Windows 10: Disappearing mouse cursor…

August 5th, 2015

windows 10

Mouse cursor disappears after you’ve logged in? Try this:

Change the registry key ‘EnableCursorSuppression’ to ‘0’.

HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System\EnableCursorSuppression=0

Need assistance? Reach out, and we can schedule a remote session to take care of the issue.

Solution worked for you like it has for me? You can say thanks via PayPal here!



Be Critical of Claims…

April 19th, 2011

Looking for a good, qualified, professional IT services company shouldn’t be as difficult as it is.

Some have argued recently that regulation by the state, like they do with contractors, would help this. I disagree, for a myriad of reasons. But that is for another post.

I would venture to say that one way is to simply be more critical of the claims of a company. For example:

Do they claim to be a “leading” company? If so, by what criteria?

Do they claim to be vendor-neutral? If so, is that reflected in their partnerships with certain hardware or software manufacturers? Vendor neutrality is extremely rare–we all have preferences based on situation, support options, etc.

Do they make a particularly major point about the age of the company or date it was established? Does that ignore ownership changes or employee turnover, both of which can be far more of an indicator of the true stability of the company?

Are they a one-size-fits-all company? One of the major trends on IT in recent years is that of managed services, and there are some very valid reasons for it. But is it the right fit for every client? Absolutely not.

IT Service Works is here as a resource, whether that be to consult and support your company, supplement your current IT support, or to provide an accurate, unbiased analysis of your current support and issues. Feel free to contact with any questions!

Welcome Rubber Duck Technology Customers!

June 15th, 2010

Changes in IT service providers can sometimes be challenging…for both sides. But rest assured that IT Service Works is not only here to help you through this time and the future, but I’ll also still be maintaining contact with Dutch to be able to get information that you might not have documented, or further background as needed.

If any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me (contact info at Contact in navigation above)!

October: Big Changes

October 17th, 2009

Typically, changes in the industry are geared toward the holiday season, but this year the big changes are coming early. On October 22nd, Microsoft releases Windows 7 to the public, followed within days by Ubuntu 9.10.

For the vast majority, only Windows 7 will be important. But it is a major change. Those who have been using Vista and its on-and-off annoyances, Windows 7 will be a breath of fresh air. In my opinion, it is what Vista should have (and could have) been. It is far more stable and more refined than Vista, and has some incredible new features.

My personal favorite: the new taskbar. It is no longer the old taskbar that we’ve had since Windows 95. Rather than a bar that simply shows what programs are running, it is morphing into a dock, with auto-previews of the open windows of those programs.

If you would like to check it out before October 22nd, let me know–I have the RTM (release to manufacturing–the actual finalized program) installed on my laptop, and would be glad to demo it.

While Microsoft mades significant strides in Win7, Ubuntu is slowly gaining ground. For those unaware, Ubuntu is a major Linux distribution. And while Linux is used for many server applications, it is making inroads into the desktop world.

What are the benefits?

1. For one, Linux is free, as is almost all Linux software. For some, that is a huge benefit.
2. Performance on the same hardware as Windows is usually significantly better.
3. Security: in part because it has a smaller market share, in part because it is designed completely differently, it has virtually no risk for viruses or malware.

However, Linux is not for everyone. Many businesses run line-of-business applications that are specific only to Windows servers or workstations, eliminating the possibility. But for those using computers for basic office applications, Ubuntu may be a great fit. And once the new version is released, I will be running on my laptop on a second drive and will be more than happy to demonstrate.

Vista and Server 2008 SP2 released

May 26th, 2009

SP2 for Vista and Server 2008 released 5/25/2009. Links below.
For 32-bit

For 64-bit

Is a 500MB standalone download, so take into consideration. Review will be posted later today.

New Site Layout

April 10th, 2009

The new site design is intended to not only simplify the site, but to add some features. A main addition, as you will see in the navigation menu, is the inclusion of a business directory. This addition is one that I am really excited about.

The businesses that will be listed here are ones that I myself have dealt with in some capacity, whether that is professionally or personally. These are businesses that I trust. These are people that I want to refer to you.

The listings will begin to be populated over the next few days, but will be ongoing. If you would like to be considered, please go to the Join page and submit your information!

Also, the use of categories and tags will be changing, since the new layout uses those differently that the previous…so stay tuned!

Small Business Server 2003 and Spam

February 12th, 2009

Despite years of fighting it, legislation designed to deter it, and technology designed to stop it, spam is only increasing. For small business clients running Small Business Server 2003, the increase of spam is a decrease in productivity as email has to be checked and/or deleted.

Years ago Microsoft came out with the Intelligent Message Filtering for Exchange and SBS, but it has continually fallen short for desired results. It bases its filtering on the SCL (spam confidence rating) of an email message, where the content of a message is “read” and given a rating based on content and its likelihood of being spam. Results, as the advertising world would say, vary–but in general, it isn’t reliable.

