Shaun Cassells at

SMS 2003 and ConfigMgr 2007, PowerShell, Scripting, Finance, Fitness and Fun


Locations of visitors to this page

Query: Identify ConfigMgr 2007 collections based on Active Directory OU membership

The question came up recently on how to identify which collections are based on Active Directory OU membership.

There are tons of guides on how to setup a collection based on OU membership.. but now that you have.. how many have you created?

This is quite simple direct SQL query:

SELECT [CollectionID]





  FROM [SMS_ABC].[dbo].[v_CollectionRuleQuery]

  where QueryExpression like '%System_OU%'


*  not all collection memberships need to be based on System OU.  Varitations will be needed based on requirements

* The above query is based on a view.  If you want to see the SQL you would query the table Collection_Rules_SQL

Otherwise, happy spelunking!

Music Library Cleaning - Removing Missing Files from ITunes

I wrote a VBS a long time ago that deletes files out of ITunes if the location does not exist.  I need to rewrite this into PowerShell...

(new-object –com itunes.application).LibraryPlaylist.Tracks | ?{ $_.Location -eq $null } | %{ $_.Delete() }

The PowerShell above only removes the item out of ITunes if the location is NULL.  I need to put in a step to check to see if the location is valid.

ITTrackKindFile = 1

deletedTracks = 0

on error resume next

set iTunesApp = WScript.CreateObject("iTunes.Application")

set mainLibrary = iTunesApp.LibraryPlaylist

set tracks = mainLibrary.Tracks

Set FSO = CreateObject("Scripting.FileSystemObject")

for each currTrack in tracks

' is this a file track?

if (currTrack.Kind = ITTrackKindFile) then

' yes, does it have an empty location?

if (currTrack.Location = "") then 

' yes, delete it

wscript.echo & " - " & currTrack.Location


deletedTracks = deletedTracks + 1


'wscript.echo currTrack.Location

if not fso.fileExists(currTrack.Location) then

wscript.echo & currTrack.Location


end if

end if

end if


wscript.echo "-----------------------------------------------------"

wscript.echo "deletedTracks = " & deletedTracks 

Music Library Cleaning - Identifying Old MP3 Files with Low Bitrates

Over the past couple of years I travel quiet a lot.  As such, I tend to load up on CDs in digital format.  However, some of my older files have some nasty names or bad quality.

This has led to me to start grooming my 15,000+ song catalog.  That number does not include another 15,000+ audio book files.  I love to listen to books while running.

As I was going through the folders of CD rips, iTunes purchases, and other sundry file droppings… I was feeling a bit overwhelmed.


Trying to scope the issue I went for the following categories

·         ITunes Music

·         Files below a certain Bitrate Threshold

·         Artists I did not enjoy

·         CD Tagging

Today I am going to talk about how I used PowerShell to identify files below a certain bitrate threshold.   Example, I want to get all MP3 files with a bit rate less than or equal to 100.  Then I want to delete them… as they sound even worse on digital players (like the iPhone)

