Tips Remote connection to Windows 8 with a Windows Live account

I was trying to remotely connect from a Windows 7 to a Windows 8 where I was still logged with my Windows Live account. As I am still quite new to the use of Windows Live accounts, I was unsure about what to provide as credentials.

For sure, to remotely connect on Windows 8 with a Windows Live account, it's the related emails that must be typed in the Remote Desktop's login prompt.

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I was hesitating because, although the account name is the Windows Live email, the "user" folder name is only the name part of this email.

While checking which credentials to provide, I found by accident a way to get access to the logon screen of the remote machine, where the user currently logged appears => no need to remember the account name at all in this case :).

  1. I did run the command "mstsc -v:<machine name>"
  2. I did use another account: "<machine name>\administrator" without password (I don't know it anyway).
    • The Domain initially displayed was: MicrosoftAccount
  3. I did accept the certificate of the remote PC
  4. I was next presented with an error message: "The username or password is incorrect" on logon screen of the remote machine. I did click OK.
  5. I did click on "Switch user", the left arrow on the top-left side.
  6. And finally, I did select my Windows Live Account displayed as currently logged...

To connect directly with a Windows Live account:

  1. Run the command "mstsc -v:<machine name>"
  2. Select Use another accountand type your Windows Live email as a user name.
    • The domain displayed will be the one of your email.
  3. Et voilà

Notice: I was able to remotely connect to Windows 8 because the Firewall was off. Otherwise I would have had to enable Remote Desktop as an "allowed apps".

  1. On the Start Screen, type "Firewall" and select Settings to find it.
  2. Run Windows Firewall.
  3. click Allow an app or feature through Windows Firewall.
  4. Click Change settings if enabled (You might be asked for an admin password or to confirm your choice).
  5. Under Allowed apps and features, select the check box next to Remote Desktop, and then use the check boxes in the columns to select the network types you want to allow communication on (should be private for your intranet).
  6. Et voilà.

Tips To switch or not to switch from Google to Outlook.com ?

I was thinking about moving everything from my Google account (mails, calendar and contact) to my Windows Live account since I am using that account from Outlook 2013 on several personal computers to keep them in sync...

After some investigation, I will only use the Calendar of my Windows Live account...

Click to Read More

Since a long time now, I am using two great tools (both free) to synchronize the Outlook Local Accounts of all my PC (at home and at work) with my Google Account (which was sync with my Galaxy S2):

  1. Google Sync: to sync my calendar both way
  2. Go Contact Sync mod: to sync my contacts both way

Now, I am planning to use my Windows Live account account instead of my Google account as a central repository for my calendars and contacts: it's actually the Windows Live Hotmail feature which is concerned; a.k.a. Outlook.com.

For mails, I will continue to use my own mail server at Servage.net (with imap support). Actually, my main email address is a forwarded to my Gmail address, where the best free spam filter ever made available is applied. Next, the mails are forwarded back to a servage's mail box that I access via imap from all my devices/PC.

So... what should I do to use outlook.com instead of google on my PC and Galaxy S2 ?

  1. Install the Outlook.com sync featureon the Android device. First feedback:
    • It's great for keeping your Android Calendar in sync with your Outlook.com calendar
    • It's great for using your Outlook.com contacts from your Android.
    • But it's really disappointing as contacts can't be edited
    • And, about the synchronization of the emails, notice that it may only fetch emails from the last 30 days...
  2. Add Outlook.com as a new account in Outlook 2013
    1. Go to the menu File and click on the button Add Account in the Account Information pane.
    2. Select Manual setup or additional server types and click Next.
    3. Select Outlook.com or Exchange ActiveSync compatible service.
    4. Add your User information and Logon information, using the Mail Server: blu-m.hotmail.com
  3. Define Outlook.com account as the default account in Outlook 2013
    1. Go to the menu File and select the Exchange ActiveSync account (Outlook.com) in the Account Information pane.
    2. From the Account Settings drop-down menu select Account Settings...
    3. In the E-mail tab, select your Exchange ActiveSync account and click on Set as Default (Except if you want to send and receive your email with another account by default).
    4. In the Data Files tab, select your Exchange ActiveSync account and click on Set as Default (If you don't do that, meetings will be created in the local account which is currently the default one).
  4. Export the calendar from Google
    1. Go to Google Calendar
    2. Expand the menu of My Calendars and select Parameters
    3. Click on Export Calendars. A download should start automatically.
    4. Unzip the file downloaded at step C.
  5. Import this google calendar in the Outlook.com account via Outlook 2013
    1. Open the Calendar view (via the bottom-left menu).
    2. Go to the menu File and select Open & Export.
    3. Click on Import/Export in the Open pane.
    4. Select Import an iCalendar (.ics) or vCalendar file (.vcs).
    5. Browse to open the file unzipped at step 4.D and containing the calendar exported from Google Calendar.
  6. Export the contacts from Gmail
    1. Go to Gmail
    2. From the top-left Gmail drop-down menu and select Contacts to open your Google address book.
    3. From the More actions drop-down menu, select Export...
    4. Select next the Outlook CSV format. A download should start automatically.
  7. Import those gmail contacts in Outlook.com (Outlook 2013 does not support to import contacts in the Oultook.com account)
    1. Go to Windows Live Hotmail.
    2. In the top-left drop-down menu Outlook, select People.
    3. Under "Add people to your contact list" select Import from a file.
    4. Click on Choose File and pick the file downloaded at step 6.D and containing the contacts exported from Google Calendar.
    5. Click Import Contacts.
    6. Force a Send/Receive in Outlook 2013 to sync the contacts newly added to the Outlook.com account.
And now, check what's working well and what's not:
  1. Everything is ok with the calendar. I can edit/add/delete appointments from any device and the changes are synchronized on the others.
  2. Well, actually,
    1. Due to how MS handles the "all-day events", those appears spanned across two days. To fix that, I had to edit all my "all-day events" and save them (without any change).
    2. MS is creating "Anniversary" events for all contacts with a birthday. As those events already exists (e.g.: created manually or automatically by MS Outlook 2007), I had now plenty of duplicates that won't be detected as one is named "XXX's birthday" and the other "XXX's Anniversary" :(
  3. I don't see all my contacts in Outlook 2013.
    • This is a know bug in the Windows Sync feature. A fix is under investigation at MS (to be released in January 2013). As a workaround  you can edit the contacts and save the change. This will force a sync between Outlook.com and Outlook 2013.
    • But I can add new ones and edit existing ones from Outlook 2013 and the changes are synchronized on the devices.
  4. I can't edit my contact from my Android device.
    • But I see those added through Outlook 2013.
  5. All notes in Contacts are now displayed with the HTML tags instead...
  6. Regarding the emails, I would not like this solution either as I want to be able to access all my emails and not only those of the the last 30 days.
Linked Outlook.com with Gmail contact instead of importing:

Instead of importing the contacts from Gmail into Outlook.com, you can link those contacts with your Outlook.com account. Doing so, they are in sync!

  1. Go to Windows Live Hotmail.
  2. In the top-left drop-down menu Outlook, select People.
  3. Under "Add people to your contact list", in the right pane, select Google Contacts.
  4. Follow the connection wizard (Notice that the import is not immediate but done in background... Also when you change a Google Contact, the change will be not be synchronize immediately).
Unfortunately, you won't see the contact linked to Gmail in Outlook 2013 due to the same bug in Windows Sync mentioned above
Also, you may not modify a Google Contact from Outlook.com (and therefore from Outlook 2013). However, you may add additional information to a Google Contact. This information will be kept in Outlook.com (Concretely a new contact with the same name is created in Outlook.com and linked with the Google Contact. This link can be cut via the menu "Links" appearing in Outlook.com when the contact is selected. For each information, Outlook.com display the origin: Outlook or Google). The new contact created in Outook.com will be sync with Outlook 2013 but it won't contain any information from Google. You can modify this contact within 2013 and the changes will be synchronized back later with Outlook.com but obviously not with Google  - I was not able to force it or to refresh the contact in Outlook.com...
So, for me - as far as I want a single repository accessible from not only my PC but also my mobile devices, this approach is pointless.

How to delete all meetings from Outlook 2013 Calendar:

If by accident you did import your meetings in the wrong calendar, here is how to select all the items and delete them.

  1. Go to the menu View.
  2. Click on Change View and select List.
  3. Select all the Items pressing Ctrl-A
  4. Press Delete
How to select all contacts from Outlook.com:
A really hard one as there is neither a Select-All menu nor a shortcut like Ctrl-A! And just like with Windows 8, it's nowadays really difficult to guess how Microsoft has implemented some of the most simple operations with the keyboard.
To Select All your Contacts in Outlook.com:
  1. Select the first contact with your mouse
  2. Press Shift + Page Down.
Conclusions: 
I think I hate hotmail (and MS) a little bit more now than before regarding the integration with mobile devices :)
But ok... hotmail is Microsoft's target mailing solution and I presume they will continue to work on the integration with outlook 2013 and the mobile devices...
In addition, Googly Calendar Sync will be end of life in January 2013. The download link is already not available anymore...
So, for now, I will only use the calendar of my Windows Live account. Doing so, I can already get rid of the Googly Sync tool from all my PC.
But I will keep "Go Contact Sync Mod" tool to sync the contacts as there is really nothing else convenient offered by MS to share them between PCs and mobile devices :( That being said, Go Contact Sync Mod 3.5.20 is really great, free and efficient with Outlook 2013 ! E.g.: In my case, I do sync the Google Contacts directly with my Outlook.com account in Outlook 2013...

Hardwares Chaos is dead. Long life Chaos!

I am planning to build a new home server (for File Storage and Virtual Machines) in a Norco Case RPC 4224 with 24 hot-swappable Sata/Sas III drive bays. It is intended to replace my current one (limited to 12 HDD).

To build this new server, my main PC - named Chaos - will be cut to pieces...

Click to Read More

Indeed, instead of buying basic hardware for that new server, I have decided to reuse the motherboard/CPU/Ram of my current PC: an old Asus Striker II Formula with 6 Sata II controller. To control up to 24 HDD, I will reuse a Promise FastTrack TX4660 Sata/Sas II controller and buy a new LSI SAS 9201 with 16 Port Sata/Sas 6Gbs. (EDIT: I did remove the Promise and replaced that one with a LSI SAS 9211 with 8 Port Sata/Sas 6Gbs)

What's the rationale behind reusing the hardware of my PC for the Server ? Just the pleasure of buying new stuff to renovate Chaos... Stuff that would be overkill for a home server :)

I did shutdown Chaos on last Monday and started to remove all the parts needed to build the server. Chaos died... A few days later, it was fully up and running again, based on:

