Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Host Installer Prompt with Chrome Remote Desktop on Chromebook (Chrome OS)

Problem: When attempting to use Chrome Remote Desktop on a Chromebook with Chrome OS, you are prompted to download the Host Installer as if you were on a PC.

Resolution: Update Chrome OS: Settings > About Chrome OS

This occurred on a Chromebook running version 40 when the current version was 55.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Fresh Install of Windows 7 will not update

Problem: Fresh install of Windows 7 will not update, even with SP1 applied.


Before starting, make sure automatic updates is disabled.

1. Install SP1 if you haven't already.
2. Install the April 2015 servicing stack update - KB3020369
3. Install the April 2016 rollup - KB3125574
4. Install the July 2016 rollup - KB3172605
5. Install the Windows Update Client March 2016 - KB3138612
6. Install the December 2016 Security Monthly Quality Rollup - KB3207752
7. Go into Control Panel>Windows Updates and enable automatic updates. It will automatically begin checking.

Microsoft recommends #1, #2, and #4.
#3 makes it so you have a lot less updates to download and install.
#5 is self-explanatory.
#6 gives you the latest version of win32k.sys which has been implicated in Windows Update issues in the past.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Communication Error with HP LaserJet 600 in HP Web Jetadmin

Problem: HP Web Jetadmin reports a connection error with an HP LaserJet 600 series printer, even when you verify that the web administration pages are available.

Solution: Replace the MD5 security certificate on the printer with SHA1 certificate. Log in to the printer on the web admin pages if needed. Go to Networking > Authorization > JetDirect Certificate. Click View and you will see the value of the Signature algorithm field begins with md5, which confirms this issue. Click OK and choose "Configure" (for JetDirect Certificate). Choose Self-Signed and at the following screen click Finish.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Rebooting instead of Shutting Down

Problem: An Ubuntu 16.04 LTS based distribution reboots when you request a shutdown.

Solution: Enter the BIOS and disable "Wake on LAN".

Circumstances I encountered this problem under:
Freshly installed and updated Xubuntu 16.04.1 LTS on a Lenovo M93z AIO PC. No Ethernet cable plugged in, wi-fi active (WPA2-Enterprise/PEAP/MSCHAPv2) on shutdown request.

Network adapters in the system:
Wireless: Intel Centrino Wireless-N 2230
Wired: Intel Ethernet Connection I217-LM

The Point of Privatization

It has always been curious to me why it is that under-funded government functions get privatized. Outsourcing anything adds complexity which theoretically adds cost. Of course this is part of a broader picture of the never ending economic troubles caused by the decline of EROI, or the increased costs of obtaining energy.
To answer this question it helps to understand the constraints placed upon any government business. First, there are statutes and regulations. Also, there are the expenses involved with making people government employees. The aim of a government enterprise is not to make money, but to provide a public service, and to provide it the way people expect. Finally, government can be held accountable in a way private business cannot.
Below a certain level of funding, government services become dysfunctional. This is because of regulations, expectations, and government employee costs that were set in better economic times. Whereas a private company can choose to cut corners, lower pay and benefits, and substantially change their product offering, government cannot, absent significant legislative change.
Here in America we are in a period now (2016) where under funding of government services is a chronic problem, whether than be Medicaid, public schools, or something else. There are two solutions to the problem: 1) increase taxes or 2) cut government services. The problem with the first is that it's not just government--Americans themselves are "underfunded" and not making enough money. The problem with the second is that the people who need these services the most will get less.
So complain about government all you want but it's a problem either way.
This is where privatization comes in. It so happens that government can fulfill their duties AND get around a fair bit of costly regulation by privatizing government services. If the government isn't directly providing the service or hiring people to perform the service then some of the regulation that would apply no longer does. This especially saves money as far as employee pay and benefits. This also provides ongoing cost control as the private provider is now responsible for making sure the "public" services in question can be provided at whatever contract rate the government is willing to pay.
Of course, this often results in spotty service as the private provider stretches resources farther than the government themselves would ever do. Here in my city, the private company providing ambulance service for the city has been in the news quite a bit for poor response times. After the city fined them for it, it got "fixed". What was the provider's solution? When the number of available units gets to zero, they radio out to all the crews and tell them to hurry up. No kidding! Now an ex-employee is bringing this to light and both the provider and the city are saying that the frequency of having no available units is not something they track, and response time is what they really care about.
Some would say that the solution is to bring these services back in house, run and staffed by the city. I used to think this. However, such a view is ignorant of the cost pressures that drove privatization in the first place. Simply put, if the city could get away with doing things as cheaply as the private provider they would, but statute and regulation mean that they can't, so they privatize.
In these cases, government can't afford historical levels of service quality so they privatize and then excuse themselves of immediate responsibility for performance because they have an arm's length relationship with the private provider who is under no direct obligation to the public, and only a contractual obligation to the city.
It is much the same scenario with public schools. Underfunded public schools have been turned into basket cases that, in many cases, make it their mission to comply with statute and regulation because they can barely afford to do that. If your kid happens to get a good education then you are lucky. I saw this firsthand with my oldest child in Kindergarten. He struggled in the classroom and anytime we would ask for anything the school's response was always along the lines of whether or not they were obligated by the state education code to do what we asked. In several cases they even lied about not being obligated. I've had to become my own lawyer and arm myself with relevant portions of the state education code in all of my dealings with them. State ed code such-and-such and exhibit A, B, and C, and I'll be down to talk to you in person if you don't get it! The school cares less about helping children than they do with "complying" with state ed code.
Why is this? Are they bad people? Maybe there is a bit of coldness, of hardness. But the primary driver is funding. They can only afford to do so much so they do what they are legally obligated to do and if they can do more then fine but if not then oh, well! Charter schools are now stepping into this void as the primary vehicle of privatization for public schooling. Of course, charter schools are under less regulation than public schools (government-run schools) including regarding employee pay and benefits. As parents leave paralyzed public schools for charter schools it only makes the public school funding issue worse.
Of course the public tends to be split on the issue, with conservatives correctly identifying that public pensions and regulation are part of the problem, and liberals correctly identifying that under funding is part of the problem. But we so easily forget that the system which is now broken worked, once upon a time, and it was well funded, once upon a time. It remains an ideal system in many ways. We'd like to good public schools back, we'd like to have city-run ambulance services back. It would be great to have more government workers with money and pensions to put into the economy.
But it's not going to happen anytime in the foreseeable future. We can't properly fund such levels of public service without broader economic activity to match, which is not forthcoming, and will not be forthcoming. Since we can't solve the under funding problem, we have no choice but to cut public pensions and regulation. It will happen. Already public pension funds are only holding on because we actually believe them when they say they will generate annual returns of 7% in a market that, since the Great Recession, has been returning much less. Pensions will be ended, and current beneficiaries will take a major haircut, and even that will require a significant bail-out from public funds.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Windows 7 Printing sends a Local Downlevel Document and will NOT Print

