Archive for the ‘Information Technology’ Category

How to change your Windows Password

posted by Sam Ravenscroft
Mar 8

How to change your password on Windows XP (domain)

If you are working on a company computer and your company has a server then most likely you need to use the domain method.  (Domain username are usually in the form of DOMAIN\username or username@domain)

It is always a good idea to think of a password before attempting to change your password.

Please take the following into account when changing your password:

  • Choose a password that is secure
  • Choose something that you can remember
  • Never give out your password to anybody else
  • Never write your password down
  • If your organization employs password policies, ensure that your password complies to the length and/or complexity requirements of the password policy.
  • Passwords cannot be the same as your username, e-mail address or first/last name.

Usually the minimum password requirements entail the following:

  • At least 7 characters long
  • Must contain numbers and letters (alpha-numeric)
  • Must contain both upper and lowercase letters
  • Must contain at least one special character (e.g. !@#$%^&*().<> etc.)

Whilst logged on (with your own account):

  1. Press CTRL-ALT-DEL keys simultaneously
  2. In the window that appears (Windows Security), click on “Change password”.
  3. Put your current password in the “old password” box.
  4. Put your new password in the “new password” and “confirm new password” boxes.
  5. Click “ok”

The system will then confirm that your password has been changed or if it could not be changed a reason will be provided.

How to change your password on Windows XP (workgroup)

Use this procedure to change the password you use when you log on to Windows if your computer is a member of a workgroup, and is not a member of a domain.

  1. Open User Accounts in Control Panel.
  2. Under “or pick an account to change”, click your account.
  3. Click “Change my password”.
  4. Type your current password in “Type your current password”.
  5. Type your new password in “Type a new password” and “Type the new password again to confirm”.
  6. You can type a word or phrase to use as a memory aid for the new password in “Type a word or phrase to use as a password hint”. (Do not type your password in this box.)
  7. Click Change Password.

Mar 8

  • Do not use words or phrases that have personal significance.
  • Mix letters, numbers and symbols, and use case sensitivity (upper and lower case letters). This mixture is known as “pseudo-random alpha-numeric combination”; using this, it is almost impossible to “crack” somebody’s password. (i.e. instead of “password,” try “pAsS34%(6*2woRd,” etc.)
  • Find a good way to remember. A good way to do this is to choose the first letters of a sentence that you will remember. e.g. “I have 2 dogs called Rover and Fido” gives: Ih2dcRaF
    • Use punctuation to your advantage. To incorporate a colon into the previous example, remember the sentence as “I have 2 dogs: Rover and Fido”, which would give: Ih2d:RaF
  • Try to memorize the password, and avoid writing it down. Somebody could very easily find the slip of paper that the password is written on.
  • The longer the better. Don’t make a password that’s less than 8 characters. Anything less can easily be deduced from brute force software.
  • Take the street you grew up on, and your first pet/something hard to guess from your past, put a number sign in between, substitute some letters for numbers, and, voila! A great password. For example: Bill grew up on Ocean Avenue, and his first pet was Rocky. His password would be: 0c3an#r0cky You can add random capitals to make it more secure.
  • Do not use the same password for everything. If someone finds this password, they would have access to everything. At the very least, make at least one password for sensitive things (i.e. online banking, etc.) and one for everything else (AIM, email, etc.). Here is an example:
    • Let us suppose you have 5 email accounts, 3 operating system passwords, 3 bank accounts (each with user name, password, extra security pin), 10 internet forum user/passes, 1 cellular phone (uses 2 to 4 pins). (If you are a programmer or db administrator, multiply the total by 3). Say for each of these, you chose a variation of “pAsS34%(6*2woRd,”. Try to memorize 20 of those gibberish sequences! It’s quite difficult, but if you make your sentences relevant to each situation, it will be easier – for example, for banking, your sentence could be “I want to have 1 million pounds every day” (Iw2h1m£ed), and for your emails it could be “I hope no one reads my emails or hacks in!” (Ihn1rmeohi!).
    • Use something you see whenever you need this password to generate the password. Federal Security Bank might lead to FsBmA3456.
    • Use a telephone keypad or 10 character phrase (i.e. blackstump) to encode numbers as letters or vice versa.
  • Another way is using just numbers, but with an algorithm. You could take your birthday, for instance. For a random birthday, let’s use 23/4/87. 2+3+4+8+7=24. 2+4=6. And so your password is simple. now, take 6 and…. 2x2x2=8 4x2x2=16. 1+6=7. 7×7=49. 49×49=2401. This way, you have a password,(2401) and a way to crack it if you forget it!
  • Change your passwords. You should change your password at least every 30 to 60 days. You should also not re-use a password for at least a year.
  • One other way is to use a word, for example, wikihow, and move your fingers up one row on the keyboard. Wikihow becomes 28i8y92.
  • One more way is to create a random syntax (eg. 2 numbers, 5 letters, 1 punctuation mark and 2 more numbers) and randomly populate it with the characters you have said – 94IdmTg;66 could be a password created in this way. The downside of this method is that it is often difficult for most people to memorise passwords created in this way, but if you use it often enough it should become easier over time. This method is only really useful if you believe other people may overhear/attempt to find out your password, as computers will not find such a password any harder to crack than a password holding some meaning!
  • You could also use an entire sentence as a password – including spaces an punctuation.  (E.g. “My computer is Secure as at 2013!!”)

