Adding users to Exchange Distribution Group

Last week, I showed you how you can create distribution groups. Those groups are relatively worthless, however, without any users added to them. How we go about doing this, depends on what console you decide to use.

Exchange console:

  1. Open your Microsoft Exchange console
  2. Browse to Recipient Configuration > Distribution Group
  3. Find the group in question, and double click it
  4. Switch to the “Members” tab, and click the “Add” button:
    Exchange group properties
  5. Search for, and add the users in question

Active Directory Users and Computers:

  1. Open your Active Directory Console
  2. Browse to the distribution group, and double click it.
  3. Switch to the “Members” tab, and click the “Add” button:
    Group properties
  4. Search for, and add, the users you want
  5. Don’t forget to save the changes; click OK to exit the view

#BTS: Another number puzzle

The third brain teaser saturday is here, and here, for your puzzling pleasure, is this week’s brain teaser (feel free to post your solution in the comments):


That all over and done with, here’s the solution for last week’s puzzle:

The answer is 200. I arrived at this answer by dividing each number after the equals sign, with the one in front of it. I quickly realized that for each increase of one in front of the equals sign, the increase in the multiplier (with which you multiply the number in front of the equals sign) was two. For example, 98/7=14. Following right along, we can solve all the way up to 11 (and beyond): 8*16=128 9*18=162 10*20=200, 11*22=242.

TBT: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome

This post originally ran in July 2008. I am reposting it now, as part of my throwback thursday project, to give some of my older quality posts some love. The lessons outlined in this article are as relevant today as they were when the article was originally written.

Improvise, adapt, overcome has for a long time been a mantra within armed forces around the world who, when faced with gruelling challenges and little or no epuipment, have improvised to face the challenge, adapted to the challenge and lastly overcome the challenge.

The same attitude is necessary in IT support. Support departments around the world will tell you that they are constantly under-staffed, over-worked, and lacking both training and equipment, be it software or hardware.

In my experience, the most successful support technicians are the ones who do the best with what they have. A can-do attitude, and a willingness to face any problem head on, rolling with the punches, and asking for more on the other side.

Here’s what these terms mean to me:

In terms of IT Service and Support, improvisation means working around a problem, finding a temporary fix. Practical example: A user calls in, and is unable to print. You set the user up with a different printer as a temporary fix, solving the more immediate problem.

Adapting to the problem means finding a temporary or semi-permanent workaround, using what tools are available, as well as online resources, to work around the problem permanently, though not resolving it. Practical example: A user calls in, and tells you their anti-virus solution is not working. You install a different anti-virus solution.

Overcoming the problem means finding a permanent fix, resolving the problem. Practical example: A user reports being unable to create PDF documents. You install PDF-creating software.

The last part of the title of this article is also drawn from the military. A training exercise is not called an exercise, but an evolution. In terms of IT Service and Support, evolve means not only improvising a temporary fix, adapting to a problem and providing a permanent work-around or overcoming a problem, permanently fixing it, but at the end of it having learnt from the experience, and even documenting the solution for future reference.

Creating a Distribution Group in Exchange

Distribution Groups, commonly referred to as mailing lists, are practical tools to send email to a number of people, without having to grab each address from the address book. They are also pretty simple to create. Here is how it’s done:

Exchange console:

  1. Open your Microsoft Exchange console
  2. Browse to Recipient Configuration > Distribution Group
  3. In the menu on the right-hand side, click “New Distribution Group”:
    New Distribution Group
  4. Complete each step in the wizard. Specify the OU to use as appropriate:
    New Distribution Group Wizard

#BTS: A number puzzle

The second brain teaser saturday is here, and here, for your puzzling pleasure, is this week’s brain teaser (feel free to post your solution in the comments):


And now: the solution to last week’s puzzle:


