Aaron's blog

SQL Server 2008 Books Online installer error in Vista

By aaron.axvig, 11 October, 2008

When I ran the installer for SQL Server 2008 Books Online (download here) I got an error.

This installation package cannot be installed by the Windows Installer service.  You must install a Windows service pack that contains a newer version of the Windows Installer service.

How Vista is not auto-updated with the latest installer is beyond me, but here's what you have to do.

  1. Download the new installer package.
  2. That page says you need to use wusa.exe to install the package, but if you just double-click on what you downloaded it will do that automatically.
  3. Restart.  (Yes, I tried not restarting, but it doesn't work until you restart).
  4. Bask in brand-new installer glory.


Quick Anti-Spam Setup in Exchange 2007

By aaron.axvig, 12 September, 2008

Sure Outlook has great spam-filtering, but what if you are relying on Outlook Web Access instead?  You will waste a lot of time moving messages to the Junk folder.  Or even consider the amount of bandwidth saved by having the server do filtering rather than the client.  Thankfully it is quite easy to setup a spam filter based on the ZEN IP blocklist provided by http://www.spamhaus.org.

  1. Install the Anti-spam components following these directions if they already aren't.
  2. Open "Exchange Management Console".
  3. Expand "Organization Configuration".
  4. Left-click "Hub Transport".
  5. Select the "Anti-spam" tab.
  6. Right-click "IP Block List Providers" and select enable.
  7. Double-click "IP Block List Providers".
  8. Go to the "Providers" tab.
  9. Click "Add".
  10. Enter your choice in the "Provider name" box (I recommended "Spamhaus Zen").
  11. Put "zen.spamhaus.org" in the "Lookup domain" box.
  12. Leave "Match any return code" checked.

The following screenshot shows pretty much all these steps:


Doing this cut me to about 17 spams per day, rather than the ~170 I was getting. 

Get rid of "Tunnel adapter Local Area Connection* ##" entries

By aaron.axvig, 11 September, 2008

Vista seems to have an annoying habit of creating several "Tunnel adapter Local Area Connection* ##" entries in my ipconfig results, which means I have to scroll up to see the actual entries I want to.  That is a pain to do on a laptop with a touch pad, but also I think it was contributing to connectivity problems when switching between wireless and wired connections.

If you want to remove them, there is a method that seems to be harmless:

  • Right-click My Computer, go to Manage.
  • Go to Device Manager
  • Click View on the top of the window, and check Show hidden devices.
  • Now expand the Network adapters tree, and you should see several entries that start with isatap.(something).
  • Disable (right-click, Disable) several of them, and verify that all your networking things still work.
  • If that didn't cause any problems, you should be able to safely delete them (right-click, Uninstall).

Now your ipconfig readout should be a little more sane.  This problems seems to be caused by IPv4 and IPv6 tunneling of some sort, which you can read about here.


Broken Rockband Drumset Kick Pedal Fix/Rebuild

By aaron.axvig, 5 September, 2008

As I had feared would happen for a long time, my kick pedal (well actually my cousin's kick pedal) broke.  So I made a new pedal out of 1/2" plywood.

First step was disassemble the broken unit, trace the foot part, and cut it out:


Then I drilled holes for the hinges (which were essentially the only deviation from the design of the original), holes for the orange piece, and a hole for the magnet.  It was accurate enough to just eye-ball all the locations from various angles instead of measuring things. Which got me to this stage:


And the final assembled product (which works just as well as the original):

Axvius server upgrade

By aaron.axvig, 6 May, 2008

Last night we upped the RAM count to 6GB (from 2GB).  I'm pretty sure that was completely unnecessary, but it is still sweet.  There are some weird things you notice when you get that much RAM: the pagefile is reported by Task Manager to be over 12GB, and the hibernate file takes up over 6GB.  Hopefully it doesn't actually think it's going to be using that hiberfile anytime soon--it would be tough to check my e-mail.  :)

It's also now running a Radeon HD 3850 512MB graphics card, but the purpose of that is to test how good of an output we can get on a TV through component outputs, and it will soon be replaced with a lower end Radeon HD 3450 that is passively cooled.  Then our poor little server will have yet another job: HTPC.


IIS 7 HTTP redirect with empty site

By aaron.axvig, 3 May, 2008

The idea is to create a new site with no real documents to look at, that is purely for re-directing one URL.  It took me a few tries to get this working, so I thought I would document the steps.  In the example we'll be redirecting a.axvius.com to https://b.axvius.com

  1. Create a new site in IIS7.  Pick a name, point the Physical Path to the folder you just created, and a.axvius.com in the Host name box.
  2. Double-click on HTTP Redirect (in the lower half of the pane when you have the site you just created selected).  Check the first box, and put https://b.axvius.com in the box.  Check the box that reads "Redirect all requests to exact destination."  Change the drop-down to permanent.  Click apply.
  3. Notice that it created a web.config file in the folder you created.
  4. May need to restart the site.
  5. Create a folder for the site.
  6. Give the Network Service and IUSR users read access to the folder.  Note that your mileage may vary; I have historically had a difficult time with IIS file permissions.

Not too difficult really.  I tried to do it without a folder first, and was thwarted by file permissions after that.


Follow-up to last night's Outlook adventures

By aaron.axvig, 2 May, 2008

Sometimes things happen to me that are so stupid I feel compelled to share them so others can get, at the most, a good laugh, or at the least, a headshake.

