Exchange 2010 SP1 – A Warning

Please note that this issue also appears to also occur with Exchange 2010 SP2

Be warned; if you attempt to upgrade an Exchange 2010 RTM install to Exchange 2010 SP1 and you do not have the correct Powershell Execution Policy in place (and I’m not entirely sure what that is, it’s not documented anywhere obvious but it appears that Unrestricted works – although some have said that it doesn’t – and I can assure you that RemoteSigned doesn’t) it will not warn you, it will not avoid it, it will simply break halfway through the install and leave your server in a state whereby the Exchange binaries are all deleted, half your Windows services are disabled and all the Exchange cruft is still in the registry. The error is akin to the following:

The following error was generated when "$error.Clear();
& $RoleBinPath\ServiceControl.ps1 EnableServices Critical
" was run: "AuthorizationManager check failed.".

The only fix I’ve found for this, after sorting the Powershell Execution policy is to delete all the Exchange keys from HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Exchange and HKLM\Software\Microsoft\ExchangeServer, restart all the disabled services (IIS, WMI, Remote Registry, etc) then run the Exchange 2010 RTM “setup.com /M:RecoverServer”, wait for it to complete and then attempting the SP1 install again.

All I can say is thank god I didn’t test this on a server that happened to have the correct Execution Policy and then subsequently deploy it into production onto one that didn’t.

Update: Thanks to Martin for pointing me to http://support.microsoft.com/kb/981474 – it looks like it’s not so much what the Execution Policy is set to, but how it’s set. Seems like a really stupid oversight to me; surely Microsoft must have expected people to use GPOs to set Powershell Execution Policies – at the very least some detection logic in the installer to warn the user would be nice.

.NET Cleanup Tool

If, like me, you manage hundreds of Desktops and Servers, sooner or later you’re going to come across one with a completely broken .NET install that no amount of uninstalling, reinstalling, patching and fiddling will fix properly.

If this sounds familiar, then what you need is the .NET Framework Cleanup Tool, written by Aaron Stebner, formerly of Microsoft’s Developer Division setup team.

It will strip out any installable version of the .NET framework upto and including 4.x and, so far at least, it has always managed to fix my broken installs.

Usual caveats apply, see the original blog post for more details.

Mediaportal MP-TVSeries Re-Import Bugfix

This is largely for my own records, but someone might find it useful:

Manual Solution for problems re-importing after delete. This bug occurs with v2.6.0 when you delete a show from your database and then attempt to reimport it. It appears to detect the files, but doesn’t identify them as needing to be imported. This is due to an issue whereby the records aren’t correctly removed from the TVSeries database.

Use at your own risk.

  1. Make backup of your “TVSeriesDatabase4.db3” (always a good thing anyway)
  2. Download an SQLite tool, such as SQLite Browser.
  3. Make sure no instance of MP-TVSeries is running (otherwise bad things will happen), then File -> Open Database -> locate and open the “TVSeriesDatabase4.db3” file.
  4. Click on the “Execute SQL” tab, and copy and paste the following command:
    DELETE FROM local_episodes WHERE (SELECT COUNT(*) FROM local_series WHERE local_series.id = local_episodes.seriesid) = 0;
    and click on “Execute query” button.
  5. Save the database and close SQLite Browser
  6. Open MP-TVSeries config and re-run the import wizard, and everything should work again.

To see which episodes did not get properly deleted before you remove them, change “DELETE FROM” into “SELECT * FROM” and it will show you.

Bad Science

Bad Science
Bad Science

If you have not already read Bad Science by Ben Goldacre (of the excellent badscience.net and the Guardian’s Bad Science column), then I insist that you buy it now.

Go on, buy it now!

Seriously, it’s easily the best book I’ve read this year and it’s probably one of the best books I’ve read in years. It certainly made me re-evaluate how readily I accept the information in news stories and parroted by other people.

The selected task “{0}” no longer exists

Ever since my power supply blew up and took my system down rather unexpectedly, I’ve been getting an error message every time I open up Task Scheduler in Windows 7; specifically “The selected task “{0}” no longer exists”. I’ve looked all over the place for a solution, but the majority of them just consist of identifying and deleting the missing tasks from the file system, which isn’t ideal when you’ve got loads of built-in system tasks that probably do importantish things.

