Wednesday, July 16, 2014

HP LaserJet printers duplex when they aren't supposed to

Came across an issue today where, after a firmware update, a HP LaserJet P4015 decided to send paper from the Letterhead tray through the duplexer. I knew I had seen it before but couldn't recall how it was resolved, but eventually I stumbled across discussions of the same issue. Most refer to the use of an "All_ALM_types_OFF.prn" file which when sent through the printer resolved the issue. It turned out I had a copy of said file lurking in my "I must organise this one of these days" folder. Here's how the PRN file looks in Notepad++, since Notepad and web forums don't render the escape codes correctly:

However, this can also be dealt with from the printer's web console.

If you want to read about what Alternative Letterhead Mode does when it's on, try this HP page. If you want to know why, years after this issue was first flagged, HP are still shipping firmware which can trip this setting on various models then I have no wisdom for you :)

Monday, July 07, 2014

Find the Bluetooth MAC address on a Blackberry 7 device

This is a short one but apparently in the variety of awful Bluetooth support that car manufacturers provide, at least one requires the MAC address to be entered for successful connection. This is reasonably easy to find for wifi but you have to dig a bit for Bluetooth. Blackberry's convention appears to be that they are the same except for the last hex digit.

  • Click the Options icon.
  • Click Networks and Connections.
  • Click Bluetooth Connections.

The screen should now say:

            Bluetooth ON
            Discoverable NO
            Paired Devices

At this point, click the Menu button (to the left of the touchpad) and select Options. You will see:

            Device Name
            Allow Outgoing Calls
            Contacts Transfer
            LED Connection Indicator
            Connect On Power Up
            Device Address << this is what you’re looking for.

Hope this helps someone out there. I find helping people with car/BT issues frustrating as you can neither see the device or the car UI and are dependent on what you are being told is happening.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Migrating a print server from Windows 2003 or 2008 to a Windows 2008 R2 server? A possible pitfall

I was having some trouble migrating one of my print servers (Windows 2008) to a stable 2008R2 file server. I intended to use the DNS name of the existing server as a CNAME alias on the new server, and didn't think it would cause much difficulty because the SMB shares are already advertised via a similarly migrated CNAME and the print queues worked fine when referenced by the server A record. Not so.

It turns out the print spooler service needs to be allowed access the network in such circumstances, and failure to do so results in a 0x00000709 error. The situation is detailed here at TechNet Blogs. Even though it refers to a non-Microsoft DNS server I encountered the issue with a Windows 2003 R2 DNS instance. There is further reference to DNSonewire in this Knowledge Base article. Implementing the suggested reg key and restarting the spooler service resulted in a working connection to a CNAME referenced queue. Now I have to find the next cutover window...

Friday, April 11, 2014

Microsoft Office 2007 icons turn white on desktop, start menu, taskbar

We use a third party inventory and patch management system to roll out Microsoft updates silently. Unfortunately every once in a while a patch or patches will cause the icons for the updated applications to turn white on certain machines which wasn't noted during the test cycle. We've just seen that happen in our Windows 7 environment while rolling out the April Patch Tuesday patches, where Word and Outlook icons were borked on certain machines. I haven't confirmed this yet, but there were only a few packages pushed so it looks like KB 2863811 (Outlook) and KB 2878237 (Word) were involved. We did not see this on machines patched by WSUS or Microsoft Update.

There are a lot of articles out there about fixing icons by deleting iconcache.db but that's of little help if the base icon is borked. The trick of repairing Microsoft Office Picture Manager within the application didn't help either.

I isolated the issue to two shortcut sets:
C:\Users\Public\Desktop and
C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Microsoft Office

I got "known good" Microsoft Office Outlook 2007.lnk and Microsoft Office Word 2007.lnk files from another machine and made a copy on a network share under a folder called deskicon. I then wrote the following quick script. It had to be run as an administrative user on the machine since both of the folders above are not writable by users.

cd \users\public\desktop
xcopy \\fileshare.domain.local\fixes\deskicon\*.* . /Y
cd C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu
xcopy \\fileshare.domain.local\fixes\deskicon\*.* . /Y

The Start Menu pinned icons, Start Menu All Programs, and All Users Desktop icons were fixed by this. On restarting the applications, the taskbar icon displayed correctly. This fix will be rolled out to the userbase via GPO with some refinements. Hope that helps somebody out there!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Windows XP hangs on startup

One of several things I'm working on at the moment is migrating people from Windows XP to Windows 7. There's various ways to go about this but we are in the main provisioning new PCs and manually bringing the data over - I'd rather not use Microsoft's tool to bring settings as we often take this sort of equipment change as an opportunity for a bit of a fresh start, with bookmarks and documents being re-imported later.

One particular PC (Dell Latitude E6420, BIOS A08) decided on the very morning it was to be replaced to stop booting, even in Safe Mode/Command Prompt. Diagnostics and a chkdsk /R found nothing. There were longer than usual delays to bring up an F12 (choose boot device) menu.

We had a backup of the data on it but it wasn't fresh because the user had been away from the office for a time. It seemed to me to be worth having a go at to get a better copy.

Booting to XP Recovery Console to try and knock out some services or drivers was abandoned because the CD hung at "Setup Is Starting Windows". My luck being what it was, none of my bootable media for DOS with HIMEM.SYS enabled were working so I could upgrade the BIOS. Here's what I did based on a survey of similar issues on the internet:

  1. Removed the hard drive
  2. Switched the disk mode from ATA to AHCI and installed Windows 7 on another drive (no problem there) and at the first opportunity upgraded the BIOS to A19 (step 1/2 not needed presumably if my usual boot media had allowed me to do the upgrade)
  3. Reinstalled the XP hard drive, restored ATA disk mode (the XP image wasn't built with the Intel AHCI driver)
  4. In BIOS - disabled USB, NIC eSATA, free fall accelerometer and so on
  5. At this point I was able to get the full F8 menu in Windows XP which I had not previously (just the "Windows did not start normally" basic options of Safe Mode, Last Known Config etc.) Again on the premises that a device driver might be at issue, I booted in VGA mode to bypass the display driver.

The laptop booted to Windows XP and permitted a logon. This left me with a bit of a quandary - I had disabled the NIC along with the other stuff. I opted to remove the data with a USB stick instead of chancing a reboot.

It would be nice to know what broke here but given that the machine is being deprecated anyway I don't have the time to invest. Hopefully someone will get some ideas for a similar future issue from the above.