Thursday, December 30, 2010

Fix event ID 13559 problem on a Windows server

After migrating a standalone Windows domain controller to a VMWare environment, I noticed that some group policy objects weren't being enforced. It turned out some of the GPOs were missing from the SYSVOL share because it wasn't replicating on the newly virtualized DC. After checking the directory service event logs I found repeated entries for event ID 13359, stating

"The File Replication Service has detected that the replica root path has changed from "c:\windows\sysvol\domain" to "c:\windows\sysvol\domain". If this is an intentional move then file with the name NTFRS_CMD_FILE_MOVE_ROOT needs to be created under the new root path."

I didn't change the location of sysvol, and according to the event the sysvol location was changed to the same location. I did a little research and found that all I needed to do was listen to the event description and create the file requested. There's also KB 819268, but I didn't really find it useful. To fix the problem here's what you should do, assuming you have another domain controller that you can pull a new set of SYSVOL data from

1. Create a file named NTFRS_CMD_FILE_MOVE_ROOT in the directory listed in the event description where the replica root path has been moved to. In my situation I created a text file with that name in the C:\WINDOWS\SYSVOL\domain directory on the domain controller.

2. Restart the File Replication Service, either through services.msc, or with "net stop ntfrs" then "net start ntfrs" through the command prompt.

Now if you check your event log you'll find a warning that you're DC is going to be removed from the SYSVOL replica group, which is good. It'll automatically add it back to the group and start replicating the SYSVOL contents from another DC. Be patient and don't try to force a replication with replmon though as you'll want to wait until your server has been added back to the SYSVOL replication group first.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Deploy Google Chrome using .msi file and Group Policy

To get started you can download an .msi installer file directly from Google at That's really about it. Then deploy like normal and you can either publish or assign Google Chrome.

If you want to deploy Firefox using an msi, check out my previous post.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Create subgroups of contacts in Outlook

If you have a lot of contacts in your Outlook Contacts, you may wonder what you could do to try to organize those entries. One suggestion would be to create subfolders of contacts so you can group them together so you have multiple smaller groups, which should make it easier to locate a contact. You could always just use the search feature as well, but if you're looking to organize your contacts here is a way to do it.

1. Open Outlook and go into Contacts

2. Click on File->New->Folder...

3. Choose "Contact Items" in the Folder Contains drop-down (it should be there by default), give the subgroup a name, then pick where to store it in your mailbox. I would suggest creating it as a subfolder of your Contacts folder.

4. You'll see the new contact group in the My Contacts section, and you can add contacts to your new subgroup by either creating new within the group or dragging existing contacts into it.

Now you can click on the Group to quickly find the contacts you placed in it. If you'd like to use this group to find contacts while composing an email, there is another step you must take to make it available as an address book list.

1. Right-click your newly created subgroup and go to Properties

2. Click on the "Outlook Address Book" tab and check the box that says "Show this folder as an e-mail Address Book", then click OK

3. Now your subgroup will show up as a selectable Address Book for you to use when adding recipients to an email or calendar invitation

If you noticed the different icons on the contact groups within Contacts, you're in luck because I have the answer for you. This distinguishes where the group exists. If it has the hand holding a contact card, that means it is synchronized with the Exchange server, such as Contacts and ContactsSubgroup in the screenshot above. The ones with blue arrows are contact lists I have open from another Exchange account, and in the screenshot they are from the Administrator mailbox. If the icon is just a contact card, this means it is locally stored within a .pst file. If you're looking to use the subgroup from Outlook, webmail, a mobile device, etc, you will have to make sure to create your subgroup in your Exchange account so you get the hand holding a contact card icon. Otherwise you won't be able to use the group within webmail or your mobile device, but they will be available on the computer running Outlook where you created the group.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Setting remote desktop timeouts in the registry

If you're using terminal server you should be using the terminal server settings, or even better, group policy. However, if you are running an XP Pro install without a domain the only option is to modify the registry. Or if you have a domain but just want to change one XP Pro install it can be easier to do the registry modification instead of setting up a GPO for the single desktop. In my case there are two people with individual accounts accessing a single XP Pro computer remotely on occasion, but one of the two always leaves their session open so the other can never just log in without forcing the other's session closed. I set up an idle timeout on the XP Pro computer so now neither of them are allowed to let their session sit idle for too long.

You can change just about any remote desktop setting from within the registry, but the main two you're likely looking for since you're reading this post are MaxDisconnectionTime and MaxIdleTime. They can be found in the registry under:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE->SYSTEM->CurrentControlSet->Control->Terminal Server->WinStations->RDP-TCP

MaxDisconnectionTime is how long a session that has been disconnected can be kept alive. It is useful if you have users that like to click the X on the RDP bar rather than logout. MaxIdleTime is for how long an idle session stays alive, just in case you have users who should be logging out but always stay logged in regardless of whether they're doing anything or not. These values are set in milliseconds, and make sure to enter your value in decimal (unless you figured out your value in hex, but I'm going to guess most people wouldn't bother with that). If you want to limit the overall connection time, you could change MaxConnectionTime to define a limit for that as well.

In my example above, since I didn't want either user staying logged in to this particular computer, I set MaxIdleTime to 2 hours, which is actually a value of 7,200,000 in the registry (2 hrs * 60 min/hr * 60 sec/min * 1,000 millisec/sec). That way if their session is idle for 2 hours they get disconnected automatically and no one has to worry about forcing the other session closed.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Merge, extract, split, or rearrange your PDF files for FREE!

I love free software that is useful, and today I found PDFsam (PDF split and merge). It's an open-source program available direct from, or through Sourceforge, that allows you to perform various actions such as merging and rearranging on PDF files. Normally this would require Adobe Acrobat Pro, which is pretty expensive. Instead you could use PDFsam and accomplish most of the common things a person normally buys Acrobat Pro to do. It does require Java, but you can download and install that for free from, so that shouldn't be an issue. There are also installers for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux, so it's pretty widely available.

