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Offering WIFI profiles as a “GPO preference” in Windows 7

WIFI profiles can be configured very easily by using Group Policies. However, using GPOs to set WIFI settings limits the user in defining his own preference. A setting like “Auto connect to this network when in range” is set by the system administrator and cannot be unset by a user.

image thumb Offering WIFI profiles as a “GPO preference” in Windows 7

To avoid this problem, I was thinking about a “WIFI offering”. A computer should be provisioned by the right WIFI settings to connect to that SSID. However, if a user wants to modify the setting to its own desires, he should be able to to this. In addition, I also wanted to have the WIFI profile recreated in case the user accidentally deleted the profile.

The solution for this scenario is much easier than I thought, but I think it’s still useful to blog :)

1. First, we need to configure the “recommended” WIFI settings on a Windows 7 laptop. You can do this in the Network and Sharing Center. To quickly open the Network and Sharing center, enter the following command in a command prompt:

control.exe /name Microsoft.NetworkAndSharingCenter

2. After having the WIFI connection configured as desired, you should export these settings to an XML-file, using the netsh command. Type the following command in a command prompt:

netsh wlan export profile my-first-wifi folder=c:\

3. The netsh command above has now created a Wireless-Network-Connection-my-first-wifi.xml file in C:\ . Save this file to a network location that is accessible to all domain computers. For example your NETLOGON directory

4. Next, we need to create a batch file with the following commands:

netsh wlan show profiles | find /i "my-first-wifi"
if errorlevel 1 (
netsh wlan add profile filename="\\contoso.com\netlogon\Wireless-Network-Connection-my-first-wifi.xml" user=all
)

This command will first check whether “my-first-wifi” exists. If it does exist (“if errorlevel 0”), do nothing. If the WIFI profile “my-first-wifi” does not exist (“if error level 1”), it creates the profile with “netsh wlan add profile …”

5. Now since you have created the BATCH file and have exported the XML file with WIFI settings, the only thing you need to do is run the batch-script at computer startup. I prefer doing this in the Computer Configuration of a Group Policy in “Windows Settings –> Scripts (StartUp/Shutdown)”, but configuring at “Administrative Templates –> System –> Scripts” will do fine too.

And we’re done! Steps above will:

  • supply new domain computers with a pre-configured WIFI profile
  • allow users to modify the profile in their own needs
  • re-create the profile in case a user accidentally deletes the profile
  • allow Service Desk to quickly help a user “repairing the WIFI profile”: simply delete the wireless configuration and restart the computer!

How to set up a WordPress website in your Windows Azure account

In Windows Azure, your WordPress blog can be up and running in only 2 minutes (if you click fast enough ;-) ).
This How-to helps you step by step to get it done quickly.

Your very first step would certainly be the signup for a free Windows Azure trial. If you don’t have it, sign up here: Free Trial – Windows Azure Though you need to fill in credit card information, this is a really free account. Your “spending limit” will be set to $0,00 by default, so unless you change this, you will never be charged for anything.

So, assuming you now have an Azure account,
1) Log on to the Azure Portal (https://manage.windowsazure.com/).
2) Click Web Sites in the left bar.

image thumb How to set up a Wordpress website in your Windows Azure account

Windows Azure has a so-called Gallery, which offers you a variety of popular web applications, including WordPress. The great benefit of the Gallery is the installation-free creation of your web application.

3) Click at the left bottom on New, then choose Compute –> Website –> From Gallery
4)
Type the URL for your blog (I chose itexperienceblog, so the final URL would be itexperienceblog.azurewebsites.net)
5) Choose the Region that’s closest to you, and click Create Web Site

image thumb1 How to set up a Wordpress website in your Windows Azure account

A new window appears, showing you all web applications offered by Azure’s Gallery.
6) Scroll down, click WordPress, and click –> (next)

image thumb2 How to set up a Wordpress website in your Windows Azure account

7) In the Configure Your App window, fill in the Site Settings fields. Assuming you don’t already have a database configured in Azure, leave the first 4 fields as they are…

image thumb3 How to set up a Wordpress website in your Windows Azure account

In this same window, as you scroll down to Deployment Settings, Azure will ask you a lot of unique phrases / keys. You may skip these and just click –> (next). However, for security reasons it would be good to fill in the fields. You don’t have to remember the keys, you just need to make them complicated. If you ever forget to logout from WordPress somewhere, you can change these keys to invalidate all existing cookies. This means all users will have to login again.
Need inspiration for your phrases? Use WordPress’ Salt Generator:
https://api.wordpress.org/secret-key/1.1/salt/  and copy-paste.

8) Fill in the keys fields (authentication key, secure authentication key, logged in key, nonce key, authentication salt, secure authentication salt, logged in salt, nonce salt) and click –> (next)

image thumb4 How to set up a Wordpress website in your Windows Azure account

While writing this How-to, I faced the following issue: Windows Azure doesn’t like some specific characters in the Key fields. So, if you see the same red exclamation marks, just replace the ‘ \ $ characters by something else :-)

image thumb5 How to set up a Wordpress website in your Windows Azure account

9) In the New MySQL Database window, leave the fields default. Check the “I agree to ClearDB’s legal terms” box and click V (complete installation)

image thumb6 How to set up a Wordpress website in your Windows Azure account

Windows Azure now asks you to be patient for 2 minutes, while it is creating your WordPress blog.

