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Cannot Delete Domain Controller - Access is Denied Fix

By hagrin - Posted on 23 March 2013

Recently, we had a Windows Server 2008 R2 domain controller die before it could be demoted using dcpromo. Therefore, I was concerned with "cleaning up" the old domain controller to prevent domain controller related issues. By searching the web all posts talked about deleting the domain controller from Active Directory Users and Computers and/or cleaning up the metadata either by using ntdsutil or by navigating through Active Directory Sites and Services. However, whenever I tried to do anything, I kept receiving a message I dread all the time -

"Access is denied."

It always amazes me that my account, which has every Admin privilege available, constantly gets access denied errors. However, while this fix doesn't seem obvious based on the error message, it is an easy fix! To stop the "access is denied" errors do the following -

  1. Open up Active Directory Sites and Services.
  2. Expand the Sites folder, expand the site name where the DC you want to delete is, expand the Servers folder and finally expand the DC you want to delete.
  3. Right click on NTDS Settings for the DC you want to delete.
  4. Click on the Object tab.
  5. Uncheck the "Protect object from accidental deletion" checkbox.
  6. Click OK to save your changes.
  7. Now you will be able to delete the domain controller from Active Directory Users and Computers.

Simple fix, not readily obvious! Good luck!

2013 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference Review

By hagrin - Posted on 02 March 2013

Well, the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference has officially jumped the shark.

While I have attended the conference in the past, this was the first year that I have watched the webcast and to say I was disappointed would be the understatement of the year so far. Let's go into why the Sloan Conference isn't a "must go" destination for the sports analytics person anymore.

The webcast is an inexpensive $21 and it is relatively a well run webcast. However, you could see that the webcast wasn't nearly that popular as only about 30-50 people ever were in the webchat portion of the stream at any one time. Quickly, it became apparent to me why that was the case. The webcast only showed you the Grand Ballroom where almost all of the "paid advertisement" segments were delivered. Whether it was the SAP Big Data hour long advertisement or if it was a panel member dropping the 3 major PepsiCo brand names, a good chunk of the Grand Ballroom presentations were totally useless to the true sports "geek" or analytics "geek".

As a corollary to the above complaint, I was shocked at how little discussion there was ... about actual analytics. Too much of the panel's discussion was focused on opinions or broad-stroke analysis. Even in the best panel of the conference, the Predictive Sports Betting panel, specific information was nowhere to be found and was extremely broad based. Therefore the conclusion I came up with for the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference going forward is this -

There is no longer a need to attend this conference if you are seeking actual information. There are better, free sources for analytic information on the Internet and the only value the conference provides is networking.

As an analytics person, you'll learn more learning Luke Winn's weekly Power Rankings column. You'll learn more by reading the blog entries at KenPom. You'll grasp more about data by perusing TeamRankings.com on a daily basis. You'll learn more reading the Football Outsiders articles.

The MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference has gone corporate. It has outlived its real usefulness and the spirit of the event has drastically been altered. Do yourself a favor - spend your money and your time supporting those in the analytics field that actually offer you insight and real analytic information as opposed to hour long opinion-fests.

Windows Media Center Digital Advisor Product Key

By hagrin - Posted on 24 January 2012

Now that I am basically married, the TV in our living room is more often playing movies like Waiting for Forever than sports like I used to when I was single. Sigh, those were the days. But, happy days are here again! I purchased a Hauppauge WinTV-DCR-2650 TV Tuner to use with my cable provider's CableCard so that I could not only watch TV on my computer, but also easily record games. The installation is easy and the TV Tuner uses Windows Media Center to display your TV content.

However, even following the supplied installation steps, I was prompted for a Product Key (not a Windows OS Product Key) to activate digital content in the Windows Media Center setup.

Huh?

To keep a long story short, at some point Windows 7 required a separate key to activate this content. At some point, Microsoft reversed their position and made it readily available to all users and the product key gets automatically filled in. However, some "older" motherboards run a BIOS version (ASUS for me) where this functionality wasn't included and you need a product key. Therefore, since it is no longer a product key protected application, I feel comfortable providing it here to help users get through the Windows Media Center setup. The product key is -

263DJ-2Y9YT-6X9G6-W28DB-697TF

If anyone has issue with me freely providing this key, please let me know ASAP; however, my research shows that this general PID has been made widely available.

