Sunday, April 27, 2014

Book I Read: Never Go Back (Lee Child) & more

I've been inhaling books lately.  I broke my nook(#*@#!), so I'm back on Physical books for the time being.  I love the smell of them but wow it's heavy to carry a week's worth of books around an airport.  Heavy, but delicious!

Never Go Back (Lee Child)
Call to Treason (Tom Clancy et al.)
Cry of the Halidon (Robert Ludlum)
Man from the Broken Hills (Louis L'amour)
Mustang Man (Louis L'amour)

Ginseng Dreams (Kristin Johannsen)
 - Intriguing book.  This book makes me seriously consider acquiring a parcel of deeply remote woodland and seeding in Ginseng as a long term investment.  I like the idea of camping off the grid for a week a year tending my plot, and Mathematically this looks like a decent investment.  In honest self criticism I have to admit that my risk coefficient is a blatant uneducated guess.  This needs more thought.

Divergent Trilogy (Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant)(Veronica Roth)
 - Yeah for dystopian fiction!

 - Vigorous annoyance that book one of this Trilogy is in paperback, but the other two are still hardback.

- A memory erasing serum is an intriguing ethics problem.  The Daniel Suarez book Influx touched on this too.  What is it to steal a memory?  To reduce a person to a blank slate?  Is it murder?  Is it almost?
- Regarding the statue, would a recirculating water system successfully erode rock?  I understood the primary mechanism of water erosion to be chemical, not mechanical.  Perhaps if another chemical was used to bring the calcium* ions out of solution and re-acidify the water? 

* - Assuming the rock is limestone.

Right now I'm working through "The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable".  It's slow going.  My brain is largely googlified, meaning I subconsciously skim and content filter non-fiction.  A googly brain is a big plus when you need to find and extract specific data, but it's a serious PITA when you want to dig deep into a subject.  Books like this and the Ginseng book take real effort to stick to. I am working on it.

This week I will be in Active Directory Security training.  Assuming that does not drive me to complete exhaustion, I will be shopping for Flash Boys and Capital in the Twenty-First Century.  Those should be interesting.

Protip: Dealing with flight cancellations

I am involuntarily hanging out in an Airport today.  My 11:30 a.m. flight was canceled due to a broken airplane.  Meh.

Here is a tip.  When you reserve your flight, put the airline's re-booking phone number in your cell phone.  When the airline gate attendant makes the announcement that your flight has been canceled there will be a massive stampede up to the counter.  Take your place in line and immediately call rebooking.  By calling in before they hand out the phone number you have a jump start on the 150 other people in line jockeying for a seat.  The people on the phone will almost always be faster than waiting in line for the gate attendants, especially if you beat the crowd.

Bonus tip: If you are going to be stuck for hours, you may be able to score a food voucher.  Today was my first one of those.  I got a $12 lunch ticket.  The Twisted Chips and Apple Pie from O'Charleys were pretty good.)(Food tastes better when it is free!)

The American Airlines rebooking number is 800-446-7834.  If you make status on the airline you get a different number.  It should be on the back of the card.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

How do I tell when ChkDsk was last run?

An interesting question popped up at work today.
Question: Is there a way to tell if ChkDsk is being run at regular intervals and see what the results are?
Answer: Yes!  There is an event written to the Application Event Log when chkdsk is run.  To view it, run eventvwr.msc.  In the left-side navigation pane expand "Windows Logs".  Then select the Application Log.

Note: If clicking through thousands of events one-at-a-time isn't your idea of "fun", there are a couple of handy event log search features.  Since you know the event IDs in this case, you can filter the output using the "Filter" options in the right-side action pane.  Alternately you can right-click "Application" in the navigation pane, select "Find", and search for "chkdsk" (no quotes).

If chkdsk is run in offline mode at boot time, either for a dirty filesystem or because it's forced, then the output will be in the Application Log WinInit event id 1001.
Wininit Event Id 1001 Offline Chkdsk output
If chkdsk is run in online mode (without rebooting) then the output will be in the Application Log Chkdsk event id 26212.
Chkdsk Event Id 26212 Online Chkdsk output
These events were captured from a Windows 7 machine.  I suspect the behavior also exists in Windows Vista, but you should confirm that empirically instead of taking my hunch.

When I tested my Windows 8.1 machine, I got the same event for the offline scan, but the online scan gave me chkdsk Event ID 26226.
Windows 8.1 Chkdsk online scan EventID 26226

Bonus tip, to schedule an Offline Chkdsk scan for your next reboot, run fsutil dirty set c:.
The action center will pop up and tell you to reboot.  At the reboot, chkdsk runs.  Magic!


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Clearing the "Display Intranet Sites in Compatibility View" checkbox with Group Policy Preferences

I had an interesting troubleshooting session today around Internet Explorer Compatibility Mode.  The customer wanted to turn off "Display Intranet Sites in Compatibility View" in Internet Explorer 10, and populate a specific list of internal sites that would use Compatibility View.

We discussed and demonstrated that both of these could be accomplished with out-of-the-box Group Policy Administrative Templates for Internet Explorer.

This was fine for the site list, but they preferred to give their users more control over the "Intranet" setting.

Here is the Fix.

We created a Group Policy Preference that populates the registry key HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\BrowserEmulation\IntranetCompatibilityMode.  A value of one checks the box; a value of zero un-checks it.  I have this marked as a "Replace" action, but you could also use "update".*


* Thanks to the commenter that pointed this out.

Quickie: Get Group Policy Preferences to Reapply

Group Policy Preferences are great.  It's nice to pre-set things for your users and know they can change it if they have a need. 

This is a PITA to test though, as you can't re-apply the preference to your test machine. 

Here's the fix.

Open up the regkeys
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Group Policy\Client\RunOnce 
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Group Policy\Client\RunOnce

The GUIDs of the applied GPOs will be recorded here.  Delete them and reboot.  Viola, your GPPs will reapply like magic.


HTC 8x Windows Phone Gripe

I have a fantastic HTC 8x Windows phone, but it has a couple of infuriating hardware problems.  The phone randomly displays "SIM Error  The SIM card is missing or invalid.  You can still make emergency calls if your mobile operator supports it."

The internet tells me this is a common problem on these.  That sucks.  Today will be the magic day when I get off my lazy duff and ask them for a replacement.

Follow-up: Not bad, 10 minutes on the live chat and they'll send me a new SIM tray.  Ok, that's a little annoying as I asked for a new SIM tray two months ago and they told me to get a new SIM card from AT&T first.  :/

Follow-up 20140423: The new SIM tray fixed it!  Now I have to figure out why it powers off when the Battery hits 22%.