Archive for April, 2012

What do the color buttons mean on Microsoft Office communicator?

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Every once in awhile I will get a question about what do the color buttons mean with MOC?

There presence buttons serve to tell you the availability status for MOC sessions. The common colors seen are red, green, yellow, green-yellow and redish-white(kind of a pink?).

Red – This means do not disturb. It is manually set or appears when a user is has a scheduled event in the outlook calendar.

Green – The user is available for chat.

Yellow – This means away or out of office. This can happen when a user sets it, the office assistant was set, or more often the computer was idle for 15 minutes.

Green-Yellow – The person might be available. This happens when the user’s system has been idle for five minutes (default).

White with Red hue – The person is not available. This can happen if the person configured it or communicator is not running.

 These are the basics and  I have found most people figure this out on their own. If a person want’s to read more about it, there is a Presence Survival Guide provided by Microsoft.


Solaris network link information

Saturday, April 21st, 2012

Though Solaris is slowly disappearing(at least at my current company), there are still legacy machines which will remain and sometimes you have to debug them especially over network speed. Solaris has a legacy of having problems with auto-negoting.  Sometimes you may think you are running full-duplex and you are not.

If you have access to the network switch, it’s easy to check. If you don’t you have to rely on solaris commands.

The NDD command will give you configuration information on the interface.

For example:
# ndd /dev/bge0 link_duplex
# ndd /dev/bge0 link_autoneg
# ndd /dev/bge0 link_status
# ndd /dev/bge0 link_speed

Here duplex is full with auto-negotiating off and the link is down.

NDD can do much more but I only needed to check the interface settings.

Excel can’t paste formatted text.

Saturday, April 21st, 2012

I had an odd excel issue today.  My co-worker asked if I had seen a situation where you loose the ability to paste formatted text to a spreadsheet.

I had a look at his office 2010 setup and nothing obvious was missing and there were no error messages to suggest a problem.

I right-clicked a cell and selected “Paste Special..” and found the only option left was unicode text.

Even though I knew it would not solve it; I ran a repair on office.

I checked around the Net and found a few suggestions to edit the cells via vba through the alt-F11 command but they did not solve the problem.

I searched the Microsoft site and found an article  about the clipboard loosing the ability for format pasting.

The problem seems to center around the use of Skype’s Click to Call.

This seemed odd but we tried disabling it on the browser and the add-ons for Excel and Word. The problem remained.

We ended up uninstalling Click to Call and after restarting the browser and Excel; we found the ability for formatted pasting had returned.

Lesson of the day: The integrated clipboard can cause problems after installing new software.

RIP Jack Tramiel

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012


The great Commodore founder died.  Another legend is gone. 

I remember learning basic and playing archon on one.

Loading via cassette took forever. Ahhh the old days.


File \$WIN_NT$.~BT\halaacpi.dll could not be loaded. The error code is 14

Friday, April 6th, 2012

I had a request to setup Windows 2003 non R2 on an HP DL 360 G6.  I used the SmartStart CD version 8.7 for 32 bit operating systems.

The process ran through the basic setup, copied the files and on the first reboot, I found the following message:

File \$WIN_NT$.~BT\halaacpi.dll could not be loaded.

The error code is 14

An odd message since it basically means it’s out of memory and didn’t have enough storage to complete the operation.

A check on the Net; suggested using SmartStart 8.6.  But, I was rather surprised to find somebody at HP messed up as I received “file not found” messages on all the smartstart download links.  A few of the driver downloads would not work as well.  I verified this by accessing their ftp site and found files were missing.

I decided to try the R2 version of 2003.  I only used the first CD since it’s basically the original release and the second CD makes it R2.

This time the OS installed without issue.

Restart windows service from Linux

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

I had a request on how to restart the three LSF services from a script. The person worked on the farm team and did not relish the idea of using remote desktop or VNC.