1)      Run the PowerShell Function Get-Mp3FilesLessThan with up to three inputs

a.     Inputs

                                          i.    Directory

                                         ii.    BitRate

                                        iii.    File Extension

b.    Example

                                          i.    Get-Mp3FilesLessThan \\Server\Music 100 *.mp3 | Format-Wide

c.     Output

                                          i.    List of all files where criteria are matched

2)      Delete result site

a.     Get-Mp3FilesLessThan \\Server\Music 100 *.mp3 | Remove-Item -WhatIf

                                          i.    I like using –WhatIf because Remove-Item by default does not show results

                                         ii.    Remove the –WhatIf to commit the change



function Get-Mp3FilesLessThan( [string]$directory = "$pwd", [int]$minimumBitrate = 32, [string]$FileTypeExt = "*.mp3" ) {
  $shellObject = New-Object -ComObject Shell.Application
  $bitrateAttribute = 0
  # Find all mp3 files under the given directory
  $mp3Files = Get-ChildItem $directory -recurse -filter $FileTypeExt
  foreach( $file in $mp3Files ) {
    # Get a shell object to retrieve file metadata.
    $directoryObject = $shellObject.NameSpace( $file.Directory.FullName )
    $fileObject = $directoryObject.ParseName( $file.Name )
    # Find the index of the bit rate attribute, if necessary.
    for( $index = 5; -not $bitrateAttribute; ++$index ) {
      $name = $directoryObject.GetDetailsOf( $directoryObject.Items, $index )
      if( $name -eq 'Bit rate' ) { $bitrateAttribute = $index }
    # Get the bit rate of the file.
    $bitrateString = $directoryObject.GetDetailsOf( $fileObject, $bitrateAttribute )
    if( $bitrateString -match '\d+' ) { [int]$bitrate = $matches[0] }
    else { $bitrate = -1 }
    # If the file has less than or equal to the desired bit rate, include it in the results.
    if( $bitrate -le $minimumBitrate ) { $file }

Posted: Jul 24 2012, 01:14 PM by scassells | with no comments
Filed under:
Resolved: Microsoft Office Copy and Paste Stopped Keeping Source Formatting if Skype Click to Call is Installed

I noticed recently that my copy and paste in Micorsoft Office 2010 stopped keeping the source formatting.  It was only allowing the paste of text only.  If you were to check for paste special it would show only a capital A.

I noticed that if you closed all internet browsers except firefox the issue would resolve.

Turns out SKYPE Click to Call Plug in is causing the issue

Uninstall SKYPE Click to Call.

Everything works well again!

Way to go Microsoft.. you own both Skype and Office.. 

Posted: Jun 19 2012, 05:14 PM by scassells | with no comments
Filed under: ,
Sci-Fi Reading List

Just got a top 100 list of SciFi books from a friend.... guess I have some more reading to do.  

If you are interested lookup Nebula and Hugo awards for more great Science Fiction novels.

Note: Science Fiction is fiction based on science.  NOT FANTASY!

Bold are items I have read previously.

1 - Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card - 1985

2 - Dune - Frank Herbert - 1965

3- Foundation - Isaac Asimov - 1951

4 - Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams - 1979

5 - 1984 - George Orwell - 1949

6 - Stranger in a Strange Land - Robert A Heinlein - 1961

7 - Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury - 1954

8 - 2001: A Space Odyssey - Arthur C Clarke - 1968

9 - Starship Troopers - Robert A Heinlein - 1959

10 - I, Robot - Isaac Asimov - 1950

11 - Neuromancer - William Gibson - 1984

12 - Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep - Philip K *** - 1968

13 - Ringworld - Larry Niven - 1970

14 - Rendezvous With Rama - Arthur C Clarke - 1973

15 - Hyperion - Dan Simmons - 1989

16 - Brave New World - Aldous Huxley - 1932

17 - The Time Machine - H G Wells - 1895

18 - Childhood's End - Arthur C Clarke - 1954

19 - The Moon is a Harsh Mistress - Robert A Heinlein - 1966

20 - The War of the Worlds - H G Wells - 1898

21 - The Forever War - Joe Haldeman - 1974

22 - The Martian Chronicles - Ray Bradbury - 1950

23 - Slaughterhouse Five - Kurt Vonnegut - 1969

24 - Snow Crash - Neal Stephenson - 1992

25 - The Mote in God's Eye - Niven & Pournelle - 1975

26 - The Left Hand of Darkness - Ursula K Le Guin - 1969

27 - Speaker for the Dead - Orson Scott Card - 1986

28 - Jurassic Park - Michael Crichton - 1990

29 - The Man in the High Castle - Philip K *** - 1962

30 - The Caves of Steel - Isaac Asimov - 1954

31 - The Stars My Destination - Alfred Bester - 1956

32 - Gateway - Frederik Pohl - 1977

33 - Lord of Light - Roger Zelazny - 1967

34 - Solaris - Lem Stanislaw - 1961

35 - 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea - Jules Verne - 1870

