Thursday, 6 August 2009

Windows 7 RTM

Yes it's true. Windows has finally been finished and released to MSDN. Go and get it! It's good, really it is! Forget Vista and move on.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Control multiple machines with one keyboard and mouse

Previously I've solved this scenario by utilising a very useful tool called Synergy. It's development has waned somewhat in recent years though, and with the advent of the new Windows 7 operating system it was time to look for another solution. I'm happy to say though that Input Director does the trick very nicely. It's powerful and yet very easy to configure and worked immediately with no issues on Windows 7.

If you've got more than one machines that you want to be able to control with the one keyboard and mouse then this is ideal. I have the scenario where I have a desktop with two monitors and a laptop next to it with a single monitor attached.

I can now have all three in a row and use the desktop or push the mouse off the side of the middle monitor and it immediately appears on the laptop connected screen on the right. It supports machine configurations of screens and really allows some easy use of multiple machine/screen setups.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009


I've spent the last 2 weeks obtaining my MCTS in WSS and MOSS Configuration. Very interesting to get to grips with the architecture and seeing how the WSS platform fits into the Microsoft offering. There seem to be so many products now that either tie into WSS or actively require it.
The next version of Sharepoint will no longer be known as Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server (MOSS), but will revert to the old name of Sharepoint Server. My understanding is that this is to help retain the separation between the WSS product and Microsoft Office.
Microsoft Office 2010 Technical preview is already around and brings some great interface improvements and features. The only problem is that to take advantage of all these neato enhancements you have to have the latest versions of Office, WSS and Exchange. It's tough being in IT when there's not much money available in the budget but you want to implement new systems...

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Strange Outlook 2007 Error

Today I started getting a fabulous new message from Outlook 2007 whenever I tried to open pretty much any type of object, i.e. a mail message or a calendar appointment:
Could not install the custom actions. The object could not be found.

Curious I thought, this was all working yesterday. It turns out it seems to be a corruption of the form cache file frmcache.dat.
  1. Close Outlook. Wait a few seconds for it to finish shutting down in the background.
  2. Go to your c:\users\[USERNAME]\Appdata\Local\Microsoft\FORMS directory and delete the cache file from there.
  3. Restart Outlook and the problem should have gone away.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Windows 7 - Can't modify wireless network profile

I came across an interesting problem caused by a group policy enforcing a wireless network policy to attach to the local corporate network and automatically authenticate.

The wireless network in question does not broadcast its SSID. Under Vista and XP this isn't a problem as the checkbox that allows you to connect even if the WLAN is not broadcasting its SSID is checked. However in Windows 7 this checkbox was not ticked and because it was a group policy it was not possible to change it.

It's possible to take a copy of the profile and change that one instead though using the netsh command.

To export the existing profile that has all the settings in you want, just type
netsh wlan export profile 'profilename'

This will give you an XML file with your settings in. Rename it to 'newprofile.xml' or similar and then edit this file and change the name of the profile to something you want, like Profile2. Then run the following
netsh wlan add profile newprofile.xml

Then happily you will see the profile in your wireless network choices and can change the tickbox to allow to connect to the non broadcasting SSID.

Monday, 19 January 2009

VMWare Unity

Upon installing the latest version of VMWare Workstation (6.5.1) under Windows, I discovered a fantastic new feature called 'Unity'.

What is Unity you ask yourself? Well it's very simple, it takes the windows from within the guest operating system and integrates them as windows in your host operating system. This way you dont have to go full screen or have a frame around your virtual machine to get to one useful window that you're trying to use.

It's also available in VMWare Fusion on the Mac, so running your Windows programs has never been so easy!


