Aug 172017
 

I just moved a Windows 8.1 installation in Virtual Box from one computer to another. When booting up, Windows told me:

This 64-bit application couldn’t load because your PC doesn’t have a 64-bit processor

The host computer is an Intel Xeon CPU which definitely is a 64 bit CPU (the previous computer was an older AMD 6 core CPU which was also 64 bit).

Oddly enough I could not find any solution on the interweb tubes (my Google fu seems to have weakened or maybe Google search isn’t as helpful as it used to be because it tries to guess what the user is searching for rather than simply searching for what he has typed).

It took me a while to figure out what the problem was: For some reason the virtual machine’s configuration had changed on the “General” -> “Basic” page from Version = “Windows 8.1 (64-bit)” to “Windows 7 (32-bit)”. Which apparently means that the CPU reported to the OS is a 32 bit CPU. Changing this back to the original value solved the problem.

Jun 262017
 

Note to self: If adding a Windows 8.1 computer to a SAMBA domain fails with the error “The specified domain either does not exist or could not be contacted” the following changes to the Registry might help:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\LanmanWorkstation\Parameters]
; Enable NT-Domain compatibility mode
; Default:
; [value not present]
; "DomainCompatibilityMode"=-
"DomainCompatibilityMode"=dword:00000001

; Disable required DNS name resolution
; Default:
; [value not present]
; "DNSNameResolutionRequired"=-
"DNSNameResolutionRequired"=dword:00000000


[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\Netlogon\Parameters]
; Disable requirement of signed communication
; My Samba (3.0.33) works with signed communication enabled, so no need to disable it.
; Default:
; "RequireSignOrSeal"=dword:00000001
; Disable the usage of strong keys
; Default:
; "RequireStrongKey"=dword:00000001
"RequireStrongKey"=dword:00000000

source: the answer from gigiga in the social.technet.microsoft.com forum.

dzEditorLineEndsFix 1.0.3 released

 Delphi, Uncategorized, Windows, Windows 8.1  Comments Off on dzEditorLineEndsFix 1.0.3 released
Jan 212017
 

I have released a new version of my dzEditorLineEndsFix tool for Delphi 2006 to 2010. There is only one change: I removed the balloon hint it used to show at startup. It started to annoy the hell out of me (and I’m probably not the only one).

The tool also now has its own page on this blog.

Filter multiple criteria in Windows Explorer

 Uncategorized, Windows, Windows 7, Windows 8.1  Comments Off on Filter multiple criteria in Windows Explorer
Nov 092016
 

Note to self: It is possible to filter on multiple criteria – e.g. extensions – in Windows Explorer by combining them with OR:

.txt OR .doc
  • The OR must be written all upper case (AND is also possible).
  • *.txt will not work
  • It will search recursively
  • A semicolon (as in file filters) does not work.

More on filtering, grouping and searching here.

WinHlp32 for Windows 8.1

 Uncategorized, Windows 8.1  Comments Off on WinHlp32 for Windows 8.1
Dec 202015
 

Microsoft dropped support for the old WinHelp (*.hlp) file format in Windows 7 (or was it in Vista?). They provided a download that added the missing WinHlp32.exe (and probably quite a few other files) back so we could display .hlp files again. Today I had the need to do that on Windows 8.1. Unfortunately I run into several issues:

  • There are multiple downloads and it isn’t trivial to find the right one (Update for Windows 8.1 for x64-based Systems (KB917607) worked for me)
  • The download is a .msu file which doesn’t install if your windows does not have one of the supported language packs. If you get the error “The update does not apply to your system”, install the English-US language pack (I didn’t have that, I used English-GB.)
  • The installer package takes forever to prepare, then asks you whether you want to install KB917607. After a while it looks as if it is finished. I tried to open a .hlp file and it still didn’t work. Looking closer revealed yet another window open requiring me to acknowledge the license terms. So I did that and lo and behold: I could finally view .hlp files again.

Why does Microsoft make everything so complicated?

