Windows 8.1, Week 1…

2017-07-27T00:01:03+00:00 October 24th, 2013|Uncategorized|

Much like my “Week 1″ article that coincided with the release of what we now call Windows 8.0 just about a year ago now, I wanted to take a moment and pass along the things that I have discovered in my initial days on the job with Windows 8.1.  

Just for reference, while I almost always do a complete fresh re-install, this time I chose to do the upgrade from the Windows 8.1 DVD.  Some of my reasons were that it did not seem to be such a massive change (this turned out to be correct), I didn’t have a bunch of time to re-install all my apps and such at the moment (who does?), and I didn’t buy a new hard drive, etc.  So I downloaded the ISO from MSDN, burned it to a DVD, and upgraded my laptop. 

So here we go; let’s dive in to some of this things I’ve observed…

Net Use Behavior

I work on a domain-based computer (the Coretek domain), in customer (or home) environments where my domain is not available.  In the past, mapping a drive to resources in another domain (other than my own) always worked with something like the following:

net use y: \Customer-Domain.orgDfsRoot /USER:Customer-Domainpavlovj 

…and now with Windows 8.1 for some reason it does not function without the optional asterisk at the end, like this:

net use y: \Customer-Domain.orgDfsRoot /USER:Customer-Domainpavlovj *

Without the asterisk, I get errors like: “System error 1311 has occurred“, and “There are currently no logon servers available to service the logon request” after long delays; it just never seems to log me in.  With Windows 8.0, it would delay a bit, but always manage to find an authenticating server to log me in.  And now with the asterisk, it works almost instantly.  Strange.

Blurry Fonts and Rendering

After the upgrade, some of my programs had a blurry video rendering and fonts, while others looked crisp and beautiful.  With a little quick research, I found the answer and I want to thank:
http://www.askvg.com/fix-bold-blurry-or-hard-to-read-font-problem-in-windows-8-1/

…for providing me the answer.  Now everything looks great!  On a side note, I also had to change my font back to my preferred “small” in that same location as described above, as the Windows 8.1 upgrade had changed it to Medium.

Booting to Desktop, and Start Screen Desktop Wallpaper

Probably the best, most exciting and demanded set of changes surround the Desktop.  Finally, we get “boot to desktop” back, as well as the ability to have our Desktop wallpaper appear behind our “Start page”.  I love it because it helps tie the whole experience together, and makes it all feel much more cohesive.  To make the changes, just right-click on Taskbar, click Properties, and go to the Navigation tab.  Here’s how I have mine set:

…you know you really want to do this… 

VMware and Hyper-V

Well, I finally did it.  Like before, I faced the choice of having to upgrade my VMware Workstation again — this time to version 10 — in order to work on Windows 8.1… or just use the Hyper-V that comes with it.  So, now I’m in the process of converting all my VMDKs to VHDs.  Yes, it’s still not quite apples-to-apples, but I’m getting by so far, and dealing with the limitations.  More on this later, I’m sure…

Other Apps

Thank goodness that almost everything works in Windows 8.1 like it did before in Windows 8.0.  Things that are critical to my world and job, like iFolder3 and Remote Desktop Connection Manager (RDCMan 2.2 as of this writing).  I still have to figure out what they did to SkyDrive, but I’ll get that sorted too, and everything else seems to be as good or better in the new version.

So Far, So Good…

So there you have it.  I give it a thumbs-up, and am left wondering why it all didn’t behave like this in the first place.  Windows 8.1 seems to be what Windows 8.0 should have been.  So let’s get to it, and let’s see those enterprise-level Windows 7 upgrade projects swerve a bit and get Windows 8.1 underway; it’s time!

Removing Stuck System Files on Windows 8…

2018-05-06T23:34:08+00:00 July 10th, 2013|Uncategorized|

First off, I want to apologize for the lack of clarity in the title of this post; I honestly couldn’t fit the whole real subject in there.  And even if I could have, it would have been a bit silly anyway.  Here’s what it might have been called:

“Removing system files from a domain-based computer on a hard drive that was previously installed in another computer and your domain is currently un-available…”  Or something like that.  I know it sounds kinda’ crazy, but stick with me here…

Background:

Now, let me explain.  I’m a consultant that rarely goes into our corporate office, and therefore am usually authenticating with a cached domain credential to my laptop.  And as you may know, there are limits to permissions management when a domain is not available.  So when I added a second hard drive from another computer to my Windows 8 laptop, the NTFS permissions put up a pretty good fight in not letting me delete the old SYSTEM files on the now-secondary disk.  in the end, I had to do a handful of steps to seize the permissions on those files and folders before I could delete them, made extra tricky by me being remote to the domain.