10) Wait for completion :-)

image thumb7 How to set up a Wordpress website in your Windows Azure account

11) Your blog is up and running. Try to open it by clicking the URL.

image thumb8 How to set up a Wordpress website in your Windows Azure account

12) WordPress now requires you to complete one final step: name your blog and choose a username / password to login. To get to this site, type http://yourblog.azurewebsites.net/wp-admin/ . In my case: http://itexperienceblog.azurewebsites.net/wp-admin/

image thumb9 How to set up a Wordpress website in your Windows Azure account

WordPress is now completely setup.
You may have noticed that you cannot “browse” through the PHP-files from the Dashboard in Windows Azure. There’s no file explorer. Instead, if you need to modify files, you must use WebMatrix. WebMatrix is an sort of locally installed file explorer for Windows Azure. It allows you to browse and edit files in Windows Azure websites, as well as deploy websites to Azure.

13) From the Dashboard of your website, click Install Webmatrix

image thumb10 How to set up a Wordpress website in your Windows Azure account

14) Follow the instructions. You’ll need to install a bunch of prerequisites as well for sue, so take your time.

image thumb11 How to set up a Wordpress website in your Windows Azure account

15) Finished the WebMatrix installation? Launch WebMatrix, sign in with your Microsoft account, and you’ll notice the WordPress site you just installed.
If you can’t find the shortcut to WebMatrix (like I had), open WebMatrix from Windows Explorer. The default location to WebMatrix is "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft WebMatrix\WebMatrix.exe"

In the screenshot below, you see the wp-config.php file with the authentication keys I supplied in step 8.

image thumb12 How to set up a Wordpress website in your Windows Azure account

Well, I guess that’s it for this How-to.
Questions or comments? Please leave a message below! I’d like to hear from you!

FIX: There was a problem starting C:\Windows\System32\LogiLDA.dll

After upgrading my OS to Windows 8.1, the following error occurred at my pc at every Windows startup:

image thumb2 FIX: There was a problem starting C:\Windows\System32\LogiLDA.dll

RunDLL: There was a problem starting C:\Windows\System32\LogiLDA.dll
T
he specified module could not be found.

I found out LogiLDA.dll to to be a DLL-file of the Logitech Download Assistant. Well, I can assure you I never installed this software on my pc, but still it somehow managed to get into my Run-section in the registry.

The following options will stop the error message popping up:

1) Open Task Manager, either by

  • pressing CTRL-ALT-DELETE –> Task Manager, or by
  • WIN+R –> type taskmgr and click OK

2) Go to the Tab Startup, right-click LogiLDA and click Disabled

image thumb3 FIX: There was a problem starting C:\Windows\System32\LogiLDA.dll

Another option is to delete the registry key. To do so, follow these steps:

1) Open your Registry Editor (regedit.exe)
2) Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
3) Locate the key Logitech Download Assistant , right-click and delete
image thumb4 FIX: There was a problem starting C:\Windows\System32\LogiLDA.dll

Logitech gone, problem solved wlEmoticon smile FIX: There was a problem starting C:\Windows\System32\LogiLDA.dll

Unable to create socket? Check Traverse Folder permissions!

During a migration from Windows XP to Windows 7, I recently faced an issue with a business-critical application. The application did start, but would not connect to a database. Both the application and database were located on a DFS share. The following error showed up:

image thumb Unable to create socket? Check Traverse Folder permissions! 
Communication error (global –2) | Unable to create socket

Some troubleshooting/trial and error led to the following facts:
1) starting the program from \\servername\app\app.exe ran with no issues
2) starting the program from \\dfsshare\folder1\folder2\app\app.exe returned an error

I first suspected the problem to be in Offline Files. There are a legion of known issues with caching of network files. However the problem persisted after completely disabling Offline Files and formatting the CSC database.

Then a colleague came up with a magical term that would lead to the solution: Traverse Checking.
Since Windows 7 had the issues while XP had no issues with the application at all, the problem had to be in technique used by Windows 7.

The user that tried to access app.exe had no "Traverse"-rights on the upper folders Folder1 and Folder2. Windows 7 uses SMB v2 (in contrast to Windows XP, that uses SMB v1), and Bypassing Traverse folders is limited. The application I was having issues with was very strict and would not allow access to a database file in a location where the path is not completely traversable.

Topics on technet often refer to the following commands to disable SMB v2:
sc config lanmanworkstation depend= bowser/mrxsmb10/nsi
sc config mrxsmb20 start= disabled

However, for me they did not work. I therefore decided to make all upper lying folders traversable

image thumb1 Unable to create socket? Check Traverse Folder permissions!

After giving the affected users “Traverse Folder”-rights on all folders in the path \\dfsshare\folder1\folder2\app\app.exe , the application started and could successfully connect to the database.

Some related articles I used while troubleshooting:

How to find Active Directory objects if you only know the middle part of the name

Often I face the problem in Active Directory knowing some part of a group name, but not the exact name neither the exact location.
To find an Active Directory object, from which you only know the middle part, you’d best use a Query.

In Active Directory Users and Computers (dsa.msc), right-click Saved Queries -> click New -> click Query

image thumb3 How to find Active Directory objects if you only know the middle part of the name

In the new window, give the query a name, and click “Define Query
Select “Custom Search” and type “CN=*creative*” or “CN=*anything_else*

image thumb4 How to find Active Directory objects if you only know the middle part of the name

Click OK and you’re done. The query will now result all objects (CN = Common Name) with “Creative” in their name.

If you’re into Powershell, you can also use the following command to get the matching objects. Use something like this:

Get-ADObject -Filter {(name -like "*creative*")}

or

Get-ADObject -Filter {(name -like "*anything_else*")}

Further information at: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee617196.aspx