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Category: General Tech

Good afternoon all! This has been a blog post about 3+ years in the making. Allow me to digress and give you some context. Prior to joining the ranks at the “mother ship” (A.k.a. Microsoft), in my previous life I was an MCT (Microsoft certified trainer). In that prior role I was teaching all kinds of classes. Everything from A+, Net+ (Comptia) to Microsoft Official Curriculum classes on topics ranging from Windows client, server, Exchange, IIS, etc.. Now through this process I developed a shortcut method for a way to teach subnetting. Way back in the day I sat through a 5 day CCNA class. Now I think the day we covered it, we spent a good SIX HOURS on subnetting. Being a bit of a numbers guy I picked it up quickly. I had wondered why others were struggling with it. Don’t get me wrong I know people all learn via different methods and I don’t judge, but I knew there had to be a better way. Immediately I started to notice patterns in the math. This kind of felt like a Charlie Epps moment from the now defunct TV show Numb3rs. The following post and content came from that epiphany. It was very well received by the students I delivered it to and even re-taught it to some of the other MCT’s I worked with and they kept just saying, “Wow, I didn’t think it could be delivered just that simple”.

Alright, if all goes well you can get through this fast and via some self-practice be able to subnet in your head. After using it for some time there is a SMALL bit you should commit to memory and then you’ll be able look at an /## or .XXX value subnet mask and know immediately how many networks, how many useable hosts and maybe even the ranges for each network that are created. At least that is the end goal.


Alright before we run, let’s make sure we can all walk. Any network communication usually is dependent on the client having some basic settings configured.

IP address -  Think of this like the address of your house. 123 Maple Ave. There may be many houses on Maple ave., but YOU specifically are at 123 Maple. Usually an IPv4 address (all we’ll cover here) in ###.###.###.### type of format. Each block of numbers (octet) is the decimal equivalent of a 8bit base-2 value. So that means if we have four octets, we have a 32-bit IP address. How did we get a numerical digit out of a bit/byte value? Each base2 bit (1 or 0) has a positional value. I.E. 129 would equal 10000001. Each of the positions of the 1’s and 0’s represent a value. They go as follows; I’ll put the same bits we talked about below them to help illustrate

128 64 32 16 8 4 2 1 =255
1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 =129

See any patterns here? numbers increasing or decreasing by a multiplier of 2 (base2 remember?) so everything we’ll deal with when subnetting will either double or halve in our calculations. One thing you may note above is the value of 255. We technically count all 0’s and that value would be 0 as well, thus a total range of 0-255 = total of 256 since were counting the 0. The value 256 will be a running theme. I like to call it the “Magic Number”

Let’s do one more together

128 64 32 16 8 4 2 1  
1 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 =165

If we add all the bit positional values together that has the value of 1 ( 128 + 32+ 4+1 =165 )Great, now we understand where the numbers and the ranges come from.

Subnet mask – this is what defines boundaries, or in our street / address analogy, which houses are on what streets. Is the house with address 210 Main street on the same street as my house? Nope! But a street address of 48 Maple street is. So it’s near me.

Default gateway – If the endpoint address isn’t  on my street, which intersection do I go through first to get off of the street I live on. There is a traffic cop at the gateway to help onto the next step (routers / switches). If I have to leave my street or block, where is the first place to go to get to my eventual endpoint?

Why do we even need to subnet?

Alright, networks can be large. The A-typical network is what is best described as a class C network and you probably use one at home. My home network uses a 192.168.1.x address with a mask of (Class C subnet mask). This means that my one network could have IP addresses from – That is a lot of IP’s! my home network isn’t that large and I can’t use 256 (we count the 0) IP’s anyway. Now this is what those in the know call wasteful addressing. So we will use a subnet mask to take this one large network and chop it up into equal smaller sections. Similar to taking our one long street and adding stop signs in the middle of it making equally sized “blocks”. In IP terms we’ve created IP ranges that makes up our smaller subnets.

