Windows 10 Technical Preview – Upgrading and Start Menu

I decided to be brave and upgrade my Surface Pro to the Windows 10 Technical Preview. Upon successfully installing I immediately clicked on the windows button… only to notice the start screen/metro interface launched instead of the start menu, little confused.

It seems, well in my case you need to turn the start menu on.

Head to the Control Panel and open Taskbar and Navigation, click the Start Menu tab, tick Use Start menu instead of the Start screen.



Click ok, you will need to logoff and then log back in for the changes to take effect. Then BOOM clicking the windows button will now bring the start menu up. :)


Open University Student IT Tips & Deals

Last updated 24/09/2014

I have been with the Open University now for a few years studying Computing & IT and Business and thought I would give my views on some good IT tips students can take advantage of to ensure their work is secure and backed up.


Spotify is a great way to listen to music when studying and on the go, allows you to listen on your iPhone, iPad, Android devices, Windows smart phone and Windows. Get yourself an NUS card for around £12 a year (as of posting) and save 50% of a yearly subscription on Spotify – saving of £60 (£48 if you include the NUS). If you already have a subscription paying the full price, I believe you can still get the offer, if not just cancel and re-sub.

Microsoft Office 365

Use your email address and get Microsoft Office 365 this includes Word, Excel , Onenote, PowerPoint etc for £59.99 for 4 years! this includes 1TB of storage to easily store your important TMAs in the cloud all backed up! If you already have an Office 365 subscription, this will stack.

Amazon Prime

Get a 6 month free trial and then 50% of – cost £39. This will give you next day delivery for free for 6 months! You also get some other cool stuff such as unlimited streaming of movies and some free kindle books (after the 6 month trial). You can cancel online and at any point.


For those  a little geeky you can use LastPass which is an online password keeper to keep your passwords securely backed up. This runs on iPhone, iPad, Android devices, Windows smart phone and Windows and is free for 6 months using your email (will give you 6 months free if you already have a subscription).


Evernote is a free note taking app for iPhone, iPad, Android devices, Windows smart phone and Windows. It stores all your notes in the cloud, meaning you can easily access your notes from any device and everything is backed up. I use Evernote daily for pretty much everything.

Feel free to to add comments with any other deals and I’ll add them to the post. :)

MCSA Server/SQL 2012 electives changes

Microsoft has made some changes to the MCSA for Server 2012 and SQL 2012 by introducing electives. This I feel is good idea as it allows you to pick an exam that may be more relative to your job role. So in my case I will be taken the following mandatory exams:

70-410: Installing and Configuring Windows Server
70-411: Administering Windows Server 2012

and then I can decide to do 70-409: Server Virtualization with Windows Server Hyper-V and System Center.

Taken from

For MCSA: Windows Server 2012 > Exams 410 and 411 are required. You can choose one of the following exams to fulfill the requirements for the third exam in the path:

  • Exam 346: Managing Office 365 Identities and Requirements
  • Exam 409: Server Virtualization with Windows Server Hyper-V and System Center
  • Exam 412: Configuring Advanced Windows Server 2012 Services
  • Exam 462: Administering Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Databases

For MCSA: SQL Server 2012 > Exams 461 and 462 are required. You can choose one of the following exams to fulfill the requirements for the third exam in the path

  • Exam 411: Administering Windows Server 2012
  • Exam 412: Configuring Advanced Windows Server 2012 Services
  • Exam 463: Implementing a Data Warehouse with Microsoft SQL Server 2012
  • Exam 483: Programming in C#

MCSA electives Server 2012



PowerShell Script: Decommision VDI (XenDesktop & vCentre)

I have been trying to learn PowerShell and this is my first attempt at a script that just works. This PowerShell script will put a XenDesktop VDI into maintenance mode, disable the object in Active Directory and shutdown the VM in vCentre as well as moving between containers (if required). This is handy if you have a lot of VDIs that need to decommissioned.

See below for the script, you will need to ensure a list of names are in a CSV called IMPORT_DecomissionVDI.csv. The reason for the ‘IMPORT’ is I find it easier to keep track of what a CSV does, so ‘EXPORT’ / ‘IMPORT’ etc. The same goes for the PowerShell script files ‘Set’ if it’s going to change something and ‘Get’ if it’s going to return information. Handy so you don’t run the wrong script!!

An example of what the CSV should look like:


Don’t forget to change the variables at the start.

