Blog Archives

Black logon screen for Server 2003

This is the first time I’ve run across this issue, but what was happening is I’d see a black screen both through RDP and from the actual server console.  You could see a little bit of the windows logon box, but it was cut off where the username and password fields would be.  If you can fumble your way through the logon screen you’d be able to logon but everything was still black, the only color you’d see would be in the desktop icons.  This makes it virtually impossible to do anything on the server.  This situation does not cause a work stoppage, as all the background services ran fine, you just can’t logon and do anything. 

So I started searching around and ultimately ran across a MS KB article 906510.  I’ll paste in the information below, but the KB said it was an issue with the color scheme, and the registry values were all set to “0”.  At least that is whats listed as the cause of the black screen symptom, but it does not offer an explanation of what would cause the numbers to get set to “0” in the first place. 

To resolve this I had to do the following:  (NOTE: the drive mapping step was only needed for my solution as the server was not on the domain and not using internal DNS, so I could not authenticate on the domain).

1. Map a drive from another network machine to this server using local admin credentials.
2. Open regedit and connect remote registry to the server in question. (this will not work unless you map the drive first – see above note)
3. Use an export from a working server of the registry key noted in the MS KB and import that into the remote server.
4. Attempt logon through RDP or at the console, the color issue should be resolved. 

I wish I knew what caused this issue, but I can’t find much as to the actual cause.  I heard talk that maybe it was a disk space issue, but my server had 10GB of free space, so that wasn’t it.  Hope this information helps someone in the future.

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My favorite registry hack

Do you know how annoying it is to try to quickly open a file in Windows that should be all text and naturally you want to open it with a text editor right?  Instead of being an easy process sometimes you have to go through a few steps to pick the program you want to open the file in.  Well here is a quick registry hack that will let you import all the settings necessary to add a context menu (right click menu) item called “open with notepad” when you right click on a file.  I personally like notepad better than wordpad (out of the build-in options in Windows), however, you could substitute your own text editor of choice here and save yourself a lot of trouble.  Just copy the code below into a new notepad document and save the file (to your desktop for example) with a .reg extension.  Then double-click on the resulting .reg file and click “ok” to add the registry information to your computer (NOTE: this only works on Windows operating systems). 

Now when you right click on a file, notice you have a new option in the context menu to open with notepad.  You can customize this as I mentioned to use your own text editor, just replace the name of the menu item and the executable name of your text editor in the code below.  Naturally you need to make sure the .exe is in a set user path so Windows knows where to get it. 

———————— (Copy below this line)————————————

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT*shellOpen with Notepad]
@=""

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT*shellOpen with Notepadcommand]
@="notepad.exe %1"

————————-(copy above this line)—————————-——-

Enjoy!

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Windows Vista

I am now also evaluating Windows Vista on my multimedia computer.  I performed the ugprade yesterday and it actually worked unlike my first upgrade attempt a few weeks earlier on a different home PC.  So far its not bad, but I think I need to reload a fresh install, as some weird issues are happening, such as the games not loading when you open the shortcuts for them.  One weird thing too is that hibernate works on my multimedia PC, but not on the home PC.  I guess there is some kind of hardware difference, perhaps something on the other motherboard that prevents hibernate from working.  So far I like having Vista, it runs ok on my hardware and I haven’t had any incompatibility issues.  It does take a little getting used to and most people don’t like change, but I don’t have much trouble picking up changes in software. 

Microsoft SharedView

I recently stumbled across this awesome free beta of Microsoft Shared View.  This reminds me a lot of the Windows Live Meeting client, it has the same basic look to it, same type of toolbar at the top of the screen, but its a more cut down version that seems easier to use.  It does NOT have as many advanced features, but would be very handy for a variety of uses.  Right now its in a free beta stage, and hopefully it will remain a free service. 

My wife does digitial photograpgy, so this could be extremely useful for her when doing photo demo’s for clients.  With this application she could share a folder of pictures or her graphics programs and let customers see real time what she is doing.  This opens up a whole range of options for her for allowing clients to see what she is working on for them, and to interact more with them in deciding in exactly what they might want without having a need for a physical presence.

Weekend followup

We just had a great weekend! Saturday with Michael’s birthday party and Sunday enjoying the awesome weather outside in the back yard together and chatting with neighbors, it was just a great weekend. I love this time of year with the cooler temperatures and clear skies. It is so relaxing to sit in my back yard, with the “preservation” area behind us, nothing but the sounds of nature to listen to (and the kids playing of course).