  • Titles: Software Architect, Senior Engineer, CTO, Engineer, Support technician
  • Cars: Volkswagen e-Up!, Mercedes CLK, Skoda Octavia, Citroën Berlingo, BMW 110i
  • Names: Thomasson, Akers, Jameson, Liddell, Daniels
  • The Software Architect was not first, second or fifth
  • Thomasson was not first, fourth or fifth
  • Thomasson is not the Software Architect
  • The driver of the Skoda Octavia was not first, fourth or fifth
  • The driver of the the Volkswagen e-Up! was fourth or fifth
  • The CTO was third or fourth
  • The CTO was not on the Skoda Octavia or Citroën Berlingo
  • The driver of the the Citroën Berlingo was fourth or fifth
  • The driver of the the Skoda Octavia was before the CTO
  • The Senior Engineer was Second
  • Daniels was Fourth
  • Engineer Jameson was first or third
  • Thomasson was not from the BMW 110i
  • Liddell arrived before Thomasson, so he must be first or second

Theory: Thomasson is the Senior Engineer

Let’s test it:

  1. Liddell
  2. Senior Engineer Thomasson
  3. Engineer Jameson
  4. Software Architect Daniels
  5. Volkswagen e-Up!

This fails, because the CTO was third or fourth. Hence, Thomasson must be third. Let’s assemble a list of personnel and titles:

  1. Engineer Jameson
  2. Senior Engineer Liddell
  3. CTO Thomasson
  4. Software Architect Daniels
  5. Support technician Akers – These two are the ones left when placing the other eight

The personnell and titles fit well, and there seem to be no discrepancies. We then add the cars, and end up with the following list, in order of arrival:

  1. Engineer Jameson in a BMW 110i
  2. Senior Engineer Liddell in a Skoda Octavia
  3. CTO Thomasson in a Mercedes CLK
  4. Software Architect Daniels in a Citroën Berlingo
  5. Support technician Akers in a Volkswagen e-Up!

That works out well, with no apparent discrepancies.

TBT: Better Notepad

This post originally ran in June 2008. I am reposting it now, as part of my throwback thursday project, to give some of my older quality posts some love. To this day, Notepad++ is my default notepad app for use on Windows. It is regularly updated, and still works very well.

I write a lot of different things, from text for my blog, to content for my website to various kinds of code and script. For a long time I simply used notepad, it was most of what I needed, and it did the job.

A while back, I discovered a very good alternative. It’s called Notepad++, and can be seen as a heavily beefed up version of Notepad. Like Notepad, it simply works, but unlike notepad, it has syntax highlighting and folding, and a sidebar explorer to mention only a few of the features.. Here’s what it looks like:

Notepad++ - Like Notepad only better

Published under the GNU General Public Licence (GNU-GPL), it is lightweight, simple to use, and very powerful. In other words, it’s just the tool I’ve been looking for for years.

The full list of features goes as follows:

  • Syntax Highlighting and Syntax Folding
  • User Defined Syntax Highlighting
  • Auto-completion
  • Multi-Document
  • Multi-View
  • Regular Expression Search/Replace supported
  • Full Drag ‘N’ Drop supported
  • Dynamic position of Views
  • File Status Auto-detection
  • Zoom in and zoom out
  • Multi-Language environment supported
  • Bookmark
  • Brace and Indent guideline Highlighting
  • Macro recording and playback

If you want to give it a try, you can find it here.

Spreading the word and interpreting the analytics

As I said back in March, I have a fair bit of knowledge about you, my readers. While I enjoy writing, and a lot of the posts on this blog have been highly useful to me, it is good to know that there are people who read it who are not, well, me. To get word out there about new posts, I use the following channels:

  • Google +
  • LinkedIn
  • RSS
  • Tumblr
  • Twitter

Whenever a new post is published, it is also automatically posted to all of these. That covers spreading the word, now on to analytics. LinkedIn lets me see how many people click on a link I post, right on the front page, which is useful. Other than that, I have a number of dashboards I use:

So, what do these dashboards tell me? According to Twitter, my tweets get few impressions (somewhere on the order of 25-50), and no engagement whatsoever (unless they are retweeted by someone else, or involve something controversial). Google Analytics (which is set up to ignore me whenever I visit) tells me that I have an average of twelve to fifteen thousand monthly readers, of which six point three per cent are repeat visitors. Most visit using computers (about 85 %), followed by tablets (about 10%) and smartphones (about 5%). The pages per session rate is at 1.08%, which means that 1.08% of users move beyond the first page they hit.