  • a new Asus P9X79 Pro MB
    • CPU: Intel Socket 2011 (for Core i7).
    • Chipset: Intel X79.
    • Front Side Bus: 1866/1600/1333/1066 MHz
    • RAM: 8 x DIMM DDR3 (max 64 GB) - Quad Channel Architecture.
    • Storage: 2 x Sata 6Gb/s ports Intel X79,  4 x Sata 3Gb/s ports Intel X79 with Raid 0/1/5/10, 2 x Sata 6Gb/s ports Marvel 88SE9128 with SSD caching, 2 x power eSata 6Gb/s ASMedia ASM1061.
    • Slots: 3 x PCIe 3.0 x16 (mode dual x16 or x16-x8-x8), 1 x PCIe 3.0 x16 (mode x8), 2 x PCIe 2.0 x1.
    • LAN: 1 x Gigabit LAN
    • Bluetooth
    • Audio: 8 channels HD (realtek ALC898).
    • USB: 6 x USB 3.0 ports (4 at back panel, 2 onboard), 12 x USB 2.0 (6 at back panel, 6 on MB).
  • a new CPU Intel Core i7-3820 10MB Cache (LGA2011) - Up to 3.8Ghz.
  • a new Liquid CPU Cooler Corsair H80 with 2 x 120mm fans.
  • 4 new x 4GB Ram DDR3-2133 (PC3-17000) CL9Q (9-9-9-24 at 800MHz) G.Skill Ripjaws Z in Quad Channel mode (F3-17000CL9-4GBZH).
  • 2 new x 120GB SSD Kingston HyperX Sata 6Gb/s (Read 555MB/s, Write 510MB/s) in a RAID 0 for the OS (Windows 8 Pro)
  • a new x 128GB Samsung 840 Pro Sata 6Gb/s (Read 390MB/s, Write 530MB/s) for the OS (Windows 8 Pro)
  • 2 old x 1TB Samsung SpinPoint F1 HD103UJ (Seagate) Sata II 7200rpm 32MB cache (Read 94 MB/s, Write 79 MB/s)  in a RAID 1 for the data
  • 4 old x 36.7GB Western Digital Raptor Sata I 10000 RPM (2 x WD360GD 8MB + 2 x WD360ADFB 16MB) in RAID 0 for a VM.
  • 4 old x 500GB Seagate Barracuda ST3500630AS Sata II 7200 RPM in Raid 0 for VM.
  • 2 old x nVidia GeForce 8800 GT Pci-e 16x  2.0
  • 1 old x nVidia GeForce 8800 GT Pci-e 16x  2.0 connected to:
  • 1 x new nVidia GeForce GTX 760 Pci-e 16x 3.0 connected to:
    • one Asus VG278HR 27” (aspect ratio 16:9) with embedded 3D IR emitter and 3D active glasses.
  • an old Asus U3S6 card adapter Pci-e 4x with
    • 2 x Sata 6Gb/s
    • 2 x USB 3.0
    • Hot Plug support
  • 1 old x IDE CD/DVD burner Samsung Samsung Super-WriteMaster™ DVD Writer (SH-S202N/BEBN) with LightScribe.
    • connected to a sata port of the U3S6 via a Bi-directional adapter IDE <=> SATA syba SD-ADA50016
  • 1 old x Tray-less single-bay (Mobile Rack) MB877SK-B of Icy-Dock
    • for 3.5" Sata 6Gb/s drives
    • also connected to as data port of the U3S6
  • 1 old FlexCage Icy-Dock MB973SP-B Tray-Less 3×3.5″ in 2×5.25″ SATA HDD Cage.
  • everything is in my old silent Antec Tower Case "Performance One" P182.

Here above "old" only means "already used in the previous life" of Chaos...

I know that from Chaos came Gaia (the Earth) and Uranus (the Sky). But all my virtual machines have names of Titans and my physical machines have names of Olympians except my main PC which has always been named Chaos, from the very first one I built. So again: long life Chaos !

Some pictures:

Raid 0 with 2 SSD Kingston HyperX

Raid 0 with 2 x SSD Kingston HyperX.

Single SSD Samsung 840 Pro

Single SSD Samsung 840 Pro - BEATING the RAID 0 with 2 SSD Kingston HyperX.

Raid 0 with 4 WD Raptor 10.000rpm Sata I

Raid 0 with 4 x WD Raptor 10.000 RPM Sata I.

Raid 0 with 4 Seagate 7000rpm Sata I I

Raid 0 with 4 x Seagate 7000rpm Sata I I - BEATING the RAID 0 with 4 x 10000rpm Sata I.

 

Antec P182

Case Antec P182

First Europe tour for my new server cases

I did order two great Norco server cases RPC-4224 at XCase.co.uk (renamed XCase RM424).

Those cases did a loooooong trip before arriving in Belgium thanks to UPS: UK => Germany => Denmark => Finland => Denmark => Germany => France (Paris, Nice, Lyon, Paris) => and... one arrived while the other one went to Brussels where it stayed for two days (in "error") before being finally delivered :D

Click to Read More

UPS was really not able to manage this correctly IMO. I did call them 3 times (once the packages arrived in France) to tell them I was in Belgium. Fortunately, I had at least a very good communication with XCase's employees during that period.

For memories, here is the tracking I got from Xcase for the first package:

Location Date Local Time Activity
Brussels, Belgium 18/12/2012 18:31 Delivered
18/12/2012 1:55 Out for Delivery
Brussels, Belgium 17/12/2012 23:35 Arrival Scan
Chilly Mazarin, France 17/12/2012 19:29 Departure Scan
Feyzin, France 17/12/2012 6:05 Departure Scan
Feyzin, France 15/12/2012 0:35 Arrival Scan
Nice, France 14/12/2012 19:00 Departure Scan
14/12/2012 14:11 Post office box address UPS is attempting to obtain an address to which delivery can be made, not delivered / The address has been corrected The delivery has been rescheduled
14/12/2012 10:01 Postal code listed for the receiver is incorrect UPS is attempting to obtain correct postal code and complete delivery / Delivery rescheduled
14/12/2012 7:19 Out for Delivery
14/12/2012 5:55 Arrival Scan
Chilly Mazarin, France 13/12/2012 16:32 Departure Scan
13/12/2012 12:00 Arrival Scan
Herne-Boernig, Germany 13/12/2012 3:25 Departure Scan
Herne-Boernig, Germany 12/12/2012 22:07 Arrival Scan
Glostrup, Denmark 12/12/2012 14:30 Departure Scan
12/12/2012 7:00 Arrival Scan
Helsinki, Finland 10/12/2012 18:38 Departure Scan
10/12/2012 6:15 Import Scan
10/12/2012 4:00 Arrival Scan
Glostrup, Denmark 06/12/2012 19:50 Departure Scan
06/12/2012 11:30 Arrival Scan
Herne-Boernig, Germany 06/12/2012 1:47 Departure Scan
Herne-Boernig, Germany 05/12/2012 18:31 Arrival Scan
Barking, United Kingdom 05/12/2012 7:53 Departure Scan
Barking, United Kingdom 04/12/2012 21:23 Arrival Scan
Northampton, United Kingdom 04/12/2012 19:30 Departure Scan
04/12/2012 18:27 Origin Scan
04/12/2012 16:26 Collection Scan
United Kingdom 04/12/2012 4:50 Order Processed: Ready for UPS