How I Got Here:

Here are the steps that got me into the jam in the first place:

– Installed Windows 8 on original LAPTOP1 with a big hard drive as a local user, LAPTOP1Jeremy.Local
– Drove to office, joined to domain as user DOMAINJeremy.Pavlov, went on with life for a while
– Got a new LAPTOP2, and wanted to use big hard drive from LAPTOP1 as secondary disk in LAPTOP2
– Removed big hard disk from LAPTOP1 and installed into LAPTOP2, to what would become E: drive.
– Installed fresh Windows 8 on LAPTOP2 smaller C: drive as a local user, LAPTOP2Jeremy.Local
– Drove to office, joined to domain as user DOMAINJeremy.Pavlov, added DOMAINJeremy.Pavlov as member of local administrators group on LAPTOP2, went on with life
– Wanted to delete system folders (Windows, Program Files, etc.) from big E: drive (forgot to remove them originally), while preserving other folders (Virtual Machines, etc.)

…But, the folder(s) won’t let me delete them so easily.  My user (and Administrator credential) don’t have rights to the tiles, and since I’m not near the office to re-assign domain permission, I need different strategy.  Mind you, I would have just formatted the disk, but I have hundreds of Gigabytes of Virtual Machines on it.  And while I thought about removing the drive, or mounting in Linux, etc., I wanted to find an easier, repeatable way.

Stepping Through It

So, since NTFS won’t let deletion happen as-is, the permissions clearly need to be re-set.  So let’s walk through what we need to do to make this work…

– First, open a command prompt “As Administrator”, and run this command to “Take Ownership” of the unwanted folder on the E: drive:
takeown /f E:Unwanted Folder /R /A
…in this case, the /R means recursive, and the /A means set it to the Administrators group.

– Now that the local Administrators group has control, use the GUI Security tab in Windows Explorer (or PowerShell, or icacls) to grant it FULL CONTROL to This folder, subfolders, and files

– Fix inheritance by checking the box to “Replace all child object permission entries…” on “E:Unwanted Folder”

– Now, remove the unwanted folder with the good ol’ RD command (in the same command window you opened above, or the GUI):
RD /S /Q E:Unwanted Folder
…By the way, I just couldn’t bring myself to put “Windows” above, so I put “Unwanted Folder”.  You get the idea…

Of Course, A Script

Now if you just want to to do the whole thing in a script, here’s how you might do it:

#Set this to the folder to be removed:
SET DELETEME="E:Unwanted Folder"
#Next line sets ownership of hierarchy to Administrators Group
TAKEOWN /f %DELETEME% /R /A
#Next line resets permissions for hierarchy to default
ICACLS %DELETEME% /reset /T
#Next line grants Administrators group "Full Control" to hierarchy 
ICACLS %DELETEME% /grant Administrators:(OI)(CI)F
#Next line removes hierarchy 
RD /S /Q %DELETEME%

…Of course, this is just one way (or two ways) to do it, in one weird situation.  But I thought it could help someone some day…  Maybe even myself…

🙂

A cool ‘Remote Desktop Connection Manager’ tip!

2017-07-27T00:01:04+00:00 April 3rd, 2013|Uncategorized|

I am constantly monitoring multiple Microsoft Windows Servers and XP workstations via Remote Desktop Connection Manager and having to switch between each console one at a time is a very user-intensive and time-consuming process.  Though, I have recently discovered a very useful and time-saving trick that I will share with you below…

First, by default, the Remote Desktop Connection Manager gives you a thumbnail view of all of your workstations when you click on any “group” of servers from the left server pane list.  I always thought this was a “gimmick” and never thought twice about using it for anything because the dimensions of the thumbnail views of the remote desktops were just way too small to be useful.

But after reviewing the program’s options I found that you can modify the size of the thumbnails (Tools > Options > Client Area > Thumbnail Size)!

But that isn’t all!

The thumbnails are actual “live” clickable Remote Desktop sessions; so if you set the pixel size of the thumbnails to 25%, 30% or 40% of your screen size, you can fit 4-12 active server connections into one very productive window (obviously depending on your monitor size and screen resolution!).  This screen cap should give you a good idea of what I mean:

screenshot

 

I hope you find this tip as useful as I did!  Enjoy!

 

 

Windows Activation Error: Code 0x8007232b

2017-07-27T00:01:04+00:00 February 13th, 2013|Uncategorized|

Every once in a while I like to pass along a helpful tip from another website or blog that helped me.  Today, I want to thank György Balássy for his blog posts (post 1, and post 2) last year that helped me with a goofy error, and maybe they can help you too.  I’ll just summarize the problem and results below.

I build a lot of lab servers and VMs for testing various things (including on my laptop or in my home lab, etc.), and I commonly install new Windows servers or workstations from the MSDN media ISO, using what is effectively a volume license.  Usually, I enter the key early in the build, it is accepted without error, and the install continues. 