36 - A Wrinkle in Time - Madelein L'Engle - 1962

37 - Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut - 1963

38 - Contact - Carl Sagan - 1985

39 - The Andromeda Strain - Michael Crichton - 1969

40 - The Gods Themselves - Isaac Asimov - 1972

41 - A Fire Upon the Deep - Vernor Vinge - 1991

42 - Cryptonomicon - Neal Stephenson - 1999

43 - The Day of the Triffids - John Wyndham - 1951

44 - UBIK - Philip K *** - 1969

45 - Time Enough For Love - Robert A Heinlein - 1973

46 - A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess - 1962

47 - Red Mars - Kim Stanley Robinson - 1992

48 - Flowers for Algernon - Daniel Keyes

49 - A Canticle for Leibowitz - Walter M Miller - 1959

50 - The End of Eternity - Isaac Asimov - 1955

51 - Battlefield Earth - L Ron Hubbard - 1982

52 - Frankenstein - Mary Shelley - 1818

53 - Journey to the Center of the Earth - Jules Verne - 1864

54 - The Dispossessed - Ursula K Le Guin - 1974

55 - The Diamond Age - Neal Stephenson - 1995

56 - The Player of Games - Iain M Banks - 1988

57 - The Reality Dysfunction - Peter F Hamilton - 1996

58 - Startide Rising - David Brin - 1983

59 - The Sirens of Titan - Kurt Vonnegut - 1959

60 - Eon - Greg Bear - 1985

61 - Ender's Shadow - Orson Scott Card - 1999

62 - To Your Scattered Bodies Go - Philip Jose Farmer - 1971

63 - A Scanner Darkly - Philip K *** - 1977

64 - Lucifer's Hammer - Niven & Pournell - 1977

65 - The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood - 1985

66 - The City and the Stars - Arthur C Clark - 1956

67 - The Stainless Steel Rat - Harry Harrison - 1961

68 - The Demolished Man - Alfred Bester - 1953

69 - The Shadow of the Torturer - Gene Wolfe - 1980

70 - Sphere - Michael Crichton - 1987

71 - The Door Into Summer - Robert A Heinlein - 1957

72 - The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch - Philip K *** - 1964

73 - Revelation Space - Alastair Reynolds - 2000

74 - Citizen of the Galaxy - Robert A Heinlein - 1957

75 - Doomsday Book - Connie Willis - 1992

76 - Ilium - Dan Simmons - 2003

77 - The Invisible Man - H G Wells - 1897

78 - Have Space-Suit Will Travel - Robert A Heinlein - 1958

79 - The Puppet Masters - Robert A Heinlein - 1951

80 - Out of the Silent Planet - C S Lewis - 1938

81 - A Princess of Mars - Edgar Rice Burroughs - 1912

82 - The Lathe of Heaven - Ursula K Le Guin - 1971

83 - Use of Weapons - Iain M Banks - 1990

84 - The Chrysalids - John Wyndham - 1955

85 - Way Station - Clifford Simak - 1963

86 - Flatland - Edwin A Abbott - 1884

87 - Altered Carbon - Richard Morgan - 2002

88 - Old Man's War - John Scalzi - 2005

90 - The Road - Cormac McCarthy - 2006

91 - The Postman - David Brin - 1985

93 - VALIS - Philip K *** - 1981

96 - The Lost World - Arthur Conan Doyle - 1912

97 - The Many-Colored Land - Julian May - 1981

98 - Gray Lensman - E E 'Doc' Smith - 1940

99 - The Uplift War - David Brin - 1987

Posted: Nov 30 2011, 09:44 AM by scassells | with 1 comment(s)
Filed under:
How-To fix Windows 7 Start Menu Search being slow

Recently I noticed that my Windows 7 x64 Start Menu searches was ghastly slow taking longer than 10 seconds to return anything.  I checked a few things commonly broken and then found my issue was due to the indexer trying to search non-existent locations.

After reviewing:

·         Ensuring indexing enabled

o   Description: Indexing creates and maintains a database of file attributes. This can lead to multiple small writes when creating/deleting/modifying files. Disabling will still allow searching for files will still work.

o   Instructions: Start Menu -> Right-Click Computer -> Manage -> Services and Applications -> Services - > Right-Click Windows Search -> Startup type: Automatic (Delayed Start)-> OK

·         Ensuring defragmentation enabled

o   Description: Defragmenting a hard disk's used space is only useful on mechanical disks with multi-millisecond latencies.  Questionable for SSD's. Free-space defragmentation may be useful to SSDs, but this feature is not available in the default Windows Defragmenter.

o   Instructions: Start Menu -> Right-Click Computer -> Manage -> Services and Applications -> Services - > Right-Click Disk Defragmenter -> Startup type: Manual -> OK

