Andy’s Techie Blog

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  • Close Programs To Prevent Information Loss

    Posted on December 5th, 2014 Andy Parkes 4 comments

    I felt like such a noob when I realised what this was I thought I’d publicly shame myself so it doesn’t happen again.

    For a few weeks I’d been getting pop-ups on my computer warning about low memory and impending data loss!

    image

    Internet Explorer or Chrome were usually the programs it reported needed to be closed but checking in Task Manager and Resource Monitor seemed to indicate I wasn’t particularly low on memory.

    As well as this I was getting a lot of crashes in Google Chrome. It became stupidly unstable to the point where I couldn’t use it. I disabled all extensions, re-installed and created a new Chrome profile.

    I didn’t really put the two problems together (noob)

    So what was it in the end?

    Low disk space.

    This is my laptop and it has an SSD which is great for performance but not so great for capacity. I keep it pretty full but try to save about 1gb free. The drive space dropped down to a couple hundred megabytes and the page file It was set to “system managed” so was unable to grow when there was no free space. The page file is still used even if you’ve got free physical RAM.

    I cleared up some space and manually set the size of the page file. This meant that that space was fixed and whatever else i did around that wouldn’t matter.

    The excellent Mark Russinovich has a really good post on this.

    Once I’d done that the memory warnings disappeared, that was when I noticed Google Chrome became more stable. A program crashes under a low (virtual) memory condition. Not a massive surprise!

  • A Darth Vader Lightsaber And A Charity Auction

    Posted on November 10th, 2014 Andy Parkes No comments

    This dear reader is a Master Replica of Darth Vader’s Lightsaber, complete with certificate of authenticity, signed by none other than Gareth Edwards. Director of Godzilla and an upcoming Star Wars film!

    First

    Second

    It’s just one of many items available at a charity auction that’s taking place this Friday (14th November) at Ambleside Sports Club in Nuneaton.

    The event is being ran by two very good friends of mine who are both running in the London Marathon next year for their chosen charity Bliss They are a UK charity working to provide the best possible care and support for all premature and sick babies and their families.

    poster

    So…where am I going with this?

    The Lightsaber isn’t the only the thing up for grabs on the night

    There will be two auctions on the night.

    A silent auction and a “loud, shouty” auction as well as a raffle with a ton of interesting prizes. One of which is an iPad Air Gold!

    If you’re interested in any of this, there are a couple of things you can do.

    1) Pay £10 for a ticket and come along! Kids are free, and I’ll even buy you a beer.

    2) Buy some raffle tickets. They are £3 each or 4 for £10. Top prize is an iPad Air Gold

    3) Place a bid in one the auctions

    4) Donate some money…here!

    5) Share this post with someone

    If any of the first three options appeal drop me an email or tweet me to sort that out(@AndyParkes)

    If you’re happy to just donate then click this link  <— This one Smile

    Full list of the auction and raffle items are below!

    Regular (shouty) Auction Items

    Gareth Edwards signed Lightsaber  
    John Barnes signed shirt Barnes
    Justin Rose Signed flag from the Scottish Open (which he won), Signed Ball and a Signed US Open Photo. Rose
    Disney/Phineas and Ferb poster signed by the creators of the show! Ferb
    David Beckham signed picture becks
    Lunch at Gordon Ramsey @ Savoy  
    Champagne experience at The Shard  

     

    Silent Auction Items

    Santa Pod Raceway tickets for 6 santa
    Signed Man United pennant  
    Signed Baggies pennant  
    Chelsea Stadium Tour  
    Spurs Stadium Tour  
    Leicester Stadium Tour Leicester
    Liverpool Legends Tour  
    Segway Experience seg
    Signed Ken Loach DVD  
    Christmas jumper  
    Signed Philip Schofield pic  
    Signed Little Britain DVD LittleBritain
    Bid on "Macca for a day"  
       
       

    Raffle Prizes

    iPAD AIR GOLD ipad
    Christmas Hamper
    Johns hair cut & blow dry + products
    Cawthorns Canvas Prints
    Meal at The Black Horse vouchers
    Coventry tickets to ANY game
    Conkers ticket for four
    £25 voucher for The Chase
    Bottle of Champagne
    Digital photo frame
    Abbey Physio voucher
    Bottles of perfume
    Hair products
    Mobile Disco voucher from Robbie Clark
    Doctor Who Ministry of Funny Walks Poster

     

     

     

     

    Silent Auction

    Raffle Prizes

  • Useful Tool: Service Trigger Editor

    Posted on November 4th, 2014 Andy Parkes No comments

    Newer versions of Windows introduced the concept of Trigger Start services.