Other vendors–both hardware and software–have begun adding services designed to combat spam. A particular one I like is a gateway anti-spam service for Watchguard firewalls, mostly because I like the idea of a gateway device doing so before the spam hits an Exchange or SBS server.

But even so, I very recently came across a solution to add much more effective filtering into SBS/Exchange. So much in fact that with one client, it reduced their spam problem to almost nil. Was so effective that I immediately applied the same to two other clients with SBS 2003 and then emailed them. In both cases, they saw a huge difference…and both sent emails thanking me for the proactive response.

Best of all, it required no additional software or hardware, just some configuration. If you would like to know more, or would like assistance in getting the spam under control in your SBS-based network, please contact me!

And when the internal spam filtering just isn’t cutting it, check out this spam filtering service that ITSW uses with clients!

Do you really need a mail server?

January 26th, 2009

One of the trends over the past 10+ years has been for a small business to bring their email internal using Small Business Server, Exchange, a Linux server, etc. But is it necessary any longer?

For some, the answer will be yes…whether by size or industry requirements. But for others, there are new options that provide similar functionality with far less financial and technical  burden. Hosted Exchange is one of those options, Google Apps is another, and others are beginning to come into play.

The cost for these other options most often is a flat monthly or yearly fee per mailbox, and tend to be relatively low. Google Apps also offers a free version with limitations on space, is ad-supported, and doesn’t provide for archiving/message security. But for many small businesses, it provides what is needed.

An additional benefit to hosted email? Disaster recovery…since it is hosted elsewhere, and most often across multiple geographically-diverse data centers, you have the safety that your email/calendars will be available if something happens locally.

Any questions? Feel free to email me at scott@itserviceworks.com

–S.

Windows 7 Initial Review

January 20th, 2009

With Windows 7 coming at us full-bore later this year….yes, this year, I thought it would be time to get the beta installed and check it out. Installed via VirtualBox on my laptop: a Lenovo Thinkpad R61, Core 2 Duo T7500 (2.2GHz), 2GB RAM.

First surprise: installed quickly, despite the virtual environment. 13 minutes to the first reboot, then another 5 minutes to complete the install of other components. The install itself was strikingly similar to Vista’s otherwise.

Once in Windows the first noticeable feature is that of the redesigned taskbar. Would love to say it’s revolutionary, but it’s really not. It’s barely evolutionary. But it is a good redesign, and users will find it quite useful. But again, it’s only a small, incremental change that’s really more worthy of a service pack-level change, not a new OS. (click to enlarge)

Next let’s take a look at the next thing to be noticed: the Start menu. Again, small tweaks. Good tweaks. See the changes below…especially the new Shutdown.

One cool change…yes, I said cool. Rather than having the Recent items as a separate entry, each program has its own. See the Paint entry below as I snagged screenshots.

The surprising thing (in a positive sense) is performance: even in a VM with only 512MB RAM assigned to it, performance was actually very decent.

We’ll take a look at the new Ribbon features in many of the included programs in the next part of this review…

Business Examiner Article!

January 2nd, 2009

I was featured in the Dec 2008 edition of the Business Examiner! Text below:

Executive SPOTLIGHT

Editor’s Note: Executive Spotlight is a profile of an individual, business or local industry here in the South Sound. The feature will appear in the print edition of the Business Examiner as well as its online sibling; the BE Daily. Candidates from this feature are chosen from print and BE Daily subscriber lists. To subscribe, visit www.BusinessExaminer.com.

New small business owner ready to provide support
After 12 years working as an information technology consultant for several South Sound companies, Scott Kuhn took his own one-man IT support firm full time just last month.

Kuhn’s firm, IT Service Works, is based in Tacoma, though he works on-site for companies across the state and beyond. A Navy veteran, Kuhn got a degree in Church Ministries before focusing on the rapidly growing local technology sector.

He does wish he had taken more of an interest in the bookkeeping side of business ownership earlier in his career. “I’ve always been adverse to the back-office financial aspect,” Kuhn said. “I wanted to take care of the client and fix the issues, not generate invoices and manage billing. That being said, I now find myself having to.”

Kuhn said supporting local IT needs isn’t what he dreamed of doing with his life, but he understands his attraction to it. “It isn’t too much of a shock” he said. “I get to have the balance between technical issues and dealing with people that I’ve enjoyed for years.”

Kuhn advises others interested in a career in the technology sector to understand that most issues aren’t purely technical. “Have people skills,” he said. “Have patience. Have more patience.”

Kuhn said he chose to work with small businesses because of the economy. “When times are tough, the companies hardest hit are the larger ones:’ he said. “Small business owners, by and large, keep going because they have to. Just like me, they’ve got families to feed.”