So, brain was engaged, files were examined and a solution was found:

  1. Run Task Scheduler (TS)
  2. When the error(s) appear, dismiss them
  3. Navigate to each folder and subfolder in turn until you get the error message. Note the folder name and any tasks that *do* display
  4. Exit TS
  5. Open Explorer and navigate to %windir%\system32\tasks\ and then down to the folder from #3
  6. Cut & Paste the files that *aren’t* displayed in TS to a temporary location (Make sure you Cut and not Copy)
  7. Re-open TS, dismiss any errors and navigate back to the folder from #3, which should now open without any errors
  8. Right-Click on the folder and choose “Import Task”
  9. Set the “File Type” selection to “All Files” and then select the file you cut in #6, then OK the imported task. Repeat for any other tasks in that folder
  10. Return to #3 until all folders have been checked and you should now be able to open TS without any errors and without having lost any tasks

Note: I found that several of the tasks that I had created myself had “lost” their scheduling information (No “Next Run” time) and I had to open them, make an arbitrary change to the “Trigger” settings and then re-save them to put them back on track again.

Update: Fuck it, the same problem has come back again – it’s obviously something more serious than a one-off file corruption.

Dear Developers…

Dear Developers,

If you’re going to port your shiny new game to the PC it might be worth bearing in mind the following points:

  • Most PC gamers don’t have Xbox controllers, so it’s nice to make your game playable if they have to use a keyboard and mouse
  • On the subject of mice, they’re a bit more precise than Xbox controllers, so let me change my bloody sensitivity
  • Computers have been doing “HD” since about 1998, give me resolutions above 1080p
  • Computers have lots of buttons on their keyboards, please don’t make me use Space for every single sodding action
  • Performance. Computers can have it if you put some effort in. When I can’t run your game at 1280×1024 on average detail settings, you’ve done something very wrong.
  • Please let me save my game more often. I understand that you don’t want to remove the tension by going back to the days of 24/7 quicksaving, but when your badly ported game inevitably crashes, I’d rather not have to replay the last hour of the game just to get back to where I was (knowing there’s a fair chance it’ll just crash again at the same point).

I’m thinking in particular about Alpha Protocol at the moment, which despite its faults is a really fun game, but I’ve had to spend hours searching various forums & blogs and modifying .ini files just to make the mouse usable. Even after all that, the performance is still pretty shitty and most of the options in the game don’t actually do what they say they do – oh and if you somehow manage to force FSAA on, all your dialogue choices vanish so you can’t really play any more.

Yours.
Adam.

Beat Hazard

Beat Hazard is the latest in a growing line of games with dynamically generated content based on the player; in this case, the player’s music collection. To quote the marketing guff: “Experience your music collection like never before with this intense music driven arcade shooter. Each of your songs will have its own unique ebb and flow based on the music. Power up your spaceship and watch as the music boosts your firepower. Unleash hell on the enemy ships when you max out with weapon pickups!

Now, I own Audiosurf and while it’s not the kind of game to spend hours at a time with, it’s great fun in 20-30 minute chunks. With this in mind, I was hoping for a similar kind of experience with Beat Hazard but I was sadly disappointed… Continue reading Beat Hazard

Google Apps for Domains Having Serious Issues

Many people, including myself, seem to be having major issues with Google Apps for domains at the moment; starting last Friday (7th), my Nexus One logged itself out of Google Talk and refused to log back in, the Pidgin IM client on my desktop did the same and even the Google Talk client is showing the same symptoms.

In addition, the problem appears to affect Gmail notifications on my phone (I’m having to manually refresh it to sync changes to my mailbox) and I can’t download anything from the Android Marketplace. In the last few hours the problem seems to have spread to Gmail itself and I can no longer log into Google Talk through my inbox either.

The problem appears to have coincided with the changes made by Google to reintegrate the gmail.com domain for UK-based users (due to a prior legal challenge many UK users had to make do with a googlemail.com address), which could simply be a coincidence, but either way it’s a massive PITA.

Some users have tried factory resets of their phones, removing and re-adding Google Apps features to their domains and even creating new Gmail accounts and re-associating their various services with them so as to make them accessible via their phones, though this isn’t recommended as it has some nasty side-effects such as making you re-buy any purchased Marketplace Apps.

The worst part of it all is that Google appear to be silent on the matter; there are a large number of threads on their support forums now covering most of the issues (with varying degrees of literacy and general coherence) but no official (or unofficial) word on what the cause of the problem might be and/or what the outlook is with regards to a fix.

Update – 12/05/2010: Well, after 5 days without Google Talk (and therefore without “push” email and the Android market), full service has been restored; to me at least. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen again any time soon.

Splinter Cell Conviction

Good story, good gameplay, good God it’s finished already.

Now, I haven’t played a Splinter Cell game since Pandora Tomorrow; Chaos Theory annoyed me with its overly Xboxy controls & interface and Double Agent didn’t get great reviews, but I really loved the first two so in spite of a lingering bad taste from past experiences and bearing in mind the obscene Ubisoft DRM, I decided to give Conviction a shot…
Continue reading Splinter Cell Conviction