Tag Archives: microsoft

A Few DSGet Commands

DSGet is a Windows command-line tool used to interact with Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS). I came across some commands I’d written down earlier this year and thought I’d post them here for later recall.

To list direct members of a group:

DSGet group "CN=GroupName, OU=OrganizationalUnit, DC=domain, DC=tld" -members

To list all of the group’s members (including members of a group that is a member of the group in question):

DSGet group "CN=GroupName, OU=OrganizationalUnit, DC=domain, DC=tld" -members -expand

To list the direct group membership of a user:

DSGet user "CN=UserName, OU=OrganizationalUnit, DC=domain, DC=tld" -memberof

To list full group membership of a user (like a recursive list, so-to-speak):

DSGet user "CN=UserName, OU=OrganizationalUnit, DC=domain, DC=tld" -memberof -expand

And a PowerShell command (cmdlet) to show the sAMAccountName(s) of the members of a group:

Get-ADGroupMember "GroupName" -recursive | Select sAMAccountName

I know this is far from an exhaustive list of commands, but at least now I can throw that ratty sheet of notebook paper away.

Dot4usb.sys

I just had an issue yesterday that had me pounding out searches and wizards, trying to figure out how to get some driver files from a Windows XP CD.  It wasn’t actually getting them from the CD, but I couldn’t figure out where on the disc the files were.  Here’s my story, and I hope it helps someone:

The Problem:
I was trying to install an HP LaserJet 1200 on a Windows XP Pro laptop via USB.  No problem, right?  I’ve never had trouble before.  However, this XP install didn’t seem complete because when I put my USB flash drive in, it went through the Add Hardware Wizard.  That almost never happens, especially with XP.

Installing the printer seemed easy enough, but when it came time to copy the driver files to C:\WINDOWS\system32\drivers, it asked for the XP installation CD.  I finally got around to bringing a CD, and when I popped it in at the requested time, the installation still didn’t find Dot4usb.sys.  Time for Google.

The Solution:
Google showed me a few sites that discussed the problem, and one site pointed to a download site to simply get Dot4usb.sys so we could just finish up and go home.  Turns out that the site wanted $19.99 for it.  What a racket!  More Google, please…

I finally stumbled upon some other post somewhere else that led me to believe the file I was looking for was actually in a cabinet file within the I386 folder on the CD.  I recall having looked in there before, so here we go…

Dot4usb.sys actually exists on the CD at \I386\DRIVER.CAB.  It’s on every damn XP, Vista, Server 2003, and probably Windows 7 installation disc.  I extracted the file and another one I figured I needed, and all was well.  And to think someone wanted $20 for a free system file.

Also, the thread that lead me to the $20 site was on experts-exchange.com.  That is surprising because Experts Exchange is usually a very reputable site.  I think I found my real answer at tomshardware.com, another very good resource.

I hope that this post, in the archive, can help someone solve a similar problem, or at least remind them that XP might not look in DRIVER.CAB for something that it should otherwise know is there.

                

Windows 7 First Impression

I have been testing Windows 7 for two days now on the only computer I could spare. It’s an aging AMD Athlon 64 3200+ running at 2.01GHz (that’s a single-core CPU for the young folks here) with 2GB RAM. Internet Explorer 8 is all I’ve used, and things seem to be much better than Vista’s first days. It hasn’t broken yet, and I like some of the new visual features – one of which I’ve been waiting on since Windows 2000.

The system is not slow. At idle, it’s only using about 43% of the RAM. Things really do work. I’m blogging this from the beta system now.

The biggest UI change that Windows 7 brings is the behavior of the taskbar. The quick launch is gone, folks. For the three people on Earth who have studied my desktop, the quick launch toolbar is a staple for me.

I think that’s one reason I got to liking my MacBook so much – I put every program I use in the Dock.

So when I gained the experience of the Windows 7 taskbar, I couldn’t help but feel that I was between the two.

By default, programs aren’t there if they’re not open, with the exception of the left three (IE8, Explorer, and Windows Media Player). One can, however, leave a program icon in the taskbar by right-clicking it and choosing “Pin this program to taskbar” from the context menu. This is not at all unlike the same dialog in OS X that says “Keep in Dock.”

But that’s not what I was waiting on. I knew they could fix my one pet peeve, and they finally did. I use a lot of USB-interface storage devices, and I tend to use them simultaneously. I also use good computing practices when I want to disconnect the drive. However, the only piece of information provided to me when I want to release a drive is the drive letter. To figure out which one it is, I have to go to Computer and look. Only then will I know for sure which drive to release. Windows 7 actually puts the drive label in the release menu, so I don’t have to change my train of thought or spend two extra clicks. For that I am proud of Microsoft’s development team for listening and making sense of something.

So far, I am pleased with Windows 7, but haven’t had the opportunity to really put it to use. I have had Windows Media Player playing a solo piano channel from Lucky 7 Radio for nearly the entire uptime of the system and have crunched some movies, but I haven’t done any programming, YouTube watching, schoolwork, or much else on it. I will try to use it as if it were my only computer for as long as I can and will tell you all about it if something goes wrong. If I don’t write, just assume that everything is okay with Windows 7 and go ahead and dive in when they release it. The only thing that people won’t like is the once-again drastic UX change. Maybe more on that later.

