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Ping: IT Admins

Ever have a really, really tricky technical issue that was a major pain to solve?

Did your Web searches yield no answers or, worse, a number of time-wasting "solutions" that had nothing to do with your particular issue, though you're sure that someone must have solved the issue before?

Maybe someone posted what you need here at The Grim Admin. Maybe you will post the solution for someone else.


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Screensaver Operations News - March 2013

Scripts & Tools

Thanks for the suggestions everyone. What’s in the pipeline? This:

 

 

UPDATE (2013-04-02): 1.4 was completed last week; we just are working getting the proper installer file(s) working. Expect it out this week.

UPDATE (2013-04-05): 1.4 has been released. ADM files are in the works still. Note that following Microsoft's installations standards has forced us to create separate 32-bit and 64-bit MSI installers. Both versions should upgrade the previous 1.3 install without issues (assuming you previously used the MSI to install).

  • Official release of SSO 1.4
    • I’ve been trying to do coding here and there in the little free time I have right now. I am planning on releasing 1.4 sometime this month. Yay!
    • A number of requests have already been implemented in the beta (http://www.grimadmin.com/forum/viewtopic.php?showtopic=43) and the as-of-yet unreleased code has a few more already completed. I have only a couple more things to pop in, including a variable naming conflict that a forum poster found in the beta.
    • Some requests are a little trickier to implement due to staying with the older .NET 2.0 (e.g., capturing mouse clicks outside the program window), but this is worth it IMO to prevent those still running older versions of Windows like XP from having to install.NET framework runtimes.
  • ADMX/ADML files for Group Policy: While I think using registry collections in GPP is simple enough, especially with the registry locations now being the same in version 1.4 for both 32-bit & 64-bit Windows, I am going to create some Group Policy Settings files for SSO due to all the requests. If anyone knows of a better free ADMX editor than the ADMX Migrator tool (http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=15058) let me know!
  • Some have wondered about adding to the project. If there are any experienced coders out there who would like to work on the code, I’d be happy to work with them (contact me here). I’m also willing to share the source code if someone needs to review it before deploying; you can change anything for use within your organization, but I ask that you not publicly post any source files for the time being. If I ever stop working on the project, I’ll upload the source code under an open & royalty free license.
  • Hate to plug this, but the advertising on this site is minimal and [hopefully] unobtrusive; it honestly doesn’t come close to covering even the hosting costs. I know most admins out there have trained themselves to completely ignore ads, but please take a quick glance over at them once in a while to see if you find them interesting. Please don’t go spam clicking on them though! The SSO page also has a donate button on the bottom of the page if you would like to donate anything.
  • Finally, a reminder that I may not see comments posted to stories or the download pages. Please submit any suggestions, issues, questions, etc. to us using http://www.grimadmin.com/profiles.php?uid=2 to e-mail me or by posting on the forums.
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Screensaver Operations Beta 1.4-b Now Available

Scripts & Tools

Dear admins! I know we've been missing with updates for a while, but we hope to get things rolling again soon! To that end, I wanted to update everyone on the latest beta version of Screensaver Operations. This beta release is primarily marked by the ability to natively run on both 32-bit and 64-bit Windows, as well as some feature requests.

 

Download Screensaver Operations Beta 1.4-b now in our forums!

 

Screensaver Operations is an application for Microsoft Windows systems that allows you to perform configurable actions after a computer has been left idle for a specified amount of time (e.g., log off, shut down).

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Windows 8 Tips: Close the Active App and More

Solutions

Playing around with Windows 8 RTM has been quite an adventure! I tried working without the Start Menu for a few weeks, but the new Start Screen was usually such a horrible productivity sink that I ended up installing one of the 3rd party Start Menu add-ons (Stardocks's Start8). Most of my usual programs worked fine, though I did hit some walls on a couple forcing me to migrate to alternatives until Windows 8 compatibility is added. The Metro style (or Windows 8 style, now that MS can't use "Metro" anymore) apps.... some are good, but the majority are quite horrid and this unfortunately includes most of the default apps that come with Windows 8. For example, the Mail app doesn't allow you to adjust the three panes' column widths. Everything Metro is dumbed down to the point of being unusable. Also I've hit my share of bugs, even with the RTM release. For example, I added my Google calendar to the Calendar app and it loaded it without issue, but when I try adding events after hitting save everything I type in just goes into oblivion. Nothing shows up, yet no error message or anything else. Hopefully most of the worst show-stopper bugs will be fixed once the October release hits and since the apps are all on the App Store you can get updates quite easily. As for the back-end of things... beautiful. So many great features and improvements that I wish everything except the Start Screen (and the fact that they took away most of the old Desktop/Taskbar customizations) was simply part of a Windows 7 service pack. It's just that good from the Task Manager to the Copy/Move file dialogs.

 

Finally, the most absolute worst part of Metro is from a usability perspective. Absolutely nothing is intuitive other than tapping the tiles to open apps. Microsoft is trying to get us to learn this new environment that will be on all their device types, but throws you in without much of a tutorial at all. Here's my initial list of tips... I'll edit this post as I come across new ones. 