Windows 7 - Windows installer has stopped working

This is a pain if it happens. I haven't seen it at all on a couple of installations, but on another I had this problem pop up constantly after installing Microsoft Office. Everything that uses the Windows Installer seems to crash without really even trying to run. It turns out it's to do with the Customer Experience Improvement Program!
  1. Navigate to HKLM\Software\Microsoft\SQMClient\Windows\DisabledSessions in the registry and delete all the string values, except for the 'Default' entry.
  2. Run the group policy editor - gpedit.msc
  3. Navigate to Computer Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> System -> Internet Communication Management -> Internet Communication settings.
  4. On the right find 'Turn off Windows Customer Experience Improvement Program' and double click it, which brings up a dialog where you can select 'Enabled'.
Solution found at

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Windows 7 - Live Messenger 2009

Well here's something thats a bit wierd. Upon installing Windows Live Messenger 2009, the first thing you notice is that the damn window just wont minimize. It's very odd. Even after you've closed all your discussion windows and the main contacts window, you still get an entry on the taskbar, which personally just isn't desirable.
It's easy to fix though!
Change the properties of the Windows Live Messenger shortcut and set the compatibility level to Vista. Then when you next run it, you'll see it minimizes exactly how it used to...

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Windows 7 - Cisco VPN Client

I recently started using Windows 7 and so decided to push it to the limit and run all the software I was previously running under Vista. The only serious problem I had with incompatibility was a known issue with Daemon Tools in that it simply isn't compatible with Windows 7, so I used the free version of Virtual CloneDrive by ElaborateBytes instead.

My next stumbling block was to get the Cisco VPN client working. Oddly enough I had no problems getting this to work on build 6956, but on moving to 7000 I kept getting a dreaded blue screen everytime I tried to start Windows. Luckily the system repair managed to get round this and take me back to the system point just before I'd installed the VPN client.

After hunting round the web for a while I found a simple combination of things that seemed to result in a reliable way of getting the VPN client to install and work properly.

The VPN client version is v5.0.04.0300. First I changed the properties of the Setup application so that it was running Vista compatibility mode, then I ran the setup as an administrator. Once the client installed, I set up the profile and connected to the remote site to check it was working. All no problems, so I rebooted and no blue screen, all worked as advertised and I haven't had a problem since.

You can also run the compatibility troubleshooter which provides a nice wizard type view to set the compatibility options and the security level for running the application as administrator.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Windows 7 - Graphics issues NVS 135M

While it seems to be well understood that Windows 7 is in early beta and has many graphics issues, I did come across one particular issue that really drove me up the wall.

My laptop, a Dell D830, had been running 6956 for a week or so with no problems and was displaying the new superbar taskbar with it's nice Aero peek function no problem.
I found Windows 7 to be pretty stable and run all the software I was running on Vista, so I thought OK, I'll upgrade to the 7000 Beta 1 build which was release a week or two after I had installed 6956. However, after installing the new build, my nice Aero affect had gone and the taskbar was back to a rather cut-down version of the Aero peek feature.

I decided to work on this one as it had been working so it seemed quite plausible it should still work on the 7000 build. I had done an upgrade from 6956 to 7000 so I decided to install 7000 from fresh. This resulted in the same problem. I had been accepting the Windows Update recommendation to install the latest WDDM 1.1 version of the nVidia driver for the NVS 135M graphics card onboard and so I thought maybe it was this. Then I started trying really basic things like typing 'Aero' into the start button search. One entry this brought up was to find and fix problems with transparency and other visual effects. Ah-hah I thought!

So I ran this Aero troubleshooting wizard and it came back that Aero required 32-bit colour. That's odd I thought, my card was displaying 32-bit before, I thought that my nice blue background was looking a little more dithered than before. Looking at the screen resolution options and then going to advanced and selecting the monitor tab I noticed that the colour depth was 16-bit and with no option to change it to anything else! I spent some time being frustrated about this and trying other versions of the graphics drivers but to no avail.

Finally I noticed in the nVidia control panel an advanced option to manage custom resolutions. I added a new resolution of 1920x1600 and set the colour depth to 32-bit. Lo and behold it worked! I had to reboot and then run the Aero troubleshooter again which enabled all the Aero options again and my taskbar and nice transparency were all back!