Archive for 2012

Configuring a Static (Non-Active Desktop) Wallpaper on a Windows Server 2003 Terminal Server using a custom Group Policy Administrative Template (ADM)

Enabling the Terminal Server feature on Windows Server limits the display of Desktop Wallpapers. This is done to prevent excessive bandwith consumption. In some situations however, you would like to configure a wallpaper to display, for example, your company logo.

Group Policies allow you to set an Active Desktop wallpaper. An Active Desktop wallpaper, unfortunately is heavy on system resources, less secure because it can run web content, and has a higher probability of failures.

Setting a simple, static, Bitmap image as a wallpaper can be done using a centrally managed, custom Administrative Template that is part of a Group Policy Object (GPO). In Windows Server 2003 an Administrative Template takes the form of an .adm file. Below are the contents of such a file.

Windows Phone Calculator's "hidden" scientific and programming functions

Too many people are creating and/or downloading special apps for this. It seems to be undocumented but converting to and from decimal, binary, and hexadecimal numbers is a standard function of the basic Calculator of Windows Phone. This video demonstrates how to access these functions:

Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Management Tools, Native Client Installation Failed

Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Setup fails when installing Management Tools or SQL Native Client without any specific errors.
Installation Progress Management Tools - Complete/Basic Status Failed

Complete with failures
This issue is caused by leftover setup files and registry keys. The problem can be resolved by running this Fix It program from Microsoft. Tell the program you're experiencing a problem installing a program and select "Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Native Client" from the list of programs. After the program finished cleaning the system you can rerun Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Setup.

The best Android 4.x phones under 400 euro

Recently I was asked to find out what the best Android-based smartphone is you can buy under 400 euro. I decided to share my findings for anyone who might be asking a similar question and/or have a similar budget.

Since I don't recommend purchasing a new phone with outdated software (older generations and lots of budget phones still ship with Android 2.x) I limited my search to Android 4.x only.
Samsung Galaxy S III MiniSony Xperia SSony Xperia PLG Optimus 4X HDHTC One S
CPU1GHz (Dual)1,5GHz (Dual) 1GHz (Dual)1,5 (Quad)1,5 (Dual)
Storage 8GB 32GB 16GB 16GB 16GB
Screen res.480x800 1280x720 (720p) 960x540 1280x720 (720p) 960x540
Screen size 4” 4,3”4”4,7”4,3”
Android4.1 4.0
Camera res. 5M 12.1M 8M 8M 8M
Video res. 640x480 (VGA) 1920x1080 (1080p) 1920x1080 (1080p) 1920x1080 (1080p) 1920x1080 (1080p)
Weight110g144g120g133g 120g
Battery ?h/500h 7h/450h 6h/450h7h/576h-
Price € 320,- € 325,-€ 275,-€ 350,-€ 375,-
SD slotMicro SD NoNoMicro SDNo
Reviews-Good 1Good 2Good 3Good 4

As of december 2012, based on these specifications, I'd recommend the Sony Xperia S or, the LG Optimus 4X HD.


Error C00D11CD (80004005) when syncing Zune

  • Synchronization takes forever.
  • Synchronization status will periodically reset to a lower percentage.
  • Zune keeps creating and deleting .tmp files in the directories configured for synchronization.
  • Files are listed under "Not added to collection".
  • When you click the yellow icon with the exclamation mark an error message will appear stating "Sync not possible". Error code: C00D11CD (80004005).

Some kind of corruption of your metadata store.

Rename ZuneStore.sdf to ZuneStore_old.sdf.
This file is located under C:\Users\<your username>\Local\Microsoft\Zune\.

Please note: "AppData" is a hidden folder to which you can navigate by explicitely entering it in the address bar. If you wish to browse/traverse to this location you need to enable "Show hidden files, folders, and drives" under the "View" tab of "Folder Options" in your "Control Panel".

Zune will recreate the mentioned file, but you will lose "Collections" and other stuff you've defined using Zune. Always create a back-up of your files beforehand.

Installing and Configuring RES Workspace Composer (RES Workspace Manager Agent)

For the installation and configuration of RES Workspace Manager on clients you wish to manage, it is important to know that there is no separate agent to be installed or deployed. In order to install Workspace Manager Composer, the "agent" of RES Workspace Manager, you simply run the same setup as when you did installing the console and creating the environment.

Non-administrators will, however, have no privileges to run the console or make any changes to the configuration. By correctly configuring RES you can granularly select which shortcuts and applications are available to your users. Also, for user sessions to be managed by Workspace Manager you finally need to set Workspace Composer to run after login or as a shell replacement. This latter part will be discussed at the end of this post.

