Lifehacker often features great articles – I should read it more (as should I read so many of the feeds in my reader but I just can’t keep up). Gina Trapani‘s Geek to Live column from last Friday is just one such example – power replacements for standard Windows utilities. I already use some of these, but others may soon be finding their way on my systems.
This may not be news as it’s pretty high on Digg right now but it may be a useful resource to remember. BuiltWith is a web page technology profiler – a site to find out which technologies have been used to create a website. I even learnt a few things about the underlying technologies for my own site!
A couple of nights back, I needed to get hold of a Windows 2000 Server resource kit utility called
cusrmgr.exe in an attempt to add a global security group from a domain to the local Administrators group on a Windows Server 2008 core server (following the advice in Microsoft knowledge base article 297307). Being many miles from home (and without a working remote access solution at present), I needed to download the utility from somewhere but, whilst Microsoft makes many resource kit utilities available for download from the web, this is not one of them. Luckily an Austrian firm called Dynawell web site services has provided various resource kits for download at their website. (If anyone from Microsoft is reading this, please don’t shut them down – they do at least acknowledge that a license is required to use the utilities.)
cusrmgr.exe -m \\remotecomputername -alg localgroupname -u globalgroupname didn’t work out for me on Windows Server 2008 Server Core.
Quoting Scotty McLeod:
Mark mailed me last night to ask about my crib sheet for Core Server but as it was Friday evening was taking a rest from the digital world. A hour and a half later he mailed me back to say he had found all he needed.
Now this was from the mail Mark’s first real go in anger at installing and configuring Core Server but we have to remember he is an great Windows professional and old enough to have used command lines for a significant proportion of his life with computers.
I’m honoured that Scotty refers to me as a professional but somewhat concerned at the same time that my age (I’m only 35!) is linked with command line usage. Actually, I think it’s got more to do with geekiness and although I can’t confess to being a Linux/Unix expert, I do love diving into a command shell. I guess what Scotty is saying is that I’m old enough to have cut my teeth in the computing world before GUIs were the norm – and he’s right.
Anyway, back to Server Core. I love it. I hate it. No, I love it. Well, I love the idea and I’m sure I will love using the product but, because it’s not yet finished, the administration of a Server Core box can be a chore. Consequently, here’s my checklist of tasks from when I needed to get a Server Core box up and running last Friday (based on the June CTP build).
- Enable remote desktop (from a Windows Vista client):
cscript %windir%\system32\SCRegEdit.wsf /ar 0
- Change the machine name:
netdom renamecomputer %computername% /newname:newcomputername
- Set the IP address for the primary NIC:
netsh interface ipv4 set address "Local Area Connection" ipaddress subnetmask gatewayipaddress
- Set the DNS server addresses:
netsh interface ipv4 add dns "Local Area Connection" ipaddress [index=indexnumber]
- Disable the firewall (at least until everything is working):
netsh firewall set opmode disable
- Join a domain:
netdom join %computername% /domain:domainname /userd:domainname\username /passwordd:*
- Restart the server:
- Change the drive letter allocation for an existing disk (e.g. the CD-ROM drive):
select volume volumenumber
- Format additional disks (in my case, these had been partitioned during setup but additional
diskpart.execommands could be used):
select disk disknumber
select partition partitionnumber
format fs=ntfs label="volumelable" quiet
- Label a disk (e.g. the system disk):
label driveletter: "volumelable"
- Add a domain user to a local group (note that there are some serious restrictions around this – Microsoft knowledge base article 324639 has more details):
net localgroup groupname /add domainname\username
This has just scraped the surface with a few commands that I needed – it would have taken me a lot longer to write this post without these excellent resources:
- Administering IIS 7 on Server Core installations of Windows Server 2008 (including IIS deployment and configuration tips and Server Core administration tips).
- Creating a core Longhorn server.
- Getting started with Server Core.