Good luck and update your motherboard BIOS!

Fixing the Windows Update 0x80070005 Error

By hagrin - Posted on 15 August 2011

With our server administrator recently moving to a new position, I took the responsibility to make sure that all of our servers were up-to-date with patching. Little did I know that we had one server that had not been patched in a full year. Yikes! I went to patch the machine and received the 0x80070005 error code which doesn't tell you much.

Environment:
Operating System - Windows 2003 Server

Searching Google yields so many different answers - many of which don't work. The fix, however, is so incredibly simple.

Just stop the Indexing Service.

It really is that easy. Stop the Indexing Service and then go to Windows Update and you will be able to download and install patches with no problems on your Windows 2003 Server machine. Hope this helps!

Fixing Event ID 64 CertificateServicesClient-AutoEnrollment Warnings

By hagrin - Posted on 24 July 2011

While working on one of the older SQL 2005 servers that I manage, I notice a lot of warnings in the Windows Application Event log for Event ID 64 with the CertificateServicesClient-AutoEnrollment Source. Reading the General and Details tab of the message doesn't provide many specifics about the error so I decided to write-up how you would fix this issue -

  1. On the computer generating the errors, open up the MMC by clicking the Start button and then either using the search box or Run command and typing "mmc".
  2. Click on File -> Add/Remove Snap-in, choose Certificates, click Add, choose Computer account, hit Next, leave Local Computer selected, click Finish and Click Ok.
  3. Expand Certificates and select Personal.
  4. On the Personal list of certificates, look for certificates that have just expired or that are about to expire and either renew them or delete them if you don't need them anymore.

This should stop the warning messages from generating and hopefully this will fix your issue as well. In addition, I would suggest going through all the levels of your certificates and just doing a cleanup because certificate maintenance is something that many admins forget to do on a regular basis.

phpBB3 Mobile Style / Theme

By hagrin - Posted on 15 June 2010

Update 4/3/2012 - So, it looks like phpBB Mobile's website now HTTP 500s and there are much better options for phpBB3 now. Check out these mobile phpBB themes here.

One of my users pointed out to me while phpBB 3 renders fine on mobile browsers with the default template, there's too much pinching and zooming and the such to read a phpBB forum effectively. Therefore, he wondered if there was a style I could implement with some browser detection so that mobile users would have a better phpBB experience. To my surprise, phpBB 3 has no inherent support for mobile browsers and it doesn't seem as if phpBB 4 has any plans on implementing a mobile style/theme/MOD by default. After a lot of searching and some trial and error, I finally found a working solution and wanted to write out that post here so people could follow.

I found phpBB Mobile which was only just recently developed (good timing) less than a month ago. It is a MOD for phpBB that allows for user agent detection so that if one of your normal users browses from their mobile phone, their browser's user agent is detected and a mobile style is used to display your forum. While there is some documentation and a forum dedicated to this MOD, I wanted to add some notes to their documentation.

  1. Download the phpBB Mobile MOD.
  2. Extract the archive locally before uploading to your server for easier manipulation.
  3. Inside the archive open /phpbb_mobile_(version)/install_phpbb_mobile.xml in a browser so that you can read the instructions.
  4. The first "step" you are presented with is a SQL CREATE TABLE command to create the phpbb_mobile table. Note, if you used a different table prefix for your phpBB 3 install, you need to change the table name in this SQL query (for instance, I used phpbb3_*). Run this SQL command on your database server.
  5. The next section is a "File Copy". Copy the files from your extracted archive in the /phpbb_mobile_(version)/root/ folder to the root section of your forum installation on the web server.
  6. The next section is called "Edits". Download the /includes/constants.php and /includes/session.php files from your web server and make the necessary edits locally and then re-upload back to your web server.
  7. You will be at the "DIY Instructions" section. Log into your Admin Control Panel, Click on the System tab, click on "Administration Control Panel" link on the left side vertical menu, click on Styles, click on Style management, click on Styles, and then in the drop down to the right select phpBB Mobile and click Add module.
  8. You should now click "Enable" to enable the module.

