Sep 30, 2011

How To Back Up, Restore, Or Deploy Windows VPN Settings

I am a huge fan of Microsoft's VPN built into Routing and Remote Access. For me it is the easiest system to configure, and deploy. Plus it isn't limited on how many users can connect to it like say a Cisco VPN where you might be able to have 10 concurrent users, and if you need any more you have to pay for more licenses. Lame sauce I say!

I also like Microsoft's latest VPN technology, Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol, or SSTP for short. It's as easy to setup and configure as PPTP, but it's more secure because it uses SSL encryption. Plus the only port you have to open up on the firewall is 443. Easy peasy!

Finally, the last thing I like is that if you use a Microsoft VPN, you can use the built in Network and Sharing Center in Windows to configure your settings. You don't need a third party client like you do with Cisco, Sonicwall or Netscaler VPN's. That means less overhead, and less software you have to take care of. Pure win!

What if you don't want to write up a tutorial on how to setup a connection in Network and Sharing Center for your users? Sure it's easy for you to go through the Setup a New Connection or Network wizard because you're the IT guy. For the young lady in sales though, you probably should have a PhD in nuclear physics to set the thing up. Why not configure it once on your computer, backup your settings, and restore it on her computer? Sounds like a good idea right? Well it,s actually easy to do.

  • Go through the Set Up a Connection or Network wizard in Windows to configure your VPN settings (SSTP, PPTP, L2TP etc)

Set Up a Connection or Network_2011-09-21_09-34-15

  • When done copy rasphone.pbk from %userprofile%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Network\Connections\PBK\ on your computer
  • When you are ready to restore it, paste rasphone.pbk in %userprofile%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Network\Connections\PBK\ on the computer you want to restore it on.

Easy right? Since all you need to do is keep a copy of rasphone.pbk, which is just a text file that can be edited in Notepad, you can easily deploy your Windows VPN settings using a startup script or something!

The next time the user logs into windows, they will see their automatically configured Windows VPN when they click on their network icon in the system tray!

Sep 29, 2011

Alternative to Windows File Copy

I absolutely hate the built in file copy manager in Windows. I have for a long time. It doesn’t have a very good interface for showing progress, especially if you are copying multiple files. Plus if you are copying files over the network, and you run into a slight network hiccup, you have to start all over? Why? because the built in file copier for Windows doesn’t allow you to resume file copy.

There has been a tool that I’ve used for a while now that is fairly popular, yet I am surprised by how many people still haven’t heard of it. It’s called TeraCopy from CodeSector. When you install it, it automatically replaces the built in file copier from Windows, and immediately makes your file copying life easier!


Here is a list of features from their page:

  • Copy files faster. TeraCopy uses dynamically adjusted buffers to reduce seek times. Asynchronous copy speeds up file transfer between two physical hard drives.
  • Pause and resume file transfers. Pause copy process at any time to free up system resources and continue with a single click.
  • Error recovery. In case of copy error, TeraCopy will try several times and in the worse case just skip the file, not terminating the entire transfer.
  • Interactive file list. TeraCopy shows failed file transfers and lets you fix the problem and recopy only problem files.
  • Shell integration. TeraCopy can completely replace Explorer copy and move functions, allowing you work with files as usual.
  • Full Unicode support.
  • Windows 7 x64 support.

TeraCopy is free for home users. If you are a business user, and want to roll out the awesomeness of TeraCopy to all of your users you need to buy TeraCopy Pro for a little less than $21 US per user. With TeraCopy Pro you get all the features of the free version plus:

  • Copy/move to favorite folders.
  • Select files with the same extension/same folder.
  • Remove selected files from the copy queue.
  • More features coming soon!

Although it is such a simple program, ever since I have switched over to TeraCopy, I haven’t been able to switch back! The ability to pause and resume file copy is great, plus it makes copying way more faster using the dynamically adjusted buffers.

Do you have a different favorite file copy program to replace the built in Windows one? Does it have shell integration too? Is it free for business users as well? Let us know in the comments.

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Sep 28, 2011

Juice Up Your Podcast Downloads! For Mac or Windows!

