April 2002 Reader Challenge

Do you know an easy way to automate changing NIC settings?

Congratulations to Dee Abson of Alberta, Canada, who wins first prize, a copy of my book, "Admin911: Windows 2000 Registry." Second prize, a copy of "Admin911: Windows 2000 Group Policy," by Roger Jennings, goes to Patrick A. Reed of Iowa, US.

Thanks to all of you for sending so many great answers (not just correct, but original and sometimes funny). Unfortunately, many wonderful answers arrived without addresses and telephone numbers, eliminating those people from the contest. Please read the rules: We can't send you a prize if we don't know where to send it. You must include your full name, street mailing address, town, state or province, and phone number.

The Problem:

A faithful reader named Sam is an IT professional who is responsible for mobile users. His company has two offices, which are two separate businesses (the result of an acquisition). One office manages product sales, and the other office manages sales of professional services.

The road warriors are salespeople who use their Windows 2000 Professional laptops to enter information as they visit clients. They phone in their orders to the appropriate office, but at least once a week, they must visit both offices to move data between their laptops and each office's database.

Each office has an independent Win2K domain. Except for Microsoft Exchange Server and the company's accounting software, each office maintains its own discrete software and data.

Sam trained the laptop users to change the settings on their PC Card NICs so that they can access each domain. However, Sam still receives many telephone calls that start along the lines of "I forget, what do I change...," "What's the IP address of the DC...," or "What's the subnet...." Thus, he decided he had to find a better solution.

Sam enjoys reading this Reader Challenge column, so he put out his own challenge in his company's newsletter. He asked employees to come up with a way to automate changing the NIC settings. Besides a few sarcastic entries suggesting that users just keep notes, the suggestions he received included using batch files, server-based user profiles, computer-based policies that require putting all laptop computers in one organizational unit (OU), and registry (.reg) files.

The database manager at the product sales office won the prize for submitting the easiest method for moving between two domains. Sam asked me to guess the simplest way to do this, and the only clue he offered was "stare at a laptop." It took me a few minutes to figure it out. How long will it take you? The solution is obvious if you examine a laptop computer. The solution is available on every laptop I've looked at. Sam gave a book to his winner, and I'll do the same.

The Solution

Windows 2000 recognizesNICs based on their bus, and all laptops have two slots for PC-Cards. To Windows 2000, PC-Card slot#1 is not the same bus as PC-Card slot#2. To take advantage of this putthe NIC in slot#1 and configure it for one networking scheme (IP address, DNS Server, subnet, etc.). Then put the same NIC into slot 2, and configure it for the other networking scheme. Be sure to name the connections appropriately. I created the first NIC, right-clicked its object, and chose Rename from the shortcut menu. I named it Slot1-Products. I renamed teh "fake" second NIC I Slot2-Services. To log on to a different network, move the NIC to the appropriate slot. Oh, yes, Sam says don't forgt to label the slots on the side of the laptop (I hand't thought of that).
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