At this point, the MOD is installed, but still doesn't do anything "useful" for your mobile users. You still need to install your mobile styles and then create the browser rules and associate them with your mobile styles. You might be wondering if anyone has developed any good mobile styles. The best one I found was an iPhone style also made by phpBB Mobile.

  1. If you need to install a new mobile theme at this point, you must go back to the System -> Admin CP -> Styles -> Style management -> Styles page and Delete the phpBB Mobile MOD. Why? Because, if you go to the Styles tab when this MOD is installed (doesn't matter if Disabled or Enabled), you can't properly install new styles/themes. After this is done, install your mobile style as normal. After you are done installing the style, re-add/re-enable the phpBB Mobile MOD.
  2. At this point, you need to know what your mobile style's Style ID is. If you go to your database, browse the data in the phpbb_styles table (replace phpbb with whatever prefix you used) and you'll want to take note of the ID for your mobile style.
  3. In the Admin CP, click on the Styles tab. You will now notice that phpBB Mobile options are displayed right there on the Styles page. Here, you will add the rules for which style is shown for which browser. The way the rules work is that the "Browser" box should include some unique text string found in a specific browser's User Agent and then the ID for the style you want should go into Style box. So, for instance I added the following - "Android", "iPhone", "webOS" all pointing to style "5" which is my mobile style.

That's all you need to do! Now, obviously, with every upgrade you make to the core phpBB installation, you will have to make sure that this MOD doesn't break. Good luck.

How To: Setting up Virtualization on Windows Using VMWare Server

By hagrin - Posted on 05 March 2010

One of the greatest strengths of today's computing environments that is completely underutilized by most of the user base around the world is that of virtualization. Virtualization allows you to run multiple "guest" operating systems simultaneously on a single machine. You might ask - "Why is this so groundbreaking?". Virtualization offers numerous advantages over traditional single operating system setups for a lot of reasons, but not limited to the following -

  • No longer need to dual, triple or "more" boot your main machine so you can stay in the operating system that is most comfortable to you while allowing you to learn, test and experiment with other operating systems (great way to learn Linux).
  • No need to run multiple computers saving on power and equipment costs while also saving on space (only needing one keyboard/mouse, no A/B switch, no KVM needed, etc.)
  • Quicker and more efficient restores of system settings and data allowing for more testing of applications, settings, etc.
  • Increased flexibility in moving virtual machines from one physical machine to another.

Those are just some of the advantages of setting up a virtual environment. Now that I have convinced you on virtualization merits, how do we get everything setup. My virtualization software of choice is VMWare Server 2.0 which is free to use and allows you to install this software on your current operating system. My computer at home was running Windows Vista Ultimate at the time which made the decision of what virtualization software easy to use as Windows Virtual Server 2008 doesn't support Windows Vista.

Installing VMWare Server 2.0
Here's a pretty easy guide to follow for installing VMWare Server.

Once VMWare Server 2.0 is up and running on your "host" machine, you want to start setting up "guest" machines. In preparation of starting the guest virtual machine process, you want to obtain an ISO of every operating system you want to setup. For me, I get all my Windows ISOs through my MSDN Universal subscription, but you can definitely create Windows ISOs other ways. For Linux distros, you can download those freely from that distro's website. After you have all the operating system ISOs you need, you are ready to create your first guest virtual machine.

Creating a Guest Virtual Machine
For this example, I am going to create a Windows 7 Ultimate guest virtual machine because it's probably the most complicated (and that's not saying much). I followed this guide for creating a Windows 7 virtual machine. You would follow very similar steps for setting up any other VM whether Windows or Linux.

Using Your New Guest VM
I won't rehash too much of what is already spelled out in the above guide; however, there are a few things I want to point out. When you load up the VMWare Web Access Home Page, you may get an authentication prompt and you have no idea what to put in. You will put in the same username and password that you used to log into Windows. After that, you will want to make sure you install VMWare Tools as directed by the guide. This allows for much easier copying and pasting between your host and guest machines. In addition, I have found that VMWare Web Access doesn't work properly in some browsers like Google Chrome so you might be forced to use a browser that you don't normally use like Internet Explorer - especially when trying to launch the console plug-in.

