Setting up a PPTP VPN connection in Windows 8

Where I work on a service desk I need to be able to help about 70 different clients with all sorts of different computer related issues. One of the best ways of helping them out is to be able to VPN on their network and remote into their servers, switches and routers. To do this I have found the easiest way is to use a VM (it also gives me an excuse to use any OS I feel like using)

On my VM I’m running Windows 8 and here is how you set up a PPTP vpn connection:

Go to the Start Screen and just start typing VPN > Click on Settings and then click on set up VPN connections

That will open up the Create VPN connection dialog box on the desk top.

Enter in your connection IP or address and a description and click Create

Once you have created it will appear in the network Paine

I can’t show the other VPN connections because of privacy issues and stuff but you can see test there. Click on it > click connect enter in the username and password hopefully it will connect. But because of different security policies at the terminated server it might not work.

If it doesn’t work first time, right click on the network icon and open up the network sharing center

Click change adapter settings in on the left, right Click on the VPN connection > Properties, then click on the security tab. Change it so it looks like the below picture


Then try and connect again, it should work this time. The connected VPN will show up at the top on the list of networks


Shutting down Windows 8 and closing metro apps

Since windows 8 has come out most people I talk to say that they don’t like it, it runs like crap. Personally I haven’t had those sort of issues, I really like windows 8, yes it is a change but I find it works well and isn’t that much different in terms on usability that windows 7.

I asked to have a look at persons set up in particular, well actually it was on the service desk and it was just a general user. The user has had the laptop for a week, and has been using it a lot for multiple different things. While looking at it I did notice that it was going a bit slow. I checked the resources and it was using 3ish out of 4GB of ram, that’s not right, there doesn’t appear to be anything running.

I opened up the metro app manager on the left, and they had every app known to man running. I asked the person when the last time restarted it was… they said they didn’t know how. So I checked the up time with systeminfo and sure enough it has been up for a week.

So for everyone else out there that has just bought a windows 8 device or is installing windows 8 this is how you close metro apps and restart windows:

To close metro apps is pretty simple hover the mouse in the top left hand corner of you screen and the last metro app you clicked on will show up.

After that move the mouse down the left hand side of the screen and all of the other apps you have open will show up.

Once there right click the app and simply hit close:

Now shutting down windows is a little different than Windows 7:

Hover the mouse in a right hand corner of the screen sill the options pane slides out.

Click on setting > click power then click shutdown or restart or sleep whatever you want really.

And that’s it. have fun relearning to Microsoft.

Time to catch up.

Wow I have been pretty quiet lately. Not too much has changed though. I’m still working on the service desk dealing with so many different technologies. Have been doing some stuff with IBM AS400’s (mostly checking things are still working nicely), Windows Server stuff (I’ve learnt a lot about exchange), using backup software, patching, and a lot about end user issues. There are also other random things like connecting to VPN’s and loads of other things that I can’t think about right now.

I have moved into my own shift rotation which is interesting in itself. The night shifts are still pretty hard but as long as I can sleep during the day it’s all good. One of the things that I have been struggling with the shift rotation is getting back into study for certifications. Getting the motivation when you are always tired is quiet hard, and although I do try when it is quiet at work, it’s getting harder. The boss has been bringing on other clients and there has been more work to do after hours.

There are two on every shift now which is good. I was lucky enough to not have to be by myself. I could still image that would be hard. Another thing about the shift work is that you don’t really get to see your co-workers that much – there is really only the changeover period.

To set a goal for myself I want to get a Microsoft certification (I’m told that they are easy) if I get one of these I would be able to get in to engineering this would mean day shift.

There are so many things that I had never seen before since I had worked on the service desk. At the start if a user called up with an error I would wonder how was that even possible, I might use the application every day and I had never seen such an error before. Google has still really been my friend and I use it a lot.

I’m starting to really get into windows 8 and windows server 2012. Server 2012 has bought out some really cool features that I would like to test out the only thing is now that I’m not at tech I don’t have the technology to test it on. I have started using windows 8 in a VM here at work. We use the VM to test software and connect to clients computers using VPN accesses without disrupting the host connections. It’s also been good to get familiar with Windows 8 and so far I like it.

