Tweaking SETUPP.INI

One problem that tech support guys face – especially third-party types who go to different homes or companies – is that of reinstalling Windows XP on computers with different types of licenses. Some people buy retail copies of Windows XP at Best Buy or Office Depot. Some people get Windows XP preloaded on a computer from Dell or HP. Still others have computers provided for them by their employer, and that employer uses a Volume Licensing copy of XP.

The problem with all these different versions is that the CD keys for each version don’t work with any other version. So a Windows XP retail CD won’t accept an OEM license key. Likewise, an OEM CD won’t accept volume license or retail keys. And a volume license CD won’t accept retail or OEM keys.

So – does this mean that us tech support folks have to buy multiple copies of Windows XP just to reinstall them on their client’s computers? Not at all! You can easily tweak the SETUPP.INI file found on the XP installation CD to do two things: change what type of installation media setup thinks you have, and change what type of key your media will accept.

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It’s Raining!!!!

Goodness gracious! It’s RAINING in Charlotte! Seriously! It seems like it hasn’t rained here in six months!

Thank you for the rain, Lord – just make it stop by Saturday, OK?

Today’s News

It’s been a long, long time since I’ve… DONE THE NEWS! (/cue “The Daily Show” theme)

Popular music trading site OiNK was shut down by British authorities today; rather than feel sadness at the loss of the site, or fear that other sites might be next, I’m actually feeling a bit of schadenfreude about it, since I could never get an invite to the site… hehehehe!

Joey Bishop died last Thursday at 89.  He was the last of the original Rat Pack, and was my least favorite member. How could poor Joey compete with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Peter Lawford? Bishop will be missed – just like an “artist” in Providence, Rhode Island that built a secret apartment in an unused storage space at Providence Place Mall. He lived there off and on for four years before mall security finally noticed the apartment… which included “a sectional sofa and love seat, coffee and breakfast tables, chairs, lamps, rugs, paintings, a hutch filled with china, a waffle iron, TV and Sony Playstation 2”. Check out the artist’s website and wonder how lame mall security was to miss this for four years!

Boring old landline phones don’t get much love these days, so check this out: Priestman Goode has created an ultra-thin telephone which can be made out of made out of cardboard or plastic… and even mailed using a standard first-class stamp! At 4mm thick and around the size of an A5 envelope, the phone looks more like a greeting card than… well, a phone!

Speaking of neat stuff, some bright person got the idea of selling “rust stickers” that make your car or bike look like a rusted piece of junk, in hopes of deterring thieves. The stickers actually look pretty real (click the link for pics), and one satisfied user says that he’s used them on his “shiny new bike” for 13 days in London and it hasn’t been stolen yet!

Hey, speaking of thieves… check out this post at The Consumerist… Apparently one Best Buy store is charging $9.99 for an “open box” 3ft. component video cable. The only problem with that? The regular price is $7.99! I hate that store!

To finish out the “thieves” train of thought… Mona Shaw is an elderly, law-abiding American. But she got so angry with cable company Comcast that she went to her local office and started smashing a CSR’s computer with a hammer. Shaw was quoted as saying that “I scared the tar out of some people, at least…It had never occurred to me to take a hammer to a phone company before, but I was just so upset. . . . After I hit the keyboard, I turned to this blonde who had been there the previous Friday, the one who told me to wait for the manager, and I said, ‘ Now do I have your attention?”“. The incident received so much attention that Comcast issued a press release asking customers not to rebel against their evil authority. Of course, Comcast is the same company that’s blocking Bittorrent, Gnutella… even Lotus Notes! Jackasses! All I know is that I’m glad that Time Warner is my cable company… and that Mona Shaw is my new hero!

Some dudes are using pumpkins as beer kegs!

And lastly… (you didn’t think I’d NOT post this, did you?) the deputy mayor of New Delhi, India was killed last Saturday, in an attack blamed on… MONKEYS! It seems that poor Mr. Bajwa was reading the newspaper on the first floor terrace of his home when he was attacked by a band of wild monkeys. Whilst fighting them off, Bajwa slipped and fell off the terrace, which apparently broke his neck. Oh – and the local exterminators’ solution to the problem??? More monkeys! Yep, city officials have hired people using langurs to fight off macaques, which are the species of monkey that apparently terrorize New Delhi.

Why “Mad Men” is GREAT!

As I mentioned in this post from a few days ago, Mad Men is an original series on American Movie Classics (AMC). It’s set in an advertising agency in New York in 1960. Unlike other shows which have a “goal” – like getting a brother out of prison or getting off a mysterious island – Mad Men isn’t “about” anything. It is, however, like taking a time machine back to 1960 and watching people live their lives. And it’s one of the best shows on TV right now. Watch the clip below and you’ll agree!

