Show all files in Mac OS X

In my quest to learn more operating systems and just show more of my geekiness I’ve been playing with installing OS X on a regular PC and on my laptop.  Clearly they made OS X to work with a small subset of hardware and had no intention on letting anyone experience the Mac OS outside of their hardware.

One of the first annoyances was that Apple hides all system files and doesn’t have an easy way to turn them back on.  Here is a command to make all files visible in the Finder application:

(From the terminal)
defaults write AppleShowAllFiles TRUE

(This next command kills all instances of Finder to make the change effective)
killall Finder

Re-open Finder and you’ll be able to see all system files now.

Can’t re-install IIS 7 on Vista “an error has occurred…”

After messing with IIS and experimenting with ASP and stuff my IIS had become wacky.  So I decided to uninstall it and re-install.  The uninstall seemed to go ok but when I tried to reinstall I kept getting an error message that said “An error has occurred. Not all of the features were successfully changed.”  That was it, no details or clues as to what was going on.

So, I did the first thing you should always do when troubleshooting, reboot.

After a reboot I still got the error message.  So I busted out the next thing you should always do when troubleshooting…I Googled it.  The first few links were dead ends and then I found the answer in a forum.

Un-install the “Windows Process Activation Service”.  Reboot.  Reinstall IIS and I’m back in business.

What is the Windows Process Activation Service?  Well defines it as “WPAS manages application pools and worker processes running on your machine for both HTTP and non-HTTP requests.”  I vaguely understand what that means, but the important part is my IIS problem is fixed.

Return normal Run As functionality to Vista

I love Windows Vista, but every now and then I run up against something that just drives me crazy.  I found another of those today when messing with my laptop.  It all started when I was moving some files around and kept getting prompted “are you sure?” by the OS.  YES I’M SURE for the 30th time!  I realize it’s meant for my protection, but this is too annoying.

So, I went in and turned off the UAC (user access control).  After that no more prompts!  Then the next day rolls around and all of the sudden I can’t run MSConfig.  I had made some changes to my domain account so I figured that must be the problem.  No worries, I can just use Run as Administrator and fix it.  Nope, still doesn’t work.  Access is denied.

After 15 minutes of Googling I find that disabling the UAC messes with the standard Run as administrator.  Ok, well, how about the old Run As like it was in XP?  Nope it’s not there.

15 more minutes of Googling and I find this TechNet page. This little tweak puts the standard old “Run as” dialoge back.  After installing this I’m now able to right click and just under the default “Run as Administrator” (which now doesn’t work because of UAC) I have “Run as different user”  This allows me to run MSConfig and fix the service I turned off which broke Photoshop CS4!

PS. I’m posting the install for ShellRunas on my site so I can get to it faster.  You are welcome to download it from here or just get it from the Microsoft Technet site.

Now I need to go turn the UAC back on.

Update:  11/05/08
I also found that the .msi (Microsoft installer packages) extension does not give you the ability to do run as.  To fix it make a new text file with the following text:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00


Save that as a .reg file then double click it.  That will import this setting and allow you to right click on a .msi file and perform run as.  You can also just download the .reg file from here.

Running Windows Vista on a MacBook

I’m probably the pickiest laptop user in the world.  There’s never been a laptop that I have used that I haven’t complained about.  I’ve used many different brands, Sony, Gateway, Asus, Toshiba, Dell and IBM.  Up to now my favorite has been Sony.  My sony has been getting warm on the keyboard and I just couldn’t tollerate it any longer.  So I hunted around and finally purchased a MacBook.  Now, before you pick your jaw up off the floor, I’m not using Mac OS X (most who know me know I’m a Microsoft fan boy!).  I’ve installed Windows Vista on it.  I’ve used OS X long enough to install a few apps and then run Boot Camp to install Windows.

The MacBook runs Windows Vista beautifully and the laptop is well designed.  There are a few Window’s things you have to work around, but overall it’s great.  Here are a few tips and tricks.

  • Right click – put 2 fingers on the trackpad and hit the mouse button.
  • Delete button – Sounds weird because there is a delete button on the keyboard, but it acts as a backspace.  Hold down the FN button while hitting delete and it will actually delete.
  • Home and End buttons – hold the FN button while hitting left arrow for Home and right arrow for end.
  • Insert button – hold the FN and hit Enter
  • Scrolling on the trackpad – use 2 fingers anywhere on the touchpad and you can scroll up and down.
  • Print screen button – FN-Shift-F11

One thing I haven’t figured out that’s bugging me is being able to tap click on the touch pad.  I’m betting Apple will fix this in Boot camp shortly.

Realtek HD Audio and Windows Service Pack 3 issue

I have an unattended installation of Windows XP that I slip-streamed Service Pack 3 into.
On an EVGA motherboard I was recently loading with Windows I could get everything working except the audio.

In the device manager I had 1 unkown pci device item listed.  Had to be the audio right?
Well I used the cd that came with the motheboard, no luck.
I went to Realtek’s support page and downloaded the latest driver, still no luck.

No matter what I did the PCI device would not update to the audio.
Finally on some sort of flash I googled “XP SP3 HD Audio“.

One of the results returned this page which talked about the exact problem and had a download to fix it.
I’m making the download available from here in case their site goes away.
I do not vouch for the file, all I can tell you is it fixed my problem.  Download from here or there at your own risk.
So, apparently the PCI device isn’t actually the audio card itself, but a UAA bus driver for high definition audio.

I found on Microsoft’s site, mention of this, and had downloads for SP1 and SP2.  Their site said it wasn’t needed for SP3.
Wrong!  Once I pointed the PCI device at the update and it installed itself, the Realtek HD Audio device was detected and it proceeded to install the drivers I had installed earlier.

Strange and irritating, but I’ve got audio now!

