Category Archives: Windows

Virtual Workspace Upgrade

I have previously mentioned Virtual Dimension.  It’s a great way to add multiple desktops to Windows (which Linux and even Mac support natively by now).  Unfortunately, it looks like VD hasn’t been updated since 2005.  (You can see my previous mention of VD here.)

There are a number of other potential candidates worth testing.  There is VirtuaWin (this is the one I switched to when VD started failing me).

There is this Google Code project called Pager extension.  (I haven’t tested this one.)

Here are a couple othersto round things out.  One for XP and Vista and a more general one.  (I have tested neither of these.)

As you can see I haven’t really kept up with these applications.  That’s because I almost never have to use a Windows machine, and I certainly don’t use one as a main machine any more.

Feel free to post your opinions about these (or any other) desktop virtualization applications in the comments.


My Apple Dongle Ain’t Driver’d

I was asked to sort out why a Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon was not allowing a user to log in using his domain credentials.  It was throwing an error claiming that the AD server was not available.

This is somewhat normal as the first time a user logs into our domain they are often required to connect via wire.  Let’s ignore why that is the case and just accept it for now.  The problem is, however, the Carbon lacks an Ethernet port.

Ah, but we have plenty of those Apple USB –> Ethernet adapters.  I’ll just attach one of those.

That was fine.  It even showed correctly identified in the Device Manager.  The driver install failed silently and the device was accompanied by the usual yellow triangle of shame.  So I right-clicked on the device and asked it to install the driver.  It failed with a useless error message which I haven’t bothered to record into my memory.

Turns out you can’t install this driver (which Windows either includes or retrieves from Microsoft—I didn’t load it on myself) because it is an “unsigned” driver.  Do you see the problem here?  Windows downloads a driver from Microsoft (or the OS comes with the driver in a CAB somewhere) but what it downloads it doesn’t trust.  That’s like me not trusting what I have in my pocket: it looks very much like my house key but I just can’t be sure.

Anyway, who cares if they are bumblers.  You just want to know how to solve the problem.  I took the following steps from this site.

  1. Either roll your mouse to the lower-right corner and click the Settings icon or hit Windows-I.
  2. Click “Change PC Settings” (or similar) at the bottom of that Settings side-bar.
  3. Under PC Settings click General.
  4. Scroll to the bottom on the right-hand pane and click the “Restart now” button under “Advanced startup”.  (This doesn’t reboot “now”.  There are more steps.)
  5. On the “Choose an option” menu which follows choose “Troubleshoot”.
  6. On the “Troubleshoot” menu choose “Advanced options”.
  7. On the “Advanced options” menu choose “Startup Settings”.
  8. On the “Startup Settings” menu click the “Restart” button.  (This will reboot your system.)
  9. On this (totally different) “Startup Settings” menu choose 7 (literally type a 7).

This will reboot your system with “driver signature enforcement” disabled.  This should allow you to install the driver (by right-clicking in the Device Manager).

Once you have done that you can merely reboot to re-enable that, er, feature.  (The page linked above also includes instructions for disabling this permanently.  I have not tested this, nor would I consider it a wise maneuver.  To be sure Microsoft would consider it not recommended.)

Isn’t WinAte fun?  Oh, let’s call it WinAin’t.

(In all fairness, Win8 does seem to perform better than any previous version of Windows.  It’s just that you have to contend with that shitty interface.  Seriously, seven menus deep?)


Download the Proper 64 Bit Opera for Windows

As you probably have guessed, Opera is my preferred browser across all operating systems.  I know they have a 64 bit version for Windows (as they do for Mac and Linux), but for whatever reason that particular version is tricky to locate.

Normally you can just hit their site and you will be directed to download the correct version for your system.  Unfortunately the 32 bit version for Windows is what is presented.

If you would like to get the Windows 64 bit version (or any number of other different or older versions), try starting with this page.  Once on that page you can follow a selection tree to get to the version you are after.  For the Windows version you would first click Windows, then click the latest version number, and finally choose 64 bit from the “Architecture” drop-down menu and click the “Free Download for Windows” button.

That’s it.  You can thank me later.


Java Applet Failure in Accellion Product

We run a product, not too dissimilar from Dropbox, for sharing large files across company lines.  Our product is made by Accellion and it works pretty well all things considered.

