Category Archives: Administration

How the Application Experience Service Fux Firefox

I have been having this problem on a VM pool replica master.  Don’t worry about what that means if you are not familiar with machine pools (VMware); it’s not important.  The important part is that I was not able to save certain files I was downloading with Firefox to the Desktop.

The download process would proceed as expected up until the end of the download.  Then when Firefox would merge the two files of the download into the single file which was the actual downloaded file, it would fail.  Every time.

I tried running Firefox in its safe mode (no extensions).  Nada.

I tried using Revo Uninstaller to utterly remove all traces of Firefox (as IE, Chrome, and Opera did not have this issue) from the machine.  After rebooting and re-installing Firefox the problem persisted.

Eventually I found an obscure mention of a service called Application Experience.  If that service is disabled, this sort of thing can happen.  I checked my personal VM and found that this service was set to Manual.

So I changed that replica master to Manual and rebooted it.

No problem saving the 64 bit Java installer downloaded through Firefox to the Desktop.

It’s an odd connection.  Hope this helps you too.


PowerShelling Proper-like

We have started using some cool features in VMware’s Horizon infrastructure which enable us to remotely serve virtual applications.  These applications are being served from a Windows 2012 R2 server.  When install an application to participate in this infrastructure, you must use a special mode called (wait for it) /install, and when you are ready to serve those applications you switch back to the usual mode called (hold tight) /execute.  It’s a very simple PowerShell command.

change user /install

change user /execute

Problem was PowerShell informed me in no uncertain terms that I had to be an administrator to run them.


Who do you think you are?
Who do you think you are?

Only one issue: I am a member of the local Administrators group.

I pushed the turbo button on my brain and it thinked.  I right-clicked on the PowerShell icon and chose Run as Administrator.

Just a bad error message.  No worries here.


Xerox Pushes Your Buttons

As an IT professional there is nothing worse than dealing with printers.  Nothing about them conforms to anything, they rarely work as advertised, and they are constantly challenging us to second guess their perennially cryptic communications.

The Xerox Phaser 3250 (D or DN makes no difference) is no exception.  The machine has a power switch and a Start/Stop button.  The Start/Stop button is the only button on the device.  There are two lights.  One is a green power light.  The other we’ll call a communications light.

In the manual (and on every Web page I could find) you will be told to hold the Start/Stop button down “for about 5 seconds”.  That’s nice.  Let me just deconstruct this for you.

There are four possible things which can be made to happen by holding that one button down for a little bit of time.  The communications light will alter its message to you in subtle ways.  I have brought in a team of archaeologists who promise me they will have those luxographics deciphered before the turn of the century.

They are sexy archaeologists and I’m ok with waiting.  You may have other plans.

In short the first thing to print is a marketing piece of crap which prints on two sides.  Then (I think) you can print a statistics report.  Maybe next comes the promised configuration page.  And finally somewhen you will print out a cleaning page of some sort.

You will notice that the light alters its rhythm as you hold it down.  I assume this is meant to communicate changes in what is coming.  Don’t ask me to guarantee the order in which they print.  Don’t whine to me that you printed the same wrong page out three times trying to get the timing correct.  Just keep trying and prove your persistence.

For additional concerns I refer you to the printer scenes from Office Space.

Good luck with that.


How to Ninja that Huge Drive into Aligning a New Partition

I recently received a pair of 3 TB drives to replace a pair of 1.5 TB drives in my music server.  I was relieved to discover that both the bios and Ubuntu’s utilities had no trouble in seeing those new larger drives.

The first hiccup I encountered was in formatting the first drive.  Apparently MBR (Master Boot Record) formatting is only valid up to 2 TB drives.  I did some poking around on those crazy Interwebz and found that using GUID Partition Table ought to treat me fine.

No big thing there.

However, when I tried to create the EXT3 partition using Disk Utility (Palimpsest) in Ubuntu 10.04 I was receiving an error which made me scratch my chin.