Liz and I even got to work on her allspiffedup website a little. We are testing out some things and trying to make it more interactive and visually appealing. We should have a new site up and running in a week or so. I really enjoy doing web work with Liz, we both enjoy it, and although I’m the more technical person who makes things happen, she is understanding of how things work in general and is very good with graphics and we end up having a good time together doing this sort of thing.

P.S. Michael still talks about his moon, he randomly remembers he has it, and keeps saying “moon” over and over and tells everyone about it. Its really cute!

Catching up

Its been a busy two weeks and I have not posted much to my blog lately. So here is an update starting with the weekend we went to Orlando…

On Saturday October 6th we drove up to Orlando and stayed at the Hilton resort at Disney. My aunt and uncle put us up at the hotel to spend some time with them while they were in town for a conference. We got to the hotel sometime around 4:30 or so. We grabbed some dominos pizza for dinner and Liz’s sister Christina came over to visit for a while. My aunt and uncle arrived later that night and we visited for a while until after midnight.

Sunday we got up and went out to breakfast at a waffle house. Once we were done eating we headed back to the hotel to get ready to go to Downtown Disney. On the way back to the hotel, we saw an IHOP which we would have all preferred, but didn’t know was right there. We got back to the room and got ourselves ready to go and walked over to the Downtown Disney marketplace. We walked around a little and let the kids play at the lego store and checked out some neat things they had setup on the street.

The kids rode a train around a little, and we got some cute pictures of that. They also rode a merry-go-round which they always love. Then we headed over ot the Rain Forrest cafe for lunch. That place is really neat, and has a unique atmosphere and awesome decorations and effects. Every 30 minutes there is a thunderstorm and the animals go wild and they flash lights, etc. Its a lot of fun, the staff are friendly and the food was good.

We walked around a little more and ultimately headed back to the hotel to go swimming. The kids and uncle David beat us all down to the pool, and when I got there, they were already in the water. I tested the water with my toe and found it a little cold for my liking, so I took advantage of the cool breeze and occasional sun to get a little rest on a lounge chair. I had just started to doze while the kids were playing in the pool, when I was awaken by the sensation of rain drop on my face. We got our stuff together and herded the kids under an umbrella and got ourselves ready to go back into the hotel. We got back to the room and changes and visited a little more, and by this time it was after 5pm, so we decided to get ready to go soon. I think we left close to 6 or so, and the rain actually stopped which was good, because traffic would have been slow if it had kept raining. We were home before 7 and got to crash for a bit before getting all the kids off to bed.

Then this past weekend, the 13th and 14th, we actually had a nice productive time at home. Liz and I got a good amount of yard work done and trimmed bushes and cleaned up, which was good. Sunday we spent the bulk of the afternoon at Bonnie Brae park in Temple Terrace, hanging out with friends and letting our kids play. It was a very nice evening and the weather was perfect! The kids played on the playground, and the adults visited and played with their kids. It was very relaxing.

Sunday morning I had a problem with my new phone (the tilt). I set my phone to vibrate in the morning and later it went off so I pulled it out of the holster to check and the screen was all washed out and practically un-usable. I tried to call AT&T about it, but the office I needed to talk to was closed until Monday. So Monday I called and they are sending me a replacement, which I should have by tomorrow (Wednesday). I hope this is not a bad batch of phones and just a strange fluke with the individual unit I received.

The long weekend

This is going to be a long post, so be prepared for some reading…

Firday I took a personal day from work to stay home and watch the kids while Liz went to a conference in Orlando. She actually left on Thursday afternoon, but her parents came earlier on Thursday to help with the kids. So I got home on Thursday evening and she was gone 😦 After some settling in, we decided to have soup and grilled-cheese sandwiches for dinner. This is a simple meal, but very tasty (I make a great grilled-cheese sandwich). I had a bit of a crazy time trying to time everything just right, making soup and sandwiches for so many people at once. It turned out good, which I was a little doubtful about since we were one package of soup short of what I thought we’d have. There was plenty for everyone and it was good.

We got the kids in bed on Thursday night and had some fun beforehand playing the wii. Once the kids were in bed, Liz’s parents played the wii and after a while we shut the wii off and watched a movie. We put on Eragon and stayed up late.

Friday morning, after the kids and I had breakfast, we had a wii tournament. I played a few games with the girls, and then Liz’s parents started a bowling competition. They both achieved pro status and had some very good games. They were beating me and I lost some of my pro points.

Then we decided to run out to a store to try to buy a computer for my brother-in-law’s fiance’ We went to Circuit City in New Tampa and looked around (this was while Sarah was in school). We were there for about 2 hours with Michael and Abby actually being pretty good. We found a computer we all agreed was a good one, for about $400 but it didn’t come with a monitor. They had a package deal with it, but the monitor it came with was a bulky CRT.

