Thursday, March 29, 2007

Be Master Of Your Domain(s)

Well, I blowed up the server at my church real good. Actually, the hard drive went and I hadn't been keeping religious (ha-ha) backups, so a lot of stuff went bye-bye. The most unfortunate thing of all was that the server was master domain controller for the Active Directory network. In fact it was the only one.

When I resurrected (ha-ha) the server I created a new domain for it to master. I wasn't quite sure what the consequences of bringing a server back under the same domain would be for all the users, so I let them continue to log in with their old credentials.

Once I got the server back up and running I was faced with the daunting task of moving everybody over to the new domain. This generally means recreating their accounts on the server and then copying the contents of their old documents and settings folder over to their new documents and settings folder. This may copy stuff over but generally all the settings will be out of whack -- icons not where they are supposed to be, wallpaper and colors don't look right. I'm not quite sure that Outlook is all the same when you switch over, either.

Then I discovered a nice little registry hack on the Microsoft web site. After switching a computer or two over using this method I was able to get the entire process down to about ten minutes per computer. A synopsis of the steps:
  • Log in on the computer under the local admin account.
  • Back up the contents of the docs and settings folder of the old domain account.
  • Change the computer identity to be under the new domain. You'll need the domain admin account info to do this, of course. Note -- once you do this, the user will not be able to access their documents and settings folder using their credentials from the old domain.
  • After you've successfully joined the new domain you'll be prompted to reboot the computer. Do it.
  • When logging in again, log in with the domain admin account.
  • Go to the computer management for the computer. Under users and groups, open the "administrators" folder under "groups."
  • Add the domain account for the user to the admin group. Sorry, I know this probably violates some folk's domain policies, but if you don't do this the new account has a really hard time getting to the new folder.
  • Log out.
  • Log on to the computer using the new domain account.
  • Log out.
  • Log on to the computer using the domain admin account.
  • During the last log on using the new domain account a registry setting was added to the computer for that account. Crack open regedit.
  • Go here: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList
  • Under this folder you'll see a handful of other folders with cryptic names. These are settings folders for all the accounts that have logged onto the machine. In each of these folders is a setting called "ProfileImagePath." Find the folder that as the location of the old domain account docs and settings folder in there. For example, if the user name is "mavickers" look for %system root%\documents and settings\mavickers. Often times the domain name will have been appended after the username with a period. "mavickers.olddomain", for instance.
  • Copy the old ProfileImagePath location to the clipboard.
  • Find the folder corresponding to the new domain account you've created. Generally it will be the last or next to last folder in the list.
  • Open the ProfileImagePath setting for the folder and paste the value from the old account into it.
  • Close regedit.
  • Go to the documents and settings folder for the old domain account and open it's properties.
  • Go to the security tab.
  • Add the new domain account to the list on this tab.
  • Give that account full access.
  • Click the advanced button and at the next window click that checkbox at the bottom which tell it to apply the security settings to all the children of that folder.
  • Click OK until you're back out at the desktop.
  • Log off.
  • Pray.
  • Log in with the new domain account.
  • Voila, everything should look just as it did before.
The only thing I've noticed that doesn't work exactly right is that email passwords in Outlook do not carry over -- you have to reenter them. Oh well.

Beyond all of this KEEP GOOD BACKUPS. Since this disaster I've moved all data to an external RAID 1 enclosure which is backed up nightly to Amazon's S3 service using S3 Backup.

Reason #273802 Why You Should Use FireFox

Flashblock. Stop them ugly looking, ugly sounding things from popping up and playing in your browser when you hit the page.

This add-on is especially useful when you feel like you need to dirty yourself on MySpace for awhile.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

What I'm Really Digging Today

Degradation Trip by Jerry Cantrell, the former axe man from Alice in Chains. A nice blend of grunge, metal, with some progressive tendencies. He packages it with vocals which compliment his despondent song writing skills.

Perhaps he will put another album out one of these days. Perhaps.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The XCOPY 256 Character Barrier

For old schoolers, if you find yourself in a pinch using XCOPY to copy a bunch of stuff from one location to another and find yourself 37 folders deep and running into the 256 character limitation of XCOPY, try XXCOPY.

