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  • Activate Remote Desktop Remotely–Revisited

    I wrote about how to achieve this way back in 2007! It’s one of the more popular things I’ve written about and I still refer back to it pretty often.

    The steps were for Windows XP and mostly worked for Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8.

    That said there are more options available now when setting up your PC for remote desktop and the defaults now mean you usually have some extra things to do.

    So the first thing you need to do with your favourite remote registry editing tool (such as regedit!)

    HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Terminal Server\fDenyTSConnections

    Change the fDenyTSConnections to 0

    This enables remote desktop itself.

    image

    If you want to disable Network Level Authentication (NLA)

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Terminal Server\WinStations\RDP-Tcp\SecurityLayer

    Set the SecurityLayer value to 0

    Finally you may also need to create a exception rule in Windows Firewall. My preference is to use PSEXEC to run this command.

    netsh firewall set service remotedesktop enable 

    There are variety of ways to manipulate the firewall, group policy for example, but depending on the environment as a quick easy thing psexec is your friend.

    Finally if the person who will be connecting isn’t a local admin they’ll need to be added to remote desktop users group.

    Easiest way to do this is with computer management.

    image

    I’m not breaking new ground here but I’ve been asked about it a couple of times recently so thought it was worth putting this together.

    Do you have any other methods for achieving the above?  

  • Placing Blame Correctly

    Can’t believe how long it’s been since my last blog post! I’ve really no idea where the days are going at the moment

    I’ve had a few problems with my work PC recently. It becomes very unresponsive and gets progressively worse during the day

    I fired up the trusty task manger and the CPU was at 100% usage

    I switched to the Processes tab and sorted the list so i could see which process was causing the problem

    At the top of the list were various Trend services (We use Worry Free Business Security – I’m not a fan of the product name to be honest!)

    When i stopped the Trend client the CPU usage went down and back up when i started it again

    I trawled various online resources to see if could get to the bottom of it with very little luck

    I was planning on submitting a support case with Trend but decided to have one last go myself

    This time i looked a bit closer at the process list a saw multiple entries for TASKENG.EXE

    The total process count was at 2675 – that couldn’t be right

    I knew that TASKENG is the Vista task scheduler so had a look in there

    Turns out this is a pretty common problem and it’s simple to fix (it’s in various different blog posts and forums)

    • Go to the start menu.

    • Type task scheduler and press enter.

    • Press continue on the UAC prompt.

    • In the left pane of task scheduler, right-click on Task Scheduler Library.

    • In the view submenu, make sure the Show Hidden Tasks option is selected.

    • The hidden task that is likely at fault has a name that starts with User_Feed_Synchronization.

    • Select the scheduled task

    • To verify that this task is creating all the taskeng.exe processes, select the History tab in the middle pane near the middle of the screen.  If you expand out the Level and Date and Time Columns, you should see errors and that are about 5 minutes apart.  If that’s the case, then this task is the problem.

    • Right click the task and select Disable.

    image

    Obviously this will stop your RSS feeds from updating (the Windows list – this has nothing to do with Outlook 2007)

    If you do want to use your RSS feed list you can also try deleting the task and then from an elevated command prompt enter

    msfeedssync enable

    This will re-create the task for you if the problem with causing by the task being corrupt

    Once I’d deleted the task i used

    TASKKILL /IM TASKENG.EXE /F

    This killed off all the extra processes that had been created. I know i could have just rebooted the PC but it was a nice feeling watching them all disappear

    My process count went down to 67 and the system suddenly got a lot more responsive

    A did eventually reboot and Trend started up happily without taking too many of my system resources

    My guess is that Trend became overwhelmed with trying to monitor so many processes which why it was the one that initially seemed to be the cause of the problem

  • Installing SQL Management Studio Express on Vista x64 – Tim Long

    Just wanted to share as I had this exact problem…thanks Tim!

    Also it’s so I don’t forget how to do it!