For the longest time I was using Miro at home to download some of my favorite video podcasts from the internet. I love lots of shows on Revision3, and I also have my own podcast as some of you may know. Sure, with a lot of these shows you can simply stream them online, but I like to watch these shows on my TV using my POS Mvix Ultio Pro.

What I would do is download the videos to my desktop PC at home using Miro, then I had a daily scheduled task to copy them over to my Mvix Ultio for my viewing pleasure. The problem was that I found Miro to be sort of a resource hog. Miro is kind of designed to me more of a media center type program that not only downloads podcasts, and other online media, but recommends new shows to you and plays them as well. That’s great and all, but what if I only want to download shows via RSS, and that’s it? I think something lighter is in order. Introducing Juice!

From their page, “Juice is the premier podcast receiver, allowing users to capture and listen to podcasts anytime, anywhere.”

Plus it’s available for Windows and Mac! Why use Juice?

  • Juice is free
  • Juice supports more than 15 languages
  • Juice supports multiple media players
  • Juice is free software licensed under the GPL (open source)
  • Juice's primary purpose is to manage podcasts
  • Juice has a built-in directory with thousands of listed podcast feeds
  • Juice has auto cleanup, authentication, centralized feed management and much more
  • Juice is accessible for blind and visually impaired users (windows version only)
  • Juice is fresh!


Juice - Podcast receiver v2

I like Juice because it does exactly what I need and is relatively light weight. If you want to play a podcast from Juice, Juice plugs into a separate media player like Windows Media Player, iTunes and Winamp. Plus I have tons of options for modifying my download schedule, and I can even sync my subscription online using PodNova.

Don’t use Juice? What do you use for downloading your favorite podcasts? Why do you like it? Let me know about your favorite podcast managers in the comments.

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Sep 27, 2011

Speed Up Startup With Startup Delayer

Have you ever troubleshot a computer that took forever to start up after a user logged in? Nine times out of ten they probably had a heap load of stuff that started at login time. Stuff like instant messengers, software updaters, backup software, anti-virus, etc. You get the picture. Sure you can disable a lot of that from starting up at all when a user logs in, but what if they really need a programs to run at startup, they just need to be able to login and get to work faster?

I found a nice little free tool that will let you delay essential programs instead of stopping them. Thus allowing a faster login time, and still be allowed to have processes that run at login. It’s called Startup Delayer from R2 Studios.

You can set your own delay sensitivity when you first run the program. Make it so that nothing will start until the computer is idol, or even start fast and only take slight consideration to CPU and Disk usage.

Startup Delayer Startup Behaviour

From their page:

Startup Delayer gives you the power to optimize your Startup Process by delaying applications from starting up as soon as you log into your computer.

By delaying the applications during start up, your computer becomes usable a lot faster. Startup Delayer will then start launching your delayed applications when your computer is more idle.

Does it take quite some time till your computer is ready to use? Do you find your computer is really unresponsive even though you can already see the Desktop? Do you want more control over what starts on your computer?

When Windows loads it's Startup file, it attempts to load every program in there at the same time. Therefore if you have quite a lot of programs starting when Windows starts, each program will try and grab CPU and Disk time so that it can load.

If each program tries to do this at the same time, you soon notice the slow down that occurs due to your CPU trying to help all the programs to load, and your hard disk accessing multiple files.

Startup Delayer allows you add some order to this process by determining the best time to launch your Applications. You can choose to do this based on how idle your computer is, or you can set an arbitrary time.

Startup Delayer 3

Startup delayer is pretty awesome if you ask me. As you can see in the screen shot, I have a lot of junk running when I login as well. This little beauty has sped up my logins considerably since I found it. I highly recommend it for users with slow login times.

Know of any other good free tools to help speed up the login process? Let us know in the comments!

Sep 26, 2011

Interesting Microsoft Facts: Infographic

I found another Infographic I thought you guys would like. Some of these things you may already know about the multi-billion dollar conglomerate known as Microsoft. Then again, some of it you may not know at all. I know a lot of you read this blog for the Linux stuff, and most of you are Linux enthusiasts, but I'm sure that you can't escape Microsoft completely. Probably because although we don't like it, Microsoft is still number one in the computer game, and they aren't going anywhere any time soon.