Purpose of the mask

We stated above it shows us boundaries. If you look at an address of a neighbor you can tell if they’re on your same street right? how? via a comparing of your address to theirs. This same process of comparing the source and destination in IP speak is called “ANDing”. It’s the comparison of your IP to the destination IP address. This post won’t cover how you turned into an IP address, that is what DNS (Domain Name Resolution) is for and it’s out of scope. Now what if your street does have blocks? are you on still on Maple , but 3 blocks away? Then that address isn’t local to you. You would have to go through an intersection. So how much of the address do we compare? That is what the mask tells us.

Do we compare the following like this…?

123 Maple St.

100 Maple St.

They look similar right? That’s because we ANDed the addresses and you saw similarities until you got to the number right? ANDing with IP’s is similar. IP ANDing is performed from right to left. Let’s look at a class C subnet mask of This tells us that the first 24 of the 32 bit addresses are all 1’s! How did I get that? Using the value tables above, eight 1’s in a single octet = 255. So three of those tells us the first 24 bits are all 1’s. That is the mask. let’s see it in a table


192 168 10 100  
255 255 255 0  
yes yes yes no Masked?

So this above shows us that if the first 3 numbers match, the target address is considered local to the source. Similar how we compared the street address from before, albeit from the other direction.

So this boundary we’re creating is also dividing the address. The left half up to the end of the mask is considered the Network portion of the IP address. The previous example shows us the network ID is The remaining 8 bits are considered the Host portion of the IP address. That is what makes it unique on the 192.168.10.x network. Similar to how our street address number shows where we are in the street, the host portion shows where on the network we are.

Now when we adjust the mask to make more smaller networks, we increase the number of bits used for the network portion of the address and automatically then reduce the host portion of the IP. So since everything is even chunks, if we take one network of 256 IP’s and chop it in half to make two, we get half  as many IP’s per network. Here is the doubling and halving we mentioned earlier.

Let’s get chopping!

This is normally where other subnetting systems become overly complex with large matrices that map out the doubling and halving we’ve learned to this point. I found a nice pattern that is easy to remember since it uses the same patterns. Let’s look at it. It will be our ongoing reference, “the Solarz Slide Rule”

# of IP’s 128 64 32 16 8 4 2 1
# of Networks 2 4 8 16 32 64 128 256

Notice any patterns there? Doubling and halving. Notice the values? They should look familiar, they map to the values for bit placement in an octet! Now this mini table makes a few assumptions. I like to think of these as the “rules”

  • We are subnetting in the 4th octet. We are taking a single class C network (192.168.1.x) and making more smaller networks.
  • The defacto standard address is (as we learned before, you were paying attention right?) using the first 24 bits for the mask. This is also represented as /24 mask. So a mask is the exact same thing as /24. Just whether were calling out the numeric value of the bits or the bit count, it’s the same thing
  • using the above rule, the first column in the slide rule is the 25th bit, the second the 26th, and so on.
  • EVERY network uses the first network for the network ID, and the last IP for the broadcast address. So a standard Class C network of 192.168.1.x, it’s ID IP is and it’s broadcast IP (The one everyone listens too) is Taking this logic forward, every network you make will take the number of IP’s per networks and take two away. [# of IP’s – 2]

Let’s get to using it! Scenario 1…

I the network manager task you with taking your class C subnet (10.10.2.x/24) network and make 4 smaller networks. So we need to solve for a few items..

  1. What is the numeric subnet mask? 255.255.255.?
  2. how many networks are made?
  3. How many USABLE IP’s are there per network.

As long as we know ONE of these three, we can solve for the other two using the slide rule. So our scenario is asking for 4 networks. Let’s plug this in..


