Jul 13 2009

Default Windows XP Wallpaper

Category: WindowsTeknovis @ 11:02 pm

I came across the story behind the default Windows XP wallpaper, known as Bliss, on Wikipedia tonight. The article, Bliss, shows the original wallpaper, and a more recent photo! There is a huge difference!

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Jul 01 2009

Firefox Default Browser

Category: WindowsTeknovis @ 7:28 pm

The other issue (besides Removing Windows Media Player Icons) that I spent a lot of time trying to resolve over the weekend was setting Firefox as my default browser!

I have several Windows 2000 Workstation computers that are setup identically, and I use roaming profiles so that I only need to maintain a single profile. Firefox is configured as my default browser, and the option to Always check to see if Firefox is the default browser on startup is enabled (see Default browser).

Everything worked perfectly, except on one computer! This troublesome computer would always ask me if I wanted to make Firefox my default browser the first time that I ran it in a single login session! This made me think that the problem must be somewhere in the Registry under HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT. However, I could not understand why I was only prompted the first time I ran Firefox.

I eventually found a very explanatory article called How Does Your Browser Know that It’s Not The Default? that describes how Firefox associates itself with protocols and file types. I could see the values of the relevant keys in HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT changing when I ran Firefox. I was surprised that these values could be changed using a normal user account!

The thing that I did not know until I read the article was that HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT is actually created dynamically when the user logs in by merging the computer’s settings in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Classes and the user’s settings in HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes. This is described in more detail in HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT Key.  So Firefox was not configured as the default browser in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Classes.

Ultimately, the solution was very easy :o I used the Add/Remove Programs setting in the Control Panel of the Administrator account as described in Setting default browser manually.

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Jun 29 2009

Removing Windows Media Player Icons

Category: WindowsTeknovis @ 7:21 pm

I spent a lot of time over the weekend trying to resolve some very small, but very annoying, issues with my home computers. After many hours I resolved my issues, so I will document them here!

First let my briefly describe my setup. I have a Windows 2000 Server that I also log into locally to use as a workstation. I also have several Windows 2000 Workstations (some are desktops and some are laptops). All of these computers are setup identically, and I use roaming profiles to minimise my administration! It all works very well!

However, something that really annoyed me was that if I logged in and out of a workstation, and I subsequently logged in locally to the server, I would have Windows Media Player icons added to my desktop and my start menu. So what was causing these icons to constantly reappear?

The first thing I checked was the Add/Remove Programs setting in the Control Panel of each computer. These were not configured to show any icons on my desktops.

Next I checked to see if there was something in my Startup folder. Specifically, I checked the following two locations:

  • C:\Documents and Settings\Teknovis\Start Menu\Programs\Startup
  • C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu\Programs\Startup

There was nothing unusual there, so next I checked the Registry. Usual disclaimer: Do not manipulate the Registry unless you are certain of what you are doing! In this case the following locations need to be checked:

  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Runonce
  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Runonce

There was nothing unusual in these either :(

In fairness, all of that was the easy part, and I did not expect it to yield any useful results. I thought it must be significant that the icons only reappeared when I logged in locally to the server. I searched the Internet extensively, but I could not find any solutions :(

So next I started searching for information about other Registry locations that cause applications to be executed when a user logs in to the computer. I found two such locations:

  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Active Setup\Installed Components
  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Active Setup\Installed Components

Windows compares the contents of both of these to determine if it needs to install any additional software when a user logs in. This is described in detail in Active Setup and how to implement it and Active Setup and how to implement it. I then looked for references to Windows Media Player. The location HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Active Setup\Installed Components\>{22d6f312-b0f6-11d0-94ab-0080c74c7e95} caught my attention!

On my workstation it contained the following keys and values:

  • ComponentID="Windows Media Player"
  • Locale="*"
  • DontAsk=dword:00000002
  • Version="9,0,0,2980"
  • IsInstalled=dword:00000001
  • Stubpath="C:\WINNT\inf\unregmp2.exe /HideWMP"

On my server it contained the following keys and values:

  • DontAsk=dword:00000002
  • Version="9,0,0,2980"
  • IsInstalled=dword:00000000
  • Stubpath="C:\WINNT\inf\unregmp2.exe /ShowWMP"

So it was the last key and value that were causing my icons to reappear! I finally found the cause of the problem!

