Winter Storm Juno: What to do when you have to work remotely

Snow pic - Alex - 1

View from the front porch of Alex Straffin, Everon’s Technical Services Manager.
That’s a lot of snow! (Jan 27, 2015)

Making the headlines today is Winter Storm Juno. While the storm didn’t bring in the massive snowfalls predicted, it did force thousands of employees to either take the day off or work from home, as transportation came to a screeching halt in many of the major cities.

What do you do when you are forced to work from home? Fortunately, as long as your IT department has invested in this scenario, you have options.

Snow pic - Brandon

A view from the window of Massachusetts-based Everon Project Engineer Brandon Hodgkin (Jan 27, 2015).

The biggest option most employees are given is to use a VPN. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. It basically is a tunnel between you and your location to your office. When you join a VPN, you are routed to your company’s internal network, and from there you can map drives and access resources that are only accessible to you from inside the office.

VPNs are either offered internally, through an RRAS (routing and remote access server) or through a unit designed to handle the traffic (such as a Cisco AnyConnect device).

Another option you have, if available, is the use of a terminal server. Terminal servers are servers set up inside a company’s network. They allow multiple users to connect via remote desktop protocol and receive a fully functional desktop to use. When logging into a terminal server, you will be put onto a server’s desktop and will have access to all tools that have been previously installed on the server, such as Microsoft Office or Quickbooks.

Be aware that with a terminal server you are sharing the resources of a server with several other users, so you will be very limited to what you can do and where you can go. You should not be able to reboot the server or get to any administrative tools as a standard user.

Snow pic - Simon - 1

That white car belongs to Everon’s IT Project Manager, Simon Islam. Look at how much the tree limbs are weighed down — must be very wet, heavy stuff. (Massachusetts, Jan 27, 2015).

If neither of these are available through your company, and as long as you have permission, you can also use free remote software, to gain access to your actual desktop at your office. One such tool that I recommend is Teamviewer. You sign up for a Teamviewer account, and then install the software onto your workstation for unattended access (that will be an option to choose).

By doing that, Teamviewer modifies your machine to stay online and to keep a constant connection open, so when you leave the office, you can go to, sign into your account, and access your machine. It will open a window that puts you right on the desktop of your machine!

When using Teamviewer, be aware  that if you have your monitors on at work, everyone who is around your machine can see what you are doing. If you know you are going to use Teamviewer the next day, it’s a good idea to turn off your monitors before leaving work. (You will still have access to your machine.)

Snow pic - Simon - 2

As of 4 p.m. today (Jan 27, 2015), snow was still falling. Photo courtesy of Simon Islam.

These are the main three ways you can connect into your office remotely. Check with your IT department to see what they have available for you. Most likely they will allow one of these three. These are not the only ways to connect remotely — just the easiest and most common of the type of calls we typically get when a snowstorm shuts down a city.

For further information on how to connect remotely, and what your options are, feel free to contact Everon at 1-888-244-1748.

Snow pic - Alex - 2

I’d hate to have to be the one to dig out Alex’s car. Eesh! (Jan 27, 2015)


Tech Tips for Techs: Windows 10 and the Cisco AnyConnect VPN client



As a tech who provides remote support, I rely fairly heavily on several VPN clients to connect to a variety of networks for my day-to-day work. I recently acquired the Technical Preview for Windows 10, and immediately installed it on one of my spare laptops.

(Disclaimer - I subscribe to the “every-other-one” theory in regards to Microsoft OSes. This is to say that every other operating system that M$ releases is a complete piece of garbage. e.g.,

Windows 3.1 - crap
Windows 3.11 - not bad
Windows 95 - crap
Windows 98 - not bad
Windows ME - crap
Windows 2000 - not bad
[exception] Windows XP - not bad
Windows Vista - crap
Windows 7 - not bad
Windows 8 - crap

I completely skipped Windows 8 because I despise the interface, so I avoid it like the plague.)