Ok, so we all know that Microsoft makes an epic butt load of money. But did you know that in their first year in business they only made $16,000? Did you know that Bill Gates dropped out of college to form Microsoft? Did you know that Microsoft was originally spelled Micro-Soft? Here are a few more bits of info you may not know:

Online MBA Programs
[Source:] Tags: ,,
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Sep 23, 2011

Checking In With Kip Kay: Flashlight Boom Box!

It's been quite a long time since I checked out one of my favorite sites on the Internet Periodically I like to see what old Kip is up to and it is almost always friggin' cool! Kip is a real life MacGyver that makes all sorts of weird stuff out of common household items.

In this awesome video, Kip shows us how to take an old Eveready lantern flashlight, some speakers, some old speaker board and an iPod to create a mini boom box that can be controlled remotely! Sounds like a fun project! Check it out:



You can check out more of Kip's projects over at, and you can follow him on Facebook here: (Kip Kay) tags:         

Sep 22, 2011

Free Alternative To Ultramon

I have been using dual-monitors since I got into IT. I have used them so long that it's hard to go back to a single monitor. On my home computer I only have a single monitor, but my wife mainly uses that one anyway. One of these days I'll introduce her to the power of multiple displays as well.

Back to the point though, I've been using dual monitors for a very long time, and almost that entire time I haven't been able to use them without a lovely little utility called Ultramon. The only problem with Ultramon is that it is not free. True, it's only a nominal $40 to use, but I prefer to use freeware when I can. The only viable free alternative the the over-priced Ultramon that I have found is called Zbar.

What I like about both Ultramon and Zbar is that they both provide additional task bars for your multiple screens, and allow you to control the wallpaper for multiple screens. Want a different picture for both screens? Boom, you got it! Want one giant picture stretched across all screens? Bada bing! You have that too!

From their page:

If you have two or more monitors, then Windows only puts the task bar at the bottom of one of those monitors, and although you can move windows to the second monitor, the task bar button for those windows still lives at the bottom of the primary monitor. This doesn't "feel" right to me, so ZBar was born.

ZBar will:

  • Put a taskbar across the top or bottom of all non-primary screens with one or two rows of buttons, in six styles, with an optional clock
  • Provide keyboard shortcuts to move windows one screen along
  • Organize your desktop wallpaper one image per screen or one image across all screens
  • Display a six month calendar, last month, this month, and four months ahead

Here is a screen shot of my work desktop using Zbar (Click for full size):


I do have to say that the quality of the task bar in Ultramon is way better. It seamlessly matches whatever Windows theme you got going on. With Zbar I had to tweak the settings and the colors to get it to look like it matched. Plus the icons in the task bar look a bit clunky compared to Ultramon. Also, Zbar doesn't get installed. It is a self-running executable and if you want to run it at system start, you have to create a shortcut for it and drop it in your startup folder.

Besides those negatives, if you want to save $40 for something more important like beer, then Zbar is certainly good enough!

Know of any other alternatives to Ultramon? Are they free? What do you like to use? Let us know in the comments.

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Sep 21, 2011

Complete iPhone 5 Rumor Roundup: Infographic

Every once in a while I come across an interesting infographic on the web. This time I found one that showcases a lot of the rumors going around about how and what the iPhone 5 is going to look and act like.

According to Computer World, iPhone lovers and fanboys anticipate the release of iPhone 5 to be some time next month. I am not a huge fan of Apple, or the iPhone personally. I am and Android guy through and through, but I know a lot of you out there are salivating for news on the latest shiny thing from Apple.

Here’s a little something to tide you over until the release, The Complete iPhone 5 Rumor Roundup!


[Via Nowhere Else]

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Sep 20, 2011

Linux Demotivational Posters

I had some time on my hands the other night. I had to stick around for a disaster recovery test, and my only job was to perform some simple DNS changes. After the changes were made I had to wait around for a while while our QA team tested stuff, then when we failed back, same thing. Lots of waiting around for this guy.

Anyhoo, I ran into these on the internet and thought they were funny. They pretty much poke fun at the big names in Linux, though I didn’t see one for CentOS. You could technically take the Fedora one and replace CentOS for Fedora though.

