Tips Enable Write-Caching on a Server 2012 Essential (or any Domain Controller)

Once a server is promoted to a DC, write cache is disabled by default. You can try to enable it, but it will revert back to disabled after a reboot. This is default and can't theoretically not be changed. It's done to protect the AD database as well as improve AD DC performance. There is however a registry tip that can force the server to keep that setting.

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I did experience this on my Server 2010 Essentials which is out-of-the-box a Domain Controller. Although not impossible, it's not recommended to uninstall the DC feature from a Server 2010 Essentials. It's not easy and various features could stop to run (More info here and here).
The write-Caching was disabled after a reboot only on the System Disk. Not on any other disk in the server... I finally read it was the default behavior for servers with a Domain Controller and found tips here:
  1. One option is to re-enable write-caching at boot with a script using dskcache. E.g.:

    c:\dskcache.exe +w
    exit

     

  2. also a hack that can be made in the registry and works really fine:

    Path: HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\NTDS\Parameters
    Value: "DSA Heuristics"
    Type: REG_SZ
    Setting this to "1" (Note: the type MUST be a string type) prevents AD service from disabling write cache.

Tips Boost Windows 8 Start-up Process

Although I am running my OS on one of the fastest SSD (a Samsung Serie 840 Pro), I still have the feeling that the elapse time is much too long between the log-on and the moment when I have the hand on Windows. This is due to the Services and Applications run at start-up.

There is fortunately solutions to  optimize your Start-up Process by delaying Applications and Services from starting up as soon as you log into your computer. Doing that, your computer becomes usable a lot faster.

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Delay the start-up of Applications

You can have a look on the applications started with Windows in the Task Manager (CTRL-SHIFT-ESC) > Tab "Start-up".

In that tab, you see which applications have an impact on the Start-up Process.There are several possible values:

  • High - the application uses more than 1000 millisecond of CPU time or more than 3MB of disk I/O
  • Medium - the application uses 300 to 1000 ms of CPU time or 300KB to 3MB of disk I/O
  • Low - the application uses less than 300 milliseconds of CPU time and less than 300KB of disk I/O
  • Not Measured - This could happen with some of the third party apps where windows is unable to determine the impact. An application like BootRacer (Free for non-commercial use) could be used to determine the impact.

Next, install "Startup Delayer" from R2 Studios, a simple but very flexible application used to postpone the startup of applications. You can customize how much you want to delay them and in which order you want to start them. E.g.: as long as there is not enough CPU available. I did delay all the applications that are not critical IMO to use Windows. I.e.: I kept only Acronis (backup), Avast (Antivirus), Audio and Video managers. And all the other ones have been delayed. A simple Drag&Drop can be used to move an application from "Normal Startup" to "Delayed" or "Disabled", or to reorder the delayed ones.

Startup Delayer

In the screenshot of the Task Manager, all delayed applications appear grouped under "Startup Launcher".

Start-up Applications Delayed

Start-up Applications Delayed

A famous alternative to "Startup delayer" is "WinPatrol" but it does much more than just delaying start-up applications. And as always, I prefer simple applications that fit one single need than one big application trying to fit all needs...

Delay the start-up of Services

Services starting up can be delayed via the Service Management console (Services.msc). Use the "Automatic (Delayed Start)" option:

Services Delay

Services Delay

Here are the services that I have delayed:

Delayed Services

Delayed Services

Tips Upgrade from MediaBrowser 2 to MediaBrowser 3 on my Acer Idea 510 with MediaCenter as a shell

I have always been using Windows MediaCenter as a replacement for the Windows Shell on my Acer, even after the upgrade of this HTPC to Windows 8 x86. But I have always been also a big fan of the MediaBrowser plugin for MediaCenter. I was unfortunately stuck to MediaBrowser 2 as the latest version was relying on a server component which couldn't be run without the windows shell.

Good news, MediaBrowser 3's server part can now be run as a Service as solve my issue!