Kind of kidding, I said they could buy me one of the nice HP flat panel monitors and I would give them my 19″ dell FP at home and give them some money for the upgrade. They agreed and the rep checked inventory, but found they didn’t have any of the computer we picked out in stock. So my mother-in-law asked if they would sell them the display model. The rep agreed and came back with a price around $330 something. We went to check out and they were going to keep the computer for a few hours and re-image it and then have us come back to pick it up. We were about to leave when Liz’s dad found a problem with the receipt. After probably an hour of waiting and adjusting, they just couldn’t get it right. They ended up getting the computer for about $185 and they got an additional $30 discount on the monitor. All in all, they paid around $460 or so for the computer and monitor, which is an awesome deal!

We went to Wendy’s after that since we are all starving and it was around lunch time anyway. I was in a hurry because I wanted to hook up the new monitor. We got to Wendy’s and got in the drive through line, but the line was moving slow. Liz’s mom suggested it would faster if she just went in and ordered. So I pulled out of line into a parking spot. We waited in the car for what felt like 30 minutes, when finally Liz’s dad went in to check out what was taking so long. Turned out they were out of chicken right at noon (go figure) and had to cook more on the spot. We finally got out of there after 12:35pm and made it home to sit down and eat. I fed Michael and got him down for a nap and started setting up the new monitor on the computer desk. At first, it worked, but was blurry, and didn’t have the software installed for the proper resolution or settings. After installing the right software, the DVI output stopped working. When set to the right resolution, the monitor would go into standby, and the display would just stop. I tried everything, uninstalling, safe mode, new drivers, new ATI software, etc. Nothing worked and I ended up taking the video card out of my multimedia computer and reloading my home computer’s OS. Once reloaded with the other video card, there were no problems and things were fine.

So now my multimedia computer is stripped of its video card and is non functional. I ordered a new video card from TigerDirect online, and it should be here sometime mid-week. I got an HIS Radeon 512MB GDDR3 Pro card, with nice specs and enhanced HD support. This should be a major improvement! I was sad to find out later that my power supply in my multimedia machine is only 250W, meaning that the new video card won’t have enough power in that computer. I may end up for now putting the new card in my main computer and taking the original video card that was in the playback computer and put it back in since I know that works. But ultimately, I want to get new power supplies for both computers, a 500W for the main PC, and a 450 for the multimedia computer.

After spending most of the afternoon working on the computers and getting things setup, I began working on setting up the new computer that my in-laws bought. I managed to re-image the computer to factory, and do all the updates and install needed software. Then I moved all their files and settings off the old computer to the new one. Then I cleaned up the old computer and removed all the clutter and made it like new. (Liz’s mom ran home once we got back from CC and got their existing computer). The arrangement ended up being that they got the new computer, and my monitor. Then my brother-in-law’s fiance’ got their computer and exsting 17″ flat panel monitor. So the arrangement worked out well for everyone.

We had Pizza Hut dippin’ strips pizza for dinner, and I also ordered a large half cheese, half pepperoni pan pizza. It was sooooo good, we love the dippin strips, which is only a seasonal thing from what we can tell. I ordered online and had it delivered.

Friday night, we started watching Spiderman 3 and didn’t finish because it was late and the movie was long. So I went to bed around 12:30 something or close to 1am.

Saturday morning we played more wii, and I finished final touches on the computers. Then we started cleaning up the house in preparation for Liz to get home that evening. We had lunch after Liz’s parents left that morning. We got to play more wii and relax a bit before Liz got home. We had the left over pizza for lunch which was still good, we had just enough left to have enough for lunch.

I was just putting the kids to bed when Liz walked in the door. Must have been after 7:30pm and I had just put Michael to bed. So I went and got him back out of bed to say hi to her. I put him down on the floor in his room, and I think he already knew she was home. He ran out of his door and into her arms and just held her for a while. He is such a sweet little boy!

Got all the kids to bed Saturday night, and Liz and I sat on the couch and chatted about our weekends and relaxed a little. It was nice to catch up and fill each other in on all the goings-on of the weekend. She had a great time at her convention and told me all about it. I told her the long story of the computer work for the weekend.

Sunday we had Amanda and her kids over for lunch and the kids got to play for a while and Lizzie and Lina got to play bowling on the wii. Amanda finished a turn for Lizzie, and said it could definately get addictive.

All weekend I had meant to cut the grass, but never found time, I was busy all weekend and never got around to it. Then I took a sick day on Monday because I was getting over some stomach problems that I seemed to pick up over the weekend. I had thought I could try to at least mow the front yard on Monday, but it kept raining on and off all day. It was a weird weather day, it would be sunny outside, but a rain cloud would be over our house, and it would be raining. Sometimes hard rain would come down and it would get grey outside, but then it would stop and the sun would come back out. All day it was like this, so I didn’t get a chance to cut the grass.