Recently we ran into troubles with the Large File Uploader.  This is a technology for uploading larger files (above 2 GB, I believe) into the system.  Small files were working fine but for the Large File Uploader the “Choose File/Folder” button was remaining grayed.  Though this behavior was consistent across platforms it was only happening on certain machines.

Playing around with different browsers gave me some clues.  Opera with plugins disabled and JavaScript turned off it would give the same experience as the other browsers (the needed button being grayed-out).  However, once I enabled JavaScript (for that site) and enabled plugins (using plugins on demand also failed silently) I finally saw there was a missing plugin.  (Other browsers were not indicating there was a missing plugin.)

Turns out the plugin wasn’t technically missing.  You must also enable plugins in Java Preferences.  Here are both the Windows and Mac Java Preferences dialogs.

Java Preferences (Windows)
Java Preferences (Windows)
Java Preferences (Mac)
Java Preferences (Mac)

After fixing that, try visiting that page again and you (finally!) get something useful.

Security Dialog
Security Dialog



Archiving in the Land of On-Line Archives with Outlook


Back when Outlook used to require users to keep archived mail locally—you know, back when hard drives were small—there was a useful feature for automatically archiving mail along definable parameters (like age and size and so forth).  Now that storage space is in many respects limitless Microsoft has caught up and allowed greater storage on the server-side for archived mail.

Here at Pop we, upon request, allow users access to their very own on-line archive.  The advantage of an on-line archive over the old-style local archive are significant: you have access to the archive from anywhere you have access to your regular inbox.  However, there is a price to be paid.  For whatever reason, once the on-line archive has been activated for a user Outlook no longer displays any mention of the auto-archiving features and functionality.  The menu items are not merely grayed-out; they are gone from the menus completely.  It’s like double-think.


Anyway, I have written this page as a helpful guide for users looking to automate at least some aspects of the archiving process using their on-line archive.  The sleek auto-archiving features are gone, so we’ll have to make-do with a clever deployment of rules.

These rules will run client-side (within Outlook) and thus can only be run while using Outlook.  (The mail archived using the rules would subsequently be accessible from Outlook Web Access, but there is currently no way to run these rules from OWA.)

Let’s take a look at some options for creating rules.

What to do?

It is not currently possible to get the same functionality from a rule as was previously available through the Auto-Archive features, so we’ll try to get as close as currently possible.

Under the HOME tab in Outlook’s Ribbon you’ll find a Rules drop-down.

Choose “Manage Rules & Alerts…“.  This will bring up a list of your current rules (if any).

If you have not already done so, please create a new rule to get started (using the “New Rule…” button near the upper-left).

(If you already created a rule for archiving and are just here to run it again, pull up that rule for editing and skip to The Next Section.)

Since there is no template for our purpose, we’ll just hit Next.

Under the area called “Step 1” locate the check box for “received in a specific date span” and check it.  (Uncheck all others.)

Note that “Step 2” remains the same for configuring your rule.  This will be important for subsequent runnings of this rule.

The next line should already read “move it to the specified folder” and then “and stop processing more rules“, so from here we can simply configure our rule for archiving into your On-Line Archive.

The Next Section

If you click on “in a specific date span” you will get a small dialog for choosing a date range.

Check “Before:” and select a date (presumably one month before today) before which you’d like to move messages into your archive.

Click OK.

Now, click on “specified” (within “move it to a specified folder“) and you will encounter a folder selection dialog.

Scroll down and find your Online Archive.  I recommend creating a folder for each year in your archive (2012, 2013, &c) and simply move all old message into the appropriate year.  Either create a folder or select a folder within your On-Line Archive.

(At this point Outlook may try to sneak in a check box for “on this computer only”; you may and probably should uncheck that.)

(If you are planning on duplicating your folder hierarchy in your archive, you will want to select the specific folder you are archiving from your inbox.  Below I will advocate for a flat hierarchy (no sub-folders) in your archive which has substantial advantages.)

Next > Next > Next > will get you to the last page of wizard dialog.  Now the dialog changes a bit.

  • Step 1 shows your name field for the rule (call it Archiving Rule or similar).
  • Step 2 shows options and you will want to uncheck “Turn on this rule“.
  • Step 3 shows the parameters you just configured for your rule.

Click Finish.

Now you should be back at your list of rules.  Double-check that your newly created Archive Rule is unchecked.

