Microsoft

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How to Fix Audio Issues with ASRock Motherboards and Windows 8 / 8.1

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music-iconSome owners of ASRock motherboards have installed Windows 8 / 8.1, only to find that despite installing drivers, no sound can be heard from the audio controller.

To resolve this, ASRock has released a little known fix which, after executing, will make a change to the operating system to allow audio to play.

The fix can be downloaded below:

 

Download ASRock Enable Audio Fix

Simply run the executable and reboot the machine.

This worked for my P67 Transformer motherboard.

Disclaimer: I can accept no responsibility for any damage or data loss caused by the installation of this fix. 

Most updates can be auto approved using an option in the SBS Console

Bulk Approval of Updates in Windows Small Business Server 2008 and 2011

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Most updates can be auto approved using an option in the SBS Console

Most updates can be auto approved using an option in the SBS Console

The inclusion of WSUS in Windows SBS (Small Business Server), is extremely useful for larger small business networks of more than 5 machines, and provides functionality for installation of all applicable Windows Updates to all machines on the network.

Updates can be set to be auto-approved by the SBS Console by selecting the High option in the Software Update Settings dialog. However, optional updates can never be auto-approved.

I came across a server recently with over 100 unapproved optional updates, including Internet Explorer 9/10. So in this scenario, I thought… “OK, I’ll just hold the shift key, and select them all”.. but no. In Microsoft’s infinite wisdom, this time-saving feature is not deemed important enough. Sigh.

 

Several optional updates can pile up over a short period of time.

Several optional updates can pile up over a short period of time.

So, I was obviously not going to sit there clicking each update, approving it, and acknowledging two message boxes, and then waiting 10-15 seconds for the list to refresh, that would be like picking rice krispies off the floor one by one, painstaking!

To get around this problem, you can use the big boys’ tools provided by WSUS, known as the Update Services Console.

As many admins will know, SBS is a very specific and highly tuned installation of Windows Server, Exchange, WSUS and Sharepoint, so it’s not recommended to go fiddling about with stuff behind the scenes which can otherwise be done in the console, otherwise you may end up having to follow one of these repair guides. However in this situation, I think we can safely approve some updates using the native WSUS tools, however there are a couple of things you do have to watch out for.

Approving Updates

SBS's WSUS Computer Groups

SBS’s WSUS Computer Groups

SBS creates three additional groups which it uses to control which machines receive updates, and which don’t (see right). They are fairly self explanatory, Excluded Computers can be controlled via the SBS Console, Client Computers are machines running XP, Vista, 7 or 8, and Server Computers are servers. Unassigned Computers is a default group, and is not normally used in SBS.

To approve remaining optional updates, select All Updates from the left pane, and select Unapproved, and Failed or Needed from the two drop down lists at the top of the window.

After clicking the Refresh button, you should see a similar number of updates to what is displayed in the console.

In this view, you can now use the Shift and CTRL keys to select multiple updates. Scroll through the list and select all updates which are applicable to client machines (i.e XP, Vista, 7 or 8), including any other software such as Office, and… believe it or not, Skype.

Select the appropriate group to approve the updates for.

Select the appropriate group to approve the updates for.

Click the Approve button on the actions pane, and under Update Services Client Computers click the button, and select Approved for Install. Click OK, accept any license agreements, and after a few seconds you should see them all approved. Click Close, and then refresh the list. Do the same for all the server updates, except choose Update Services Server Computers.

There are some updates which may be applicable to both groups. If you are in doubt about any updates, go back to the SBS Console, refresh the list, and approve them there.

You should now end up with a clear list!

 

All updates have now been approved.

All updates have now been approved.

 

 

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SQL Custom Ports

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I’ve been setting up an SQL Server for a small business, and since our server company has blocked the default port, I have had to choose an alternative. After configuring the ports in various places – Windows Firewall, SQL Configuration Manager – I found that whatever I did would not work.

After a bit of searching, I found the answer.

When entering the server name into the field, instead of using the traditional ‘host:port’ scheme, Microsoft have decided to use a non-standard approach.

The correct naming scheme is: Host,Post\InstanceName (note the comma!)

Try it, worked for me. Leave a comment if you can’t get it to work.

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Microsoft is NOT a people company

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I once heard a quote from Leo Laporte – Leoville.com and TWiT Live

“Microsoft is not a people company”

I have been thinking about this, and after careful thought, am inclined to agree with him.
What this means, is that that Microsoft think more about what they want, and what they think would be good to have in their software, and not concentrate on what the public want.
I will give you a few examples:
  • Since the release of Microsoft Windows XP, many business immediately upgraded their computers to the operating system, since it was a great improvement on Windows 2000 and even 98/NT. After the release of Windows Vista in 2007, 87% of 50,000 businesses surveyed in June 2008 were still using Windows XP as their primary operating system, and had not upgraded to Vista. In my opinion, this was because of the bugs in Vista. With the bugs set aside, Vista was mainly aimed at home users, with most of the features based around Aesthetics, Entertainment, and their so called ‘WOW’ factor (as they originally marketed it as). Because of this, there was no reason for businesses to upgrade, since the new improvements and features were not relevant to what the company needed the software for.

    For example, Windows Aero, the new 3D visual style, was not necessary, since the PCs are there to get work done, and not for employees to sit there admiring the interface.
    Also, Parental Controls, another feature aimed at home users, was even on the ‘Business’ edition of Vista. This was completely useless to companies and businesses, since their PCs are most likely to be connected to a network server, which includes more powerful ‘Group Policies’ to regulate the use of their PCs, therefore rendering Parental Controls a waste of space.

  • People who would buy a PC for the home, would require features like Photo and Video Editing, Video watching, and Gaming. Microsoft has tried to facilitate this, by adding ‘Windows Photo Gallery’, which was, to be honest, a pathetic attempt at making decent photo editing software, with few photo organisational and editing tools.
    ‘Windows Movie Maker’, which many people like, had not been improved at all, and was absolutely no competition to Apple’s iMovie, which had more features in 2002 than Vista’s software.
    Parental Controls was a new set of features, designed to limit the amount of access their children had to the PC. Although there are some nice settings included in this, such as web filtering, the others were a complete mess. For example, you cannot block certain programs. Instead, you have to block all programs, and allow a few. In most cases, parents would want to block certain programs, rather than all programs.
These are both examples of how Microsoft do not think about what people really want out of an operating system.
Windows 7, on the other hand is a great improvement to Vista with a slimmed down size and a faster interface. Although these things are good, Microsoft have still not corrected the problem of separating business needs from home needs. Hopefully, one day they will get this right, and produce separate business and home versions.
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