Remote desktop won’t maximize

posted by Sam Ravenscroft
Aug 5

A frustration that I have been having with Remote Desktop (mstsc.exe) on Windows 7 is that sometimes a window (remote session) just won’t maximize to full screen.  It will maximize, but then have scroll bars on the right and/or bottom and not the usual blue bar at the top.

To alleviate the problem I have been starting all my remote desktop sessions via Start -> Run:

mstsc /v /f


The “/f” at the end forces a full screen.  However I sometimes click on the “Restore Down” button by accident, instead of clicking on the “Minimize” button as intended, and try as you might, when you maximize the window, it just won’t go to full screen mode.

The solution is to press the CTRL-ALT-BREAK keys simultaneously.  This key sequence toggles between “windowed” and full screen mode.

I hope this helps you as this was really driving me up the wall!!!

Need a quick and dirty way to check the size of all users’s Deleted Items in your Exchange Mailbox Database – here is a nifty powershell script I concocted from a variety of other scripts on the net.

C:\Windows\system32>Get-Mailbox -ResultSize unlimited | Get-MailboxFolderStatistics | where{$_.FolderType -eq "DeletedItems"} | Select-Object Identity, {$_.FolderAndSubFolderSize.ToMb()}, ItemsInFolderAndSubFolders | Export-Csv c:\deleted_items.csv

It exports the data to a CSV file on the root of the C: drive (deleted_items.csv).

You can open this in Excel and easily use the SUM function to get a total of all the users’s Deleted Items folders.

(I wrote this on an Exchange 2010 server, it should work on Exchange 2007 also, but I haven’t tested this on Exchange 2007.)

Moving the database (SUSDB)

The following instructions are for moving the SUSDB and should be valid irrespective of if you are using SBS or WSUS as a standalone product.

As with a regular SQL Server datastore, you can detach and move the database.

Since the database is a normal SQL database, you can simply detach, move and reattach the database. In order to do this, you will however need some tools. Note that these tools are not part of the operating system, so if you haven’t already installed them previosly, then you will need to do so now.

The tools you need are eith SQL Server Managment Studio or SQL Server Management Studio Express. At the time of writing the express (free) version can be downloaded from here:
SQL 2005:
SQL 2008:
or search on Google if the above links aren’t valid.
Please download the correct version for your platform (x86 or x64) – Note that SBS 2008+ is ALWAYS x64.

NOTE: You can also download and use the command line tools instead of the full management studio. (If you are familliar with these tools and their usage, then these instructions will probably be a piece of cake for you.)

Command line tools:
sqlncli.msi and SQLServer2005_SQLCMD.msi (Search for them on Google or Microsoft Download)

Prior to moving the database, please stop the following services:

  • IIS Admin Service
  • Update Services (Not Windows Update Service!).

You can do this via the commandline or by using the Services MMC snap-in (start run, services.msc).

Command line:

net stop "update services"
net stop w3svc

(Once the database has been moved you will need to restart these services. Also note that if you have any other services which are dependant on the above services – such as Terminal Services Gateway – they will also be stopped and will need to be restarted.)

Once the services have been stopped, you can proceed to detach the database.