The program might not be as pretty as Acrobat, but it seems to still work pretty well and isn't hard to figure out if you click around a little. I tried a couple of test runs with the merge and did have an issue with one, but the other worked just fine to create a new document. This makes me think PDFsam still has a few bugs, but it's still worth having in your arsenal.

If you're just looking to create PDF files from existing documents, check out my other post about DoPDF.

Viewing Illustrator files on a Windows PC for free

Using free, open-source software, you can view Adobe Illustrator .ai files and .eps files on your Windows PC. It's pretty simple too. If you're looking to modify the files this isn't going to help, but as long as you need read-only access this is a great way to avoid paying for the expensive Adobe Creative Suites package.

1. You need to download three packages: Irfanview, the Irfanview plugins, and Ghostscript. You can get Irfanview and the plugins from, and Ghostscript through

2. Install the three programs in the order above. First Irfanview, then the plugins, then Ghostscript. The default settings are fine, but keep an eye out for checkboxes trying to install other software that you don't need, such as toolbars

3. Once the programs are installed you're ready to open your file. Right-click the .ai or .eps file and choose "Open With". From there select Irfanview from the list. If it's not there choose Browse (or "Choose default program..." first, then Browse if on Windows 7), then locate the i_view32.exe (Irfanview program executable) file. It should be located in C:\Program Files\Irfanview\i_view32.exe. Click Ok. If you have a 64-bit version of Windows, the Irfanview executable is likely in the C:\Program Files (x86)\Irfanview folder instead

4. If you want to set this as the default program for all .ai or .eps files (you'll have to do each separately), check the box labeled "Always used the selected program to open this kind of file", then click OK

You should now be able to view .ai and .eps files for free on your Windows PC. This may not work for every file as the postscript decoding isn't perfect, but I don't complain when it's free.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

How to change the Microsoft Word 2007 default format

If you want to change your Microsoft Word 2007 default format, it's pretty simple. In my situation, it was defaulting to extra line spacing that I didn't want. Instead I wanted all new documents to default to single spacing by default. In this example I'll show you how to setup single spacing, but this also shows you where to set any of the other default options too.

1. Open Microsoft Word 2007, then on the Home tab, look for Styles. Right-click on the Normal style, then choose Modify

2. At the bottom click the Format button, then select Paragraph

3. Change the Line Spacing dropdown to Single, and also change the After spacing to 0 pt. Then click OK

4. Change the selection at the bottom to "New documents based on this template", then click OK

Of course you can make any modifications you want to through this process, and as long as you select the "New documents based on this template" option before you click OK, your new documents will be based on those settings.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Deploy Firefox using an .msi file and group policy

If you're looking for a Firefox.msi file in order to deploy Firefox using group policy, you don't have to look any further. Ok, I lied a little bit. You're going to have to visit FrontMotion to download one, but then that will be it. You can get the .msi file from Currently they're up to date with version 3.6.13. If you're looking to deploy Google Chrome too, check out my other article.

One thing I found though is that the .msi that FrontMotion provides also forces Firefox to be your default browser without prompting you. Maybe that'll work for you if you want to for it to be the default browser, but I only wanted to publish Firefox as an optional browser for users to install from the network. If you're looking to do the same as me, luckily you can create a transform file pretty easily that will fix this for you if you have Orca installed. If not, you can download the Microsoft SDK from and that includes Orca.

Once you have Orca installed, use it to open the firefox.msi file you downloaded from Then go to Transform->New Transform

Now you can make the changes to the .msi settings. There are three things to change, that I originally found here:

1. In the "Feature" table, find "F_SetDefaultBrowser" and change the level to 6
2. In the "Property" table, find "INSTALLLEVEL" and change the value to 3
3. In the "Registry" table, find "RegKey045" and right-click and choose "Drop Row"

Once you've made those three changes you can create the transform. To do that, go to Transform->Generate Transform...

This will prompt you to name and save your .mst file somewhere. Now you have the .msi and the .mst transform file and you're all set to deploy.

Just like any other GPO software deployment, make sure that you use the network path to your .msi file rather than browsing out to the location. Also, make sure to select Advanced after selecting the .msi file so you can include the .mst file you created under the Modifications tab. I'm assuming that you're familiar with group policy software deployment if you're reading this so I'm not going into those details, but if for some reason you're not leave a comment and I'll try to help. If you're interested in setting policies for Firefox through group policy, download the firefox.adm file from here. Good luck!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Rotating iPhone or Droid video that always shows sideways (aka landscape) in Windows

We have a few iPhone 4s floating around in our environment, and I have one too. The video is nice, but whenever you try to view it on the computer it shows up in landscape, regardless of how you held the phone while taking the video. I did some research and this seems to be "normal", at least on Windows computers. If you're a Mac user, please leave a comment if this affects you as well. There are two ways to fix this, one that will allow you to open and another that actually converts the video, but neither of the methods are that great in my opinion. Regardless, at least there's a workaround. I just ran into this with someone who has one of the Droids too, and this worked for them as well.

If you only want to be able to view them on your computer

Open the video in Quicktime. I'm going to assume you have iTunes installed since you have an iPhone, and with that you also get Quicktime. I'll also assume that Quicktime is not your default video player or else you wouldn't have needed to look up this article.

You can right-click your video file, then go to Open With... This should give you some options, one of which may be Quicktime. If it is, select it and your video should open in the proper orientation.

If Quicktime isn't an option, select Browse or Choose Default Program (will depend on which version of Windows you're using). There you should be able to find Quicktime and select it to open your video file.

If you want to change Quicktime to always open your iPhone videos, go to Open With..., then click on "Choose default program" or "Select program". From there select Quicktime Player, then make sure the check box is checked that says "Always use the selected program to open this kind of file". That will make Quicktime your default program for .mov files.

