NRV ContainerDay Saturday September 2nd, 2017

Some of you may know I’ve been dabbling in Docker, and specifically its usefulness in a Windows-centric environment. Michael Irwin has run a Docker user group in the Blacksburg area for almost a year now. And to celebrate the first anniversary, he (and a few others) have organized a ContainerDay.

The day consists of 4 talks on Docker in general in the morning, and a workshop and a few blitz talks in the afternoon. The goal is to have every participant go home with a working Docker application. It is geared towards developers, but everyone is welcome.

Sign-up and participation are free, and the location is Torgerson Hall, Room 3100, on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg.

For more information, check out the web page at NRV ContainerDay.

Windows Update hangs on Windows 7 clean install

windows7Recently, I installed a fresh (pre-SP1) Windows 7 VM, and it didn’t go very smoothly. After a few Windows Updates I got an update to Windows Update itself (yay!). Unfortunately, after that update was applied, all subsequent tries to run Windows Update and check for updates, resulted in “Searching for updates…” for hours, nay, days.

Several solutions were suggested online, ranging from purging the Windows Update temporary directory to installing a small WSUS server on a USB stick and using that instead of Microsoft Windows as an update source. I even tried to install Steve Gibson’s Never10, since it contained a trigger warning for an outdated Windows Update. It did trigger, it installed an update, but the next Windows Update check resulted once again in a “Searching for updates”. Bummer.

But the following solution found in answers.microsoft.com worked like a charm:

  1. Download Microsoft KB3083710
  2. Download Microsoft KB3102810
  3. Download Windows Update Diagnostics Tool in order to reset Windows Update (support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/971058)
  4. Restart Windows
  5. Manually install KB3083710 (this results in a Windows reboot)
  6. Manually install KB3102810ย (this results in a Windows reboot)
  7. Restart Windows manually (finalizing the installation of KB3102810 happens after the last reboot)
  8. Run the Windows Update Diagnostics Tool
  9. Restart computer again and search for updates

The search may take several minutes, so make sure to leave adequate time (I’ve seen times up to an hour mentioned in other forums). My VM is now happily downloading 229 updates, and is 52% complete.

Windows 10 Privacy settings fixed

With the release of Windows 10, there has been a huge uproar about the privacy implications when you install it. In some cases Microsoft is accused of stomping over any privacy the user may have, including publicizing all your WiFi passwords to anyone on Facebook.

Of course it’s not that bad. That being said, there are some settings you may want to review, if not alter, to protect data from inadvertently being sent to Microsoft, or used to identify you on other computers.

To help with the various settings, the people behind the isleaked.comย website have set up a subsite,ย https://fix10.isleaked.com/. This subsite describes the different groups of privacy settings, what effect they have, and how to turn them off.

The biggest tip is to not do the Express installation, since this sets a lot of the privacy settings wide open. It’s better to spend the extra 10-15 minutes, and be aware of what pieces of information you’re sharing with Microsoft.

Office Tab brings tabbed documents to Word, Excel and Powerpoint

I’ve had this tool laying around in my to-do folder for a while now, and today seemed like a good day to take a look at it.

Office Tab brings the tabbed interface from IE, Firefox and Chrome to the Office suite. Instead of the user interface where each document is a separate window, you’re basically returning to the old interface from I think Office XP, where each application within the suite has one window, and there are multiple documents within that window.

The Free version allows you to include tabs in Word, Excel and PowerPoint. If you want tabs in Project or Visio, you’ll need the Professional or Enterprise version. A complete comparison of the versions is found here.

Office Tab 7 is available in 32-bit and 64-bit versions, and supports Office 2003, 2007 and 2010.

Sharepoint 2007 Wiki WYSIWYG editor

Well, that was a very underwhelming experience. First of all, the WYSIWYG editor doesn’t work at all in Chrome (or Firefox, or Safari, or any other web browser, besides IE). Second of all, these are the options I have after switching to IE:

So what do we have there?

