Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Microsoft's end of Windows 10 Mobile

This month we have heard from Microsoft that Windows 10 Mobile is no longer a focus and will no longer developing the platform. For me, this a long time coming but still a sad day.


I started my Windows Phone journey with the Samsung Omnia 7 running Windows Phone 7. As with the image above, it wasn't as great as the iPhone 4 that I was sporting at the time, but I had gotten it as a trial.

What I liked about it was it was fast, and everything was integrated. The People Hub and Messaging was amazing. I could send SMS, MMS, and Facebook messages all from the one app. and this carried on to the Windows Phone 8.

I made the next step by getting the Nokia Lumia 920 running Windows Phone 8. I had this phone for two years without fail. It was a great phone. Windows Phone 8 was definitely the peak of the line for Windows Phone.



On this device, it did everything and more than even Android and iOS even do today out of the box. My most beloved feature was the in-car features. While I was driving and received a text, it would read the messages to me and I could reply by voice. And it work almost flawlessly. They took this out in Windows 10 Mobile.



While most people would make fun of the fact I had a Windows Phone and I didn't have the availability of the apps they did on other platforms, the apps I did use worked well. I had what I needed and it supported the few I needed.

Windows Phone 8 integrated perfectly with Windows 8 at the time also. Passwords saved in Windows would automatically be available for me on my phone. It was great.

Over time, even in the Windows Phone 8 days, the writing was on the wall. More developers stopped updating their apps and Microsoft would provide less feature updates. I made the choice to give the benefit of the doubt and went with the Microsoft Lumia 950, but it was a mistake.

Most of the features I liked in the Lumia 920, didn't exist in the 950 thanks to Windows 10 Mobile. It was another OS and acted very differently despite the same interface. After dropping my Samsung Galaxy 7 Edge, I was forced to use it on my four week trip to the Philippines and it worked very well, I'll give it that. However it continued as more devs and apps dropped support for the phone and platform. While some will say that this was due to the change in platform to the new UWP, most just killed the old app but didn't develop a new one.

I had a love hate relationship with my Windows Phone, but I stood by them in hopes it would become something more. But Microsoft did nothing to help the situation. In changing from Windows Phone 7, Windows Phone 8, Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 10 Mobile, they had different code based which all put more efforts on the developers which by Windows 10 Mobile there was little to no reason to continue to redevelop. And I understand their frustration.

The idea Microsoft had for Windows Phone was great and I think ahead of its time, but the execution and handling was poor.

Since signing up for the Lumia 950 in 2015, I have since had a Samsung Galaxy 7 Edge and now using the iPhone 8 and in both platforms the experience is much better but still wish that Windows Phone had more.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

PowerShell: Download and Install Java 8 JRE

This script I wrote for our automation system that will:
  1. Download the latest Java 8 JRE from Java.com
  2. Save in a local directory C:\Install
  3. Create a Install Options File
  4. Run the installer silently with the necessary Installer Options
The Installer Options file determines what configuration is used the install of Java.

For example, in the script I have configured. This will perform a silent install, auto updates enabled, no reboot after the installation, Sponsors/ads install disabled and will uninstall any older existing installations of Java JRE.

  • INSTALL_SILENT=Enable
  • AUTO_UPDATE=Enable
  • REBOOT=Disable
  • SPONSORS=Disable
  • REMOVEOUTOFDATEJRES=Enable
You can find these and other options to use from the Java website:


This has been tested to work on PowerShell v2 and higher.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------
                Deploy Java JRE Software
                  Date: 21-Sept-2016
               Created by: Daniel Burrowes
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Description:
Downloads the Java installer and installs silently

-------------------------------------------------------------------------- 

# -Verbose and -Debug

    [CmdletBinding()]
    param(    )

# --------------------------------------------------------------------------

Write-Verbose "Setting Global Variables..."
$InstallDir = "c:\Install\Java"
$Source = "http://javadl.oracle.com/webapps/download/AutoDL?BundleId=211996"
$Destination = "$InstallDir\java.exe"
$Options = "$InstallDir\java_options.txt"


#Create install directory
Write-Verbose "Creating Install Directory"
New-Item -Path $InstallDir -ItemType directory -Force

Write-Verbose "Downloading Software..."
$start_time = Get-Date
(New-Object System.Net.WebClient).DownloadFile($Source, $Destination)
Write-Verbose "Time taken: $((Get-Date).Subtract($start_time).Seconds) second(s)" 