And here is the tracking I got for the second package (being theoretically linked to the first one):

Location Date Local Time Activity
Brussels, Belgium 21/12/2012 14:41 Delivered
Brussels, Belgium 20/12/2012 2:05 An exception in the sorting process has occurred. UPS has taken corrective action. / Delivery rescheduled
Brussels, Belgium 18/12/2012 21:26 Arrival Scan
Chilly Mazarin, France 18/12/2012 12:13 Arrival Scan
Feyzin, France 18/12/2012 6:03 Departure Scan
18/12/2012 0:45 Arrival Scan
Nice, France 17/12/2012 19:00 Departure Scan
17/12/2012 9:57 An exception in the sorting process has occurred. UPS has taken corrective action. / Delivery rescheduled
17/12/2012 5:36 Arrival Scan
Chilly Mazarin, France 14/12/2012 18:49 Departure Scan
Chilly Mazarin, France 13/12/2012 12:00 Arrival Scan
Herne-Boernig, Germany 13/12/2012 3:25 Departure Scan
Herne-Boernig, Germany 12/12/2012 22:07 Arrival Scan
Glostrup, Denmark 12/12/2012 14:30 Departure Scan
12/12/2012 7:00 Arrival Scan
Helsinki, Finland 10/12/2012 18:38 Departure Scan
10/12/2012 6:11 Import Scan
10/12/2012 4:00 Arrival Scan
Glostrup, Denmark 06/12/2012 19:50 Departure Scan
06/12/2012 11:30 Arrival Scan
Herne-Boernig, Germany 06/12/2012 1:47 Departure Scan
Herne-Boernig, Germany 05/12/2012 18:31 Arrival Scan
Barking, United Kingdom 05/12/2012 7:53 Departure Scan
Barking, United Kingdom 04/12/2012 21:23 Arrival Scan
Northampton, United Kingdom 04/12/2012 19:30 Departure Scan
04/12/2012 18:27 Origin Scan
04/12/2012 16:26 Collection Scan
United Kingdom 04/12/2012 4:50 Order Processed: Ready for UPS

HardwaresTips LSI SAS 9201-16i - Compatibility issues

Now that I did solve the "conflict" between the Promise FasTrack and the nVidia RAID, I experience another conflict... with the new LSI SAS 9201-16i that I just plugged in the motherboard (an Asus Striker II Formula).

Click to Read More

With the default settings of the SLI, I get the following message (with exactly this spelling ;) ) after the LSI initialization (which passes successfully),:

Warning: Have Option ROM can not be invoke (Vendor ID:105Ah, Deivce ID:3701h).

Here is the long story, full of twists and turns, and an Happy End :)

Looking after 105A in the PCI database of vendors, I found that this vendor is "Promise ". So, for sure, the LSI adapter had issues to coexist on my motherboard where the Promise FastTrak TX4660 :(

Fortunately, this was only a warning and the disks connected on the FastTrak were available within Windows. The actual issue was that the configuration menu of the FastTrak was not accessible anymore at boot time (And therefore, it was impossible to modify the disk array, ...) :(

A workaround would have been to disable the "Boot Support" in the LSI configuration (the problem only occurs with option "Boot Support" = "Bios Only" or "OS and Bios" in the LSI configuration utility). And this would have been a valid solution for me as I don't intend to boot ever on any disk connected to this controller. Another option would have been to temporary unplug the LSI to get access to the configuration menu of the Promise adapter at boot time.

However, to solve this annoying issue, I did try to update the bios of the LSI from its current version (7.5.0.0) to the latest version 7.29.0.0 (The firmware being already the last one: 15.0.0.0). To dos so, I did download the package "9201_16i_Package_P15_IT_Firmware_BIOS_for_MSDOS_Windows" from SLI's Find Support webpage.

I did next start a command prompt with the option "Run As Administrator" (If you don't Run it as Administrator, the bios updater won't find the adapter!) and did execute: sas2flash.exe -o -f 9201-16i_it.bin -b mptsas2.rom

The command (.exe) comes from the subfolder \sas2flash_win_x64_rel, the firmware (.bin) comes from the subfolder \Firmware\HBA_9201_16i_IT and the bios (.rom) comes from the subfolder \sas2flash_dos_rel. I did copy everything in a single folder.

The option -o is to run in advanced mode, which is actually not mandatory to update firmware and bios of native LSI adpaters.

But the situation went then really worst. The LSI bios was executing fine, i.e. without warning anymore. But next, nothing else was happening. I could see on my LCD Poster that the PC was trying to load the Boot menu (or enter the setup if I did press DEL), but it was never completing that step ?! I did try to disable the sata controllers on the motherboard and remove the FastTrak controller. Nothing helped (I had to remove the LSI adapter to be able to reach the setup menu).

