How do I create a blank Excel spreadsheet?

So today I got the first support call from the Silver Fox for this year, and boy what a corker!

Apparently, he had been trying to create a blank Excel Spreadsheet for the past 2 days and had resorted on opening an old one, deleting all the sheets and then saving it as a blank!

I asked him why he hadn’t called me after 30 seconds of not doing it? He said it was late and didn’t want to call. Fine, I said, but you could of emailed so I picked it up in the morning.
Anyway, I remoted on and set about showing him how to create a blank Excel Spreadsheet.

First and easiest way, Click Start > Microsoft Excel 2010 and errrr there we go!
Or right click in a folder and select New > Microsoft Excel Worksheet and there you have a blank sheet.
However, when I clicked Start > Microsoft Excel 2010 he said to me
“Wo Hold on there a second, where did that Microsoft Excel 2010 shortcut come from? It wasn’t there 2 days ago”

After explaining that he is the only one using his computer, either it was there and he didn’t see it or he put it there without remembering, I was extremely rude and hung up on the old duffer 😀

Hard disk recovery

Today I got asked if I can recover files off of a hard disk that was FKD. I’m always up for a challenge and do like to do things that others can’t.

So I got the disk and run my tools on it, some knackered sectors increasing the scan time to 45 hours! Geez really? I do not want to leave it running for that long! But it soon sped up and finished after about 4.5 hours.

It then took another 2 hours to recover the data off onto another hard disk, not made any quicker by the fact that it was 10 years old and USB 1! To top it off it contained a lifetime of memories for the person, so needless to say I was relieved and happy when I managed to get pretty much all of it back for them.

Wine that homos drink!?!?

You couldn’t make this shit up! I done Matraco a favour by fixing his pc that was infected with loads of dodgy shit, one being the Cryptowall 3 virus.

I do not know what the hell happened, but for some unknown reason none of his documents were encrypted. Maybe it was because there was loads of other crapware / shit ware / fag ware on there to clog up the system? Maybe it had too many spring onions or marrows on it, or maybe it was because he was using plastic gloves to type? Either was he is one lucky SOAB.

So, to say thank you for saving his life, he bought me some alcoholic beverages. Not just any alcoholic beverages. It was special alcoholic beverages. Apparently it was, and I quote `wine that homos drink`??? What the fucking hell?!?

That specific aside, I shall enjoy said alcoholic beverages, as its not often that TAB splashes his cash on anything other than marrows.

Cheers Matraco

CryptoWall – OH, your fucked

My first dealings with a Crypto Variant today, CryptoWall

Someone that I haven`t done any work for for a few years contacted me to ask for some help as they couldn`t open their emails. So I remoted on and took a quick look for them.

First thing that I noticed when the screen loads is 3 files in the middle of the desktop called DECRYPT_INSTRUCTION. Straight off I knew that this was not going to be a good result.

I had a quick read of what it says and then a quick look at the My Documents folder and then proceeded to tell him, in a non technical way, that he was Fucked. I then explained what had happened and told him that there was nothing that I could do, something that I don`t often tell people. I wasn`t going to suggest paying $500 to get it all unencrypted only to find that it didn`t work.
Ironically the only thing that wasn`t encrypted was all of his Sage Accounts!

He asked how it could of happened and after a quick visual check I told him
Well, you are running Windows XP that has out of date virus protection, that would not of helped, you have probably opened up a few dodgy emails with attachments and looked at them. He did say that he has been getting a lot of emails with invoices in them! Oh Dear

Its not often that I cant fix something, but in this case I couldn`t, so I told him to turn off and unplug the computer and buy 2 new ones to replace what he had as they are well out of date and possibly open to more problems!

Black listed, Really? WTF

One of those days today!

I was asked to take a look at a SBS2011 server by someone today as emails were not being sent but were being received.

So I set about sorting through the list of errors in the event log, as per normal there was a to be expected reboot right in the middle of everything!
It kind of reminded me of when I got contacted by my old employer, after they had made me redundant, to look at a problem that stopped their Service Management System working. The idiots that they brought in to oust me had applied all their skill (all 3 of them) to fix the problem and come up with 4 reboots! Yes 4 reboots! Needless to say that after 4 it still wasn`t working. So a quick look through the logs I found the issue and reported back to them.

Anyway, I looked through all the logs on the server, but couldn`t see anything, so I checked out the send connector and see that there was a huge old queue reporting DNS lookup failures.
So I checked that the Smart Host was in DNS. I then checked that I could connect to it on port 25, which I could. I tried a DNS Reset and Flush just to be safe, but it didn`t work.

I disabled the Smart Host connector, created a new send connector and set it up to send via DNS, and the emails left the queue.

I then reported back as to what I had done and asked them to check out to see if they had paid the bill for the Smart Host. Later that day I got a call to say that it was a fault with the Smart Host, apparently the company that provided the Smart Host service had one of their internal desktop machines infected with a virus by an employee and it has spammed out a load of crap! Jesus! Seriously?

I was somewhat surprised that
A) They got infected with a virus!
B) They were sending emails out on a connection that was used as a smart host by a customer (and most probably more than one)!
C) They told a customer exactly what had happened!

A quick check showed that they were on some black lists for sending out spam.
I will leave that a few days before I check back to see if they have been removed…

Can you help – a challenge?

One of the things I say to people is that ‘I like to fix the things that people say can’t be fixed’.
I also like to say ‘why are you two idiots reinstalling that computer from scratch to fix a small problem like that’ sadly I found myself saying that a few times back in the days of BOR!