    The idea being that a specific event “triggers” the startup of a service. In the past the service would have been running, using up resources waiting for that moment when it was needed. Using this newer method means services a dormant until they are actually needed.

    I had a problem with some backup software recently (Veeam). It needs the remote registry service to be running on virtual machine that needs to be backed up.

    For some reason there was one particular server that refuse to backup. I was able to confirm the trigger wasn’t kicking in when attempting to remotely edit the registry. It worked on other servers and I was able to confirm it wasn’t the firewall or anything like that.

    Working with service triggers is a bit of a pain normally though

    You have to do it via the command line using the SC command

    e.g

    sc qtriggerinfo remoteregistry

    image

    The title for this post should be a massive clue as to where I’m going with this.

    There is a very useful tool called Service Trigger Editor which you can download for free

    It lets you work with trigger services in a nice and simple gui. You can edit existing triggers as well as add your own.

    image

    I used the tool on a server that was working ok and replicated that on the server that was having a problem. All worked fine after that.

    Triggers services were introduced with Windows 7 and Windows 2008 R2.

  • Packt eBooks and Videos – Level Up!

    Posted on September 30th, 2014 Andy Parkes No comments

    The good people over at Packt Publishing have a special offer on at the moment.

    Basically the more ebooks or videos you buy the larger the discount!

    ALL eBooks and Videos are just $10 each or less.

    • Any 1 or 2 eBooks/Videos –$10 each
    • Any 3 to 5 eBooks/Videos – $8 each
      • Any 6 or more eBooks/Videos –$6 each

    These prices are in dollars but if you’re shopping in a different currency the discount is still applied (I checked!)

    landing-banner-level-up_0

     

    You can check it out here. The landing page has some suggested development collections but if you scroll down the page there are various categories you can choose from to find something to your taste.

    The offer runs until October 2nd so get on it quick!

  • Facebook Reviews

    Posted on September 13th, 2014 Andy Parkes No comments

    A couple of days ago I had a message pop up when I logged into Facebook

    Hello,

    A review you posted has been removed. Reviews must follow the Facebook Community Standards and focus on the core product or service offered by the Page. Reviews that don’t follow these guidelines may be removed. Please keep in mind that people who repeatedly post content that doesn’t follow our guidelines may lose access to their accounts.

    The Facebook team

    I also received an email with the same content.

    I was very puzzled. The alert gave me no indication of which specific review was a problem or exactly why I’d broken any rules.

    I try to conduct myself on Facebook in a decent way so any review I leave, positive or negative, is with respect to the people providing any particular product or service and is written out of a genuine intention to provide feedback.

    What also annoyed me was that there is no way to contact Facebook to ask about this. The message indicated that repeated offences would result in my account being banned. Does this mean a ‘black mark’ is now against my account that I can do nothing about?

    I don’t leave many negative reviews so it’s not that difficult to figure out which review may have been removed and I’m pretty sure there wasn’t anything in there that would be a problem. This leads me to wonder if the owner of the page reported my post because they want to reduce the number of negative reviews on their page?

    Just thoughts…

    It’s not like I’ve now got a criminal record or anything but I was a bit irked at being “told off” for something I didn’t think was wrong

  • Syntactically invalid HELO argument(s)

    Posted on September 12th, 2014 Andy Parkes No comments

    Yesterday I had a client report that certain emails were being bounced

    The SMTP error message was this

    501 Syntactically invalid HELO argument(s)

    Not one I’d seen before!

    As with most support queries one of the first questions to ask is “what has changed?” and this particular client has a Sonicwall Email Security Appliance that had failed and been swapped out that same morning

    Looking through the rest of the NDR it was clear the issue was with the appliance.

    Generating server: spam.invalid_sonicwall_gateway_domain.com

    This was also a huge pointer as to what the issue was.

    The host name needs to be a fully qualified domain name but in this case it had just been set to “spam”

    image

    Once it was corrected (e.g spam.customer.com) and the device was rebooted all was well.

    I’m not entirely sure how the host name ended up like that as I’m sure that form won’t allow you to enter a host name that isn’t a fully qualified domain name.

    The device settings were restored from a backup so it’s possible it was part of that but I’m just making a guess on that part!

    Either way it was a simple enough fix and email went back to normal after that.