Here they are, I hope they give you a good chuckle (click on each one for full size):


[Via Bandcamp] Tags: ,,
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Sep 19, 2011

How To Recover a Pre-Shared Key on Your Cisco PIX or ASA Firewall

I am in the process of replacing our office Cisco ASA 5505 firewall with a lower end solution that has more features for a lower cost. One of the things we need to do is WAN failover, plus have the ability to have multiple VLANs configured in the firewall. We can do that on our ASA but we would have to upgrade from our base license to the Cisco Security Plus License. That costs about $550 or so. We decided it would be cheaper to replace it with a cheaper Netgear SRX5308.

We're a small office, so the Netgear should be fine for our needs, plus it has a lifetime warranty with it. With the ASA it is uneccesarily expensive because of the Cisco name, and it is also unecessarily complicated to use. I'm actually pretty happy about the decision, even though I know some of you Cisco die-hards will scoff at me.

Anyway, one of the things I have to do is reconfigure some of the site-to-site VPNs we had setup in the ASA. Setup on the Netgear is stupid easy, but since I didn't setup the original VPN tunnels, I had no idea what the pre-shared keys were. We connect with firewalls that are managed by a 3rd party, so I couldn't check on the partner firewalls for the keys either. I'm not a big Cisco guru, so I use ASDM a lot to manage the firewall. In there the pre-shared keys were hidden. When I ran show run from an SSH session all I could see was pre-shared-key *. Damn it!

It turns out unhiding the pre-shared key isn't that difficult. You can do it from the command line. To show the keys in plain text run the following from enabled mode:

more system:running-config

Scroll down through your running config, and you will see that your pre-shared keys are now unhidden, and now you can use them on your new firewall!

[Via Cisco] tags:

Sep 16, 2011

How To Create a List of Installed Packages in Ubuntu, and Re-Install Them in A Fresh Setup

How many times have to re-imaged or re-installed your laptop or desktop computer? Maybe you were sick of what was on there previously. Maybe you just decided to start over. Who knows? Who cares really? If you are like me you probably re-build your computers all the time because you are fiddling with new stuff, or tinkering with the latest and greatest Ubuntu build.

I once wrote about a free tool for Windows that will help you automatically download and install all the software you normally use in one convenient application. Well I found something similar for Linux while perusing the Ubuntu forums, and it's built in! Sweet damn I love the Linux terminal! You can do anything!

If you want to backup all of the applications you are currently running in your Ubuntu install all you have to do is run the following from the terminal:

sudo dpkg --get-selections > installed-software

That creates a file called installed-software. You can take that file and save it someplace safe for use later. Now if you ever re-install Ubuntu, you can restore all your favorite programs by saving your installed-software file on your new computer and running the following:

sudo dpkg --set-selections < installed-software
sudo dselect

Pretty easy right? I think this can go very well for my Ubuntu Minimal install the next time I build Bauer-Puntu.

[Via Cynical] tags:

Sep 15, 2011

How To Mount Disks and Partitions to Folders in Windows Like You Do in Linux

I would like to preface this post by saying that I can’t think of a good reason for doing this. I learned about this in my early IT days because we had these desktop computers we supported that had an internal media card reader. Windows would assign all the different slots as drive letters, and rather clutter up “My Computer”. My Help Desk supervisor got it in her head that the best way to take care of it was with the mount drive to folder trick.

Not long after that I started getting into Linux, and as Linux users know, that is just how stuff is done in Linux. Drives and partitions are mounted to folders. Simple right? Well, you can do it in Windows too.

To mount a disk/partition to a folder in Windows do the following:

  • Create a folder where you want to mount your disk or partition. I created a folder in the root of C: called Mount:


  • Next open up Disk Management right-click on the disk or partition you want to mount and select Change Drive Letters and Paths.


  • Select Remove, and click OK when you see the warning.
  • Now right-click it again and select Change Drive Letters and Paths.
  • Click Add
  • Click the radio button that says Mount in The Following Empty NTFS Folder.
  • Click Browse and browse to the folder you created in the first step then click OK.


  • Now if you go back to your C: drive you will see the folder you created looks a little different…


Pretty cool right? Once again, I have never found a good use for this, but it’s interesting to know you can do it. Especially if you prefer to do things the Linux way.

