Apr 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.

Apr 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:

Apr 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!

Apr 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.

Apr 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!

Apr 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!

Apr 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.

Apr 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 Moodle.org 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: http://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=56358

Apr 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!

Apr 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!

Apr 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.

Apr 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.

Apr 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.

Windows Moodle Email STARTTLS error - fixed!


The Windows Moodle package is a great, easy way to get Moodle up and running on a Windows machine. The downside? Setting up email is a pain in the rump.  It didn't have to be.

The problem we had was one where the SMTP server would respond with "STARTTLS" errors.  I spent a LOT of time editing my sendmail.ini file (and even installed the latest sendmail for Windows).  Nothing would cure the problem.

I started poking around the Moodle forums, and while they are generally helpful for many things, the STARTTLS error is not one of them.  However, *nix forums ARE helpful.. sorta.

In the Moodle directory on your Windows server, you need to edit the class.phpmailer.php file *in addition* to setting up sendmail as your mailer. Why? Who the heck knows.  In any case, here is what is working for us, so I hope it helps you!

   Site Administration > Plugins > Message Outputs > EMAIL
   Type your SMTP host, username, password as needed (you NEED the SMTP host, the others may be optional based on YOUR mail handler/mail host. Google requires it)
   Type noreply@yourdomain.com for the no-reply address.  Substitute your REALY domain for the "yourdomain" part there!
   Download the latest SENDMAIL to your Moodle server and unzip it to X:\moodle\server\sendmail (substitute the actual driver letter for X there!)
   On your server, go to your X:\moodle\server\sendmail folder
   EDIT the sendmail.ini file:
       smtp_port=25 (usually leave this as is)
       smtp_ssl=auto (could specify TLS here)
   Navigate to X:\moodle\server\moodle\lib\phpmailer on your server (again, substitue your actual location for X)
   EDIT the class.phpmailer.php file (use WordPad)
   A few lines down, edit the "SMTPSecure" line:
       public $SMTPSecure = 'tls';
   Navigate to X:\moodle\server\php
   EDIT the php.ini file:
       SMTP = yourmailserver.com
       smtp_port = 25
       sendmail_from = valid.user@yourdomain.com
       sendmail_path = "X:\moodle\server\sendmail\sendmail.exe -t"
   SAVE the file.
Once you have done these, you need to STOP MOODLE then START MOODLE in order for the system to take the changes.
Moodle email may not run by itself.  You can use Task Scheduler in order to call the CRON.PHP page in your Moodle environment. Or you can use MoodleCron for Windows. Very easy to use!
NOTE: Use at your own risk. This worked for me. I hope it works for you, but I will not be held liable for anything that goes wrong with your server/environment/etc.
NOTE: The above steps may be a bit of overkill.  Some steps may not be required in order to get email working in Moodle. I have not gone back to determine just which step(s) worked.  Once it was fixed, I didn't break it again.

Decipher an unknown text file with Wintext

I had a user with a file that had a WPD extension. Normally, this would be a WordPerfect file that could easily be opened in Microsoft Office or Open Office or a myriad of other programs.  Nothing worked.  Instead, all we got was jibberish.  I even tried zamzar.com to convert it to Word, and that produced garbage.

After searching the net, I found a program called "Wintext!"  Wintext will take ANY file and extract any viable text from it.  With that program, I was able to pull out the text the user needed.

The file can be had from here:

Open .pages file in Windows or without Mac Pages!

I encountered a few .pages files that were created on a Mac.
I am using a PC and my MacBook doesn't have Pages on it, so I was a bit stumped as to what to do (short of asking the author to export them as PDF).
Instead, here is a solution:
change the extension to .ZIP and open the files with Winzip or whatever.  Inside there, you will find a folder called "QuickLook." Inside Quicklook, you will find a PDF of the .pages document! Bingo!  Copy and paste the content, and you should be good to go.

Work Life: Awesome Links for Custom Install Disks

November 30, 2012
I really enjoy deployment in the enterprise environment and also making the perfect Install disk for my home computers. I don't like wasting time with installation. I want to start it up and walk away.
With all MS Service Packs and hotfixes, Microsoft has made it possible to slipstream them into installation disks which is a great thing. It really cuts down on the time having to babysit the computer to do updates (if you don't have WSUS). Well, as time goes on and more patches being released, it is really time consuming keeping up with all of them and also time consuming running each one in slipstream mode.
Along came Ntlite and RyanVM. Nlite is the most awesome Installation Customization tool. I have used quite a bit of them but this one is probably the best. It will let you do pretty much anything. And the other godsend is RyanVM who is a guy that has been keeping up with all of the patches that are post SP2.
Winnaddons is probably the most amazing set of programs that you can integrate into your installation disk. These add-ons allow you to have programs automatically installed for you during the installation of windows. It will take some time to go through the list but I guarantee that you will find programs that you will want to install right away and programs that you will want to integrate into your installation of Windows.
RyanVM also has some add-ons to download.
Nlite has a General Usage Guide up. It is old but it will get you started.
RyansVM's Forums has some interesting stuff.
And the best link ever for windows users, admins, and techies: http://www.msfn.org/ Peruse the forums and you will get more then you will ever have time for.
Best Practices 
Some things that I have learned:
Make sure that you have a copy of Windows XP with SP2 that is in your license notebook. You can create your own slipstreamed copy of Windows XP with SP2, but I have run into issues doing it that way. Some things don't get upgraded when you slipstream SP2 into the Windows Gold disk. It is better to start with the 'real' version of Windows XP with SP2.
Test these in Virtual PC 2007 before using of course.
You will not be able to use these disks when you create your Images for Windows Deployment Services. I haven't found out why, but it just doesn't work. So until SP3 comes out your WDS solutions will suffer unless you have the patience to download all the critical hotfixes and slipstream them yourself or unless you have an awesome script to do it for you. I have neither, but we use WSUS and it gets the job done pretty quickly without any intervention
Stay as organized as possible. It is easy to get jumbled up with all the files that you will be using.
Stay simple at first and then get more daring. It is easy to do all that work and testing only to have the machine blue screen on you.
(Matthew Johnson)