Executive Decision

After toying with C# today, I’ve decided that it is way to process-intensive to write the application on a runtime environment like .NET or Java. What I need is a simple language that can download a page, rip through text like a bandit, write the necessary fields to the database, and move on. I can organize the data when the search engine extracts that data.

I can’t commit to anything yet, but my spidey-sense is telling me that the crawler will be written in Perl with LWP. I suppose I could look at Ruby, too, but I already have my Camel book and have worked with LWP before. I haven’t tied Perl to a RDBMS, but I have done it with PHP and it must be similar. Perl can also do some limited recursion from what I understand, and if it can’t I may can use a database back-end to save the stacks of URLs.

I was ready to buy books at O’Reilly today (I chickened out of spending the money) and found a book on writing spiders. From the preview I surmised my crawler/spider must be registered. That means I have to go mainstream, doesn’t it?

And now after some more reading, I have discovered that this crawler can be used to build an index for special purposes. I can build my own search engine for this site, for example, and get much better results than I can searching the Google index for benrehberg.com. I have searched for things I know I wrote about, but never found them with Google. Building my own search engine and maintaining my own index of the site can prove useful if I keep writing about programming.

Update: I have created a new label “Web Crawler” for all posts related to this project.

Friends with Vista

After nearly a year, I finally decided to figure out what I could do to make my Vista laptop a bit faster. The memory is maxed out at 2 Gigabytes and it has a dual-core AMD CPU. It had always been very very slow in completing trivial tasks, like opening a browser or the control panel. Copying and moving files took way too long, and I just never approached my problem with logic.

A few weeks ago I was talking with a friend about my experience with Vista so far, and mentioned to him that I didn’t think it was a problem with Vista, but a hardware issue with my Gateway laptop. “It runs very hot,” I told him. “The hard drive activity never stops. I just don’t think the machine was designed well enough to support such a heavy OS.” I’d never seen Vista so slow on any other computer, so why the hell is it pokey on mine? And what in the dickens is going on with my hard drive?

Then it hit me. Constant hard drive activity is an indicator of (1) a virus or crapware, or (2) an indexing service. Google Desktop search was deployed with the computer when I bought it; part of Gateway’s image, along with all the other garbage like BigFix, AOL , and the Office 2007 90-day trial.

Having been a student of Vista before and during its release, I remembered something about Google and Microsoft having fits about desktop search. It seems that Vista includes its own indexing service to speed up searching, and Google was having a hissy over users not being able to choose a desktop search engine. The Windows Indexing Service is on by default, and I don’t think any manufacturers have changed that in their production images. And it just so happens that Gateway included Google Desktop in every computer they released with Vista, and therein lies my problem: two indexing services, constantly running on my poor little 5400 RPM notebook hard drive.

After some thought, I decided I’m a fairly organized fellow and don’t have the need very often to search for a document. Most of what I access anyway is on the network, and those locations aren’t indexed by default anyway. So away went Google Desktop. Though I love Google, I have no need for that program on my mobile station.

And for that matter, I canceled the Windows Indexing service. No need to pick sides, you know?

Then for a final pick-me-up, I had Vista optimize the graphics for performance, which took away all the eye-candy and effectively made my desktop look like Windows 2000. I’m fine with that.

Oh, and one more thing: I shut off the UAC. Those pain-in-the-ass messages one gets when he tries to install a program, “Windows needs your permission to continue,” are gone. I can now run a command window without specifying to run it as Administrator. I can change IP settings with fewer mouse clicks. A little bubble message when I log on warning me that User Account Control is turned off is the only annoyance I have now, and I’m sure that with a simple registry edit I can get rid of that too. Maybe I’ll post it later.

I must say this little bottom-end laptop is pretty damn speedy these days. NetBeans opens in under 60 seconds. Outlook opens in under 5, and boot times are at their lowest since I got it. This doesn’t change anything about the inevitable change to a Mac when I can afford one, but it certainly makes me more comfortable in delaying it.

Microsoft Takes a Swing

Microsoft Bids $44.6 Billion for Yahoo – Washington Post

This actually came as a surprise today. Microsoft buying Yahoo!? Preposterous!

That could change a lot about the web, but something smells. Microsoft is a huge company, and little-old Google seems to have them grabbing at straws to figure out how to catch up. I can look at any place on the web that Google produced and tell you exactly why their advertising makes so much sense. Why their e-mail works so well, and no user has to pay for it. Why they have so much available for free.

It’s simply because they have but one reason: “Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” That’s it. There are no software revenue projections, nothing to give the shareholders a hard-on, nothing about providing a service at a premium. Just to organize the world’s information. This has been their goal since Sergey tried to download the Internet (or was it Larry? …not important). Sure, they sell stuff. Useful stuff (except the lava lamp) even, like the Google search appliance and SketchUp Pro. But that is not their main business driver by any means. They’re spending millions every year to scan books from libraries and make them searchable. They have a vast collection of scholarly journals and papers from around the world, and one may also search inside any of these.

