Ezine 193 Guy’s Litmus Tests

Ezine 193 Guy’s Litmus Tests

This week I would like to return the idea of a Litmus test to distinguish between computer amateurs and professionals.  For example:

Amateurs: Allow zillions of programs to launch once the operating system has finished initializing.

Professionals:  Check regularly with MsConfig, and zap imposters who have bullied their way into their startup list.

Do you dare to run MsConfig now?  I bet you find a rogue program amongst those listed on the ‘Startup’ tap.

Guy’s Litmus Tests – The Idea

My Litmus test is a concept that you can apply literally anywhere.  Each test gives you an instant answer to the basic question: – ‘Are you dealing with a professional, or is an amateur?’  Is this the real deal, or is it a turkey?   The Litmus Test concept is rather like Best Practice, but it reduces a 27 page report to one sentence!

More Litmus Tests:-

The Administrator’s Account

Amateurs: Leave the built-in Administrator account with the default name (and probably a weak password).

Professionals: Rename the original account, and then create a dummy Administrator with no rights – this drives hackers mad!

Group Policy v Logon Scripts

I have a soft spot for logon scripts because they inadvertently prompted me to create this website, and propelled me into learning VBScript.  However, over the last ten years I have realized that Group Policy is the way to go.  This is why I now say:

Professionals:  Use Group Policies at every opportunity.

Amateurs:  Still go out of their way to use a logon script even though a group policy would do a neater job.

Guy Recommends: The Free IP Address Tracker (IPAT) IP Tracker

Calculating IP Address ranges is a black art, which many network managers solve by creating custom Excel spreadsheets.  IPAT cracks this problem of allocating IP addresses in networks in two ways:

For Mr Organized there is a nifty subnet calculator, you enter the network address and the subnet mask, then IPAT works out the usable addresses and their ranges. 

For Mr Lazy IPAT discovers and then displays the IP addresses of existing computers. Download the Free IP Address Tracker

Circular Logging for Databases

Amateurs:  Use circular logging to save disk space.

Professionals:  Only use circular logging in an emergency; they realize that if the logs are incomplete then they could not recover a database from the last normal backup.

Note:  Last week I had a problem with System Restore on a Windows 7 machine.  In June I wanted to revert to the January’s configuration, but I could not because that System Restore had been over written by settings designed to reduce the disk space allocated to System Restore(s).

Some readers will disagree with my interpretation of the above amateur and professional actions, but I hope that you can see that by designing Litmus tests you can learn and have fun at the same time.  Indeed, I hope that you will send in a Litmus test that you have created so that I can share it with other readers.

Where Guy’s Litmus Test Idea Came From

Each Litmus testgives you an instant answer to the question: – "Is this a good idea or isthere a better way?”  The brainwave for Litmus tests came to me when a delegate said: "Guy, I havejust joined a company; how do I know if our network and servers arerunning properly?"  So I suggested simple checks that he could make to testif his network was run by amateurs or professionals. See more computer litmus tests.


As I was wondering what title to give the check list, my mind flashed back to my schoolboy days.  Suddenly I remembered my chemistry teacher ‘Sniffy’ Pugh showing us Litmus tests.  Perhaps you remember the test?  What happens is you dip Litmus paper into a liquid, if the paper turns red it means acid, whereas if it turns blue the liquid is alkaline.  It struck me that Litmus test was the ideal name for a quick test where there are only two possible results, one good the other bad.

Guy’s Recommendations for Computer Utilities

Guy Recommends: Tools4ever’s UMRAUMRA The User Management Resource Administrator

Tired of writing scripts? The User Management Resource Administrator solution by Tools4ever offers an alternative to time-consuming manual processes.

It features 100% auto provisioning, Helpdesk Delegation, Connectors to more than 130 systems/applications, Workflow Management, Self Service and many other benefits. Click on the link for more information onUMRA.

Will and Guy’s Humour – Funny Name and Job

Have you ever received a letter where the signature at the bottom of the page accurately reflects the profession of the person writing?  Or perhaps in a newspaper you have come across an appropriate name which matches the type of job the person has.  For example, Mr F Knox, bank manager for Lloyds.

  • Henry Ford Carr:- Automobile salesman Central City, Kentucky
  • Chuck Long:- Former NFL quarterback for the Detroit Lions and the Los Angeles Rams.
  • Cardiac Arrest da Silva:- Municipal Tax Collector, Brazil (Financial Times)
  • See more funny examples of name and job combinations.

See more interesting Litmus Tests

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Free Wake-on-Lan  •Realtime network monitoring freeware  •Free Solarwinds WMI Monitor