Computer Tips and Tricks
Get the latest posts via rss

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Killing a hanging Windows Service

Services have the tendency to hang during a "Starting" or "Stopping" state causing a program to fail. Usually a reboot can correct the problem, but this is not always appropriate. There is an alternative in the form of an "sc query" and a "taskkill" commands.

The "sc query" is used to identify the PID or process identifier of a running service. This is required to perform the "taskkill" command.

To obtain the PID, first find out the exact name of the service you wish to kill. It can be found in the service properties.

Windows Server 2003 Service Timeout

Frequently on Windows Server 2003 when rebooting, a service may fail to start and the following message appears over the logon screen:
Or when trying to start or restart a service manually you may receive this message.
This is because the timeout delay is set to low for the service to complete its startup process and causes it to fail.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Enable Password URLs in Internet Explorer 8 (Windows 7, 64 Bit)

Have you ever received a link like the one below for a website where the user name and password is incorporated in to the URL?


When clicked these URLs take you to a website and automatically log you in to it.

In older versions of Internet Explorer it used to just work, however in the IE7 and above Microsoft have disabled the feature for security reasons.

However this can be re-enabled if required by a simple registry fix.

Enable Windows 7 Administrator Account GPO

By default, as was with Vista, the local Administrator account in windows 7 is disabled. If you are deploying Windows 7 across a number of clients on a network etc. you may find the need to enable this account for future trouble shooting client machines. Also remember, even if you enable the Administrator account, and then run Sysprep, the sysprep process disables the Administrator account.
By far the easiest way to enable the Administrator account on client machines in a domain is to use Group Policy, here is how you achieve this.
I am assuming you have the basic understandings of applying/creating Group policy settings on a Windows Domain, if not, leave a comment and i will see how i can help further.
Go ahead and open “Group Policy Management”, for testing purposes, it may be worth creating a new policy on a test OU, and placing some test client accounts within that OU. So Right click your OU and select “Create a GPO in this domain, and Link it here”. The new GPO pox will prompt you for a Name, so go ahead and give it a meaningful Name, and click OK.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Creating a Windows 7 Sysprep unattended XML

Having successfully sysprepped Windows 7, i thought i would break down the processes required into some smaller blogs, so here goes for creating the required unattended XML file.
To create the unattended XML you will need the latest version of WAIK (Windows Automated Installation Kit) and you can download that from the Microsoft Download centre here.
Once you have downloaded and installed WAIK, go ahead and launch Windows System Image manager, and you will be presented with the following

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Configuring Windows Server 2008 R2 DHCP Split-Scope

At last with Windows Server 2008 R2 Microsoft have introduced an easy way to provide some form of redundancy for DHCP servers with the new Split-Scope Wizard. Administrators have always had to provide some form of DHCP redundancy in larger networks, this was usually done by manually splitting scopes across more than one server, and if a lot of scopes are required this can be a laborious job, and not the easiest to manage.
So what have Microsoft introduced now? Lets presume that you have 2 DHCP servers configured on your network. On server 1 you go ahead and configure your DHCP scope as you always have, include any Scope Options, server options etc. When you define your scope, include all the range that you will be wanting to split, for example a new scope;
IP Range –
So, nothing new so far, once you scope is configured, right click on the new scope, select advanced, and then Split-Scope,

Using Windows Live Writer with Blogger

Following on from my recent posts about publishing blogs to Blogger with Word 2007 and word 2010 and the associated issues with uploading images i have given Windows Live Writer a try.
As i am sure you are aware this is a free utility available with the Windows Live family. Once downloaded and installed its easily enough to configure to use with Blogger. When you first open it, it asks for connection information to your existing blog site like so

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Publishing Blog to Blogger from Word 2010

Having tried Microsoft Office Word 2007 to publish blogs directly to Blogger, see Blog, but having issues with the images being published, after some investigation it is alleged that Word 2010 will publish images OK. Office 2010 is currently only available in Beta format, but I decided it was time I gave it a go anyway to see what else is new, in preparation for users wanting to try it.
Following installation, and activation (Office 2010 uses the MAK and KMS activation format) getting around the new office is easy enough. The publish as blog is in a slightly different location as per the following image

Using Word 2007 as your Blog Editor.

I was looking around to see if I could find a Blog editor to use locally on my clients rather than creating and editing directly within the online blogger tools. To my surprise, I found that you can publish directly from Microsoft Word 2007 to you blog on Blogger, so I thought I would give it a go.

It looked easy and straight forward enough, just click on publish and select Blog

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Windows Server 2008 IIS7 HTTP Redirection

In IIS6 to redirect a virtual directory within a website to another URL, local or remote, was a nice and simple process. It was just a case of right clicking on the virtual directory, selecting properties and on the Directory Tab selecting “A Redirection to a URL” and entering the required address.

