Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Unhide in Excel won't let you scroll

I had a user with an odd problem today. They received a spreadsheet from one of our other offices, and one of the sheets had a bunch of hidden rows. The information she needed was in those hidden rows, so she had to unhide them. As soon as she did that, the sheet she was on would freeze. Everything was responsive, and she could click on cells, but she couldn't scroll any direction to see any other information. Other sheets within that same workbook were working fine. I did a quick search and found this, which solved her problem:

1. Unhide the hidden rows/columns like you normally would
2. On the menu bar, go to Windows->Unfreeze panes

For some reason the sheet was freezing the visible data into a single pane after it was unhidden, which gave the illusion that the sheet was locked up.

*Note: If you go to the Windows menu in Excel and you don't have the option to Unfreeze panes (you'll see Freeze panes instead), then you're having a different issue. Sorry, but I don't have a solution for that, at least not yet

Monday, January 26, 2009

Log on to console session using remote desktop

If you've ever wondered if you could log on to a server as if you're standing in front of it, rather than using some third-party tool like TightVNC, the answer is yes. To log in to the console session of a machine, it's actually pretty simple. I'm going to assume you already know how to use Remote Desktop.

For an example, lets say I have a server name "MyServer" and I want to log in via remote desktop to the console session.

In XP, you would connect to "MyServer /console" in the remote desktop client

For Vista, you would use "MyServer /admin" for remote desktop

You can also use the command line/run dialog to do this as well. The switches remain the same, so for XP you would use "mstsc /v:MyServer /console", and Vista would be "mstsc /v:MyServer /admin"

Thanks go to this page for giving me the information needed to create this post

Output MS-DOS command prompt to file

If you've ever wanted to keep a log of what you're doing in command prompt, but didn't know how, that's about to change. It's surprisingly simple. The key is the ">" symbol. You have two options, output/overwrite or append.

If you want to log a traceroute to, the command would be:

tracert > C:\log.txt

It's that simple! That will output all of the feedback from the command into a file named "log.txt" at the location you specified, which is just the C drive in this case.

If you want to append to that log a traceroute to, the command would be:

tracert >> C:\log.txt

Using ">>" in this command means append, and we specify the file we had created in the first command.

You can use this for batch scripts, or for keeping track of what you've actually been doing in the command prompt. If you're using Windows Vista, make sure you are running the command prompt as Administrator. If you don't, you'll get an access denied error. If you don't know how, just right-click on the Command prompt icon in your Start menu, then select "Run as administrator". That will give you the necessary permissions

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Fix blue screen of death listing nvstor32.sys as the problem

I have an HP Pavilion dv9000 laptop, and in the last two weeks it's been experiencing the dreaded Microsoft blue screen of death at random. Every time it crashed, the data dump would start and I would see "nvstor32.sys" listed as the driver that caused the problem. After getting annoyed to the point where I had to fix it, I did a quick Google search and found a blog entry by someone having the same issue with a Pavilion dv6000. It seems to be caused by nvstor32.sys, which is an nVidia driver for your IDE controller. Changing the driver to the generic Microsoft driver seems to solve it. Here's how to change it on Windows Vista:

1. Right-click the My Computer icon and select Manage
2. Click on Device Manager in the left pane
3. Expand the "IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers" by clicking the + to the left of it
4. Look for the nVidia entry, which should be something like "NVIDIA nForce Serial ATA Controller". Right-click it and go to Properties
5. To verify you selected the correct entry, go to the Driver tab and click on Driver Details. You should see nvstor32.sys listed in the driver files
6. On the Driver tab, click on Update Driver
7. Choose "Browse my computer for driver software"
8. Select "Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer"
9. You should see an option called "Standard Dual Channel PCI IDE Controller". Select that and click Next

This will change it so the generic MS driver is used rather than the problematic nVidia nvstor32.sys driver. This is how I chose to fix my problem.

I did find another blogger who reported a software update would solve the problem. However, the download link he posted was to another blog, which then had a download link but that link wasn't to any official site. does provide software downloads, but the only ones that I could find appeared to require you to know what type of motherboard you have, and I didnt' feel like figuring that out. If you want to go that route, version 5.10.2600.995 is supposedly the one you want.

*UPDATE 2/5/09 - Since following these steps to change to the generic drivers on the day of the original post, I haven't experience the blue screen of death since. It hasn't quite been two full weeks yet, but prior to reverting to the generic drivers the BSOD would happen multiple times each day. I have experienced a few times where the computer will hang for a few minutes as if it's going to crash, but then it'll come back and act normally. 

