Windows Vista temporary user profile

2 Comments | This entry was posted on Oct 09 2008

Sometimes when a user logs into their vista machine they are greeted with a temporary user profile. This is caused from a few different things but the main causes are
1. The computer cannot authenticate the user on the domain (usually because it did not get a respond from the domain controller). Or the computer is no longer a part of the domain.
2. The user is part of the Guest user group.
3. The user profile folder/user name was not available or the user already existed in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList
4. The login service failed to start on the machine prior to logging into the machine.

The main indication that the user is using a temporary user profile is all of their documents appear to be missing (desktop, documents, favorites, etc.). Any settings the user may have are also set to default (default background, screen saver), and the user will have this popup in the lower right hand corner.

The popup warns the user saying “User profile was not loaded correctly. You have been logged on with a temporary profile. Changes you make to this profile will be lost when you log off. Please see the event log for details or contact your administrator”

If this problem happens for a user the first thing that will probably fix the problem is restarting the computer (so the computer can connect to the domain controller). If that does not fix the problem please put in a work order so we can look at the problem and narrow down why this is happening.

One important thing to note when the user is logged into a temporary user is that their documents in their profile are not lost. Nothing has been erased they are just logged in as a different user. It is also important that the user does not save anything to the temporary profile. If they need to save a document they should email it to themselves using, save the document to one of their network drives, or save files to a usb drive. If anything is saved to the desktop, documents, or favorites of the temporary profile it will be lost once the user is logged off.

Please see these links for more information.

How to restore a Apple computer to factory defaults

1 Comment | This entry was posted on Oct 03 2008

I occasionally need to set up a Apple computer to act like it just came from the factory to give to a new person or to sell it. There are 2 ways I found to do this. The first is with the original install disk that came with your computer. But honestly who still has those around?

The second is as easy as deleting one folder and two files.

All you have to do is boot the mac into single user mode (command+s at start up) and enter the following commands at the terminal you are presented with.

mount -uw /
rm -rf /Users/ /var/db/netinfo/local.nidb /var/db/.AppleSetupDone
reboot (or shutdown -h now if you don't want the machine to turn back on)

Replace with whatever username you set up on the computer.

This isn’t exactly the same as a fresh install but it is close enough. It removes all of the users and has the person go through the steps of naming the computer and registering with Apple.

Let me know if you have any other tips for restoring a Apple computer to true factory defaults.

How to set an external display as primary in Windows Vista

2 Comments | This entry was posted on Oct 02 2008

I posted this on my work’s wiki but I wanted to post it here so I can remember how to do it for later.

If you have your external display plugged into your laptop push Win+X to bring up the Windows Mobility Center. Then click on the Connect display button.

This will bring up the New Display Detected screen.

With that window open select “Show my desktop on the external display only” and hit ok.

Your laptop monitor should turn off and the external display will show your start menu and anything else you had open on the laptop.

Now right click on the desktop and go to personalize.

Then go to Display settings and select “Extend the desktop onto this monitor”

Go here for more information.!BFE88543FF6C8C5F!218.entry

Let me know if you have any Vista tips in the comments.

Remote assistance auto accept for Windows XP

6 Comments | This entry was posted on Jul 27 2008

I use remote assistance on a almost daily basis at my work. It is a built in tool in Windows that allows me to remotely control a users computer without kicking them off of the machine (like remote desktop does). One thing it did not do was let me take control if the user was not at their desk. The user must click two windows when going remote with them. First they must click to allow you to share their screen, and second they must click a button to allow you to take control. I have searched and found a few VB scripts that allow me to go remote without needing the user to click accept but today I just ran across something even more useful. The ability to go remote without the user there and without needing to use a special tool. Only problem is I have to edit a file on their local machine. I may play around with this some more in the future but for now I thought I would share it with everyone just so others can enjoy this ability.

