Best Practice Ezine #80 Save energy, save money and have fun

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Save energy, save money and have fun

Eric and I have never met.  My contact with Eric is like that of a cactus and water.  Our friendship goes through months of drought, then briefly but gloriously, it blossoms.

I want to tell you of a free utility that Eric has discovered.  The purpose of this box of tricks is to create Group Policies which control the computer’s hardware.  Specifically, Eric’s utility / Group Policy manages the power for the computer’s monitor and thus saves energy and money.

Summer will soon be here, offices will start to overheat; so even if someone else pays the electricity bills, you may have a personal reason to turn off unused monitors especially when the temperature hits the 80s.  As you may know, a computer’s monitor is its biggest heat source.  (Mad Mick say’s  ‘Guy it’s winter, we are freezing in our office.  Reverse your policy, make sure the computer monitors are never turned off.’)

What EZ GPO does is to control the Computer’s Power Management settings.  The killer feature of the EZ GPO utility is that it can manage hardware settings, which are normally outside a Group Policy’s capabilities.  EZ GPO achieves control by providing an .adm policy template plus a client side MSI applet.

Before I get into the specifics, let us stand back and absorb a few principles.  Group Policies alter registry settings.  Normally, if the there is no group policy for a particular registry setting then you are stumped.  However, if you have skill and patience, then you can buy a policy editor and create extra settings.  EZ GPO is the fruit of such a Group Policy editor.  The extra dimension of Eric’s utility is that includes a client utility, which can alter the computer’s hardware.

Eric’s example is one of the most advanced applications of Windows Server 2003 Group Policies.  If you want to learn the basics of Group Policy, then TrainSignal have wonderful learning material.  What impresses me is that they cater for all learning styles, Video, step-by-step instructions and real life examples.

Instructions for EZ GPO -Overview

Eric and Energy Star have detailed instruction, but if you are experienced with Group Policies, I would absorb the following four principles, then follow your nose.

  1. Get the zipped kit called EZ GPO (I will provide the link in a few lines).
  2. Copy the .ADM into the %sytemroot%\inf.   Incidentally, you know you are in the right folder when you see other policy files for example, inetres.adm.
  3. Load the template into your Group Policy.  Head for the User Configuration, Administrative Templates, then right-click, Add/Remove Template now select EZ GPO.  (If it’s not there you copied the adm to the wrong place.)
  4. Deploy the EZ Gpo Installer.MSI.  Cunningly, create a Software Group Policy which installs the client software and thus makes the main Energy Group Policy actually work.  Remember that hardware does not normally fall under the influence of Group Policy that is why you need these extra client side steps for the EZ Gpo Installer.MSI.

Having Fun

I have to say that every time I delve into Group Policy, I derive fun from making things happen.  As a pleasant side effect, I also learn something new about Windows Server 2003.  I do hope that you take up my challenge to install and configure EZ GPO.  Controlling the monitors will give you satisfaction, you also know that you are configuring a power setting that should not be left at the default because it wastes energy.

One side effect of ‘having fun’ is that you develop a rounded view of a topic, and are ready to apply stuff you learnt while experimenting to other areas.  For example, once you have tried adding a few extra .ADM templates you may think, hmm…. there is no Group Policy, but if there is a registry setting, then I know it’s possible to make my own Group Policy.

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