Run, Rule, Run

Go ahead and click the “Run Rules Now…” button.

You are now confronted with a dialog for manually running rules.

Check only your Archive Rule.

Note that you can select the folder upon which to run this rule by browsing at “Run in Folder:“.  Running your rule against your Inbox is usual.  (Selecting “Include subfolders” streamlines the process of flattening your hierarchy into your single annual archive folder.  I recommend you checkInclude subfolers“.)

You may want to “Apply rules to:” “Read Messages“, but the default of “All Messages” will typically be appropriate.

Now it’s time.  Run Now.

A Flat Hierarchy

Many of us use subfolders beneath our Inbox.  Some of us even us deep paths of subfolders in complex and organized hierarchies.  However, I recommend using a simple and as flat as possible hierarchy in your On-Line Archive.

There are some values gained from doing this which make the loss of organization insignificant.

Outlook didn’t used to have a very decent search algorithm, but that’s changed as Microsoft tries to compete with Google.  And we benefit.  The searching of the On-Line Archive is quick and efficient; however and for whatever reason, search in the archive cannot search through subfolders.

So, if you use a flat hierarchy you search through everything by searching in that folder.  If you have a complex hierarchy within your archive you must search one folder at a time.

Simple Nearly Flat Hierarchy
Simple Nearly Flat Hierarchy

Keeping your folders clean like this above example will also keep your happy smile clean!


Private Meetings Not So Private?

One of my users reported that when they created a private meeting in a conference room using Outlook, the meeting was private for all users invited but public in the calendar for that room.  Obviously that’s not very private.

What was Exchange doing?

I poked around.  I asked around.  Everything seemed to point in the same direction: if you share the resource calendar you should expect a lack of privacy.

I did not find this to be a very satisfying response.  I will admit that an unsatisfying response can still be valid, but I wanted to keep poking this one to see if I could get it to twitch.

My friend, NizeKing (yes, the graffiti artist turned IT professional), discovered a setting that might be useful.

Private... Not!
Private... Not!

So, uncheck that and (like magic!) private meetings remain private even in the resource calendars.

Fun, right?


What Happened to the Propagation of Dates in Project?

I had a user who was suddenly unable to interact with a Microsoft Project file and expect the reliant dates and times to change according to parent changes.  In other words, there were project dates (or times) which relied upon previous dates (or times) within the project file.  (The project start date is a good example of a potentially relied-upon date.)

We started small but by the end had taken pretty extreme measures to correct the matter.  Since I don’t use Project I am somewhat reliant upon the users who do to help me understand how their application is supposed to function.

First I ran a Repair using the Project installer.  That completed successfully but made no difference in the user’s ability to propagate dates through the project.

Then I tried removing and re-installing Project.  This also did nothing.

Finally I pulled out the big guns and used Revo Uninstaller to completely gut-out Project (Advanced mode; removed all Registry entries; removed all related files).  Since Project is remarkably intermangled with Office and Visio, I gutted those as well.

I made sure the machine and all its applications were all up to date, and reinstalled Office (then service pack one), Visio, and Project.  Again, I ran all available updates.

And fuck me with a cactus if it didn’t have exactly the same effect: nada.

Damn it.

We had a quick drink and contemplated the problem.

No other user seemed to be effected.  This user could move to a common machine and there could make said changes propagate.  It has to be this user; it has to be this machine.

Turns out there is a setting which allows you to disable what’s called Auto Scheduling.  Once Auto Scheduling was re-enabled (as it is by default) the propagations started working as expected.

You can read the Microsoft knowledge base article here (KB 312379).  That should help anyone else solve the problem, and hopefully my colorful description will help you find this solution through your favorite search provider.

Have fun with that.


Create a New OU with ADManager

Our helpdesk uses ADManager as a tool for making Active Directory changes.  Though it is slower than accessing AD directly, it’s a pretty robust tool and it’s reasonably intuitive in most cases.  However, I needed to create a new Organizational Unit in AD and simply poking around didn’t turn up the solution.

Well, that’s because this particular step is decidedly unintuitive.

For your edification (and my memory) I present here the easy steps to accomplish this mild feat.