    Installing SQL Management Studio Express on Vista x64 – Tim Long

    It’s still generic name of ativan very annoying that 64-bit Vista/XP still isn’t on a par with 32-bit brethren as this isn’t the first time I’ve ran into problems installing software but that rant can wait for another time 🙂

  • Poor Vista show by software vendor

    Not the first time you’ve heard this story but thought I’d share

    One of our clients is just about to change all their PCs as part of a larger IT project

    They currently don’t have any Vista PCs so we had a chat about that. Obviously the client has heard all the usual press stories and second hand tales of woe but wanted to know what I thought. I told him my only concerns were his line of business applications as we’d need to make sure there were no compatibility issues

    I received a document with details on compatibility for server/database/client and this bit jumped out (names protected)

    “Note: It is a requirement of the ****** install with Vista 32bit a) to use SQLServer ODBC driver, not the SQL Native driver that comes with Vista; b) to ensure the selection for User Account Control (in Control Panel, Security Settings) is switched OFF for that user in the user admin area prior to running the ****** Installshield (else below errors will occur) and remain off, otherwise ****** will not work (creating the ODBC within the UserDSN may resolve this, however that ODBC is then only available to that specific Windows user).”

    Not exactly clear to be honest so I asked for some clarification

    Does this mean you want us to UAC off permanently or just for the installation?

    The response was,

    “By this we mean that if you leave it off it will work and therefore our recommendation, but we do have one client who has left it on and instead created the ODBC’s in the UserDSN and have, in their specific instance (so far as they are not live yet), successfully used ****** using Vista with UAC on.   UAC has not been without its problems and we therefore cannot give a definitive guarantee ****** will work with UAC on in all cases.”

    So this is the “you must lower your security to make our app work” response

    I ignored the “UAC has not been without it’s problems” line (for now) and replied to ask when they expected the program to be 100% Vista compatible so I’ll post back here when I get a response

    I’ve still got to ask about their other LOB application so will be interesting to see what the response is there

  • Stupid is as stupid does

    If you’re on my Facebook friends list you’ll have got this message over the weekend

    Hello All
    If you’ve had a weird message from me (other than this one!) today please delete it
    I got the same message from a friend and while allowing my curiosity to get the better of me i managed to infect myself
    Highly highly embarrassed
    Feel free to message me with abuse
    Andy

    So I thought I’d explain what I meant when I said I’d allowed my curiosity to get the better of me

    On Saturday morning I got a message from a friend via Facebook. The English was terrible (the subject was – Gt you! Ha-ha, now watch and cr!) and the link certainly looked “dodgy”. I figured my friend had his PC compromised and it was sending messages from his Facebook account

    It was the first time I’d seen this type of malware attack so I thought it might make an interesting blog post so followed the link

    It took me to a page that looked like YouTube (if YouTube was broken!) and I got a message displayed telling me that my flash player needed updating and I was prompted to download a file

    I downloaded the file and uploaded it to VirusTotal for analysis which then identified the file as being the “KoobFace” worm

    Koobface.worm – McAfee

    Win32.Worm.KoobFace.A – Bitdefender

    W32.Koobface.A – Symantec

    Koobface Family – CA

    This was where I made a stupid mistake

    In my attempt to select the file so I could delete it I inadvertently double-clicked the file and it ran

    As you can imagine my language was colourful at this point

    I got a message on screen

    “Error installing Codec. Please contact support”

    Using the information links above I managed to remove the main worm program and a browser add-in it had loaded to Internet Explorer (I’ve since flattened the machine and reloaded best generic for ativan from a backup)

    Unfortunately it had sent messages using my Facebook account by the time I’d cleaned up.

    I didn’t know who exactly it had messaged hence the warning to everyone in my list

    Highly highly embarrassing as there are a lot of IT pros in my friends list!

    Some of you may be thinking,

    “What was your anti-virus doing during all of this?”

