The Pixel Wall

The Blog Of Dan

Script To Fix Windows Updates On Remote Machines

I have created a quick script that will fix Windows Update on remote machines. It will need to be saved as a .bat file and requires PSTOOLS.

If you have a machine that’s not picking up updates, or not reporting in correctly, or failing to install updates you can use this script. This can be due to corrupt content in the SoftwareDistribution Folder.

It’s designed to work with remote machines. It takes advantage of PSEXEC, so it will need to go in the same directory as the tool.

You enter the target machines name and it does the following:
Stops Windows Update Service
Deletes the SoftwareDistribution Folder
Starts Windows Update Service
Creates the SoftwareDistribution Folder
Force a Check in, Reset and Update download

@echo off
Echo Remote Windows Update Fix and Check

Set /P Computer=Enter Remote Computer Name:
If  "%Computer%"==  "" goto Error

sc \\%Computer% stop wuauserv

psexec \\%Computer% cmd /c rmdir c:\windows\SoftwareDistribution /S /Q

sc \\%Computer% start wuauserv

psexec \\%Computer% -s wuauclt /resetauthorization /detectnow
psexec \\%Computer% -s wuauclt /reportnow

Goto End

Echo Incorrect Computer Name Entered
Echo Please enter a valid Computer Name.
Goto Start




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Brewing My First Beer

BeerBrewingI decided today, to finally start brewing my own beer at home. I have never brewed beer before, so it was something of a challenge.

I’m not new to brewing, I have done Wines, Cider and English Ginger Beer. The type without hops.

Today I started to brew a beer called Woodfordes Wherry. It’s a British Bitter, should be a nice golden colour when finished and around 3.5-4%. Can’t wait for this to start fermenting to see what fantastic smell comes from it.

I used Tescos own bottled mineral water, very cheap 17p for 2 litres. I chose this because I did not want to boil that amount of water or use unfiltered tap water. As there could possibly be a slight chlorine taste otherwise.

It will be in the fermenting barrel for about a week and if the gravity stays the same it will then be put into bottles and left to condition for a few weeks.

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Force a Domain-Wide Update of Group Policy

I needed to force a Group Policy Update to around 400 computers, this was to ensure they picked up the new policy that I had rolled out. I wanted to do this easily and without the hassle of exporting a text file list.

Here’s how I did it:

  1. Download a copy of PSTOOLS and save it on the C:\pstools
  2. Open up a command prompt as an administrator. I tend to do this from the Domain Controller, if UAC is enabled run it as an administrator as well.
  3. Navigate to C:\pstools in Command Prompt
  4. Run psexec \\* gpupdate /force

The psexec tool will live query Active Directory and attempt to force a Group Policy refresh on all machines. It’s also smart enough to know if the machine is offline and move onto the next one.


Windows Time Machine

TimeIssueI found a rather strange bug in windows a few weeks ago. It decided it was apparently a time machine and had gone back in time.

As you can see Windows thinks it’s the Year 1629! Now Windows will not allow you to set a date like this. It also reset my language to all US formats as well.

This happened after signing the machine of a domain. Wondered why activation had failed! Had to manually change the time to fix this issue, as not even time sync would work.

Building a home server

I have a large collection of DVD’s and Music CD’s. Possibly around 200 DVD’s, 20 Blu-ray Disks and 100 Music CD’s (These totals could be way more, as I have not counted them in ages) as well as many gigabytes of Photos and other Data.

I needed a way to organise everything and cut down on space used. I have around 4 external drives filled with Data and Photos, and loads of shelf space taken by CD Media. That’s when I decided to finally build a home server and kit it out with some dedicated drives. So I could have everything in one central place.

I chose the HP ProLiant Gen8 G1610T MicroServer. This server is perfect for my use. It’s compact and quiet, but can take up to 4 standard hard drives, and has enough processing power for me

HP Microserver

The server comes with an Intel Celeron Dual Core CPU and 2GB HP ECC RAM. Transcoding 1080p HD content will be a bit of a challenge but I can easily convert the files to a format that can be played by all devices. This will possibly be MP4 format with a codec of H.264.
I immediately added some extra ECC RAM and bumped the value to 6GB total. I then installed a 120GB SSD into the Optical Disk Bay, however this did require some modification as HP only provided an FDD Cable. So I ended up purchasing an FDD to SATA converter.

I was then able to secure the SSD into the ODD Bay, However I will possibly also end up getting a ODD to SSD Tray conversion. As currently it’s wedged between two clips.

I intend to install some WD RED 2TB 3.5″ SATA 6GB/s 64MB Hard Drives into this server. Currently They will be in RAID 5. I’m using the built in HP Smart Array Controller to manage the disks. This was because you can’t boot from the ODD SATA Port unless it’s in an array managed by the HP Smart Array. I could possibly work around this by using a 3rd party bootloader on a USB Drive inside the server but it was more hassle than worth. So I bit the bullet and used the Smart Array.