Fortunately, I found that I could still boot correctly with the LSI adapter on my other PC, build on top of an Asus P9X79Pro (with UEFI support!). So, I did start to look how to downgrade the bios on that PC...

Unfortunately², impossible to find the old version 7.5.0.0 of the bios on SLI's website. I only found a version 7.21.0.0 of the bios on Lime-Tech, a great forum about among others "unRaid systems" (The bios can be found in the package "LSI SAS2116 chipset"). I did the downgrade but that didn't solve the problem. It was a bit different however as the LCD poster told me that the boot sequence was stick on "Bios Init" instead of "Boot Menu"... (which was worst IMO).

Notice that I was only able to downgrade the Bios. The firmware might not be downgraded. Trying to do so resulted in a message : ERROR: Cannot downgrade NVDATA version 0xf000003 to 0xa030001.

I though that the problem with the boot could be due to the update operation being not 100% correctly executed from within Windows, although it seemed to go well. So I did try to flash from a bootable usb key. But is Dos mode, on the Asus P9X79Pro, I get the error 'Failed to initialize PAL ....'. According to LSI, this meant that the update procedure won't work using that motherboard :(

So, I did next try to flash the SLI's bios using the UEFI Shell supported by my Asus P9X79Pro...

  1. First, I did download the package "UEFI_BSD_P15" from SLI web site
  2. Next, I did copy on my USB key the files x64sas2.efi and x64sas2.rom located in the package's subfolder \UEFI_BSD_P15\uefi_bsd_rel
  3. Then, I did download the UEFI Shell (2 versions) from here:
    1. x86_64 UEFI Shell 2.0
    2. x86_64 UEFI Shell 1.0
  4. I did rename the Shell 2.0 (to be tried first) into shellx64.efi and copied it into the root folder of my USB key.
  5. I did also print the EFI shell user guide.
  6. I did plug the SLI adapter and the USB key into my Asus P9X79Pro.
  7. During the boot, I entered the Bios Setup of the ASUS, in Advanced mode.
  8. In the "Exit" menu (In the top-right corner), I did select "Launch UEFI Shell from filesytem device.
  9. From the start screen of the shell, I took note of the name of the USB device which was displayed automatically (otherwise I would have had to type the command 'map'). The name was "FS0".
  10. I did move to that device (without the need to mount it! It appeared to already be mounted! Otherwise I would have had to type 'mount FS0:') and I tried execute the flash:
    1. FSO:
    2. x64sas2.efi -o -b x64sas2.rom

And.... I didn't succeed to execute the flash command :( I still need to dig how to use UEFI... E.g.: Instructions found in LSI's ReadMe to flash from UEFI shell tell however to execute:

    1. drivers
    2. Take not of the drive number <dh>
    3. unload <dh>
    4. sas2flash -c <n> -b x64sas2.rom   where <n> is the #of the controller (0 if only one). Notice that the command I found on SLI web site was named x64sas2.efi instead of sas2flash.efi

As the list of drivers is far too long, I had to capture it and enter the EFI editor to read it:

      1. drivers > list.txt
      2. edit list.txt
      3. To exit the EFI editor press the “F3” key (or type "Esc 3" depending on your system.

Unfortunatelly++, after several tries to flash from the UEFI shell, I decided to give up and try something else as I was clearly not able to execute the updater from the shell (But for sure, I will come back into that UEFI shell to learn how to use it correctly).

I read that many people did recommend to clean the firmware and the bios before upgrading. This can be done with the command: sas2flash -o -e 6. Unfortunately, this operation is not supported in Windows mode and must be executed in Dos mode, which is not possible for me on the Asus P9X79Pro as mentioned above (error 'Failed to initialize PAL). What a nightmare!

In the mean time, I had sent an email to LSI to get a copy of the bios 7.5.0.0. I had to wait more that 24h but then started a really good exchange with one of their technicians. The guy told me that this version was so old that it was not available anymore. The oldest version available was 7.15.0.0, but he suggested to investigate internally to see if someone would still have a copy. On my request, he did send me the version 7.15.0.0 for a try...

A miracle! That version solves both the boot issue when the LSI is plugged on my Asus Striker II Formula and the warning message when the Promise is plugged too.

And icing on the cake, 3TB disks are well supported and I can boot from disks connected on the LSI adapter (although that's not at all my purpose - reason why I will disable Boot Support on this adapter).

[EDIT]: In a next post, I report on re-using this experience to make another LSI, a SAS 9211-8i, compatible with my ASUS Striker II Formula too.

Tips WOL support for Windows Server 2012 on Asus Striker II Formula

I have always experienced issues to enable the support for Wake-on-Lan on my PC and again, today, I spent hours to succeed in configuring WOL on the Windows Server 2012 of my Asus Striker II Formula. But this time, I took notes for the future :)

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I initially though that the default driver installed with Server 2012 for the nVidia ForceWare network adapters of my motherboard did not support Wake-On-Lan (as reported sometimes for other brand). But after installing the latest drivers from Asus website, WOL was not yet effective... All the settings of the machine were the default ones (issued from the installation) as I didn't touch any of them yet... So I started to enable/disable/reenable plenty of various settings before being finally able to remotely wake up my PC with a Magic Packet (I am using the "WOL" page of my Buffalo router for sending those messages).

First, notice that depending on the Motherboard, Wake-On-Lan could work for you only if your PC is in a Sleep mode or in an Hibernate mode. Mine can be waked-up from a full shutdown (as most recent/decent motherboards :) ).