If you want the video viewable correctly from any computer

For this you will need to rotate the video. Windows Live Movie Maker can do this for you, but it will also require you convert the video to a .wmv format in order to save the rotated video. You can get it for free direct from Microsoft (, or it's part of the Windows Live Essential package that you can download through Microsoft Update.

To rotate the video, open Windows Live Movie Maker and click on "Add videos and photos"

Browse to your video file, select it, then click Open

Now you'll see buttons on the top for rotating 90 degrees in either direction. Use those buttons to rotate your video to the orientation of your liking.

Go to File->Save Movie->High Definition (1080p). Name the new video file and choose where to save it, then click Save.

Movie Maker will go through the conversion process to save your moving in the new format with the proper orientation

Once the conversion is complete, you'll get a message letting you know. Then you can play your new .wmv formatted movie and the orientation will be that which you set a few steps ago.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

How to flush the DNS cache in Windows and OS X

If you're having problems with DNS, try flushing the local DNS cache. If you don't know what DNS is, this is the service that handles translating domain names, such as, into IP addresses. This allows you to remember the domain name, but then allows the computer to use the IP address to communicate with it. Sometimes DNS settings get changed, but those changes can take a little while to propagate through to everyone system. To speed the propagation along, you can flush your DNS cache manually and force it to reload the most recent settings. To do that in Windows or Mac OS X:

Open a command prompt (Start->Run->cmd, then OK). Then type ipconfig /flushdns and press Enter

Open Terminal (Applications->Utilities->Terminal) and type dscacheutil -flushcache then pressing Enter

You should note that this only flushes the DNS cache on your local machine. DNS is a hierarchical system that relies on many different levels of connections, each of which have their own DNS cache. If you manage your own DNS server that would be the next step to diagnosing a problem if flushing the client machine's cache doesn't work. However, that's another topic entirely and this is only meant to give you the quick way to manually flush the DNS cache. If you want to learn more about how DNS works, check out the Wikipedia article, or search online because you'll find plenty of resources.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

How to clear your Windows offline files cache

If you are having problems with offline synchronization in Windows and can't seem to get it figured out, you may need to clear your offline file cache.  I've also run into problems where there is no other way to stop your offline files from synchronizing, even if you've done what you can to shut it off. I recently had this issue and found the solution at There are three different way to clear the cache, but the article in the link outlines them all in a very clear way. In my situation I had to use one of the registry hacks because I had a GPO preventing changes to offline files through the menu.

What's taking up your free space? Easily find out using these free tools

Have you ever wondered what is taking up space on your hard drive? If you have, you'll be happy to know that free programs exist which will traverse all your files and folders and give you a hierarchical and graphical view of where your space is being taken up. I recently had a user with 2GB of free space left on an 80GB hard drive, but I could only find 27GB in use. Using one of these programs I found that almost 40GB was showing up as unknown space. That led to some more research to find that IBM's Rescue and Recovery can cause this, and that was exactly the problem. I uninstalled Rescue and Recovery (there was no need for it on the machine anyway) and that made all the unknown space usable space again.

There are many different programs that will give you a graphical representation of file space on your drive(s), but the two I'd suggest are WinDirStat and SpaceSniffer, both of which are free. I prefer the look of SpaceSniffer, and it also comes as an executable so you don't have to install it. Below you'll see a screenshot of SpaceSniffer so you can better understand what I mean when I say it gives you a graphical representation of your hard drive space. If you're wondering just what is taking up space on a drive, give one of these two tools a try and save yourself the time of manually tracking down the culprit.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

How to change a Windows user's password from the command prompt

1. Open a command prompt window. If you're running Vista or 7 you may have to open the command prompt as an administrator.
2. Enter the command net user username * /domainname or just net user username * if you're not changing a domain user, then press enter. Make sure you substitute your own entries for username and domainname
2a. You could also use net user username newPassword /domainname or net user username newPassword. This will change the password to the newPassword value without prompting you again
3. Enter the new password, then confirm
4. The user should now have the new password set for them

You can find the original article that I used at, which includes some screen grabs of the command prompt text.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Extract Java .msi installer for software deployment

If you want to deploy Java software in an Active Directory environment, you can easily use Group Policy to install it on multiple machines. Here's how to get the msi installer file you'll need for the deployment:

1. Download the Java Offline installer from here for the browser you're using. If you don't know whether you're using a 32 or 64 bit browser, go with 32 bit. Not everything runs in a 64 bit browser (yet), so even the Windows 7 64 bit OS still defaults to the 32 bit version of Internet Explorer.

2. Start the Java Offline installer, but don't proceed with the actual install. Starting the installer creates the files you need in a temporary location.

3. Go to your Application Data folder. For each version of Windows it can be a bit different, and it is also a hidden folder

Windows Vista/7: C:\Users\username\AppData\LocalLow\Sun\Java\
Windows XP: C:\Documents and Settings\username\Local Settings\Application Data\Sun\Java\

4. In the Java folder you will find folders for each version of Java you have installed on that machine. Open the one named for the version of Java you want to extract the .msi file from

5. Here you'll find the .msi installer, along with its supporting files. Copy the contents of the folder to a network share and from there you can deploy that version of Java using Group Policy software installation.

You can find the official Sun/Oracle document here.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Allow standard user to change the time

If you follow best-practice and setup your users as standard users, you may have run into this is before. Standard users aren't allowed to change the time on the computer they are using. However, you can fix this using group policy, or by changing the local policy on the computer. Which method you want to use is up to you, but it's as simple as setting one policy.

