While doing some cleanup of Group Policy I noticed there's a
comment field when you examine it in the GPMC. What a useful
spot to put descriptive information in I thought. However I
found that I couldn't edit it....so I did some Googling and
found out how to update it.
I'm not sure why it's so convoluted to update. Would it
really be that difficult to just allow you to click on the
comment field and edit it directly in the Group Policy
Fortunately, once you know how it doesn't take long to do.
In GP Management, edit the GP, right click on the name,
select Properties, click on the Comment tab and fill in the
And that's all there is to it. Now you can document your
Group Policies so it makes it easier to figure out what
they're used for, who created them etc.
Odds & Ends -
Dec 3, 2015
Had an problem recently with one of our Exchange 2010
servers. Mostly just an annoyance, I finally got around to
logging a call with Microsoft to get it fixed. The issue was
most times when logging in (either locally or via RDP) it
would get stuck at either 'Applying Group Policy' or
'Applying Registry Settings' - after between 5 to 10 minutes
it'd finish and open up the Desktop.
Whenever this happened Event ID 6005/6006 would be logged in
the Event Log. The other weird issue was whenever browsing
to various folders on one of our file shares it would try
connecting and after a few minutes give up and throw up this
I double checked the perms were all the same. I could access
the data using the same account on any other server no
This server was part of a DAG, and the other server was
identical in terms of hardware, drivers, software, patches
etc. Also part of the same OU and had the same group
policies applied - and everything worked fine on it.
So I put in a call with MS. At first they had me rule out
problems with 3rd party apps/services and had me do a clean
boot. Then they made some registry tweaks. Then they had me
enable group policy logging. Then had me apply various hot
fixes. Thinking it might be a NIC issue we even swapped out
the motherboard (integrated NICs) with a brand new one.
Finally after a couple weeks of no progress I gave up and
uninstalled Exchange, re-installed the OS, and then
re-installed Exchange and added it back to the DAG. After
doing this the problems went away.
Unfortunately, I was then unable to setup the database
copies again. The copy would go through the motions, copy
the DB over, start replaying the log files and then
eventually mark it as Failed. I setup a new test DB and was
able to setup a copy for it ok so I know there was nothing
wrong with the setup.
Another call to MS and they had me try it again, using the
EMS this time:
Still the same result. What finally worked was to dismount
the source DB, move off (or delete) the log files for it,
mount the source DB again, and then try to database copy.
Now the copy worked and the DB was in synch on the secondary
DAG member. Of course the downside to this procedure is
until the next backup runs any chance of restoring data is
On the VMWare side of things, I noticed something odd when
moving some VM's from one Datastore to another. Although the
move would complete successfully, when looking at the
storage section in the Summary it would still show both
I verified it was removed from the old one and present on
the new one by browsing the Datastore. Did a refresh, exited
and re-entered the vSphere console, even did a reboot of the
vSphere host. But it still showed both entries.
Put in a call to VMWare support and they nailed the problem
right away. These VM's still had their CD mapped to an ISO
file stored on the original Datastore.
Once I switched it to use the Client Device the extra entry
was automatically removed. You would think that vSphere
would warn you when doing the move and maybe newer versions
do (we're running 5.1) but unlike the fun I had with the
Exchange server, at least the fix is quick and easy.
Ready??? - Oct 24, 2015
As soon as Windows 10 was available I downloaded and
installed it on my PC at work. I had previously played with
one of the earlier pre-releases and was left underwhelmed.
So I was curious to kick the tires when it was officially
This isn't a review of the product, I'll just quickly
summarize my feelings - it's better than Win 8.1, but I see
absolutely no compelling reason to upgrade my home PC from
Instead I want to focus attention on a massive issue with
using Windows 10 in an enterprise environment. After a
couple days of using the product I suddenly started
encountering my domain account locking up on me. Not just
once or twice, but at least a dozen times a day. Each time
I'd have to connect to our domain controller and unlock my
account. But within a few minutes it'd lock up again.