I’ve just been building some virtual machines and I wanted to run multiple copies of the Virtual Machine Remote Control (VMRC) client to monitor progress (they just seem more responsive than the administration website). Each time I connected the VMRC client, I was presented with the following message:
Connection to the VM stopped as multiple connections are disabled
It turns out that Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 has disabled multiple VMRC connections as a security precaution. It’s just a simple checkbox on the VMRC server properties to re-enable but useful to know about.
A few weeks back, I started to listen to one of my favourite podcasts – BBC Radio 4’s The Now Show, only to be greeted with:
“We’re sorry that The Now Show podcast isn’t available for this series. The podcast was part of a trial, which has now come to an end; however you can still listen to the programme for seven days after broadcast, via the Radio 4 website.”
The clip then continued by advertising other BBC Radio 4 podcasts – obviously not “part of a trial which has now come to an end”. This annoys me tremendously – the BBC is a fine broadcaster but as as it dumbs down its main news programmes and airs more and more tabloid TV (leave that to ITV please), I’m not sure that my license fee is being well spent (that’s how the BBC is funded – from the sale of it’s programmes, and from a mandatory annual fee for all UK households and businesses with a device that’s capable of receiving a TV signal – even if it only receives subscription services like satellite or cable TV). You see, the BBC has spent millions developing a new service called iPlayer (it’s a pity they couldn’t have spent a few more pounds registering the iplayer.com domain) which will allow registered users (as long as they have a UK-registered IP address) to download programmes from the Internet. On the face of it, that sounds good, except that it’s been bogged down by DRM and that’s limited the availability of the service.
A few months back, Microsoft UK’s James O’Neill and I were engaged in an online (and face-to-face) debate about the need (or not) for digital rights management (DRM). James’ argument is that content providers have a right to protect their copyrighted material, that Windows Media codecs are available or Mac users and that Linux users would never allow a Microsoft product (i.e. a Linux port of Windows Media Player) on their system. My argument is that piracy would be insignificant if an easy to use digital media system could be created which works regardless of the device and operating system and with media at a price for which people would be happy to pay without a moment’s thought – that Microsoft Windows Media, Apple FairPlay and competing technologies should be made to work together – just as Mark James proposes in his call for open standards in digital rights management. Instead, the BBC (following the path set by a rival broadcaster, Channel 4) have provided a service which will only work on a subset of Windows PCs.
“We have chosen initially not to market or publish widely the availability of the service as we wanted to see what the initial demand would be – and interest so far has been extremely strong.”
Hmm… I read a press release announcing that the service would be launched on 27th July 2007 (which was subsequently picked up by many newspapers and websites) – I think that is both marketing and publishing the availability of the service. So what’s all this beta nonsense about then? It seems that the BBC’s Press Office is not talking to the BBC’s iPlayer people…
Once I set up a Windows XP PC and got my login details for the iPlayer service (after a wait of several hours… suggesting a level of manual intervention in the process), I found that they didn’t do much for me. The BBC’s own advice is to save the iPlayer login on the computer (if I’ve saved my login details in a cookie, what’s the point in having a login?) and then before I could download any content I had to register for a separate bbc.co.uk account (which seems to require more personal details than I would like to give away). At least that was an immediate process (even if the first few usernames I tried were taken) and I was finally able to download my programme.
Download speeds were good (in the region of 2Mbps), although the reference to the number of sources from which I was downloading alerted me to that fact that this is a peer-to-peer service (the BBC uses VeriSign’s Kontiki delivery management system) – in which case am I giving up some of my bandwidth for the BBC to distribute its content to others? (Oh the irony of a DRM-protected service using P2P for distribution!) More to the point, what effect will that have on my bandwidth usage if I’m limited by my ISP, or if they implement network controls to limit access to the service?
The BBC website had given me the impression (obviously misguided) that programmes would be available for download up to 7 days after broadcast and then to view for a further 30 days. Apparently that’s not so, as the 30 day clock seems to start ticking at broadcast time (not download time), so my programme actually had 23 days left for me to watch it. Furthermore, it seems that once I start to watch a programme I only have 7 days to watch it before it expires. Those timescales seem pretty tight (there are no such limits with other time shifting technologies, whether I use a simple video cassette recorder or something more complex) and it’s this inflexibility that makes me so critical of DRM.
