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New Text Document option missing from right-click context menu

For some reason the “New Text Document” option went missing from my right-click context sensitive menu in Windows Explorer.  Here’s how I went about fixing it.

First of all, what you need to know about the right-click menus is that they are mostly maintained in the registry under the HKCR key.

In the case of .txt files, you’re looking for HKCR\.txt:

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When the context menu option to create new text documents was missing, on my machine there weren’t any sub-keys under this .txt key.

To find the correct values I simply connected to another computer where the key was working and then copied the values from there, but to save you time, here are the values that worked for me:

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There should be a Key “ShellNew” under the .txt key containing these values:

Expandable String Value: “ItemName” with value: @%SystemRoot%\system32\notepad.exe,-470

String Value: “NullFile” without any configuration setting

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There should be a Key: “PersistentHandler” also under .txt

with default value set to: {5e941d80-bf96-11cd-b579-08002b30bfeb}

Once those items are in place, the right-click, new, Text Document option should re-appear on the explorer context sensitive menu.

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Visio Stencil for Drobo B1200i

After spending way too much time searching for a Stencil for the Drobo B1200i I finally gave in and created one myself.

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You can download a copy of the Drobo.vss file here: http://1drv.ms/1cHycKv

This stencil includes a Front View of the Drobo B1200i Rack Mount iSCSI disk array with cover on, and a back view also with Fan cover on.
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Both the Front and Back views includes these Shape Data Elements:

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On the back of the unit I’ve included connection points on each of the Power Supplies, and each Network Adapter port:
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If you find these shapes useful, leave a comment below.

How to record greetings for Avaya ipOffice 500 voicemail system

Easiest way for best possible quality:

1. Go find a Windows XP or Server 2003 machine – you know you have one somewhere – and copy this file C:\Windows\System32\sndrec32.exe and copy it to your Windows 7 or 8 machines.

2. Open the XP / 2003 Sound Recorder App:

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3. Click File, Properties:
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4. Click Convert Now…

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5. Change your settings to

Format: PCM (that’s the default, so nothing to change here)

Attributes: 8.000 kHz, 16 Bit, Mono

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To save yourself some time, after you make that selection do like I did and click the Save As… button and give it an easy to remember name such as “Avaya IP Office”.  Next time you can just select that item from the list instead of picking from the long list of possible attributes.

Record your greeting

At this point you’re recording DIRECTLY into the correct format.  Doing this provides a far superior recording in my opinion to recording in some other format and trying to convert it down to this format.

Remember to change the setting EVERY TIME you record a new recording

This setting doesn’t “Stick” so remember every time you save the file and create a new one to go back into the properties and change it again to these settings.

Recording Tip: Avoid “Popping” sound with a piece of paper

The biggest problem I had with recording at this sampling rate is that “pop” sounds are exaggerated even more than normal.

The easiest way to avoid this problem: hold a piece of paper between your mouth and the microphone.  In my case I just held the mic and the paper with my left hand – holding the paper between index and thumb, and the mic itself between index and middle fingers (it was a small, high-quality Sony lapel mic I purchased a few years ago).

Tip #2: Take advantage of multiple files

It can be a lot of work to record an entire introduction as a single “work”.  Instead, take advantage of the fact that the system will seamlessly play one file after the other and break it up into discrete different files:

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In this screen shot of the Avaya Voicemail Pro Client day routing you can see I’ve got 5 files listed.  I saved them with number prefixes while I was recording them to make it easy to selected, and put the first part of what I actually said directly in the filename to make it easy to find later.

How to edit an Outlook 2010 contact email address

Lately with every version of Office Microsoft seems to be making it more and more difficult to perform tasks that were previously simple.

Take for example the simple editing of an email address.  Say you have a typo in the e-mail address that you want to fix:
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Your instinct is to click at the cursor position where you want to fix the address:

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and you expect an I bar to appear to allow you to edit the address.  That doesn’t work – you notice that the cursor is an arrow, so you think OK maybe it works like other Office Apps: Excel, Word – maybe I have to tell it I want to “Edit” the cell.  There’s a keyboard shortcut of F2 for that in other Office apps so you try that and nothing happens.

