Using PowerShell to send a Windows Service Recovery Email Alert

recovery dialogue boxEach Service that runs in Windows features a Recovery tab in the Services.msc management console. Normally I only ever set this up to restart the service after 5 minutes in case something had conflicted with it’s initial start-up attempt. However, we recently had a problem with an IBM service that caused our Windows 2003 R2 x64 server to reboot if it crashed. I thought it would be very handy if we could get an email sent to the IT department if the service was failing. I had dabbled with using BLAT in the past but seeing as all of our servers already have PowerShell installed I thought that would be a more efficient option.

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First look at the Nintendo 3DS at the London Launch Party as a V.I.P.

My wife and I were lucky enough to spend the night schmoozing and boozing a load of “celebrities” at the launch of the new Nintendo 3DS. Unfortunately there was not a stack of free consoles that they were giving away. In fact, there was a mini HMV store inside that had people queuing from 11pm ready to buy at midnight. However, there were plenty of wired in 3DSs to have a go on.

The missusThe 3D effect

At first I thought the 3D was terrible. Pictures were blurry and I had to hold it at an awkward arm-stretched position. I then realised that the 3D slider switch needed to be adjusted slightly for each different game.Once i treated it more like a camera focus (or maybe a radio tuner) I managed to get the perfect 3D image. It was pretty good but worked a lot better at conveying depth rather than things coming out in your face. One unit was showing a 3D video from a Sky TV app and you could see when something tried to come out of the screen it just hit the screen edge and then disappeared. I don’t think I would worry about my kids using it. As long as the focus is correct it would be no different to playing any handheld console, in my opinion.

The games were a bit hit and miss. I really enjoyed playing Street Fighter in 3D, using the wireless connection to battle my wife (I won 2:1). The new circle pad really helped me to “whoop some ass”  and the larger (much) better quality touchscreen helped me pull off some mean combos. The Football and Battleship game was quite dull. The Wii Sports hang-gliding game was a bit too childish for me but I think kids would like it.

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21st Century Fundraising

I thought that raising money online would be a really easy way to support a charity when I ran the Loch Ness Marathon in 2009. It turns out that it was actually easier to raise it offline by shaking a tin under peoples’ noses. You soon realise that the odd nagging tweet or facebook post isn’t going to inspire many people to type in their credit card numbers.

In my first ever Saturday job as a Sainsbury’s BWS Replenishment Assistant (i.e. Beers, Wines & Spirits shelf stacker) I was told that a customer needs to hear about a product an average of 23 times before they will think about buying it. I guess the same goes for donating to charity, although I would hope it’s a bit lower! That’s why I think Comic Relief does such a great job with Red Nose Day. I’ve seen so much RND stuff this year all over the internet, TV and radio. Combine that with the ease of impulsive SMS text message donations and your on to a winner. Who would have thought that 2 DJs could have raised £2.4 million just by staying awake for a few days. I don’t think even the BBC had any idea of the viral sensation that occurred, enough to crash even their servers!  I’ve found myself shelling out on several occasions and I’m dedicating this week’s post to ask you to do the same this year.

Find out more by watching coverage on BBC1 & 2 tonight or by visiting bbc.co.uk/rednoseday

Configuring Firefox proxy settings for all users

Spread Firefox Affiliate ButtonI recently had an issue with the latest version of Firefox (v3.6.15). Normally, when we install Firefox on our network, we have to change the proxy settings from the default “No Proxy” to “Auto-detect proxy settings for this network”. This doesn’t normally cause much of an issue as we only use Firefox on a few select machines and can be changed by the individual user. However, it seems the default install behaviour has slightly changed to add a new option that seems to muddy the water. There is now a “Use system proxy settings” option (similar to Google’s Chrome) that seems to be selected by default for new users. Although this may seem to make sense, on our network this causes terribly slow page load times, e.g. 10 minutes to load google.co.uk. Luckily I found a way to set the “Auto-detect” option for all users.

WARNING: This seems to have changed again since Firefox 4 was released. If anyone knows how to change it please add a comment.

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Using Saved Queries to filter Active Directory Users and Computers

imageJust a quick article here for a late Friday afternoon article.

If you managed Microsoft Windows Active Directory based domains you should be very familiar with the management console Active Directory Users and Computers (ADUC). When you have a sprawling OU design it can be difficult to find the user, computer or group that needs your attention. I set up a few saved queries to give me an easy to read list view of certain object types. If you can’t figure out how to create a new saved query then you may be in the wrong job but the is a comprehensive guide over at the Petri IT Knowledgebase. The 3 I use most often are set up as follows

  • All Devices
    • A simple query where just the computer object must have a value to display
  • All Users
    • Same as above, just make sure you are focussing on Users not Computers
  • Locked accounts
    • My most useful time saver. This one is only slightly more tricky as you need to enter a custom search string. Credit goes to an article on WinodwsNetworking.com for this one. By using the string below, when somebody calls to say they have been locked out, I can quickly bring up this saved query and unlock them in a matter of seconds
    • (&(&(&(objectCategory=Person)(objectClass=User)(lockoutTime>=1))))

You can really go to town on these queries and there is a great list already created for you, back over on the Petri IT Knowledgebase