Category Archives: Vista

Windows 7 and Vista GodMode

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Filed under .NET, Vista, Windows 7

If you haven’t already checked it out, definitely head over to Tom’s hardware for their article on setting up “GodMode” in Windows 7 (apparently it works in Vista too, dang, wish I’d known that).

Basically, you create a folder somewhere, then rename it to

GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}

When you do, that folder becomes a “virtual folder” full of (on my system anyway) 278 links to virtually every administrator type function you might ever want to jump to on a Windows Machine. Here’s a sample screenshot:

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Very, very cool indeed.

That Annoying "The publisher could not be verified" Prompt In Windows 7

2
Filed under Tweaks, Utilities, Vista, Windows 7

I’ve just finished paving my main machine with Windows 7 64 bit, and was working on tidying up some of the finer points of my installation.

One minor item I use is a batch file with a reference to the excellent Poweroff utility. The batch file basically powers down the monitor, locks the machine, then goes into standby/hibernate mode. I attach it to a Ctrl-f11 hotkey to make it a quick keystroke to powerdown my machine.

Anyway, I have that bat on my path, and I happen to keep it out on a network drive (a NAS array), not on my local machine. I generally keep data off my local machine, preferring to only have program installs and temp files locally.

But when I pointed my shortcut to the network path and hit Ctrl-F11, I’d get that annoying “The publisher could not be verified” prompt. Every time!

Well, a few googles later and I came across this tip on annoyances.com.

It’s for Vista, but it also works in Win 7 (even the 64bit version).


Run gpedit.msc 

Go to User Configuration >> Administrative Templates >> Windows Components >> Attachment
Manager

Add "*.exe; *.bat" to the "Inclusion list for moderate risk file types" setting.

I added *.bat to the list, as well as *.exe because, in my case, I keep a number of handy BAT files in folders out on my network drives and then include those folders in my path.

Works a treat. Be sure to read up on why to include this in the Moderate risk element and not the High Risk, though. Generally, if you have a reasonably good firewall/router, making this change should be safe.

Preventing Mic Feedback in Vista

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Filed under Media, Troubleshooting, Vista

image (No not that kind of volume!)

Seems like such a simple thing. If I’m on Skype or in general trying to use a mic in Vista, the sounds from the mic end up projecting out the speakers.

No big deal until the volumes get loud enough that you get a feedback loop. Then, look out! Dogs and cats (and wife and children) will run screaming from the house!

I’d dealt with this problem for far too long (Skype was almost unusable) but couldn’t find anything on the web addressing the issue, at least not for Vista.

So I started poking around.

After far too much searching, I finally came across the secret room in Vista where the souls at Microsoft have stashed the hidden switch.

First, right click the speaker icon in the system tray (at the bottom right of the screen), and select Playback Devices:

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On the next dialog, select Speakers and click properties:

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On the next dialog, select the Levels tab

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And make sure that little speaker icon under Input Monitor is DISABLED (like it is in the above screenshot).

If not, just click it to disable it.

This will prevent the mic input from being echoed out through the speakers, and thus prevent any kind of feedback.

Sure, it’s simple now. <g>

Cisco VPN Headaches, The (new and improved) Solution

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Filed under Cisco, Troubleshooting, Vista

image I wrote about my headaches with the Cisco VPN client some time ago.

I thought I’d resolved those problems, but as is the case with most things computer, I had not.

At least part of the problem, as I discovered some time ago, is that the 5.0.0 version of the Cisco VPN client didn’t properly deal with network interfaces coming and going, so in cases where that happened, the client would often end up trying to connect to the VPN host via the wrong network adapter.

How would network adapters come and go, you might ask? After all, they’re physical cards in the machine.

But not so! If you run VMWare or Microsoft’s Virtual PC, those apps create “virtualized” network adapters that come online as you start the program (and in some cases when you start each individual virtual machine) and can go offline just as frequently.

The solution (or so I thought) was to do a hard reset of Cisco’s VPN service. That worked, mostly. But it still wasn’t 100% complete. I still sometimes had trouble connecting that would, in the end, require a reboot.