1. Go into the policy you want to add this functionality to and navigate to Computer Configuration->Policies->Windows Settings->Security Settings->Local Policies->User Rights Assignment

2. Find the "Change the System Time" entry and double-click on it

3. Check the box labeled "Enable this policy setting", then click on "Add User or Group..."

4. Click on the Browse button

5. Enter Administrators and click on "Check Name". This will validate the name and make sure the system is able to find it

6. Administrators should now be underlined, which means everything is correct and the group has been validated. Now you can click OK

7. Click OK again to get back to the screen in step #3. Now repeat steps #4-6 for the group named "Users", and also for "LOCAL SERVICE"

8. That's it. Close your policy editor and now any standard users using the computers affected by the policy should be allowed to set the time on those systems.

Thanks go to this post for pointing me in this direction. I'm still looking for a way to allow users to change the time zone too, but from what I've been finding it's not possible and you have to script it through AD instead.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Replacing or upgrading hard drives in an Apple Drive Module for a Mac server

Replacing the hard drive in an Apple Drive Module (ADM) is relatively simple, at least on an Xserve G5. I wanted to increase the server's storage capacity, so I picked up three Western Digital 1TB Caviar Blue (WD1EALS-00Z8A0) drives. I read a post that says the XServe G5 only supports up to 1TB drives. Otherwise I would've gone with some 2TB drives instead. The true ADMs only come in sizes up to 500GB for the G5 Xserve, and that's what I already have. The hard drives within the modules are Hitachi Deskstar 500GB SATA drives (HDS725050KLA360). I saw SATA and figured it must be pretty easy to swap them, and it turns out I was correct. However, there are some pros and cons of using stock, third-party hard drives in your Xserve G5. If you want to read the article I found, check it out here. Otherwise, here's the quick version

Pro - cheap, readily available

Cons - lack Apple-specific firmware, normally aren't server-grade drives, they haven't been tested by Apple, and the rubber washers on the ADMs are supposedly specific to certain drives for reducing vibration

Looking at that list I chose cheap. The only cons that would be a little concerning are that they're not server-grade drives, and they don't have the Apple firmware. However, the drives showed up in Server Monitor like normal so I don't know how much of an issue the generic firmware would cause. You could always test the drives yourself, and I don't think a different type of rubber washer is going to change the vibration in my drives enough to worry about it. It's up to you to gauge whether this is a good idea for your particular situation. For me it was fine so I proceeded with the swap. I have a Dual 2.3GHz G5 Xserve, which happens to use SATA drives. If yours is a different model you'll want to double-check what type of drives you need first. The ADM has a special connector on it for where it plugs in to the server., but it's just an additional interface and is not specific to the hard drive you buy. In my case the connector looked like this

Anyway, on to the hard drive swap. Here's how I did it:

1. Remove your ADMs from the server. Make sure to label the drives in them if they're in a RAID configuration so you can put them back in in the correct order if you need to. Putting them in in the wrong order will break your RAID. At this point you will have to
2. Once the drives have been labeled, take one and start removing the screws. There are four screws, two on each side. Remove them in whichever order you prefer. I removed one side first, then flipped it over and removed the other

3. Once the screws are removed you're going to have to remove the drive from the ADM. Set the drive flat on your work surface. Lift it up from the back of the drive, which is the side with the spring latch you used to remove it from the server. It should come out easily.

4. The SATA connectors will be on the front side of the ADM/drive, so flip the drive 180 degrees so it sits on its top. This will give you clear access to the SATA connectors. Unplug them

5. Now you have an empty ADM sled. Simply perform the steps in reverse. Plug in the connectors, flip the new drive into the sled, put the four screws back in and you're done.

This will leave you with an ADM with a new hard drive. Go ahead and repeat for any additional hard drives you're going to swap. Then put the ADMs back in your server and boot to the OS X Server install CD/DVD to get on with installing OS X Server. Don't worry if your server starts beeping at you after you've put in the new drives. That's the megaraid controller alarm letting you know that something is different than it expected with the drives. You can shut that off by going into Terminal after booting from the CD and using the command megaraid -alarm -silence. You'll have to use the megaraid program through the Terminal for configuring your new RAID array as well. For some examples of a configuration using the megaraid program, check out Otherwise you can enter megaraid in Terminal and see the few command line switches are enough to get you going. Good luck!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Paragraph marks show up in Outlook or Word when typing

If you start seeing paragraph marks show up when you're typing a new email in Outlook, or a new document in Word, you're not the only one that has happened to. I get that question now and then and it's simple to toggle back and forth. It's different for Outlook and Word though, so I'll give you directions for both.

For Outlook 2003:

On the Standard toolbar, click on the  button. If the Standard toolbar isn't displayed, go to View->Toolbars, then select Standard

You can also consult the Office Help article.

For Word 2003:

Click on Tools->Options, then under the General tab look for the Formatting section. Uncheck the box labeled Paragraph Marks and then click OK

Monday, June 14, 2010

How to stop quotation marks qualifying specific columns in a text export from SQL Server

In an attempt to create a text file from a database in SQL using an SSIS package to replace the same file's creation from Access, I ran into a snag. That snag was that the Access file was not qualifying certain fields with quotation marks, but SQL was qualifying every field with quotes. The program that used the text file was created by a third party so I didn't wan't to have them change the programming to accommodate this change, and the text qualifying was causing problems. Instead I turned to Google and found that controlling this was a lot easier than I thought it would be. Here's how to specify which columns should not be qualified by quotation marks, assuming you're doing so through the use of an SSIS package.

1. Open your SSIS package responsible for exporting to the text file
2. In the "Connection Managers" section at the bottom, right-click on the connection for your text file and choose Edit
3. You'll open up the settings on the General page by default. Change to the Advanced page
4. Select the column you do not want to have qualified by quotation marks
5. In the window to the right, set TextQualified to False
6. Repeat 4 and 5 for all other columns you do not want qualified

This also stopped qualifying the header row for me though. I needed all header names to still be qualified with quotes, so to get around it I renamed those particular headers to contain quotes in their actual name. You can do that right in the same Advanced section as step #3 above. Once you rename your headers though, you'll also have to go into the actual text file destination object under the Control Flow to make sure those headers get remapped. Adding the quotation marks will prevent those columns to be recognized for auto-mapping. Once you've done that go ahead and give your new package a try and you should see that the text qualifiers are shut off for the fields you set TextQualifed to false.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Generic IEEE 1284.4 error when installing an HP Laserjet 4240 on Windows Vista

If you're having problems installing an HP Laserjet 4240 on a Windows Vista computer, try using the PostScript driver from this location. Using the HP Universal Print driver didn't fix the Generic IEEE 1284.4 error I kept getting, but the PS version of the driver did. I know this is a short explanation and specific incident, but if you're running into a similar error with a different printer try a different driver.