  1. Drop back to the ADManager dashboard by clicking the ADMgmt tab near the top of the page.
  2. Click on the “Create Single User” link (under “User Creation”).
  3. Near the bottom you will see a field for “Container:”; to its right click the “[Change]” link.
  4. Select your preferred parent OU in the main section, then click on the “Create New OU” link (near the top and to the right of the “Selected Container:” field).
  5. Enter the “Name:” in the small pop-up dialog.
  6. Then it’s the Create and Ok buttons to get that done.
  7. You can leave the unused Create Single User page as it was just a patsy.


Hope that helps you.


Undelay Typing in Office 2013

My team at work has been using Office 2013 for some time now.  We’re vetting it for use company-wide I guess.  I’ve already written about how ugly it is here, but now I’d like to write about a more pressing concern.  They have instituted a typing delay which, though slight, has been driving me absolutely nuts.

I touch type and I’ve been doing a long time and am thus pretty fast.  For a slower typist or a pecking typist this delay is likely not noticeable.  But for folks like me it’s intolerable.

I have found this article which discusses the solution.  It, as you may have guessed, requires a registry hack.  That being said, proceed at your own caution.

They provide both registry keys for download or the manual method for making the necessary change.

Finally: liberation.



Oh, My Darling! Musica!

Well, Clementine has been around for a little while by now.  It’s based on an earlier version of Amarok and it’s available for Mac, Windows, and Linux.  Since I advocate for Ubuntu I’ll give you the short version of how to install it for Ubuntu.  (Unless stated otherwise my instructions should function for all three platforms.)

For Mac and Windows users, head on over and download Clementine.

Ok, Ubunters, grab your terminal because you’ll enter a couple of commands to make this quick and painless installation.  (This works for 10.04 through 13.10.)

(As of 14.04 Clementine is included the repositories and you needn’t add David’s repository.  Thus you may skip the first command below.  However, if you want the most current version do  add the repository since the version in the standard repositories can be slightly stale.  The current standard version will not support the mobile remote control application as an example.  I add the respository below.)

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:me-davidsansome/clementine
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install clementine

Once this repository is added and running, you’ll get your updates through your usual updates channel so this is my preferred method.  (The repository currently throws errors in 13.04 beta but they can be ignored. This has been fixed.)

It has a fairly comprehensive Preferences dialog so feel free to poke around in there, see what’s what, and try some of the features.

I don’t use Internet music sources, but it supports a good host of them for those of you who do (from Spotify to Last.FM and all points hither and yon).

This is also a great way to get simultaneous FLAC and library support on the Mac and on Windows.  (You can get limited FLAC support in iTunes on the Mac but it’s a bit of a pain in the ass.  Here is that article.  And you can get a FLAC plugin for Windows Media Player but why bother?)

One quirk with Clementine (and also previously with Amarok) is that it’s not obvious how to just play from all of your music.

Firstly, you open it and you have no content.  You’ll have to navigate to Tools —> Preferences —> General —> Music Library and click the “Add new folder…” button to add a folder location.  I just add my Music folder (and add shortcuts into my Music folder for any additional locations).  This page in Preferences also houses the word list for album cover art.  Separate each word with a comma.

Ok, so it will scan your collection now that you’ve added a folder location (and you can manually force a scan as well).  Once that finishes you will see a column of artists with sub-directories for albums. But how do you play everything?  If you open the Smart Playlists folder at the top you’ll see one called All tracks.  Not complicated but not necessarily obvious.

I use a black background with yellow lettering, and I have Clementine display the album art behind the semi-transparent playlist.  It’s pretty cool looking.  Both of these settings can be found at Tools —> Preferences —> User Interface —> Appearance.

(If your version of Clementine on Ubuntu doesn’t have an Appearance tab—and I think that is limited to 12.04—you can make adjustments using qtconfig after installing the package qt4-qtconfig.  You can install this by issuing the command sudo apt-get install qt4-config.  You can run it from your terminal by typing qtconfig.)

It’s really well integrated into the latest Ubuntu.  Clementine (and Rhythmbox) are located conveniently in the Volume drop-down.  Very clean and very quick to respond (for both of them).

While Clementine is running it will change the color of it’s icon as the song progresses (this may need to be enabled to take effect).

The folks over at OMG!Ubuntu! have many articles covering Clementine for those interested in such things.

There is a lot more that could be said about Clementine but this ought to be enough to get you started.

Have fun with that.