  • In the Computer Management > Device Manager > Network adapter > right click Properties on "your adapter"
  • In the tab "Power Management", check all the options:
    • Allow this computer to turn off this device to save power
    • Allow this device to wake up the computer
    • Only allow a magic packet  to wake up the computer
  • In the tab "Advanced"
    • Enable the adequate WOL features, whose names depend on your adapter:
      • "Wake up capabilities" must be "Magic Packet" or "Both"
      • "Wake On Magic Packets"            < I have this one
      • "Wake Up From Shutdown"
      • "Wake On Lan After Shutdown"
      • "Wake On Lan From PowerOff"     < I have this one
      • "Shutdown Wake-On-Lan"
      • "Wake On Lan"
      • "Wake On Pattern Match"             < I have this one
      • ...
    • WOL however only started to work for me when I did disable "Device Sleep on Disconnect" in this advanced tab.
    • Microsoft White paper on this topic here.
  • In the Bios, you need to enable features like:
    • Remote Wakeup
    • Power On By PCI/PCIE Devices  < I have this one. It includes "Onboard Lan". Nothing else requires to be enabled in the Bios.

Et voilà.

Tips Fine-Tune Server 2012 Essentials

I am using Windows Server 2012 Essentials (quite a replacement for WHS 2011 although not exactly) on my Home Server for File Storage, Media Sharing and centralized PC backups. I also plan to use it to run Virtual Machines.

However, I actually don't care about most of the "Server 2012" features. So, I "fine tune" the server to make it more user-friendly. I will keep track of the changes I do, and other useful tips, here (Edit: I found an interesting web site here to convert a server 2012 into a workstation, including a wizard).

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  • Regarding the execution of VM on that server, I don't know yet:
    • if I will use Hyper-V and do an "in-place" upgrade from Server Essentials to Standard Edition(limited to two VM per licence of Standard Edition) or
      • Doing this upgrade, I would lose the support for Video Streaming...
    • if I will use the old VMWare Server 2.0 (not supported anymore but free for unlimited VM)...

  • To edit system files such as the "host" file (in C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc), the editor (e.g.: notepad++) must be run "As Administrator", otherwise, the changes may not be saved! I need this to define some hostnames (among other to access my blog using its internet address as I don't use a DNS server in my local network).


  • To enable the Hibernate mode: (I didn't succeed yet... I will need a new Graphic Card - But most probably I won't use hibernation as it's not recommended on machine with disk managed via FlexRaid...)

    1. Type cmd on the Start Screen and execute Command Prompt with run as administrator.
    2. In the command prompt, type: powercfg.exe /hibernate on.
    3. Type Power on the Start Screen and select Settings under the search box. Execute next Change what the power buttons do.
    4. Click on Change settings that are currently unavailable.
    5. Select Hibernate in the combo of the Power button settings.
    6. Check the option Hibernate in the Shutdown settings.
    7. I did NOT select Turn on Fast Startup in the Shutdown settings because my server don't power off anymore with that option. Some people also report that with this option they were not able to use WOL anymore... I can't validate that as my PC does not even shutdown, so... :)
    8. Click Save Changes
    9. Click now Create a new Power Plan (e.g.: based on the Balanced plan and named "Hibernate").
    10. Your new plan becomes the current one. Click "Change Plan Settings" to edit you plan.
    11. Click on Change advanced power settings.
    12. Click on Change settings that are currently unavailable.
    13. Select your plan in the combo if it is not the displayed one.
    14. Under Hard Disk > Turn off hard disk after, select (e.g.) 30 minutes.
    15. Under Sleep > Hibernate after, select (e.g.) 60 Minutes.
    16. Under Media Settings > When sharing media > Settings, select "Allow the computer to sleep", although the server is really used for Media Sharing. In my case, the feature is enabled, but I mainly use my NAS for media sharing.
    17. Click OK to apply the changes and close the window.

Notice that I still don't see "Hibernate" in the Power Menu available from the Start Screen. It's only available when closing Windows from the Desktop with Alt-F4.

Next, in the Bios, you need to:

      1. Enable the ACPI function
      2. Set the ACPI Suspend Type on S1/S3 ? To be validated as possibly not required base on:
        • S1: All processor caches are flushed, and the CPU(s) stops executing instructions. Power to the CPU(s) and RAM is maintained; devices that do not indicate they must remain on may be powered down.
        • S2: CPU powered off. Dirty cache is flushed to RAM.
        • S3: Commonly referred to as Standby, Sleep, or Suspend to RAM. RAM remains powered
        • S4: Hibernation or Suspend to Disk. All content of main memory is saved to non-volatile memory such as a hard drive, and is powered down.

The Hibernate mode didn't run as expected although I am quite sure of the configuration based on my previous experience. Concretely, the PC does not power off. Only the screen becomes black. I have the same behavior with a Shutdown if the "Fast Startup" option is enabled - which is actually a Partial Hibernate. So, to investigate, I did type in a command prompt Run As Administrator: powercfg /a

This command lists all the sleep states available and the reason why they are possibly not supported. In my case, it did report that the Graphic card was an issue. Missing specific drivers for the graphics device, the OS doesn't know how to suspend and resume it. This is therefore disabling the hibernation (and would do so for other sleep states as reported by "powercfg /a"). CQFD. I found a version of Catalyst (for ATI graphic cards) that runs on Server 2012.. To be tested soon...

Notice also that if you have disabled an onboard Graphic Card within Windows because you did install another one, sleep states could also be disabled. Instead of disabling the onboard card, configure the display to be "disconnected" (Option of the Display > Screen Resolution).

Final notice: Sleep modes seems to completely set "off" one of the NICs.


  • To disable the Shutdown Event Tracker prompting you when shutting down the server (if you don't use a Domain):

    1. Type gpedit.msc on the Start Screen and then press Enter
    2. Select Local Computer Policy
    3. Select Computer Configuration
    4. Select Administrative Templates
    5. Select System
    6. Select Display Shutdown Event Tracker (in the root of the System folder)
    7. If you want to get rid of the dialog box, then select 'Disabled' for Display Shutdown Event Tracker.  To restore the default then check the 'Enabled' box.