  • Cut, Copy and Paste
  • Clear Formatting
  • Undo and Redo
  • Insert Table and 4 table maintenance buttons
  • Insert HTML link
  • Insert Picture
  • Edit HTML code
  • Font and Font size
  • Bold, Italic and Underline
  • Left, center and right alignment
  • Numbered and bulleted lists
  • Indent and Unindent
  • Text color, Highlight color
  • Left-to-right and Right-to-left

And this is what I have in the WordPress editor:

Which is:

  • Upload/Insert Image, Video, Audio, Media, Gravity Form (the last one through a plug-in)
  • Bold, Italic, Strikethrough (hey, no underline? Wait for it)
  • Bulleted and numbered lists
  • Quoted text
  • Left, center and right align
  • Create or break link
  • Insert “more” tag
  • Spellcheck toggle and language selector
  • Toggle for full screen mode
  • Kitchen sink switch (“on” to display the second row of icons)
  • Formatting (H1-H6, Paragraph, Address and Preformatted)
  • Underline (Ah!)
  • Align Full
  • Select Text color
  • Paste as:
    • Plain text
    • From Word
    • Remove formatting
  • Insert/Edit embedded media
  • Insert Custom character
  • Indent/Unindent
  • Undo/Redo
  • Help
  • Google Wave (through a plugin)
So, a free product like WordPress has very comparable features, and manages to work with pretty much every browser – no discrimination or Tier 1/Tier 2 distinctions. And on top of that, allows extensions to enhance and expand the standard toolbar.

There are so many WYSIWYG editors available, how come Microsoft decides to ignore half of the users in the world, even though they claim that in Sharepoint 2007 “new features such as wikis, blogs, and RSS would make us very attractive for Internet facing sites.” Not if you’re not supporting more than your own bug-riddled browser. And how about updating that functionality in the 4 years it has been out now, and the browser landscape has changed considerably?

Nice going, multi-billion dollar company. But since this is Microsoft, I’m afraid this will be our corporate standard… sigh…

Windows XP loses the domain controller?

I ran into an interesting problem last week with some Virtual Machines. I’ve set up 3 different machines, each running Windows XP with a different version of Progress (10.0, 10.1, and 10.2), to test how our application works under the various Progress versions and to develop with some of the latest tools (I love the Eclipse interface! ๐Ÿ™‚ ). However, for some reason last week all the virtual machines, plus the virgin Windows XP install, decided to show me the following error message:

Windows cannot connect to the domain, either because the domain controller is down or otherwise unavailable, or because your computer account was not found.

Since I was rolling out a change to a web service running under 10.1 at the time, I was not a happy camper. It took me the better part of a day to try and come up with a solution. Unfortunately, none surfaced, even after some helpful hints from our systems engineer (“Did you reboot?” – “Yes.” – “Must be a Windows patch.” – “I have had no new patches in the last week and half.” etc.). The weekend came and went, and today I was back at the same problem. Ruling out anything general (like the domain controller actually being down – we could log in to everything except the VMs), I started scouring the Internets. And lo and behold, back in 2006 someone else had the same problem. With a regular XP machine. In a Windows domain. Wow!

In a nutshell, it comes down to the fact that the domain controller is confused about your machine and SID, and won’t trust you. Removing the machine from the domain, and adding it back in, solves the problem somehow.

Thank you, My Digital Life!

iTunes 9.1 authorization and Windows 7

I recently started working with Windows 7 on my work computer (expect a slew of updates to the old Vista postings ๐Ÿ™‚ ) and ran into some problems with iTunes. First off, it needed the special 64-bit installer to be run (I’m using Windows 7 64-bit), even though after doing that it installed almost everything in C:Program Files (x86) (the default directory for 32-bit applications).

Then I tried to sync to my iPod. Oops, I forgot to authorize the new computer. So I authorized it. All seemed well, except for the Audible audiobooks… I added the Audible manager, authorized the Audible account in iTunes, and resynchronized. Now it came up with the message Some of the items in the iTunes library, including “…”, were not copied to the iPod “…” because you are not authorized for them on this computer. Yes I am. I just authorized them. Doing the authorization again confirmed that. I even restored my iPod to factory default settings (and forgot that to complete that you have to plug it in to a wall socket… ๐Ÿ™ ). None of that helped – I still got the message.

That same message (or similar at least) popped up when I tried to play one of the protected files. And no matter how often I authorized the computer, and iTunes kept telling me that it is already authorized, it didn’t want to stick. Now, since Vista, Microsoft has introduced this new security model, mainly consisting of User Access Control (UAC), but also a change in what is considered an Administrator. In XP, it was sufficient to be part of the local administrator’s group. Under Windows 7 (and Vista), there is a distinct difference between running as a user of the Administrator’s group, and the option Run as Administrator. And apparently iTunes needs that!