As I had made no other changes other than the OS upgrade, I
knew Windows 10 was responsible. So I took to Google, and
soon found a Microsoft thread with all kinds of people
reporting the same issue. There didn't seem to by a rhyme or
reason. It was happening on 2012 domains, on 2008 domains,
when logging in, after having logged in etc. A work around
was posted which was to disable Kerberos authentication.
Great, no more lockouts, but I'm now running with weakened
Microsoft didn't really know why it was doing it, but they
were 'aware of the issue'.
Fast forward 3 months later, and they finally fixed
the problem with the Cumulative Update shown below. I've
been running a couple weeks since then and haven't had a
lockout since. So for any company deploying Windows 10 it's
imperative that the base image includes this
Personally I think this is a massive screw up by Microsoft.
Others cry the usual mantra of 'well you shouldn't deploy a
new OS in your environment until it's more mature'. Why
not??? This wasn't the Home version, it was the Enterprise
version - as in, for an enterprise environment. It
absolutely floors me that this got through their testing and
quality control. What? No one in Microsoft thought to try
the product in a domain environment?? Really?
Sure you might not be able to use the product for more than
a few minutes before getting locked out, but hey, now you
can finally cut and paste into the command prompt. So I
guess that's something.
Cube Crazy - Jul
I had some free time one day and felt like doing one of my
many projects still outstanding.
A long time ago I had purchased a see through enclosure for
the Mac Cube by Powerlogix, but it sat on the shelf ever
since. Obvious the cool thing about it is you can see
through to the hardware inside. But in addition, the case is
slightly larger than the Apple one, so in theory allows for
better airflow. I also did some Googling and was pleasantly
surprised to find that with the previous CPU upgrade I had
done that it was possible to upgrade from OS X Tiger to OS X
Leopard. Leopard was the last OS Apple released which still
supported the Power PC processor.
Finally, I had planned on replacing the stock 3.5" hard
drive with a 2.5" one. The theory being that as it was
smaller it'd use less power and likely be newer. After much
searching I found a laptop IDE drive which ran at 7200rpm,
the same as the original drive. But being a laptop drive it
didn't have the proper connectors (no power connector). So I
also had to get a 2.5" laptop convertor. I had planned on
swapping the drive first, but after mounting it on a 3.5"
tray and putting it in the cube I realized the power
connector wouldn't work. It was the wrong direction.
I could have then searched for a small power
female/male adapter and used that as an interim to fix the
orientation problem, but I then noticed that the voltage
rating for the drive (at 5V) was actually a bit higher. So
then the only real advantage would have been the drive was a couple years newer. In the end I reverted back to the
original drive. If and when it dies, I may swap it out. Or I
may use the new drive in one of my other Macs.
Next step was to install the cube in the new case. I read
the instructions, and scratched my head a bit, but in the
end was able to figure it out. The biggest part was you had
to remove the voltage regulator board and mount it on the
outside of the cube. Because the new case was larger you
were able to do this, you just needed to add a small ribbon
cable which was included to connect to the original
connector. Once that was done I slid the new case over
and screwed in the top. I must admit it looks pretty sharp,
other than when you look at the side with the DVD drive it's
a bit underwhelming. But from the other angles it looks
wicked. The only downside I found was you really have to
press down hard on the start button for the cube to power
Last step was to do the OS upgrade. I
previously bought a Leopard install disc off eBay, so I popped it in and ran the
installer. The install disc was version 10.5.3, so it
already came with some upgrades applied. But once the
install was done I went to System Update and went through
and picked the various security, java, and other updates
available until everything was upgraded as far as you could
Here then is my fully upgrade Mac Cube:
Power Mac G4 Cube
OS X Leopard
1.5 Ghz PowerPC
Mania - Jun 14, 2015
I recently underwent a slew of upgrades. All because I
wanted a new printer.
The laser printer we had was really old and we kept
having issues trying to print to it - which was connected to
a wireless bridge. More often than not I'd have to run
upstairs and power cycle it before it would print, which
obviously was a pain.
