Saturday, May 05, 2018

People sending you .HCR files you can't open!?

.HCR files are usually created with Broderbund's PrintMaster program.  Here's the kick - you generally have to go to your local mega retailer and buy the program to open the card the other person made for you.

Now, personally, I'd email the person back and tell them to export it as a JPG or something useful.  But, for those that want to see the 'read deal,' here is a solution we came across: A FREE VERSION!

Friday, May 04, 2018

Powerpoint Slideshow a “No Go”

We had a user with an automatically-playing Powerpoint slideshow that wouldn't automatically play. It also would not manually play. That's right, the first slide would come up and that was as far as one could get.

You could start the show on ANY slide and it would only display THAT slide. It took us a while to figure out, but we eventually stumbled upon the culprit:

The user had selected BOTH the "Browsed at kiosk" *and* "Advance slides manually" options.
In effect, Powerpoint was told to run fullscreen in a mode that prevented user interaction. At the same time, the program was told to advance the slides using ONLY user interaction.
The fix was simple: As shown above, use the "Presenter (Full Screen)" and "Use timings" options were selected and the show ran without a hitch.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

PDF shows only grey boxes instead of pictures

An ongoing issue with PDFs lately revolve around certain PDFs showing grey placeholders instead of actual images.  I have read all kinds of solutions to this, changing all kinds of settings.  Some of those changes would work, some wouldn't.  After it happened to me again, I thought I would try to find a different solution than what I had been doing (namely, changing the Internet options within Adobe Reader and/or Acrobat Pro).

A little poking around, and I found what seems to be the most viable solution yet:


The setting is about halfway down the "Documents" screen and is most likely currently set to "Never."  Click the drop-down for that and change it to ALWAYS.  After that, EVERY grey-boxed PDF I have opened has show the images! Wahoo!

UPDATE/EDIT (10/28/10) - Several folks have reported not having an "ALWAYS" option.  I am checking into this and will hopefully have a solution soon!

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Outlook Web Access and a "hidden" Navigation Pane

We had a user that opened up Outlook Web Access and all she could see was her Inbox.  She could use the drop-down to change folders, but the Navigation Pane was gone.

I searched the Internet for a solution and several suggested deleting a hidden message in the user's inbox.

Turns out the solution to our problem was much simpler.

The user's desktop shortcut to her OWA pointed to the actual INBOX and not to the OWA main login page.

So, if you have a user that can't find the Navigation Pane, check the shortcut on their desktop first.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Network path in the command prompt

I spend a lot of time at the command prompt in Windows. I'm an old DOS guy, and frankly some things are easier at the command line than they are clicking and dragging things all over the place. While poking around the 'net, I came across a very helpful tip that will show you the UNC (\\server\directory) of the mapped network drive you are currently browsing. At the command prompt, type:
prompt $m$_$p$g
The $m echoes the Uniform Naming Convention (UNC) name of the drive letter that the command prompt currently displays;
the $_ inserts a carriage return and a line feed;
and $p$g are the standard drive and pathname with the greater-than symbol (>). This command caused the system to display the UNC name of network drives.
To make this change stick on a Win2K/XP system, you must modify/create an environment variable.
You do this by going to Control Panel, then System, then Advanced. From there, click the Environment Variables button, create a system variable named prompt, and set its value to $m$_$p$g. This will make the setting permanently display the remote network path every time you open a command prompt.

Monday, April 30, 2018

RichCopy: Microsoft’s File Copy Gem

Microsoft had (or maybe still has) a command line utility called "RoboCopy" that would copy files and folders, retaining their permissions (within same domain/workgroup).

That has been replaced (some time ago actually) by a program called "RichCopy." It used to be an internal Microsoft program, but they released to the general public some time ago. I just came across it and thought I would share!

The program first needs to be put into Advanced Mode. Do this by clicking VIEW > ADVANCED.

After that, click the little gear to check out the settings:

The main area that most techie folks will want to explore is "File attributes, Error Handling" because that is where you can set the security/permissions settings. But, notice on this screen above, there is an option for "Directory Copy: 3." This indicates the number of threads that the program will use during the copying process! Yes, that's right, whatever number you specify in there, that's how many different files can be copied at the same time! Well, at least how many can be copying at the same time. For example, if you are copying 2,000 files and you specify "10" in the box, it will start to copy 10 files. If some of those files are large, then the program continues to copy those (using up a thread for each file) but will keep copying with any available threads! This beats the tar out of copying one file at a time! In my case, I had several 400MB files that started, all the while the program plugged away at the smaller files it was encountering. Theoretically, you could have 10 threads all running with a large file copying in each one. I ran into that on my own server. But, it did not take long to muscle through those and pick up copying smaller files at a flying pace.
The program is available from Microsoft: HERE!
Just run the EXE which will extract several files into a folder on your hard drive called "c:\HoffmanUtilitySpotlight" and in there, you run SETUP. Easy peasy.
I also turned off some of the errors that would stop the copying. If the program ran into a file that it couldn't copy, for example, I just wanted it to keep on truckin. I would deal with rogue files later.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