·         Ensuring Write Caching enabled

o   Description: Most modern platter based HD's have a cache.  Generally there is no cache on the SSD, so there are no benefits to write caching. There are conflicting reports on whether this gains speed or not.

o   Instructions: Start Menu -> Right-Click Computer -> Manage -> Device Manager -> Disk drives -> Right-Click Your drive -> Properties -> Policies Tab -> Check Enable write caching -> OK

I found my issue was due to dead file links in the Indexed Locations settings.  Resolution:

·          Ensuring all Indexed Locations are Available

o   Description: When indexing is setup it takes a snapshot of files and locations.  If these locations are removed for any reason the index remains.  This would normally be cleared out if the locations were not selected directly.

o   Instructions: Start Menu -> Control Panel -> Index Options -> Modify -> Uncheck any folder locations marked by (Unavailable) -> OK -> Advanced -> Rebuild

This is the same kind of issue you can run into if your system path values include UNC or Web addresses.

·          Ensure a Healthy System Path

o   Instructions: Start Menu -> Right-Click Computer -> Properties -> Advanced Systems Settings ->Advanced Tab -> Environment Variables -> System Variables -> Path

§  Best practices

·         Place all local paths first

·         C:\windows; C:\windows\system32; C:\windows\system32\wbem must be present

·         Remove duplicates

·         Be cautious of UNC paths (ensure they are available)

·         Be cautious of HTTP paths (bad idea)

Posted: May 02 2011, 01:56 PM by scassells | with no comments
Filed under:
Direct Access – Hibernate leads to loss of connectivity because of VMWare Virtual network Adapters

I have been using Microsoft Direct Access (DA) for the past 3 weeks.  I can unequivocally say I love it.  So far my only issues has been Monday mornings waking up the laptop from hibernate and finding no DA connection.

Cause: Turns out this is being caused by the VMWare Virtual network adapters. 

Why:  I haven’t a clue.  Well then how do you know they are the cause? 

Solution: if I disable the VMWare Virtual network adapters suddenly Direct Access works again.    Once I am back online with DA then I can enable the VMWare Virtual Adapters.

This seems to only happen when the laptop has been in hibernate for >24 hours. 


In summary, if you have DA working one day… and find it does not another.  Try disabling virtual network adapters.

Windows Home Server (WHS) 2011 is RTM

Looks like I will need to rebuild my Intel SS4200-ehw again.   It has been an interesting experience going from WHS 2003 through each of the builds of WHS 2011.   Lets say this was one of the more challenging betas I have done in a while.

Will I upgrade?  Yes.


  • If you have WHS 2003, you will need to export ALL of your files.  You cannot do an upgrade.  And if you do not move off all of your files you can NOT easily access the files on the previous hard drives
  • Drive extender no longer exists.  3rd party products exist to replace the functionality.  However, would you trust some 3rd party app that was written in the last three months?  Time to setup RAID!
  • x64 only.  YEAA!
  • Server 2008 R2 SP1 is the base platform
  • Online support is much better
How to build a WHS without a video card (headless)?
  1. Get the bits - it will be on technet mid April
  2. Grab a different computer with a video card
    1. Hookup the hard drive to the machine with a video card.  I use a thermaltake SATA docking station.
    2. burn the bits to dvd or boot from usb
    3. Run the install
  3. At the first restart, turn off the other computer, pull the drive and place it in your whs box (the one without a video card)
  4. Let the sucker run (it will reboot serveral times)
  5. Eventually (about 15 minutes) a new Network comptuer called Server will show up (check your router for the IP)
  6. Open up http://server  or http://IP of the server
  7. a website will walk you through the rest of the setup
Congrats you just built WHS 2011 in a headless server.

Today, the Home Server engineering team signed off the release version of WHS 2011. An exciting milestone which now starts the process to make it available for purchase.

Affordable and easy-to-use, Windows Home Server 2011 is the ideal solution to help families keep their important digital files and data automatically backed up, organized, and accessible from virtually anywhere.

To help with questions we hear during this time of the product release cycle, I have provided further guidance below. If you have a specific question, please feel free to post in comments, on our WHS forum.