This may also work for Windows 7, but I haven't had to try it yet. If you do, let me know whether it works or not.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Dell Latitude E6510 cursor skips or computer freezes

If you want to see my original chat session log with Dell support, it is at the bottom of this post.

Update 4/7/2011: It's been a few months since my last update and I'm happy to say there have still not been any issues. Since this article seems to be relatively popular, I'm hoping most of you are having success with getting the issue resolved. Hopefully this is my last update to this post.

Update 2/15/2011: A little over two months after receiving the second laptop back with a new motherboard and the issue still has not come back. That seems to be pretty conclusive to me. For anyone else having the issue I'd suggest trying an OS reformat and reinstall first, without installing the Dell ControlPoint software. If that works, great. Otherwise you can likely rule out a software issue and you'll have to push Dell Support to do some hardware repairs, even if their Dell diagnostic scan (Fn+Power) comes back without any errors. Good luck!

Update 12/2/2010: I have received the second laptop back from Dell after its second trip to Depot repair. This time they replaced the motherboard but didn't touch the OS or hard drive. That is going to make it easy to redeploy so hopefully the motherboard was the issue. I'll write an update after a few weeks and hopefully it will be positive.

Update 11/19/2010: Four lockups on the machine received back with only an OS restore. One on the day I went to set it up, and three since the end user got it back. It seems to have been ok for about a week. Swapped with a temp machine again ran the PSA diagnostics, which of course reported no errors. I noticed they wiped out the Dell diagnostic partition from the hard drive though, so I can't run those tests again. Online support chat is setting up another Depot repair as I type...

Update 11/2/2010: Received the second E6510 back today and all they apparently did was an OS restore. I didn't bother with that because of the problems with the first and the amount of comments and traffic this post has been getting. Hopefully it's fixed, but I'll post any updates if there are still problems.

Update 10/21/10: I'm finally sending in the second E6510 that we have been having troubles with. It only took ~15 minutes on the support chat to get the technician to say I need to send it in for repair. Now I'm waiting for the return box so I can send it back to the Depot.

I was finally able to get some diagnostic errors as well from within the Extended Test of the Dell diagnostics. I got an error "350F:1344, DISK - Block: Can't read, replace disk". I've also gotten multiple "350F: 1332: Interrupt Request (IRQ) did not set in time" errors. If you don't know how to get into the diagnostics mode, hold down the Fn key when you power on. That brings you into the quick diagnostics. If you get through those without problems you have the option for the extended memory tests, which I also did and it found no errors. After that it booted into the Dell System partition, where I started running the Extended Test. This is where I finally have proof that this isn't a software issue, which is what they've liked to try to blame. If you're having trouble getting Dell to accept the machine for repair, I highly suggest running this extended system test because you'll likely get the proof you need.

Update 7/30/10: I received the laptop back from Dell Depot repair yesterday. On the ticket it says that they replaced the hard drive and motherboard, then reinstalled the OS. So far so good in the two days I have had it. It hasn't locked up at all and it seems like the touchpad is even functioning more smoothly. I'll post any updates if issues return, but I'd suggest going right to tech support if you're experiencing this same issue. This is especially true if you received your E6510 in early May (or earlier). It'll save you from pulling your hair out trying to find what is happening.

Update 7/19/10: I gave up. I talked to Dell tech support and have sent the E6510 back to the tech depot for repair. I'm hoping to have a definite resolution to share after getting the machine back. The second machine I had mentioned is also still having this freeze issue once or twice a week. I plan on sending that in after the first one is handled. For those of you having the same problem, when did you order your machine? I ordered both of these problematic E6510s on 4/22/10 and received them 5/4/10. I placed two more orders for three more E6510s after that (one on 4/28/10 and two more on 5/14/10). Those three laptops arrived between 5/19/10-5/24/10 and this freezing issue has not happened on any of them. Did Dell have a bad batch go out earlier and then solved it later on? If you also have this problem and received your machine close to or before 5/4/10, please leave a comment. I'd like to see if we can come up with some sort of pattern.

Update 7/7/10: The user reported that the laptop locked up on him twice last night, so it appears the issue is still at large. At this point I'm really leaning towards an I/O or hardware issue. With this being the only E6510 having problems out of five, and all five of the machines having the same configuration (Win7 Pro x64) and software, I don't see what else it would be. I guess I should have taken Dell up on the hardware they initially sent (motherboard and RAM). Hopefully I can get them to send the parts again without requiring me to ship the laptop in for a depot repair. Has anyone reading this had success after having Dell replace any of the hardware? Or is everyone mostly suffering from the skipping cursor and not the random lock-ups?

Update 7/2/10: Dell has new BIOS files posted from 6/1/10 that may help this issue. My user was still having problems so I'm going through another reinstall now. I got Windows 7 installed and on the first run it froze on the "Preparing your desktop". I've now installed the A03 BIOS after first installing the P02 BIOS patch. The system requires the P02 patch to be installed first if you're running the A01 BIOS, and it will not let you install the A03 BIOS until that has been installed. The P02 patch is listed as urgent, so it would be a good idea to update, especially if you're experiencing this issue. It does seem that the cursor is moving much more smoothly now without having to change the touchpad settings at all, but maybe I'm just imagining it. I did see someone linked to this blog in a forum, and then later in the forum someone blamed the ControlPoint software. It's possible that it was causing some issues, but on my latest Windows reinstall the computer froze up before I even had a chance to install ControlPoint. However, if the BIOS update doesn't help then getting rid of ControlPoint would be something worth trying, especially since most people probably aren't even going to use it.