Then you realize you can double-click the field.

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So you try to click on the e-mail address here, but realize that just opens a new e-mail.  But that is NOT what you want to do.  By now you’re getting pretty frustrated.  You just want to edit the damn e-mail field and type ONE extra character to fix your typo.

So now you resort to Google and start searching the Internet.  Eventually you find the solution:

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Click the little drop down menu on the right side of the dialog, choose Outlook Properties.

FINALLY:

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A screen appears that allows you to edit the darn e-mail address.  But unlike previous Outlook versions, after editing the e-mail address it doesn’t automatically also update the display name, so now you have to make your correction in two places – on both the E-mail address line AND on the Display name line.

In Outlook 2013 this is made even worse. 

I don’t understand what happened to Microsoft’s usability labs.  They used to pride themselves on having real end users spend hours using the software and incorporating that feedback into products.  In recent years though product usability seems to have taken a back seat to other objectives, some of which are helpful, but some of which make previously simple tasks ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE more difficult and LESS DISCOVERABLE than ever before.

What used to be 1 click, type a character is now:

1. Double click e-mail address.

2. Click on Drop down.

3. Click on E-Mail Properties

4. Click in E-Mail address field and make correction.

5. Click in Display name field and make correction.

6. Click OK

Why do simple things have to be so much harder to do?

rsReportServerNotActivated

Recently, I had to downgrade from SQL Server Enterprise Edition to Standard.

When I re-installed SQL Standard with the generic reporting services database, I restored the encryption key first, then restored the Enterprise edition reporting services database over the Standard Edition one.

When I tried to access the reporting services web site I got a rsReportServerNotActivated message and a click here message that brought up these search terms:

products ee transform aspx EvtSrc Microsoft ReportingServices Diagnostics Utilities ErrorStrings EvtID rsReportServerNotActivated ProdName Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services ProdVer 11 0 3128 0

The way I solved this problem was to restore the Encryption Key again:

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Now when I did that I ended up with a second error relating to having too many keys and that not being supported in Standard Edition.  The exact error was:

The feature: "Scale-out deployment" is not supported in this edition of Reporting Services. (rsOperationNotSupported)

To solve that problem, you have to delete one or more of the keys:

C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\110\Tools\Binn>RSKeyMgmt.exe –l

imageThen run this command to delete all but the last key (which should be the one you restored):

C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\110\Tools\Binn>RSKeyMgmt.exe -r 132b8974-1503-4682-ae12-a1d836e3526e

Substitute the keys from your first command – but remember to keep the last key.

When done, run the first command again

C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\110\Tools\Binn>RSKeyMgmt.exe –l

And make sure that only one key is listed.

Downgrading Reporting Services from SQL 2012 Enterprise to SQL 2012 Standard

Companies like mine that provide customers SQL Server access under a Service Provider License Agreement (SPLA) saw our costs go up almost 10,000% or more in 2013.  What used to cost under $20 per user per month for a SQL Enterprise license suddenly jumped to the equivalent of hundreds of dollars per user per month.  This required that we immediately downgrade dozens of customers from SQL Enterprise to SQL Standard.

Fortunately for me, we weren’t actually taking advantage of any SQL Enterprise-Edition specific datatypes so I didn’t have any structural database issues to deal with.  Of course Microsoft does NOT provide a way to gracefully downgrade an existing instance, so my steps had to include a complete un-install of SQL Server Enterprise Database Engine and Reporting Services, and re-install of those components.  I did not have Analysis services installed or that would have had to have been uninstalled as well.  (The other tools could remain – reducing the time for this process by about an hour).

If you read other blog posts about things to do first you’ll see things like checking the server’s settings for AWE, memory etc.  In my case I all really cared about were the following:

  • SQL Users and their permissions
  • Maintenance Plans
  • SQL Server Agent Jobs
  • Reporting Services databases and subscriptions – there were a lot of them.