There are numerous solutions to resolve this, and some of these are described in the documents referenced above. However, the option I chose was to change the value of the IsInstalled key to dword:00000001. I can confirm that this solution works :)


Jun 26 2009

Notepad++ Missing Toolbar

Category: WindowsTeknovis @ 5:11 pm

I read a claim recently that most people’s favourite text editor is the first one that they ever used. In my case this is certainly not true, and I have tried several. My favourite Windows text editor for the past few years has been Notepad++.

I upgraded my old and outdated version to the latest versions (5.4.3) today. I am very happy with the improvements that I have noticed, but I also found one big bug – the main toolbar is missing! I have tried changing the preferences, and I tried installing customised tool bar icons (as described in Change Theme HOWTO). Neither of these had any effect :(

I have since discovered that this is a known issue, as described in Missing Toolbar in 5.4.3. It will be fixed in the next version, but until then I am going to use version 5.4.2.


Jun 23 2009

Annoying Adobe Acrobat Toolbar

Category: WindowsTeknovis @ 7:24 pm

This great tip describes how to remove the really annoying Adobe Acrobat toolbar from Microsoft Office: Removing and Reinstalling Acrobat PDFMaker (6.0 for Office 2000 or XP).

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Jun 23 2009

Firefox Printing to Adobe PDF Writer

Category: WindowsTeknovis @ 6:52 pm

I noticed recently that any time I tried to create a PDF file from Firefox using my Adobe Acrobat PDF Writer the resulting PDF file was unreadable because the fonts were illegible :(

I had some time this evening to look into this problem, it it seems that it is a known issue with older versions of Adobe PDF Writer: Font glyphs incorrectly displayed with certain printer drivers.

Maybe I should look into an alternative PDF Printer, because I hate the way that Acrobat embeds itself so much into my operating system!

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May 18 2009

Patched Windows 2000 Installations

Category: WindowsTeknovis @ 8:19 am

I had to install Windows 2000 on some computers over the weekend. The last time that I installed this operating system was several years ago! My main concern was figuring out what service packs and hot fixes needed to be installed. This is what I installed:

  1. Windows 2000 (from original CD)
  2. Service Pack 4 (W2KSP4_EN.EXE – 129MB)
  3. Rollup 1 for Windows 2000 SP4 (KB891861) (Windows2000-KB891861-v2-x86-ENU.EXE – 31MB)
  4. Conficker Protection MS08-067 (KB958644) (Windows2000-KB958644-x86-ENU.EXE – 1MB)

These computers are operating on an isolated network that does not have Internet access. However, other laptops are regularly attached to the network.

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Jan 08 2009

Windows 2000 Alive and Well

Category: WindowsTeknovis @ 9:22 am

I previously wrote about the demise of Windows 3.11 in Goodbye Windows 3.11!. I have not used in it many years, so this news did not concern me.

However, I still regularly use Windows 2000 because it does everything that I need. It also gives much better performance on older computers than its successor Windows XP.

I have been thinking recently about how popular Windows 2000 remains. I started thinking about this after reading an article describing how the UK’s Royal Navy has started using a mix of Windows 2000 and Windows XP on its nuclear powered submarines. This is instead of the traditional custom designed software. The full article is Royal Navy completes Windows for Submarines™ rollout.

During the Christmas holidays I was in several airports, and I was in many department stores. I was really surprised to see that many of the computers in these locations (boarding gates and customer information desks) were using Windows 2000. It is easy to spot this when the computers are not being used, because both the login screen and the default screensaver of Windows 2000 are distinctive.

It must be the case that the benefits of using the newer operating systems do not yet justify the massive additional costs of upgrading so many computers.

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Jan 03 2009

The Matrix Runs on Windows

Category: Humour,WindowsTeknovis @ 11:26 am

A friend recently brought this great video by CollegeHumor to my attention:


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Nov 08 2008

Goodbye Windows 3.11!

Category: WindowsTeknovis @ 8:24 pm

The BBC are reporting that Microsoft stopped issuing new licences for Windows 3.11 at the beginning of the month in The end of an era – Windows 3.x. It is really hilarous to consider the hardware requirements for Windows 3.11 now:

  • An 8086/8088 processor or better running at 10MHz
  • 64KB of RAM
  • 7MB of hard drive space
  • A graphics card that supported CGA graphics or better

Apparently Qantas and Virgin Atlantic are powering their in-flight entertainment systems using Windows 3.11. I really wonder if they are powering more of their onboard embedded systems using Windows 3.11, and if this would cause people to be more cautious about flying with them!

I have not seen Windows 3.11 in use in a long time, but I do remember it fondly…

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