Do you do this on your Windows machines? Why do you do it? Got a really good reason to mount disks or partitions to a folder instead of assigning it a drive letter? Let us know in the comments.

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Sep 14, 2011

Redneck Language Option in Red Hat Linux? Yep! A Least in Version 5.1!

I was Stumbling around the net yesterday and came across something rather odd, yet pretty funny in my opnion. I guess I find it funny due to my redneck upbringing in Colorado being the son of an old farmer's daughter with lots of family roots in places like Arkansas and Oklahoma. Hell, my mom is so redneck, that her family actually had a friggin' outhouse growning up, and had to fetch water using a hand pump and a bucket! I'm talking 1800's type redneck shit.

Anyway, me being the half-hick that I am, yet completely into geeky stuff like computers I found this little discovery humourous. Apparently Red Hat Linux used to have an install language option back in version 5.1 for redneck! Yes, like Jeff Foxworthy redneck! Check out these screen shots:

According to Bartosz Forczak on Google+ during a Google search as to the origin of the redneck language option, the reason for the option was because Redneck is:

...a dialect of American English spoken by Red Hat Software's Donnie Barnes, and was used as a test case during the addition of internationalization support to the installation program. It is included solely for entertainment value (and to illustrate how difficult it is actually talking to Donnie).

Makes sense now doesn't it? For more screen shots, take a look at tags:

Sep 13, 2011

Simple Scheduled Backups For Desktop Linux

Have you ever heard the expression, "He who laughs last had a good backup?" I heard that from one of my teachers when I went to school and it stuck with me. Backups are very important, and can seriously save your butt in the event of a disaster, or a mistake. I mean Backups aren't just for peace of mind, they are often needed. Disasters are not a matter of if, but when.

If you are using Windows, there has been a fairly simple backup program packaged in since I can remember. NTBackup for Windows 2000 and XP, and now Windows Backup for Vista and 7. What about us Ubuntu desktop users though? Hell, any flavor of Linux desktop? I've got a solution for you. It's called Simple Backup, or SBackup for short!

From their project page:

The sbackup suite, short for simple backup, is a backup solution for Gnome desktop. All configuration is accessable via Gnome interface. File and paths can be included and excluded directly or by regex, local and remote backups supported. Very simple configuration and zero maintenance.

sbackup is basically using the same technology that Unix administrators have been used for decades but it adds some some intelligence for interaction with users within a graphical interface. This means dumps of files were created using the good old TAR but the usage is much more convenient than from a command line.

Noteable features are handling of log files, a plug-in framework and status indication. All the time compatibility between nssbackup and sbackup was, and will, preserved.

Here are some screen shots:





Installing from Ubuntu is as simple as running sudo apt-get install sbackup from the terminal, or from a quick search in the Ubuntu Software Center.

Do you use SBackup in Ubuntu or your favorite flavor of Linux? If not, what do you like to use? Let us know in the comments.

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Sep 9, 2011

How To Speed Up Performance On Windows 2003/XP VMs in XenServer

Greetings all. I’m sorry I couldn’t get this out sooner, but there was a slight power outage yesterday in my neck of the woods. In fact, it wasn’t slight at all. It was friggin’ huge and spanned from Mexico to Orange County, and from the coast to Arizona. Also, it was caused by one jack ass in Yuma.

Anyhoo, now that the power is back up thanks to the hard work of SDG&E workers, I am able to get this post out to you. Which is a handy one if you are a XenServer admin like myself.

So we have these few Windows XP VMs running in XenServer for our offshore developers to use. They used to be physical, but I P2V’d them so I could retire the old equipment they were on. After I got them up and running on XenServer the offshore guys started complaining about performance.

When I would log into those machines it was unbearable how slow it was, so I started investigating. It turns out that there is a known issue with Windows 2003 type VMs in XenServer and their virtual NICs. All you have to do to boost performance is simply disable Large Send Offload in the driver properties for the Citrix PV Ethernet Adapter. To do that follow these simple steps:

  • Click Start > Run and type in devmgmt.msc and press Enter
  • Expand Network adapters, right click on Citrix PV Ethernet Adapter and select Properties


  • On the Advanced tab, click on Large Send Offload, and set the drop down to Disabled then click OK.