No data services on an Alltel Blackberry Curve

Earlier today my Blackberry Curve quit receiving any data services at all.  The internet didn’t work, email didn’t work, nothing worked related to data.  I thought at first maybe it was a Blackberry outage of some sort.  After a couple of hours I figured it must be something else.

So, I did the first thing any good troubleshooter should do…reboot.  I removed the battery and reset the phone.  No luck, I can place phone calls, but no data services.

Ok, maybe some application is messed up and causing the problem.  I go to the Blackberry options and under the security settings I wiped the phone, first without erasing third party applications and the second time I erased everything.  No luck.  Still no data services.  I can’t activate the Blackberry on our enterprise server and nothing works except for making phone calls.  I get an error message “service connection is unavailable” when trying to activate on the enterprise server.

I finally resorted to calling Alltel.
The girl on the phone says hit the green button.
I did it.
Do you see something that says line 2?
Yes I do, it says Line 2: 417 xxx xxxx (my phone number).
She says ok, scroll up and click where it says Line 2.
I do and then a list appears that says Line 1 and below it Line 2.
Select Line 1 she says.

As soon as I select Line 1 the up and down arrows start flashing and an email pops in.  Sheesh.  That’s all I needed to do?
The little 1XEV also popped up in the upper right of the screen by the bars indicating signal strength.

Kinda wierd, but at least now I know if it happens again!

Service Pack 3 Remote Desktop doesn’t connect to Console

Service Pack 3 for Windows XP included an update to the remote desktop client which appears to have broken the old command for connecting to the console session of another computer. For some of my users I will setup their remote desktop settings and save those to a rdp file that can then be used to jump into a remote desktop session. The rdp file that the remote desktop creates is just a text file with settings in it. You used to be able to edit the text file and add a line that read:

connect to console:i:1

This would cause the session to connect to the console instead of a standard terminal services session allowing the user to interact with the same session as if you were sitting in front of the computer. For some reason this week these rdp sessions quit connecting to the console session on my servers.

After some investigation I found that this setting no longer works and you have to use:

administrative session:i:1.

Just a minor change but with large consequences!

Related to this is the fact that running mstsc.exe /console no longer works.
I’ve read that mstsc.exe /admin achieves the same thing, but I haven’t tested it yet. The reason for this change is that running remote desktop and connecting to the console connects you to session 0 which runs with elevated privileges and therefore is a security risk.

Vista Tip – Trouble installing Vista on SATA drive

I was working on one of my computers at home and decided to load Windows Vista on it.  I grabbed a copy of Windows Vista Ultimate and thought I’d throw that on it.  So, I put in the DVD, boot it up, pick my language, enter the product key and I get the following message: “Windows cannot be installed to this HD space. The partition contains one or more dynamic volumes that are not supported for installation”

Ok, let’s delete the partitions and install on a fresh partition.  That’s wierd the delete and format options are greyed out.   

Ok, well, I’m thinking this must be a driver issue.  The setup must not be able to see the drive properly.  But, in the window above that it correctly was showing my drive with the existing partition and the correct size and everything.  This was not a brand new drive, it was one I had used in another machine.

So, I’m thinking, well, the drive is making a very whiny noise anyways.  I don’t really want to use this drive because it’s liable to die.  So I grab another drive from a different machine and I get the same results.  Again, not a new drive but one that had been in use.

I do some poking around on the internet and find a lot of explanations and possible fixes, but none of them work.  I grab the motherboard driver CD and try loading drivers for the SATA controller, but no luck.  (On a side note, the ability to load drivers from a USB drive or CD/DVD as opposed to by floppy like XP does is a very cool feature).

My next move is to find a bootable disk that I can use to nuke the partitions on the drive and see if that helps.  Bingo!  I downloaded Ultimate Boot CD from here.  Amongst the many useful tools on the Ultimate Boot CD are a number of Partition tools and I managed to use one to delete all partitions on the drive.  After doing so, the Vista installation took off and worked without a problem.

I thought this issue was really strange because the 2 drives that I was trying to use had come from Windows XP installations and had been formatted NTFS.  Oh well, it works now and that’s what counts!

Super simple free cd/dvd burning

I’ve been a long time Nero user, but lately it seems even my favorite burning software has become so bloated and overfilled with extras that it’s a hassle to just install the beast.
So, when I reloaded my laptop recently I started poking around for an alternative and I found this little free gem called BurnAware Free.

The software is made by GloryLogic.  They also have a paid version that has more features like UDF data discs, bootable discs, writing files larger than 4 gig and more.  The free version does your typical audio discs, data disks, burn and create iso images and more.  Here is a list of differences in the versions.

I like to make my own bootable XP install cd’s and dvd’s so I’ll likely purchase the Home version but for now I’ve been using the Free version and  love the less is more approach to the interface.  That’s me, less is more.  Keep it simple stupid.

Vista Tip – Turn off hibernation

Unlike Windows XP, Vista doesn’t have a handy checkbox for turning off hibernation.
I recently installed TrueCrypt 5 (which is working beautifully) and used it to encrypt my whole C: drive. Since it’s encrypted hibernation does not work.
Well, I kept forgetting that and tried to put my laptop into hibernation.

I found instructions on this site for disabling hibernation which removes the choice from the start menu.

To disable hibernation:

  • Click Start followed by All Programs and then Accessories
  • On the Accessories menu Right Click on the Command Prompt
  • From the drop down menu, Click on the Run Administrator option
  • The Command Prompt window will now open
  • At the command prompt type: powercfg -H off

To enable hibernation:

  • Click Start followed by All Programs and then Accessories
  • On the Accessories menu Right Click on the Command Prompt
  • From the drop down menu, Click on the Run Administrator option
  • The Command Prompt window will now open
  • At the command prompt type: powercfg -H on