Original post

I've ordered five of the Latitude E6510 laptops and they seem to be pretty decent machines. They're all running Windows 7 Pro 64-bit. However, there's one thing I've noticed. The touchpad is difficult to use and the cursor likes to jump or skip around. I even had one of the machines randomly lock up completely and have to be rebooted on occasion. It seems that it's all linked back to the Dell touchpad settings, which you can find under the mouse settings in the Control Panel. It seems to be DragLock, which can be disabled. You can also adjust the cursor speed after that to make it easier to use. Disabling DragLock even cleared up the random lock-ups on the one machine. It still doesn't fix the sporadic touchpad, but it does seem to help. Here's what I did to fix the cursor problem and also the freezing:

1. Go to Start->Control Panel
2. In the top right, change the "View by:" option to Small icons
3. Find and click on Mouse, which will bring you into the mouse and touchpad settings
4. Under the Dell Touchpad tab, click the touchpad icon to get into the settings
5. Click on Touchpad Settings in the lower left
6. Under the Touchpad tab, uncheck the box next to DragLock
7. Under Touchcheck, move the slider one spot to the left. This should be one step to the right of minimum
8. Change over to the Pointing Stick tab
9. Under Touchcheck, move the slider one spot to the right. This should be one step to the left of maximum
10. Click Ok and close the Mouse settings and Control Panel
11. Reboot

Dell Support Chat Session Log

It took almost an hour to get the support rep to pay attention to what I was telling him, but he finally accepted that the machine needed repair after repeatedly trying to tell me that it was a software issue and not their problem. I did speak with support a few times before and one of those time they even sent me a new motherboard, hard drive, and RAM, but I thought the issue was fixed so I sent it back. This rep didn't bother looking back at that and forced me to waste a bunch of time going through the diagnosis again. Needless to say, after they took the machine back and replaced the motherboard and hard drive, we haven't had the issue since.