Via SQL Server Management Studio (or Express):

  • Login to server as an administrator.
  • Click Start/Programs/Microsoft SQL Server 2005/SQL Server Management Studio Express. (NOTE: If you are not logged in as Administrator, Right click on SQL Server Management Studio and select Run As Administrator.)
  • Fill in the following information and then click Connect
    • Server type: Database Engine
    • Servername: \\.\pipe\MSSQL$MICROSOFT##SSEE\sql\query
    • Authentication: Windows Authentication
  • Expand Databases, right-click on SUSDB and select Tasks > Detach…  (Please continue reading before proceeding with this step, unless you are 100% sure where your current SUSDB files are located.)
  • Select the “Drop Connection” checkbox and click OK.  (There shouldn’t be any open connections as we have stopped all the relevant services.)
  • Move C:\WSUS\SUSDB folder to the <new drive>:\WSUS directory.  (Assuming that your SUSDB is currently located here – otherwise you can check where it is located prior to detaching the database by viewing it’s properties.)
  • To reattach the database, right-click on Database and select Attach…
  • On the Attach Databases page select the Add button.
  • Browse to the new location of the SUSDB and click OK twice to complete task

Via command line:

  • Login to server as administrator
  • To detach the database:
    c:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\90\Tools\binn\SQLCMD.EXE" -E -S np:\\.\pipe\MSSQL$MICROSOFT##SSEE\sql\query -Q "sp_detach_db 'SUSDB'
  • Now move the SUSDB.mdf and SUSDB.ldf to their new location. In the example below, we use D:\WSUSDB\. Use explorer to move the files to the path you’d like.
  • Then we reattach the database:
    c:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\90\Tools\binn\SQLCMD.EXE" -E -S np:\\.\pipe\MSSQL$MICROSOFT##SSEE\sql\query -Q "sp_attach_db @dbname=N'SUSDB',@filename1=N'E:\WSUSDB\SUSDB.mdf', @filename2=N'D:\WSUSDB\SUSDB_log.ldf'

Moving the content folders (SBS 2008+):

  • Start the Windows SBS Console
  • Click on the Backup and Server Storage icon
  • Click on the Server Storage Tab
  • Select Move Windows Update Repository Data (Right hand side)

Moving the conent folders (non SBS):

The “movecontent” command:

C:\Program Files\Update Services\Tools\wsusutil.exe" movecontent [newpath] [logfile]

For example:

C:\Program Files\Update Services\Tools\wsusutil.exe" movecontent \\server\WSUS$\ c:\wsusmove.log
C:\Program Files\Update Services\Tools\wsusutil.exe" movecontent D:\WSUS c:\wsusmove.log



I can never seem to remember how to do this on 2008, so herewith instructions (copied from above link):

Time synchronization is an important aspect for all computers on the network. By default, the clients computers get their time from a Domain Controller and the Domain Controller gets his time from the domain’s PDC Operation Master. Therefore the PDC must synchronize his time from an external source. I usually use the servers listed at the NTP Pool Project website. Before you begin, don’t forget to open the default UDP 123 port (in- and outbound) on your firewall.

  1. First, locate your PDC Server. Open the command prompt and type: C:\>netdom /query fsmo
  2. Log in to your PDC Server and open the command prompt.
  3. Stop the W32Time service: C:\>net stop w32time
  4. Configure the external time sources, type: C:\> w32tm /config /syncfromflags:manual /manualpeerlist:”,,”
  5. Make your PDC a reliable time source for the clients. Type: C:\>w32tm /config /reliable:yes
  6. Start the w32time service: C:\>net start w32time
  7. The windows time service should begin synchronizing the time. You can check the external NTP servers in the time configuration by typing: C:\>w32tm /query /configuration
  8. Check the Event Viewer for any errors.

If you’re in South Africa, then pick one of the stratum 2 server on the following website:

At the time of writing, they are:

Stratum-2 Servers

Server DNS name Location Hosted by OS Platform Upstream ISP Pretoria CSIR FreeBSD Internet Solutions Johannesburg Internet Solutions UNIX / FreeBSD Internet Solutions Cape Town Internet Solutions UNIX / FreeBSD Internet Solutions Cape Town SAIX Solaris SAIX Johannesburg M-Web Cisco Internet Solutions Cape Town MTN Business FreeBSD MTN Business New Doornfontein, Jhb MTN Business FreeBSD MTN Business Cape Town MTN Business FreeBSD MTN Business


To uncap or not to uncap…

posted by Sam Ravenscroft
Aug 20

Up to recently internet access in South Africa has been billed by the GB – i.e. capped internet, with a few providers such as Internet Solutions offering uncapped solutions to businesses, but at a very high price.