So I did some research and settled on a new HP
multi-function printer. As is typical with current products
they also scan and fax in addition to printing. I also
wanted one that supported Wireless-N so I could set my Apple
router to use the faster standard vs. having it in the
slower B/G compatibility mode. I checked the specs and
confirmed that the HP M225dw supported the faster standard.
So I ordered it online, and a few days later it showed up.
I got it unpacked, hooked up, and went to wirelessly
print from my newer iMac upstairs - and nothing. It didn't
work. After messing with it for awhile I realized why. Yes,
it did support Wireless-N, but only the 2.4Ghz band. Which
meant I couldn't run my router at the faster 5Ghz speed.
Much grumbling and swearing ensued. While looking at my
router settings I realized that it was actually pretty old -
a 2nd generation model. Time to upgrade.
So I did some more research and found out the 5th
generation model supports a dual-band setup. Which allows
you to connect devices whether they run the slower or faster
speed (I realize the latest Apple router is a 6th
generation, but I don't like the much larger form factor
which is why I picked it's predecessor). The other cool
thing is you can setup a guest network which is great when
you have someone over and they inevitably ask you for your
WiFi password. After finding a new one online I ordered it
and patiently waited.
After it showed up I unpacked it, set it all up, and all
was good.....I then went to install the printer driver on my
older iMac downstairs, which is my main computer, and
realized they didn't have a driver for OS X Snow Leopard. At
this point I was ready to start smashing random objects
around me. I could technically upgrade to Lion, but Mountain
Lion was the minimum supported OS, so it didn't matter. Oh
well, I've been wanting a new iMac anyway. Time to upgrade.
Getting the top end, Retina display, iMac
wasn't an option for me. In addition to being the first
release of a new platform I think the graphic card that
comes with it is barely capable of driving such a high
resolution. It would definitely be a liability a few OS
upgrades later. What I wanted was a fully loaded non-Retina
display version. Unfortunately, Apple stopped selling them.
You could only get an base level model with no option to
upgrade the processor or video card. Before the Retina
version came out however, they did sell a build to order
option which gave you the faster i7 processor, and a Nvidia
GTX 780M with 4GB of video ram. That was the one I wanted.
But they are scarce and the ones available go for a premium.
In the end I managed to find one that was new. One of the
last in stock by the company selling them in fact, but I
paid the price to get it. When it showed up I was like a kid
at the candy store as I unpacked it and fired it up.
Impressive is an apt description. I haven't yet replaced my
old system and copied everything over, but when I do I'm
confident it will serve my needs for many years to come.
It all started with me getting a printer for a couple
hundred bucks and it ended with me spending several
thousand. But that's usually the way it goes...
That - May 29, 2015
into a few issues lately at work and I thought I'd share the
solutions. The problem with trying to troubleshoot by
searching the Internet is typically what you find isn't
either applicable, or is only partially correct, or is flat
out wrong. Hopefully this saves others some frustration.
The first issue I encountered was I went to add more memory
to one of our 2008 R2 VM's. So I powered it off, increased
the amount of memory it could use, and powered back on. But
the amount of memory that was being shown within the VM
itself hadn't changed. After scratching my head for awhile I
realized what the problem was. I was trying to add more than
32GB of memory and Windows 2008 R2 Standard only supports up
to 32GB. Beyond that you need to be running the Enterprise
version (Windows 2012 Standard supports up to 4TB). Ok, I
guess that meant doing a reinstall right? It turns out
there's a command line you can run which will upgrade the
version and no reinstall is required. Obviously I'm assuming
anyone doing so also has the proper licenses.
Open up a Command Prompt as Administrator. To see what
editions you can technically upgrade to:
While researching how to do this I found out that if you
use the same key as before it won't work. You need to use a
generic key for the version you're trying to upgrade to. I
won't post on here, but if you do a Google search you'll
find it quickly enough. I put in the generic key for 2008 R2
Enterprise and it worked with no problems. After the upgrade
is done, go back into Control Panel, System and punch in the
key that you're licensed for, for that version.
Note: Apparently you can't do this if the server is a
Domain Controller. You would first need to demote it.
