Obscure and mildly amusing facts from the IT world

Welcome to the first episode (and hopefully the last episode) of obscure and mildly amusing facts from the IT world.

Visual C++ Redistributable

The digital distribution services like Steam and GOG are infamous for installing different versions of Microsoft Visual C++ Redistributable (VCRedist) with every video game. If you look at the list of installed software on your computer, there is a good chance you will find dozens of items titled “Microsoft Visual C++ #### Redistributable” where #### is number starting with 2005.

What they do not seem to know is that starting with Visual C++ 2015, Microsoft is publishing all versions of VCRedist in one package. Now there is one package to rule them, one package to find them, one package to bring them all, and in your computer bind them! (At least, that’s what Sauron from the Lord of the Rings would say.) You can download that one package from Microsoft Support website.

NVIDIA GeForce, version 342.01

Today, two graphic cards on two different computers suffered from failure. So, I pulled out two older graphics cards from the storage to get those computers running again. They both had the same GPU: NVIDIA GeForce 210. The last NVIDIA GeForce driver pack to support this GPU is version 342.01. However, according to the NVIDIA website, I had to download two different driver packages: 342.01-desktop-win10-64bit-international.exe and 342.01-desktop-win8-win7-winvista-64bit-international.exe.

I downloaded both files and compared them byte-by-byte. They were identical.


[FIX] Armageddon in Firefox: Most add-ons disabled!

Update: It appears Firefox 66.0.4 has resolved the issue. Chances are you have never experienced this problem.

On 4 May 2019, one of the Mozilla digital certificates used to sign Firefox add-ons expired. With this certificate no longer able to verify the authenticity of the add-ons, user across the faced the loss of access to their Firefox add-ons.

If you are blind and can't see this image, don't worry; you are not missing much.
All (or most) of your add-ons have ceased to function. Notice the new “Unsupported” tab.

This post teaches you how to recover from this failure in about 15 minutes and resume your daily routine work as if this has never happened.

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The easy way to work with file attributes in PowerShell

The Internet is littered with mediocre articles that teach the hard way to work with file system attributes in PowerShell. The article that Microsoft’s own Scripting Guy has written is nothing short of excruciating. Today, I am going to show you the easy way.

This article assumes you are familiar with the following PowerShell subjects: Get-Item, Get-ChildItem, Format-Table, ForEach-Object, and $_.

Find out how…

The modern Chkdsk

Microsoft renovated Chkdsk in the ill-fated Windows 8. However, because of Windows 8’s failure, I find none of my colleagues know about the modern Chkdsk goodies. Make no mistake, Microsoft did write a sprawling blog post about it. Unfortunately, brevity is not Microsoft’s strong suit.

In this post, I am going to briefly mention the new Chkdsk features that make an admin’s life a lot easier.

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Downloading updates on WSUS for manual installation

Windows Updates helps users keep their Microsoft software up-to-date, either by downloading them from Microsoft over an Internet connection, or from a local server running Windows Server Update Services (WSUS). WSUS itself downloads them from Microsoft. The whole process is fully automated but it is also possible to download update packages from Microsoft to install them manually, if there is the need.

But how about downloading them from a local WSUS server?

Screenshot: Windows Server Update Services management console

The WSUS management console running on Windows 10

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Upgrading Windows 10 v1709 to v1803, with the wrong Windows Setup disk!

[Updated 16 July 2018]

Today, I came across a computer running Windows 10 Enterprise v1709. After chatting with the local admin, I plugged my USB Flash Drive in and upgraded it to v1803.

Screenshot: Windows 10 v1803 Setup, ready to upgrade a copy of Windows 10 Enterprise edition

The upgrade went smoothly.

When the upgrade was done and I was more than a kilometer away from said computer, I remembered that the Windows Setup inside my USB Flash Drive was created with Microsoft’s official Media Creator utility for my personal laptop. Very legit and all… but it does not contain Windows 10 Enterprise edition! The Enterprise edition can only be procured from the Microsoft Volume Licensing Center. In addition, at the time of the upgrade, the target computer was offline. There was no Internet connection, LAN connection or Bluetooth connection; so, Windows Setup could not have downloaded a Windows 10 Enterprise edition.

To be honest, I am scared. I have not heard that it is possible to upgrade with the wrong edition’s installation image. Fortunately, before the upgrade, I had told the local admin to keep a backup copy handy and be on the lookout for any sign of trouble.

Update (16 July 2018): The computer did not experience any problems until a few days ago when it was reset. The reason behind the reset, as I am told, is nothing particularly related to said upgrade; just a plain old Windows 10 making trouble.

Stack Exchange: Resolving harassment problem by punishing victims

Stack Exchange is the title of a series of online community sites that includes the famous Stack Overflow, the question and answer site for the software developers. By its own confession, Stack Exchange is a very unfriendly place.

Screenshot: Stack Exchange

So, recently, moderators have started enforcing its policies more strictly. Good, isn’t it? Not really. They are punishing victims instead of perpetrators. Read the rest of this entry

Stories whose endings were spoiled prematurely

I am writing this blog post for the fun of it only. Plus, this subject has been occupying my mind for a while. Writing it is getting rid of it. However, I did choose pretty old stories and films.

Regardless of the age of stories, please be warned: Spoilers lie ahead!

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Making a USB flash drive for Window setup

This article demonstrates how to copy a Windows installation source to a USB flash drive (UFD), and make that UFD bootable, without using any third-party app. Every now and then, such an article must be re-written to update the sum of knowledge. Only the tools included with the operating system are used. This article assumes you have at least Windows 7. Also, it assumes that the OS you’d like to copy to a UFD is Windows Vista, 7, 8, 8.1 or 10 and is already available to you on DVD or in folder somewhere.

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