  • When will OEM’s offer WHS 2011?  Many OEM’s and System Builders have already started building specific form factors and solutions based on WHS 2011. We expect to start seeing them in the market starting May.
  • What languages is WHS 2011 available in?  WHS 2011 will be released in 19 languages including Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional, Taiwan), Chinese (Hong Kong), Czech, Dutch, English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil), Portuguese (Portugal), Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish.
  • When will the Evaluation for WHS 2011 be made available?  The evaluation experience for WHS 2011 will be released in early April.
  • When will I be able to download WHS 2011 via my TechNet or MSDN subscription?  WHS 2011 will be made available on MSDN and TechNet also in early April.
  • What is the difference between V1 of WHS and WHS 2011?  You can learn more about differences in our comparison datasheet.

Posted: Apr 01 2011, 03:57 PM by scassells | with no comments
Filed under:
Personal Goal: Fitness 2011 challenge – 70 runs in 70 days

This past Saturday I ran the CVRA Freezefest 5k.  Each day since I have gotten dressed and go for a run.  It is a wonderful feeling and I am on a roll.  Talking with my partner and love, Heidi, I made the comment I should run every day for 70 days.   10 weeks straight.  This is how a spontaneous goal appears.

Goal: Run each day for 70 days. Make it a habit.


·         None just have to run

·         Indoor or outdoor

·         Short or long

·         Make it a habit

I am 5 days in with 65 to go.   You can track my progress on

What happens after 70 days?  Well I hope to continue.   I have seen far too many people set a goal, reach it and then stop.  Hence the Make it a habit.  Changing your life is only done by changing lifestyle and making this change habit.


In 2006, I weighed 185lbs with 8% body fat.

Today, I weigh 220lbs with 13% body fat.

I am 6 feet tall.  Calculating health is fraught with misconceptions. 

·         Body Mass Index is a worthless measure.  Why? 

o   In 2006 as a semi-pro triathlete I had a BMI of 25.1 which is considered overweight.

o   Today my BMI is 29.8 which is border line obese.

o   If you are active or muscular BMI is worthless.


·         Using body fat measurement is a much better. 

o   Get a scale with calculion built in (sort of accurate)

o   Having a professional (medical or gym) use calipors (better)

·         Using Hip-to-waist ratio in conjunction with Body fat tells you where this fat is located


Waist to Hip Ratio Chart



Health Risk Based Solely on WHR

0.95 or below

0.80 or below

Low Risk

0.96 to 1.0

0.81 to 0.85

Moderate Risk



High Risk


The above physical measurements are not a reason, but rather a set of facts.  I would like to be healthier… again.  Many would say I am fine now.  I agree.  I am fine.  I want to be good and great!  I have struggled with a few injuries… each overcome by letting myself heal.  For example:


In the summer of 2010, I injured myself.  I self-diagnosed either a stress fracture or a tendon issue in my left foot. Heidi and I had signed up for the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) in Washington DC, Halloween day.   This was my second attempt at the MCM.  The first time I bombed out with an injury sustained during the Pigman Half-Ironman race.  This time I knew I was hurt and hurting but I trained anyway.  I did 3 half marathons in preparation.   The races were all fine and my foot was sore after each.  

On the day of the MCM i knew it was going to be bad. I set myself the goal to finish.  I ran the first half in under 2 hours (right on pace). I finished the whole marathon in 5 hours and 49 minutes.  The second half was almost twice as long. I hurt and was afraid.  I had reached my goal, a small victory that allowed me to plumb the depths of my determination and learn more about my limits. I stopped all impact activities after that. I let myself rest. I swam and lifted.

Heidi and I had another marathon Jan 30th 2011 in Houston.  In preparation and out of fear, I made a deal with myself:  If I had another bad marathon i would swear off the distance.

On a rainy morning Colin (my brothers first marathon –way to go), Heidi and I started the race.   I had kept to true to my plan.  With ZERO distance training but feeling healed (finally), I ran/walked the whole marathon feeling fantastic. My only issue being under trained, hence the run walk.  It was a most illuminating experience.  I had forgotten the rush of meeting a goal without the cost of pain.   Finish line video – we are the couple holding hands on the left side.


Jumping back to the goal of 70 runs in 70 days, I want to be healthy and this is not that extreme.  Extreme is all about perspective. To many my active endeavours appear extreme. To me sitting on a couch watching a TV show about reality (think biggest loser) versus going and enjoying life is crazy.


