Windows 7 – Change boot wallpaper

Change the OEMBackground registry key from 0 to 1. The location is outlined below:


Navigate to:


Rename the existing image from backgroundDefault.jpg to something else like backgroundDefault.jpg.orig.

Then, you are going to put the image you want in this directory. The key is making the image you replace it with is 256Kb or less, and is a jpg. Once you have such an image that you want to use, put it in the “C:\Windows\System32\oobe\info\backgrounds” directory and name it backgroundDefault.jpg.

Windows 7 – change default user logon picture.

This is just a matter of knowing where the image is stored and getting on that it correct size to replace it.

The default picture, the orange flower, is stored in:

C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\User Account Pictures\

Rename the original user.bmp to something like user.bmp.orig.

Then, create or resize or find the 128×128 pixel image you want to replace it with and convert it to a bmp if it is not already. When you have the image, simply paste it in the “C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\User Account Pictures\” directory and rename it to user.bmp.

Set default wallpaper for all user in Windows 7

This will set the default wallpaper for all users who login to a Windows 7 machine.

First, login to the machine with an Administrator level account.

Open up regedit.

Load the Default profile ntuser.dat. (see

I loaded the hive using JGZ for the name. Navigate to:


Note: If you do not have a System key under Policies, create one now.


Then, in the System key, add the following two String Values:


Note: I put my wallpaper in a subdirectory I created in the Wallpaper directory.

Unload the Default hive, and reboot.

Activate Windows 8 new install using an Update key

This pertains to a new Windows 8 installation, but you purchased a Windows 8 upgrade license key.

From an administrator level account in your new Windows 8 installation bring up regedit from an administrative level command prompt.

Navigate to


Modify the MediabootInstall key.

If the value is a 1, change it to a 0.

Back to the elevated command prompt, enter

slmgr /rearm

Then, reboot.

shutdown /r /y /t 0

Disable last user logged in on Windows 7

To disable the last user logged in on Windows 7, you need to enable the DontDisplayLastName registry entry. There is a downside to enabling this. Since Windows 7 supports multiple concurrent logins, having this enabled prevents you from easily seeing who else is logged in. Probably, the easiest way to tell who else is logged is by bringing up the Task Manager and clicking on the Users tab.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00


How to start Outlook in safe mode.

If you have problematic Outlook plugin installed and want to disable it, you will want to do it from Outlook when it is running in Safe Mode.

A couple ways you can do it are as follows:

1) Hold down the Ctrl key while opening Outlook.

2) Locate the Outlook.exe file and execute it from a Command prompt or Run with a /safe switch.

c:\> outlook.exe /safe

You might get a message like the following:

Click Yes and Outlook will open up.

Note: In Outlook 2013, I was only prompted to choose the Profile to use.

Windows 2012 R2 network trace

OS: Windows 2012 R2

For years, I used to get upset when I knew that a simple network trace would give me the answer to an issue only to find that netmon or an equivalent was not installed on the server. Well, with the later versions of Windows, the “netsh trace” command is there to help. Netsh is a very powerful command that I continue to turn to for help.

Just a few of the “netsh trace” options:
report: Creates an HTML report file that I found pretty useless. However, this also creates a CAB file that contains potentially a lot of useful information.
scenario: You can choose different scenarios. I chose NetConnection, but I just wanted to capture the traffic.
persistent: If yes, the trace will restart when the server is rebooted. Would almost never want that on, which is the default.
maxsize: To specify the maximum size of the trace file. the default is 250MB.
correlation: The will try to group related packets together.
tracefile: The name and location of where you want the file(s) to be saved.

Start a trace:

C:\>netsh trace start scenario=NetConnection capture=yes report=yes persistent=no maxsize=1024 correlation=yes tracefile=trace.etl

Trace configuration:
Status: Running
Trace File: trace
Append: Off
Circular: On
Max Size: 1024 MB
Report: On

Stop a trace:

C:\>netsh trace stop
Correlating traces … done
Merging traces … done
Generating data collection and report … done
The trace file and additional troubleshooting information have been compiled as
Tracing session was successfully stopped.

If you open up the etl file using NetMon and see the following messages in the description:

MicrosoftWindowsTCPIP: Windows stub parser: Requires full Common parsers. See the “How Do I Change Parser Set Options(Version 3.3 or before) or Configure Parser Profile (Version 3.4)” help topic for tips on loading these parser sets.

Then, you need to enable to Windows Parser under Parser Profiles in Network Monitor. In version 3.4, it is in the top right corner of the window. In the Options, you can set it to be the default parser profile.

Save iPhone voicemail from an iTunes backup.

OS: MacOS Mavericks
iPhone 5s

Voicemail messages are stored in the backup, and saved as one file per message. Nice. Backups are stored in:

~/Library/Application\ Support/MobileSync/Backup

Within the Backup directory, there directories of backups for all your iDevices. I made it easy on myself by performing a backup just prior to saving the my voicemails.

Launch Terminal.

Go to the backup directory:

$ cd ~/Library/Application\ Support/MobileSync/Backup

List the files/directories and sort by date:

$ ls -trl

The last directory, in my case, was the one with the most recent backup I had just completed.

Make a copy of this directory to mess around with:

$ cp -rp 44e1c7c3d719bd24e3b9dd1aa87eb924c9153ff5 /Users/jgz/TestBackup

Change directories to the where you made your copy:

In my case:

$ cd /Users/jgz/TestBackup

Then, identify the voicemail files using the file command:

$ file * | grep “Adaptive Multi-Rate Codec”

This will list all of the voice mail messages in the backed up.

Rename the files with an .amr file extension, and play them in QuickTime. Once, you find the ones you want to keep, export them as Audio only files (m4a) to keep.

Fixing yum

OS: CentOS6

I was getting a bunch of duplicate package messages when I tried to update one of my servers. It had been a while and I didn’t remember what I might have done, but I suspect that I stopped a yum update in the middle to cause all the duplicates.

Here are a list of commands that I used in the past to get yum working again:

Complete any unfinished transactions, if it was stopped in the middle at some point:

# yum-complete-transaction

Will clean all cached data:

# yum clean all

List duplicate packages:

# package-cleanup –dupes

Remove duplicate packages:

# package-cleanup –cleandupes

Minicom + Ativa USB to serial adapter on a Macbook

Well, I finally broke down and went for a USB to serial adapter, because I was getting tired of creating computer rooms hazards by running console cables into the back of servers with serial ports. And I have had to do this quite a bit lately. My primary mobile desktop is an old MacBook (early 2008) running Mavericks.

I bought an Ativa adapter from Office Depot. The key to getting it work, is to make sure you use the correct driver. The Ativa adapter was easy. I downloaded the driver from I downloaded NoZAP-Pl2303-10.9-installer.dmg, since I am running Mavericks. I mounted the DMG, and the ran the package in the mounted DMG.

Then, I downloaded and installed minicom from:

The next issue is finding the correct device file. My first guess at a newly created tty file in /dev did not work. Next time, I looked a little closer and found a file called usbserial. Too obvious.

I launched the minicom setup:

/opt/minicom/current/bin/minicom -s

Then, configure and save the configuration as outlined in, except use /dev/usbserial for the serial device file. Permissions and Terminal settings were fine. I didn’t have to change them from the defaults.

Now, I can use my laptop to access my Cisco equipment.

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