Some months ago M-Web released their uncapped offerings starting from R219 / month.

It is a very attractive offer, but not necessarily cheaper than capped internet.

The following table summarises the costs of capped vs uncapped, based on a per gigabyte price of R59 / gig (inclusive of 14% VAT):

Line speed Telkom rental M-Web data M-Web all incl Telkom + M-Web Data All inclusive saving Gigs at avg. cost
384 R152,00 R219,00 R349,00 R371,00 R(22,00) 3,711864407
512 R326,00 R299,00 R599,00 R625,00 R(26,00) 5,06779661
4096 R413,00 R539,00 R899,00 R952,00 R(53,00) 9,13559322
Avg. / GB price R59,00
All pricing includes 14% VAT
This information is provided as is and without any warranty whether express or implied.
Information based on pricing as advertised on Telkom and M-Web’s websites on 18/08/2010

Based on the information in the table above it is clear that uncapped is only cheaper if you use more than 3GB of data / month on a 384 Kbps line, 5GB on a 512 Kbps line and 9 GB on a 4096 Kbps line.

Herewith the same table based on R70 / gig (inclusive of 14% VAT):

Line speed Telkom rental M-Web data M-Web all incl Telkom + M-Web Data All inclusive saving Gigs at avg. cost
384 R152,00 R219,00 R349,00 R371,00 R(22,00) 3,128571429
512 R326,00 R299,00 R599,00 R625,00 R(26,00) 4,271428571
4096 R413,00 R539,00 R899,00 R952,00 R(53,00) 7,7

Installing Telnet Client on Vista

posted by Sam Ravenscroft
Aug 3


By default, Vista doesn’t install the Telnet client.  Often used for debugging purposes (network connection problems / SMTP diagnostics etc). Install it by following these steps:

1. Open Control Panel from the Start Menu.

2. Select Programs and Features.

3. Select Turn Windows features on or off.

4. Select the Telnet Client option.

5. Click OK.

6. A dialog box will appear to confirm installation. The telnet command should now be available.

Note that it might take some time for this to complete.

Skype for Asterisk

posted by Sam Ravenscroft
Jul 31

For some time now I have been interested in hooking my asterisk server up to Skype – I mean isn’t this the next logical step?

So after googling around, I came upon many sites that offer software packages that integrate with Asterisk via SIP.  I even ended up purchasing a license for SiskyEE from Yeastar. Now finally Digium has opened up the beta program for “Skype for Asterisk”…

Here’s the e-mail I received:

Hello from Digium® We are pleased to announce the open beta of Skype For Asterisk is ready to begin and we look forward to you participation. To obtain your copy of the software, please visit Digium’s web store and purchase (for zero dollars) the Skype For Asterisk product. The web store does require a account, which can be set up during the purchase process if you don’t already have one.

Once the web store process is complete, you will be e-mailed your license key and directions on where to download Skype For Asterisk beta software.

The beta version of software and license keys will only be available for download through August 7th. License keys will expire on August 31st.

Happy testing!

Sincerely, Pete Engler, Product Manager

I can’t wait to try this out… Will post more once I have had a chance to test this!

Jan 28

I recently encountered a problem with one of our SBS servers running Symantec Backup Exec 12.  Jobs would not run and the job status kept saying “Server Paused”.  Apart from that there was also a problem with the SCSI card timing out…

I rebooted the server and the SCSI time-outs disappeared, but the job status still said “Server paused”.  Although the tabular view under the job monitor said “running”, jobs were not running, and job activity (double click on running job) gave status “server paused”.

Under the devices tab the server was not set to pause.  However, setting it to pause and then un-pausing the server resolved my problem.  (This is accomplished by right-click on the server name, underneath the “Devices” tab and then clicking on pause.)  Jobs were now running and no longer showed status “server paused” under the job activity window.

A truly strange problem, with an easy solution.

Please note that the SCSI time-outs and “server paused” seems to have been unrelated.