IP Printing from a Mac

If you are trying to print to an IP-based print server, you may need to specify the port in addition to the IP address. In the box for the address, add a colon followed by the port number. In many cases, the port is 9100, so your address line would look like:

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Internet Explorer Goes Nowhere

We had a user who could check email and do other network-related activities, but could not use Internet Explorer to do anything through a browser.
After much searching, I found the culprit:

In the TOOLS > INTERNET OPTIONS > CONNECTIONS > LAN SETTINGS section, the "Proxy Server" settings were set as shown above. Basically, the system was set up to us a proxy with no address.
How did this happen? The machine had been hit by malware. Once the malware was removed, this setting popped up as part of the "fix." If you are a tech, you may see this happen after cleaning a machine. Always check your browser to make sure you can get online following such a clean-up. If the machine cannot access web pages, check here!

Friday, April 27, 2018

Install Vinelands-II on Windows 7 (or later)

To install on Vista/Windows 7:
1. COPY the Vineland-II folder to the local computer.
2. RIGHT-CLICK "Setup" and choose Properties
3. Choose the Compatibility tab
4. Select "Windows XP Service Pack 3"
As a side note: You will know you are not installing it correctly if the location reflects the user path instead of the "C:\Program Files..." path.  If you do *NOT* see the "Program Files" path during setup, quit the install and follow the steps above.  You may also have to TURN OFF the User Account Controls in order for the program to function properly.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Find your UNREAD mail in GMail or Google Apps

If you want to pull up just your UNREAD messages, you can do a search for is:unread in the seach box at the top of your email screen.  This also works inside specific labels, too!  For me, the easiet way to find unread mail inside a label is to click on the label first, then add the is:unread to the search box.  When you click on the label, you will notice that the search box changes to:  label:labelname. So, to see unread messages in that label, your search box would look something this:

label:Sales is:unread

Notice the SPACE between the label and "is:unread."  Then just click "Search Mail" and it will pull up the unread messages in that label category! Wahoo!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Active Directory Integrity and Repair

One of my area schools was having strange problems - some users could not log in, some users got logged in but could not access their redirected home folders, and some users were prompted multiple times while trying to open Outlook.

I reotely checked a few things on the server and it appeared the Active Directory, File Replication, and Exchange systems had gone a bit haywire (the word I usually use here is "wonky").

Here is a timeline of what I did:

9:20a - Searched for steps to test AD database integrity and repair.  Found the following:
   Boot the server(s) to Directory Service Recovery Mode (DSRM)
   In Windows\System32, run NTDSUTIL
       Type FILES, hit ENTER
       Type INTEGRITY, hit ENTER
       If needed, RECOVER
       Type QUIT to get back one menu
       Type GO FIXUP
       If needed, use COMPACT TO to defrag
9:28a - Shut down DC2 for DSRM
9:28a - While waiting for the server to shut down, I looked up info for checking/repairing Exchange.  When I booted to DSRM, the integrity check came back normal for AD, which was not the same result I had received while remoted in. That is not really surprising.  I found a registry entry for "WaitForNetwork" and added that for good measure.  I also issued a "DFSUTIL /PurgeMupCache" command.
10:05a - Rebooted the server
10:10a - Checked DC2 and found a LOT of ENV ERRORS in the Event Log.  i noticed the time was way off from the other server so I reset the time to match DC.  The server actually passed the integrity tests and Semanitc DB Analysis.  I added the "WaitForNetwork" registry entry and issues the Mup-clearing command.
10:40a - Rebooted DC2
10:30a (while tests ran on DC2) - Started  a defrag on the Exchange Store.
   Stop the Information Store
   Use ESEUTIL to make sure shutdown was clean
   Set the defrag command to create new files, just in case.
10:35a - For grins, I ran GPUPDATE on each server and a nearby workstation.
10:37a - File Replication Services reported that FRS "is no longer preventing the computer (DC2) from becoming a Domain Controller."  I took that as VERY good news.
On DC2, I reinstalled "Help & Support" per MSDN article (KB937055) since "Help Service" was not installed.
11:40a - Defrag of PRIV1.EDB was at 68% and I had not started PUB1.EDB yet! Yikes!
11:48a - PRIV1 done after 4223 seconds. Ran the defrag on PUB1, and it completed in 9 seconds.
I renamed the PUB1/PRIV1 files to something else, then renamed the temp PRIV/PUB files to PRIV1/PUB1 respectively.  I then moved the old files to another server for safekeeping.  Will delete those later as long as everything works!
We tested several users, specifically those having various troubles with logins, documents, etc.  Everything checked out fine!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Mac OS X Boot to Single-User Mode USB Keyboard