# File: Set-DecommisionVDI.ps1
# Description: This script imports a list of VDIs to be disabled, sets the VDI in XenDesktop in maintenance mode, then disables the AD account 
# and moves to an OU if required. Lastly the script moves the VDI in vCentre if required and shuts down the VDI.
# Date: 12/09/14 11.52 PM
# Author: Chris Stark
# Version 0.1
# Blog:
# Twitter:
# Google+:
# LinkedIn:
# Link:

# Imports Citrix and VMware PowerShell snapins

Add-PSSnapin Citrix.*
Add-PSSnapin VMware.VimAutomation.Core

# Variables for Citrix XenDesktop Server, vCentre, Domain and paths to move VDIs

$Domain = ' '
$XenDesktop = ' '
$VCentre = ' '
$CSVFile = 'IMPORT_DisableVDIs.csv'
$DisableADPath = 'OU=Disabled Computer Accounts,DC=DOAMIN,DC=co,DC=uk'
$VcentreFolder = "Disabled VDIs"

# Connects to the Citrix XenDesktop server

Get-BrokerSite -AdminAddress $XenDesktop

# Connects to VMware vCentre

Connect-VIServer $VCentre

# Imports the list of computers to disable

$CSV = import-csv $CSVFile

# Loops through the VDIs

foreach ($Item in $CSV)
# Sets the variable VDIName to the name of the VDI being disabled

 $VDIName = $Domain+$Item.VDIName

# Sets the VDI to maintenance mode 

 Get-BrokerDesktop -MachineName $VDIName | Set-BrokerPrivateDesktop -InMaintenanceMode $true

# Disables the AD account of the VDI

 Get-ADComputer $VDIName | Set-ADComputer -Enabled $false

# Moves the VDI to the disabled OU - remove line if not required

 Get-ADComputer $VDIName | Move-ADObject -TargetPath $DisableADPath

# Moves the VM to the Disabled VDIs folder - remove line if not required

 Move-VM -VM $VDIName -Destination $VcentreFolder

# Shuts down the VDI

 Get-VM $VDIName | Shutdown-VMGuest -Confirm:$false

Download here

Citrix XenDesktop + Default printers not sticking

I had an issue whereby default printers were not sticking. Every time a user set a default printer and then re-logged in the printer would revert back.

Took me a while to find the cause, as I was either RDPing or using the vSphere client to troubleshoot and not via the Citrix client.

Turns out, there’s a policy (bear in mind I’m new to Citrix) that allows Citrix XenDesktop to control default printers. Turned this off, and BOOM! the default printers stayed.

To change the policy, open Desktop Studio.

Navigate to the users policy:


Within the Users policies you will see the policies you’ve. In this example mine is called “Unfiltered” select this and then Edit.


Click on settings and then scroll to “Printing” on the right next to Default printer click add.XenPrinter4Here is the default policy:


We don’t want Citrix to change the printer therefore change to “Do not adjust the users default printer”.


Click ok. Citrix will let you know its updating the policy.


You can double check the policy is applied by editing and verifying it has been added.



HP MicroServer N36L replacement power supply (PSU)

Came home to find the HP MicroServer was powered down last week and panicked! Turns out on further testing the power supply had decided to pack up. Not bad for 2 and a half years, running as a lab environment, 6 HDDs, PCI-E HD Graphics card and running as home entertainment system! As you can imagine, getting the PSU or ordering a replacement server was high priority. Though seeing as the HP MicroServer cashback offer has stopped led me to source a PSU.

Seeing as these MicroServer are popular as HTPC, storage, virtual environments for labbing etc, I gathered others may benefit from this post.

Now, finding a replacement wasn’t easy or looking to be cheap. The official HP part number 620827-001 was showing about £98.57 on the HP parts store – ouch!

So, after much research I come across the site LinITX which sell 1U PSUs and cheap. I first come across this when reading others were using a PicoPSU and a power brick – this seemed to pricey for me £50+ though does offer less noise.

I emailed the guys over at LinITX as I was worried about fitting etc and wanted to be reassured I could send back if any problems, yes I could’ve sent back under the distance selling regulation act but couldn’t be dealing with the hassle, much politer to just ask. Thumbs up to LinITX.

I opted for the FSP 150W 1U Compact Power Supply – FSP150-50GUB which as of this blog post is £27 + P&P – comes to about £30.96 – I selected normal royal mail and received the next day! does say up to 2 days.

The PSU fitted without any issues and the 24 pin connector easily fits, the SATA parts can be a stretch if using additional hard-drives in the top bay, though if required you could extend these. Mine just about fit.

You will need to buy an adapter to either convert the SATA power to Molex 2-way or Molex to a 4-way splitter. I bought mine from Maplin as I wasn’t sure on cable length. Having 2 additional hard drives in the top bay running of SATA I opted for a Molex splitter for the four internal HDDs.

The PSU is nosier than the HP one, but if you want a cheap solution and don’t want to go down the PicoPSU route this will do fine.

Overall, a cheap good alternative! This should work for other models such as the N40L.

A pic of the PSU and adapter, excuse the poor quality – I had both replacement PSU and Nexus 7 (2013) turn up so was in a rush to play with the new toy!CameraZOOM-20130828195021637


Cisco ICND2 – Passed – Now a CCNA

This morning I took and passed the Cisco ICND2 on the second attempt. I felt it was a little harder than ICND1 and in some ways I was a little unprepared the first time due to changing jobs / Open University commitments. Having previously done the course via the Open University a few years ago and got a little complacent, despite the blog posts.

Any tips for taking the exam? read the question and re-read. I think i made this mistake on the first attempt, though I doubt that would’ve made much of a difference, however it could make the difference between a pass and a fail.

All the resources I used can be found here.

If your taking the exam before the end of next month, best of luck! :)

What’s next for me? I’m thinking either Server 2012 or Citrix… though favoring Citrix at the moment.