The second issue dealt with Bitlocker and Microsoft
Surface Tablets. We use Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT)
to do our imaging and had it setup so our techs could enable
Bitlocker when they imaged new machines. We store the key in
Active Directory, but do not go the extra step of requiring
a PIN. All of which worked just fine on our Desktops and
Laptops. But we noticed it didn't work on the Tablets. Once
the imaging process was done you'd get an error on the
summary screen and when you looked at the C drive it had a
exclamation mark over it. Checking the properties showed it
wasn't encrypted. After much searching and trial and error I
found the solution.
There's an additional option that needs to be selected
and you can throw it in either in MDT as part of the Task
Sequence or add it using Group Policy. Using MDT, add the
following in the Custom Tasks section:
If you want to do this using Group Policy, enable this
Computer Configuration > Administrative
Templates > Windows Components > BitLocker Drive
Encryption > Operating System Drives\Enable use
of Bitlocker authentication requiring preboot
keyboard input on slates
Now Bitlocker works successfully on our
Infinite - Apr 3, 2015
I just finished playing BioShock Infinite, which is the 3rd
entry in the BioShock franchise.
I remember when the first
one came out it was a refreshing change for the first person
shooter. The art deco world it created was vibrant and alive
and the gameplay ensured a rewarding experience. The second
one was more of the same with the main change that instead
of fighting Big Daddy's as you did before, now you were
playing as one of them.
The third installment takes the action from the
underwater world of Rapture and places you in the role of a
grizzled detective tasked with rescuing Elizabeth, the
daughter of the God like ruler of the floating city of
Columbia. As you are in the clouds, visually it's quite the
contrast from before with everything wide open and seemingly
endless. While the gameplay is essentially the same, some
things have changed slightly. Plasmids are now called Vigors.
These give you special powers - shooting fire, making
enemies attack each other and so on. You also have the
ability to hook onto skylines - overhead tracks which
intertwine throughout the city. These are used to gain
access to areas otherwise inaccessible on the ground and can
also be utilized to give you a surprise advantage by leaping
down into the midst of your adversaries.
Story wise, I found this to be more engaging than
previous releases. Still, as usually happens in these type
of games I would find myself searching everywhere for money
or ammo to the neglect of what was around me. I would have
to stop more than once and force myself to take in all the
details of my surroundings and not just rush through every
level. And like before I always seemed to have an abundance
of ammo. And when I did run out, Elizabeth would always toss
me some to use. I wish they would have made it a bit harder
in that aspect.
While the game has gathered nothing but praise from the
various reviewers, in one respect I found it to be
disappointing. Half-Life 2 came out in 2004. Over a decade
ago. And while I haven't played every game made since, I
have yet to come across one that had such a detailed and
interactive environment. You could seriously interact with
everything and the physics engine would respond to
everything. Pick up a bottle and smash it against a wall.
Pick up a wood plank and throw it in the water and watch it
bob around. Shoot out glass windows and so on. I remember
being thoroughly delighted the first time I encountered a
puddle and instead of going after the bad guys simply had a
blast splashing about in it. It seems every other game since
simply resorts to texture maps which while they may look
pretty ruins the illusion that you're in a real world. And
so it is in this one. A perfect example is coming across a
bathtub with a toy boat in it. The game lets you turn on the
water, but the tub doesn't actually fill. In Half-Life 2 it
would fill and the boat would have bobbed about.
That annoyance aside, it was a fun game to play and it is
a worthy addition to the franchise.
End Of An
Mar 15, 2015
death of physical media has been greatly exaggerated.
While I definitely enjoy watching Netflix and have
started to watch more video on demand movies, I have no
plans to stop buying Blu-ray's anytime soon. There is
something to be said for quality. As we're in the process of
getting a dedicated home theater room done I decided it was
time to upgrade my player. I've had my current player the
Pioneer BDP-23FD for several years now and while it's been
fairly reliable, it's also starting to show it's age. So
what to get? Sadly the trend today is towards cheaper and
cheaper players. You can now get some for the price of a
toaster. And while that's great for consumer adoption of the
format, it also means that people are settling for poorly
manufactured commoditized garbage.