    Good question, but I’ve got a little confession

    I’m not running any at the moment

    Just before Vista was released, Jim Allchin (co-president of Microsoft’s platform division) was quoted as saying Vista’s increased security meant he wasn’t running any anti-virus on a PC his 7-year old uses at home (Techweb reported about it here – he changed his viewpoint slightly afterwards)

    When I recently made the switch to Vista 64-bit as I was installing all my usual programs and thought it would be an interesting experiment to run without any anti-virus software (and blog about it here later!)

    I’ve been running without any anti-virus since mid-July. I use some of the well known on-line scanners as well as some offline tools twice a week to check all is ok and until yesterday everything appears to have been fine

    That said all the anti-virus software in the world can’t protect you from being stupid!

    So what have I learnt from this debacle?

    1) It may be a good time to end my experiment

    2) I rarely allow websites to keep me signed in but Facebook had been an exception. I’ll be going back to how I usually run!

    3) If you tell friends it’s ok to abuse you, then they will 🙂

    As a side note it looks like Facebook have been doing some work too. When I now click on the original link Facebook blocks the page with a warning the site is dangerous

  • Installing Windows Live Writer on Vista 64-bit

    I’m running Vista 64-bit so tried to install Live Writer a while back and got the following error

    clip_image001

     

    From what I’ve read it’s to do with the unified Live installer and not Live Writer

    I’ve seen a couple of blog posts that mention if you can get the MSI file you can install it ok. Most of these posts had a link to a german site that has the file on it. I wasn’t too keen to download an MSI file from a site I knew nothing about so decided against that.

    Another post suggested installing Live Writer on a 32-bit system and copy the MSI from there. I tried that and couldn’t find the MSI so that was scuppered

    So I thought I’d try something obvious – what did I have to lose?

    Download the installer file (WLInstaller.exe) from the Live Writer site, right click on the file and click properties then click the compatibility tab

    Put the tick in the box to run in compatibility mode and click ok

    clip_image001[8]

    Then run the program as an administrator and it should work!

     

    I’m posting this on my Vista 64-bit system from Live Writer so it worked for me!

  • Screensaver does start with a wireless mouse plugged in

    Very strange one today

    I took a call a few days ago from a client who “wasn’t asked for her password anymore when she’d been away from her desk”

    My initial thought was that her screensaver had been disabled or the password option had been turned off

    I logged in and everything was as I’d expected it be

    I asked her when it had started happening and if anything had changed and she said she wasn’t sure but thinks it was about the time she got her new wireless mouse

    I initially dismissed it and tried one or two other things with little success

    I was on site today for another reason so thought I’d take another look

    Turns out the screensaver wasn’t starting at all. Hence the reason why it wasn’t asking for a password

    It did a quick search and I found this knowledge base article

    The screen saver does not start after you install a wireless pointing device

    Basically if your using a wireless mouse AND CyberLink PowerDVD or CyberLink PowerCinema it will stop the screensaver from starting

    From what I can figure out it’s a piece of software that can used with a remote control so you can pause, rewind DVD’s

    The software think the wireless mouse is the remote control so tries to communicate with it (the KB article itself is very vague as to WHY?)

    Anyway there are two workarounds and a fix

    Workaround 1: Stop the service from running

    Workaround 2: Remove PowerDVD (drastic!)

    Fix: Use windows update to install the latest “Microsoft HID Non-User Input Data Filter”

    To to make sure this was the problem I used MSConfig to figure out which program is was (it was different to the one reported in the article) and I shut it down using Task Manager

    After I’d done this the screensaver started ok..WHOOP!

    Never seen anything like this before

    Was also a spooky coincidence that the mouse she purchased was the exact same one I’ve just picked up to replace the ailing HP mouse that came with my PC

  • Action Pack Changes

    Not that long ago Microsoft made changes to the way we got desktop operating system in the action pack. They moved to “non-oem” media and there was an awful lot of complaints at the time

    Thankfully they have taken all the feedback on board and made some changes.

    Check out the official line here.