Fast-forward to yesterday, when I couldn’t get connected even after several  reboots, and I decided enough was enough.

Sure enough, some Google searches revealed that there is NOW a new version of the Cisco Client, the latest I was able to find is 5.0.4.0300.

One point to note is that this is all under Vista 32. From what I understand, XP has none of these issues.

Anyway, after a lengthy and pretty painful install, this new version appears to completely fix the problem. No Service resets required at all.

The Install

The biggest problem is the actual installation of the new version.

First make sure you write down all the connection details from your existing VPN connections. Once you’ve got the new version installed, you’ll have to reset all those details back to what they were. This includes the host name (or ip address), passwords, username, etc).

Uninstall the old Cisco VPN client. For me, this took several reboots as the uninstall appeared to hang several times. Eventually, it did uninstall itself, though.

At this point you can try to install the new version, but I received a message that the “Deterministic Network Enhancer” wouldn’t install properly.

I had to manually uninstall the “Deterministic Network Enhancer” from my network connection properties dialog before Cisco would complete a successful install.

To do that, click on the Windows button (the old “Start” button), select Control Panel, and Network and Sharing Center”.

Find you network adapter listed and click View Status.

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On the resulting screen, click Properties

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and on the next screen, click the Deterministic Network Enhancer and uninstall it.

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Then, you should be able to install the latest Cisco VPN Client and not have any more connection problems.

Google to find the latest version.

KB938194, Beware!

2
Filed under Troubleshooting, Vista

This Vista Update, delivered 9/4/07 at about 3am (for one machine, anyways) has some serious issues, so beware.

Now, when I load Word 2007, if I immediately quit Word, it crashes. And if I attempt to load a document by dbl clicking on it, Word fails to load the document completely, just opens an empty window. Even odder though, is that I have a different machine that I pulled the update earlier for (it’s set to manual update) and it’s fine.

The only difference between the two that I can see, is that on the failed machine, Word was OPEN at the time of the upgrade.

Even worse, UNDOING the Patch caused the machine to fail to boot. It would start to boot up, then just shut down.

I had to use the “Boot to last known valid configuration” option, then use the System Restore Point function to rewind back to before the 3am patch.

Once I’d done that, everything ran fine again.

Ah the joys of automated updates.

Creating MSI installs for Vista

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Filed under Installations, Vista

Neeru Hundal has a pretty interesting and informative blog at http://msiblogger.com that’s all about MSI issues.

A very good article there focuses on issues to look out for when creating MSI’s for Vista (or that might end up on Vista, which means pretty much any MSI, I’m guessing).

One in particular hit me just a few days ago. Neeru indicates you need to set the ALLUSERS property to 1. He emphatically states you need to SET IT (not just leave it blank or not there at all). I’ve found that you definitely need to set it, but you should set it to 2, or you may end up getting UAC and “You don’t have proper permissions” messages, even though you’ve created the install to specifically NOT require admin privileges. Originally, I had ALLUSERS set to 1 and was getting a “requires admin privs” message even though my installation shouldn’t have required administrative privileges.

Another nugget:

  • Custom Actions
    1. Custom Actions in the UI Sequence will run with standard user privileges
    2. For Custom actions requiring admin rights, mark custom action as Deferred – No Impersonate

Anyway, he’s got a few other articles there, too, which make for some good reading.

More Vista Explorer Helpfulness

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Filed under Rants, Vista

I’ve noticed a disturbing trend with Windows Explorer in Vista.

It tends to want to choose a “helpful” view of your files, regardless of what you have TOLD it to use for the view.

For instance, even though I’ve explicitly turned off grouping, it seems to want to turn it back on arbitrarily, and once it’s on, it seems like it’s back on all over the place, not just for a single folder.

And to add insult to injury, Explorer offers this helpful grouping:

image

What the hell? I know. I just blogged about Star Wars. Explorer must have hooks into Live Writer!

“A long time ago” ?!^$*!@#?

