Computer Tips and Tricks
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Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Error When Trying to Install WSUS on Server 2008

Due to one of our server's operating system corrupting on us, we had to rebuild it with a fresh install of Windows Server 2008 R2. This server amongst other things ran Windows Server Update Services for our entire network.

We got everything reinstalled and working fine from scratch until it came to installing WSUS.

Everytime we tried to install the "Windows Server Update Services" role it would fail almost immediately with the following error.

"The update could not be found. Either the update is not applicable to this computer or the update no longer exists. Verify that the update still exists and is applicable to this computer from your WSUS server or Windows Update."

Change VMWare ESX/VSphere Host VLAN ID

Recently we had an issue where we had not set the VLAN ID on 10 new VMWare VSphere servers. This resulted in us being unable to manage the VMWare hosts, the only way to resolve this was to change the VLAN ID manually on each of the hosts.

If you find yourself in this situation, you can use the following procedure to change the VLAN ID in VSphere/ESX.

Log on to a VMWare VSphere or ESX host with your ROOT account.

At the prompt enter: esxcfg-vswitch -l

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Setup Mobile Broadband on Dell XPS M1530

A couple of years ago I bought my Dell XPS M1530 Laptop. At that time I had the chance to include mobile broadband with the package. Unfortunately if I had I would have been tied to a 12/18 month contract etc. With the amount I was already paying for the unit, I decided against the extra cost.

This resulted in the laptop coming without a HSDPA module.

It was a good job I did, as I found out the other day that the modules that are factory installed are "locked." Fixed to the Vodafone network.

Time passed and a friend of mine introduced me to his new USB T-Mobile 3G dongle. 3.6 Mbits of highspeed, wireless broadband awesomeness. Then came along smartphones and the ability to use them connected to your PC for access to the internet, via 3G networks. All this is great and works very well, but having an extra piece of hardware dangling from your laptop can be annoying if your moving around. It was time for plan B.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Error Updating Dell Laptop BIOS

Most of our Laptops are Dell Latitude's. As they come in for repair, we like to keep them up to date with the latest BIOS version. Most of the time this is a nice, smooth process.
  • Download from Dell
  • Login as Administrator on the Laptop
  • Run the BIOS Update
  • The Laptop reboots and updates
  • Job Done
However this morning on a couple of laptops that we had installed Windows 7 on: (I later found that although this is an OS issue, it is NOT specific to Windows 7) we got the following error.

Monday, 21 June 2010

How to inject LAN drivers into WDS Server BOOT images

We use WDS (Windows Deployment Services) to image large numbers of computers. Lately we have been using a Windows Server 2008 R2 WDS server with a Windows 7 boot image. However several times we have found that newer PCs/Laptops (manufactured after Windows 7) have trouble PXE booting in to the Windows 7 boot image, due to the lack of LAN drivers.
We found that these drivers need to be "injected" in to the boot image (a .WIM file) to enable the PC/Laptop to be imaged using WDS. After several attempts we found the following procedure worked quite well to achieve this.
Before You Start
  • You’ll need a full install of WAIK (Windows Automated Installation Kit,) as it contains the necessary tools to manage WIM files. This can be done on any system, but if you’re running WDS it is best to perform the injection on the WDS server.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Access Denied when adding delegates to Outlook

We have a lot of Outlook Mail users that like to enable others to view and/or edit their Email and calenders etc.

This has always been fairly easy to do, by adding delegates to the list in TOOLS > Options menu.

However since Outlook Update 913807 was released the following error appears when attempting this.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Changing the IP Settings and Hostname of an ESX VSphere Console

For all beginner ESX VSphere Administrator newbies:

Changing the IP for the Service Console must be done from the physical console or through a remote console session. If you make changes through a network connection such as SSH, network connectivity to the Service Console disconnects because the Service Console's network interface changes.

To set an IP address:

First logon to the ESX Console

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Using Large external USB Drives on XBOX 360

Like millions of other PC users I have hundreds of video files that I have created or acquired over the years. These are always available to me to play on my computer any time I like. However, on occasions I like to kick back and watch these on my big screen TV.

I can do this in several ways. Burn the files to DVD and play them though my DVD player, which is a waste of discs and RW's tend to be unreliable. I could connect my computer to my TV via a HDMI cable or use the Media Centre Connector on my XBOX 360. However both requires my Computer to be running and in the Media Centre option, my Xbox as well, along with my TV. My computer is pretty hefty and uses a 750 WATT power supply. It is NOT light on the electricity bill.

My alternative option is to use an External USB Hard drive from the USB port on my XBOX 360 console and navigate with my Media Centre Remote Control.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Enabling Audio Input Monitoring in Windows Vista/7

Now and then I like to plug my MP3 player in to the "Line-In" jack of laptop and play my music through my Laptop speakers. When I was using Windows XP, this was easy. I just plugged it in to the Line-In jack, unmuted the Line-In and away I went.