For SQL Users, I created a script to re-create those by right-clicking each user and scripting create to a new window.

On this particular server, no specific securables were defined.  if you have securables defined, then you’ll also need to script those out.

SQL Auth users get assigned random passwords by this process.  If you know the passwords for those accounts, you’ll need to script them out.

I DID NOT TRY to restore the Enterprise Edition Master / Model / MSDB databases that would have allowed me to avoid this step.  I just figure that they are incompatible between editions so I didn’t even try.

Since SSMS doesn’t seem to include an easy way to script out maintenance plans, I used a 3rd party tool to do that step: Toad for SQL Server – formerly from Quest software, now part of the Dell family of products.  (By the way, if you haven’t moved to using Toad for SQL Server, I STONGLY recommend it.  It’s worth the license price in terms of the productivity you’ll gain.)

In Toad for SQL Server, you double-click the Maintenance Plan, then click the Export button:

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Later, after you’ve restored your databases, you can create a “new” maintenance plan then click the “Import” button from the toolbar to import the file you previously exported.  All dimensions of the maintenance plan get re-created this way including the schedules.  This is a massive time saver.

In terms of SQL Server Reporting Services, here’s what I did:

  • Open Reporting Services Configuration Manager, Encryption Keys, Click Backup:
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  • Export the key with a .snk extension to make it easier to restore later:
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  • Backup the ReportServer and ReportServerTempDB databases
  • Stop Reporting Services
  • Uninstall SQL Server Enterprise Edition
  • RENAME THE DATABASES BEFORE YOU RUN SQL Standard setup or setup WILL FAIL
  • Install SQL Server Standard Edition

At this point I backed up the new ReportingServer databases just in case I needed them.

  • Restore the original Enterprise Edition ReportServer and ReportServerTempDB databases, choosing the option to overwrite the original.
  • Open the Reporting Services Configuration Manager
  • Restore the key you exported in the previous step.
  • Try to start the reporting server and open the site.  If you get an error about rsReportServerNotActivated then restore the key again – you may have restored the key in the wrong order.
  • If you get an error about The feature: "Scale-out deployment" is not supported in this edition of Reporting Services. (rsOperationNotSupported) then you need to run a command line tool to list the keys and delete the oldest ones:

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Run this command to list the Keys:

C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\110\Tools\Binn>RSKeyMgmt.exe –l

Then run this command to delete all but the last key (which should be the one you restored):

C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\110\Tools\Binn>RSKeyMgmt.exe -r 132b8974-1503-4682-ae12-a1d836e3526e

Substitute the keys from your first command – but remember to keep the last key.

When done, run the first command again

C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\110\Tools\Binn>RSKeyMgmt.exe –l

And make sure that only one key is listed.

When done, refresh your reporting services web site and it should load successfully with everything in tact – Data sources, reports, subscriptions, etc.

CTRL+s stopped working on my computer–turns out Skype was the reason

When working in Office programs such as Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel I frequently press CTRL+S to save my progress.  A few months ago that stopped working!  I had to manually click the Save button to be able to save my work.

I figured some other application was grabbing the keyboard shortcut from windows so I set out to find which application was intercepting the CTRL+S keyboard shortcut, or how to find the application grabbing keyboard input.

After quite a bit of searching I finally discovered a free application called “Windows Hotkey Explorer” available here: http://hkcmdr.anymania.com/index.html that when loaded shows you a list of all the applications that have hotkeys mapped:

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This application showed me that CTRL+S was in fact being intercepted by Skype!

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Sure enough, in Skype’s Advanced options for Hotkeys there is an option: “Take a snapshot during video calls” with a default hotkey set of CTRL+S.  Unchecking the box and clicking save immediately restored my CTRL+S shortcut in all other applications!

Technical note: For some reason after removing the hotkey, clicking refresh in the Windows Hotkey Explorer application caused the application to stop responding.  Subsequent loads of the application also went to not responding.  Still, it helped me figure out the problem.