Obviously I wanted something high end.
While Sony has the best all round compatibility (let's
face it, they invented the format) I decided to look
elsewhere. Oppo is the current darling of all the Blu-ray
geeks and it did make for a tempting choice. I also briefly
looked at some of the really high end stuff from Marantz and
Cambridge Audio but they were really expensive. In the end I
decided to stick with what I know and get another Pioneer.
At last year's CEDIA Expo, they introduced their latest
flagship products - the
BDP-85FD and the BDP-88FD.
The main difference between the two is the 88 has some
higher end features geared towards audio. As I already have
a dedicated SACD player I didn't see the need to spend the
extra money for it, so I ordered the cheaper model.
Unfortunately, Pioneer recently announced that their selling
their Audiovisual business to rival Onkyo so in all
likelihood this will be the last Pioneer branded player.
After it arrived I eagerly unpacked it. The thing is
built like a tank and is very solid. In fact, that's one of
it's selling features - it utilizes a double layered
chassis. Inside are high end components and it features the
ES9018 ESS SABRE DAC, which is considered the best DAC out
there. It also features 3D support as well as being 4K
ready. So the specifications are obviously impressive, but
of course the real test is to fire it up.
I was curious to see how improved load times were as my
current player is painfully slow. So I did a direct
comparison using my Apocalyse Now disc. Of all the Blu-ray's
I own, it is easily the most challenging disc and takes
forever to load. In the end, the new player loaded it a full
2 minutes faster which was very impressive. I then went
through the setup menu and tweaked away. I was glad that the
menu feel and look is identical to before. That said, the
remote has changed slightly. Imagine if you took the old
remote and combined it with the current Panasonic remotes
and you'd have an idea of what it looks like. But that's a
I popped in Sucker Punch and selected the Nazi zombie
scene which is what I typically use as my reference scene.
As the on-screen carnage unfolded I sat back and let the
movie envelop me. It looked and sounded great and I'm very
happy with my choice. The BDP-85FD likely represents the end
of an era. As such I worry about the future, but for now
I'll enjoy the present.
Likely To Be Eaten By A Grue -
Mar 7, 2015
now that I have this wicked gaming PC, what's one of the
first games I play?
I figured I'd warp back in time to
1980 and fire up a rousing game of
Zork I. I've collected numerous classic games over the
years and for the longest time wanted to play them in their
entirety and instead of just kicking the tires and wallowing
in nostalgia actually finish them. I could have tracked down
a copy off eBay and fired it up on an Apple II or Commodore
machine, but I already had acquired the Zork Anthology a few
years ago which contains all the famous Infocom games on a
CD and runs on newer systems (relatively speaking).
For those who don't know what I'm talking about, briefly,
Zork was the first of several text based adventure games
that came out in the 80's. Players would have to read the
descriptions and use their imagination as to the world
around them versus the modern 3D rendered worlds of today.
You would enter commands like 'attack troll with sword' or
'light lantern'. And while quaint by today's standards,
these games were surprisingly sophisticated in their text
parser. They would also accept more complicated commands
such as 'put all the items except the skull in the trophy
So I installed it on my trusty Mac Color Classic and
fired it up. I'm sure my face lit up as memories came back
to when I first played it so long ago. Back then I never
knew exactly what a Grue was, but I do remember they scared
the hell out of me! After playing awhile and getting maybe a
quarter through it, I realized I had left the rope in the
Dam Maintenance Room which then flooded and I was screwed.
Then I remembered why I never finished it when I was a kid.
These games were hard. Extremely hard. While Zork Anthology
came with maps and a hint book which I looked at, I
eventually ended up digging up a complete walkthru online.
Hard Playing (And Lots of Cheating) =
After reading through it, there was some stuff which I
realized through repetition and trying every possible thing
people would have eventually figured out. But some things
were so obscure I don't know how anyone could have finished
this game. Bear in mind, back then this was before the
internet and you couldn't just Google the solution. Saying
'Ulysses' to defeat the Cyclops? Obviously.