 

  • Tip 1: if you aren't sure how to do something in an app, do one of two things -> (1) Right-click or (2) Move your mouse to the upper-right corner and move the mouse down or the lower-right corner then move it up. This will bring up other menus. Don't always expect left-clicking on things to do what you expect it to do or give you all the available options.
  • Tip 2: To close the currently opened Metro-style app, grab the top of the app and drag it all the way down to the bottom of the screen.
  • Tip 3: To view all the opened Windows 8 apps (Metro apps) move your mouse to the upper-left corner and move the mouse down or the lower-left corner then move it up. Right-click on any of them to get an option to close them.
  • Tip 4: On the Start Screen, click the little minus "-" symbol in the lower-right corner to zoom out. Now you can more easily group tiles and even title the groups by giving them a name.
  • Tip 5: Right-click on any Start Screen tile to Run as Admin, Uninstall, Resize the Tile, etc. You can right-click on multiple Start Screen tiles to select more than one so you can unpin multiple tiles at once.

Hope this helps!

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WinRM Has Connection Issues When Using a Custom HTTP.sys Inclusion List

Solutions

If you've ever set your Internet Information Services (IIS) to only bind or listen on certain IP addresses using the httpcfg set iplisten command (e.g., to have Apache & IIS running on the same server), you may have inadvertently caused an issue for yourself if you want to use Windows Remote Managment (WinRM) from the command line or using PowerShell. A good idea of whether or not you have an issue is if running commands using WinRM (e.g., "winrm quickconfig") fail with the following error:

 

Message = The client cannot connect to the destination specified in the request. Verify that the service on the destination is running and is accepting requests. Consult the logs and documentation for the WS-Management service running on the destination, most commonly IIS or WinRM. If the destination is the WinRM service, run the following command on the destination to analyze and configure the WinRM service: "winrm quickconfig".

Error number:  -2144108526 0x80338012
The client cannot connect to the destination specified in the request. Verify that the service on the destination is running and is accepting requests. Consult the logs and documentation for the WS-Management service running on the destination, most commonly IIS or WinRM. If the destination is the WinRM service, run the following command on the destination to analyze and configure the WinRM service: "winrm quickconfig".

 

To get WinRM to start working again, continue on reading...

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Repair Messed Up EXE File Association

Scripts & Tools

Some viruses now are messing with your file associations making it hard to open programs, such as your Web browser so that you can download and install an anti-mailware program, or even open the cleaner application itself. It's usually simple to remove the changes made when in a registry editor, but since Regedit.exe and other editors are executable files, you can't easily open them either!

Below is a registry fix that I have found useful to have on hand to easily reset the .EXE file association back to it's normal state so that you are no longer prevented from running programs.

 

Repair EXE Registration.reg

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[-HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\.exe]
[-HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\secfile]
[-HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\secfile]
[-HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.exe\shell\open\command]

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\exefile\shell\open\command]
@="\"%1\" %*"
[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.exe]
@="exefile"
"Content Type"="application/x-msdownload"

 

Importing this registry data file will remove any custom edits that any malware makes to your .EXE file associations in the HKCU area and then sets the file association open command back to normal. From there you should be able to open your malware cleaning tools.

We recommend that you copy the registry data file to a local disk on your computer prior to running due to the fact that newer versions of Windows will often by default not allow you to import a .REG file if you run it from a network share.

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Webmin and Virtualmin FTP Backup Deletion Fails

Solutions

Anyone who's used Webmin or Virtualmin knows what wonderful tools they are for managing a Unix or Linux Apache web server. One issue that some have run into is that when scheduling backups to an FTP server, and in particular a Microsoft Windows FTP server, if you've configured Webmin/Virtualmin to delete backups older than a certain number of days those backups sometimes don't get deleted. Continue reading for the cause and the solution to this issue...

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The AutoPlay Window Pops Up and Closes Right Away When Media is Inserted

Solutions

I recently ran into an issue where a user would insert an SD card, CD, or other removable media and then the AutoPlay (note this is different from, though related to, AutoRun) dialog window pops up briefly for a split second and then closes itself automatically. At first I though the ESC key or something was stuck down, but that wasn't the case this time. In addition, it would even automatically exit the AutoPlay control panel window as soon as that opens.

 

It turns out that there are a number of software programs that could conflict with Windows AutoPlay. Examples include some virtualizing software and even some CD burning/CD writing software. In our case, it turned out to be an issue with a Motorola phone driver, of all things, that was loaded in the system (Motorola MotoHelper Driver). If that fits what is happening to you, you would want to uninstall the driver from the Programs and Features control panel.

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Today Is Clean Out Your Computer Day (Feb 14, 2011)

General News

EVERYONE: Today is National Clean Out Your Computer Day! Originally sponsored and created by the Institute for Business Technology, National Clean Out Your Computer Day comes around every second Monday in February. Since the month began on a Tuesday and pushed the date to later in the month, I almost forgot to post this most important event.

 

So clean up those old files, uninstall those old apps you never use, vacuum the stale chips from keyboard, and if you haven't defragmented your platter-based hard drives all year, get to it!

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When Only the HTTP Part Works

Havening Problems

No horror stories lately, but here's a conversation I had with a user that I just had to share.

 

 

Her: My Mac in the apartment gets e-mail but I cannot surf the Internet.
Me: What does it do when you try to browse the Web?
Her: Well, I think the HTTP part works, but not the WWW part.
Me: OK. Well, bring it in and I can take a look at the configuration.

 

I just hate it when that WWW guy is not cooperating!

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Screensaver Operations MSI Version

Scripts & Tools

Screensaver Operations, an application for Microsoft Windows systems that allows you to perform configurable actions after a computer has been left idle for a specified amount of time (e.g., log off, shut down), is now available in Windows Installer format (MSI) so you can easily install it or deploy it through Group Policy or other means.

Click Here for More Information and Download

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