Kuhn said, if he could do anything over, he would’ve taken the daunting leap into small business ownership earlier in his career. “I would have gone out on my own sooner, despite the risk and uncertainty,” he said.

Ping an IP Address Range

October 11th, 2008

From commandline:

for /L %z in (1,1,254) do @ping 10.0.0.%z -w 10 -n 1 | find “Reply”

Change the “10.0.0.” to appropriate local network.

Did the info help? You can say thanks via PayPal here!

Moving shares between servers, maintain security

October 7th, 2008

1. On the the source server: START > RUN > REGEDT32
2. Go to the key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/SYSTEM/CurrentControlSet/Services/LanmanServer/Shares

3. From the Registry menu, select Export Registry file.
4. Copy the file to the target server
5. On the target server: START > RUN > Name of the exported registry file> OK
6. Reboot the target server

If any of the local paths of the shares change (for example, E:\Data to F:\Data), the locations can be edited in Share Management on the target server.

Then use Robocopy to transfer the files from old to new share and maintain file/folder permissions!

 

Did the info help? You can say thanks via PayPal here!

Robocopy is your friend!

October 7th, 2008

Robocopy (short for robust file copy) is a utility that originally was contained in Server 2003 Resource Kit, but became so popular that it was included natively in Server 2008 and in Vista. For those that have used xcopy, this is like xcopy…on steriods.

It allows for mirroring of directories, or, my personal favorite, migration of data from old servers to new. And it does so maintaining NTFS permissions.

See more on Wikipedia (opens on new window).

If you need any guidance in using robocopy, please feel free to contact me via the Contact page.

 

Did the info help? You can say thanks via PayPal here!

Font Smoothing in Ubuntu (or derivative)

August 24th, 2008

The default fonts on my Mint were driving me crazy at this resolution (1280×1024), and options for the kind of font smoothing that XP and Vista have weren’t readily apparent. But thanks to the knowledgebase that is the Internet (yeah, I’m sure it’s also in some man pages in Mint as well) here’s how to enable:

From Terminal, type:

sudo gedit ~/.fonts.conf

(or even better, copy and paste into Terminal!)

Likely is blank. Copy this into it:

<fontconfig>
<match target=”font”>
<edit name=”autohint” mode=”assign”>
<bool>true</bool>
</edit>
</match>
</fontconfig>
Save, Log off/in…done.

Install Microsoft TrueType Fonts in Ubuntu (Or Derivative)

August 24th, 2008

So I’d grown accustomed to the default fonts in Mint, and hadn’t had any issues since the font smoothing. But today I decided to install the Windows TrueType fonts….and wow, what a difference!

It’s not so much the fonts themselves, just that nearly everything online and off is built using them. So websites look different–heck, my blog even looks different.

So here’s how:
From Terminal, type: sudo apt-get install msttcorefonts
Enter sudo password and off you go.

Update the cache by then typing:
sudo fc-cache -fv

 

Did the info help? You can say thanks via PayPal here!

Mount Windows Shares in Ubuntu (or derivative)

August 24th, 2008

1. edit your /etc/hosts file; give the Windows machine an associated name (or to be consistent with Windows networking, the machine’s Netbios name)
2. install the samba and smbfs packages (sudo apt-get install samba/smbfs)
3. Create a directory for the share to appear locally (sudo mkdir /mnt/bob, for instance)
4. Edit /etc/fstab for the share (example of //systemname/sharename /mnt/bob cifs exec,credentials=/etc/cifspw 0 0)
5. Since you just referred it to a password file, create that (in /etc/cifspw for the credentials of the share, as in:
username=Bob
password=BobHasNoPassword)
6. Secure it, if you want (sudo chmod 600 /etc/cifspw)
7. Mount it up: sudo mount -a
8. Create shortcuts/links as you will (the mount is in the location you specified in step 3)

Keeping home directory on separate partition

August 24th, 2008

Ubuntu’s done some phenomenal work the past few years helping move Linux mainstream. One of the things they haven’t done–and they are not alone–is emphasize creating and using a separate partition mounted as /home.

Why is that important? Well, take me, for example. Reformatted my laptop a couple days ago, and after running into an issue configuring a VM, I started over yet again. Did I need to back up, reconfigure everything (as if I was in Windows)? Nope. Matter of fact, the /home directory contains a lot of configuration info, your Docs and Pictures…so I booted up after the install, and even Evolution was already set up and waiting for me to read my email. No configuration needed. Desktop wallpaper, configurations I’d done to the Gnome panel, everything was there. As it should be, I might add…

So, Canonical…please consider it as a standard like you do with the swap partition. And, um, Redmond….it’s still not too late to do the same sort of thing with Windows.