  • Now reboot the VM, and you should see a significant difference!

I am fairly new to the XenServer seen. So far I am really happy with it. I am a VMware VCP, so I have more experience in vSphere than I do in XenCenter. If you know of any other helpful XenServer tips, hook a brutha up in the comments!

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Sep 8, 2011

Free Alternative To Magic Jack With Google Voice

Some of the most popular articles on Bauer-Power are those realted to my series on hacking a Magic Jack. Lots of people go out and buy a Magic Jack to replace their home phone service for something cheaper. Magic Jack costs around $40 for the USB adapter, and the first year of service. After that it's only $20 per year. If you don't hack it using my tutorials, then you get a fairly reliable service for making phone calls from your computer.

If you don't mind being tethered to your computer for phone calls, then why waste your money on Magic Jack? With Google Voice, phone calls are free for all calls within the US and Canada at least until 2012! Now, you may know that you can make outbound calls from Google Voice using either Gtalk, or the plugin in Gmail, but did you know you can receive calls too?

In order to receive calls, all you have to do is go into your Google Voice account and click on your phone number in the upper right, and check the box next to Google Chat.

Now inbound calls to your Google Voice number will get routed to your Google Chat client as well. All you need now is a USB headset or a USB phone, and you can make and receive calls via Google Voice! Only one caviat though, Google voice does not support E911. If you only need a land line for calls because your cell service sucks in your house (like me) then this solution might be good for you. tags:

Sep 7, 2011

How To Deploy The Fog Service Client From GPO

At my last two companies, and my current company I have implemented probably the best open source OS and software deployment platform ever created. It's called Fog, and I have blogged about it in the past. It's free, and completely awesome. With it you can boot to PXE, re-image workstations, wipe drives, blank passwords, deploy software packages, and remap printers. It really is great!

The only issue with it is it requires a client service to run on computers you wish to manage. Once installed, everything in your life gets easier. The trick is to get that service on workstations silently, in mass quantities, and have it configured correctly! I have yet to find a tutorial on how to do this, so here you go.

In order to do this correctly, you will need to re-package the MSI file for the Fog Client Service installation. You can do that with a free tool called Winstall LE.

  • Open Winstall LE, right click on Windows Installer Packages and select Import Package
  • Browse to the Fog Client MSI, and give it a description of Fog Silent
  • Right click Fog Slient and Select Decompress...
  • At the Expand dialog, click Expand

  • Expand the Fog Silent tree, and delete the following components because you don't need them:



  • Now browse to \\localhost\WinINSTALL\Packages\fog silent\etc
  • Edit the config.ini file so it has the IP address or FQDN of your fog server under ipaddress= then save it
  • Go back to Winstall LE, right click on Fog Silent and select Compress, then press the Compress button

  • Now browse to \\localhost\WinINSTALL\Packages\fog silent\ and your FOG Service Installer.msi file is ready to deploy!
  • Place the new FOG Service Installer.msi and the original setup.exe in a fileshare that is accessible by everyone. I created a deploy Samba share on my Fog server.
  • Now open Group Policy Management on your domain controller and create a new Group Policy Object called something clever like Fog Deploy
  • Right click on Fog Deploy and select Edit
  • Navigate to Computer Configuration > Policies > Software Settings > Software Installation
  • Right click on Software Installation and select New > Package
  • Browse to your file share, and select your custom Fog Service Installer.msi file and select Open
  • Leave the Assigned radio button checked and click OK

  • Now link your new GPO to the OU where you keep the workstations you want to manage with Fog, and you're good to go!
  • Users will get the install the next time they reboot, and even better it will be automatically configured!

For some reason Fog doesn't talk about how to do a custom deploy of their client in their documentation. They do say you can do a silent install using the setup.exe package which is nice, but it doesn't have switches for autoconfiguration, and it puts an annoying tray icon that is pretty much useless in the users system tray. My method makes Fog completely transparent, and it is pre-configured at install. Plus, since it uses the MSI file, we can deploy it using Active Directory! tags:

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