Shutting down Windows 8 using only the keyboard

Screenshot of the desktop settings panel One of the issues with Windows 8 is trying to find how to shut it down!

Only the free developer preview has been released so far, so all may change by time the beta comes out (rumoured February 2012). For now it’s been quite tricky to shutdown or restart your PC. One way is to create some shutdown tiles for the Start Screen but I’ve learnt a couple off ways using just the keyboard.

  1. Press [CTRL]+[ALT]+[DEL] then use the Power button at the bottom right of the screen. You can press tab a lot of times to get to the Power icon but the option below is a bit quicker
  2. [WIN]+[I], [LEFT], [SPACE], [UP], [ENTER]

“+” means press the keys together, a “,” means do the next press separately

You’ve got Emoji – Smilie Characters discovered in a font

Screenshot of all of the special characters
To get these simple but cool emoticons/emoji/smilies or whatever you want to call them you will need the Segoe UI Semibold font that comes with Windows 7 (possibly Vista too?).
In Microsoft Word, click the Insert tab on the ribbon. On the far-right click the Symbol button, followed by the More Symbols option

Continue reading You’ve got Emoji – Smilie Characters discovered in a font

Group Policy Management Overview

gpmc iconWe use Group Policy to tweak the default settings on Microsoft Servers and PCs. You edit the policies using the Group Policy Editor console (gpedit.msc) but to manage the policies you use the Group Policy Management Console (gpmc.msc). The more policies you start to create, the more confusing managing them can become and with each new version of Microsoft software (Office included) new Group Policy templates are added. This article is to give you an insight into exactly what the Group Policy Management Console (GPMC) is about and how everything links together.

It’s always best to edit policies from the latest OS. This is one of the reasons to always have a VM somewhere with the latest OS purely for Group Policy. Alternatively, if you are using the latest OS then you can install the GPMC from the Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) and then edit the policies from there. If you don’t, it’s not a big issue but some policies won’t be available. All of the templates can be stored in a central location in Active Directory so they can be accessed by all domain machines. There is some debate whether it is best to have the policies held locally rather than in the central store but I think it works well. By default this is \\DCName\sysvol\domain.name\Policies\PolicyDefinitions. If you ever download a new template you will need to put it in there. For more details on activating the central store se the following Microsoft Support article

Inheritance & Precedence

Group Policies Objects (GPOs) are created in the Group Policy Objects folder in GPMC. Policies are then linked to Active Directory Organizational Units (OUs). You can link as many Policies as you like to an OU and you can also link the same policy to as many OUs as you like. You can also block inheritance by right-clicking an OU and disabling it. The precedence of any GPOs, i.e. what GPO policy wins out of any competing policies, can be changed in the Linked GPO tab of an OU. Normally the deepest policy wins.

Continue reading Group Policy Management Overview

What is GiffGaff? The best, cheapest mobile network I’ve used!

Get a free Giffgaff SimSmartphones are great. I got a beautiful Samsung Omnia 7 Windows Phone this time last year and don’t think I’ll ever go back to a dumb/feature phone again. Part of the reason smartphones are so smart is that they have an always on internet connection. Unfortunately, the big mobile phone networks/carriers in the UK (Orange, Vodafone, Three & O2) see this as a great opportunity to squeeze even more money out of you. My phone was originally on Three’s network and although they had great speeds if you went over their measly data allowance you got charged a hefty sum. One month I got charged £15 for data alone! When I called their customer services I was told I’d have to pay if I wanted this itemised and it was my fault for going over the allowance. After about 30 minutes of arguing and being put on hold I gave up, chucked out the Three SIM card and looked into better value options.

Continue reading What is GiffGaff? The best, cheapest mobile network I’ve used!

How To – Allow non-admins to start and stop system services

Jump down to Step 1 to skip the blurb

Any Microsoft Windows operating system has services. These are little programs that run in the background of the OS to keep things ticking over. They’re really fundamental to servers as it means that programs can run in the background without any user being logged. In fact Windows servers are fine-tuned to give better performance to background services rather than any app running on the screen.

It’s always the best principle to log on with the least amount of privileges on any PC, i.e. you shouldn’t log on to a desktop or server with full admin rights. You should log on as a normal user and only elevate the  programmes authority to admin level if absolutely necessary.

Some System Administrators may want an easy life and just let everything “run as admin” as it cuts back on a lot of problems, especially when using old software. Obviously this greatly widens the security attack vector, as any user who can gain access to the machine can do anything they want on it.

However, one of the issues of running as a standard user is that you are not allowed to stop or start Windows services. That is by design, you wouldn’t really want a non-admin to stop a critical service. The problem is when you have a Service Account running (as good practice dictates) as a lowly user. To get around this you can give the Service Account permission to do whatever you want to a particular service you want. Unfortunately, this is a bit more convoluted than setting file permissions. This article will explain how to achieve this. It applies to all versions of Windows from Windows 2000 or newer. My screenshots are from the Windows 8 Developer Preview.

Continue reading How To – Allow non-admins to start and stop system services