Archives for the month of: February, 2011

A Little About Web Design Resources to Share

This posting will be either a weekly or bi-weekly posting in which I share some of the latest web design resources that I utilize in my design work.  These are primarily links to websites that I find very interesting or collections of resources that I have gathered from around the web to share.

This website has saved me so much time recently.  I used to have to keep Adobe Photoshop open while coding CSS to find tints and shades of the primary colors of a particular website.  I’d then have to tweak sliders in the color wheel to get what I thought was a particular shade.  Well not any more.  The website allows me to find different color variations when I’m coding and/or designing.  I simply punch in a color and the website will find all of the color variations from white to black and by clicking on the color, the hex code is copied to the clipboard.  That’s it!  Saves me time and effort in finding color variations.  Great tool.

I like stripes as they do a little bit to spice up backgrounds and make them a little more visually interesting.  The only problem is, using Photoshop they take too long to make.  Sure you can import a few patterns or brushes but you’re bound to the dimensions and settings of that pattern.  For example, you can adjust the spacing between lines easily or change the thickness of the line easily either.  So you’d have to have a bunch of patterns in Photoshop to make this happen (then finding them can be an issue as well).

Well that’s were comes in handy.  At this site you can create your own stripe patterns on the fly within the browser.  How cool!  You can adjust the stripe size, spacing, color and stripe orientation.  There are other customizations that you can choose as well.  The tool generates a downloadable PNG file that you can plug directly into your website via CSS.

I have one complaint about though and that is that you can’t create transparent space between the stripes.  This is so that the background-color property in CSS can show through between the stripes.  However, I was able to pull the .png file into Photoshop and edit out the white space.

Now, Now VMware Let’s Be More Accurate

VMware ThinApp marketing slightly deceptive

VMwares not so accurate marketing message

A few weeks after writing How to ThinApp Smartstation?, I began pilot testing the ThinApp’d SmartStation to a small group of end users here at the firm.  Man was I unpleasantly surprised at just how limited ThinApp is.  There are a few “gotchas” specific to SmartStation that I would like to share that I had to learn the hard way.

SmartStation 4.5 is not supported on Windows 7 64-bit

This I knew going into the ThinApp process but the way that VMware has marketed the product, you’d think that this should not be an issue.  You’d think that it should work regardless of the O/S that the application is being deployed to.  WRONG! I filed a support request because I could not get my SmartStation ThinApp to work on Windows 7 64-bit.  The Support Technician informed me that:

Applications That ThinApp Cannot Virtualize ThinApp cannot convert some applications into virtual applications and might block certain application functions.  In those cases you must use traditional installation technologies to deploy some application types.

– Applications that do not natively support the deployment operating system:  If an operating system does not support the native installation of an application, that operating system is not a supported ThinApp deployment platform for that application.

And there you have it.  This information can also be found in the VMware ThinApp User’s Guide (which I must have overlooked). Read the rest of this entry »

And Event Viewer Says…

Event Type: Error
Event Source: Service Control Manager
Event Category: None
Event ID: 7024
Date: —
Time: —
User: N/A
Computer: —
Description: The SQL Server (<instance_name>) service terminated with service-specific error 17051 (0x429B).

So then I scurry on over to find out what the SQL Server logs are saying about all of this.  I go here: C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL10.<instance_name>\MSSQL\Log and open the ERROR file. Read the rest of this entry »

The Situation

I always love the day after I push Software Updates to servers.  It gives me an opportunity to hone my troubleshooting skills a bit.  This morning when doing the usual putting out fires routine, I discovered that the VMware VirtualCenter Server service was not running.  So I rebooted the machine and still the service would not run.  So I figured that maybe the database is not up and running yet, when the vCenter service is trying to run.

