CATEGORY: Windows

Windows Server 2008/2012 Blue Screen after Login – No Desktop

One of my teammates was working on a Windows server and needed to access IIS to complete a Sitecore upgrade on the machine. After logging in, he was reporting that he only saw a blue screen with no user interface. I logged in under the administrator account and ran into the same thing. Here’s how I was able to reset:

  1. CTRL + ALT + END
  2. Start Task Manager
  3. Click processes tab and find all instances of “explorer.exe”
  4. Right click each process and selected “End process tree”
  5. Once all instances are gone, select the Applications tab
  6. Click new task button
  7. Type “explorer.exe” without the quotation marks
  8. Click OK.

If it’s a user account and you can login to the administrator account and see the UI, you can load remote desktop as admin.

  1. Start -> Run
  2. Type “mstsc /v:servername /console /admin” in order to access the server.
  3. In “Windows Taks Manager”, go to the Users tab and proceed to do a right click over the account that you want to “Log Off”, select log off.

This should free the locked session used by that account and bring the UI back.

 

Steam is having trouble connecting to the Steam servers.

If you use Steam and  suddenly find yourself unable to connect receiving the error “Steam is having trouble connecting to the Steam servers.”, check and see if you have Peerblock installed and running. I wasted a lot of time trying to figure out why the connections wouldn’t go through and finally went through apps running in the background one by one, until I closed Peerblock and discovered Steam suddenly started working. If you would like to continue to use Steam while Peerblock is open, follow these instructions for a workaround:

1. Start PeerBlock
2. Click List Manager
3. Click Add
4. Put something in the description like steam-allow
5. click add url and paste this: “http://list.iblocklist.com/?list=steam” (no quotes)
6. Choose type: allow
7. Click Ok then close the List Manager.

This will download a list that adds exceptions for Steam and should let you connect with no issues.

Visual Studio 2013 package did not load correctly

Visual Studio Error MessageToday I loaded up Visual Studio to continue work on a project and created by a random bunch of errors. All were complaints that various packages could not be loaded. The one I captured was:

The ‘JavascriptWebExtensionsPackage’ did not load correctly.’ The problem may have been caused by a configuration change or by the installation of another extension.

I had just installed SyncFusion’s Essential Studio which apparently screwed something up. I tried doing a repair on Visual Studio which unfortunately did not work.

I was able to fix it by following these steps:

  1. Close Visual Studio Open the *Users*\AppData\Local\Microsoft\VisualStudio\12.0\ folder
  2. Rename the ComponentModelCache folder
  3. Restart Visual Studio.

Visual Studio should now rebuild the cache and no longer display the error messages.

ASP.NET MVC Model Generator

In making the switch to ASP.NET MVC, I’ve moved away from using my old Data Access Layer that I’ve used for years and have opted to use Dapper as my ORM of choice in the quest for optimal performance. My DAL was actually pretty optimized for WinForms and WebForms (using straight SQL Queries and SQL parameters) but mapping it to models wasn’t something I had in mind when I created it. I’m finding Dapper takes some getting used too but it is still pretty fast. The downside is that writing the code for Models to wire it up is proving to be a little tedious.

To that effect, I wrote a little application that has helped me generate the models from a database dynamically. It’s in it’s infancy stages and something I cobbled together in less than 8 hours but it works. I’ll add more features too as time goes on if there’s enough interest or to satisfy my own needs. In the meantime, I’m open sourcing the project as it may help others and I’d love to see it become something grander if others are willing to contribute to it. There’s also some useful bits of code that others may find useful to reference like dynamically reading fields from a database, pluralization/singularization of words, amongst others.

You can find the repository on Github: https://github.com/gregvarghese/MVCModelGenerator

SourceTree Crashes on Load

sourcetree errorI’ve recently started using Git for development and while I am getting used to the command line tools on Windows, I have been using Atlassian’s free tool, SourceTree to help manage my code. Recently I’ve run into an issue where SourceTree crashes on start up.”Oh dear. We’re sorry, but SourceTree just crashed. How terribly embarrassing.”