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As a reminder (see here), I am user a "public" Windows Account (i.e.: with a blank password) to grant my kids access to Windows MediaCenter. Windows MediaCenter is replacing the Windows Shell to improve the user experience; it's indeed much easier for the kids to start a cartoon if they don't have to go through Windows Explorer to start MediaBrowser (embedded into Windows Media Center).

To upgrade from MediaBrowser 2 to MediaBrowser 3:

  1. Log on Windows with a local administrator Windows Account
  2. Uninstall Media Browser 2
  3. Install Media Browser 3's server part
  4. Complete the server configuration wizard to define your libraries, etc...
    1. http://<your server>:8096/mediabrowser/dashboard/wizardstart.html
  5. I suggest to configure (*):
    1. One user profile without password to grant guests and kids access to public content.
    2. Another user profile with a password to protect accessed to private/adult content.
  6. Edit the "Custom User Interface" of the Windows Account without password to run Media Browser 3:  %windir%\ehome\ehshell.exe /mediamode /nostartupanimation /entrypoint:{CE32C570-4BEC-4aeb-AD1D-CF47B91DE0B2}\{FC9ABCCC-36CB-47ac-8BAB-03E8EF5F6F22}
  7. Check that you didn't tick the option "Run server at Startup" in the "Advanced" tab as this is not compatible with MediaBrowser running as a Service.
  8. Stop the "Media Browser" Service via the Windows Services Management console
  9. Check that this Media Browser Service is configured to start 'automatically' and not 'manually'
  10. Set the Windows account of a local administrator - with adequate rights to access your media (e.g.: on your NAS) - as a "log on" account on the Media Browser Service.
  11. Back to MediaBrowser's configuration UI, rescan the media libraries via the "Scheduled Tasks" tab.
  12. Install MediaBrowser 3's client part
  13. Possibly wait until the "rescan" task is completed and run Media Browser to check that you can access your media.
  14. Log-off.
  15. Log-on with your "public" Windows Account and check that you can access your media.

(*) The user profiles defined in MediaBrowser are not related to any specific Windows account. E.g.: the username and password set for those users is not used to access network resources, etc... There are only used to define various "profiles" within MediaBrowser. It's also (among other) a replacement for the "pin code" that used to protect access to libraries depending on the "rating".

Tips ING Home Bank: share data between computers via a NAS

I am using the off-line application of ING Home Bank, more confortable than the online version. But I don't want to replicate the data on all my PC, so I am sharing those data via my NAS, which is not officially possible.

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  1. When installing the application, use the "advanced mode".
  2. When you are prompted for a location to store the "userData", give any valid path. At that time, don't try to provide a UNC path as this is not accepted by the setup.
  3. When you are prompted for a location to store the "Security" data, give any valid path.
  4. Continue with the setup but don't run the application after completion
  5. Now, open the file located at C:\Users\Public\Documents\ING\Off-line\Hboff.ini
  6. Look for the entry "DataPath" and replace the value of the path with a UNC path
  7. Look for the entry "SecurityModulePath" and replace the value of the path with a UNC path
  8. Run the application.

If you have any security error related to the access to the UNC path, you possibly have to add an entry in the registry:

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Command Processor] "DisableUNCCheck"=dword:00000001

Tips SSD: Samsung 840 pro vs Kingston HyperX 3K

I used to have a RAID 0 with two SSD Kingston HyperX 3K for my OS. The RAID 0 was managed by an on-board Sata III RAID controller of my Asus P9X79. I have replaced that array with a single SSD Samsung 840 pro. The difference is incredible.

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Samsung SSD 840 PRO - 128GB 2.5" MLC Serial ATA 6Gb/s

Single SSD Samsung 840 Pro

Single SSD Samsung 840 Pro

RAID 0 with 2 Kingston HyperX 3K SSD Series - 120 GB 2.5" Serial ATA 6Gb/s

Raid 0 with 2 SSD Kingston HyperX

Raid 0 with 2 SSD Kingston HyperX

I was not expecting such a difference between a RAID 0 of slower SSD and a single SSD. I am usually quite satisfied with the gain of performance when using disks in a RAID 0 array.