The change will be effective immediately (No need to reboot).


  • To disable the Windows Firewall (which I don't use in my intranet)

    1. Type Firewall on the Start Screen and select Firewall with advanced security
    2. Select the node Firewall with advanced security on Local Computer
    3. In the overview, click Windows Firewall Properties
    4. In the tabs Domain Profil, Private Profil  set Firewall state: "Off". Possibly keep it "On" in the tab Public Profil (In my case, the server won't be connected to a public network ever).

  • To remotely shutdown the server

    Use the psShutdown command from SysInternals.

    psshutdown \\<servername> -s -t 0

    Or the windows command shutdown

    shutdown /s /m \\<servername> t 0

    And disable UAC on the server (at least for psShutdown)


  • To Disable Default IE Security Restriction

    1. On the Start Screen, type Server and select Server Manager,
    2. In the left pane, select Local Server
    3. In the right pane, in the section Properties, click at the On link behind the IE Enhanced Configuration setting.
    4. Switch the setting to Off for both Administrators and Users to disable the restrictions.

  • To Display the Shutdown button on the Logon Screen

    1. On the desktop, press :win: + R
    2. In the Run Dialod, type gpedit.msc -- this will launch the Local Group Policy Editor within the Microsoft Management Console.
    3. Select Computer Configuration > Windows Settings > Security Settings > Local Policies > Security Options.
    4. In the right-side pane, Select the Policy "Shutdown: Allow system to be shut down without having to log on" and change the value in the Security Setting column to be "Enabled"

  • To enable NIC Teaming

  1. Type  lbfoadmin.exe on the Start Screen and run it "As Administrator" to open the NIC Teaming console
  2. In the Adapters And Interfaces pane, select the NICs to team (control-click each NIC) then Right-Click the selected group and Click on Add to New Team
  3. Give a name to the New Team and Click OK. No need to change defaults in the "Additional properties" section.

  • Enable all PowerShell Scripts execution
    1. On the Start Screen type "Power" and run "Windows PowerShell"
    2. Type this to enable Scripts execution for the current user
      • set-executionpolicy -scope CurrentUser Unrestricted
    3. Type this to disable Scripts execution for the current user
      • set-executionpolicy -scope CurrentUser Undefined
    4. More info here.


  • Disable IE Security Restrictions
    1. Go to the Start Screen, type and run Server Manager
    2. Click on the node Local Server
    3. In the Properties pane, find "IE Enhanced Security Configuration" and click on its value to change it.
    4. Set Off for Admin (or possibly both Admin and Users)

  • To enable FTP Server
Transferring a lot of small files is very very slow (a few KB/s instead of at least 80 MB/s for large files). This is due to latency... For such file transfer, it is far better to use FTP.
    1. On the Start Screen, Click the Server Manager tile, then click Yes.
    2. In the Server Manager Dashboard, click Add roles and features.
    3. If the Before you begin page of Add Roles and Features Wizard is displayed, click Next.
    4. On the Select installation type page, select Role-based or feature-based installation, and click Next.
    5. On the Select destination server page, select Select a server from the server pool, select your server from the Server Pool list, and then click Next.
    6. On the Select server roles page, expand the Web Server (IIS) node, and then expand the FTP Server node.
    7. Select the FTP Server check box and the FTP Service check box, and then click Next.
    8. On the Select features page, click Next.
Once the service installed, a FTP site has still to be created
  1. On the Start Screen, type IIS and run the Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager (not the IIS 6.0 Manager!!!)
  2. Right click on the node of your server in the Connections pane and select Add FTP Sites...

  • To skip Domain Joining on a workstation 

I don't use my Server 2012 as an actual Server 24/7 with Domain Control (centralized credentials), DHCP, Group Policy, VPN etc... Instead, I did configure on all my workstations to prevent them to be enrolled by Server 2012 Essentials when they access it for the first time.

  • To skip Domain Joining on a PC with a Pro/Enterprise/Ultimate Windows 7 or 8):
  1. On your client computer, go to Start (Win7) or Start Screen (Win8) and search for command prompt “cmd“.
  2. Execute cmd.exe with run as administrator.
  3. In the command prompt, type:
    • reg add "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows Server\ClientDeployment" /v SkipDomainJoin /t REG_DWORD /d 1
  4. Follow next those steps to connect on Server 2012 Essentials:
    1. With your brower, go to http://<servername>/Connect
    2. Click on "Dowload software for Windows 7 and Windows 8"
    3. Execute the ComputerConnector(xxxx).exe just downloaded and follow the wizard. When prompted for a login and password, use the credentials of an administrator defined on your Server 2012.
    4. To access the Dashboard through Remote Desktop, you also have to provide  the credentials of the an administrator defined on the Server.

Tips Bootable Floppy, Usb Key or CD/DVD with Dos or Windows 9X/Me/NT/2K/XP

It's always a nightmare when I have to flash a Bios or boot a PC in a Dos mode for any other purpose (recover a corrupted partition). Sometimes because I don't have a floppy drive on the PC, sometimes because I don't find my Bootable CD with Win98, etc...

Fortunately, there are all the required utilities to create bootable devices (floppy, usb or CD) on the Bootdisk.com website.

Click to Read More

My favorite utility being the one to create a bootable usb key (Method 1). It's indeed

  • nowadays very seldom to still have a floppy drive on a PC (an even much seldom to find a floppy in good condition)
  • not practical to use a CD as even if it's not a read-only one, to add some exe/files for the purpose of the operation is not always as easy as with a usb key.