If you don't then feel free to ignore this post.

Krauthammer On GW Hypocrisy

The rich defend their global warming hypocrisy through the purchase of indulgences:
Leo and Al then portentously announced that for the first time ever, the Academy Awards ceremony had gone green. What did that mean? Solar panels in the designer gowns? It turns out that the Academy neutralized the evening's "carbon footprint" by buying carbon credits. That means it sent money to a "carbon broker," who promised, after taking his cut, to reduce carbon emissions somewhere on the planet equivalent to what the stars spewed into the atmosphere while flying in on their private planes.

In other words, the rich reduce their carbon output by not one ounce. But drawing on the hundreds of millions of net worth in the Kodak Theatre, they pull out lunch money to buy ecological indulgences. The last time the selling of pardons was prevalent--in a predecessor religion to environmentalism called Christianity--Martin Luther lost his temper and launched the Reformation.

Interesting stuff. Read the whole thing.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Read It and Weep

Advantages of working in a home office:

  • Great corner office with windows.
  • Not contending with anyone with climate control.
  • Fridge is right down the hall.
  • Bathroom is even closer.
  • I don't need to use headphones for anything.
  • Nobody looking at your monitor as they walk past.
  • The commute saves gas.
  • Can run out and do chores at lunch. Or, whenever it strikes you.
  • Don't have to share the Internet connection with 200 other people.
  • Or the printer.
  • Boss is a real jerk but stays out of my hair for the most part.
There are probably more coming, this is just off the top of my head.

46 Freeware Utilities

Actually, the article is called The 46 Best-ever Freeware Utilities from a site called Tech Support Alert, but of course there are a few of my personal favorites that are not on the list. Therefore it can't possibly be the best, right?

However, there are a handful of gems there and some things I may check out. One of my recent favorites is a little utility called SlickRun which hijacks your Win+Q hotkey and produces a floating entry box on your screen where you can type in the name of a program to run (assuming it's installed on your computer, of course). Ever since I've installed this I've stopped using the cluttered up start menu (more like "end" menu).

An oldie that I've been using for awhile is Picasa by Google. It's a photo/pic management utility that allows you to organize, label, and favoritize your photos. I also use it to manage my electronic records (I scan everything), which I'll have to blog about sometime. It also integrates nicely with Google's PicasaWeb service, which is their own little version of Flickr, except PicasaWeb could use (quite) a bit of refinement still and they don't eschew the use of vowels.

The one thing which I've installed because of this list is Gadwin PrintScreen. Sweet. I had been previously using AnalogX Capture, but I like how Gadwin allows me to use the PrintScreen key (duh) while Capture requires a different key combination (and will not use the Win key).

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

iTunes, DEFCON 5

Here are a couple interesting items from the iTunes EULA:
You also agree that you will not use these products for any purposes prohibited by United States law, including, without limitation, the development, design, manufacture or production of missiles, or nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.
Scott, are you perhaps using WMP instead?

I, for one, would like to figure out how to use iTunes to operate a nuclear facility.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Scott Adams, Prophet

From the 2/2 Dilbert desktop calendar this year:

And just a few weeks later...

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Friday, March 02, 2007

Plantinga On Dawkins' Latest

I love this guy.

Alvin Plantinga, one of the leading thinkers in Christian philosophy and apologetics, deconstructs Richard Dawkins' latest book The God Delusion:
So why think God must be improbable? According to classical theism, God is a necessary being; it is not so much as possible that there should be no such person as God; he exists in all possible worlds. But if God is a necessary being, if he exists in all possible worlds, then the probability that he exists, of course, is 1, and the probability that he does not exist is 0. Far from its being improbable that he exists, his existence is maximally probable. So if Dawkins proposes that God's existence is improbable, he owes us an argument for the conclusion that there is no necessary being with the attributes of God—an argument that doesn't just start from the premise that materialism is true. Neither he nor anyone else has provided even a decent argument along these lines; Dawkins doesn't even seem to be aware that he needs an argument of that sort.1
[1] Christianity Today.