But first, some setup is needed. Don Draper (the one who does most of the talking in the clip) is an advertising executive and the show’s protagonist. But he is not what he seems. Born to a prostitute who died in childbirth, “Don” grew up with his father and step-mother. His father died when “Don” was ten, and his step-mother remarried an abusive jerk. Plus, they live in a really small town. So when the Korean War broke out, “Don” eagerly signed up for the Army. When he arrives in Korea, he’s paired with a lieutenant to build field hospitals (due to some Army screw-up, the rest of the soldiers in Don’s company were delayed, so it’s just “Don” and his commanding officer). But then a deadly accident happens, and “Don” sees a way out: just before passing out in pain, “Don” sees a way to start his life over again… by switching dog tags with his (obviously dead) lieutenant.

So most of Don’s life is a lie. Although he has a beautiful wife and children, he constantly lives with fear, uncertainty and guilt. And the guilt only gets worse when he starts having affairs. It all comes crashing down on Don during this clip, where he’s pitching an ad campaign for the new “wheel” feature of slide machines to some executives from Kodak:

Folks, if that’s not Emmy worthy acting, I just don’t know what is! You should really, really, really watch the show… I’m serious… it’s beyond excellent!

Remote Desktop Shortcut Revisited

In this post, I showed you how to create a shortcut that will allow you to log out of a Remote Desktop session and send the remote computer back to the desktop (XP’s normal behavior is to log you off, then leave the remote computer “locked”). Sadly, while this trick works with Server 2003 and XP, it doesn’t work with Windows Vista. Happily, I’ve just found out how to make it work with Vista… just right-click on the desktop and select New > Shortcut and type the following into the shortcut box:

tscon.exe RDP-Tcp#0 /dest:console

You then give the shortcut a name. From this point on, you can disconnect an RDP session by clicking on this shortcut, and the remote computer will exit RDP and return the remote machine to the console desktop. You must have admin rights on the Vista machine for this to work. And just for the sake of completeness, here’s the original command that’s compatible with XP/2003:

%windir%\System32\tscon.exe 0 /dest:console

Follow the same New > Shortcut procedure as above, and you can disconnect from an RDP session in XP/2003 and return the remote machine directly to the desktop.

Jones Soda Gets Disgusting

From the “Better Late Than Never” Department:

Jones Soda – the Seattle-based company that offers an infamous “holiday pack” of sodas every year with flavors like “Turkey and Gravy” and “Brussels Sprouts” – entered into an agreement this year with the Seattle Seahawks to sell Jones Soda at Qwest Field. To celebrate their success, Jones is offering a “limited edition Seahawks Collector Pack” with the following five delicious flavors: “Natural Field Turf”, “Sports Cream”, “Perspiration”, “Dirt”, and “Sweet Victory”.

Most of the flavors apparently taste as vile as you would imagine, although the “Sweet Victory” flavor apparently “isn’t that bad”. If you have the stones to want to drink a Ben-Gay flavored soda, you can order the set here. If you’d just like to read more about it (to make sure that I’m not making this up), read more about it here.

When Outlook’s RSS Reader Dies…

I use Outlook 2007 at home. It has a lot of nifty features, but the new feature that I use most often is its built-in support for RSS feeds. I subscribe to a couple dozen RSS feeds, and I really like having the feeds delivered to my Exchange mailbox (which means that I can access them from anywhere using OWA).

However, on Wednesday I noticed that one of the feeds wasn’t being updated. I just shrugged it off, thinking the site might be having problems. But then other feeds stopped updating. I didn’t really notice this until today because when you subscribe to a couple dozen feeds, and when most of those feeds have 100 (or more) posts in a single day, it’s easy to lose track of which feed isn’t working.

I tried several simple fixes but none of them worked. So then I tried searching the Microsoft newsgroups and several other online sources. And while I could find several people having the same issue, none of the fixes they offered seemed to fix the problem. At this time, there doesn’t appear to be any “quick fix” for this issue. I did find a solution for the problem, but you’re not gonna like it:

1) Open Outlook and go to File > Import and Export > Export RSS Feeds to an OPML file. Choose a destination for the OPML file (I suggest saving it to your desktop), then save the file.

2) Click on Tools > Account Settings > RSS Feeds and highlight all your RSS feeds and press the DELETE key (or click the “Remove” button in the toolbar).