Add a “Scan with Windows Defender” context menu to any folder or file

 Uncategorized, Windows, Windows 8.1  Comments Off on Add a “Scan with Windows Defender” context menu to any folder or file
Nov 282015
 

Windows Defender is the virus scan tool that is included with Windows 8 and later. While it provides basic security it does not have any of the convenience functions that other virus scanners have. In particular I miss a context menu option to scan a file or folder.

ScanWithWindowsDefenderMenu

So I turned to Google and found How to add the Windows defender into Windows Explorer’s right click menu on SuperUser and How to Add Any Application Shortcut to Windows Explorer’s Context Menu on How-To Geek. Both go through great length with pictures and text to describe how to do it, but basically a simple .reg file would have been sufficient.

To add a "Scan file with Windows Defender" entry for all files, you need this:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\*\shell\WindowsDefender]
"Icon"="%ProgramFiles%\\\\Windows Defender\\\\EppManifest.dll"
"MUIVerb"="Scan with Windows Defender"

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\*\shell\WindowsDefender\Command]
@="\"c:\\Program Files\\Windows Defender\\MpCmdRun.exe\"  -scan -scantype 3 -SignatureUpdate -file %1"

(download link)

And for a "Scan folder with Windows Defender" entry for each folder, you need this:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Folder\shell\WindowsDefender]
"Icon"="%ProgramFiles%\\\\Windows Defender\\\\EppManifest.dll"
"MUIVerb"="Scan folder with Windows Defender"

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Folder\shell\WindowsDefender\Command]
@="\"c:\\Program Files\\Windows Defender\\MpCmdRun.exe\"  -scan -scantype 3 -SignatureUpdate -file %1"

(download link)

Both open a console window for the console version of Windows Defender to run. That’s a bit ugly but we aren’t in this for a design award, are we?

To add these files to the registry just double click them. Windows will warn you about possible threads. It’s a good idea to read through files like these before double clicking. Maybe I am just trying to hack your computer? πŸ˜‰

It works for me on Windows 8.1, but it should also work on other Windows versions like 10.

Fighting Secure Boot

 Uncategorized, Windows, Windows 8.1  Comments Off on Fighting Secure Boot
Oct 232014
 

I have bought an Acer Extensa notebook after reading the under 300 Euros notebooks test in the latest c’t magazine where it came up as the winner regarding battery life and the rest wasn’t too bad either. I chose the 4 GB model so it won’t thrash the hd all the time. The Extensa comes preinstalled with Windows 8.1 and – as so many computers nowadays comes without an install medium and also without a user’s manual. (The link given in the short setup guide for downloading the manual http://go.acer.com/?id=17833 leads to a non-functional site. Not very user friendly in my book.)

Now, what is the first thing you do, when you get a new computer which comes pre-installed with an operating system but does not come with an install medium? I for one, make a backup, preferably an image backup of the whole hard disk using Clonezilla. Since this is my image backup tool of choice I carry it with me on a USB stick almost all the time (Hey, I work in IT, so it’s pretty much normal to carry USB sticks and other stuff. πŸ˜‰ ). So I plugged that USB stick into the notbook and booted it up. It went straight into the Windows 8.1 setup screen. πŸ™

So I tried to get a boot menu. Perusing Google told me that Acer notebooks use F12 for the boot menu. Unfortunately this didn’t work. Windows 8.1 setup again. πŸ™

Next, I tried to get into the BIOS, or whatever the UEFI stuff nowadays calls this tool. The usual DEL key didn’t work but after several reboots and key presses I ended up in some windows boot menu that allowed me to boot from an USB stick. Only, it didn’t. It told me there was a secure boot failure and stopped.

Turning the computer off and on again, this time I apparently got the BIOS setup key right: F2 (It didn’t work the first several times I tried it, why?) I got something called “Insydeh” which looked like a BIOS of old. And there it was: An option to turn off “secure boot”, only it was disabled. I could only switch to BIOS mode which I didn’t want to. WTF?

Google to the rescue again: To turn off secure boot, you first must set a supervisor password. So I did that, came back to the secure boot screen and lo and behold, the option to turn it off was enabled now. After turning it off, I could clear the supervisor password and the option was still enabled. Another setting I changed was the F12 boot menu. It was disabled by default so I enabled it.

