Archive for the 'Geek Drama' Category

Pay Dell to set Boot Options in Windows

A while back, I posted about how you can pay Dell to remove Windows Components for you when you configure.

They’re at it again! This time, while I was browsing and configuring a new Desktop Computer for our Publications Group, I ran across these settings that Dell will so graciously do for you when they build your workstation.

Save time by establishing the preferred medium the system will default to when booting.
{ } None
{ } Boot to Floppy Drive [ Add $8.30 ]
{ } Boot to Hard Disk Drive [ Add $8.30 ]
{ } Boot to Optical Device [ Add $8.30 ]
{ } Boot to Network [ Add $8.30 ]

So, I tested this on a desktop nearby, and it took 35 seconds to set this setting. So, assume it takes me a full 2 minutes to change this setting on one computer and go to the next computer and change that setting, too. If that were my full-time job, and assuming that there were enough computers (62,400 of them) for me to do this on, and I was paid $8.30/computer, that’s about 30 computers every hour, or $249/hour, which given the average work week, is about $507,960/year.

Half a million dollars a year! I need to go work for Dell!

UPDATE: In Dell’s defense, they do have “Energy Smart” options for their desktops. Here’s what they have to say about that:

Save Energy, Save Costs
The Energy Star-compliant OptiPlex 745 is extremely energy efficient. With the new Energy Smart configuration, OptiPlex default power settings exceed the worldwide mutually recognized Energy Star standard, which means that each desktop is designed to further reduce power consumption and energy costs, right out of the box. This high level of power management, combined with Power Factor Correcting power supplies, flat panel displays, Intel Core 2 Duo processors and thermally efficient BTX chassis designs, means that the OptiPlex 745 uses up to 70% less power than previous generations of OptiPlex desktops1, so it helps you conserve your resources and the earth’s resources at the same time.

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Xbox 360 Resurrected!

Yesterday, I received my third Xbox 360 replacement (my fourth console total). As you may recall, I had some trouble with my third console. I plugged it in yesterday, dropped Gears of War in the drive, and played for a few minutes. So far, all is well! I will be putting it through its paces in the coming days, just to be sure.

Of note (and as promised), Microsoft included a 1-month subscription to Xbox Live Gold.

Xbox 360 … Trouble in Paradise

I was having such a good time picking up Gears of War for the first time. I got to the part just after I annihilated these car-sized aliens with an awesome satellite weapon, and there was a cut scene and then BAM. Disc is unreadable, please wipe it and reinsert.

Well, I wiped and reinserted the disc, but nothing. Open Tray -> Close Tray -> Reading for a split second -> Open Tray. I tried it with multiple games, DVDs, and CDs, and nada. It’s as if the laser in the drive is stuck on something and can’t read the disk.

So, I called up Xbox Technical support, gave them the low-down. The CSR had me do a couple of random troubleshooting steps like remove the hard drive and set the system clock (that last I don’t quite get…how could the system clock affect whether or not a disc is readable? ). Nothing worked.

Bottom-line, I will be awaiting a pre-paid shipping box from Microsoft, into which I will be putting my THIRD Xbox360. I’m so glad I bought the extended warranty for it…otherwise I’d be out some serious cash at this point!

Also, as a nice gesture, I will be getting a free month of Xbox Live Gold membership…worth a whopping $4.16…oh well, it’s better than nothing I suppose.

Pay Dell to remove Windows Components

I like to browse to Dell’s website and configure a top-of-the-line/state-of-the-art/bleeding-edge computer just to see what someone with gobs of disposable cash (aka NOT ME) can buy.

I ran into these configuration options:

Microsoft Component Configuration
[ ] Hide Microsoft Outlook Express [ Add $1.66 ]
[ ] Remove Microsoft Games [ Add $1.66 ]
[ ] Hide Microsoft Legacy Communications [ Add $1.66 ]
[ ] Sets (sic) wallpaper to blank [ Add $0.00 ]

I’m not sure which is worse, that they’ll charge you to remove features from their already bloated operating system build *or* that there’s an option to remove the wallpaper.

Are end-users really that lame that they can’t figure out how to do this on their own? Considering this was for a Dell Latitude laptop (arguably targeted as Enterprise users), are IT orgs responsible for deploying these laptops incapable of creating a build that already does one or all of these things?

This is why everyone hates PCs.

HD Laminate Countertops???

I was watching Discovery channel today, because I’m home sick and could do little more than sit on the couch and flip to the last channel that was on the night before, and some do-it-yourself program was on.

It was sponsored by Wilsonart HD™ High Definition™ Laminate.

WTF? I won’t even dignify the label of “HD” by linking to their site. All you marketeers and brand managers out there listen up. “HD” is reserved for video, things that you see on a TV.

There’s no such thing as HD Radio (first of all it isn’t even CD quality). And there certainly isn’t such a thing as “HD Laminate Countertops”!

Oh…and how come Google isn’t the evil empire when they are just now releasing a version of the Google Desktop for the Mac? Pfffttt to you, Mac Lovers!

Adding a Data Recovery Agent to Group Policy in Windows

Barry (aka Fishbreakfast) came to me with an issue last week when I exclaimed:

I’m bored!

First off, don’t say you’re bored in the vicinity of the people who either a) are your boss or b) have more stuff to do than you do because you invariably come away with more stuff on your plate.

Anyway, the issue he had was that he had used Windows’ built-in Encrypting File System function to encrypt a few sensitive files. He got a new laptop, but didn’t either decrypt the files before transferring to the new laptop.

I can’t really blame him for that, though. Our assumption was that a Data Recovery Agent (RA) was enabled on our domain. Upon further investigation, we discovered that an RA, in fact, was *not* setup on the domain.

So, because I was bored, and because it is an interesting issue to look up, I hacked away at the problem until I could say definitively that Barry’s files could be decrypted.  Or the files were toast.

We have an Enterprise Certificate Authority installed into our Domain, so EFS/Recovery certificates are very easy to come by. What isn’t quite so obvious is how to include the RA certificate into the Group Policy that applies to particular domain computers. (You can read more about the whole process here.)

Okay, so the Group Policy setting that effects EFS Data Recovery can be found here: Computer Configuration -> Windows Settings -> Public Key Policies -> Encrypting File System. Right-click on that “folder” and choose Create Data Recovery Agent. This uses the automatic enrollment methods to request an EFS Recovery Certificate, and then apply it to the Personal Certificate store on the local computer, as well as upload it into the definition of the Group Policy Object.

Easy peasy, eh? A couple of caveats.

The only place the private key is stored (the private key being the part of the PKI cert that is required to actually recover any data) is on the computer where you requested the certificate. So be sure to export the newly created EFS Recovery certificate (including the private key) to a safe and secure backup location so that you can perform data recovery from somewhere else.

Also, the RA certificate is useful only if the group policy is applied *before* you encrypt any files. It’s worth noting, too that this only applies to Active Directory member computers. The process for setting up an RA is quite different for standalone machines.

So, back to Barry’s files? Given the above, they are definitely toast. Unless he’s got an army of PlayStation 3 consoles he could use to brute-force decrypt the files.

We now return you to your regularly-scheduled, non-geeky programming.

Nike + Autobots = GEEK ALERT!

I know of one person who would be so geeked out over this he would probably blog about it incessantly and then try to sell one to all of his friends and co-workers.

Kurt! I’m talking about you! Oh wait…you haven’t blogged about anything since the Stone Age (also known as Fall 2006).

Hello? I want to read about this on your blog (via Kotaku)! 😉


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