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you have any feeds that are downloaded to a non-default location, you will need to manually copy the non-standard feed’s URL to a Notepad window BEFORE you delete the feed. Let’s say you have all your podcast RSS feeds delivered to a PST file, but the rest of your feeds are delivered to your Exchange mailbox. So BEFORE deleting the non-standard location feed(s), go to the properties of each one and manually copy the URL to a Notepad window.

3) Close Outlook.

4) Re-open Outlook and click File > Import and Export > Import RSS Feeds from an OPML file. Click the “Browse” button and select the OPML file you created in step 1, then finish the wizard.

5) Outlook will download any available feeds from your OPML list. Sadly, it will also create duplicate folders for your RSS feeds, like the “Feedname (1)” folders in the picture below:

Outlook 2007 RSS

6) Move the feeds in your “original” feed folders into the new “(1)” folders. Delete the empty folder from your old feed. Also, right-click the new “(1)” folder and rename it to the original name (if you’d like).

7) For any feeds that normally include attachments (like podcast feeds), you will have to manually add click the “Download attachments for this feed” in the settings for that feed under Tools > Account Settings > RSS Feeds.

8) If you have any feeds that were delivered to a non-default location (see the note in step 2), you will have to add these feeds back manually.

That doesn’t seem like a lot of work, but I can promise you that it is. It took well over an hour to get everything back the way I like it. I’ll see if I can report the “bug” to Microsoft on Monday. Given how many people this seems to be happening to, they’re probably aware of it and are (hopefully) working on a fix for it.

Happy Memories: Ken’s Pizza

Ken’s Pizza logoThere weren’t a lot of restaurants in Snellville, Georgia when I was a kid. The All-Star Drive-In and Huddle House had cheap eats covered, Dairy Queen was the only fast-food restaurant, and two locally-owned restaurants (an Italian place whose name escapes me, and “Country Manor”, a down-home cookin’ place) rounded out the culinary options. There wouldn’t be a McDonalds in Snellville until I was in grade school. The town was so hard up for new places to eat that the first week the Del Taco was open the restaurant had to have a hostess and waiting list!

There was one other restaurant on the outskirts of town: Ken’s Pizza. In my mind’s eye, I can remember the place like I was just there yesterday. There was nothing fancy about it – you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference between Ken’s Pizza and a 1970s-era Pizza Hut. It had the same checkered tablecloths as Pizza Hut, the ones that Yassir Arafat would wear on his head later on. Beer and soft drinks were served in the same clear plastic pitchers that Pizza Hut used. The restaurant was full of dark wood, a jukebox, and – later on – those table-style video games. I fell in love with Tempest at Ken’s.

Ken’s Pizza mascotBut the thing I remember most about Ken’s is the pizza. Which was the point of this story, of course. I’m pretty sure that Ken’s was the first pizza I ever had. It was certainly the first pizza I remember. And to this day, I can still remember what it tasted like. Ken’s pizzas came on a thin crust… but not that tasteless, crackery thing that Pizza Hut sells. It was a yeasty dough with a hint of cornmeal in it, which made the crust paradoxically thin and strong at the same time. Then there was the sauce… so different than what’s on pizzas today. It was much thinner than the glop on most chain pizza today, and was also slightly more spicy that what you get from Dominos and Pizza Hut too. And Ken’s didn’t bother with all that “novelty pizza” crap that the chains sell these days. They didn’t have “Hawaiian pizza” or “Thai Chicken pizza” or “The Big New Yorker pizza”… or anything like that. They had a few selections, but most people just read the toppings list and picked a few of their favorites.

Sadly, Ken’s is gone now. The chain is still around, but it changed its name to Mazzio’s and contracted a lot (at least in the Atlanta area) since the 80s. There used to be Mazzio’s all over the metro Atlanta area; I just checked the company’s website and they only have two remaining locations in Georgia: one in Columbus and another in Winder.

But rather than be sad about it, the memory of Ken’s pizza actually amazes me. Humans tend to think of “memory” as a visual thing. When you think back to early birthdays, vacations, or your Dad taking you to see the Harlem Globetrotters, we tend to think of it in a visual sense, that is, remembering what we saw. But my memory of Ken’s Pizza is overwhelmingly based on taste. I can instantly recall it, and in fact, I do compare any new pizza place to Ken’s. And it’s just not the same.

(Note: Do you have ANY idea of how hard it was to find the logo and mascot from a pizza place that changed names over 25 years ago? Also, there are apparently six Ken’s Pizza restaurants still operating in Oklahoma, where the chain was born. Dude, if I’m ever within 400 miles of one, I’m TOTALLY going!)

Happy Friday!

Happy Friday to you all! I don’t have much to say today, so enjoy a HAWT picture of Adriana Lima:

Adriana Lima
Click to enlarge