Write-Verbose "Creating Installer Options File..."
$text = 'INSTALL_SILENT=Enable
AUTO_UPDATE=Enable
REBOOT=Disable
SPONSORS=Disable
REMOVEOUTOFDATEJRES=Enable
'

# Create file
$text | Set-Content $Options

#Running the installer
Write-Verbose "Executing Java Install.."
Start-Process -FilePath $Destination -ArgumentList "INSTALLCFG=$Options /s /L $InstallDir\jre-install.log" -Wait -Verbose -PassThru

Monday, April 25, 2016

PowerShell: BATCH Script to Allow PowerShell Scripts to Execute

For some SysAdmins, they will use one or more tools to deploy software to a range of computers on their network. For me, it our monitoring tool that allows are to remote execute scripts to do some sort of task.

Writing in PowerShell is amazing and is Microsoft's best yet command line tool. However by default for security purposes, script execuition is blocked for untrusted or unsigned scripts.

I won't go into Signing scripts just now but using the following command will allow you to run PowerShell Scripts

Set-ExecutionPolicy -RemoteSigned

This line still provides a level of protection while still allwoing you to execute custom scripts. Other switches include -bypass and -unrestricted.

So how can we get a large number of these set?

There are a number of ways:
  1. Group Policy
  2. Batch Script
The reason for me writing this BATCH Script is that it allows me to deploy and run on a computer regardless of the Domain it is joined to.

Copy and paste this code into a text file called SetExecutionPolicy.bat and then Save.

This script also creates entries into the Windows Event Viewer to tell you if and when the command has been executed, or if it failed to run.



@echo off

REM -------------------------------------------------------------
REM       Set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned for Powershell
REM          Date: 10-Spet-2015
REM        Author: Daniel Burrowes
REM -------------------------------------------------------------



Echo Setting PowerShell Execution Policy for RemoteSigned

PowerShell.exe Set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned

IF %ERRORLEVEL% NEQ 0 goto ERROR    

EVENTCREATE /T INFORMATION /L APPLICATION /ID 100 /D "PowerShell Execution Policy has been set to RemoteSigned"
GOTO DONE

:ERROR 

EVENTCREATE /T ERROR /L APPLICATION /ID 100 /D "PowerShell ExecutionPolicy batch script failed to run." 


:DONE

Echo Done!

EXIT

PowerShell: Download and Install Citrix Receiver

I have been doing quite a bit of work lately on PowerShell scripting for work and this is a common one we deploy to our clients that use Citrix.

This script does the following:
  1. Creates the folder C:\Install\CitrixReceiver
  2. Downloads the latest Citrix Receiver software from the Citrix website
  3. Installs the downloaded Receiver silently
The link for the Citrix Receiver is: http://downloadplugins.citrix.com/Windows/CitrixReceiver.exe

Works with PowerShell v2 and higher.
A lot of my scripts are built to work at this level as it means that I can deploy my scripts to older machines without having to first upgrade PowerShell.

Copy and paste the code into a text file called InstallCitrixReceiver.ps1.



# --------------------------------------------------------------------------
#                Citrix Receiver Install Script
#                   Date: 14-Mar-2016
#               Created by: Daniel Burrowes
# --------------------------------------------------------------------------

# -Verbose and -Debug

[CmdletBinding()]
param()

# --------------------------------------------------------------------------
#  Change Log
#
#  14-Mar-2016
# -Added /IncludeSSON to argument list
# --------------------------------------------------------------------------

#Create install directory
Write-Verbose "Creating Install Directory"
$InstallDir = "C:\Install\CitrixReceiver"
New-Item -Path $InstallDir -ItemType directory -Force


Function Download-Citrx {

 $Source = "http://downloadplugins.citrix.com/Windows/CitrixReceiver.exe"
 $destination = "C:\Install\CitrixReceiver\CitrixReceiver.exe"

    Write-Verbose "Downloading Software..."
    (New-Object System.Net.WebClient).DownloadFile($Source, $Destination)
    Write-Verbose "Time taken: $((Get-Date).Subtract($start_time).Seconds) second(s)" 

}

Write-Verbose "Downloading Latest Citrix Receiver"
Download-Citrx

Write-Verbose "Running silent install of Citrix Receiver"
Start-Process -FilePath "C:\Install\CitrixReceiver\CitrixReceiver.exe" -ArgumentList "/silent /IncludeSSON" -Wait -Verbose -PassThru