So we take 2 bits from the 8 in the slide rule. We always use the values to the left of where we split the slide rule. This takes us from 1 network of 256 IP’s to four networks of 64 IP’s each. Unsure if it’s right? multiply one by the other. What do the equal? the magic # of 256! so if we started with a 24 bit mask, we now have a 26 bit mask. So 26 bits now are for the network portion of the address, and the remaining 6 are the host portion of the address. So using the slide rule we solved for item #2. Just like the request, we have 4 networks. Per the slide rule that gives us 64 IP’s in each new smaller network. Now recall the last rule, we lose the first and last IP for network ID and broadcast address. So that now gives us the answer for #3. There are 62 usable IP’s in the 4 networks. Now it’s been pretty clear thus far. This is the part where everyone gets a bit lost. How do we solve for #1? How do we derive the numerical mask? Well we continue to use the slide rule and the magic number. Let’s take the TOTAL IP’s per network and subtract it from the magic number of 256.

256-64 = 192

So to solve for #1, our subnet mask is

so to recap, we made 4 networks which each had 64 total IP’s (62 useable by PC’s or devices) and the mask created is

Let’s reverse engineer this. Scenario #2….

I the IT director tell you to break up the internal private network and break it up with a mask. How many Networks and usable IP’s does this give us?

So again we have the three questions, but we already know one of the answers..

  1. What is the numeric subnet mask?
  2. how many networks are made?
  3. How many USABLE IP’s are there per network.

So if we KNOW the mask, how do we go backwards through the slide rule? Let’s flip the script. If we got the previous one by subtracting a value from the magic number of 256, why can’t we just solve for the other missing variables since that is a constant?

Previously we used 256-64 = 192. This can be translated as X-Y=Z. If we know X (256) and Z(240) then we have this… [256-Y=240]. Basic math skills intervene and we know we have 16 IP’s / network. We plug this in the slide rule and we see this..


so using the same logic, we get 16 networks of 16 IP’s each (14 usable). Now looks like were taking 4 bits from the octet to give to the network side of the IP. This means we went from a /24 subnet mask to a /28.

Clear as mud right?


I am going to apologize up front for some intentional vagueness. I haven’t fully navigated what is NDA and what isn’t when it comes to Microsoft IP and internal only data. So to be safe, no full-on facts will be typically divulged here. Sorry, I am not about to lose my dream gig over something like that.

So I am now at the end of week two working for (in my own opinion) the best technology company out there, Microsoft. Now obviously I am biased. Why? well I am now a full time employee. Some would argue I was before being hired. I held almost 20 certifications on Microsoft products. I honestly think this is one of the best companies I’ve ever worked for and I’m only 10 days in. There are a lot of benefits both personally and professionally.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a massive company. almost 100,000 users. Yet when working with your manager, you feel like they honestly want to you to be the best YOU that you can be. It’s ginormous billion dollar making company but with a personal feel. Best of both worlds? so far, Yes.

I thought I knew exchange, I really did. Turns out… not so much. That is the purpose of this post’s title. Starting here is like the example in the title. There is so many resources, and you have to learn fast! The side advantage of working here is being surrounded by so many brilliant people. Chances to grow, heck.. even move across the country!

Hey all!

This blog’s focus from day one is, and always has been you guys. My friends, my co-workers, and my students. You are not just some page hit count. You have a voice. I’ve always said this blog is reader driven. Most of my posts have been from repeat questions I’ve gotten from in my classes.

As I’m sure you may have heard, starting mid-June, I will begin working directly FOR Microsoft! My new role with the mothership will be laser focused on Exchange. Now expectedly, you will see a lot of the post revolve around my new deep focus. I don’t want to alienate any of my older readers so it won’t be 100% on Exchange. Please contact me directly here ( if there’s something you’d like to see on this site.

I do have a few things that have been in the wings I’d like to finally post. The most noteworthy is the “Solarz slide rule” on how to subnet IP addresses in your head in a matter of minutes. I will get this post and/or video up as time permits.

I had a few students in this week’s 50292 Windows 7 class ask if there’s a list of keyboard shortcuts listed in the book. I’ve just put some on here that deal with the use of the Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key. I decided to point them here and the MSFT official site as well

Windows 7 Keyboard Shortcuts

The following table contains keyboard shortcuts that use the Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key.


          Press this key                    To do this

Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key Open or close the Start menu.
Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key +Pause Display the System Properties dialog box.
Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key +D

Display the desktop.

Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key +M Minimize all windows.
Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key +Shift+M Restore minimized windows to the desktop.
Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key +E Open Computer.
Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key +F Search for a file or folder.
Ctrl+Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key +F Search for computers (if you’re on a network).
Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key +L Lock your computer or switch users.
Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key +R Open the Run dialog box.
Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key +T Cycle through programs on the taskbar.
Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key+number Start the program pinned to the taskbar in the position indicated by the number. If the program is already running, switch to that program.
Shift+Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key+number Start a new instance of the program pinned to the taskbar in the position indicated by the number.
Ctrl+Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key+number Switch to the last active window of the program pinned to the taskbar in the position indicated by the number.
Alt+Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key+number Open the Jump List for the program pinned to the taskbar in the position indicated by the number.
Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key +Tab Cycle through programs on the taskbar by using Aero Flip 3-D.
Ctrl+Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key +Tab Use the arrow keys to cycle through programs on the taskbar by using Aero Flip 3-D.
Ctrl+Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key +B Switch to the program that displayed a message in the notification area.

Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key +Spacebar

Preview the desktop.
Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key +Up Arrow Maximize the window.
Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key +Left Arrow Maximize the window to the left side of the screen.
Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key +Right Arrow Maximize the window to the right side of the screen.
Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key +Down Arrow Minimize the window.
Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key +Home Minimize all but the active window.
Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key +Shift+Up Arrow Stretch the window to the top and bottom of the screen.
Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key +Shift+Left Arrow or Right Arrow Move a window from one monitor to another.
Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key +P Choose a presentation display mode.
Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key +G Cycle through gadgets.
Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key +U

Open Ease of Access Center.

Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key +X

Open Windows Mobility Center.

There is a really cool event coming up on Oct 14th that I have been lucky enough to become a part of. It’s the Office 2010 and Windows 7 public Experts chat. This is completely open to the public and a great arena to get your specific questions answered! I can’t wait to be a part of this and hope you will too! event details below :-)

Would you like to learn more about the cool new features in Office 2010 and Windows 7 and what has changed since previous versions? Do you use Microsoft Office but would like to learn tips and tricks to be more productive at home, school or at work? Perhaps you are a new user who has questions on how to get started with Windows 7 or using the Office ribbon? Or would like to learn how to protect your computer from malware and viruses. Or perhaps you are just stuck and need answers.

The Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs) are here to help!

The MVPs are the same people you see in the technical community as authors, trainers, user groups leaders and answerers in the Microsoft forums. For the first time ever we have brought these experts together as a collective group to answer your questions live. MVPs will be on hand to take questions about Microsoft Office 2010 or Office 2007 products such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Access, Project, OneNote and more. As well as the Windows 7 and earlier versions such as Windows Vista. In addition to Microsoft Office, the chat will cover Windows related topics such as upgrading, setup and installation, securing your PC, Internet Explorer, personalizing your computer desktop or having fun with Windows Live Essentials to share photos, make movies and more. All levels of experience are welcome from beginners and students to intermediate power users.

Please join us for this informative Q&A style chat and bring on your basic and your tough questions!

Join the Chat!

Add to Calendar

October 14, 2010
10:00 A.M. – 11:00 A.M. Pacific Time
Additional Time Zones


If you’re making the move to Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, and/or Office 2010, you need tools and guidance to help you through the process.  Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) 2010, a free Solution Accelerator, is designed to fill that need.

The latest MDT 2010 Update 1 release, now available for download, offers something for everyone:

For System Center Configuration Manager 2007 customers:

  • New “User Driven Installation” deployment method. An easy-to-use UDI Wizard allows users to initiate and customize an OS deployment on their PCs that’s tailored to their individual needs.

  • Support for Configuration Manager R3 “Prestaged Media.” For those deploying Windows 7 and Office 2010 along with new PCs, a custom OS image can easily be loaded in the factory and then customized once deployed.

For Lite Touch Installation:

  • Support for Office 2010. Easily configure Office 2010 installation and deployment settings through the Deployment Workbench and integration with the Office Customization Tool.
  • Improved driver importing. All drivers are inspected during the import process to accurately determine what platforms they really support, avoiding common inaccuracies that can cause deployment issues.