All of that tracks closely with the data I get from Google AdSense, and I have a high rate of confidence in the accuracy of that data. The data from Google Analytics and AdSense are borne out in the data from JetPack, and the differences in the data is small enough to be of no importance.

As for geography, the data stacks up as follows (approximate numbers, top five countries only):

  1. United States (35%)
  2. United Kingdom (9%)
  3. India (8%)
  4. Australia (5%)
  5. Germany (4%)

The five most popular posts are:

  1. Fixing “The security database on the server does not have a computer account for this workstation trust relationship”
  2. Spelling it out – using the NATO phonetic alphabet to our advantage
  3. Lotus Notes: Resolving “File Already Exists” issues
  4. How to print booklets from your Mac
  5. Exporting a list of all computers from Active Directory

Rounding out the knowledge I get from automated sources, is the number of subscribers to the RSS feed, of which there are, on average 53. Finally there is the data you gave me in the survey. That is to say, that’s what I was planning on writing about at this point in the post. There’s only one problem, which is that the survey only got four responses. I will make another survey towards the end of the year, to see if we can learn something then.

At this point, I’m sure you may be wondering why I have written this post? Well, there are a few reasons for that. First, I wanted to take a look at the data, and see what I could learn from it. Second, I want there to be some transparency involved in your readership of the blog, and I feel that this post goes a long way to address that. I am planning on revisiting this data at more or less regular intervals, probably as part of my annual roundup article.

As usual, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask them in the comment field below.

#BTS: Brain Teaser Saturday

I happen to like brain teasers and logic puzzles, and will be posting a few going forward. I will do it like this: On one Saturday, I will post a brain teaser, leaving the solution out of it. The following week, I will post another brain teaser, again sans solution, and include the solution to the preceding week’s puzzle. These posts will all be titled #BTS, for Brain Teaser Saturday. I hope you enjoy!

The following logic test is a variation of one that has been bandied around for ages. It is fairly simple once you find the solution, but that is the trick; finding the solution. The way I arrived at my solution, as well as the solution itself, is below the break.

The team is going to a team-building exercise somewhere in the wilderness. They drive their separate cars there. From the following information and the clues, can you determine the team members’ titles, (one was Support technician), their last name (one was Akers), what car they drove (one was Mercedes CLK) and when they arrived (from first to fifth)?

  1. The Software Architect arrived after Thomasson but before the driver of the Volkswagen e-Up!.
  2. The driver of the Skoda Octavia was not the first to arrive, but he arrived ahead in a CTO who arrived before the driver of the Citroën Berlingo.
  3. The Senior Engineer arrived second.
  4. Daniels arrived fourth.
  5. Engineer Jameson did not arrive last.
  6. Thomasson, who did not drive the BMW 110i, arrived later than Liddell.

Enabling or disabling the Switch User option

Some time ago, a user called in, saying that the Switch User option had suddenly disappeared. I connected to her computer, and sure enough, there was no Switch User option in either the Lock Screen or the Ctrl+Alt+Del-screen, and the option was greyed out in the Start Menu. Luckily, getting it back was easy enough. Here’s how:

  1. Start the Local Group Policy Editor
  2. Navigate to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > System > Logon
  3. Open the policy called “Hide entry points for Fast User Switching”
  4. Modify the setting as desired, and click Apply:
    Hide entry points for Fast User Switching

The default setting is “Not Configured”. “Enabled” means that Fast User Switching options are not shown, and so the solution for my user, who wanted to have the option shown, was to Disable the setting.

Start Local Group Policy editor

Every now and again, I find that I need to have a look at, or even edit, the local group policies on a computer. To do this, we use a tool called Local Group Policy editor. Here’s how to start it:

  • Open the run prompt, either by hitting “run” in the Start menu, or by entering Windows key+R
  • In the run prompt, enter gpedit.msc

There you go; Local Group Policy editor opened.