    We’ll be getting Vista Business (SP1), a copy of Vista Ultimate, a stack of “readiness resources” and some incentives for selling Vista SP1

    Looks like Microsoft are going to use the launch of Service Pack 1 to give Vista a big push and it’s good they are listening to partner feedback

    Big thanks to Dave Overton for taking time out of his weekend to share this information. His post on this is here

  • Running at higher DPI

    A couple of days ago i spotted a blog post by Daniel Moth called 10 Tips on How to Setup Your Laptop before a Demo

    10 pretty solid tips but what caught my eye was the second one.

    “Run at (120) High DPI.Task Subject Start Date Reminder Time Due Date In Folder Categories 
    Expo Bespoke None None None Tasks To-Do  I cannot stress this enough. If you are on Vista this requires a reboot but give it a try now and you’ll never look back (all icons suddenly come alive)”

    Since I’m so easily influenced 🙂 i decided to try it out

    It wasn’t immediately obvious (to me anyway) where to do this but eventually i found it

    Goto to control panel, select the personalization option (or just click start, and start to type personalization). On the left hand side of the windows, under tasks you’ll have an option “Adjust font size (DPI)”. You’ll need admin rights to change this

    Change from the default setting of 96DPI to the larger 120 size and reboot your PC. You can set a custom setting if you want but i wouldn’t recommend it.

    So why did i do this?

    Well i’m firmly in the multiple monitor camp and consider it a serious fetish of mine where bigger and more is better! I’m currently running two 19 inch screens. I’d love to get a couple more screens and up the sizes to 22-24inch but money and office space are sort of stopping me at the moment.

    I digress.

    I’m running both screens at 1280 x 1024 so anything to make the most of those pixels is good in my eyes (pun not intended)

    As daniel mentions in his blog the icons look great and a lot of text cheap ativan online becomes much more readable. Outlook almost looks like a completely different app!

    However, there is a downside which means i don’t quite agree when Daniel says “you’ll never look back”

    The problem is that applications have to be “DPI aware” (as i understand it)

    This means Outlook, Word, etc all look fine

    Web browsing is a different matter.

    I’m currently typing this in a form field on the wordpress site. The control itself must be DPI aware as the text it’s in the larger font size i’ve seen over the last few days. However the rest of the site is rendered normally. This means i have lots of small text in amongst larger text. If i visit the BBC website after reading some emails it throws the eyes slightly as your switching between the text sizes

    Also some sites render “correctly” in the new large size as they must be DPI aware. This seems to throw the layout all over the place and sites don’t always display as expected.

    Vista sidebar items also stays it’s normal size so my gadgets are tiny in comparison

    I’m sure this will improve over time as screen sizes are getting bigger and prices are getting smaller so applications will need to be more intelligent

    I decided to run in this mode for a couple of weeks as the stuff that does work, works really well so i might be happy to sacrifice the little annoyances

    Note: Couple of good posts explaining this more

    Nice visual demo of how it looks in different DPI settings here

    Some screenshots of how to change the settings with some good developer information

  • Vista Service Pack 1 – installed

    I don’t normally post about this sort of news as i haven’t exactly got the scoop on it and there is nothing worse than reading the same thing over and over again when your going through your feeds! But thought i’d post on this from a personal point view

    So as i’ve mentioned above, i’m sure your aware Vista SP1 is available to download if you’re a technet or MSDN subscriber

    I decided to go for it this afternoon and i can report the installation appeared to go smoothly. I ran the setup, let it do it’s thing and an hour later it reported a successful upgrade

    I plan to upgrade the home systems over the weekend and i’ll report back in about a week with my experiences

    I read here (and varous other places) that the SuperFetch data will get trashed on installation so in some situations performance may seem worse for a little while until it’s figured out your “habits”

    I’ve got a performance issue with my home PC where the CPU gets pegged at 100% for about twenty minutes when i first turn the system on (task manager reports TrustedInstaller.exe, i understand this is to do with Windows Update) and i’m hoping the service pack will sort this out.

    I’ve been running with the service pack in the office for a couple of hours now and it does seem more responsive but i haven’t given it my usual hammering yet so we’ll see how i get on over the next week

    Have a good weekend!