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Fixing/Editing corrupt Windows Registry without booting OS

If you run across a problem with your registry, but regedit won't let you modify the entry, here's an alternative. You can create a live CD with Windows on it using PE Builder. Using that to boot into Windows, you can then access the registry entries for the Windows installation on your hard disk. This can be very helpful, especially if you have viruses or spyware that are embedded in your registry.

1. Create your BartPE boot CD so you have a "live" version of Windows to use
2. Turn on the computer and boot from the CD
3. Once the BartPE environment is loaded, click on Go, then Run
4. Type Regedit and click OK
5. Select the Hive on the left that corresponds to the one you want to change in your install. Go to File->Load Hive
6. Browse to the location on the hard drive of the hive file. Typically they would be in C:\Windows\system32\config.
7. Give the loaded hive a name so you'll know which one it is, such as MyHive
8. Go ahead and change the value(s) that are giving you problems
9. Click on the hive that you loaded (MyHive), then go to File->Unload Hive. DO NOT forget to do this
10. Restart the computer

Original post about editing the registry offline:

Microsoft KB 307545:

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Can't bind OS X 10.4 to active directory

I had problems with binding an OS X 10.4 laptop to our Active Directory. It looked like it would be fine, and then once it got to step 5 of 5 it would stall. The only option I had was to force quit and restart. I tried creating the computer account manually in AD and then joining it, but it would still stall at step 5. It turned out that I had multiple entries for a few domain controllers in my DNS, and that was why it was having issues. As soon as I deleted the extra entries, Directory Access was able to find the correct IP address to use and the laptop was able to bind without any issues. The webpage I found that pointed me in that direction is here. I only wish I had thought of it back when I initially was binding Macs to AD because I ran into it all the time and really had no clue how to fix it. Eventually it would somehow work for me and I just left it alone after that.

If it's not a DNS issue causing the problem, check the time. Kerberos defaults to only allowing a 5 minute difference between the domain controller and any machines bound to Active Directory. If the difference is more than 5 minutes, the computer will not be authenticated. I've noticed that it can be extra picky, even if you have the machine set in the same time zone as you are. Make sure you're using the city closest to your location.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Create a Windows "Live" CD

If you don't know what I mean when I say "Live" CD, it is a CD that allows you to boot and run Windows from the CD itself, without the need to install anything on your computer. This can be very useful if you're troubleshooting problems. Using a free tool called PE Builder, and your Windows installation disc, you too can create a "Live" CD to use for troubleshooting.

First, download and install PE Builder. You can find mirrors for it at

Next, put your Windows CD in your CD-ROM drive.

Run PE Builder and select the CD drive as the Source. Choose the media output and click Build. There are other options, such as plug-ins and slipstreaming updates, but this is a guide only for the basic setup. I had mine output to an .iso and then burned it using Roxio.

If you want to take a look at the original guide I had found about making the CD:

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Check website ping speed from around the world

I've been dealing with the Great Firewall of China, or at least some sort of traffic blocking over there and it's driving me crazy. In my research for the problems I'm trying to fix I ran across this webpage which some of you may find helpful. allows you to put in a URL or IP address and then will give you ping results from various locations of theirs from around the world. 

Friday, January 16, 2009

View .pub file without Microsoft Publisher, for FREE

This will work with other types of files too if you don't own the software typically needed to read it, but the free version is pretty limited. There are websites out there that will let you upload a file, and then it will be converted to a .pdf and emailed to you. One that I just tested with a .pub Publisher file was That link brings you directly to the conversion page. It worked like a charm and it kept me from having to download and install the Publisher demo from Microsoft, but the file size is limited to 2MB so if your file is larger you may need another alternative. They also offer a pay version for converting more file types, but the free version is pretty basic. It definitely works with Publisher files though, which is probably the only type a person would want to use something like this with. For most other Office documents without MS Office, I recommend the free that is a free alternative to the standard Office suite.

If you're hesitant to give an email address to something like this, you should be. Go ahead and read through the terms and conditions if you want. I didn't bother because I was hurried, but so far so good. My spam level hasn't changed.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Outlook 2007 restore down to title bar only

I came in to work this morning to find that Outlook 2007 had minimized itself, and when I opened it all I could see was the title bar. Maximizing worked fine, but I like being able to drag and drop to the desktop, or move my Outlook window around. The normal resize in the corner wouldn't work either. After doing some digging I found a solution. Right-click on the title bar that is displayed, then choose "Size". That will let you resize the window back to how it should be. Maybe that's common knowledge, but I didn't have any idea so I'm guessing there are probably others out there that will eventually run into the problem too. Happy New Year too a few days late!