I thought about a Powershell script or using a batch script to run the PsService from sysinternals. It looked simple as the command is as follows:

psservice \\<computer> -u <domain\username> -p password stop service <service name>

psservice \\<computer> -u <domain\username> -p password start service <service name>

I contacted the user and asked a couple more questions and learned she wanted to run the script from Linux. Of course this required a change in my approach as I like to keep things as simple as possible especially when a user will write their own script. I decided to abandon windows scripts and find away to see if Linux could handle this via the windows management interface.

Looking around the Net, I found a way I didn’t even consider. Simply install the Samba-Common. This offers the Net utility(or as close to it as possible) for the Linux host. The particular command in question is Net RPC service command:

To list out the services on a Windows computer:

net rpc service list -I <IP Address> -U “<domain\username>%<password>”

If you wish to use the command line; simply remove “%<password>” and you will be prompted for a password.

To start or stop a service; you would enter:

net rpc service {start|stop} <Service Name> -I <IP Address> -U “<domain\username>%<password>”

Again, if you wish to use the command line, simply remove “%<password>” and you will be prompted for a password.

The account used will have to have local admin privileges so if you decide to script it, secure the file to yourself since the password will be plain text.

Much as I would like to impress you with my great knowledge; there was a sense of urgency to the request so I went to the Net and I did get help from the following sites so credit must be given where credit is due.




Cloud Computing or is my head in the cloud?

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Cloud computing. A phrase which seems to be found everywhere these days. One can not read anything on the Net or a computing magazine without some reference to the cloud. Even now you will find software with cloud access to backup your work and important files.

One can easily get the impression the cloud is here to stay. The question one should ask is what does it mean for me? Especially if you work in the IT industry.

All to often I see coworkers and associates become intransigent in their ways. Sometimes I wonder why? In the last couple of decades there has been a great deal of  change. People should be used to change and yet I still hear arguments of the cloud being a fad which will pass. After all who would trust their company secrets to an unknown third party? Security is the major concern of the cloud and what’s interesting I have heard the more “free market” minded people who basically think unknown third parties are safe because why would they jeopardize their business? Security will be an ever growing importance to the cloud.

One of the main motivators I hear for migration to the cloud is to lower the cost of computing. Sometimes I wonder if CFOs (IT usually fulls under their control) simply disk like IT. Lowering the cost of computing seems to be a battle cry for most of them these days. It seems all the savings of the past are forgotten and whatever the cost of the moment is too high. The cloud seems to be their latest attempt to eliminate IT costs.

As in the past if “savings” is the guiding force for migration to the cloud, there will be many problems as was seen in the past with outsourcing and offshoring. The cloud is not something a company can leap into without a great deal of planning. As with the previous attempts to cut costs, there are risks for doing it and yet there will be risks if you don’t.

What does the cloud really mean for IT? Well? this is a question which would cover several posts to discus in detail.  I recently read IT Operations Needs to Evolve to Support Cloud out of curiosity to see what would be the evolution. It wasn’t really explained as to what you would need. Simply the main point was to embrace it, read about it and possibly train for it. Not exactly new information for a “seasoned” IT professional who has lived with change for many years.

An interesting comment was the claim which IT departments were not optimized for the cloud. Such departments were old fashioned or as they were labeled “legacy.” I can see this claim as I would suggest these departments are of the mindset of knowing what is best for the company in the matters of IT rather then viewing it’s purpose as enabling and empowering the user community.

When an IT department acts to enable and empower the workforce; it will be “optimized” for the cloud.

Another interesting comment was the claim of the cloud will grant the ability to move to locations based on need.  Some would say this increases competition while others would suggest chasing the cheapest labor possible.

If you believe in the latter, then I would suggest not to fear the coming change.  Take a look at what you do. Are you specialized? If so, it might be time to increase your knowledge in other areas. The question as always is which areas? I have read a few opinions and about the most common suggestions are network, security, virtualization, and have a grasp of storage.

It will be interesting times in the future and I am looking at more cloud opportunities  to be ready.