iPad @ Verizon = Fail

Engadget is reporting that Verizon will be offering the iPad for sale at the end of this month.  The only problem is that it’s not a 3G CDMA iPad.  It’s the WiFi iPad bundled with a MiFi wireless hotspot device.  What this means is that you’ll need to lug around your iPad AND MiFi, need to charge two devices, etc.  This is a step in the right direction, but quite frankly, seems like a solution that a tech-geek (such as myself) would hack together if they had a limited budget or couldn’t switch to AT&T.  This is certainly not an ideal solution.  Will Verizon get the iPhone in 2011 (and possibly a true CDMA iPad, as well), like many news outlets have been reporting?  Only time will tell.  Like I’ve said whenever someone brings the VZW iPhone up: “I’ll believe it when I see it”.

Source: Engadget

Trouble Installing Exchange 2010 SP1 Update Rollup 1?

I had some issues installing Exchange 2010 SP1 Update Rollup 1 (KB2407028), and have had this same issue with other Exchange 2010 updates.  I keep forgetting about this before installing updates.  If you have defined an ExecutionPolicy for PowerShell, it screws up the update and gives an error 1603, even if you have selected to allow all scripts.  See this link for the fix.  Basically, just set the PowerShell ExecutionPolicy to “Not Configured”, force a Group Policy update, install the update, then put your original ExecutionPolicy back in place.  Unfortunately, if the update attempts to install and is unsuccessful, you’re left with all of your Exchange services disabled.  Once you successfully install the update, you need to go in and manually enable all of the Exchange services.  PITA, but at least X is back up.

EDIT: After installing the update as described above, I discovered the next day that my OWA wasn’t working.  I finally came across a forum post from a regarding a previous Exchange update that caused similar problems.  The solution was to re-install the update from an elevated command prompt.  I download the standalone installer for the update, right-clicked the icon for the command prompt and chose “Run As Administrator”, then dragged the update to the cmd window, which filled in the path and program info.  Then hit enter, installed the update (which went smoothly), and tested everything and it FINALLY seemed to be working.

I don’t know for a fact, since I didn’t try it, but I have a sneaking suspicion that if your services were disabled by the original installation attempt, running the standalone update as an administrator, like described above, will probably fix them.

Ubuntu 10.10 on a Dell Inspiron E1505

I’ve had plenty of bad experiences upgrading the Ubuntu machine mentioned in the title of this post to the latest version.  9.10 to 10.04 screwed up my ability to boot (I think it had something to do with upgrading GRUB).  9.04 to 9.10 messed some graphics component up (all I could see was purple).  I don’t recall any specifics of previous upgrades, but I know plenty went awry.  Having said that, I was less than optimistic about upgrading to the latest release (Meerkat).  I had just spent a number of hours over the past couple weeks customizing the system just to my liking and was really hoping I wouldn’t have to re-do this, yet again.

I prepped by downloading the Alternative Installer cd, which contains all files needed for upgrading in an ISO, since usually the Canonical servers are pretty useless on release day.  However, I attempted to upgrade using this method and my system hung at some point having to do with configuring software repositories.  I was not happy.  I rebooted (and thankfully) the system came back on normally.  I then tried to update the system via the internet.  I was alerted that a previous upgrade attempt had been incomplete so it needed to do something to correct this.  After that, I attempted to upgrade again, and (a number of hours later) the system was running Ubuntu 10.10.  I was happy to see that my wifi WAS working, which I’ve had issues with in the past.  Read more about that here.

The bottom line is, if you’re looking to upgrade an E1505 to Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat, go for it (but I recommend using the internet upgrade method rather than the alternative installer cd).

RemoteApp Dual Monitor Setup

RemoteApp is a cool feature of 2008/2008 R2 that allows a user to establish a remote session with just the application they’re working with.  Multiple applications can be used at once (on one or multiple remote servers).  This is a technology called “presentation virtualization”.  Citrix offers this capability, but Citrix is also fairly pricey.