The content itself is pretty good quality – at least the episode of Click that I used to test the service (not to be confused with the streamed version available from the BBC website) looked fine in full screen mode on a standard 1024×768 laptop display although, somewhat annoyingly, a BBC News 24 ticker was visible on the bottom of the screen throughout the programme (that shouldn’t be a problem for most programmes). Also, despite advertising itself as a 30-minute programme, this particular episode turned out to be the short (just under 12 minute) version. Actually, once you find a PC that meets the iPlayer specifications, the service is pretty good. I just think that the BBC should cast it’s net a little further and include Macintosh and Linux users in its online audience.
Over the last few days, I’ve been having problems connecting to Microsoft Update from a newly built Windows Server 2003 R2 server. Whilst searching for updates, it’s was hanging (green progress bar pulsing across the screen) before eventually reporting:
[Error number: 0x80244023]
The website has encountered a problem and cannot display the page you are trying to view. The options provided below might help you solve the problem.
For self-help options:
Frequently Asked Questions
Windows Update Newsgroup
For assisted support options:
Microsoft Online Assisted Support (no-cost for Windows Update issues)
Sadly, Microsoft’s Online Assisted Support didn’t do much assisting – it only pointed me back to the knowledge base, newsgroups, or paid incident support but the problem did go away all by itself (yes, really)!
In the meantime, I’d asked for help on the Microsoft Windows Update discussion group and a really helpful MVP called TaurArian replied pointing me in the direction of the MSDN reference for Windows Update agent networking error codes. Useful stuff – and it turns out that 80244023 is WU_E_PT_HTTP_STATUS_GATEWAY_TIMEOUT – i.e. proxy server problems (and probably the reason why the problem seemed to cure itself).
I’ve just started using Microsoft Office OneNote again (last time I tried, I lost all my data after a hard disk crash and, as I’m so bad at backups, I stuck with paper for a while but now my bookshelf is getting a bit full of Black n’ Red spiral bound notebooks and it really is time I got back with the program).
Spending as much time on the road as I do, and looking at the state of my desk, I’m determined to progress towards a paperless office and I’m convinced that OneNote is part of that solution – even if you’re not using a tablet PC (I’m not), it’s just a great way to stay organised.
Anyway, tonight I found another great feature – the Blog This option in OneNote (actually it’s in Word, but OneNote exposes the option as a simple right-click). Just tell it your blog provider details and it will send the current page from your notebook to your blog. Epstein Llewellyn’s has written a great tuturial for WordPress users.
Those who’ve tried writing HTML in Word before will be pleased to hear that it didn’t even create any HTML bloat!
Last month I wrote about how it’s possible to upgrade a retail copy of Windows Vista to an Enterprise version and it turns out that this is also possible with other versions of Windows.
Last week I needed to build a new server with Windows Server 2003 R2 and my colleague who was supplying the media only brought 32-bit CDs with him (with 8GB of RAM for this server to run multiple virtual machines, it makes sense to use a 64-bit operating system). I spent most of the day downloading 64-bit CD images from various file shares around the company (in theory, because we’d bought the appropriate licenses, it shouldn’t matter what media we used) but when the volume licensing key (VLK) that I’d been given didn’t work we realised that the disc image we were using was an MSDN version. After supplying a product key that did work and going through all the hassle of getting the server added to the corporate domain, Windows notified me that I had 55 days left to activate the product, so I finished installing the applications today and then “upgraded” using the correct volume license media and key, removing the requirement for product activation.
Another point that’s worth noting (thanks to Daniel Petri for this tip) is that the .IMG files that Microsoft provided in the “ISO only” download appear to be just ISO 9660 (.ISO) files with a different file extension. Either way, the
cdburn.exe resource kit tool was able to write them on my Windows Vista PC (although it did report an error when trying to eject the CD).