It’s bad enough that I didn’t say to group files in this folder, but to group them and then use an arbitrary “group” like this?

I can’t wait till I group by size, and at the top of the list is:

“Big ol’ honkin’ files”

Vista Explorer "Helpfulness"

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Filed under Tweaks, Vista

Working with Vista, I’ve noticed that it tries to be a tad too helpful sometimes. I’ve already posted about it’s proclivity for attempting to AutoTune my network card and in the process, detuning it.

There’s a reason Bob failed, and a reason those annoying “Office assistants” got dumped first thing after installing Office. I suppose I should be thankful there’s no 3D animated wizard bouncing out of the sidebar from time to time to “wave it’s wand” on a window of mine to move it to the monitor that would be “more appropriate”, or whatever.

One annoyance I’ve run into is that Vista tends to just “decide” that I want a particular folder to show in grouped view, or in thumbnail view, even though I’ve gone through the process of turning all that crap off and setting ALL FOLDERS to view in Details mode.

Grrr.

Well, I was just browsing for something completely unrelated and happened upon this posting by MVP Keith Miller about turning off the autodetect view in Explorer.

In it, he describes a reg hack that’ll do just that, turn that feature off.

Here’s the script (you’ll need to save it to a REG file and Right click and select MERGE)

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\Local Settings\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Shell\Bags\All Folders\Shell]
“FolderType”=”NotSpecified”

Before you run it though. Load up RegEdit and check out that Bags key:

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\Local Settings\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Shell\Bags

If your system is anything like mine, there will be literally HUNDREDS of entries in there.

Make sure you turn off “Remember Each folders settings”, and then Delete the whole Bags key to remove all those “memorized” folder settings you didn’t want to memorize in the first place. No wonder the damn registry balloons faster than Steve Fossett in a hurricane.

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Disabling the UAC for Administrators Only (or rather, Not Quite)

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Filed under Security, Vista

Ever since I disabled UAC on my Vista machine, I’d been hoping for a way to disable it only for specific users.

Then I just stumbled across a promising page for disabling the UAC prompting for administrators only.

It wasn’t the “Per User disabling of UAC” that I was hoping for, but I’d take it.

In a nutshell, run SECPOL.MSC from the Start, Run box

Expand Local Policies, and select Security Options.

Find the entry ”User Account Control: Behavior of the elevation prompt for administrators in Admin Approval Mode” in the list (it’s towards the end) and double-click on it.

Change the setting to “Elevate without prompting”.

Note that this won’t work with Vista Basic and Home, because those versions don’t come with the SECPOL.MSC file. Check out the blog above for a reg script for that.

So, then, I thought,  just setup an Admin user for doing standard development stuff (where the UAC is just a flat pain in the ass), then, login as a NON-ADMIN user with UAC enabled to test things out.

Well, not so fast. Turns out, even with the Automatic elevation setting on, elevation still doesn’t happen quite right in all cases. Take for instance, Winternal’s Process Explorer:

image

That Replace Task Manager option will cause a “Process Requires Elevation” prompt with UAC enabled, regardless of the “Elevate without prompting” setting mentioned above, so there’s more to this that what would appear to be mentioned in the help for that security option. Granted Process Explorer is pretty low level stuff, but it’s something I use all the time.

Screw that. Not worth bothering with, so off goes the UAC again.

Vista’s New Recursive Folder Structure

4
Filed under Vista

How’s this for a peculiar error message:

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This one is from FileBackPC (a normally awesome little backup app). I can configured a rule for my server (which runs FileBack) to reach out to each of my workstations and grab a backup of certain folders, including the entire user profile.

There’s the rub. Apparently, Vista creates a hardlink from the “Application Data” folder back to its parent. This results in a recursive folder structure that is guaranteed to give fits to any app that recursively traverses the dir structure.

Vista itself appears to “know” what’s up though. You get this if you try to navigate into the Application Data folder via Explorer:

image

This same technique works great with XP. In the FileBack, I just had to reconfigure the rule to not traverse into that folder. Other apps might not be so obliging.

Sigh. Yet another one of “those little issues.”