When you attempt to use the Magnifier button on a Microsoft Comfort 3000 optical mouse, the screen flashes when the magnifier loads

System Requirements:

  • Windows Vista SP1
  • Windows Server 2008

The Problem:

Yet another Vista problem, and it’s not a Driver one.

If you own a Microsoft Mouse, and have the latest version of IntelliPoint installed, chances are that you are aware that the function for the red button on the side is to enable the screen magnifier by default.

This feature is particularly useful if you are visually impaired, however upon moving from Windows XP to Windows Vista you will note that when attempting to load the magnifier, the screen will flash to black, slowly re-draw and once the magnifier window finally loads there will be nothing in it for around a second before the graphics subsystem catches up. To make matters worse, the entire processing of the magnified image becomes very CPU intensive, which interferes with other processes such as text to speech.

More Information:

This is a feature. Joy.

The new Vista Windows Display Manager uses off-screen rendering buffers to supply the GUI with all the nice visual effects that you have become used to in the Vista world. The problem is that when you click the magnification button, the system has to recycle the entire screens worth of data before it can redraw the image. This is compared to the old Windows XP and lower system where each window on the screen was responsible for drawing itself.

The Fix

The following steps will outline how to prevent Vista from completely redrawing the screen when you hit the magnifier. Please note that by doing this you will lose GUI features and fancy effects.

  1. Ensure that you have installed the latest version of Microsoft IntelliPoint (Version 6.3 at the time of writing).
    IntelliPoint is available to download for free from: http://www.microsoft.com/hardware/
  2. Open the Control Panel
  3. Open the System Applet
  4. In the left hand navigation pane select the Advanced System Settings option
  5. Click the Settings button in the performance section of the Advanced tab
  6. Remove the tick box next to Enable Desktop Composition
  7. Click OK twice to return to the control panel. Note that the screen will flash and that Aero effects will be disabled

How to force Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) to preserve default folder layout settings on all user and shell folders

System Requirements:

  • Windows Vista SP1
  • Windows Server 2008

The Problem:

Infuriatingly, with the release of Windows Vista, we took a step backwards to a bug that was fixed with the release of Windows XP SP2 on XP. The dreaded shell folders ‘Bags’ bug was back, and this time it was intentionally trying to annoy us.

Unlike in XP where the system would get confused by overwriting folder settings, in Vista we now have a form of ‘auto intelligence’ to contend with that is supposed to look at the contents of folders to determine if they contain say pictures or videos and display fields that the user may find useful with respect to any available meta data. OK, I can see that this may be a valuable feature to a lot of people, me personally, I’m not interested. The problem is that the auto intelligence is about as intelligent as a toaster at discovering file folder types.

All too often you come back to the folder view to be presented with nothing other than folder name – no type, size, date or any of the other meta tag fields.Even more irritating is the persistence on the operating system in displaying “tile” view.

Personally, I cannot be dealing with “tile” view. I need my details view or I’m just not a happy bunny. Will Vista retain it? No, of course not. No amount of “Set Default” clicking will change it. Although you can get it to cooperate for user folders for a time, none of the shell folders will retain the settings and will always default back to “Tile” view. So you may be thinking, OK, I can live with that.

Wrong! You can’t live with that either. Invariably most access to the user file system goes by way of a shell folder, be it through ‘Computer’, ‘Network’ etc. Open the recycle bin or any other shell folder and the ‘Bags’ become contaminated with an entry for Tile view and within a few short weeks (even days or hours) you start to get user folders appearing polluted with tile view again in a completely nonsensical fashion.

More Information:

There is a well documented standard fix on the web for this, and it does help to extend the time that Tiles view will re-contaminate your shell folders.

It is worth noting at this point that if you like the auto folder detection, and do not want all of your folders to appear in default view – or some other set of customisation’s, then you shouldn’t be following this guide.

The standard approach reads something like this:

  1. Open regedit
  2. Go to (creating the hierarchy if parts of it doesn’t exist):
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\Local Settings\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Shell \Bags\AllFolders\Shell
  3. Create a new REG_SZ (String) named:
    FolderType
  4. Set the value of FolderType to:
    NotSpecified
  5. Restart and be happy

What this is doing is supposedly turning off the Windows Vista folder discovery part of the equation, so that it will not try and analyse what is in the folder you are opening and try and be clever in displaying the correct meta data. What this doesn’t do is fix “Tile” View.

Fixing “Tile View” (for good)

The following steps will outline how to prevent Vista from displaying a Windows Explorer layout that you do not want to see (hopefully). For system administrators it is deployable using the standard tools.

  1. Close all Windows Explorer instances
  2. Open Computer, then open your C Drive and leave the Windows at the root of the disk
  3. Open Regedit
  4. Navigate to:
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\Local Settings\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Shell
  5. Delete the key:
    BagMRU
  6. Navigate to:
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\Local Settings\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Shell\Bags
  7. Here you will see a lot of numbered sub-keys. Delete them, all of them. Once you are done press F5 and ensure that none have come back while you were doing all of that, if so delete them as well.
  8. Navigate to (creating the hierarchy if parts of it doesn’t exist):
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\Local Settings\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Shell \Bags\AllFolders\Shell
  9. Create a new REG_SZ (String) named:
    FolderType
  10. Set the value of FolderType to:
    NotSpecified
  11. Return to the C Drive explorer Window, set the layout in here as desired. Hit tools > folder options and configure settings here as desired
  12. Close the explorer window: do not navigate anywhere else
  13. Return to regedit and hit F5. You should now see a sub-key called 1 beneath HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\Local Settings\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Shell\Bags. Expand to \1\Shell\{GUID-VALUE} e.g. HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\Local Settings\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Shell\Bags\1\Shell\{5C4F28B5-F869-4E84-8E60-F11DB97C5CC7}
  14. Export the GUID key to the desktop
  15. Open the export in notepad
  16. Find the line:
    [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\Local Settings\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Shell\Bags\1\Shell\{YOUR-GUID}]
  17. Replace the 1 in that string with AllFolders e.g.:
    [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\Local Settings\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Shell\Bags\1\Shell\{5C4F28B5-F869-4E84-8E60-F11DB97C5CC7}]-becomes-