The grass is cut

For the last few days I’ve been trying to time it right so I can cut the grass. For various reasons it just hasn’t worked out. So yesterday, Liz had a meeting scheduled for 7pm she had to go to. I wanted to cut the grass because it was sunny out and not raining. I had to decide on cutting the grass, and taking a quick shower, or should I make dinner and get the family to sit down together and eat a meal before she leaves. So we talked about it on the phone, I tried to call her and she didn’t answer, but finally called me back. We said we’d decide on a final solution when I got home. So I pull up and see that the grass is cut. I can hear a mower at a neighbors house, so I was thinking to myself “Oh she got the neighbor to cut for me”. Well it turned out that she had cut it. I felt the mower and found that it was warm, so I knew she had done it then. I played it off a little at first, and she said “you didn’t even notice did you”. Then I fessed up and made a big deal about it, and it was a really nice gesture on her part. So here is another praise for her!!!

Labor Day Weekend Summary

What a fast weekend! Friday afternoon Liz and I spent most of the time on our computers working on stuff. So we didn’t do much of anything exciting then. One exciting thing that did happen Friday night and Saturday morning is that I sold a bunch of stuff on ebay and got the go ahead from Liz to get a wii. So Saturday afternoon I called around to try to find some store that had any in stock. I called Toys R Us on Fowler, and they said they had one. When I got the store not 15 minutes later, the red shirt told me they were sold out. I am kicking myself now, because I bet if I had asked him to double-check he would have found the one the person on the phone said they had in stock. So of course when I get home and call more places and repeated the process on Sunday, no one I called had any!

I’m not going to get off into a huff about the whole eBay thing with all the wii price gouging going on, but sadly, if I can’t find one at a store by this weekend, I may have to buy one online. I hope it doesn’t come to that, as I really don’t want to support the price gouging, but I’d really like to have ours by next Friday, as we are having guests over and it would be great to have for company.

I don’t think we really did much of anything great on Saturday again, just kind of hung around the house and spent time together. I think Liz and the girls watched a movie.

Sunday, we were supposed to get together with some friends, but one of their kids got sick, so we didn’t get together afterall. I did however, go help build a set for MOPS and spent about 5 or so hours over there doing actual work! 🙂

Monday, we had a last minute get together with some other friends, but I needed to cut the grass. So I ended up cutting the grass in the late morning, while the kids went with Liz to go swimming. I got done cutting the grass and had to get a shower, and get something to eat. Once I got there to meet up with my family, they were all getting out of the pool and about to eat lunch. Then it started to rain. So I took Abby home with me in the Miata. The kids love it when they get to ride in the Miata. And its nice to get that one-on-one time with them. Liz put on more of the movie they watched the previous day and then we got them to bed after dinner.

Liz and I had been trying to watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy again, so for the past 2 nights we had watched as much of the movies as we could possibly stay awake to watch. We got half way through the third and final movie last night, so we have to watch another 2 hours or so tonight to finish off the trilogy.

I put together a list of store phone numbers within a mile of my work that I plan to call daily to check wii inventory. If I can find a store nearby that gets a wii, I can hopefully run over there and get one before they sell out so I can pay retial price for it. I plan to call every day around noon or just before to check and see what they have. I only want one, hopefully I will be able to find one around somewhere amidst all this mad rush and inventory shortage.

A family of singers

The other night, while tinkering with Adobe Audition 2.0 and my Blue Snowball mic; I managed to talk the girls into recording something. They don’t usually let me record them for some reason, but once they get going they don’t want to stop. I setup the snowball as one input and the windows audio channel as another input. I played a song (High Hopes sung by Frank Sinatra and a children’s choir) and got the girls to sing along. Liz and I sang along too, so don’t laugh too hard 🙂 Its cute though and was fun to record. Its a little tricky to get the audio setings just right as the snowball tends to be a little quiet, but Audition gives great controls for adding amplification and input gain to the mic input. I applied a few filters and amplified the mic gain so we wouldn’t have to sing right into it. We were able to place the mic on the desk, and all sit around it and sing normally. It picked us up pretty well and the kids had a blast. Its cute to hear them sing along and do their parts. That same night, we played a bunch of other songs and they danced all around the house and had a good old time. I wasn’t sure if I was going to post this online, but I’m getting over the embarassment of knowing people will hear this. Hopefully you will find it as cute as we did. We’d love to have your comments on what you thought about this in the comments section of this post. So go ahead and listen and let us know what you think.