As far as you are concerned with creating a Bootable USB Key from a Windows Setup ISO, You may simply use the "ISO to USB" tool.

For Windows 7, use the Microsoft "Windows7-USB-DVD-tool" - Official "Windows 7 Setup ISO" being available here.

HardwaresTips Plug an old IDE device on a Sata Controller (and vise versa)

If for any reason you need to access an old IDE device from a PC with only Sata controllers or if you want to access a Sata device from an old PC with only IDE controllers, you need a SATA to IDE or an IDE to SATA Adapter.

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Actually, if you don't want to keep the device plugged for ever on the PC, the best option is to buy a device a little bit more expensive (~10€): a SATA to IDE, IDE to SATA Bi-Directional Adapter.

I did buy one from Syba which is great (and efficient): the "SD-ADA50016".

Notice: I have no issue with it but it is based on the SunplusIT SPIF223A chip which is not reported of the best one. Users complains about very poor performances (as low as 4MB/s) and recommend other models. From my own experience, it's indeed very slow but it is actually close to Blue-Ray speed 1X (4.5MB/s) with my DVD burner.

Here bellow is the full spec. Notice that it works not only for HDD but also for CD/DVD burners and does not look like a basic piece of plastic that wouldn't support to be plugged and plugged often. It can really help you to

  • access data forgot on an old IDE backup drive, from you brand new PC,
  • connect Sata disk on an old machine (e.g. a server you don't want or may not renovate or extend with a Sata Controller) or
  • reuse an expensive DVD Burner in a new machine (although you have great portable ones for less than 30€).

Important: Don't forget to plug also the power cable (6pin LP4) on the controller or it won't work ;)

Full spec:

  • Unique Bi-directional SATA <–> IDE Converter
  • Chipset: Satalink Spif223a
  • Supports 3.5-inch SATA and IDE (ATA) Hard Drive
  • Supports 5.25-inch SATA and IDE (ATA) Optical Drives
  • LED Indicators: Power-On and HDD-Activity
  • Ultra Low Power Consumption
  • Connectors:
    • IDE (ATA)
    • SATA to Computer (Yellow)
    • SATA to Drive (Black)
    • 4-pin FDD Power Connector
  • Two Independent Ultra ATA Channels with 128/256 Bytes Buffer Per Channel
  • Driverless Installation
  • Serial ATA Interface:
    • Complies with SATA 1.0a Specification
    • Supports SATA Generation 1 with Transfer Rate up to 1.5Gbps (150MB/s)
    • Supports Spread Spectrum in Receiver
    • Supports SATA Power Saving Mode (Partial and Slumber)
  • IDE (ATA) Interface:
    • Complies with ATA Specification
    • Complies with Ultra ATA 133 with Transfer Rate Up To 133MB/s
    • Supports PIO Mode o, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
    • Supports MDMA Mode 0, 1, 2
    • Supports Ultra DMA Mode 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
    • Supports Master/Slave/Cable Select Mode by Configuration Switches
Pictures:

This adapter looks like this:

Syba SD-ADA50016 IDE/SATA Converter Bi-directional IDE to SATASyba SD-ADA50016 IDE/SATA Converter Bi-directional IDE to SATA

Alternatives:

For sure, you can get cheaper generic adapters, for half that price, E.g.:

IDE to SATA or SATA to IDE Adapter

HardwaresTips Promise FastTrak TX4660 issue when used with NVidia MediaShield Raid

Building a new machine, I have experienced the lack of compatibility between the Sata RAID Controllers from the FastTrak TX Series and some on-board Sata RAID controllers :(

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I have 6 Sata II controllers on my Motherboard "Asus Striker II Formula". They support RAID thanks to the NVidia MediaShield Storage Technology.

Yesterday, I plugged into a PCI-e 16x port of this motherboard a Promise FastTrak TX4660 controller card with RAID support.

Unfortunately, the initialization sequence of the FastTrak (during the boot sequence) kept  blocked forever on the message "Press <Ctrl-F> to enter FastBuild Utility". I was  unable to either enter this utility pressing Ctrl-F or continue the boot sequence (and start  the OS). And although the PC didn't look completely freezed, Ctrl-Alt-Delete was not responding either. Notice: I was using a PS2 keyboard, just to be sure... as some USB controllers are sometimes not initialized before the end of the boot sequence to make this one shorter.

I quickly discovered that the FastTrak was passing successfully if I was disabling the RAID Support on the motherboard. But then, my PC was not able to start the OS as this one was installed on a RAID 0 array managed by the motherboard's controllers.

To make it clear: if I was restoring the "default settings" in the Bios (which does not enable the RAID support), then the FastTrack was passing successfully (or I could enter the utility pressing Ctrl-F). But as soon as I was re-enabling the Raid Support on the Sata Controller of my motherboard (and nothing else), the boot sequence stopped after the message mentioned above...

This morning, I read that the Promise FastTrak is incompatible with some other Raid Controllers. I assumed I was in such a case. So, I started to hope that a Bios Update would possibly fix the incompatibility.

1) I did first update the Bios of my Asus Striker II Formula from v1305 to v2402 (the latest) using the tool of Asus, the "EZ Flash 2" available in the BIOS itself, and the new firmware copied on a USB key. The update was a piece of cake...

Unfortunately, it did not solve the problem :(

2) I did next downgrade the Bios of my Promise FastTrak Tx4660 from v2.9.0.0039 (the latest) to v2.9.0.0037 (the previous one) using a Bootable USB Key created with a tool from BootDisk and the flash utility found on Promise.com

And BINGO!!!

The boot sequence completes now successfully with RAID enabled on the motherboard. Only notice that I see a black screen for 15s to 25s while the FastTrak scans for the drives...