I had to boot one of our iMacs into Single-User mode using the Command-S during start-up.  The problem is that the (ahem) Mac wouldn't recognize the keyboard (a Mac keyboard no less) until the system booted. 
Resolution: Dell USB keyboard. At the login prompt, I told the Mac what kind of keyboard I had (it's a wizrd that came up automatically) then rebooted.  Instead of COMMAND, though, I had to hold the WINDOWS key.  Make a note of that.  So, boot with WindowsKey-S and that will take you to single-user mode.  Hope this helps someone.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Force Moodle to show course descriptions

We ran into an issue where course descriptions were no longer displayed if the number of courses in any given category reached 10.
I tried playing with various settings, and nothing worked. Supposedly, this is an option in Moodle 2.2. As of this writing, we are running 2.1.2. My fix came from a post I found on the site, dated 2006! And, THIS worked perfectly:

Thanks for this link, as it has also helped us to 'force' the Course Description display.
In our system, increasing COURSE_MAX_SUMMARIES_PER_PAGE from 10 to 25 in /course/lib.php did the trick i.e.
//define('COURSE_MAX_SUMMARIES_PER_PAGE', 10); // courses
define('COURSE_MAX_SUMMARIES_PER_PAGE', 25); // courses
Geoff (Rowland)
Moodle forum link:

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Create your own distribution lists in Google Apps/GMail

To create your own distribution list in Google Apps/GMail:
  • Click "Contacts" at the top of the page.
  • Click the "+" on the picture of the TWO people (located beneath the words "Google apps" on left, above "My Contacts")
  • Type the name of the distribution list (ex: School Techs)
  • Next, click on "All Contacts" on left
  • Check each person you want in your new list (you can select multiple people, just check each box)
  • With the people selected, on the RIGHT, click the drop-down under "Groups"
  • Under the "Add to..." section, click the name of your newly created group
After a moment, you will see the number on the left change from "0" to the number of people you selected
*** Repeat the above steps for each distribution list you want to create. ***
Now, you have to SIGN OUT and sign back in to send mail to the groups.  It's weird, I know.
When you go back to MAIL and select "Compose Mail," as you start to type the name of your group, it should show up in the auto-complete drop-down. Just select the group and you're golden!

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Cannot print from Windows in parallels

Are you having trouble printing from Windows inside Parallels on a Mac?  This might solve the problem:
First, make sure Parallels has installed the printer in Windows.  If not, then you will need to run the installation software for your printer.
If you've installed the software, but still can't print, you may need to force Parallels to play nice.  In some cases, you can simply use the "Devices" menu at the top of the Parallels window.  Inside, choose USB and force it to Windows.
That did not work for me, for whatever reason.  But, what DID work was to put Parallels in Windowed mode, then find the USB icon (shown below):
Click the USB icon and force the printer to use Windows.  Now, this means you cannot print from the Mac-side while running Parallels, but at least your computer should now be able to print from Windows!

Friday, April 20, 2018

Connect your Mac to a Windows Share

If you are having trouble getting your Mac to see a particular server or share on your network, you might want to first check your DNS server(s) if you are running them. If you are not running a local DNS server, and you cannot access your shares, you can try this: In Finder, choose GO then Connect to Server... At that point, enter the IP address of the server preceded by smb:// first. Example: smb:// When you then Connect, you will be prompted to supply a valid username and password for the server. Once proper credentials are supplied, you should then see a list of shared folders. From there, choose the folder you wish to see and then you should be able to open, copy, etc.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Windows screen upside-down or sideways?

If you suddenly find yourself looking at your desktop sideways or it is upside down, chances are you've run into a "feature" built-in to several graphics card software.

The easy fix is to hold CTRL-ALT and while holding those, press one of the directional arrow keys on your keyboard.  Here is a list of commands anf their results:

CTRL-ALT-UP ARROW = Upside-right/Normal screen
CTRL-ALT-DOWN ARROW = Upside-down screen
CTRL-ALT-RIGHT ARROW = Screen turned on it's side to right
CTRL-ALT-LEFT ARROWN = Screen turned on it's side to left

Note: You do not have to cycle through these!  Simply press CTRL-ALT-UP and your screen will return to normal, regardless of its current state.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Work Life: Make your GMail act like Outlook with Labels, Filters, and Archive

Is your GMail Inbox overloaded with messages?  Have you tried using labels for your mail, but you find yourself buries in a cluttered Inbox anyway?  Here is one way to keep that Inbox clean without missing mail!