So here I go.  Here I start.  Wish me luck.  Making this public will hopefully motivate and possibly inspire others.


The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered: "Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die & then dies having never really lived."


You can see my past race results here:

A couple BCP.exe command line errors and fixes

BCP.exe command line errors

While using BCP.exe recently I ran into a couple of command line errors.

Unknown Argument Error:

  •  Unknown argument ‘ûU’ on command line.
  •  Unknown argument ‘ûT’ on command line.
  •  Unknown argument ‘ûf’ on command line.
  •  Unknown argument ‘ûP’ on command line.

This is caused by Microsoft’s helpful Word formatting.  Taking a normal dash ‘-‘ and creating a double dash ‘–‘.  They look the same; but the double dash will cause one of the above errors to show.

Fix: Delete all the dashes in your command line and retype them with the dash ‘-‘.


Unknown Error has Occurred.

This tends to be from an improperly named table.  Check for typos or missing .dbo. between the database name and the table name.

Example:  bcp.exe TempDb.dbo.dbo.Items out results.dat –c -T

  • The example has a double dbo and the BCP.exe command line would throw the Unknown Error has Occurred.
  • It also has a double dash in front of the C - Unknown argument ‘ûT’ on command line.

Posted: Feb 24 2011, 03:30 PM by scassells | with no comments
Filed under:
Slow startup fix: Login to your corporate network while remote

Summary: The following is a method to allow group policy (gpupdate)  logon setting to be applied while NOT on the corporate Intranet.

The following was a study on how to improve my logon times while remote from the corporate intranet for months at a time.

Group Policy was not being updated and logon scripts were never run.  The corporate VPN client would not allow me to maintain connection during a logoff and logon event.


1)      Run your VPN software as system

2)      Logoff

3)      Logon

4)      Close the VPN software


1)      Go to and download the Suite

2)      Expand the zip

3)      The following is a little different for XP and later OSs

a.       XP

                                                               i.      PSExec –sid <Path and VPN program>

                                                             ii.      On XP the program will just appear.

b.      Vista, 7, Server

                                                               i.      Open a command (cmd.exe) prompt with Administration Rights

1.       Start

2.       Enter cmd in the search bar

3.       Right click the search result and Run as administrator

                                                             ii.      Psexec –sd –i 0 <Path and VPN program>

1.       Session 0 Isolation was introduced with Vista

                                                            iii.      A task bar icon for Interactive Services Detection will appear.

1.       Click the View the message button

4)      You will need to configure your VPN client as system has zero access to your logon account

a.       This is something you will have to know

b.      Note: clip board between normal desktop and Session 0 will not work

5)      Connect your VPN

6)      Return to you desktop by clicking Return now

7)      Logoff

8)      Logon

9)      Vista, 7, Server you will need to do the following to have the Interactive services Detection popup again:

a.       Open command prompt with Administration Rights

b.      Net stop ui0detect

c.       Net start ui0detect

You have now successfully forced your client to logon to your intranet. 

I would suggest running gpupdate /force (again from an elevated rights cmd prompt) and then logoff and logon again.

Outlook 2010 and RSS feeds

Outlook 2010 (and 2007 to some extent) have many rarely used features.  The following are some thoughts and tips on using RSS feeds in Outlook.


Adding a new feed

1)      Open Outlook

2)      Mail view

3)      Scroll down to RSS Feeds

4)      Right Click add new feed

5)      Wizard to enter your feed source URL

Adding a new feed is very straightforward; however viewing settings afterwards is awkward / non-obvious


Here's an example to demonstrate:

How to view feed settings
One would expect to be able to do this with a simple right click and edit.  Nope.


Here is how your review view a setting:

1)      Go to File

2)      Info

3)      Account Settings

4)      Account Settings

5)      RSS Feeds Tab



The Help article Change settings for RSS Feeds provides some great tips

Posted: Feb 02 2011, 01:22 PM by scassells | with no comments
Filed under:
Auto-Fix Windows Update Agent


One of the hardest things to tackle in SCCM these days is client health.  It is an on-going issue because it is hard to diagnose and hard to programmatically fix.  SCCM’s client is much improved over older versions but it still has occasional issues and its dependencies such as WMI and Windows Update Agent still have theirs as well.