Configuring a Multilingual User Interface (MUI) Language using a Group Policy Object (GPO) or RES Workspace Manager 2012 Express

This article will show how to configure a Multilingual User Interface (MUI) language on Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 by means of configuring a GPO or using RES Workspace Manager.

First make sure you've installed the appropriate language pack(s) on the Operating system. See this post for instructions how to do so. Once you've installed the language, your users can select it from the "Region and Language" section in the "Control Panel", as long as you haven't disabled access to that part of the Control Panel. In an Enterprise scenario however, it is commonly required to push such settings towards certain (groups of) users. Below are two methods of doing so.

Installing RES Workspace Manager 2012 Express Edition

Windows Enterprise Administrators use a variety of tools to control user preferences: Group Policy Objects, Logon Scripts, Registry Keys, and Folder Redirection. These methods are used to force certain settings or limit the amount of the profile that's need to be read and stored during logon and logoff respectively.

Problems will occur with managability, profile corruption, logon time duration, last-write-wins over multiple sessions, and incompatibility of settings across multiple platforms.

There are a couple of applications that can help you do this more efficiently. RES Workspace Manager 2012 is such an application. You can download it here. The Express Edition is free and can be converted to Bronse, Silver, or Gold Editions, which are more fully featured, at a later time.

The application uses a central Data Store, a Management Console and client agents. The installation is pretty straightforward. The only pitfalls are mainly related to database access.

Installing Multilingual User Interface (MUI) Language Packs On Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1

Installing Multilingual User Interface (MUI) Language Packs on a Windows Server OS can be useful when you allow end users to log in on those system. This is the case in, for example, Citrix XenApp Servers or Remote Desktop Servers (formerly Terminal Servers).

This way administrators will have the benefit of eventlog descriptions in English which are easier to troubleshoot and run internet searches on, and quicker access to updates, but users will still be able to use an interface in their native language.

For this you need to find a Language Pack in .cab format. You can download an ISO containing every Language Pack available from Microsoft: Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 Multilingual User Interface Language Packs (7601.17514.101119-1850_x64fre_server_langpacks_1-GRMSXLP1_DVD.iso)

Be carefull to download the correct ISO compatible with your OS and Service Pack level, otherwise you'll get an error message: "Language pack is incompatible with this version of Windows".

If you have the correct version, these are the necessary steps...

Toshiba Satellite C870-17R upgrade to SSD

Purchase a new laptop today and it probably ships with Windows 8 pre-installed. Not many manufacturers nowadays ship their product with an original OS installation CD/DVD. Instead they place a factory image on a hidden partition and encourage you to create restore media yourself. This is true for Dell, HP, and Toshiba.
For anyone, like me, who likes to modify systems or reinstall the operating system to get a clean bloatware-free setup, this poses some challenges. Especially if you want a fully functional, activated  OS in the end. In the past I had no real problems with this: you'd just get an OEM-version of Windows somewhere, format, reinstall, spend a few hours finding drivers and you're set. Normally there's an OEM-sticker with the product key on the bottom or side of the machine. Unfortunately on this Toshiba Satellite C870-17R no product key was included anywhere.

In the end these were the steps I took to get to a working result:
  1. Create recovery media using the preinstalled Toshiba Software (2 DVD's).
  2. Replace the hard drive with new one (an SSD in my case). Video instructions
  3. Boot to the first recovery DVD.
  4. Start the Toshiba Recovery Wizard.*
  5. Follow the mini-setup.
  6. Remove all unnecessary Toshiba software manually.
* Don't go into the advanced system and choose to restore a "factory default image" from there. It will just give you an error message saying there's a recovery partition missing.

Please note that Toshiba does not support the replacement of the hard drive. Adding memory is just fine, but if you mess with their bloatware and hidden restore partitions you're on your own. Of course you can simply shelve your original HDD and put it back should it be necessary. No warranty void stickers are damaged during the above process.

It's still worth it. Gotta love this boot time:

Also note this includes the complete BIOS POST. Loading Windows to the lock-screen actually takes about 2 seconds!

First Post

Welcome to this blog I started. Often when I'm troubleshooting IT technical problems I search the internet for possible solutions. At times I find useful information on forums, blogs, or knowledge bases. Unfortunately the information I find is often only a breadcrumb on the path to a real solution. Sometimes all you find is people shouting "me too!" after the description of a problem. At other times the information is there, but your symptoms don't quite match up, or the information is unstructured or unclear.

Next time when I put some broken pieces together, and I have some extra time, I'll do my part and post my findings here. If you find your way here through search engines, social media or links on forums, that's great and I hope it's been useful.