Save and reboot, press F12 and – voila – a boot menu which finally allowed me to boot clonezilla from my USB stick. The backup is running now.

Praise Microsoft for requiring PC manufacturers to have an option to turn off secure boot if they want to be Windows 8 compliant (I wonder whether that will still be a requirement for Windows 10, though.). But curse Microsoft and the bloody PC manufacturers to come up with the pretty much useless secure boot feature at all. It’s my computer, I paid for it, so it should be my choice to install whatever operating system I want on it!

Updating Windows Defender signatures (only)

 Uncategorized, Windows 8.1  Comments Off on Updating Windows Defender signatures (only)
Apr 082014
 

One of my problems with Windows 8 is that Microsoft recommends to keep Automatic Updates on the setting “Install updates automatically” while I prefer the setting “Download updates but let me choose whether to install them”. (Actually I don’t really want to choose whether to install them but rather when to install them.)

It’s possible to change this setting, but Windows Defender then won’t download its signature updates because that’s bound to the same mechanism as Windows Update. So every day I get a message on my boot screen, that there are important updates available and that I should start Windows Update to install them. This is annoying like hell.

Thankfully with a little bit of googling I found a solution. There is a tool that that checks for signature updates (an supposedly downloads them, I couldn’t try it yet because I just updated them using Windows update). It must be called like this:

"C:\Program Files\Windows Defender\MpCmdRun.exe" -SignatureUpdate -MMPC

So adding this command to e.g. task scheduler should solve yet another Windows 8 annoyance for good.

Accessing legacy operating systems remotely via Virtual Box

 Uncategorized, Windows 8.1  Comments Off on Accessing legacy operating systems remotely via Virtual Box
Feb 132014
 

In the process of moving forward to Windows 7 we found, that there were still some computers running Windows 2000. The original plan was to get rid of them in the process because they are (and have been for some time) an uncalculable security risk and of course the hardware is quite old as well (and don’t even ask for the backups). Unfortunately it turned out that there are some programs running on these computers that we still haven’t replaced or at least are not 100% sure the replacement works reliably.

So we decided to keep these computers as virtual machines without network connection (actually: With host only networking). And since one of the programs was a client server application, this added some additional headache: How do you use a 3 user c/s application if the computer running the server does not have a network? It turned out, that this particular application was rarely used and it would be fine if every one of these 3 users could work with it one at a time and on the console of the virtual machine.

Being a lazy bastard ™ I of course didn’t want to walk to the console every time and I don’t think the other users were particularly fond of that idea either, I investigated a little bit further and found a nifty little feature of VirtualBox called "Remote Display". It allows you to access the virtual machine using a Remote Desktop Client, so it adds remote access to any legacy operating system that runs in the VM.

Getting it to work turned out to be less straight forward than I thought. First, you need the “Oracle VM Virtual Box Extension Pack” in a version that matches that of VirtualBox. It is installed via the the VirtualBox settings (File / Preferences) under “Extensions”. Note, that installing from a network drive apparently does not work.

After this is done you configure the Remote Display for the virtual machines that require it. This is done in the virtual machine’s settings under “Display”. Switch to the “Remote Display” tab set the check to “Enable Server” and – very important – set the Server Port to something else but 3389. If you leave it with the default, it will conflict with the remote desktop capability of Windows and you will get the rather unhelpful error “Your computer could not connect to another console session on the remote computer because you already have a console session in progress.” when you try to connect locally. I used port 3400.

To be able to connect to the virtual machine that machine must already be running but it is not necessary that the OS has finished booting. Just open the Remote Desktop Client and point it to the name or IP address of the host computer followed by a colon (":") and the port number. E.g. localhost:3400, 127.0.0.1:3400 or bobscomputer:3400. After complaining multiple times about security the window should show you the same as the console window of VirtualBox.

If you want to run VirtualBox without a GUI and access it only via Remote Desktop, see this StackOverflow question.

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