While looking into this for one customer I came up with a trick that won’t solve all client health problems, but it moves one step closer.  This trick is for some of the Windows Update Agent (WUA) issues.  If anyone uses this and finds issues or improvements please let me know and I will follow-up or correct this post as needed.

The first step is to identify the machines having WUA issues.  There are probably several ways but what I found useful was to look for clients sending 11416 status messages.  Creating a status message query was easy but creating a collection based on status messages takes a little more work to build.  Here is one I put together that seems to do the trick:

select distinct SYS.Name,SYS.Client from SMS_StatusMessage as stat join sms_r_system as SYS on stat.machinename = where stat.ModuleName = "SMS Client" and stat.MessageID = 11416 and DateDiff(dd,stat.Time, GetDate()) <1

This query gets all the machine names that have sent a 11416 status message in the last day and cross references with the system object for that machine so that a collection of machines can be put together.

Once you have your collection of machines identified the next step is to send those machines something to repair WUA.  KB971058 has a nice Fix It script that will do this and you can download it from the KB.  It is an MSI and in my testing using the default settings seemed to be enough to fix most machines.  As an MSI you can have SCCM create your package and program by creating a package from definition and pointing at the MSI file itself.  This should give you a silent run option.

Once you have the package in place advertise it to your collection created based on the query above and see if that solves your WUA health issues.  For my customer we saw a 92% reduction in WUA issues using this method.

** Correction** I had previously posted this as a WMI fix, when this is really a WUA fix.  I just had WMI on my brain.  My apologies for any confusion.

Windows 7 – Automatically update your background picture daily - NASA style

The following is how to setup an automatically changing background in Windows 7.  I choose to use NASA space pictures for my daily background.  You can input any RSS image feed for your background pictures


1) Create the theme file, copy and paste the code below in notepad and save it as "NASA.theme" (watch for word wrap)

[Control Panel\Desktop]
[Control Panel\Cursors]
DefaultValue=Windows Aero
Path=%SystemRoot%\resources\themes\Aero\Aero.mssty les

2) Double click on the theme file

3) Select "download attachments" in the pop-up window

Congratulations your NASA theme is setup in Windows 7.

Tip: Select the "Fit" option in the desktop background settings to make images fit better  

NASA RSS feeds:

Bing RSS feeds

Posted: Dec 09 2010, 04:01 PM by scassells | with no comments
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Problem Steps Recorder (PSR) – The built-in Documentation Tool

Problem Steps Recorder (PSR) is a tool built into:

·         Server 2008 R2

·         Windows 7

The tool is designed for end users to provide feedback to help desks.  Tools can be reused for a different purpose:  in this case a documentation tool.


PSR automatically takes screen shots of each new window and click (up to 100) and then saves the file as an compressed HTML file: *.MHT.

Best Practices:

1)      Open PSR from your start window


2)      Click the help down arrow Description: Picture of help down arrow, and then click Run as administrator.

3)      Click the help down arrow Description: Picture of help down arrow, and then click Settings.

4)      You can change the following settings for Problem Steps Recorder:

a.       Output Location. If you don't want to be prompted to save a file after recording, click the Browse button to set a default output file name.

b.      Number of recent screen captures to store. While the default is 25 screens, you can increase or decrease the number of screen shots. Problem Steps Recorder only records the default number of screen shots. For example, if you took 30 screen shots during a recording but only had 25 screen shots as the default, you would be missing the first five screen shots. In this case, you would want to increase the number of default screen shots.

                                                               i.      Max value: 100

5)      Ok

6)      Select Start Record

7)      You can Pause Record at any time. 

8)      You can Add Comment to each click

9)      Select Stop Record and you will be prompted to save your new file


·         The Settings are NOT saved and must be set each time you open PSR. 

o   Anyone know of a Registry Key for this?

·         You are not notified if you go over 100 clicks.  The tool will continue and you will probably become frustrated.



Other Documentation Tips:

·         You can use the keyboard combo Alt + Prnt Scrn to capture the focused window to your clip board

·         Snipping tool

o   Part of tablet edition and Windows 7

o   Think really cheap SnagIt

·         Windows XP tools:




Command Line:

·         C:\Windows\System32\psr.exe

·         C:\Windows\SysWOW64\psr.exe

·         No switches


·         Microsoft walk through video:

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