Windows Server 2012 (code name-Windows Server 8) Virtual Guided Labs

Wait no more….If you don’t have the hardware to install Windows Server 2012 you may test drive thru this virtual lab – the new and improved features and functionality,  including server management and Windows PowerShell, Networking, Hyper-V, and new/enhanced Storage Solutions. You may also save the Lab instructions ( step by step guide)  in Microsoft Word and do a review or study at a later time.

You may try the hands-on lab for Windows Server 2012 here:

Have a read on what’s new in Windows Server 2012.

Now, will you be considering Windows Server 2012 as your next Windows Server?

Windows 8 – Consumer and Developer Preview – the New Looks and Features

It’s good to know that the official name for Windows 8 Release Previews (Consumer and Developer) will be Windows 8 and Windows 8 Professional, applicable for PCs and Tablets – for 32 and 64 bit. Windows 8 will be appropriate mostly for regular Consumers and utilize all the updated features especially the support for multiple monitors, updated Windows Explorer and Task Manager. On the other hand the Windows 8 Professional is designed for business use that would be of best interest to explore the new features of encryption, virtualization, PC management and domain connectivity to the network.

Let’s face it, some Users might like the new looks/features and some won’t. The good news, there are workarounds to get back what’s missing and changing to the Classic Shell from the full Metro Start screen by using registry edit or thru a third-party application. If you own a Windows 8 Mobile phone there are similarities on the Apps layout and icons. For someone that’s fond of all the trendy technologies, you’ll like the new Windows 8 appearance. Windows 8 Professional will be great for business use – Network Administrators, Business Users and Technology Enthusiasts will like the reliability, effectiveness, enhanced security and performance in network connectivity would be more crucial. Whether you’d prefer the touch pad or mouse and keyboard, the new Windows 8 has this capability.

I like a clutter free look of the desktop, for me I don’t need to see all the colorful Apps. If you click on the Desktop App from the Metro ui, then you will get a clean/plain desktop. If you are wondering where all the Programs and Applications are hiding, move the mouse to the left bottom corner of the screen until you see a square box with all the colorful apps (Metro Start thumbnail)….right click on it then you’ll to see all the Metro Start-up/Pinned-up Programs and Apps.

The Windows or Start Orb is missing in Windows 8. You may download the App for the missing Start Orb here:

If you want a Windows 7 look you may download the free utility called ViStart.

You may also try tapping the Windows Key-R on the desktop without downloading any utilities. If you want more of the Start Menu look, you can add a popup list of Libraries, Computer, Control Panel, and Network by right-clicking on the taskbar then choose Properties then Toolbars and then check the Desktop check box.

If you want to convert to a Classic look, Windows 8 Developer Preview has a registry edit to switch to the Classic Shell. It is always risky to modify the registry, make sure that you do the back it up first.

Open up regedit (click on the Metro start thumbnail, click on Run then type regedit and press enter) then navigate to the following:
Change the value of RPEnabled from “1″ to “0″
To get back the Metro UI, change the value back to “1″

Hotmail integration with Windows 8 seems to be a cool feature. I use my Hotmail all the time, now I have the App in my computer.

As a Network Administrator I’d like easier tasks, well who doesn’t? I’ve found out and experimented that it is very easy to join a Windows 8 into the Domain – both wired and wireless.

Having said all of the above, I took some captures of the new Windows 8 CP features, some of these will be of best used for me.

Metro Start Screen:

Logon Screen – you may switch from a Domain logon to another User – for Local or Domain logon:

Network connections – Wired and Wireless:

Search Option:

Remote Desktop:

I think that I’ll get used of all the new looks eventually, as long as I can find them and function easily.


Using SMTP Relay in Exchange Server 2007 and 2010

What is Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) Relay?  SMTP Relay will bypass your ISP’s email outbound restrictions.

Scenario:  You are running Exchange Server 2010, everything seems to be going well – and then one day all employees within domain cannot send out any emails.  You have checked the Event Viewer and can’t find any relevant critical errors in Event IDs pertaining to the issue. You have verified that SMTP Ports are opened up in your Security or Firewall Device, so what could it be?

This has been a common issue if your company is hosting Exchange Server, there are times that for any reasons your ISP could be blocking SMTP Ports. The workaround is to find a reliable SMTP Relay Provider, make sure that the Provider has a redundancy backup just in case the primary SMTP Relay server goes down.  Based on my actual experience dealing with this type of setup, it really works and they are very reasonable too. Rest assured that your email will go out 24/7.

Verify if your ISP is blocking the outgoing SMTP port by running these DOS command:

c:\> telnet 25

You may also try Port 26, 940, 8001, 2525, 80 by using the same telnet command  instead of  Port 25. If the connection gets responses from the alternative SMTP port, you should use that port instead of Port 25 when setting up Smart Hosting.

How to configure the SMTP Relay?

Open up Exchange Management Console (EMC)>Organization Configuration>Hub Transport>New Send Connector

You may follow the guide from your SMTP Relay Provider’s website to complete the process of setting up SMTP Relay.

Basic Troubleshooting Tips for Wired and Wireless Connection Issues

Troubleshooting sometimes can be such an agony, but there are guidelines that we have to follow in order to resolve some issues. Although it can be tedious at times to troubleshoot, you’ll be surprised that other things can be resolved quickly and some will take a little while and you need to be very patient. I have compiled some quick, easy and basic troubleshooting tips that might save you some time going through a very long process of fiddling with settings from your broadband devices (modem/router) and computers.

If you are having an intermittent internet disconnection on all of your wired and wireless devices please see the following suggestions:

A simple Power Cycle will often correct the problem to refresh the network electronic devices and reinitialize their configuration and also help to recover from a hang or crash state.

Run the Network Troubleshooter tool from your Windows 7 computer.

Run the Diagnose and Repair tool from your Windows Vista computer.

Disable/Re-enable the network adapter from Device Manager.
Update the network adapter’s driver from Device Manager

If you are having an intermittent internet disconnection on all  of your wireless devices please see the following suggestions:

Interference can cause wireless disconnection issues, this is due to having electronics and small appliances nearby. Neighbors that are using the same wireless channel similar to yours may also cause some conflicts.

Changing the Wireless Channel to 1, 6 or 11 might help. This will require an access to your router setting so you must have your router’s logon credentials.

Before changing the wireless channel, you may install and run Xirrus Wi-Fi Inspector to see the opposing wireless channels.

Any third wireless utility software may conflict with the Windows native wireless utility called WLAN AutoConfig, you must only use one to avoid wireless disconnection issue.

Security or Firewall Software such as Norton, McAfee, Webroot etc. might be intervening, disabling it my help. If it didn’t correct the issue, remove the software by using the proper method of uninstalling it – some do have a removal tool that you may download online, reinstall the software back if the issue has been resolved.

In some circumstances updating the router’s firmware to the latest often resolves this issue if all your wired and wireless network devices are acting up.

If you have a Workgroup or HomeGroup setup in your home network and all or some computers are having intermittent issue accessing the shared files/folders, your Security or Firewall Software might be intervening. Allowing  ports or files/printer sharing in the safe zone or disabling the firewall feature might help.