Monday, September 29, 2008

VirtualBox on OS X 10.5

My wife fell asleep during Heros tonight as she missed most of Season 2 and had no clue what's going on. Not even a handful of episodes are available on and, but all are available via Netflix's watch instantly service, but despite rumors as far back as last year Netflix doesn't offer Mac support.

I remembered reading that the Netflix player worked in VMWare and Parrallels on a Mac, but if I was going to pay $80 for one of these products just to watch a few instant movies, I may as well Roku Netflix Player for $100.

Instead of spending money (leveraging a MSDN subscription for the Windows OS) I downloaded VirtualBox for Mac OS. After a couple hours of installing and patching, I had Windows XP Pro ready to go in VirtualBox. The result: really close. Playing a watch instantly movie on a 2.4 GHz MacBook looks fine. So far so good, but how about going full screen mode? First VirtualBox went full screen, and then I started a new a new Netflix movie and entered full screen mode on teh Netflix player. The video playback was noticably pixilated and choppy.

Well it was worth a shot and now I have a functional Windows XP virtual machine on the MacBook to play with...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Taking over the world

People worry about computers becoming really smart and taking over the world. The reality is computers are really stupid and they already have taken over the world.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Microsoft releases the long-anticipated Windows XP SP3

Microsoft has officially announced the availability of Service Pack 3 for Windows XP. Computer Administrators around the world breath a sigh of relief. Now get to it and update those installation images!

read more | digg story

Friday, April 25, 2008

Windows XP Service Pack 3 Released to Manufacturing

According to Chris Keroack on the Microsoft TechNet forums Windows XP Service Pack 3 was Released to Manufacturing 21 Apr 21, 2008.

It appears that SP3 will be released for download on April 29th via Windows Update and the Microsoft Download Center. Automatic Update distribution for home users is set to begin in early summer.

Great news. A freshly imaged Windows XP SP2 computer is currently installing 92 updates from the internal WSUS servers. SP3 is just in time for a large roll out of new computers around here.

Friday, March 7, 2008

If you can't afford to loose it back it up.

I don't remember where I found this little adaptation of "If You're Happy and You Know It," but I never forgot it after reading or hearing it for the first time.

Sung to the tune of "If You're Happy and You Know It:"

If you can't afford to loose it back it up!
If you can't afford to loose it back it up!
If you can't afford to loose it
then there's no way to excuse it.
If you can't afford to loose it back it up!

Silly maybe, but also true.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Check status of a user's password

Thanks to PCI requirements we recently formalized the the password aging policy in our Active Directory domain and unchecked the Password does not expire flag on all users accounts. I quickly found that I needed a way other than using Active Directory Users and Computers to check to see if a user's password is expired as users ignored the message to change their password.

I also found it helpful to see when the password was last changed and how long until the password expired. It seems the "Your password will expire in X days..." message was causing the odd issue with Outlook Web Access and Entourage (Mac Exchange Client) and having the user change their password resolved the issues.

So instead of always turning to Active Directory Users and Computers, I turned to scripting. Turns out you need the full LDAP distinguished name of the user in order to query password information. Typing in the full DN is a chore, but a bit of searching turned up a method for finding the a DN using the logon name.

And thus a simple script was born.

Script Username prompt.

Script Output.

Download VB Script Code

Friday, February 29, 2008

Force detection on Windows Server Update Services Clients

Common Scenario: You just rebooted your server after installing updates. You know there are still updates the your server doesn't have installed, but the server isn't pulling them down from your Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) server. There's not enough time in your maintenance window to go to and download the remaining updates, that's why you have a WSUS server in the first place right?

On Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 you can force detection by running the command:

%windir%\System32\wuauclt.exe /detectnow

You won't see any immediate results, but within a few minutes the familiar yellow shield should show up in the notification area informing you that updates are being downloaded or that updates have been downloaded and are ready to install.

Even though I'm fairly up to date with updates in my system images and Microsoft Office installs, I still try to run this after imaging a system or installing Microsoft Office just to make sure nothing was missed before handing things over to the customer.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Find and Disable Inactive Computer Objects in Active Directory

I like my Active Directory, or at least the OUs in AD that I manage, to not have stale objects hanging around. Over time computers come and go, but they often leave behind their accounts in your Active Directory. I like to automate things as much as possible, so to go through AD and find inactive computers I wrote a VB Script to find stale computer accounts and disable them for me. As this is a mostly automated process, I wrote the script to update the object description in Active Directory so that it is clear why the computer object is disabled.

View and Download ADInactiveComputers.vbs on GitHub:Gist

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Apple Computers in the Enterprise Environment: Almost There Part 2.

My original thought when I started Almost There Part 1 was to write down what I was thinking while dealing with Apple in the Enterprise Environment. I always thought I would be able to look back and see if Apple improved on things I felt the need to comment about. After the MacWorld 2008 keynote I felt the need to deviate a bit from the Enterprise focus and take a look at Apple's Mac lineup.

MacBook is a good all around notebook. I think the 1280x800 resolution is too low for my needs. I'm used to 1400xSOEMTHING on my 14" Dell Latitude.

Stepping up to the MacBook Pro gets you a choice of 15" or 17" versions. I've seen the 17" version, and I write it off as luggable not portable or notebook. My experience is that people who think they want a laptop this big release that after buying the thing and lugging it around on a trip or two that they really wanted the smaller one.

The latest Apple notebook, the MacBook Air is impressive, but to me it seems to be the companion to a more powerful desktop computer. With no optical drive you won't be using it to watch movies on the plane unless you buy your movies from iTunes or convert your DVDs, or obtain your movies some other way. Even still, transferring these files from one computer to another it limited by the lack of wired Ethernet.

Overall Apple's line of laptops feels complete. Entry level, mainstream, desktop replacement, and the ultra hot (though I'm not sure why) ultra portable are covered. Like many others, I think there is a hole in Apple's desktop line.

The MacMini is a great Small Form Factor computer. I use two of these at work as a Mac test environment, and would consider replacing my own work desktop with one if I could pack some more memory into one. I use virtual machines all the time at work on a less powerful processor, but 2GB of memory just isn't enough. As a standard office desktop or the Mac you buy to transition from PC to Mac the MacMini is great.

The iMac is a nice powerful machine and is what I'm considering as my next computer. It's slick, it's fast, it's powerful. It would replace my huge CRT with a slick LCD, and it would do everything I want to do and then some today. The one thing that gets me down here is the inability to upgrade the video card as the iMac is an all in one computer.

To get the ability to upgrade video cards down the road, I'd have to go with a Mac Pro. Without a doubt these are powerful machines.Apple has abandoned the Core 2 Duo processors and gone Xeon. I'm not sure I need that much power.

What I'm really looking for is an enthusiast computer. Something between the iMac and the Mac Pro. Room for two hard drives, a good amount of memory, and the option of changing out PCI-E cards supported by Apple. It's a very "PC" mind set, but it's what I want.