07/16/2010 01:32:53PM Session Started with Agent (CLKsmb_Jimmy_188647)
07/16/2010 01:32:56PM Agent (CLKsmb_Jimmy_188647): "Hi! Thank you for using Dell Chat for Small and Medium Business. My name is Jim, how may I help you today?"
07/16/2010 01:34:07PM "I'm looking to send in a Latitude E6510 laptop to depot for diagnostic and repair. I've had issues with it randomly freezing since receiving it and have contacted Dell on a few occasions. I thought the issue was solved, but it is not and the machine still"
  randomly freezes
07/16/2010 01:35:04PM "At one point I was sent a new motherboard, hard drive, and RAM to install myself. However, I thought I had solved the issue with a simple software setting and sent those parts back without using them"
07/16/2010 01:36:10PM Agent (CLKsmb_Jimmy_188647): "Thank you for sharing your concern. I'll do my best to assist you with that issue. Please give me 2-3 minutes to pull up and check your account."
07/16/2010 01:36:19PM "Ok, thanks"
07/16/2010 01:39:48PM Agent (CLKsmb_Jimmy_188647): "Thank you for waiting and for the information you provided. Can you confirm the system that you would like to have support with is a LATITUDE E6510 with Service Tag XXXXX ?"
07/16/2010 01:40:10PM "Yes, that is the correct system"
07/16/2010 01:41:38PM Agent (CLKsmb_Jimmy_188647): "Thank you. To give you an update, you still have an active warranty for rapid depot service that will expire on 2013-04-29."
07/16/2010 01:41:44PM Agent (CLKsmb_Jimmy_188647): "Have you already run Dell Diagnostic?"
07/16/2010 01:42:06PM "Yes I did, the last time I contacted support"
07/16/2010 01:42:14PM "It does not find any errors"
07/16/2010 01:42:44PM Agent (CLKsmb_Jimmy_188647): "Then it is a software issue."
07/16/2010 01:43:03PM "I have reformatted the hard drive and reinstalled Windows 7 three times, and the issue has reoccured each time"
07/16/2010 01:43:33PM "The last time I did it the laptop froze before I even was able to login for the first time"
07/16/2010 01:44:57PM Agent (CLKsmb_Jimmy_188647): "When is the last time you run Dell Diagnostic?"
07/16/2010 01:45:54PM "Whenever the last time I talked to support. It was after the 2nd reinstall, but not since the 3rd."
07/16/2010 01:47:02PM Agent (CLKsmb_Jimmy_188647): "I suggest to run the Dell Diagnostic again and tell me any error codes you will be getting."
07/16/2010 01:47:48PM "Ok, hang on"
07/16/2010 01:51:30PM Agent (CLKsmb_Jimmy_188647): "Okay."
07/16/2010 01:52:45PM "No errors and it's asking if I want to run the extended memory test"
07/16/2010 01:53:19PM Agent (CLKsmb_Jimmy_188647): "You can run that if you have not run it before."
07/16/2010 01:55:48PM "I did run it before and it didn't find any issues either."
07/16/2010 01:56:47PM "Would there be a reason that the WCMATS memory test would show two different sizes (MB)? Or is that abnormal?"
07/16/2010 01:57:30PM "I have 4GB of RAM and that's about what it adds up to, but one number shoulds 3314 MB and the other is 704 MB"
07/16/2010 01:58:13PM Agent (CLKsmb_Jimmy_188647): "No."
07/16/2010 01:59:35PM Agent (CLKsmb_Jimmy_188647): "How is it going?"
07/16/2010 02:00:14PM "The test found no errors and I didn't bother with the extended test since I had ran it before and it showed no errors. I am waiting on next steps"
07/16/2010 02:01:01PM "If it's a software issue, then that issue is between the hardware and Windows 7 64-bit. After reinstalling the OS the laptop froze before I was even able to login to my desktop for the first time"
07/16/2010 02:01:53PM "I installed the latest BIOS update as well and the issue still exists. I have not been able to recreate it. I has happened while using Outlook, Internet Explorer, and also just browsing the files on the computer without Outlook or IE open."
07/16/2010 02:02:18PM "It also happened during the initial setup before it first logged in, like I mentioned"
07/16/2010 02:02:43PM Agent (CLKsmb_Jimmy_188647): "It cannot be hardware because after running Dell Diagnostic teh full scan, you are not getting any error code."
07/16/2010 02:03:52PM Agent (CLKsmb_Jimmy_188647): "Did you happen to do clean reinstall?"
07/16/2010 02:04:13PM "I've already mentioned multiple times that I've reformatted and reinstalled Windows 7 three times"
07/16/2010 02:04:38PM "And that the issue occurred right away after the last (third) reinstall before I was able to even login for the first time"
07/16/2010 02:06:14PM "This random freezing has happened since the day I received the computer. I thought I had fixed it with a software setting on the Dell Touchpad software, but that was wrong. The issue still persists"
07/16/2010 02:07:02PM "I noticed there was an urgent BIOS update so I tried that as well, but the issue still exists. I can't reproduce it by doing anything in particular"
07/16/2010 02:08:18PM "I have purchased three E6510 laptops since and have not seen this issue again. However, like I mentioned, this one and the other that came in on this earlier order have had the random freeze issue. The only way to do anything when it happens is to hold do"
  wn the power button and perform a hard reset
07/16/2010 02:08:43PM Agent (CLKsmb_Jimmy_188647): "Have you already tried downloading the older BIOS?"
07/16/2010 02:08:53PM "Why would I/"
07/16/2010 02:08:55PM "?"
07/16/2010 02:09:05PM "It didn't work with the old BIOS and that's why I upgraded it"
07/16/2010 02:09:22PM Agent (CLKsmb_Jimmy_188647): "There are times that older BIOS allows the system work fine."
07/16/2010 02:09:24PM "Now it's not working with the new BIOS either so I'm assuming that doesn't effect anything"
07/16/2010 02:10:07PM Agent (CLKsmb_Jimmy_188647): "What other software you are installing after reinstalling Windows?"
07/16/2010 02:10:12PM "If you were following our conversation I said I upgraded the BIOS after the issue started. I've tried A01, P02, A02, and A03"
07/16/2010 02:11:07PM Agent (CLKsmb_Jimmy_188647): "Or have you already tried running in Safe Mode to avoid any software conflicts and see if freezing still happening there?"
07/16/2010 02:13:55PM "Seeing how I've mentioned the issue happened prior to EVEN BEING ABLE TO LOGIN for the first time after the last Windows reinstall, and I have multiple machine including other E6510 laptops running the exact same software on Windows 7 64-bit, I don't see"
  how that is relevant but will provide you with the list anyway: McAfee VirusScan 8.7i patch 3, Microsoft Office 2007 Standard, Adobe Reader 9.3.3, Adobe Flash Player 10.1, iTunes 9.2, Skype 4.2, and Java 6.0.20.
07/16/2010 02:14:25PM Agent (CLKsmb_Jimmy_188647): "Have you already tried running in Safe Mode to avoid any software conflicts and see if freezing still happening there?"
07/16/2010 02:16:07PM "No. Seeing how the freezing issue seems to happen at random, sometimes days apart, I would have to run this machine in safe mode for days. I thought it was solved last time because it hadn't locked up in 5-6 days, and then it just happened to start again"
  and locked up multiple times in a single day
07/16/2010 02:17:13PM "Why is this so difficult? I already was sent parts to install myself, which I returned thinking the issue was solved. Now it turns out that it isn't and we're going through everything all over again. Is there no history of previous cases involving this la"
07/16/2010 02:17:50PM Agent (CLKsmb_Jimmy_188647): "There is but I cannot see any reason why you are not getting any error codes if the issue is with the hardware."
07/16/2010 02:20:51PM "I agree with that, which is why I want to just send it in to the depot at this point. I've exhausted all of my means of trying to diagnose and solve this issue. I have a feeling there was a bad batch shipped out, which included the two I've had problems w"
  ith. I have had no issues with the E6510s I've ordered since then, but these two were the first I received. I can't point at hardware either, but the issue has happened prior to me installing any software too so I can't say it is software either. If it's
  not software and it's not hardware, then what is it? I don't have a clue, but there's definitely something wrong
07/16/2010 02:22:05PM "Are there any Dell specific logs that I could look at to see if there is some type of crash report?"
07/16/2010 02:22:19PM Agent (CLKsmb_Jimmy_188647): "Since your system has a Return to Depot warranty we will need to send in the system to one of our Depot facility for repairs and the turn around time for the repair process would be 7-10 business days. Please include the hard drive (It is suggested to bac"
  kup and delete your data first) and AC Adapter and remove non-Dell products.
07/16/2010 02:23:03PM Agent (CLKsmb_Jimmy_188647): "To process the dispatch, could you please tell me the address where we will be sending the empty box and also your alternate contact number and contact person? Thanks."
07/16/2010 02:24:05PM "Thank you. The address is XXX. An alternative number would be XXX , and you could also reach XXX as a secondary contact"
07/16/2010 02:26:02PM Agent (CLKsmb_Jimmy_188647): "Thank you for the information."
07/16/2010 02:26:07PM Agent (CLKsmb_Jimmy_188647): "Okay, I will now process the dispatch and send you the e-mail the Dispatch Number and Service Request Number. Would that be all for now?"
07/16/2010 02:26:29PM "Yes, that will be all"
07/16/2010 02:26:46PM Agent (CLKsmb_Jimmy_188647): "Thank you for choosing Dell. Again, this is Jim. Have a wonderful day. Bye :-)"
07/16/2010 02:26:47PM Session Ended

