Monthly Archives: August 2015

VMWorld 2015

Sitting in the airport waiting to be called for first flight of the day on my way to SFO.  This is my first VMWorld and first time in San Francisco.  Looking forward to both!  Should be a great conference and some much needed content for the blog!  

Internet Explorer 11 and Proxy Settings

As almost everyone knows by this point, the Internet Explorer maintenance GPO is a thing of past.  If you want to set settings within IE 11, you are doing so via the Group Policy Preferences page.  Much has been written about the red and green squiggly lines, what they mean, and how to change them (see here).

One day recently I discovered that the proxy setting for one of our IE 11 installations that had previously worked without issue had decided to simply stop working.  The GPO that contained the GPP was applying correctly, the settings were making it to the computer.  They just weren’t having any effect.  Viewing the results of Group Policy via either the modeling tools within Group Policy Management or with gpresults.exe on the client showed everything to be good.  It just didn’t matter, nothing we did worked.

After MUCH Googling, testing, and yelling, I finally discovered that back in the Server 2003 days the proxy override setting had a limit of 256 characters.  At first I moved on to other troubleshooting steps.  But then I got to thinking, I’m editing a GPO on a Server 2012 R2 Domain Controller and applying it to a Server 2012 R2 Terminal Server.  This limit has been increased at least once, maybe twice, between Server 2003 and Server 2012 R2.  But….our domain and forest are still at Server 2003 functional level.  Aha!  It doesn’t matter (for this aspect) that the OS the GPO is created is the latest and greatest version.  Nor does it matter that the OS it’s being applied to is the latest and greatest.  It’s a Group Policy Object.  It is intrinsically linked to the forest and domain.

We trimmed up the proxy override list.  A couple sites could be removed completely, others were vastly shortened through the use of wildcards.  We got it back under 256 characters, and BOOM.  It instantly started working again.

Looks like we might have a reason to upgrade the domain and forest before Exchange 2016 arrives after all.

Group Policy Search

For anyone who spends any amount of time dealing with Group Policy, you know it can turn into a maze of “Find the setting”. Was it under Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components or was it under Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\System?

Never fear, some kind soul at Microsoft created http://gpsearch.azurewebsites.net/default.aspx. You can search for any string or text for find any GPO setting that matches. In addition it also has a great set of filters. Want to find all of the proxy settings that only apply to IE 9? Simply search for the setting you wish to manage and filter it to only include IE9.

As of the date of this post, it includes filters for Windows 10 as well as Microsoft Edge.

iMac Hard Drive Replacement

My trusty 2011 27” iMac had been running slower and slower recently  Nothing I did seemed to help, including a nuke and pave of the operating system (which had been upgraded in place from Lion to Yosemite).  It having shipped with an oh-so speedy 1 TB spinning drive, the first thing I checked was the SMART status of the hard drive.  It reported that it was fine, until the day it didn’t.  Awesome!

Luckily I’ve been a Crashplan user for years and I used Time Machine for local backups.  Unluckily, the Time Machine drive got disconnected back in April and no one noticed.    The OS on the failing drive booted, and my data seemed to be intact (though is it REALLY?  I didn’t check every bit and byte of every file) however the drive was borked enough that a new Time Machine backup wouldn’t run.  It would start and then set and spin and never progress nor finish.  I luckily I had a 3 TB USB drive with plenty of free space, so I downloaded the free trial of Super Duper and after a couple failed attempts it successfully backed up the User directory, which is what I really cared about.  After I verified the disk image contained valid data by opening it on a different Mac, I powered off the iMac and waited for parts to arrive from iFixit and Amazon.  Between Time Machine being present but a couple months out of date, a disk image of the failing drive, the working-but-failing drive itself, and Crashplan, I knew I could get my bits of data back from one source or the other.  That said, it was a hassle.  Plans are in place for a revamped backup routine, look for a future blog post about it.

I ordered the kit from iFixit for my model iMac.  I also ordered the following from Amazon:

The tools showed up from iFixit and the parts showed up from Amazon.  After reading and re-reading the iFixit guide, watching Youtube videos, and a lot worrying and fretting about breaking my iMac, I finally bit the bullet and took the thing apart.  I was much too involved in not messing up the machine to take proper pictures, but that wasn’t the point anyway.  iFixit has terrific pictures of the process, you can look at better pictures there than anything I could have taken.  I got everything apart without issue (with the help of my lovely wife), and even managed to get everything back together and only losing a screw for the panel into the guts of the machine once.  But the last piece, the big piece of glass, wouldn’t fit back on.  On the top, in the middle, it wouldn’t snap back on completely.  It was fine at each top corner, but the middle was bowed out a good inch or so.  It eventually occurred to me, the glass won’t go back together in the middle, which is where the hard drive is.  Perhaps the adapter I linked to above is too tall and is sticking out?

So I placed a second order on Amazon for this: Newer Technology AdaptaDrive 2.5″ to 3.5″ Drive Converter Bracket.  It’s essentially a low profile 2.5” <-> 3.5” drive adapter.  It arrived, I took the iMac apart (again) and swapped adapters.  I’m happy to say the machine went back together this time just fine, no issues whatsoever.  The second time around the process went much faster since I knew exactly what to expect.  The iMac is now blazing fast with the SSD compared to what it had been even with a healthy spinning HDD.  One thing I was concerned about was the fan noise after replacing the factory drive.  Evidently the HDD from Apple contains Apple provided firmware that reports the temperature of the drive.  If you replace it with a drive that doesn’t have that, you end up with a computer that runs the fan at 100% speed 100% of the time.  Noise aside, that sort of treatment is bad for the fan and will eventually destroy the bearings in it.  I ordered the OWC temp sensor that I linked to above.  It sticks to the top of the replacement drive and plugs in-between the SATA port of the drive and the plug coming from the motherboard.  At $40, it was an expensive component but it is working flawlessly.  That is a much better option than just letting the fan run continuously or loading some 3rd party no name kernel extension to allow you to control the fan via software.