It was only a nightmare to backup the OS from the 2 Kingston and restore it on the Samsung. Fortunately, I found a free tool to shrink the system partition: MiniTool Partition Wizard Home Edition 8.1.1.

SynologyTips Synology surveillance station: Internet Explorer has stopped working

Since two days, each time I open a Preview, a Live View or the Timeline in my Surveillance Station, IE crashes. Presuming it could due to the Synology ActiveX used by those features, I have removed that one. And Bingo, it's fixed.

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No idea how that ActiveX has been corrupted, but here it how to remove it.

  1. Press Alt-X to open the Tools menu
  2. Select "Manage Add-ons"
  3. In Add-on Types, keep "Toolbars and Extensions" selected
  4. Scroll down to find the extension "SS3Object Control". Select it.
  5. In the bottom pane, click on "More information"
  6. You have now a popup window "More information" with a "Remove" button at the very bottom. Click that button.
  7. Reopen Surveillance Station. The ActiveX will be re-installed. But now, the problem is gone...

I Got ItWishlist A Precision Screwdrivers Tool Kit

I really don't have good tools for DYI computer work :(

Facom Micro-Tech

Facom Micro-Tech

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Something like the Startech CTK100P would possibly make my day...

Screw driver Computer Tool Kit Startech CTK100P

Startech CTK100P

But I am not sure if the quality will be good enough ?! I think that a better quality would come from Wiha Tools. But a complete set will cost too much IMO.

EDIT 03/01/2014 Et voilà: Finally, I ordered Facom's Chrome Blade Micro-Tech screwdrivers :-P

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I bought two sets:

  1. Facom MT.J4XPG
    1. Torx® AEX 5x35
    2. Torx® AEX 6x35
    3. Torx® AEX 7x35
    4. Torx® AEX 8X75
  2. Facom MT.J5PG
    1. Slotted head AEF 1.5x35
    2. Slotted head AEF 2x35
    3. Slotted head AEF 3x75
    4. Phillips® AEFP 0x35
    5. Phillips® AEFP 00x35

I am now only missing the screwdrivers for male hex screws...

Notice: those screwdrivers are not magnetized! I choose to not go for Magnetized screwdrivers but to magnetized them myself on purpose, when required (as explained on WikiHow):

Using a fairly strong magnet, slide it lengthwise down the screwdriver repeatedly. Only drag it from the middle to the tip of the screwdriver, not back and forth from tip to middle and back up, just from middle to tip.

Do the motion several times repeatedly, count to 20 for less magnetization, and higher numbers for higher magnetization (depending on the strength of the magnet). The more strokes, the higher magnetization.

EDIT 13/08/2014 I found an easy and efficient way to magnetize my screwdrivers.

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I bought this Magnetizer/Demagnetizer:

Magnetizer and Demagnetizer

Magnetizer and Demagnetizer

It works really well, simply dragging the screwdriver inside the lower hole to magnetize it and in the upper hole to demagnetize it. I am only curious to see if it will works for ever or will loose its "capabilities" as  time goes by. If this happens, I will report here.

I Got ItWishlist Circular polarizing filter

I would like a Polarizing Filter to increase color saturation and reduce reflections on pictures taken with my Camera.
After some research, I would be glad to get a B+W F-PRO S03 Slim Circular Polarizer.

B+W F-Pro S03 Polarisant Circulaire Slim 62mm

B+W F-Pro S03 Slim Circular Polarizer 62mm

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Product Reference: 66-026595

A picture worth a thousand words:

Effect Of Circular Polarizer

Effect Of Circular Polarizer

Edit 10/05/2014 I finally bought a B+W Polfilter Circular Käsemann XS-Pro Digital MRC.

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Based on this post, I thought I would go for a XS-Pro instead of a Slim. Also because the price was about the same (for for a standard F-Pro, but for the F-Pro Slim!) :).