Internet Explorer: Favorites list is jumpy and loads very slowly

In Internet Explorer, I found that my favorites list loads slowly and when I hover over it with the mouse, the mouse pointer is hanging and jumpy.

I have redirected my favorites to a network folder, so I can have the same favorites on all my Windows machines. The problem does not occur if my favorites are kept on a local drive (but that is not a solution for me).

What helped and made the favorites list (and the favorites bar) quick and snappy again was the following:

  1. Open File Explorer (not Internet Explorer)
  2. Go to Organize > Folder and Search Options > View
  3. Un-tick Show pop-up description for folder and desktop items
  4. Click OK

That's it. Favorites are fast again.

ESXi 5.5: Get USB 3.0 Passthrough working

With ESXi 5.5 Update 3, VMWare addes USB 3.0 Passthrough support. It does this via xHCI USB adapter and the necessary drivers.

When I upgraded from ESXi 5.5 Update 2 to Update 3b, USB 3.0 did not work, though. The necessary driver had not been installed automatically with the upgrade. So here is what I had to do (in PuTTY):

  1. Install the xHCI driver from the bundle I used to do the upgrade:
    esxcli software vib install -n xhci-xhci -d "/vmfs/volumes/datastore1/Install/VMware-ESXi-5.5.0-Update3-3568722-HPE-550.9.5.0.33-Apr2016-depot.zip"
  2. Restart the ESX host.
  3. Make sure the driver is loaded:
    esxcli system module load -m xhci
  4. You should now see your USB 3.0 device with:
    lspci
    lsusb
  5. You can now add the xHCI USB controller in the VM and then add the USB device.

ESXI 5.5: How to install the vCenter Appliance on an existing Host

If you just have ESXi 5.5 installed and you manage it with the vSphere client, you might want to install vCenter, which has some benefits (vSphere Web Client, get ESX alert emails and many others). Be aware that while ESXi 5.5 is free, the vCenter has a license cost. Also, make sure that the vCenter you install is always a newer or the same version than the ESXi you have.

You can either install the vCenter to run on an existing Windows Server or you can just import a virtual appliance (based on Linux). In this post, I describe the import of the virtual appliance.

  1. Download the vCenter .ova file from the myvmware.com page (you must create an account and apply for a 60 day evaluation). The file name is, for example: VMware-vCenter-Server-Appliance-5.5.0.30400-3730881_OVF10.ova
  2. Start the vSphere Client and choose File > Deploy OVF Template
  3. Browse to the .ova file you just downloaded and click Next
  4. Leave all the defaults and click Finish at the end. The VM will now be deployed (this can taka a while).
  5. Start the new VM (it is called "VMWare vCenter Server Appliance" by default).
  6. Open a console to the VM.
  7. First you have to login to the Unix shell. Use
    User name: root
    Password: vmware
  8. To change the IP address, type
    /opt/vmware/share/vami/vami_config_net
  9. Once networking is setup, you can do the further configuration via web browser:
    https://192.168.1.2:5480
    (of course, you must take the IP address you have just configured)
  10. Login to the web page with the same credentials as under point 7.
  11. Configure vServer via web page (leave the defaults for most of the things).
  12. Once completed, use the vSphere Client and connect it to your vCenter IP address (not the ESX host directly anymore).
  13. You are now guided through the data center setup.
  14. That's it.

Blackberry 10: Remove Anti-Theft Protection from Device

With OS version 10.3.2, Blackberry has introduced Anti-Theft Protection (the company was required to do so by law). It did this by integrating Anti-Theft functionality in its "Blackberry Protect" offering.

While this might reduce the number of stolen devices, it is a horror for people that have forgotten their Blackberry ID password. Their Blackberry has turned into a useless brick and Blackberry support was in many cases less than useful.

But there is now a method to remove Anti-Theft Protection. It basically consists of 2 steps: Install an older device OS (e.g. 10.3.1) which removes Anti-Theft and then update to the latest OS again. Here are the steps in detail (this is for a Z30 with the currently latest 10.3.2.2836 Software Release on):

  1. Switch your "bricked" phone on and go through the setup wizard until you get to the "The anti-theft protection feature is on. To continue with device set-up you must enter your BlackBerry ID" screen.
  2. Download the developer version of the 10.3.1 Autoloader of your device, e.g. for the Z30 it is
    Autoload-STA100-3-10.3.1.997.exe
    downloadable from the Blackberry web site here:
    http://downloads.blackberry.com/upr/developers/downloads/Autoload-STA100-3-10.3.1.997.exe
  3. If you have a different device, download the correct Autoloader from here:
    https://developer.blackberry.com/devzone/blackberry10devalpha/allautoloaders.html
  4. Run the executable on a PC (must have BB Link installed for the correct drivers).
  5. Once it says "Connecting to Bootrom", connect your Blackberry device.
  6. It will restart and load the old OS. Wait until this is 100% complete. There might be an error on the computer, saying "Error: This OS version is blocked from device." Don't worry about this, it does not matter.
  7. Once the device is restarted, it will run you through the setup wizard. Sign in with your new Blackberry ID. Then, indicate that you want to install updates.
  8. Once the setup is completed, check if updates get installed via "Settings > Software Updates".
  9. It will install the updates, restart, and that's it! You have a "de-bricked" device.