Once you have powered on your guest VM, click on the Console tab in the Web Access page, load the console plug-in viewer and start using your new VM! Good luck to everyone trying to setup virtualization - once you go virtualization, you'll never go back.

Filezilla and Unhiding .htaccess

By hagrin - Posted on 11 May 2009

Here's a quick tip post that will help those doing web development on an Apache web server and cannot see their .htaccess which FTPing. If you use Filezilla as your FTP client, by default, Filezilla may hide the .htaccess file during a remote directory listing. To view the file using the Filezilla FTP client, click on Server and make sure the "Force showing hidden files" option is checked. Your .htaccess file should now be viewable in the remote directory.

Installing Magento on 1and1 VPS Hosting

By hagrin - Posted on 04 May 2009

After having issues installing Magento on a GoDaddy Virtual Dedicated Server (VDS), I had two clients that wanted Magento installed on 1and1's Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting package. After struggling with this process, I decided that I would document that process.

  1. Log into your 1and1 Control Panel.
  2. Click on Domains and setup your domain as necessary. This will link your domain to your hosting package.
  3. Click on Server Administration -> Server Access Data. Here, you will find all the login information needed to login to your Virtuozzo and Plesk control panels as well as your SSH login.
  4. Login into the Virtuozzo control panel. Click System Services and then drill down into the psa and mysqld services to make sure they are started and that auto-start is enabled.
  5. Login into the Plesk control panel. Click Domains -> Create Domain. Fill out the domain information as necessary and create your FTP account at the bottom of this page. Click Next when done.
  6. On the resulting page, uncheck the option for PHP safe_mode. Click Finish at the bottom of the page.
  7. Upload the Magento files to the webserver. You can most easily do this by FTPing using the login you created when setting up the domain in the Plesk Panel. You can also SSH into your server, upload the Magento tar and untar the archive into your /var/www/vhosts//httpdocs directory.
  8. Try loading your domain in a browser. If you try to load your site in a browser and you get a "Whoops" error stating that you have an invalid PHP version, this is due to the fact that when 1and1 images your server they use an older version of PHP. Therefore, you have to update your version of PHP and you should continue with these steps. If not, try to install Magento and disregard the following steps.
  9. SSH into your server and type the following command - wget -q -O - http://www.atomicorp.com/installers/atomic.sh |sh
  10. Type yum update to check the available updates, but choose No to install these updates.
  11. Type yum update php and choose Yes to all the prompts.
  12. Type yum update mcrypt* and choose Yes to any prompts.
  13. Type yum update mhash* and choose Yes to any prompts.
  14. Type yum update php-mcrypt* and choose Yes to any prompts.
  15. Type yum update php-mhash* and choose Yes to any prompts.
  16. Type /etc/init.d/httpd restart to restart Apache.
  17. Re-load your domain in your browser and you should be able to install Magento now.

Hopefully, this guide helps everyone get their Magento installation up and running with little effort on 1and VPS hosting.

Installing mcrypt on a GoDaddy Linux Virtual Dedicated Server (VDS)

By hagrin - Posted on 15 August 2008

Recently, I was given a consulting project to develop an e-commerce site and I immediately thought of Magento - an open source e-commerce solution written in PHP. Magento is one of the better pieces of software that goes widely unknown by many since very few people develop e-commerce sites (as opposed to say Drupal where everyone and their kids are bloggers).

However, upon installation of Magento on my GoDaddy Linux Virtual Dedicated Server (VDS), the installation will stall on the mcrypt dependency. The mcrypt library stores several algorithms that help secure your e-commerce site's data. Unfortunately, by default, the GoDaddy VDS package does not have the mcrypt library installed. To install mcrypt, follow these steps -

  1. SSH into your VDS with your favorite SSH client or the SSH Java applet offered by GoDaddy.
  2. Login with your credentials.
  3. Su to the root user.
  4. Type "yum install mcrypt*". Say yes to the prompts.
  5. Type "yum install mhash*". Say yes to the prompts.
  6. Type "yum install php-mcrypt*". Say yes to the prompts.
  7. Type "yum install php-mhash*". Say yes to the prompts.
  8. Restart the server.

Once the server has restarted, you can re-run the Magento installation and you will be able to successfully complete the wizard.