A number of months back I set up a RemoteApp server (with the RD Web Access feature, which allows users to access RemoteApp apps from a web browser anywhere they go) for an employee who was moving but was going to still be working with the company.  I was tasked with setting her up to work remotely.  Given my miniscule budget, this was one of my only options, as a direct connection back to the office (or even an internet connection for both the remote worker’s home and the office) that was fast enough to support transferring the needed files we work with daily was just too darn expensive.

One of the things that my co-workers enjoy is the ability to use dual monitors to work more productively.  It is possible to do this with RemoteApp, as well.    There are a few requirements for this to work, however.

  1. All monitors must be the same resolution.
  2. Upper-left (or just left, if you only have two monitors) monitor must be the “primary display”.  This can be specified by going into the screen resolution settings.
  3. The total resolution (of all monitors) must not exceed 4096×2048 (4096 across by 2048 high).

I had a user today who was unable to use both of her displays for accessing the RemoteApp server.  I checked the settings listed above, and all were correct.  However, it appears that you need a certain function of the Remote Desktop Connection application (mstsc) to properly display with multiple monitors in a RemoteApp session.  For whatever reason, this user was running an outdated version of this program.  I installed KB969084 on her machine, rebooted, and mult-monitors worked like a champ.  Now to figure out why WSUS didn’t install that update automatically on her machine…

VMware ESX/ESXi–Find All Snapshots

One of the best things about virtualization is the ability to take snapshots of virtual machines while running or while powered off.  This saves countless hours spent taking backups of VM’s prior to upgrades or critical reconfigurations.  If the change causes problems, simply revert  back to the snapshot that you took beforehand.

It is best practice not to keep snapshots for an extended period of time, as delta (change) files related to the snapshot begin to grow and can become unstable at some point (I’ve had instances where my VMware server glitched out and ate up all storage space in my datastore by creating snapshot files).  This being the case, it is best to purge unneeded snapshots as soon as you’re certain you don’t need them anymore.  However, what if you have dozens or hundreds of VMs and don’t remember which ones have snapshots?  You could click on each VM and see if there are any snapshots associated with it, or you can use this technique I just discovered this morning to view all snapshots in  your datacenter.  This is only applicable to vSphere 4.0+.

Open the vSphere Client and browse to Home –> Inventory –> Hosts and Clusters (in the top navigation pane).  Select the name of your datacenter in the left-hand pane.  Click the “Storage Views” tab.  For View, select “Reports”. Ensure that “Show all Virtual Machines” is selected from the dropdown menu directly below the “Reports” button.  There should be a column that says “Snapshot Space”.  If not, right-click the title columns and select “Snapshot Space” to add that column.  Then click the “Snapshot Space” column to sort it by size.  You can ignore VMs that have a Snapshot Space of a few bytes or a few KBytes.  Look out for ones that have a few GB of Snapshot Space.  These are the VMs you need to remove snapshots from.  Picture below has key areas circled.

VMware ESX/ESXi–Choppy Mouse Movement

I use VMware ESX/ESXi on a daily basis.  While I use LogMeIn as my remote management software for all computers in my environment, the vSphere Client also provides a console view to access my VMs.  Sometimes it’s more convenient to use the vSphere console, when performing tasks like modifying settings on the fly or inserting ISO files.

The VMware Tools application that should be installed on all VMs provides a number of enhancements, including support to allow for smooth mouse movement.  However, I found that my Windows Server 2008 VMs were having very choppy mouse movements, even with the VMware Tools installed.  The solution for this is to set the hardware acceleration for the video adapter of the VM to “Full”.

To do this, open the Display Resolution settings by right-clicking on the desktop and selecting “Personalize”.  Then select “Display Settings”.   In the Display Settings window, click “Advanced Settings”, click the “Troubleshoot” tab, click “Change Settings”, then move the Hardware Acceleration slider all the way to the right, then click “Ok”.  You will be prompted to reboot.  After you reboot, your mouse movements should nice and smooth.