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Setup cannot continue version error when installing R2 on Server 2003 x64

This article is probably a few years late, but maybe you're like me and are still primarily using some version of Windows Server 2003 and haven't jumped to Server 2008 yet. I had one server running Server 2003 x64 with service pack 2 installed and decided I wanted to upgrade it to R2. I popped in CD2 of the R2 media and tried installing, but to my surprise it got an error saying "Setup cannot continue because this product disc is incompatible with the service pack installed on this computer. To complete the installation of Windows Server 2003 R2, you will need to insert the latest version of Windows Server 2003 R2 Disc 2.". At first I thought I'd be able to slipstream SP2 onto the second disk, but since the Windows install files are all on CD1 you can't do that. A quick Google search fixed my problem though, so thanks to Here's what to do in order to successfully install R2 on a Server 2003 x64 server running SP2.

1. Insert the R2 CD2 disk
2. Create a folder somewhere on your server and copy all the files from R2 CD2 to that folder
3. Go to your folder, then into CMPNENTS, then R2
4. Find the file named R2INTL.INF, right-click and choose Open With, then pick Notepad
5. The file should be open in Notepad at this point. Find the line that says "R2SPLevel = 1", and change that to "R2SPLevel = 2"
6. Save and close the file
7. Run R2AUTO.exe from the root of the folder you created in step #2

You should now be able to successfully install R2 on your SP2 installation. You could also burn those files to a CD or an .iso image file for future use.

Monday, May 17, 2010

How to open printmanagement.msc for managing your printers

I had never heard of print management until recently, while working on figuring out how to share 64 bit print drivers from a 32 bit server. It is a useful tool though, especially in Windows 7, so you may want to check it out. Here's how to get to it:

1. Click the Start button and type printmanagement.msc and press Enter
2. Right-click on Print Servers and select Add/Remove Server
3. Specify the server name and click OK. If you are adding your machine you can use the Add the Local Server button


1. Open MMC (Microsoft Management Console) by going to Start->Run and typing mmc in the box and clicking OK. Or if you have Vista or Windows 7, click the Start button and type mmc in the Search box

2. Once the mmc window is open, go to File->Add/Remove Snap-in

3. Scroll through the list of available snap-ins until you get to Print Management. Select it and click Add

4. In the "Add servers:" box, type the name of the print server(s) you'd like to manage and click Finish

5. Click OK one more time to close the add-in manager and you should now see the Print Management snap-in

It's useful for managing shared printers on multiple print servers, and also for adding or removing drivers from your print server(s). You can also manage the local machine with this snap-in, and it's the only way I have found so far that allows you to manage the print drivers installed on your Windows 7 computer. If you're wondering how to delete a printer driver from a Windows 7 computer, the print management snap-in is the answer

Sharing 64 bit printer drivers using a 32 bit Windows print server

I've finally made the jump to 64 bit computing by adding some Windows 7 x64 machines to my environment. However, I do not have any 64 bit servers, so I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to use my existing Windows Server 2003 print server to share out 64 bit drivers for printers. Well, the answer is that you can, but without a good set of instructions it can be a little messy. Hopefully with the steps below you too can share your 64 bit drivers from a 32 bit print server.

In my situation I am working with Server 2003 SP2. If you're running R2 the steps may be different, and I'd imagine 2008 is completely different. You need your 32 bit server, and you also need your 64 bit machine. Both of them have to be used in order to load both sets of drivers. You can't load 64 bit drivers from your 32 bit server, and vice versa. The other thing is that the drivers have to be named the same. The easiest way to make sure of this is to download both the latest 32 and 64 bit drivers from the manufacturer's website and use those. That may mean you will be updating existing 32 bit drivers, but you're better off doing that than trying to get the new 64 bit driver to work with an older 32 bit driver. I currently have Sharp and HP printers printing from my Windows 7 64 bit machine through our Server 2003 32 bit server as well. In my instructions I'm going to assume you already know how to install a printer. Here's how I got it to work, and I'll use a Xerox printer for the example.

1. On your 32 bit print server, download the latest 32 bit driver for your printer
2. On your 64 bit machine, download the latest 64 bit driver
3. On the printer server go ahead and start installing the printer. Your setup may differ than what I have in the screenshots, but I'm installing a networked printer that has an IP address of

4. When asked for the print driver, click on "Have Disk...". Now navigate to the location when you downloaded your 32 bit print driver and select it. You may have to unzip the driver package you downloaded if you haven't already.

5. Pick your printer from the list included in the driver. In my case there's only one option

6. Name your printer and click Next
7. Choose to share the printer and give the share a name, then click Next
8. Fill out the location and comments boxes if you want, then click Next
9. Print a test page if you'd like, but it's not required. Then click Next
10. The printer should install and then you can click Finish
11. Now hop on your 64 bit machine and open up printmanagement.msc. If you don't know how to do that, check out my other post.
12. In the tree on the left, open up Print Servers and open your print server. Go to the Drivers section, right-click, then choose Add Driver

13. When at the Processor and Operating System selection screen, uncheck the x86 box and check the x64 box instead. Then click Next

14. Click on "Have Disk..." and browse to the location where you have the 64 bit driver that you downloaded in step #2. Again, you will have to unzip the downloaded driver file prior to being able to select it here.

15. Repeat step #5 to select your printer and click Next
16. Click Finish. This should install the 64 bit print driver on your 32 bit server

Now you can double-check to make sure it worked. As long as the printer drivers are named the same it should have. To check, log back in to your printer server. Right-click on the printer you installed and go to Properties. Go to the Sharing tab and click on Additional Drivers.

If done correctly you should see that the x64 and x86 boxes are both checked, which means the printer is being shared using both drivers.

It took some trial and error in the beginning, but this method has been working for me and I hope it works for you too. Good luck!