  • Activate Remote Desktop Remotely–Revisited

    Posted on September 10th, 2014 Andy Parkes 3 comments

    I wrote about how to achieve this way back in 2007! It’s one of the more popular things I’ve written about and I still refer back to it pretty often.

    The steps were for Windows XP and mostly worked for Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8.

    That said there are more options available now when setting up your PC for remote desktop and the defaults now mean you usually have some extra things to do.

    So the first thing you need to do with your favourite remote registry editing tool (such as regedit!)

    HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Terminal Server\fDenyTSConnections

    Change the fDenyTSConnections to 0

    This enables remote desktop itself.

    image

    If you want to disable Network Level Authentication (NLA)

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Terminal Server\WinStations\RDP-Tcp\SecurityLayer

    Set the SecurityLayer value to 0

    Finally you may also need to create a exception rule in Windows Firewall. My preference is to use PSEXEC to run this command.

    netsh firewall set service remotedesktop enable 

    There are variety of ways to manipulate the firewall, group policy for example, but depending on the environment as a quick easy thing psexec is your friend.

    Finally if the person who will be connecting isn’t a local admin they’ll need to be added to remote desktop users group.

    Easiest way to do this is with computer management.

    image

    I’m not breaking new ground here but I’ve been asked about it a couple of times recently so thought it was worth putting this together.

    Do you have any other methods for achieving the above?  

  • Surface Pro 2 Losing Network Connectivity

    Posted on July 31st, 2014 Andy Parkes No comments

    A client recently purchased a couple of Surface Pro 2 devices and needed some help getting them set up.

    I’d got everything as I wanted and was just about to hand them back when my phone rang. I took the call and by the time I came back the device had gone into standby mode.

    I turned it back on and I couldn’t use the network drives. After looking further I was unable to even see the wireless network I’d been happily connected to the for the last few hours.

    After a restart it all worked fine again.

    I left it to go back into standby mode again and sure enough the same problem occurred.

    Since it was pretty clear this was to do with the wireless network card and standby mode that was the first place to check.

    I disabled Selective Suspend on the advanced tab and this seems to have cured the problem. Surface Suspend

    I’m not sure if this is because of Surface itself or the wireless access point it was connected to or a combination of both but I didn’t have any trouble after this.

    Firmware and Windows were fully up to date.

    If this comes up again I may look at updating the network card drivers separately but since this sorted it I was happy enough.

  • Taking Stock

    Posted on July 21st, 2014 Andy Parkes 3 comments

    This weekend marked two months since I last wrote anything here. It’s not exactly by accident.

    In my 2013 round up post I mentioned there had been some very bad news in the wider Parkes family. It took a little while for this to fully sink in but it made me think about exactly what’s important to me and how I prioritise certain things.

    There are only 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week and I want to spend as much of that time with the people who are important to me, enjoying life and doing things I enjoy.

    Of course there is still that balancing act between putting in the hours at work because enjoying life costs money!

    What that has meant though is tweaking how I make use of time and shifting priorities around certain things. Writing here is an example. If I’ve got an hour free and the choice might be between writing something or kicking a football in the garden with the kids then these days the blog post loses every time.

    It’s a pretty simple example but it stretches across into work too. We’ve had a particularly busy period recently so I’ve done my best not to increase my own workload by getting involved in certain things and drop other areas altogether. (I have a bad habit of not being able to say no that I’ve been trying to work on for some time)

    I’m also effectively off Twitter at the moment – I check there a couple of times a week at the moment as I’d find myself “having a quick look” and before I knew it an hour was gone.

    It’s working out ok at the moment.

    So this post is really going anywhere else but it’s something I wanted to get out of my head. Doing that here has worked pretty well for me before. Smile

    If you do want to take anything away then please do believe when I say you have no idea what could happen tomorrow. Terrible and tragic things can and do happen to good people. Make the most of the time you have with the people you love.

  • Error When Installing Windows Server 2012 R2

    Posted on May 20th, 2014 Andy Parkes 4 comments

    I was setting up a new virtual machine in Hyper-V and got this error after selecting the operating system (in this case Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard)

    Win2012Error

    "Windows cannot find the Microsoft Software License Terms. Make sure the installation sources are valid and restart the installation."

    From my very brief search it looks like there are a couple of things that can cause this but in my specific case I’d forgotten to set the startup RAM to something actually useful. It was set to 512mb as that’s the default in my virtual machine creation script.

    Once I’d increased it to a couple of gigabytes it installed without error.

    Since the issue here was between the keyboard and the chair (me!) hopefully this will help someone else who is being equally absent minded.