First the file you need to edit is found on the computer you are trying to take control of at C:\windows\pchealth\HelpCtr\System\Remote @ssistance\helpeeaccept.htm. Open the file with notepad, or better yet Notepad++, and edit the following lines.

btnAccept.disabled = false;
btnDecline.disabled = false;

to this

btnAccept.disabled = false;
btnDecline.disabled = false;

Next, open the TakeControlMsgs.htm and find the following lines:

idExpert1.innerText = vArgs[0];
idExpert2.innerText = vArgs[0];
idExpert3.innerText = vArgs[0];

Then just add these two lines right after

// Added to allow take remote control of PC

That’s it! now the next time you go remote with that machine it will auto accept for you to view the screen and also auto accept when you click “Take control”.
Because remote assistance is different in Vista this doesn’t work however. If anyone knows of a way to use remote assistance in Vista without user interaction please let me know in the comments.

A couple cool browser plugins

2 Comments | This entry was posted on Jul 05 2008

OK, so I found a few plugins that make browsing the internet a joy, and they also help your index finger not have to click so much.

I want to start with something that has been around for a long long time but I have just recently started using it. is a social bookmarking website. What does that mean? Think of it as a myspace/facebook/ of bookmarks. What you do is you bookmark things in your browser, just like you normally would, but the bookmark is actually stored with instead of locally on your computer. Once you bookmark something you can see who else has also bookmarked the same thing, and then see what else they are bookmarking. You can also create networks of people and keep up to date on the things they are bookmarking. It makes finding new things a little bit easier. It is also great because you have access to all of your bookmarks where ever you are.

The next thing I found is by a company called Cooliris and it is a plugin called Previews. The first noticeable thing it does is it adds a extra button you can click when you hover over links in your browser. The picture below shows it better than I can say it.

If you click/hover over that question mark blue book thingy it will bring up a window showing where the link goes. But it does it all without leaving your current window.

You can still browse just as you normally would inside the smaller windows and you can also join the window to your current Firefox session by clicking the tab button. You can also skip to the next link on the page or email the link to someone. Not that emailing links to people is new, but doing it without leaving your current browser window is pretty new to me. You do have to sign up with a Cooliris account for email, which is a obvious downside, but that is only if you want to use the email feature.

As if my right click menu wasn’t crowded enough, it also gave me a couple new features to highlight text and do a google, google image, wikipedia, or dictionary search all without leaving my page.

If you are doing a Google image search outside of Previews and want to view all the results as a slide show Previews can do that too. Simply do the search and hover over one of the image results then click on the play button.

But slide shows is where my next plugin comes in. This next one is called PicLens and it is also made by Cooliris. This is the coolest browser plugin I have ever seen. It makes me want to buy a touch screen display just to have this running at my desk at all times. Cooliris has a pretty cool video of the plugin in action and I will try to capture what it does in a couple screenshots.

The first thing that happens is you get this new icon.

Then whenever you click the icon to launch Piclens you get a full screen 3D wall. Each icon represents a story, picture, video, or search result. You can then click on each picture and it will play the video, show a summary of the story, or display the picture.

The categories are on the top left side and the search is top right.

You use the bottom blue bar to scroll through the wall.

When you click on a video it starts playing automatically.

You can also double click to make it go full screen or play a slide show.

I really can’t describe how smooth and great looking this plugin is. I also can’t explain how much memory the thing eats! Seriously, don’t try to fold proteins or play Unreal Tournament 3 in the background while this is running.

One other reason I thought Piclens was so cool is they have a WordPress plugin; yes I installed it. The plugin adds a link to the bottom of each post and you can click on it to view all the pictures in that post without needing to install Piclens. That is pretty cool but it isn’t super useful seeing as there aren’t a whole lot of pictures to look at on my blog. What it is good for is viewing something like a gallery. Thanks to some cleaver people they found a way to do it with Gallery2.