Anyway, so when I get asked by a friend if I can have a look at their daughters laptop as she has forgotten her password and can’t get in,  I of course say ‘Yes’.
Even more so when I’m told a large PC Retailer has said ‘it can be done but she will lose everything on the hard drive’ and one of their friends has spent several hours trying to do it!

Obviously it didn’t take very long to fix the problem and return it to the owner – it just makes me wonder if people either don’t know what they are doing, taking the easy way out or trying to do a fast one ?!?!?!

Remote Support – the exact meaning

A rather busy evening of 3 remote support requests tonight and by no means easy!

I had a request to get a printer working with Windows 8, no problem there only the printer was wireless and there were no usb cables anywhere for me to set it up. Given the self-appointed level of IT skills the remotee had it was going to be interesting to say the least.

In all honestly it wasn’t too difficult as I could get access to the wireless router web interface and could do that part of the wireless set up myself. It was just the instructions for setting up the printer that were going to prove interesting.

Maybe because I have been in IT for 20 odd years that I know what to do, maybe I take that for granted too often, after all if someone says that they do not know much about using a computer then I should expect a level of use that is very basic.

It still amazes, and amuses, me just what kinds of things people do when you have a remote session with them.

Closing every window that I open as I open them! You have asked for my help to fix something so please do not close what I open. It took a few gentle comments to get that to stop.

Following the instructions on the screen too literally – when it says select [this] and then press the OK button on the [device], it means do that on the [device] not the computer. No matter how many times you click the OK button on the screen with the mouse it will not do anything and will certainly not replicate that event on the [device]!

As I have a remote session, and as explained, I can see everything that is on your screen. Please, please, please do not feel that you have to read everything out to me, as by the time you have started to read it I have clicked the next button and am way ahead of you.

I’m sure that they will not be the only things that people will do.

.Net 3.5 on Windows Server 2012

Today I set about having a look a look at Server 2012. I wanted to test out a website that I had written in .Net 2.0 and convert it to run on a newer version and generally have a play with its interaction with the OS.

Installing .Net 4 went ok, so I thought I’d add .Net 3.5

I added the feature, and installed only to be greeted with the error ‘The source files could not be found’.
That was quickly fixed by looking at a few forums, so I added it again and pointed to where the ‘sources\sxs’ folders was – on the usb key stick that I used to install Server 2012, and installed.

This time it failed with an error message `a component`s file does not match the verification information present in the component manifest`

Another check around yielded quite a few results, one of the most common ones was to run the following command – `dism /online /cleanup-image /checkhealth`

So I run that. It took a while to come back with no problems.

I copied the ‘sources\sxs’ folder to the root of the C drive, pointed the feature install files there and tried again. Again it gave me the same error.

This time I mounted up the ISO that I had originally downloaded and copied the ‘sources\sxs’ folder from that to a new usb keystick.

I pointed the feature to that folder and run the install again. This time it finished with no problems!?

So, some sort of corruption had happened from when I transferred the ISO to a keystick to install it.

Can’t think of what the hell could have caused that to happen?

TechNet Subscriptions

Microsoft have decided to retire their TechNet Subscription service

I signed the “Continue TechNet or create an affordable alternative to MSDN” petition to show my support for keeping the Microsoft TechNet Subscription service going.

As an IT Professional I use the software a hell of a lot to test things out and set up test environments. Some environments I have had going for well in excess of a year and having to rebuild them regularly would be a right pain to say the least!

I don’t know any fellow IT Pro’s that could afford an MSDN subscription to match the TechNet one.

If you are a TechNet Subscriber then sign the petition and show your support for keeping it going.

Microsoft, please continue the TechNet Subscription Service.

Thank you

Age limit on IT

Today I asked myself as very valid question – “Should there be an age limit on someone using IT equipment?”

This was as a result of a combined call time of 1H 18M to the Silver Fox to get his Netgear TA612V VOIP adapter up and running after I unlocked and flashed it for him.
I was under the impression that I had already configured the Lan and Wan ports to match his subnet and what they needed to be, which would of made a remote session a doddle.

Unfortunately it would appear not! So I tried to add another subnet to his network card so that I could configure it that way but that didn’t want to work either!

Next I asked him to get his laptop out and plug a network cable in the back of the laptop and then in the Ethernet port of the TA612V, that’s the Ethernet port not the Internet port. After clarifying that point a couple more times we had it connected how we wanted it to be.

Things were made even more difficult as the laptop was on the floor and he was sat on the chair and every time he leant down to do something in the laptop he had his deaf ear pointing towards the phone! Could this get any worse?

I got him to check what IP the TA612V had given him, hoping to login and make some changes, only to find that the laptop had a IP address. So I get him to reset the device and wait for it to all come back up and settle down. This time he has the expected IP address, so I get him to logon to the web interface and click on the Wan settings.

I tell him what to put in and then save it. We then wait for it to reboot and then come back up. Next I tell him to go to the Lan interface and enter some more details and save again. I then tell him to plug it back into the network and turn it on.

I then connect to the Lan interface, log on and set up his VOIP connection, save and then let it reboot. It takes a few seconds to come back up and register the VOIP connection with Sipgate.

Great so its all working, I make a test call and the phone rings but there is no voice from me!? I log back in and check the settings. Correct ports entered and the settings match my TA612V that works fine. So I suggested a reboot again and see what it does. Up it comes and registered in a few seconds. I make another call to him and get the same problem.

I then, by pure fluke, click on the Wan settings only to find a few digits missing from the IP address and the Subnet Mask! I correct the errors, save and reboot. Once registered I make a call again and hey presto it all works ok.

I told him what was wrong, and I got in response “I put in exactly what you told me to put in. I would not of thought those being missed off would of caused a problem”

I left it at that, making a mental note to myself to check and double check what settings he puts in for me next time!