With the introduction of IIS7 in Windows Server 2008 this was published as an improved feature. So when asked to move a virtual directory, and forward all requests to the original address to the new URL I presumed this would be just as straight forward.

So first things first, HTTP Redirection is not included in the standard IIS7 setup, when you add it as a Role. So to start with using Server manager, add the Role Service to IIS (I will presume you know how to do this).

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Configure Windows 7 64 Bit & Media Direct on Dell XPS M1530

Last year I treated myself to a nice new Dell XPS M1530 Laptop.

Specification: Intel Dual Core Duo 2 2 GB CPU, 2 GB of RAM, 250 GB HDD, 256 MB Graphics, Blue Tooth, Wireless, Finger print reader etc.

It came with the dreaded Windows Vista Home Premium 32 Bit. By this time I had already used Vista at work and was NOT a fan. It was slow and clunky, used way too many system resources and was full of annoying bugs.

Admittedly Vista Service Pack 1 did solve a few of these issues and Vista ran smoothly on the XPS M1530.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Windows Server DNS Zone Import

Following on from my previous Blog "windows server 2008 globalnames zone" , once the new zone was created I had to add all the NetBIOS names of our servers etc. Now being the lazy admin that I am, I could not bring myself to add them manually, so thought that there must be an easier way of doing so, and fortunately, after some head scratching there is.

The Zone in question was an Active Directory Integrated Zone, so the first job was to set this as not Active Directory Integrated. Easy enough, in DNS manager, right click the zone and click Properties, on the general tab, click change next to Type, and uncheck “store the zone in Active Directory”.

Once that is complete, navigate to C:\windows\system32\DNS and locate the file containing the local copy of the zone, this will be named the same as the zone you have just amended in DNS Manager, in my Case GlobalNames. Open this up with Notepad, and below the ZONE RECORDS heading you will see the DNS entries listed, these are in tab delimited format of;

Windows Server 2008 GlobalNames Zone

Since before time began, administrators have always had the pleasure of Dealing with WINS (windows Internet Naming Service) for name resolution within Windows Domains. Now although WINS works, generally, when it has problems such as replication, they can soon become a headache, particularly when a great number of servers are involved.

With server 2008, and now in R2, a new DNS (Domain Names System) zone was introduces called GlobalNames. This has been introduced as a replacement (at your peril) for WINS for NetBIOS names stored in DNS. Now this Zone is static, and all entries have to be manually added, and are not updated by clients etc.

Recently we had an issue with a NetBIOS name resolving to different IP’s from different clients. Adding to the headache was that different client OS’s gave different results also. After some time investigating the oddity, I decided to have a look at implementing Global Names.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Configure Windows 7 - XP Compatibility Mode

Here is a great way of having the latest Microsoft Windows 7 Operating System but still being able to use your old Windows XP software that wont run on Windows 7.

Create a Virtual PC

Available in Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate (32 and 64 Bit) is the Windows Virtual PC add in. This will run on any PC that Supports Hardware Virtualization. This will need to be enabled in your BIOS.

Once your Windows 7 OS is installed and patched, download the Windows Virtual PC add in from Microsoft and install. After a reboot you will have an extra entry in your START menu.

Help combat Autorun Viruses

There are Several Viruses that use Autorun.inf files on removal drives that launch a virus file stored in the Recycle bin to infect PCs. They also copy the virus to the c:\windows\ and c:\windows\system32\ folders.

Here is a list of just some of the viruses using this method as identified by Symantec.
  • W32.IRCBot
  • W32.Netsky.gen@mm
  • W32Downadup.B
  • Hacktool.flooder
and variants of each.

Clustering windows Server 2008 on VMWARE vSphere

Having clustered SQL 2005 on virtual Windows Server 2008 64 BIT servers on vSphere, I thought I would post a guide to the process.

The first step is to create the new virtual machines. This is pretty much a case creating new VM's with a couple of extra steps. So as an example for the first box here goes;

Open up your vSphere Client, and from Inventory host and clusters, or Inventory VM's and templates right click and select "new Virtual machine" and you are prompted with

Select typical and click Next

Monday, 23 November 2009

Windows 7 Sysprep and WDS

I decided to try the Sysprep process for windows 7 in advance of our roll-out early next year, to get a feel for the process.
UPDATE: I have added a new Blog Creating a Windows 7 Sysprep unattended XML with a breakdown of the unattended XML creation and configuration.
For the test base image, I want to create an "admin" image with administrative tools, AD, Exchange 2007 and SQL 2005 on 64 BIT Windows, to be used by the sys admins for further testing.

Upon searching, the majority of posts are Vista related, but this step by step guide was found to be very useful, particularly in creating the answer file using the WAIK (Windows Automated Installation Kit), and I would like to take this opportunity to thank Brian Lee jackson.