Control Panel > Sound > Playback > Speakers Properties > Levels tab

Since changing to a Windows Vista and most recently Windows 7 Enterprise, I discovered that the option to unmute the Line-In was no longer available. Microsoft in all their wisdom have switched it off by default for some sounds cards.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Simple File backup with Robocopy

One of the main issues when using any computer is regular backup of your precious data to protect against corruption and accidental deletion. Microsoft has always provided their "Windows Backup" utility and it is generally very good for full system backups and restores.

But what if you want to backup just your personal data or certain files or folders and not others? What if you just want to restore one particular file? There are plenty of third party tools that will do the job, but some can be rather expensive. Besides, why buy what you already have.

Supplied in Windows Vista, 7, Server 2008 and Server 2008 R2, as well as the previous resource kits is a utility called "Robocopy." This is a small command line based tool (a bit like XCopy) that can be scripted and configured with exceptions, to copy selective data either once or on a schedule and even write to a comprehensive log file.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Using XCacls on Server 2008

Ever needed to change permissions on files and/or folders in bulk? But you don't want to sit there watching it and hitting continue every so often.

Well XCacls will do the job. It is a control list tool that will set permissions at file and folder level in bulk, and will even set the inheritence.

XCacls is a fairly old tool and can be downloaded from here.

To use this on Server 2008, you will need to do two things.

First after downloading and extracting the XCacls.vbs file, you will need to edit it.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Delete a Service from a Windows PC/Server

Occasionally when removing software, services remain installed on the PC/Server that are no longer required. These can be removed with a simple procedure.

First you will need to make sure the service is NOT running, by checking in the "Services" console. Stop the service if it is running. Then you will need to get the "Service Name" by viewing the service's properties.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Disable Skype Supernoding

Skype is one of the most popular pieces of VoIP and IM software available.  It is fast, free, good quality, fairly reliable and seems to work almost anywhere. It is also one of the few more secure pieces of communication software, using basic PGP Encryption for calls and instant messaging.

Skype operates on a peer to peer model, rather than a server to client model using is own Skype Protocol and proprietary VoIP Network. This means that the user directory is scattered between "nodes" in the network, rather than using an expensive, centralised infrastructure.

Each client has a list of "nodes" called the "host-cache." This is a list of IP Addresses and Port Numbers of "supernodes."

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Viewing PDF's in Browser when more than one version of Adobe Reader is installed

Error: "The Adobe Acrobat/Reader that is running cannot be used to view PDF files in a web browser..."

The above error can occur when you have more than one version of Adobe Reader/Acrobat installed. For instance this may be because you have the Professional Version and the Free Reader on the same PC.

There is a simple fix by editing the registry setting that tells the web browser where to find Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Exporting and Importing File Screen Settings for Server 2008

Included in Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 is "File Server Resource Manager" which enables Network Administrators to set up Disk Quotas and File Screening. File Screening is particularly useful for protection against known viruses and preventing users from storing certain file types.

There are several File Screen groups and Templates already configured if you choose to use them.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Install SCOM 2007 R2 Agent to vSphere 4 (ESX) Servers

SCOM 2007 R2 includes agents for UNIX/LINUX servers, and we therefore decided to push these out to our ESX Hosts, running vSphere 4. All looked easy enough at first, go into administration, run a discovery, select “Unix/Linux computers”, enter host name/IP/IP Range and off you go.

This is a Microsoft product communicating with a Linux OS, so as expected its not as easy as that. All discovers OK and the install starts on the Hosts, the agent gets partially installed but then fails with a “Not Enough Entropy” error.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

How to Fix non-reponsive and/or Slow Tab Issues in Internet Explorer 8

A friend of mine has been having issues for sometime when opening new tabs in Internet Explorer 8 in Windows Vista. Some would open fine and load the sites. Others would hang or timeout. Once one tab had failed, the rest would too until IE8 was closed and reopened. After numerous registry edits and disabling of plug-ins and ActiveX controls we finally found a solution.

On occasions when installing IE8, "actxprxy.dll" fails to register and can cause slow or non-responsive tabs. Actxprxy.dll is a module that contains functions used for Marshaling of ActiveX COM interfaces in IE.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Microsoft Project Server 2007 on Server 2008 R2

We recently had a request for a clean install of Microsoft Project Server 2007. As we are currently, where possible, installing only Server 2008 R2 boxes, it was agreed to install Project on an R2 Box.

Having looked at the pre-requisites as follows, this looked to be a simple install.

 Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 or Office SharePoint Server with recent updates

Windows Server 2008 requires an updated version of Office SharePoint Server 2007 and Windows SharePoint Services 3.0.

Application Server role

Running ISINTEG on Microsoft Exchange 2007

When you have the unfortunate issue of a corrupt data store in Exchange 2007, and the event logs are showing, for example, event ID 1160 for source MSExchangeIS you have to rely first on good old ISINTEG.
Now, nothing new here, ISINTEG has been around for many years and versions of Exchange, but when I recently had to run it I found that the listed format for running this did not work in Exchange 2007 i.e. ISINTEG –FIX
ISINTEG is in the same place as all other versions of Exchange the \BIN folder. If you have a standard install this will be located in C:\Program Files\Microsoft\Exchange Server\Bin .
To get this to run and fix the errors we were experiencing I did as follows;