Problem: When printing from Windows 7 to a shared printer, a "Local Downlevel Document" appears in the print queue and nothing is printed.

Resolution: First try restarting the print server (whatever Windows machine is sharing the printer for others to use). If that doesn't work, on the client, open regedit and go to HKLM\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows NT. Create a key named Printers, then inside that create a DWORD value called EnabledProtocols. Set the value to 6 and restart the computer.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

IE only patches for Windows 7?

Today while creating a new image I waited until Windows 7 was completely updated (sans-IE11) before installing IE11.
To my surprise, three patches were still required by the IE11 installer:

1) Platform update for Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 (2670838)

From Microsoft:
This update improves the range and performance of the following graphics and imaging components:
Windows Imaging Component (WIC)
Windows Advanced Rasterization Platform (WARP)
Windows Animation Manager (WAM)
XPS Document API
H.264 Video Decoder
JPEG XR codec

2) "0x00000050" Stop error after you install update 2670838 on a computer that is running Windows 7 SP1 or Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 (2834140)

3) An update for the Segoe UI symbol font in Windows 7 and in Windows Server 2008 R2... (2729094)

From Microsoft:
This update adds support for emoji characters and some control glyphs that are included in Windows 8 and in Windows Server 2012.

Given that update 2 is a fix for a problem in update 1, we basically have two different updates that appear to be necessary only if you upgrade IE. The only part of Windows 7 that would care about new graphics in Segoe UI symbol font would be IE, I guess. I'd love to know of any third-party apps on Windows 7 that take advantage of the new graphics on Segoe UI symbol font provided by that update.

The first update, 2670838, seems to have a storied history, judging by Google results. It was first required as a prerequisite of IE10 (Win7 shipped with IE8), and people had tons of trouble with it. Apparently it was related to hybrid graphics, thus the fix in 2834140.
The new graphics features introduced in 2670838 were first required to support IE. However apparently Oculus Rift requires it now as well. Looking at the list of updates that 2670838 replaced, it seems like a graphics intensive application like Oculus Rift would need it:

2484033 An update that improves the print performance of XPS documents in Windows 7 and in Windows Server 2008 R2 is available
2505438 Slow performance in applications that use the DirectWrite API on a computer that is running Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2
2511250 You cannot print a Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) or level 3 Cascading Style Sheet (CSS3) file in Internet Explorer 9
2522422 Cannot print from Internet Explorer 9 using some Canon printers
2488113 An application that uses Direct2D or Direct3D may crash in Windows 7 or in Windows Server 2008 R2
2741355 You cannot start Windows Movie Maker 2012 when a graphics card that only supports DirectX 9 is installed on a Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2-based computer

However a number of these "replaced" updates seem like their applicability would extend far beyond IE or graphics intensive apps. My guess is that these "replaced" updates are still coming through Windows Update even without IE11, but that the superseding update 2670838 contains additional functionality that was considered optional by Microsoft, apparently these items which are referenced in the update but not in the replacement updates:

Windows Animation Manager (WAM)
H.264 Video Decoder
JPEG XR codec
..and maybe additional improvements to other related components?

It's hard to say without going back through and attempting to install the "replaced" updates on an otherwise fully updated image of Win7 (minus IE11).

It is likely that MS is not pushing 2670838 outside of IE11 due to the problems that require 2834140. It is entirely possible that 2670838 could bork someone's system before they have a chance to patch it with 2834140. You'd think MS would find a way around this, like an integrated installer for both? Anyway that's my best guess why this update, which seems useful far beyond IE, would not be required by MS otherwise.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Flag Tweaks to Speed Up Google Chrome

Flag Tweaks to Speed Up Google Chrome (at least as of version 53).

If you haven't installed an ad blocker start there. :)

Go to chrome://flags

"Experimental canvas features"
"Fast tab/window close"
"Experimental QUIC protocol"
"Simple Cache for HTTP"
"Enable the "stale-while-revalidate" cache directive"
"Enable loading IPC optimization for small resources"
"Override software rendering list"
"Accelerated 2D canvas"
"GPU rasterization"

"Number of raster threads" to 4