WARNING: The partition is misaligned by 3072 bytes. This may result in very poor performance. Repartitioning is suggested.

Ok, back to them Interwebz.

I found this interesting article on sector alignment and large drive capacities.  This gave me a basic philosophical understanding of the principles with which I was faced.  Now to find a solution which would allow me to partition the drive in proper alignment.

I found several posts and articles which purported creating the partition using GParted instead of Disk Utility would solve the problem.  I tested this out to no avail.

Let’s cut to the chase though; you don’t need to hear of all my failures.

Ubuntu 10.04 runs GParted 0.5.1 and sometime around version perhaps 0.7 GParted solved this alignment problem.  Ubuntu 12.04 is running GParted 0.11.1 which now includes an Align drop-down menu.  You’ll want to select (the default) MiB.

By this method I was able to format a nearly 3 TB EXT3 partition on my new drive and dispense with that annoying warning in Disk Utility.

I hope this saves you a little time.


Using YUMI to Create Multi-Boot Thumbdrives

Lately I’ve had good cause to use bootable thumbdrives.  To the point where I am now finding use for having a single 16 GB thumbdrive which contains various different bootable utilities and installation discs.

Over at PenDriveLinux I was able to download a program called YUMI (Your Universal Multiboot Installer) for creating multi-boot environments on a single partition (of a thumbdrive).  It’s pretty basic to use but I wanted to take a moment to mention some quirks which might throw off a first-time user.

You can use it to create boot options for nearly anything you might imagine.  I haven’t found anything as yet which would not work (though they may exist).

First of all, you might get an error at boot time that the files (within the ISO you are booting) must be contiguous.  I ran into this problem when I built a Windows 8 preview on my thumbdrive.  You can see my article here for how I defragmented the contents of the ISO.

Another oddity that might trip you is the file names of the ISO’s you download.  YUMI has expectations about what those files will be named.  You choose what you are going to attempt to install, then you seek the file, and you might find that YUMI ignores the file you think is the correct file.

Look near the bottom of YUMI where is listed “Step 3: “.  You will see YUMI specifies a file name for which it is seeking (the file name may include a wildcard).  You just want to rename your ISO so that it matches the name YUMI specifies in that step.  (It will not display the name until you click the “Browse” button and then click the “Cancel” button to return to the main application window.)

That was about it.  If I notice any other quirks I’ll post them here.

Have fun with that.


Compact and Easy Windows Defragger

The built-in degragmentation tool in Windows (any version) rather, to put it politely, sucks giant iguana balls.  Seriously.  It’s like when you ask a kid to clean up his or her room and they stuff all their crap into the closet.  My brother used to do that.  We still laugh about it.

My brother has moved on to be a rōnin-chef, and as such has developed a high art when it comes to cleaning a kitchen.  (I haven’t inspected his bedroom closet but work with me here.)  Microsoft hasn’t moved.

For a long time I was installing Diskeeper, which I still really like.  The problem with using Diskeeper, aside from the expense of buying a license for any machine where you should choose to use it,  is its lack of portability.  Though I would still recommend Diskeeper (even if Windows 7 is much better about not fragmenting files than any previous version was).

However, for those times when you need a portable solution I have found one.  It’s called WinContig (as in contiguous) and it’s a free download.  (Perhaps there is a way to donate but I didn’t find it.)

Another great feature of WinContig (and the main reason I downloaded it) is that it can defragment ISO files.


I downloaded the new Windows 8 preview and wanted to add it to my list of bootables on my multi-boot thumbdrive and it would not run because the files needed to be contiguous.  Defragmenting the thumbdrive itself did nothing to help (the drive wasn’t defragmented).  WinContig was able to defragment the contents of the ISO file and thus solve the problem.

(I’ll write a separate article on building my thumbdrive.)

Anyway, now in my utilities folder I have a copy of WinContig (separate 32 and 64 bit executables).  Great to have that in my pocket.  Hope it helps you live a little better.