I submitted an issue (https://jira.atlassian.com/browse/SRCTREEWIN-3011) and received a response that didn’t solve the issue. I submitted a follow up but never heard back so I did some further digging and found that SourceTree was crashing because it corrupted a repo and was still trying to load it back up on start up. The application does not exit gracefully or even give you the option to start in a safe mode which loads nothing.

To prevent it from opening the repo on start up:

Open %localappdata%/Atlassian/SourceTree/opentabs.xml in notepad or another editor.
Delete the problem repo.

Viola! No more SourceTree crashes on start up.

How to Import Multiple VCF contacts into iCloud

One of my users recently came to me with an interesting problem this week. She had left her old job but had left all her contacts on her work account. Once the account was deleted, all the addresses were wiped out as well. By sheer luck, her iPad had a copy of the contacts since she never connected it to a new network which prevented any type of sync. We managed to export the contacts off the iPad to VCF cards but were now left with the tedious task of importing them all into iCloud for her to use on her phone. I tried dragging and dropping all the VCF cards into the browser but iCloud displayed 300+ errors saying the card could not be imported, without specifying which ones were a problem. The import would error out after clicking OK at around 300 times and not actually import a single one.

I remembered that the format of the cards is simple text and you can easily merge the files into one big file to import.

  1. Copy the VCF cards to a folder like c:\temp\vcf.
  2. Right mouse click on c:\temp\vcf while holding shift and you’ll see an option that says “Open with Command Prompt”
    1. You can also open command prompt by clicking Start -> Run, or windows button + r and type cmd to launch it.
  3. Enter the command copy /a *.vcf merge.vcf in the command prompt.

This will merge all cards into a single VCF file. Now return to iCloud Contacts, click on the gears icon on the bottom left, and click “Import Contact” and choose the generated VCF card. iCloud will now display a progress bar of the import and any errors. In a strange coincidence, importing the contacts this way only prompted me with three or so errors. I’m not exactly sure why the error count was reduced doing it this way. (There were over 1500 contacts to import and I wasn’t about to sift through them to see what was different since it was for personal contacts.)

Mac Outlook 2011 Reply All Includes My E-mail (with solution)

I’ve started a new job and was assigned a Macbook for my daily work. I’ve found equivalents for most of my applications. Personally, I find the native Mac apps are just extremely underpowered for my computing needs. I hate Mail especially, and even more so how all the apps are split out into separate apps. Luckily I have Office for Mac. Not so luckily, Outlook Mac 2011 is not as well designed as Outlook for Windows in so many ways.

One of the bugs I ran into was the “Reply All” bug where your e-mail is included in the CC field. It’s rather annoying having to choose from having to manually delete your address or having an extra e-mail to delete from your inbox.

The fix turned out to be rather simple for me. It turns out that Outlook for Mac isn’t very smart. It doesn’t seem to be able to tell which address you’re sending the e-mail from even though it’s doing the sending. When my account was initially setup, the company set it up with one of their subsidiary domains which was incorrect. Rather than creating a new inbox, they simply created an alias for the domain but never updated my configuration.

To fix the issue, do the following:

  1. Go to Tools -> Accounts.
  2. Ensure that your e-mail address field is set to match the address you are sending from.

My e-mail address had been set to the old one and still worked due to the aliasing. As soon as I updated the address to match the corrected domain, the reply all stopped including my e-mail address.

 

ESET AntiTheft Causes Dell Machines to Lose Permissions on C:

Eset Logo

I just spent the past two days complaining about Windows 8 to everyone I know because of how awful the experience is. I installed Windows updates, rebooted, and the system stops working.

It turns out it wasn’t Windows causing the problem but ESET AntiTheft on Dell laptops. It turns out there’s a permission bug specific to Dell machines when ESET creates it’s ghost account and instead of giving it restricted access, the system essentially copies the permissions and then changes everything on the C: drive to a state where the permissions are no longer accessible.

Unfortunately, the only known fix at this point is to contact ESET support. I called their support line in North America and the tech knew about the issue right away. You’ll have to reboot into safe mode, and then get them to remote in to install a utility that runs a script that resets the permissions.

Contact Info here: http://www.eset.com/us/about/contact/

The tech assured me they are working with Dell to get this issue resolved so until they do, make sure you don’t activate ESET’s AntiTheft on the Dell machine.

What’s the Problem?

Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition Logo

A few years ago, I started at a company as a help desk tech. After establishing myself, I’d often get put on all the…interesting issues. When nobody else could figure out the problem, I’d get called in to figure out the issue. During my early days as a new tech there, the manager of the team passed me a ticket and stopped by to give me background on the situation. This particular client would call in every week because one computer couldn’t talk to the server and at one point, every tech on the team had worked on the problem and nobody had been able to figure it out. My manager told me not to stress about it because it was definitely something on their side but he treats the situation as a rite of passage for all new hires.

I give the doctor a call back and he gets me connected to his PC and begins to elaborate on the problem and all the things everyone has had him do. He explains how his tech knows the problem is with our software since everything on the network side works. He clicks on the Windows XP start menu and by sheer luck, the tech had set the menu back to classic which meant the banner along the left showed which version of Windows was running. As the doctor continued on with his explanation, I noticed the banner on the start menu said “Windows XP Home Edition”.

I politely interrupted the doctor and informed him that I had figured out the problem. He went quiet for a few seconds and said “You haven’t done anything yet and I haven’t finished explaining everything. How could you possibly have figured out the problem?” I informed him that he’s running Windows XP Home Edition which doesn’t support business networking and explains why he couldn’t connect to the server. He insisted that all his computers are running Windows XP Pro and besides, how could I possibly know that without having even done anything?

I asked him to click on the start menu and then he went quiet. I asked if he was there and he apologized and said he was going to call his tech to get the OS fixed. He asked if it would be alright for him to call and request my help if there are any problems from there.

I closed the ticket with “Problem solved. Issue was Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition”.

How to remove win64/sirefef.AE trojan & c:\windows\system32\services.exe win64 patched b.gen trojan

I’m kind of the default “go to” guy for all PC issues with friends and family. One of the most common problems people bring to me is malware. Going forward, I’m going to document the removal process for some of the more difficult ones I encounter.

The most difficult trojan I’ve encountered thus far is the sirefef.AE trojan. It infects the PC by replacing c:\windows\system32\services.exe which is pretty ingenious in that it’s extremely difficult to remove since Windows requires it and it’s always in use which keeps the antiviruses and applications from being able to remove it.

I just spent a few days battling this one and successfully cleaned it off the system.

To remove it:

  1. Run the ESET Online Scanner (http://www.eset.com/us/online-scanner/). Have it scan archives and let it remove whatever it finds.Side note: If you use Norton or McAfee for antivirus protection, now’s a good time to dump them for an antivirus that actually works and doesn’t hog resources: http://go.eset.com/r/7NQZN
  2. Run ComboFix (http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/combofix/how-to-use-combofix) in safe mode. It will find and remove some of the trojans already downloaded. Instructions are on the bleepingcomputer page on how to use it but for the most part it’s mostly automated.
  3. Download and install MalwareBytes (http://majorgeeks.com/download.php?det=5756). The free version will suffice. Run a full system scan and remove whatever it finds.
  4. You will need a Recovery Disc from Windows 7 for the next step. Make one on a non-infected computer if you don’t have one already.
  5. Download Farbar Recovery Scan Tool x64 (http://download.bleepingcomputer.com/farbar/FRST64.exe) and save to a flash drive.

Enter System Recovery Options.

To enter System Recovery Options from the Advanced Boot Options:

  • Restart the computer.
  • As soon as the BIOS is loaded begin tapping the F8 key until Advanced Boot Options appears.
  • Use the arrow keys to select the Repair your computer menu item.
  • Select US as the keyboard language settings, and then click Next.
  • Select the operating system you want to repair, and then click Next.
  • Select your user account an click Next.

To enter System Recovery Options by using Windows installation disc:

  • Insert the installation disc.
  • Restart your computer.
  • If prompted, press any key to start Windows from the installation disc. If your computer is not configured to start from a CD or DVD, check your BIOS settings.
  • Click Repair your computer.
  • Select US as the keyboard language settings, and then click Next.
  • Select the operating system you want to repair, and then click Next.
  • Select your user account and click Next.

On the System Recovery Options menu you will get the following options:Startup Repair System Restore Windows Complete PC Restore Windows Memory Diagnostic Tool Command Prompt