I installed the needed items on my gallery and you can have a look at it here. What you do is just go to the gallery and click the play button that shows up on any image when you mouse over it. Piclens will then load up and show the current image using the 3D wall.

All you need to do to make Piclens work with your Gallery2 installation is upload this xml.php file the file here to the root of your Gallery2 installation and then edit the theme.tpl file for whatever theme you are using. Make sure you rename the xml.php_.txt file to just xml.php. I am using carbon as my theme so I found the file in gallery2/themes/carbon/templates/ folder on my server. To edit the file you need to find the line that has

{if $theme.pageType == ‘album’}
{g->theme include=”album.tpl”}

and add

<link rel=”alternate” type=”application/rss+xml” title=”MediaRSS:{$theme.item.title}”
href=”/gallery2/xml.php?g2_itemId={$}” />

on a new line right after the first text.

That was it. It works fine for me on two computers with Firefox 3.0 and Internet Explorer 7 but please let me know if you find that it doesn’t work in other browsers or other operating systems (I am too lazy to turn on my mac).

Please also let me know in the comments if you have found any other browser plugins that I may not know about.

HTC Titan dock

3 Comments | This entry was posted on Jun 10 2008

Unlike the HTC Apatche (Verizon xv6700) The HTC Titan (Verizon xv6800) did not come with a dock. I decided I really missed having a dock with a Pocket PC phone so I had an idea for making my own. I broke the whole process down into 4 easy steps you can follow.

1. Get a CD you don’t need. I guess it could be a DVD or if you are fancy one of those Playstation 1 CD’s with black backing. BTW, I didn’t need this CD anymore because Linux Mint 5.0 was released this weekend. Go download it if you are interested.

2. Glue two “L” brackets to the CD. I chose the back because it made it shinny and harder to take pictures of.

3. Put the CD in your laptop drive. OK this works a lot better if your computer is on a slope or in a docking station but I am working on another solution for my desk at home.

4. Put your phone on top of the CD.

There is also a optional step of plugging the phone in but that isn’t required.

I hope I didn’t lose anyone in those steps. They were confusing to me too. Check out the gallery of a couple more pictures and let me know what you think or what you would do different in the comments.

Like I said I am already thinking of a couple different variations that may solve the problem for people that don’t have a docking station or don’t want to use their laptop for a holder. This just happened to work great for my situation.

As a side note, Windows Sideshow is pretty neat but needs a bit more functionality and florescent lights suck for pictures.

Camera Hacking

0 Comments | This entry was posted on May 20 2008

Recently hack a day had a article about enhancing your Canon to have more functionality than a standard point and shoot camera. The firmware loads on your memory card and it allows you to do things like shoot in RAW picture format, change your ISO speed, even allow a calendar and games on the camera. One of the best features of the firmware looks like it is completely reversable. All you do is load the files on a memory card and it works (as far as I have read at least). Once you no longer want the extra features you can just delete the files from the memory card.

The most difficult part looks like it is picking the right firmware for your camera.  Head over to the CHDK project wiki page and start reading/downloading.

One other thing I was able to do this weekend was enable a super zoom on my camera. Really this is all I did…

The camera lens fit almost perfectly into the binoculars so I decided to see how well it would work. I noticed at first that I had almost tunnel vision when taking pictures and they were a little bit blurry. I quickly saw that if I zoomed in all the way (3x optical) I lost the tunnel vision. I then was able to adjust the blurriness with the focus on the binoculars.

Here are some before and after pictures of what the pictures looked like.

Even though some of the closeups were pretty blurry I’d imagine you could get a much clearer picture with better binoculars.
Let me know if you get to try this on your own and how it works for you.
A couple things I found that worked well was making the camera have a fast ISO speed because with the binoculars the picture was very shaky. I turned off picture review so I could just take as many pictures as I possible. If you are buying a set of binoculars you may want to look if your camera fits in the looking hole. It helped because it shielded a lot of the light and made it easy to hold both the camera and still focus the image.

