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Category Archives: Vista

Flying Model Simulator and Vista

3
Filed under Helicopters, Troubleshooting, Vista

Apparently, DirectX supports something called “retained mode”. Not exactly sure what it is or what it does.

But I just found out that one of my favorite apps, Flying Model Simulator or FMS requires it and you get a lovely dialog that “D3DRM.DLL cannot be loaded” when you install the latest FMS 2 Alpha 85

A little digging and it seems this is quite the problem with a number of older DirectX programs. I suppose MS figured that if the app is more than a few years old, nobody would possibly want to use it anymore:-(

Anyway, this forum posting discusses the problem and pointed me to the Dell web site here to download the missing file.

Copy it to my fresh and shiny clean System32 folder and I’m flying my simulated RC heli again.

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Here’s something interesting. If I switch windows away from FMS, it pauses in the background, which is actually quite nice.

I don’t recall it doing that under XP.

Something to actually like about Vista? I…feel….so….dirty…. 

Vista and the UAC , Or not

1
Filed under Security, Vista

Well, I finally succumbed.

After hours of working to get some scripts going that, with XP took all over about 10 minutes the first time around, I’ve given up.

I simply opened the Windows Users control panel applet and turned off UAC.

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Lo and behold, everything works just like it did back in XP.

I know, I know. “Users won’t run with UAC turned off so how are you going to properly test your app?”

Well, how ’bout a VM with Vista in it and the UAC turned on?

Even better, my user account with UAC off, and a Test User account with minimal rights and UAC turned on. (But I haven’t yet figured out how or if  you can turn UAC on, on an account by account basis, Anyone have any ideas?)

I’m not happy about it, but I refuse to spend any more of my time clicking those damn “accept” boxes.

Not only that, but I’ve heard not just a few respected programmers in the community say things to the effect of “Vista is just too difficult to program under, I’m going back to XP.”

My question is, if running Vista without the UAC is basically like running XP, then, at least from a developer perspective, why not just run Vista without the UAC, then test on a VM with it? Does continuing on with XP bring anything to the table that Vista without UAC leaves out? From what I can tell, no.

Is it ideal? No. Is it better than XP? Well, the drivers and eye candy are nice, but otherwise, I don’t see much difference. Surely there’s additional security details that have been cooked in that have nothing to do with UAC, so I’ll get their benefits.

And when PowerToys for UAC (Ugh) comes out and I can munge the UAC as necessary to get everything I need working properly, I can turn it back on.

Vista and Intranet Application Security

5
Filed under Security, Vista

On my setup, I have a file server with a RAID that generally is a bare (but SP’d and updated) Win2003 server install, ie a very minimal installation. At one point I set up ADS with a domain, DNS, etc. Nowadays, I still setup the DNS server on this box, but generally don’t make use of ADS, in my (albeit weak) attempt at simplification.

On my workstations, I install Win2000/XP/Vista in Workgroup mode and use identical passwords and user accounts on the server and each workstation. That way, legacy login support kicks in and login validations still apply, but I don’t have to mess with ADS and domains to make it happen. Not as secure as ADS, but not completely open either. 

One thing I tend to do, when possible, is install apps to a network drive and run them from there. I say when possible because for those apps that require COM registration, etc, this doesn’t work too well. But there are plenty of apps that work just fine this way, including Trillian, Keepass, InfoSelect, NotePad++, IrfanView, etc. Keeps me from having to reinstall and redo configuration.

With the latest install of Vista, however, I was getting a “Are you sure” dialog like this every time I went to run an app off a server share.

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Now, before people start screaming “Good Lord, don’t turn that off, there’s no telling what might have replaced that app out on the network! How do you know it’s safe?!”, the fact is that my entire network runs behind a firewall, and all machines run NOD32. If something infected an app out on the server share, it’s just as likely to have already infected my local workstation anyway.

I’d rather not have to “accept” running any app off the server every time I want to, so what I needed was a way to tell Windows, “Hey, it’s OK to run files from these locations, I’m fairly certain they’re safe”.

Come to find out, such a setting exists, of all places, in the Internet Settings area of the Control Panel:

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Make sure the Local Intranet security is medium-low or lower. This is the default though, and doesn’t appear to need to be changed.

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At this point, just enter the UNC of your server, say \\MyServer (you only need to enter the root server name, unless you specifically don’t trust certain shares on your server, in which case you could specify the server and share name, such as \\MyServer\MyTrustedShare.

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And that’s it.

If there are any significant security issues with this approach, I’m not seeing them. I have to trust my server as much as my workstations (if not more, since I rarely actually install any software on my server. Anybody care to enlighten me?

Vista and QuickTime

2
Filed under Troubleshooting, Vista

I like Apple, and I even owned a Mac for a time (a IIcx, yeah, it was a while back<g>).

But QuickTime is a bit annoying.

First, it keeps “offering” to install ITunes for me, even after I’ve clicked the “don’t bug me about this again” button.

And second, on a Vista machine I have, it totally trashes the video, puts little bars everywhere. You can still see what’s going on, at least enough to reboot the machine.

And reboot you must. There’s no other way I’ve found to correct the situation once it’s happened.

I started hunting for possible resolutions to this and found several mentions of this:

  • Right click the QuickTime icon in the tray
  • Select settings
  • Click the drop down and select Video Settings
  • Click the “safe mode” option
  • Close and reboot

It seemed to work for a bit but the problem came back.

So I started playing with it and found that if I unselect the Safe Mode option (ie click the OPTIONS radio button), then UNCHECK the Enable DCI and Enable DirectDraw, that seems to make things much more stable. Haven’t gotten the trash screen since.

Your mileage may vary.

Let me know if it helps.