After setting iTunes to Run as Administrator, I started it up and tried to play one of the protected songs. iTunes told me the computer wasn’t authorized, so I authorized it (again…). This time it seemed to stick however! The song actually played. And now it seems to actually synchronize all the songs, including the protected ones.

It does seem to take excruciatingly longer to synchronize when running iTunes as Administrator. Also, it makes me feel a little uncomfortable to say the least: it shouldn’t run as Administrator constantly. But it solved the issue for now, and I hope anyone else out there can benefit from this.. ๐Ÿ™‚

Carbonite backup and my floppy drive

Recently I switched to Carbonite on two machines at home.  After installing the software and starting the backup, I noticed that frequently something would be accessing the floppy drive (or at least trying). Googling around a little bit revealed that this was one of Carbonite’s “features”.

The two suggestions that kept coming up during my search were:

  • Insert a floppy, and Carbonite will learn that that drive is a floppy drive
    — Sorry, that didn’t work
  • Disconnect the floppy drive
    — Wait, and then open case when the drive needs to be used? Bad idea!!
There is a third option: disable the floppy drive in Windows.
If you open My Computer, you’ll see something similar to this:
Notice the 3 1/2 Floppy – that’s the one making all the noise. But not for long!
Right-click on the icon, and select Properties from the drop-down menu. Click on the Hardware tab and select the Floppy disk drive.
Click on the Properties button.
On the bottom of the screen is a drop-down box. Click on the drop-down arrow and change the selection to “Do not use this device (disable)”. Click OK.

Click OK on the screen with the 3 1/2 inch Floppy properties, and return to the My Computer screen. Your Floppy Drive A: should be gone, and with it the seeking Carbonite tries to do on it!

Outlook shows some appointments off by 1 hour

Well, it’s that time of the year again, Daylight Savings is about to end, and Outlook decides that some of my recurring appointments now happen 1 hour later.

Mind you, not all of them. I still have lunch appointments at 12PM, but I now have a recurring alarm to go home at 6PM instead of 5PM. That sounds like my boss is getting me to work an extra hour, but fortunately the recurring appointment “Commute to work” is starting at 8:30AM instead of 7:30AM…

Oh, and my Blackberry synchronizes with Outlook, but somehow manages to correct the braindead appointments to their correct time.

This seems to happen pretty much twice every year, ever since the US government decided to extend DST by a couple of weeks. We’ve patched all our servers and clients, ran conversion tools left and right, but it still happens. Creating a new appointment doesn’t really fix the problem – I have to wait until next week to make that appointment, and by mid-November they’ll be off again!

Luckily some Googling brought me to this post, and although it mainly discusses problems with Exchange and the Blackberry Enterprise Server, it does contain a reference to a Microsoft tool for Outlook (KB931667). To my surprise this tool was updated in August 2008 (hasn’t it been a couple of years since the change in DST?). After installing and running the tool, it found 13 appointments to fix. When I gave it the go-ahead and fix these culprits, the problem magically disappeared!

My only fear now is that I have to run this again on November 2nd… we’ll see.

Firefox equivalent of Internet Explorer’s Every Time I visit the Webpage

We have a little rotating web page setup in our break room, and have been using a dial indicator to show our performance in bookings and shipments. However, due to the nature of the set-up (a page, showing a flash file, that is configured by an XML file), it turned out to be necessary in Internet Explorer to use the option “Every time I visit the webpage” on the “Check for newer versions of stored pages:” setting in the Temporary Internet Files and History Settings.

Unfortunately, Internet Explorer 7 still can’t handle CSS properly, so some of the tables looked horrible. Switching to Firefox fixed that problem. But now the old data was showing. And where is that “Newer versions of stored pages” setting in Firefox???

It’s hiding in the config. In the address bar, type

about:config

Then find the setting browser.cache.check_doc_frequency, and change it to 1. This will duplicate the Internet Explorer behavior (as far as loading cached page goes, mind you!).

The options for this setting are as follows:

Value Description
0 Check for a new version of a page once per session
1 Check for a new version every time a page is loaded
2 Never check for a new version – always load the page from cache
3 Check for a new version when the page is out of date (Default)