companies will weigh a Bachelors Degree heavier than anything below it.  This occurs even if the people have the same experience outside of that.  The downside to that, is after 4 years where the market will be at, and the diploma guy might have a 3 years of experience head start.
If you are looking to just add some skills (as everyone in IT should), then online courses are a great primer to what you already have.  All my skills in web design, come from me just designing websites and trying to copy what other sites were doing.  I would read tutorials, try it myself, and then try to change it for my site.  There were many days where I wanted to pull my hair out, but I eventually learned.  Every Information Technology professional should be continuing your education, if you stop then you risk loosing your edge completely.
So in conclusion, it’s not a simple answer, each choice has its own benefits and its own downsides.  I tend to lean towards a degree, since it does get you a heads up in the field (even if it is an unfair one), and would always recommend toying around on your own with either choice, and get some experience.

 

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

Mobile: Apps vs Mobile Web

 

I’ve been asked many times where I think the future in the smart phone market is, either applications or site designed for mobile web?  Now I think it’s funny that since I am in the IT field, I should know (or at least have thought on) the mobile market.  But since I try to answer the questions that come in, I’ve decided to write about my wholly unprofessional opinion.
The first thing that I would look at (if I was a company struggling with this decision), was what the market place currently looks like for the mobile market.  I’ve posted a grapgh below to show you what the market looks like:

Source:

What I see here, is that while there is no single competitor who hold the majority of the mobile market, is there are several big players.  If I wanted to design a mobile app for my users/customers/readers/etc, I would need to design for several different platforms to make sure that I didn’t keep out anyone who wanted to access my service.
This is where I see the strength in mobile web design.  I can design a website, that will work with almost all of these phones and not have to change it much from one application to another.  Now the problem here, is that you would need to use technology that is supported on all these platforms (i.e. avoid Adobe Flash).  I think that can be easily done, in comparison to making an app for IOS, and a version for android and a version for blackberry.
I’ve already seen some companies address this model of using a mobile site over an mobile app.  Some big companies though seem to be hedging their bets by having a mobile version and versions for IOS and android.  I know I’ve gone the way mobile web sites with this site (that I don’t know how to program for either Android or IOS)

Q&A Monday: Outlook 2003 problems with Exchange 2010

Question:

My company has recently upgraded our Exchange server to 2010, but I still have some users using Outlook 2003.  There are plans in the next 6 months to update these remaining users, but some of them are experiencing a problem.  The users have a bunch of shared calendars and are getting a connection issue, any advice?
Eric Davidson
Baltimore, MD
Answer:

The most typical problem I’ve seen with this is caused by the throttling police that is new in Exchange 2010.  When an Outlook 2003 client makes a connection to a shared calendar it can open two or more connections back to the server.  In Exchange 2010, this default throttling policy limits the machine to access 5 (or maybe 6) shared calendars.  Since you didn’t explain how many calendars, this may be the case.

The fix to this isn’t complicated, you just need to create a special throttling policy (Great Directions HERE and tells you how to map it to users) and map this new throttling policy to your 2003 users.

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

 

Alternatives to Outlook

    I’ve been asked about this more times than I can remember, so I figured I’d just do an article about it….What are some alternatives to Microsoft Outlook.  To fully disclose I still cling on to my Outlook for my windows machine, but I do use other software for my linux machines.  So I’ve done some testing and some asking around and found out alternative for Microsoft Outlook.  Just like I did, you should test out and find one that works  for you.

  1. Evolution – http://projects.gnome.org/evolution/Evolution use to be one of the email software choices that I would use on my linux box’s, but now they have an experimental version for Windows.  This client has many features.  It’s not really that complicated to learn, but for a windows user may be a little more difficult to install (you need to be kinda an expert to install)
  2. Thunderbird – http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/thunderbird/Thunderbird from what I figure is probably one of the most popular alternatives for Outlook that I’ve found.  It’s made by the same company that made the Firefox and has plenty of add-on tools out there for users to use.
  3. Pegasus Mail – http://www.pmail.com/Pegasus is probably one of the oldest e-mail clients out there, but seems to be the most studry e-mail client that I’ve seen.  The downside, if you have an exchange system that you want to connect to, then you are kinda out of luck with this one.
  4. eM Client – http://www.emclient.com/Now here’s another good client that I have used, but like many out there, this doesn’t connect with Exchange.  It’s optimized for XP thru Vista, and works great with 3rd party email server like  Hotmail, Yahoo, and Gmail and can import from other email clients. As someone who lives off my Gmail calendar it offers a full-featured calendar that can even sync with my Gmail calendar
  5. Web-based SystemThis is kind of a cop-out.  But Exchange like many other services (like Gmail) have a web interface that you can access.  This keeps you from having to install and update the clients on each machine, and it’s generally available anywhere the internet is.

Are there other programs that you use that I didn’t mention?  Did I stub you favorite email client?  In the comments below let me know.

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