This only works on 2008, not 2008 R2.  Feel free to try this on previous versions of Windows if you’re having mouse issues, although this setting is usually in place by default, but it’s a confirmed bug with 2008 R2.

Trouble Installing Windows Live Essentials 2011 <Solved>

Ironically enough, I downloaded Windows Live Essentials 2011 on my work PC to write another blog post about something (that I’ll hopefully get to later).  I had a hell of a time installing WLE.  I kept receiving an error from the installer.  It said: Error 0x80070643. Source: wllogin-amd64.

I tried lots of different things to resolve this issue.  The event log was showing that the installer couldn’t register a certain DLL file.  Knowing this, I copied the needed file from my home PC and tried to manually register it.  I should have known something was off when I didn’t get a message from the regsvr32.exe program when I registered the DLL.  However, I continued on, installing, uninstalling, compatibility mode, disabling A/V, etc.

Finally, when I had just about given up, I browsed to my SysWow64 folder (I’m running Win7 x64), and looked for regsvr32.exe, the file the event log was complaining about.  I had just assumed that the DLL file the installer was trying to register was not able to be located.  I didn’t think about regsvr32.exe being missing.  However, I was surprised to find that I didn’t have regsvr32.exe in my SysWow64 folder.  Instead I had a regsvr32.exe.DEL file.  I removed a virus from my PC a few weeks back.  Perhaps that is what renamed that crucial Windows file.

I removed the .DEL extension, then removed all remnants of WLE (using Installer Cleanup Utility and manually deleting the WLE Program Files folder).  I then re-installed WLE.  It appeared to install all the way through this time, however, the event log showed information events (not errors) suggesting that the Windows Live ID Sign-In Assistant was having trouble installing (this was the component that the problematic DLL file is related to).  When I launched Writer, the splash screen would display for a few seconds, then close, and the process would end.  To fix this (once and for all), I then ran a repair install of WLE, which seems to have permanently resolved the issue.

TL;DR – Make sure the SysWow64 folder has regsvr32.exe, if you’re running Windows x64, or the System32 folder, if you’re running 32 bit.

EDIT: If you’re attempting to troubleshoot a WLE problem, it may be less time consuming to download and install the offline installer rather than using the web setup, as the program will attempt to download various components each time.  The d/l is about 155MB.  Located here: http://g.live.com/1rewlive4-all/en/wlsetup-all.exe

Outlook 2010–High CPU Usage <Solved>

I noticed yesterday that whenever I had Outlook 2010 open on my home PC that my CPU utilization was very high.  Outlook appeared to be taking up 50% of my processor.  I had no idea why it was doing this, and I wasn’t sure how long it had been doing so.  I rarely use Outlook since I manage most of my emails via my smartphone, so it could have been doing this for weeks.

I have Outlook hooked up to my Exchange server (hosted locally), plus a Gmail and a Hotmail account.  I checked my Exchange connections to see if there was anything pending, but every connection seemed to be stable.  Eventually, I selected “Work Offline”, which had no effect immediately.  However, I then closed Outlook and re-opened, and the CPU utilization seemed to be normal.  I then unchecked “Work Offline”, and immediately my CPU spiked back up (and stayed there).

Next, I started Outlook in safe mode (by executing “outlook.exe /safe” from the Run prompt).  The CPU utilization was fine.  I was then convinced that the problem was one of my many Outlook add-ins.  I proceeded to move through my list of add-ins, disabling one, restarting Outlook, checking my CPU usage, then disabling the next add-in, and so on.  I was worried when I saw there was an add-in referring to Exchange.  I was hoping this wasn’t causing the problem, since I need to be able to access my Exchange account.  However, this wasn’t the problematic component, and it turns out that add-in is only for Unified Messaging features, anyway (something I don’t use on my Exchange box).

