Windows 10 / 11 VPN dial up before logon

This used to be possible on older versions of Windows but now it is not possible to connect to a VPN until after one logs on, without some creative effort. There are several ways to archive this but they all end up with a new icon on the pre logon screen so one can open a VPN to a remote Domain and then logon as a normal Domain PC or laptop. [...] Read more

VOIP and the SME

Herr in the UK, Open Reach/BT is switching the old copper cables based PSTN to an all fibre optic based system, and by early 2026 all telephones will need to run over digital fibre rather than analogue copper. You can read more about the process here: [...] Read more

E-fax - electronic systems to test 'old school' physical fax machines

Many organisations still have the odd traditional fax machine connected but rarely used. However, when it is needed it is often found not to be connected, not working and not much use! So the ability to test a traditional fax easily and at no real cost is welcome. If this interests you, check out PDF24 Fax. It is easy and quick to set up a free [...] Read more

Cloudflare, Wordpress and DIVI CMS

All three of these products are, in my opinion, very useful and worth using in terms of web site development. For those of you who are unfamiliar with them, Cloudflare is a CDN (Content Distribution Network/cache), Wordpress is the most popular CMS (Content Management System) used to create websites and DIVI is a paid for WYSIWYG editing tool [...] Read more

SMTP SmartHost - What, Why & How...

An SMTP SmartHost is simply an external SMTP server which allows email to be relayed through it. You might want this as an 'add on' to your existing in house SMTP server to filter out certain traffic and direct it explicitly - and only it - vi an external sever. This might be due to geo blocks or the need to control traffic more tightly than [...] Read more

How to open a command prompt on a remote windows PC

There are many times a Sysadmin might want to do this without using RDP or similar tools, and I recently remembered winrs is built into all modern Windows systems and allows one to do just that! So open an elevated command windows on a local PC and run winrs -r:remotepc-name-or-ip cmd This then opens a command shell on the local PC. Use 'exit' [...] Read more

Use Powershell to send email via GMail

This note follows on from the previous one and outlines some of the issues and solutions to using Powershell to send automated emails via GMail. First of all, this simple script will send an email via GMail, assuming you have already set GMail up for 'app access'. # $secpasswd = ConvertTo-SecureString "plain-txt-gmail-pswd" -AsPlainText -Force [...] Read more

Can I still send automated SMTP traffic via GMail in 2023? - Yes!

In the Sysadmin world it is essential to be able to send automated messages via SMTP to carry alerts or status messages of various systems. Whilst it is best to use an on site SMTP server - Exchange or Argo etc - [or event O365..] sometimes it is useful to have access to a third party system - possibly as backup in case the on-prem or O365 is [...] Read more

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