By using labels, filters, and the Archive feature in GMail, you can keep your Inbox looking neat and keep your messages organized the way Outlook does!  It's like creating folders and rules!
   find a message that you wish to apply this.  For example, a message from your boss.
   click the checkbox to the LEFT of the message.
   click the drop-down menu named "More actions"
   choose "Filter messages like these".  The "From:" should have your boss' email address filled in
   Click "Test Search" to make sure it only pulls messages from your boss
   Click "Next step"
   Check the "Skip Inbox" box
   Check the "Apply the label..." box, then in the drop-down select an existing label or create a new one.  In GMail, "labels" can be used like folders in Outlook.
DO **NOT** create the filter yet!!
   Select the checkbox for "Also apply filter to XX messages"
   NOW, you can click the "Create Filter" button.
After a few moments (depending on how many messages this filter applies to), you will see a "Filter Created" message and then you will be returned to your Inbox.

Your boss' messages should be gone!!  Oh no! Where'd they go!?  Look on the left!  See the label you just created?  Click that, and you will see your boss' messages!

** Repeat the above steps for each type of messages you want to act like folders/rules. **

NOTE: You may have to play with some of the fields to get the results you want.  For example, you may have to use the actual name of a listserv instead of the email address the messages come from.  You can use any one or multiple fields in the filter creation section to narrow down the results.

Also note, I would only apply *ONE* label to any messages that I am putting through this procedure.  I have no idea what happens if you try to archive with multiple labels.  My gut tells me you would just have multiple ways to pull up the archived messages (like putting them into multiple folders), but I don't know that and I haven't tried it.  Worst-case scenario is that if it doesn't work the way you want, you can always MANAGE FILTERS to edit or delete a filter you created.

Remove WiFi from Dell Control Point on Dell Laptops

I prefer to use Windows Wireless Configuration, and cannot stand third-party apps trying to muscle in on my WiFi.

Dell laptops ship with a beastl;y application called "Control Point" that tries to take over all your connections.  Well, here is how you get control of your computer once again:

Start >> Dell Control Point >> connection manager >> profiles >> change settings >> program settings >> uncheck ALL of the available technologies boxes
That will allow you to use the Windows Wireless Configuration tool, as it should be!

SuccessMaker asks for CD to be inserted

I ran into a situation where SuccessMaker would allow the students to log in but when they wanted to use one of the installed apps, the program would prompt for the CD.  The school is running the Enterprise Edition of the software, so all apps are running from the server and do not require CDs.

The culprit turned out to be a drive mapping issue.  Make sure that the drive you use for SuccessMaker is MAPPED and not just pointing via UNC.  Also, make sure that the drive is mapped in the appropriate login script, so you will not have to map it on each machine manually.

Switch between built-in sound and Smart Board sound

I had a user that needed to switch between a headset for Skyping and the audio on the Smart Board.  While there is not a simple one-click solution that I know, changing the settings is not TOO bad:

In Control Panel, Audio/Sound:

On the "Audio" tab, there should be a drop-down under "Default Device."  The default is usually "USB Audio Device," which is the Smart Board.

Click the drop-down and choose the built-in audio instead (in this case, "Realtek HD Audio Output").

Click "APPLY" then "OK" and close out any Control Panel windows.

Sounds will now play through the "green" plug in the back of the computer.  To swicth back, return to Control Panel and change the "Audio" device back to the USB Audio.

Hope this helps!

Turn off "Conversation View" in Google Apps

Are you losing messages because GMail likes to keep things together by conversation (mail subject)?  Well, here is how you can fix that in Google Apps:
   Log in to your Google Apps GMail account
   Click the "gear" in the upper right corner
   Click "Mail Settings"
   In the 6th section down, you should see "Conversation View:"
   Change it to "Conversation View Off"
   Scroll to the bottom of the page and click "SAVE SETTINGS"

User cannot delete offline folder in My Documents

Problem Description and explanation:

User's laptop had accidentally shut off the wireless adapter.  Wireless adpater has hardware switch on side of laptop.

Tech engaged the adapter, user connected, but still got the error.  User logged off and logged back in, but still could not delete folder.

Files were deleting, but not going to recycle bin.

Problem "fix:"

Rebooted machine and everything was fine.  Evidently, turning on the adapter was not enough, must perform complete system reboot.