You may recall the post I wrote last night, about my devious attempts to find out which two messages in my Deleted Items were unread.  I went to bed feeling pretty smart, knowing that by morning my computer would be done moving things and I would be able to see what I wanted to see.

I did not feel so smart after I woke up.  I looked at my computer and there was a new message ready to be composed, with 4000 messages attached as files.  I sleepily muttered some obscenities, clicked Close, and clicked No, Don't Save the Draft.

All was well until I got to work at 11:00 and needed to see an old message from my boss.  The Deleted Items folder was empty!

So I spent the next 5 minutes restoring my messages from the "permanently" deleted messages archive via Outlook Web Access, 50 messages at a time.  Apparently it decided I wanted to move all my messages into a new message, and moved them there permanently.  Of course then I didn't save the draft, so they were gone.

On the up side, it showed the two unread messages right at the top of the OWA display of the 4000 messages.  So I actually did work out a valid way of finding those unread messages.

And no, they were not important messages.


View unread deleted messages in Outlook 2007

By aaron.axvig, 2 May, 2008

I have about 4000 messages in my Deleted Items folder in Outlook 2007 (connected to Exchange 2007).  Unfortunately two unread message snuck in there, and it is quite hard to find them.  And it is annoying to see the (2) next to the folder.  I could right-click on the folder and mark them as all read, but I want to see if maybe they are important.

Trying to sort by read status is proving to be difficult.  First I tried using the existing columns, but none of them provide read status.  Then I added a read status column, but someone decided it would be funny to not let users sort by that column.

I'm currently waiting to see whether my latest scheme will work.  I created a new folder, Unread, and am moving all the messages into that folder.  Then they should show up in the Unread Messages virtual folder that Outlook provides, I'll be able to read them, I can move everything back, and I can get on with my life.  It is taking quite a while to move them though.


Near server disaster averted by computer experts

By aaron.axvig, 24 April, 2008

Well I wouldn't say we are experts, but we definitely did have a near disaster.

It started 3 days ago when I installed an NVIDIA driver and program to monitor the RAID 5 running on our server's M2N-E motherboard.  It reported to me that the array was in a degraded state, but did not allow for repairing it from within Windows, requiring some BIOS-level maintenance.  So I planned to go investigate the situation the next day.

When I got to the server and hooked up a monitor and keyboard the video output was garbled.  We could tell it was going into BIOS but it was unreadable.  That's what we get for using a 10 year old PCI video card I guess.  So I planned to come back in a day or two with a different video card.

Of course it then decided to drop another drive from the array.  This took down our website because it was stored on the array.  By website, I mean Default Website, which has the misfortune of being linked to Outlook Web Access for Exchange 2007.  Which means the web.config no longer existed.  OWA would no longer run, and reportedly the only way to fix that is to do a complete re-install of IIS and Exchange 2007.

Needless to say, we really wanted to get that RAID going again.  We rebooted between the RAID BIOS and Windows many times trying to rebuild it, but it would never show up in Windows.  After 10 fruitless repetitions of this we about ready to call it a loss and get ready to wipe the array and start over.

But then I thought of how the monitoring driver and utility I installed had been a relatively new version, and maybe it had incompatibilities with the older BIOS.  Updating the BIOS was worth a shot.

We downloaded the 1305 BIOS from the Asus website, which is still as horrible as it has ever been.  It wouldn't even load from the server, so we had to use another computer, network the downloaded files onto the server, and from there put them on the floppy.

After flashing the board from within BIOS we were greeted with a lockup immediately after the splash screen.  I spent 1/2 an hour unplugging things one-by-one trying to root out the problem, but it didn't help.  I tried unplugging all the cables and plugging them all back in (it sounds weird, but I have seen it fix many problems).  Visions of RMAing the board and going server-less for 2 weeks were running through my head, and I wasn't happy.  Finally I tried removing the battery for a minute, which somehow un-froze the BIOS.

From there it was a quick boot into Windows and then some big smiles as we saw that the array was back, and rebuilding.  No big re-installs this time.

But we weren't without issues.  Immediate attempts to copy files off of the drives were met by network timeouts--it seemed someone had forgotten to plug the network cable back in. :)

And this morning I saw that all the e-mails I received overnight reported being delivered on January 1st, 2008.  The clock needed to be set.  Also, OWA was still not running.  Some Google-ing of the error messages revealed that a few stopped services were probably the cause.  Starting them did get OWA running.  But outbound e-mails were not sending.  I figured this was due to the time issue still, and all the Exchange processes would need to be restarted, so I just rebooted the server.

20 minutes later the server was still not responding (I was at a remote location).  I quickly realized that it was probably halted at the BIOS screen because no keyboard was connected and the default of the new BIOS would be to halt on all errors.  Consider that lesson learned.

And now the happy ending.  Everything is running as it used to, no data was lost, e-mail is working, and I don't have to (get to?) spend my weekend re-doing a server!

Find out which services are running in svchost.exe

By aaron.axvig, 20 April, 2008

Ever wondered what service is running inside of each instance of svchost.exe that you see in Task Manager?  You can tell by right-clicking on the instance and selecting "Go to Service(s)".  This will take you to the Services tab and select the appropriate service(s).  You might want to sort by PID so that they are all grouped together.