Finally, I came to the Outlook Social Connector add-in.  This is the plug-in that allows Facebook, Linked-In, etc. to integrate with Outlook.  I was unable to disable the add-in without Outlook locking up (which was awfully suspicious), so to disable it, I exited Outlook, browsed to the file location that Outlook listed for that add-in, then renamed it to .old.  For anyone wondering, the location for me was: C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office14\SOCIALCONNECTOR.DLL.  If you’re running the 64-bit version of Outlook, or if you’re NOT running a 64-bit version of Windows, the file location would be: C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office14\SOCIALCONNECTOR.DLL.  Once I restarted Outlook my CPU utilization was normal.

Now, the Social Connector isn’t a mandatory part of Outlook for me, but it’s nice to have, so I decided to attempt to fix the issue.  First, I went into the Outlook add-ins dialog and removed the add-in.  Next, I wanted to re-install the Social Connector, but couldn’t find the installer in Programs and Features.  Then I remembered that the RTM version of Office 2010 ships WITH the Connector, so to re-install the add-in, I’d need to run a repair install of Office.

Before running the repair install, I first decided to remove the Facebook, Linked-In and MySpace (not that I use that one anyway; it can stay off) Social Connectors.  These are listed individually in Programs and Features (which is Add/Remove Programs, for you Windows XP users).  Once I removed those, I then ran a repair install of Office.  After that finished, I launched Outlook, checked to see if the Social Connector was enabled (which it was), then exited and installed my Facebook Connector, re-launched Outlook, and voila!  Problem solved.

While it may not be entirely necessary to rename the SocialConnector.DLL file .old, I highly recommend it, as the Office repair installation may skip over the file if it detects it’s still there.  By renaming it, you’re ensuring you get a fresh copy of the proper file.

TL;DR: Outlook Social Connector was the culprit for high Outlook CPU utilization.  Rename the add-in’s DLL file (SocialConnector.DLL) to .OLD, run a repair install of Office, ???, PROFIT!!!

Ubuntu 10.10 – T minus 5 hours

drew 09 Oct , 2010 0 comments Ubuntu

Ubuntu 10.10 (which is being released on 10-10-10) is set to release in less than 5 hours.  I’ve just gotten the final kinks worked out of my 10.04 machine, so here’s to hoping the upgrade doesn’t wreck my system!

Dell E1505 Ubuntu – no wifi

drew 25 Jun , 2010 1 Comment Ubuntu

I own a Dell E1505 laptop from about 4 years back that contains a 1390 Wireless Mini-Card.  This card uses the Broadcom 4311 chipset.  As this laptop is a secondary machine, it is subject to frequent OS installs and all kinds of testing.  The biggest issue I’ve had with it has been Ubuntu 9.10.  I was running Ubuntu 9.04 prior to 9.10 being released (and 8.10 before that) and the wifi worked fine, right out of the box.  Ubuntu 9.10 aka Karmic Koala breaks this out-of-the-box wifi functionality, however.

I ran into this issue when 9.10 was released back in October of 2009.  I reinstalled 9.10 today to do some Android development work, only to re-discover the same issue I had nearly 9 months ago.  The ISO I used to install was downloaded today, so I was surprised when the wifi issue was still there.  Wanting to get my wifi back, I scoured the intrawebz for a while until I re-found my solution from last Fall.

The main problem I have is that I cannot get the wifi switch to turn on.  This is achieved by holding the FN key and pressing F2.  However, before installing this fix, that key combination has no effect.  It seems that the driver is valid, as lspci lists the device (Broadcom 4311), yet something isn’t right, obviously, as it doesn’t work.  The most odd part about the whole situation is if you run the Live CD, wifi works miraculously.  It would appear that something is not getting copied from the Live CD at installation time.

The answer is this:

1. Boot into Ubuntu and pop your Live CD into the tray.
2. Install the following files from the disk, in order, by double-clicking them:

/pool/main/p/patch/patch_2.5.9-5_i386.deb
/pool/main/d/dkms/dkms_2.1.0.1-0ubuntu1_all.deb
/pool/restricted/b/bcmwl/bcmwl-kernel-source_5.10.91.9+bdcom-0ubuntu4_i386.deb

3. Reboot.

That should do it!  Your machine should boot back into Ubuntu 9.10, this time with the wifi light illuminated.