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