However, occasionally after the installation completion, the Windows Server 2012 or Windows 8 machine reports an activation error:

Activation Error: Code 0x8007232b
DNS Name does not exist

And back when this first happened to me, it took a little bit of searching before I stumbled on György’s post.  But I’ve referred back to it a handful of times as this frustrating symptom seems to re-appear at random.  In a nutshell, he explains in his two posts that in order to fix this annoying error, you can do it with either the command prompt or GUI, as follows:

Command Prompt:

slmgr.vbs –ipk "XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX"

GUI:

slui 3

And it has worked perfectly for me every time.

Now, mind you, I did mention this problem was intermittent.  And the main reason I’m writing this post today after all this time is that it just happened to me again 3 days ago when I was in a hurry.  And today, when I had time to try and reproduce the error for a screen capture for this post, of course the key registration worked just fine and I cannot make it fail.  Argh.  So please take my word for it.

So thanks again György; and to the rest of you, I hope it helps you as well  And if it should pop up again, I’ll try to get a screen shot…

😉

 

 

Update: Wireshark, WinPcap, and Windows 8…

2017-07-27T00:01:04+00:00 November 28th, 2012|Uncategorized|

This is an update to the previous post on this topic, found here:
http://www.coretekservices.com/2012/11/15/wireshark-winpcap-and-windows-8/

As you have read in the original post (linked above), installing Wireshark and WinPcap on Windows 8 required a couple extra steps in order to trick the system and utilize the Windows 7 compatibility for the WinPcap installer.

I’m pleased to announce that Microsoft has released the Windows 8 Compatibility Update KB2764462 to address the incompatibility (thanks to fellow Coreteker Voltaire for catching this!) and others.  Best of all, it looks like this update was pushed down to Windows 8 as part of the 11/27/2012 patch set, so you probably already have it.

So whereas previously, if you clicked “Run the program without getting help” in this dialog:

…you’d get the warning box:

…and Wireshark installation would continue, but the WinPcap install would have backed-out; leaving you with the ability to view packet traces with Wireshark, but not capture new ones.

NOW, however, when you click “Run the program without getting help” in the Program Compatibility Assistant dialog, it continues just fine, and installs, and functions correctly.  Hooray!

I’d like to think that this blog had some effect in bringing this issue to light and getting it rectified quickly. 

…I’d *like* to think that, but I know better… 

😉

 

 

Wireshark, WinPcap, and Windows 8…

2017-07-27T00:01:04+00:00 November 14th, 2012|Uncategorized|

I just can’t live without Wireshark.  Analyzing network activity and communications is a common part of my day-to-day activity. 

Recently, I upgraded my laptop to Windows 8.  Unfortunately, Wireshark and WinPcap do not nicely install together on Windows 8.  And, in case you aren’t aware, Wireshark installs — and relies upon — WinPcap, in order to actually capture the packets on the interface (however, you can analyze packet traces that you’ve previously captured without WinPcap).

So if you run the Wireshark installer on Windows 8, and it comes to sub-launch the WinPcap installer, it will complain about “compatibility issues”, and will not install.  You are able to continue and install Wireshark, but you need help to get WinPcap installed.  Here’s just one way (there are lots of ways) to get it done…

 

  • Download Wireshark (v1.8.3 at this writing) from Wireshark.org (and 7Zip or similar if you don’t have it)
  • Install Wireshark, and either choose not to install WinPcap when prompted, or continue past the warnings that WinPcap cannot be installed because “This program has compatibility issues”
  • Once complete, right-click on the Wireshark installer, and uzing an unzip tool (like 7Zip), extract the contents to a subfolder (in my case, “Wireshark-win64-1.8.3”)
  • Go into that extraction subfolder, and right-click on the WinPcap executable (in my case, “WinPcap_4_1_2.exe”), and choose “Properties”
  • On the Compatibility tab, click the Compatibility check-box for “Run this program in compatibility mode for:”, and choose “Windows 7”, and the Privilege level “Run as an Administrator”, and click OK
  • Finally, run the WinPcap executable and set your options as prompted (I like to run it as a service)

 

And that should do it.  Of course, there are a few ways to re-arrange these steps and accomplish the same thing; I’m presenting it here in the order of steps that most folks will naturally follow before running into the error.

So, I hope that helps… and happy capturing!

 

 

 

 

Windows 8, Week 1…

2017-07-27T00:01:05+00:00 October 31st, 2012|Uncategorized|

Well, it’s been almost a week since I upgraded my laptop to Windows 8, and it’s actually been a very smooth ride so far.  However, I’ve had to deal with just a few twists in getting used to some of the new locations and limitations of the things I’ve always been used to in Windows XP and Windows 7.  So, I thought I’d toss together a few tips from my first week of use, and I hope you’ll toss a few back at me!