If step 6 failed with a double-blinking red LED, first load OS version 10.3.2 with the autoloader. You can download it from here: https://mega.nz/#!8shEkQQD!5LzrH8Vj-jZIHOVYAnTnEvr44hZVjq9XMt21fi1-jNQ. The file name is: AutoLoader_Z30-Classic-Leap_10.3.2.2876.exe

Once 10.3.2 is loaded go to step 1 and do the whole procedure. It should now work.

Windows: How to generate a SAN certificate via Web enrollment

In environments where you have a Microsoft PKI Infrastructure (AD CA) setup, you can create new certificates via web enrolment:

https://ca-server/CertSrv

This is straight forward for single-name certificates. If you wish to have multiple names for a certificate (Subject Alternative Names = SAN), you need a certain syntax in the "Atrributes" field of the web page:

san:dns=corpdc1.fabrikam.com&dns=ldap.fabrikam.com

You can add as many names as you want, separated by "&"

Active Directory: Reset Expiry Date of an expired Password

Many companies have a policy that require their users to change their passwords regularly (e.g. every 90 days). In Active Directory, this is normally enforced via Group Policy.

This works well, but can be problematic if the user is out of the office while the password expires. An example: If he or she is using a mobile phone to access company emails via ActiveSync, the access will be blocked once the password has expired. ActiveSync does not support password changes, so the user has no way to get his or her mail working again.

One possible solution is to have the user call the company's service desk and have them reset his or her password to a standard one. On the ActiveSync device this new password would have to be entered and then mail flow would start again. Once back in the office, the user would have to set the password to something secret again.

While possible, this solution has some drawbacks and also some security and compliance implications.

A better solution is to have the service desk do the following:

  • Go to the user object in AD Users and Computers
  • On the "Account" tab, tick "User must change password at next logon"
  • Click "Apply"
  • Un-tick "User must change password at next logon"
  • Click "Apply"

This will un-expire the password and reset the expiry date to the full period (e.g. 90 days).

Windows: Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Setup Support Files cannot be uninstalled

I recently wanted to uninstall SQL Server 2008 R2 completely after I have upgraded to SQL Server 2014. The uninstall of the

"SQL Server 2008 R2 Setup Support Files"

did not work and produced the error:

Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Setup Support Files cannot be uninstalled because the following products are installed:
Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 RsFx Driver

Strangely, the "Add/Remove Programs" section did not list the "Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 RsFx Driver". To uninstall this "hidden" program, you have to use command line tools. Open a cmd box as Administrator and type the following:

WMIC PRODUCT GET Caption, IdentifyingNumber > c:\info.txt

Look in the info.txt file for the "Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 RsFx Driver" and copy the associated IdentifyingNumber. Then type:

msiexec /X {1BA457D4-90F2-4D83-9543-9715849023C8}

Your IdentifyingNumber can vary, of course. It is now possible to uninstall "SQL Server 2008 R2 Setup Support Files" from "Add/Remove Programs"

This trick can be used for any "hidden" program you wish to uninstall.

Outlook 2010/2013: How to find the folder path of a message

I frequently do a mailbox wide search in Outlook. Sometimes, it is important to find out where exactly that email is located in Outlook. The search results list doesn't indicate the folder, unfortunately.

Solution 1 (reveals the folder name, but not the sub-folder structure):

If only the name of the folder is important to you, you can determine this by opening the “classic” Properties dialog of a message via the keyboard shortcut ALT+ENTER. This works for an email that you have selected in the Search Results list but also for a message which you’ve opened via a double click. The folder name can be found under "Location".

Solution 2 (reveals the folder name and sub-folder structure):

Double click on the message to open it in its own window. Open the Advanced Find feature via the keyboard shortcut CTRL+SHIFT+F. The “Look in” field will reveal the folder name to you and clicking on the Browse… button will show you the full folder hierarchy.

Blackberry OS 10: How to mute the dial pad on the phone

When you dial a number on a Blackberry OS 10 device like the Classic or the Z30, you hear the typcal "dialling" sound, also called DTMF. Unfortunately, there is no switch to turn that off.

The only way to do this is to switch your sound profile to "Silent" or "Vibrate", but that mutes any other notifications as well.

Here are the instructions to turn the dial pad tone off but still hearing other notifications:

Settings > Notifications

Make sure, the active profile is "Normal"

Under the Profiles heading, tap on "Normal"

On the "Normal" profile, toggle "Sound" off

Tap on "Customize App Notifications"

Tap on "Phone" and toggle "Sound" on

With that, you will hear the ring tone, but you will not hear the dial pad.

If you have other apps that should do sound notifications, e.g. Calendar, you have to go to "Customize App Notifications" > "Calendar" and set the Sound to on as well.

My experience with servers, networks and gadgets.