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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Vista image resizer

I used to use the Windows XP powertoy “image resizer” which added a quick context menu resize ability to any image file. This was handy if I needed to quickly adjust or resize my images. Now in Vista, that ability is missing, and the powertoy from XP won’t work in Vista. So I found this Vista Image Resizer which is a free alternative. It also adds a context menu option to resize photos. And while it does work ok, I found it has a bug when resizing multiple images, if you leave the option set to resize the originals, it fails to do anything, but if you set it to make copies, then the copied images actually get resized.  This is only an issue if you have multiple photos selected and attempt to resize the originals.  Overall it’s a good replacement, and I recommend it as a replacement for the old XP powertoy.

Free Active Directory Reporting Tool

This should come in handy for lots of people.  Need to get some reports out of your Active Directory system?  Then this tool can help, its a called SmartR from Imanami, and its free.  There are additional report packs you could buy, but I’ve found it comes with just about everything I would need. It has a good wizard interface and can generate nicely formatted reports in a flash.  Output options are HTMl, XLS and XML. 

I needed to generate a report of all my AD users and find which groups they belonged to.  To be more specific, I was trying to get a list of all our Distribution lists and find out who was in each one.  I was able to accomplish both reports quickly and easily with this tool.

Free Light-Weight PDF Reader

I highly recommend this PDF reader.  Its light weight, less than 3MB total, its free, and works great.  It can easily let you quickly view PDF files on any Windows PC.  This is a lot better than the Adobe client which is bulky and slow.  Give it a try and speed up your PDF viewing.

My Pick for screen recording

I have tried several software packages to do screen recording, and I must say that my favorite by far is Camtasia studio by TechSmith.  Their software is visually appealing with a modern and intuitive interface.  It also outputs your projects in a variety of configurable formats and makes your work look very professional.  Several neat features I enjoy are smart focus and a neat little mouse trick.  With Smart focus, the video can zoom and pan as you move your mouse around while recording, this way the viewers get a close up view of what you are doing and you are not wasting as much viewing space with unused area on your desktop.  I also like the feature of using the hotkeys to pause recording so you can make changes or do other tasks, and when you un-pause, the mouse is returned exactly to where it was when you paused the recording, eliminating the annoying mouse jumps you get in many other packages. 

Its not free, and in fact is one of the most expensive solutions I looked at.  But the user experience is ver good and the output is the best I’ve seen in screen recording packages.  This is a great tool for many professions and specific tasks, but particularly useful in IT as you can record tutorials or how-to videos with ease, and make them very easily viewable and portable!

My Favorite RSS readers

I actually have two favorite RSS readers.  Both are now free!  Check them out and feel free to leave feedback with your opinion. 

1. NewsDemon – Newsdemon was raved about on “The ScreenSavers” TV show and has many loyal users.  I loved the trial I had a while back of a previous version and quit using it because it wasn’t free.  I didn’t want to pay money for an RSS reader when even at the time there were some decent free readers out there.  Now that NewsDemon has been released for free, I’m definately switching back!

 

2. Attensa – this is also a very nice enterprise grade RSS reader.  I have been using this for over a year and love it.  It has some nice features that NewsDemon does not have and integrates very nicely into Outlook.  Definately check this one out as well and compare the two for yourself. 

 

Newsgator makes client products free

I just read this and was really happy becuase I like the newsgator product line and have to say its one of the best top notch RSS readers out there.  I am definately downloading and re-evaluating these apps in their free form.  If you don’t know what RSS is or maybe you do and don’t really like your RSS reader, check out the link about and give NewsDemon a try. 

SPAMHAUS services

I am impressed by the services offered by SPAMHAUS, their data feed service is extremely useful and effective and their spam stats are amazing.  If only we could find a way to just stop spammers alltogether.  Immagine the bandwidth that would be freed up on the internet, if all SPAM were eliminated.

Its cold outside!

48 degrees in Tampa right now.  A few years ago, I’d argue that this temperature was not cold.  Now that I’ve adjusted to the Florida climate, I have to admit, its freezing cold!!!  I nearly froze in my shoes walking outside without a jacket today.  Fortunately, this mini-winter won’t last long, we will be back up to the near 80s or so by the weekend or beginning of next week. 

Radiator install complete

On the way home Friday evening, I stopped by the local Advance Auto store and picked up some anti-freeze fluid for my new radiator.  I was also going to get new radiator hoses, but they don’t carry the hoses I would need for my Miata.  So I just got some shop towels and the anti-freeze.  Then I ran to sweetbay and picked up some distilled water to mix with the anti-freeze. 

When I got home, I got started right away on my task of replacing my radiator.  It took me a while to get started, as I was trying to figure out how to get access to everything I needed to get to.  At one point I thought I’d have to take off the cover under the engine compartment to get to the bottom of the radiator, but fortunatly I managed to give up on that and was able to do my job without having to remove the cover.  Getting the old radiator out took me the longest time, as I had some trouble with the lower hose which seemed stuck.  I finally got all the hoses and bolts and connections off the old radiator and pulled it out.  I installed the fans on the new radiator and then dropped it in fairly easily.  Then re-connecting a few hoses and wires and I was off and running.  I ended up doing a 50/50 mix of anti-freeze and water, but only by accident.  I read online that the miata radiator takes 6.7L of liquid, so I got three gallons of distilled water and a single gallon of anti-freeze.  I got way too much fluid and ended up not even using a whole gallon of each type of liquid. 

I took the car out for a spin and made sure there were no flow problems or overheating issues.  Everything works great and it was a much easier job than I thought it would be.