I’m going to say it again – I’m going to try and blog again with all the issues that I have been having at work. Here I am now at 6am, been up all night, and I can’t remember half the stuff that I have done in the last 6 months and therefore if I have a similar issue again there is no way that I would be able to come back to that.

So I will try again soon – hopefully with some successful trouble shooting challenges

In to my 3rd Month

So I have been working in CHCH for about 3 months now and the job has been getting way better. There seems to be so many other jobs to be done that can happen outside of this service desk. Since I have been here the company has taken on quite a few new clients some of which are big name in New Zealand, and the service desk here has doubled in size and is set to increase again when another client joins us.

Other jobs that I have been doing here include cleaning up cables in the data centre. This involved climbing up on top of server racks and adjusting cabling. So far these are pretty simple jobs, but it’s a little extra at the end of the week, and you have to start somewhere I guess.

The job done at the service desk is starting to get more intense as well, engineers are getting busier so we are having to do more difficult jobs, the problem with that is the time we spend on them.  We are allocated around 15mins per job after that if there is no sign on any kind of resolution we have to escalate it.

Another job that this service desk has picked up is monthly patching. I have been assigned two different companies for this, neither of which had any documentation on what to do or how to do it. So my first time I spent a bit of time feeling my way around WSUS and some other update manager this other company had.

Even though the first month was a bit problematic with all the things that I had to learn, things are starting to look better. I must be doing an alright job cause they didn’t fire me in the trial period so that’s a good sign.

I’m going to start up a few projects soon, just small ones to keep me occupied during my free time.  I’ll post about them when I start looking at them.

New job, New city… good times

I’ve been pretty quiet on my blog lately, what’s happened is I have finished studying and have been looking for a job. It took about 4 months after studying, but finally I was able to get a job with an IT company in the south island.

So far I have been here for 2 weeks, and I have been over whelmed by all of the different things I have had to learn. The job its self at this stage is working on a service desk, servicing many different companies with a wide range of different problems. Most of the people that I have been dealing with are non-technical people, which have just added to the confusion.

There are also a lot of things that I have never encountered before like Citrix and terminal servers. From what I understand they are pretty similar, providing a user with a desktop that is based on the servers, mostly used with thin clients.

I haven’t done too much with virtualisation since I started, not like at tech, although it is there. The company host a lot of servers for different companies. It’s taken me a bit to get back into it again and there is so much more to learn. The program that we use to record different issues seems to be in house, there are a lot of things I think could be better about it but it isn’t really my place to say anything yet. There are so many different options with so many different outcomes. So far learning how to use this has been the hardest bit.

Another thing that has been apparent to me is how important backups are. It surprised me to see that most backups are done on tape, and it surprised me how much data a tape can hold. I found the tape library’s here are cool, some of them can hold up to 80 tapes and they move them around and place them exactly where they need to go. Very cool stuff.

To start with everything was a little over my head, I have to say I wasn’t really enjoying it, but I have been getting some good feedback from my boss, and one of the customers. The team here seems to be really friendly and very supportive, which has helped a lot. Moving cities and leaving my friends and family behind hasn’t been too easy, but it’s my third week, things are going to get better.

Lab 19

I didn’t struggle with this lab at all, it was all point and click. In this lab I created a Distributed switch, part of this set was to go to my production switch and disconnect the NIC. This has thrown an error because now there is no NIC connected for the ESXi server. After removing the NIC I created the distributed switch and created a port group called production, from there I added the NIC that was removed from the other switch.


From here I migrated the VM’s over to the distributed switch and then tested internet connectivity. It connected to the TALOS proxy server, proving that it could get out, just for good measure I could get to

Lab 18

This lab is about creating a host profile for the ESXi hosts, this is a generic picture of the settings on one host, and from the picture you can then set another host to have the same settings. In theory this is good as it is synchronised in a way so if one changes on one host, on the other host the setting will change as well. This stops the host’s configuration from varying from each other.

I added a vSwitch that was internal, and then I added the profile and attached the host to it. Everything was compliant and worked. Then I thought maybe I can add the other host and the configuration of the switch that I created would overlay to the other host. Turns out that it doesn’t work like that, the host wasn’t compliant as there were so many settings that were different to the original profile.  So I detached it again.