Shutdown and Reboot buttons

Shutting down a Windows 8 computer is not as immediately obvious as it used to be.  There are a couple “new” ways of shutting down your Windows 8 machine, for instance:

  • Mouse to bottom-right –> Settings –> Power –> Shut down
  • (Win Key) + I –> Power –> Shut down
  • (Win Key) + C –> Settings –> Power –> Shut down
  • (Win Key) –> Right click on username (at top right) –> Lock/Sign out –> Right-click on lock screen –> click on power icon at bottom right

But I needed an easier way.  Fortunately, if you invest a few minutes now, you’ll have easier Shutdowns and Reboots for years to come.  Here’s how to do it:

  • In Windows Explorer, go to this folder:
  • C:Users(username)AppDataRoamingMicrosoftWindowsStart MenuPrograms
  • Right-click and choose New –> Shortcut
  • For the “location”, type: shutdown /s /t 00
  • Click Next, and for the “name”, type: Shutdown Now
  • Click Finish, and press the (Win Key).
  • Right-click the new “Shutdown Now”  app tile, and choose Pin to taskbar
  • Resume sanity
  • (Note: You can create others, like “Restart Now” with shutdown /r /t 00 and “Delayed Restart” with shutdown /r /t 10 etc.)

…by the way, that tip for adding shortcuts on the taskbar works great for other things too; effectively bringing back your shortcuts menu that you were so used to

Wireless Driver Back-Rev

Of course, I couldn’t resist mentioning our awesome post about back-revving your Windows 8 “n” wireless driver to a Windows 7 driver version — since I had to do that this week too, in order to be able to stay productive.  So far this week, we’ve been noticing that this seems to predominantly affect Broadcom-based drivers, and Intel-based drivers seem to work fine in some cases.  It’s only the first week, so we’ll be watching that…

VMware and Hyper-V

I was excited to find out Hyper-V was included in Windows 8.  Unfortunately, I cannot use on it yet on my Windows 8 laptop.  As part of my work/experimentation in my current role, I have to keep virtual machines like NetWare, CentOS, Opensuse, and other non-mainstream OS’s around for scripting, and testing automation and integrations, and such.  And while I’m thrilled that Hyper-V supports a few recent versions of CentOS and the latest version of Opensuse (12.1 at this writing), it still does not support NetWare and a guest OS.  As a result, I’ve had to choose VMware workstation of my hypervisor of choice on my laptop for now (since VMware and Hyper-V cannot co-exist on the same base hardware), and I’ll run Hyper-V in the dedicated lab instead.

Remote Desktop Connection Manager

The Remote Desktops snap-in for the MSC is gone!  It’s not available in Windows 8.  If you know what that means, then you’re probably as upset as I was.  Fortunately, I discovered that the old Remote Desktop Connection Manager still works on Windows 8!  Phew!  Honestly, it’s a better tool anyway. 

So Far, So Good…

…So that’s where I’m at so far.  The good news is that just about everything I’ve brought over to Windows 8 so far from my Windows 7 world has worked perfectly.  And I “get it” now; what I mean by that is that I understand and appreciate the dual layer effect of the “tablet-like” OS on top of the “traditional-style” OS.  Now that I’m able to dance easily between them, I quite like it and am eager for a Windows 8 based tablet, actually.  Hint, hint…

Now, share some of your tips, please!

 

 

Windows 8 Wireless Connections in the Enterprise

2017-07-27T00:01:07+00:00 October 10th, 2012|Uncategorized|

I’ve been having issues attaching to WiFi networks with Windows 8 lately.  Not residential Access Points, but commercial controllers.  I did some searching, and found this:
 
Windows 8 clients may not be able to connect to wireless network
 
Ah…  So Windows 8 natively supports 802.11w, but cannot connect to one of the largest enterprise network footprints in production today.  Hmm.  Apparently, all Cisco controllers need a firmware update before anyone can connect new Windows 8 computers to the wireless network… 
 
Or… 
 
…You can back-rev your driver.  Well, have you dealt with enterprise network people?  Which do you think is more likely to happen? 
😉
 
So, here you go; a little instructional video to help you down-grade your shiney-new Windows 8 Wireless network driver to the Windows 7 version, so that you can play in the corporate sandbox.  In this slideshow, Paul demonstrates the problem (utilizing Windows 8’s great new automatic screen capture feature)…
 
(Note: To easily get to the menu for Device Manager – which is called the “Windows desktop and Administrative tools” menu use “Winkey + X” from the Windows classic desktop.)
 

 
We hope it helps!
 
(…with contributions from Paul Opper and Jeremy Pavlov)

 


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