This server will have either Plex or MediaBrowser installed on it, and I will be ripping all my DVD’s and Music files to it and serve this content around to my TV’s and other devices. All the important data will be backed up onto an external USB 3 drive. Anything very important will be backed of offsite as well.

Now to have a play around with Plex and MediaBrowser.

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Growing Cucamelons

A Cucamelon is a small cucumber-like fruit that are shaped like baby watermelons. It originates from Mexico. Cucamelons have a cucumber-like taste with a touch of lime. Which makes them perfect for adding to salads, pickling, adding in a Gin and tonic or even making a fresh Chilli Salsa. I plan to try all the above. I want to see how they will flavour a fresh Chilli Salsa, then have a cheeky Gin and Tonic on the side.  😉

The plants will trail and climb. The Cucamelon has small yellow flowers and can produce a large quantity of fruit.
I will be planting these in my heated propagator to germinate them, before eventually planting them outside and giving some away to friends.

I have never grown these before, only growing them because I was interested in what they where. Time will tell if this was a good idea or not!

A Cucamelon

A Cucamelon

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Growing Camellia sinensis

Hopefully  mine will grow like this

Hopefully mine will grow like this

I wanted to grow something different this year. I have never grown Camellia sinensis before. But it would make a nice indoor plant which can be harvested from.

Camellia sinensis is the plant Tea is produced from. I’m growing Camellia sinensis var. assamica. This is the Indian variety. Camellia sinensis on it’s own is the Chinese variety.

I’m growing a total of 5 plants and hope they all germinate but I will be happy with just one plant. As sometimes Camellia sinensis seeds can be hard to germinate.
The seeds have a hard outer shell, and needed to be soaked in warm water, and left for 24 hours soaking. I however left mine for 48 hours.

The seeds where then planted in 5 inch pots filled with moist seed compost, and buried about 1-2cm deep. The pots where then placed directly into my heated propagator.

If the seeds germinate they will be placed into my light box, then when the plants get stronger I will be able to grow new ones from cuttings.

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Growing Chilli Plants

I have started to plan what Chilli Plants I wish to grow this year. They will be started in my heated propagator, then matured in my home-made light-box. I will be planting the seeds in Jiffy7 Pellets. These are individual biodegradable seed containers.

This year it’s mostly going to be compact chilli plants. As I want to grow more indoors. As last years plants did not perform well outside. I guess not a very good year for outdoor growth.

Volcano Chilli – 60,000 Scoville Units
Volcano is a quick-growing, compact (20-30cm) plant that produces an abundance of upward-facing, hot chillies. The fruits ripen from green to a glossy red and are about 3cm long.

Masquerade Chilli – 60,000 Scoville Units
A very early variety with a unique colour pattern. 4cm long fruits starting purple and ripening to bright red through yellow and orange. Attractive flowers – larger than most chilli plant flowers and tinged with purple.
A good choice for growing indoors growing to 25 to 45cm.

Sparkler Chilli – 160,000 Scoville Units
Sparkler is a compact plant which is perfectly suited to both small and medium sized container growing, making it an ideal chilli to grow in a windowsill or kitchen. The chilli fruits are about 3.5cm in length and grow straight up from the foliage.

Carolina Reaper – 1,569,300 Scoville Units
The “Carolina Reaper” has been rated as the world’s hottest chilli pepper by Guinness World Records since August 07, 2013. I’m just growing this for the fun factor.

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Miller & Carter Steakhouse

Miller & Carter is a chain of restaurants that specialise in Steak, Burgers and Grills.

14oz T-Bone Steak

14oz T-Bone Steak

I visited the “Bexley” Miller & Carter,which was the closest one to me on 28th December in the Evening. The restaurant has ample parking, and a little welcome desk area upon entering. The restaurant is situated in an old converted barn, which shows off natural wooden planks and the wooden roof. They even have a small upstairs dining area which also overlooks the restaurant area below.

There is plenty of seating available and even tables for people who are waiting for their table to become ready. The bar area is small but very well laid out, and I was able to find a table to sit at, and the atmosphere throughout is pleasant.

The price was reasonable for a steakhouse. On average it’s about £15 for a basic steak meal but can range up-to £30-£40 depending on the cut of meat and any extras you wish to add. Such as lobster or Ribs. I went all out for a T-Bone as I had never had one before.

I would revisit this restaurant and would be glad to recommend it to friends and family. It’s a nice enjoyable experience.

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Moving IMAP email to Exchange

While moving email from Open Source version of Zimbra (Which only supports IMAP in Outlook, as it has its own Zimbra Client) to a Microsoft Exchange based system I ran into a strange problem. In Outlook E-Mails in folders would not show, yet they would on the OWA (Webmail) interface.

This is because when the folders got exported they had retained the views associated with the IMAP account. The default IMAP view is to “Hide messages marked for deletion”. Microsoft Exchange doesn’t support marking messages, so the view in Outlook hides all messages in those folders. The folders will also say “Filter Applied”.

This can be fixed by running a Macro which will pass through each folder and sub-folder and change the value from an IMAP type to Note type. The Note type is the default Outlook style folder.


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