Category Archives: Uncategorized

Using Group Policy to specify desktop background colour

As a follow up to my previous post on setting a standard corporate desktop wallpaper, I also wanted to set a standard desktop colour. This isn’t quite so easy. I created a .ADM file in notepad with the following code:


CATEGORY “Custom Desktop”

POLICY “Desktop Background Color”
KEYNAME “Control PanelColors”
EXPLAIN “Enter the RBG value to serve as the Desktop background color, the format must be RED BLUE GREEN using a value between 0 and 255 for each color”
PART “R B G using a value 0-255 for each color eg 0 78 152.” TEXT
VALUENAME “Background”
DEFAULT “0 78 152”


Then I imported this into group policy. It then appears under User Configuration > Policies > Administrative Templates > Classic Administrative Templates > Custom Desktop. From here I can set the colour to whatever I want.

Using Group Policy to specify desktop wallpaper

To get a more corporate look, we’ve decided to standardise on a corporate wallpaper for all our user workstations.

This setting is found under User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Desktop > Desktop.

It is better to use a local file rather than a UNC path to a shared file on the network. This stops any stresses on the network during logon, and also prevents any issues loading the wallpaper when the workstation isn’t connected to the LAN (for example on laptops in field).

To use a local file, use Group Policy Preferences File Extension. You can do this as either user or computer, but computer is better. Just remember that if you use computer you should make sure the computer can access the original shared file by specifying permissions for “Domain Computers”. Go to Computer Configuration > Preferences > Window Settings > Files”. Specify source and destination and select Replace to ensure the latest version is always copied over.


Blogging with Word 2013

After using Windows Live Writer to create my last post, I’m going to use Microsoft Word 2013 to create a new post.

To do this, create your blog post. Insert pictures and changing fonts as you see fit:

Then select File, Share, Post to Blog:

You will be prompted for your blog log in details, and will then receive this worrying message:

Microsoft Windows Live Writer

Until now, I’ve added posts to this site directly from I’ve never liked it. So I’m now looking around for a better editor.

First up, Live Writer. Very easy to download and install. This is the first post I’ve written using it.

Inserting an image is pretty easy:


Adding a quote is pretty easy, but I’m not sure how to format it (change the font etc etc):

I like to reminisce with people I don’t know. Granted, it takes longer.

Finally, let’s add a table:

This is a cell This is another cell
And another cell And yet another

All in all, it’s a massive thumbs up for Windows Live Writer.

Quote of the day (on organisational change)

Christopher Avery:
We can never direct a living system, only disturb it and wait to see the response…. We can’t know all the forces shaping an organization we wish to change, so all we can do is provoke the system in some way by experimenting with a force we think might have some impact, then watch to see what happens.

More here.
the best we can do is adopt a “provoke and observe” approach in which we try something, see if it moves us closer to an intermediate, improved state, and if so do more of it. These pokings and proddings of the organization are not random. They are carefully selected based on experience, wisdom, and intuition to drive a successful transition to agile.

“Provoke and observe”. I like this concept.

Simple, pure CSS table

I’m going to write something on the importance of website footers. First, I needed to come up with a simple table to display a footer on one of my websites. The footer shows site links in list format with a few columns, with each column having a few rows. I’m hopeless at CSS, but got the following simple stylesheet to do the job:

.mytable ul {float:left;margin:0px;padding:0px;border:1px solid red;}
.mytable ul li {list-style:none;padding:4px 9px;width:200px;border:1px solid pink;margin:3px;}

<div class="mytable">


Sending as an alias with Exchange 2010

You’d think it would be easy to send as an alias with Exchange 2010. Most of my users have aliases that they use to receive e-mail (for example, Carolyn the Purchase Ledger Clerk receives e-mail addressed to “purchaseledger” as well as to “carolyn”. This is easy to setup. But some users want to send from their alias, rather than from their default e-mail address. Exchange doesn’t seem to support this.

Let’s take the example of Bob, who wants to send from an alias called “CustomerSupport”. The following feels like a bit of a hack:
1. Create a Universal Distribution Group called “CustomerSupport” using the Exchange Management Console.
2. Make Bob a member of this group.
3. Open Active Directory Users and Computers and select the View menu and tick “Advanced Features”. Open the CustomerSupport group properties, select the Security tab, and add Bob and tick “Send as”, to grant Bob permission to send from this group.
4. Go back to the Exchange Management Console, open the properties for the group and tick the box “Hide group from Exchange address lists”.


That’s it. It will take a while for everything to get updated (offline address books etc etc).

Now, the user can just select the alias in the From field when he creates a new mail. If they use OWA, I find it tricky to work this out. You have to click on Options and then select to view the From field.



Update 10 Dec 14: As I’ve blogged about recently, you can’t send from a mailbox that is hidden from Exchange address lists. So ignore the bit I wrote about ticking this box.