Executing Powershell scripts may require you to allow scripts to run.:
#Set-Execution Policy -RemoteSigned

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

VMware ESXi E1000 vs VMXNET3 Network Adapters

I found this really helpful article from Rickard Nobel who has done a set of testing showing the performance improves when using VMXNET3 network adapters over the emulated E1000 cards.

http://rickardnobel.se/vmxnet3-vs-e1000e-and-e1000-part-1/

http://rickardnobel.se/vmxnet3-vs-e1000e-and-e1000-part-2/

Check it out and leave a comment.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Windows Update Servers List

Here is a list of the server addresses required for accessing Microsoft Update servers.
This may required for firewall or proxy policies.
  • http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com 
  • http://*.windowsupdate.microsoft.com 
  • https://*.windowsupdate.microsoft.com 
  • http://*.update.microsoft.com 
  • https://*.update.microsoft.com 
  • http://*.windowsupdate.com 
  • http://download.windowsupdate.com
  • http://download.microsoft.com 
  • http://*.download.windowsupdate.com 
  • http://wustat.windows.com 
  • http://ntservicepack.microsoft.com

See this article for further information

Windows Activation Servers

In some case you might need a list of the servers required for Microsoft Windows activation to apply to a firewall or proxy policy.

This is the list as defined by Microsoft:
  • http://go.microsoft.com/
  • https://sls.microsoft.com/
  • https://sls.microsoft.com:443
  • http://crl.microsoft.com/pki/crl/products/MicrosoftRootAuthority.crl
  • http://crl.microsoft.com/pki/crl/products/MicrosoftProductSecureCommunications.crl
  • http://www.microsoft.com/pki/crl/products/MicrosoftProductSecureCommunications.crl
  • http://crl.microsoft.com/pki/crl/products/MicrosoftProductSecureServer.crl
  • http://www.microsoft.com/pki/crl/products/MicrosoftProductSecureServer.crl
  • https://activation.sls.microsoft.com

See this article for further information:

Monday, April 20, 2015

EATON IPM Appliance: Update IP address

The EATON Intelligent Power Manager is a software package that help monitor and manager UPS connected to your server infrustracture and can be installed in different ways. For virtual environments, the easiest way is to deploy the pre-configured Virtual Appliance for VMware ESXi.



However what I discovered is there is no easy way to reconfigure the IP addresses just from the management console. As the appliance is based on Centos Linux, you can use basic Linux commands to change the IP address.

For this, you will need either direct console access or SSH.
As you will be changing the IP address and a disconnection will be required, I advise connecting via the direct console.

  1. Log on to the Virtual Appliance as root
    (Default username is 'root'; default password is eaton)
  2. Use vi to modify the ifcfg-eth0 file

    #vi /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-eth0

    Update with the following lines:
    DEVICE=eth0
    BOOTPROTO=static
    ONBOOT=yes
    TYPE=Ethernet
    IPV6INIT=no
    IPADDR=x.x.x.x
    NETMASK=255.255.255.0


    Then, save and close (:wq)
  3. Use vi to modify the sysconfig/network file

    #vi /etc/sysconfig/network


    Update with the following lines:
    NETWORKING=yes
    NETWORKING_IPV6=yes
    HOSTNAME=localhost
    DOMAINNAME=localdom
    GATEWAY=x.x.x.x


    Then, save and close (:wq)
  4. Restart the network service to have settings take affect

    #service network restart

Office 365 ScanPST to fix corrupted Outlook files

In Office 365, which uses the Click-to-Run technology, Office program files are now in a new location.



When you experience issues with Outlook, often you would use the ScanPST.exe tool to repair PST and OST files with Outlook.

This tool can now be found in the following location:

C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office 15\root\office15\ScanPST.exe

Microsoft has published a Knowledge Base article list the locations of the ScanPST utility depending on your installation of Office 365. Whether you're using 32 or 64 bit versions.

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/272227

This should apply for both 32-bit and 64-bit installations of Office 365.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Unable to activate Office 2013

During the setup of some PCs recently I found the error that Office 2013 would not activate. While I did some Google searches and a lot of forums often said the solution was to reinstall the software, which is a lot of effort, especially if you have the error on multiple computers.

This is the error I received:

.
For this particular instance, I found that I had to open an Office app (whether it was Word or Excel etc.) as Administrator. Meaning, right-clicking the icon and selecting Run as Administrator.

Once it was running as Administrator, I was able to get it activiated.

Not sure what was different able that installation but that's what I had to do to get it activated.