Deploying Adobe Reader Via Group Policy

Today we’re going to dive into something that admins have been doing for years: deploying Adobe Reader via Group Policy. You would be hard-pressed to find a company that doesn’t use PDFs, and while options for viewing and editing PDFs have greatly increased, the official Adobe Reader application remains the go-to PDF viewer for most companies.

Unfortunately, Adobe Reader is prone to high-risk security vulnerabilities. To help mitigate the risk of using Reader, one must be sure to keep the application up-to-date. Group Policy allows us to not only deploy the application, but also to push out new versions as they are released. Working out how, exactly, to accomplish that can take a bit of work, but this tutorial should help to clear things up.

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The Case of the Failing Focus (or How I Fixed the Calculator Button on My Keyboard)

CalcKey

Ahh, my good ol’ Microsoft Wireless Laser Keyboard 6000 v2.0. I settled upon this keyboard many years ago, and have used it both at work and at home ever since. One of the handiest features is the conveniently-placed calculator button. It’s a simple thing, really, and isn’t exclusive to this keyboard, by any means. Tap the calculator button, wait for the calculator app to launch, move your hand down to the number keys, and start calculating.

On Windows 7, the calculator key (or more appropriately, the software driving the key) was a bit hit and miss. On some computers, hitting the key would open a new calculator instance each time. By that I mean, instead of pulling into focus a calculator app that is already running, it would instead keep opening new calculator apps. On others, it would follow the preferred route and bring into focus the currently open calculator, or open the calculator application if it wasn’t already running.

Well, with Windows 10, things have made a turn for the worse. Hit the calculator key and the calculator will open, but it won’t quite be in focus. It’s selected, but if you start typing, nothing will happen. You have to select the entry area with your mouse, then start typing. Frustrating, to say the least. Additionally, the key will open a new instance of the calculator each time it’s pressed.

This just won’t do. So, how do we fix these issues? Keep reading for the answer…

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Installing Visual Basic/Studio 6 on Windows 10

Visual Studio 6 Logo

As I’ve worked my way through the various oddities of Windows 10, I’ve found that most applications work great. For the most part, anything that worked on Windows 7 works on Windows 10. Visual Basic 6 (VB6) has been one of the few exceptions, so far.

Why install Visual Basic 6? It’s a long-dead program, after all. Well, like many companies out there, mine has a few proprietary programs that were written, long ago, in VB6. The apps work great, so it just hasn’t made sense to spend the time and/or money it would take to upgrade them to VB.Net. Yet, we still need to be able to make minor changes to the programs now and then.

We could keep an old XP machine around just for VB6, or set up a virtual instance of XP, or go for either of those options with Windows 7 (VB6 installed on Win7, though not perfectly). Instead of going those routes, though, I decided to look into getting VB6 properly installed on Windows 10. These notes should work for the Pro and Enterprise editions of both Visual Basic 6 and Visual Studio 6.

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Quick Fix for a User Continually Prompted for Password

Here’s the situation: A Windows 7 user on an Active Directory Domain is getting prompts to enter their password every time they try to access the Internet.

What could be going on? Has something changed in the corporate firewall? Did their permissions get corrupted in Active Directory?

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8 Ways to Protect Yourself from Future Windows Bugs

Considering its wide-spread news coverage, I’m sure everyone is aware of the latest Internet Explorer bug. For the uninitiated, a security company discovered that a previously unknown bug in Internet Explorer was being used in a targeted hacking attack. This flaw allowed a computer to be infected with malware simply by visiting a compromised website. While a bug like this can be alarming, it really isn’t anything new. Such flaws are regularly exposed in web browsers (not only in Internet Explorer). So, what caused this attack to hit the mainstream press like it did? The Department of Homeland Security.

FireEye Security first discovered the attacks targeting Internet Explorer. The Department of Homeland Security then picked up on this and published an advisory in which they recommended that users temporarily use alternative web browsers. This recommendation was unusual, especially coming from such an influential group. The media immediately picked up on this out-of-the-ordinary guidance, and ran with it. As Adrienne Hall, the general manager of Microsoft’s trustworthy computing division, stated in her blog post, the media’s reaction to the bug in IE was overblown. Continue reading

Getting Started with the L8 SmartLight

L8 SmartLight

Nearly two years ago, the L8 SmartLight project was launched on Kickstarter. I was an early backer of the project, and continue to see value in the concept. The device contains an 8×8 grid of LEDs, with each capable of displaying the entire rainbow of colors. This grid can be used to display various symbols and messages. By connecting the device to a computer, tablet, or smart phone, one can use it to display notifications or other messages. The device has enormous potential; only limited by the software developed for it.

You could connect it to your phone, and use it to display a symbol when you get an e-mail, or someone posts something on Facebook. You could connect it to a server, and have it display an alert when an error occurs. The device also contains an accelerometer and temperature, proximity, luminosity, and noise sensors. These sensors help to expand upon the possible uses of the device. You could use it to monitor and display the current temperature, monitor current light levels, change the display to the beat of the surrounding noise, and so on. The Kickstarter page did a great job of running through all of the possibilities.

After numerous delays, the product has finally begun to ship to backers. While the device has turned out pretty solid, and as originally described, the software and documentation are still works-in-progress. The first step in getting the SmartLight working is to get the drivers and software installed on a computer. Since the official documentation is pretty sparse, I’ve put together a better set of directions to help others get up and running on a Windows-based computer. These directions were written based upon Windows 7, but should be easily adapted to other versions of Windows. Keep reading for the full rundown.

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The Dell, Bluetooth, and Microsoft Office Compatibility Conundrum

Microsoft Office 2003. Are you still running it? You really shouldn’t be, as Microsoft is ending support of the product in less than a month. Well, since I know many are still running Office 2003, and are likely to (unwisely) continue to do so for a while, this bit of info may prove to be of help to someone, somewhere, sometime.

Dell laptops have long come with built-in Bluetooth capability. This is great for those of us who enjoy the use of Bluetooth headsets, mice, keyboards, etc. With built-in Bluetooth, you don’t need an extra USB dongle. This is especially important on certain Dell laptops, as the number of available USB ports is rather limited. In fact, this port limitation is exactly what led me to revisit a rather old Bluetooth compatibility issue.

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Rooting the Nexus 7

Nexus-7-Bootloader

The Nexus 7 is an excellent device. It is, in my opinion, the best value in the tablet world. Great specs, bleeding-edge Android releases, and low cost. You really can’t beat it. As I worked on rooting my Nexus 7 (2013 edition), I realized it would make for a good tutorial. The process is pretty simple, once you know what you’re doing, but getting there can take a bit of work. In this article, I’ll lay out the steps I took to get my Nexus rooted, hopefully making it easier for others to figure out in the future. I’ve used these directions on both the 2012 and 2013 editions of the Nexus 7, and I imagine they would work just as well on any Nexus device. Note that these directions are designed for Windows 7 users. Much of the directions will apply to other operating systems, but some adaptation may be necessary.

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Outlook 2003 and Its 99th Attachment Problem

I recently discovered an interesting little problem while troubleshooting an Outlook 2003 issue, and figured it might be of help to other users out there. I’d come across the problem before, but didn’t remember the solution. So, this article is just as likely to help me in the future as it is anyone else.

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