Microsoft’s Windows 10 Start Menu

That said, I’m surprisingly not-as-disgusted by the Windows 10 interface as I thought I might have been, despite how many remnants of 8 are hanging around. I have to hand it to Microsoft — they did a pretty good job melding the two without completely offending the zealots of both the 7 and 8 camps. After deciding not to promptly format the hard drive after the install, I started installing most of my ‘regular’ applications onto it without any drama until I got to the Cisco AnyConnect VPN client.

I should have known.

After typing in my firewall’s address and pressing Enter, I was promptly greeted with a message saying "Failed to initialize connection subsystem." Gee - that’s nice. A cursory search of the intArwebz brought me to a couple of common things and solutions people have seen with this piece of software: changing the name of the connection in the registry, uninstall and reinstall, deleting multiple instances of the VPN adapter, etc etc. Of all the things I tried, I didn’t think to try the most obvious (which was the winner, I might add.) So much for the K.I.S.S. principle.

First, I changed the DisplayName of the vpnva service in HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\vpnva by deleting the string of garbage in front of the word Cisco (@oem8.inf,%VPNVA64_Desc%). This caused the connection process to “think” a little longer than normal, but ultimately brought up the same error. Drat.

Second, I noticed that the VPN Adapter in my network connections was disabled. Re-enabled it… same problem. Ugh.

Third, I tried uninstalling, cleaning out the registry, rebooting, checking the registry again, rebooting again, and reinstalling. Same problem.

Fourth, I was going to manually tell it to Run as Administrator, but before clicking the option I was reminded about Compatibility Mode. D’oh! How could I have forgotten that? I set it to run in compatibility mode for Windows 7, fired it up, and it connected. Like a charm. No fuss, no muss. Evidently, there’s something about the Windows 10 kernel that causes the 3.1.x AnyConnect software not to want to connect. So for anyone out there running on the bleeding edge, and you use Cisco’s AnyConnect client… check the simple things first. ;)


Free Version of soon to perish!


Many of you may have already noticed that the free version of LogMeIn is no longer going to be available for use. If you have not been made aware, please take note before it is too late. The company is officially phasing out its offering of free remote software for computers. Many people, including myself, have relied upon this software for years in order to have remote access to our computers to work from home or to provide long-distance support for others.

As of now, LogMeIn is giving customers until January 27, 2014 (next Monday!) to purchase the Pro version of the software — or else lose remote access to the software. They are offering a promotional price of $50/year for 2 computers. Some people may find this price reasonable and decide to purchase the licensing, others may not. But there’s no need to fret either way because there are other options out there.

TeamViewer is another free, remote-access software that you may find to be an acceptable replacement. Or, you could speak to Everon about setting up a VPN and/or Remote Desktop through your already existing network. You may find other options online out there, but if you are unsure as to what exactly it consists of or are just leery as a whole, please do not hesitate to reach out to Everon. We will help you make educated decisions and get you in a good spot. logmein_inc__

Domain Admins! Join a computer to your domain REMOTELY!


Hey there domain administrators.  Did you know it was possible to join a computer to your domain remotely?  Not so hard at all.

First, you must have VPN configured on your network.  Your VPN can be configured directly to your firewall, or through your firewall to your Windows Server Routing and Remote Access.  (How to setup PPTP on a Windows Server)

Once you’ve configured your VPN, you are now ready to join computers to the domain remotely.

First, connect to the VPN, so that your computer receives a local IP address from your network.

Next, open your computer properties to join to domain as you normally would internally.  Attempt to join your computer to the domain.  It will prompt you for domain admin credentials if your route has worked, and woila!  your are now joined.  Reboot the computer.

If you don’t get the prompt for domain admin credentials, that most likely means you are not able to ping the domain controller via hostname, and you will need to manually edit your hosts file.

To do this:

  1. Goto:  C:\Windows\Syste32\drivers\etc
  2. Open your hosts file with Wordpad “Run as Administrator”.  You may need to open Wordpad as an administrator first, and then open the file
  3. Goto the bottom of your hosts file and enter the following:  ”IP Address”, Tab 2 X’s, “server name” - where the IP address is the IP of your Domain Controller, and the Server Name is the host name of your Domain Controller.
  4. Save the hosts file
Now try joining your computer to the domain again.  This should work for you.
Good luck!