Tool is Available HERE

    One of my awesome students this week Warren tipped us off to this great piece of reference material. he was having issues with mobile clients and connection speeds. He found this and saw it was an incredible resource when dealing with and understanding Cisco AP’s and their attenae’s!

  Today I received some VERY good news. I was awarded the Microsoft MVP award. I knew it was something special, but not how special until I read the post below. If you do the math I am now only one of 0.004% of the IT community! I was nominated by Stephen Rose the community manager for the Windows group and lead of the Springboard team. Thanks so much Stephen! I am happy with my contributions to the community and wish I could do even more, but with family commitments and the need to sleep occasionally, you always just try to do your best. Let me know if there is anything else I can do for you guys! Thanks for reading and the continued support!


The Microsoft MVP Award Program Blog : Congratulations to the new and renewed Microsoft MVPs
Congratulations to the new and renewed Microsoft MVPsToday over 4000 extraordinary community leaders from around the world received notice that they were awarded the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional Award. The MVP Award recognizes inspiring, trusted, and independent experts who voluntarily share their passion and knowledge of Microsoft products with others. People from nearly 100 countries, speaking over 40 different languages, representing approximately 90 different Microsoft technologies were recognized.Microsoft strongly values it’s relationship with the MVP community. MVPs regularly offer feedback to Microsoft, representing the voices of thousands of people from technology communities throughout the world.MVPs are nominated by other community individuals, or in some cases themsleves. Candidates are rigorously evaluated for their technical expertise, community leadership, and voluntary community contributions for the previous year.The MVP Award is an enormous honor and is reserved for only the most extraordinary individuals. Considering there are more than 100 million social and technical community members worldwide, only a tiny fraction make the cut. (4.0 x 10 -5 if your doing the math.)Welcome once more to the new MVPs, and welcome back to renewed MVPs. We are very excited to recognize your amazing accomplishment!


Steve one of my past students tipped me off to this gentleman’s site. It’s a must read!


Brian Lee Jackson’s deployment blog!

Do you like DISM, but hate having to use the deployment command prompt? Here is a solution!

Je Jin’s DISM tool


    Phil from this week’s 6294 deploying windows 7 class had a great question!


         "The data collection package that runs on the clients, how often does it run and can we scheudle it?"


    Great question Phil! I thought I would barrage you all with reference information on this one. First off…


    How the Application Compatibility Toolkit Data Collector Works


    In direct response to his quesiton above I dug up this info…


In the When to monitor application usage area, define when your data-collection package will run and for how long, including:

  • Starting: To set the date and the time that your data-collection package will begin collecting data, click one of the following options:
    • As soon as possible after install
    • At specified date and time


ACT uses Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) instead of local time. Therefore, if you set your data-collection package to start at 6:05 P.M. Eastern Standard Time and run for five minutes, the data-collection package will actually start at 3:05 P.M. Pacific Standard Time, 5:05 P.M. Central Standard Time, 6:05 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, and so on. Selecting a specific date and time means that your compatibility evaluators will not begin collecting data until your configured date and time. However, you must deploy your data-collection package prior to your specified time, so it can install your compatibility evaluators.

  • Duration: In the box, type a numerical value that defines how long the data-collection package will run, and then select Days, Hours, or Minutes in the list.


Your data-collection package duration runs in chronological time. Therefore, if you shut down your computer and the specified duration elapses while the computer is off, when you turn the computer back on, the data is uploaded and the data-collection package exits.

  • Upload data every: Select 2 hours, 4 hours, 8 hours, or 12 hours, depending on how long you set ACT to wait between each upload of your application-compatibility data.


If you are running a data-collection package based on the Applying Windows Updates option, we recommend that you select the 2-hour upload option.


This info was found here…  Creating a Data Collection Package

When looking bigger picture here on how the tool is used to collect data, use this outline with links here…  Phase 1: Collecting Your Compatibility Data

Or for a real tech deep dive…  Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit Data Collector (ACT-DC) Technical Reference