This is just a taste of what Google is doing. They are successful because of something I don’t have a name for, but it is something along the lines of know what you’re doing and do no evil.

Most of you know that this blog is driven by the Blogger engine. I pay nothing for it, and it works much better than some of the other tools I’ve tried. Google probably bought it, but it has improved much over the years and it has never cost me anything. The funny thing is that there aren’t ads all over it. Sure, there are ads on this site, but I put them there; they aren’t some mandated advertisement justified for making my blogging free, it’s just free.

No one has mentioned so far that Gmail doesn’t inject ads into every message sent. It’s just regular e-mail. The advertisements shown on the side of the Gmail window are only text-based, and they’re usually relevant to what my e-mail is about. That way the advertising works. And if it works, people pay for it. So Google is king.

Microsoft and Yahoo! (and AOL, for that matter) are not because their interfaces are so heavy and the ads are very annoying. Their infrastructures are likely not as efficient as Google’s (who else uses a hundred thousand servers?) and their business models are not in tune with what people want.

Okay, I changed my mind. Yahoo! and AOL are in the entertainment business. Microsoft is in the software business (I put that together all by myself!). Google, however, is in the search business. Does anyone remember when a Yahoo! search looked eerily familiar, as if the results of that search were the same as a Google search for the same string? It’s because they were. Yahoo! used to use the Google engine for its search until just a few years ago.

The business of the web is changing, but there’s no way I can predict anything. I only get feelings, and I’m usually wrong because business is definitely not one of my strong interests. If the major search engines are reduced to two, though, it could get pretty damn nasty by 2010. I’ll likely not keep up with this subject, but it may be interesting nonetheless.

Windows Home Server

I’ve written earlier about a Dell PowerEdge SC440 Server I have that I couldn’t find anything to do with.

I would like to announce that my quest for a task is over. May I introduce Windows Home Server:

You can add one of these to your home network with ease, and it takes care of file duplication and backups automatically. In my opinion this is the best product for consumers that Microsoft has come up with in a very long time.

The architecture is based on Windows Server 2003 (the startup splashscreen tells us that), which is a proven operating system as it is in use very widely throughout the enterprise market. If you use multiple Windows systems and/or have an Xbox 360 that you want to access videos and pictures from, this is your answer. HP has them for about $599, but you’ll need a second hard drive for the duplication capability. The two-hard disk model is $749, and that’s two 500GB hard drives, plus room for two more. If that somehow is not enough, it accepts external drives as well.

If a disk fails, you’ll get a message. Simply replace the drive and start the server again. It automatically rebuilds the disk and balances the storage.

You don’t need a monitor or keyboard after it’s set up. Just put it in a closet and plug it in to the network. Install the client software on each computer in the house, and go. Backups run at night, and everything (if you so choose) placed on the file server is duplicated (if so capable).

You can even access your Home Server from afar. With a little bit of configuration, you can access your files on the server and even upload new ones from anywhere you might find yourself. I have already found this useful.

Rehberg Technology can also provide, configure, and install the Home Server.

Great Laptop For Sale

This is just getting old.

I was consolidating files over the network today and just had to take this screenshot. Vista has its drawbacks, but this is crazy. So…

I have a perfectly good Gateway MT6451 notebook computer for sale. $500 takes it. I’m switching to Mac as soon as possible, because I’m simply tired of waiting for things to happen and downloading hacks to make things work. I just want a computer that works as advertised and has more built in that I can use.

I don’t mind Apple’s non-compatibility with older systems. They did it that way because no one uses them anymore, so why bog the systems down? It’s what many people do – like outgrowing clothes. You don’t have the same shirts in the closet that you had when you were five, do you? And if so, do you wear them? Exactly.

And the price: the MacBook and iMac will last much longer than the average PC in terms of hardware and software usability, so I don’t mind the $2K price tag. I want three new Apple computers: two MacBook Pro laptops, and one new iMac. I could easily squeeze $6K into a powerful new Windows desktop and new monitors, but I’d rather have three working computers for that price. Plus, they run Windows too. It’s a no-brainer.

Um, You Forgot Something

I am just about this (||) close to trashing Vista now. One more feature I need tonight was standard in XP but is now only included in Vista Business and Ultimate. I need to talk to the government, and damn me if I don’t have to fax something. I don’t (like many others) have a facsimile at home. Why would I ever need one if I have a computer, right? Ha! If I had one it would be out in the shed, and I’d have to go dig it out about once every two years. I found my workaround in XP when I started using the Windows Fax Wizard. Why wouldn’t it be in Vista?

I guess it’s in the Business and Ultimate editions because those folks, after buying their new software licenses, can’t afford a damn fax machine anymore. The fortunate kids who saved a couple of hundred on a good cheap laptop with Home Premium will have to forgo the fax and buy another clunky piece of junk to use once per American marriage.

I’m now going to use CutePDF to get a portable document and e-mail those deprecated people at the State Department of Revenue.

Surface Computing

I’d heard of Microsoft Surface computing just a few weeks ago, but thought it was in more of a development phase. Turns out it’s not. Watch this video and see if you can find some uses for this platform. Kinda reminds one of Minority Report, doesn’t it?