UPDATE: I wanted to update this post with some more information I found out about CHDK. HackADay had some great tips on using CHDK to its full advantage.

Stop Pidgin from beeping on backspace

3 Comments | This entry was posted on Apr 29 2008

Pretty recently (as of 2.2.2) Pidgin had a update that made my system beep happen any time I was in a chat window with no text and hit backspace. I thought it wouldn’t bug me but if I hold backspace with text the system beep would just keep repeating when I ran out of text to erase. I had an old fix for this which was just disabling the system beep in device manager.  This worked great because who ever needs the system beep anyway? Unfortunately, with Vista Business 64 I cannot find the system beep in device manager anymore.

I searched around a bit and found out I was not the only one with this problem. A fix put on Pidgin’s website said you just had to add

gtk-error-bell = 0

to your %APPDATA%\.purple\gtkrc-2.0 file. If you do not have that file you can simply create the text file, put that line in, and restart Pidgin.

Enjoy this little fix.

Two tools to make documenting easier

1 Comment | This entry was posted on Apr 18 2008

Snipping tool is a part of Windows Vista and is used for screen capturing.  And it actually works really well! If you don’t have it installed you can add it by going to Computer then click on “Uninstall or change a program”.

Then click on “Turn Windows features on or off” on the left side.

Just check the box for Tablet PC optional components and you are done.

Once you have it installed just go to the start menu and search for “snipping”. It should be the first result. One thing I found out you cannot do is take a screenshot of the snipping tool while it is open.  You will still have to use your PrtScn button for that. ;)

The second little tool isn’t really for documentation as it is for quick answers while in Firefox. If you go into the little search bar at the top and search for “miles in Kilometers” and don’t hit enter you will see your answer right there in the suggestion area.

Pretty neat.

Let me know if there are any easy/free tools that you have overlooked for years that you now use everyday in the comments.

Windows tools

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Mar 04 2008

So I thought I would clean out a few more pinned articles in my bloglines before I went to bed. By a few, I mean 9. Lets just get started with this.

The first one is real simple. This is how you can easily disable Aero before running a program. In many cases you would want to do this before running a 3D intensive game. All you have to do is find the shortcut, right click and go to properties, click the compatability tab and check the box that says “Disable desktop composition”. That is it. Aero will disable itself next time you launch the shortcut and enable itself when the program is done.

The next tip it two-fold. First there is a quick tip on how to backup your DVD’s with 1 click. Sure that 1 click is going to take you a few hours to complete, but all you have to do is click once. The second part is a bit more involved but shows you how to backup your DVD’s and play them easily on a PS3. Sure you could always put the DVD in the PS3 and play it but who wants to get up? This uses a great tool, which I have yet to use, called PS3 Video 9.

Next up is another two parter and this is all about extracting things you never knew you could extract out of Windows. If you want to use a icon that a certain program uses. You can use IconsExtract or if you want to extract all the drivers you are using, to save as a backup, you can use DriverMax.

One of the last useful updates I have is a visual tweaker for Vista. It is called Vista Visual Master and has a lot of very useful tools. It gave me the ability to use custom themes again after I installed SP1 and that is worth a download itself.

Here are a few that most people probably won’t find very useful but I am going to give them a try for various reasons.

To remove passwords from Excel documents you can either buy a tool called Excel Password Remover or you can run one of many macros that will remove the password for free. I want to link to the full article so you can see all the comments with the macro options.

The last two I have are random but I know I will need them one day. First is a way to disable cached domain logins in Windows. This also may work to increase the number of logins available when off the domain but I need to test with that. To do it all you have to do is open the registry and find:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon

Once you find that just change the cashedlogonscount to whatever value you want. Note that 0 disables this ability.

This last one will come in real handy when making my classroom images. A tool called CleanHandler will clean up those autoplay options that pop up in Windows when a cd/usb stick are plugged in.

I feel pretty good after that update so I will leave you with that.