I consider this because I was able to run the service manually after the server had completely come up.  So I figured I should put in a dependency for the VMware VirtualCenter Server service to run after the SQLExpress service is up.  Please note that SQLExpress is on the same virtual machine as the vCenter Server installation. Read the rest of this entry »

Always an Issue

Seems like every time I go to upgrade our installation of ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus, I run into issues and this day was no different.  So just in case any other Systems Administrators out there are a little frustrated with upgrading this particular Help Desk software platform, I’ll tell you what fixed things up for me.

For some reason when running the UpdateManager.bat file which launches a GUI to update the software it failed (which is to be expected with this software).  We have a Microsoft SQL Server 2008 database that the software is using on the back end.  The error was something like “invalid state, the connection object is closed.”  Whatever! Read the rest of this entry »

Digitally Signing RemoteApps

Came into the office this morning and there were a number of users of our Great Plains application which we RemoteApp that were getting an error message and were unable to connect.  When connected they received the following error: “The digital signature of this RDP file cannot be verified”.  RemoteApp is new in Windows Server 2008 and provides a seamless Remote Desktop experience to end users.  It’s a pretty cool feature that we use to deploy Microsoft Dynamics Great Plains 2010.

According to TechNet, “you can use a digital signature to sign .rdp files that are used for RemoteApp connections to the Remote Desktop Session Host (RD Session Host) server. This includes the .rdp files that are used for connections through RD Web Access to RemoteApp programs and to the desktop of an RD Session Host server.” –

RemoteApp Digital Signature expired

Digital Signature Expired

I originally didn’t create this particular RemoteApp package and I quickly found out that the certificate used to sign the RDP file had expired.

So this is how I quickly resolved the issue. Read the rest of this entry »

Microsoft Update Tuesday…Blah!

I absolutely dread Microsoft Update Tuesday.  I think I dread it the most because I use System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) to deploy software updates.  Originally, when first deploying SCCM, I’ll admit that I didn’t spend quite enough time thinking through how sustainable the methodology that I configured would be.  Now that I have 3 years worth of updates in SCCM, I decided that some changes need to be made to our methodology because it takes me too long to deploy new updates.  So let’s see what configuration settings I can change to make this process a little easier and less time-consuming for me.

A Little About Our Environment

I have configured our SCCM environment with 1 Primary Site and 11 Secondary Sites which are geographically dispersed throughout the state, Ohio and Massachusetts.  The Primary site has the Software Update Point site system installed.  I utilize Update Lists to keep the updates organized and categorized.  I categorize by update type (i.e. Security, Critical, Updates, Update Rollups, Service Packs, etc.) and year (i.e. 2009, ’10, ’11).  This makes it easy to find specific updates and to later combine them into packages.

In the past I would divide the Deployment Management Advertisements along these lines as well.  This was a terrible idea originally as I soon found out after 1 year of doing things this way that it would continue to take more time in the long run–as more years accumulated. Read the rest of this entry »

Read This Update First

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Please be sure to read How to ThinApp SmartStation Part 2 first before proceeding.  There are some interesting limitations that I discovered during pilot testing that you should be aware first.  Your environment could be different than mine with a different set of requirements so your mileage may vary with this approach.  Good luck!

The SmartStation Dilemma

Many small-to-mid-sized brokerage firms like the one that I work for utilize an application called Thomson Financial SmartStation.  This application is a behemoth of an application that needs to be installed on just about every computer on our network.  Brokers utilize the application to get real-time quotes, do market research and execute trades of all kinds.  This application is the main tool utilized by our core business and without it we’d be considered self-clearing which would add a lot of administrative overhead to the work that we do.

But with many applications that are this large in size, updates to the application come very and I mean very slowly.  For example, the application didn’t support Internet Explorer 7 (that’s not a typo) until Summer of 2010!  Thus, we had to run Internet Explorer 6 on a vast majority of our workstations because of this.   This application is also the main reason why a movement to Windows 7 won’t occur until they complete the web-based version of the application (a move most applications made a long time ago). Read the rest of this entry »