There are several other Infocom games in the package,
including the Enchanter trilogy, and I may revist them at
some point, but for now I think I'll move on to other
things. I might fire up
Pool of Radiance or finally get around to finishing
Ultima V. Or I might end up playing something new and
modern. Such hard decisions to make...
Back In the
Jan 31, 2015
of the things I've missed the most since we moved was
playing games on my PC.
The reason I couldn't is I kept going back and forth as to
where I wanted it to reside. Originally I was going to have
it in the office, but even with the custom desk we had built
which spans the wall things were a bit cramped. The biggest
issue was where the speakers would go. I was thinking I'd
have them in-wall but then I put up my map of the world
which messed that idea up. And as the PC would be housed
downstairs in the equipment rack I wouldn't be able to use
the typical PC speakers. So I thought I'd use some bookshelf
speakers connected to a receiver (I already had the electricians run a subwoofer
line) but I kept coming back to the fact space would be
tight. When we looked at getting the basement finished I
thought I'd maybe setup a spot in one of the rooms there to
put everything. But in the end I couldn't justify using the
space for that when I had a perfectly good office upstairs.
While I was trying to figure things out, I did go forward and run cabling from a custom wallplate in the office down into the basement where the
rack was. I hooked the cables up to what was my gaming PC of
the time which was a SFF box sitting on the floor. For some
reason though when in sleep mode it didn't give enough power
for the keyboard to activate it - which meant I had
to run downstairs and power it on manually every time I
wanted to us it. So I had a computer, but no sound. The fact
that I could have just a keyboard, mouse, and monitor on the
desk was in itself pretty cool, but I missed not being able
At some point I finally decided what I wanted to do. I
would ditch the speaker idea all together and instead just
use headphones. This solved all my placement issues and also
meant I wouldn't be annoying the wife late at night while I
was playing. For Christmas, Santa came along and brought me a sweet set of Sennheiser
HD650's. Now I just had to get the audio cable. I ended
up ordering a 30' run with 3.5mm connectors from someone in
South Korea and patiently waited for it to show up. The last
piece of the puzzle was to get a 3.5mm wallplate insert to
connect it to in the office.
At the same time I decided I'd update my PC. My existing
one I'd been using for over 5 years and it had served me
well, but it was time to upgrade. I did a bunch of research
and came up with the components I wanted. Having always been
partial to Asus motherboards I went with them and an Intel
i7 processor. Because this was going into a rack I paid
close attention to the thermals and the processor I picked
was the ideal balance of performance and power use. As I've
never been a fan of integrated audio I went with a
standalone Soundblaster. A beefy power supply and Windows 7
were next. The last thing to decide upon was the video card, the
most important aspect of any gaming system. It was tempting to
get the fastest out there - the Nvidia Titan but it was such
overkill for what I'd be using. It'd be different if I was
running multiple 4k monitors, but I'm content with my single
24" monitor. Instead I decided to get a 2nd video card of
the same make and model that I already had and put it in a
Crossfire configuration which uses both cards in parallel.
Yesterday I got around to finishing everything off. First
up I installed the new APC UPS in the rack which would keep
things running if the power went out. Then I installed
the new PC in the rack. Finally I ran the audio cable which
was a pain in the ass. I ripped out the existing subwoofer
cable and MacGyver'd a tape measure to use as a lead to fish
the audio cable up to the wallplate. After lots of blood,
sweat, and a couple tears everything was ready. I turned on
the PC, put the headphones on, and waited...Success! It all
worked! Here then is my new setup:
Asus Gryphon Z97 Motherboard
Intel i7-4770S CPU
Corsair Vengeance 16GB Memory
Dual 1GB Radeon HD4850 Video Cards (Crossfire setup)
Samsung 850 Pro SSD Hard Drive
Sound Blaster Z Sound Card
Sennheiser HD650 Headphones
Athena Power 950W Power Supply
Chenbro RM42300-F Case
Windows 7 Pro 64-bit
This was a huge deal for me and I'm still somewhat in awe
as to how absolutely awesome this setup is. Now I can sit
back and take on zombies, slay dragons, blast aliens or
whatever strikes my fancy.