    [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\Local Settings\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Shell\Bags\AllFolders\Shell\{5C4F28B5-F869-4E84-8E60-F11DB97C5CC7}]

  18. Save the reg file and import it by double clicking the .reg file
  19. Return to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\Local Settings\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Shell delete BagMRU again if it exists
  20. Return to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\Local Settings\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Shell\Bags and delete and numeric sub keys (including 1) – do not delete the AllFolders sub-key!

If you managed to follow all of that, then when you open explorer, every instance – including shell folders – should now appear as you defined in step 11.

Using the FM Radio tuner on an Asus MyCinema P7131 Hybrid in Windows Vista Home Premium / Ultimate Media Centre

System Requirements:

  • Windows Vista Home Premium / Ultimate

The Problem:

The Asus MyCinema P7131 Hybrid tuner is a relatively inexpensive way of getting a good TV picture in your PC so as to allow you to make use of the full range of features available to you through Media Centre 6.0 / 6.1 under Windows Vista. The MyCinema P7131 Hybrid is also very useful as it comes with a LP mounting bracket for use in Low Profile, small form factor cases.

The card is equipped with a DVB-T tuner, FM Radio tuner, Analogue tuner, IR port and Composite/S-Video in connector, making it quite versatile out of the box when used in conjunction with the supplied Cyberlink MyCinema 5.0 software, however this is simply a duplication of functionality for MEdia Centre enabled systems and doesn’t do it quite as eloquently as the Microsoft solution. The problem is however that out of the box the Vista Media Centre is only able to detect the DVB-T tuner in the card. If you attempt to access the Radio feature you will receive the message

No Services Found

Asus Hybrid in MCE 6 - No Radio

You will be offered no other choice of services or configuration for the FM radio and the TV tuner service will only detect the DVB-T tuner irrespective of driver version used.

More Information:

If you install MyCinema, you can get access to the FM Radio, DVB-T and Analogue tuners through the interface and configuration, so it isn’t out of place to assume that the issue lies with the main driver. This isn’t actually the case. If you have the latest BDA driver for the Philips SAA3131 tuner in the device (version 1.3.3.5 at the time of writing) then your drive does expose the FM tuner to the system. The problem is that it doesn’t configure it to an extent that when Media Centre initialises a scan of the system bus for tuners, it is aware that there device is capable of supporting more than one interface (DVB-T, Analogue, Cable, S-Video/Composite and FM).

This issue is fairly trivial when you look into the problem in so far as Asus provide a “MCE Plug-in” on their CD which acts as an abstraction layer between the two, and will resultantly allow a rudimentary level of switching – more on that in a moment. The bigger problem is in that Media Centre itself is not able to handle more than one device type on a single bus. What does that mean?

Well, take my Hauppauge Nova-T-500. It provides two DVB-T tuner chips with each chip being identified on its own bus. This allows you to use both tuners simultaneously even though they are the same card. The Asus P3171 hybrid however uses software switching in the driver to specify which of the input sources to use against the cards one and only bus. This means that only one of the interfaces (DVB-T, Analogue, Cable, FM, S-Video/Composite) can be used at a time (fair enough) however Media Centre does not natively support the switching mechanism and therefore is only aware of the default interface type, you guessed it, the DVB-T tuner.

Personally, I am willing to for go the Analogue TV tuner as it will be switched off in a couple of years anyway, and I don’t have a cable service here so the use of that Tuner doesn’t interest me and I can live without the S-Video/Composite as my TV exposes three interfaces for those directly and I have other PC’s with capture cards in them – but having installed three of these Low Profile MyCinema P7131 Hybrid cards, it was bugging me that I couldn’t get the FM radio to work and complete the “fully featured” claim on my new Media Centre. Having already convinced the powers that be to free up space by getting rid of the separates hi-fi system, I was feeling duty bound to do this before someone asked for a radio station.

The Fix

This fix is not highly technical for the simple reason that having struggled to get it working, and in the possession of some better key-word concepts it turns out that there are others who have done this with other software switched ‘hybrid’ tuners and who were doing it as far back as XP MCE 2005.

So as it turns out that I am simply rediscovering here I shall not go into too much detail. If you already have Vista installed, you can start this process from step 5.

  1. Install your Asus Hybrid tuner
  2. Install Vista Ultimate / Home Premium
  3. Install Vista SP1 if needed
  4. Install Media Centre 6.1 (aka the Windows Media Center TV Pack 2008) if you have it
  5. Install the latest Tuner Drivers for the P7131 Hybrid.
    You can simply use the add-remove hardware wizard to do this, unless you want to use the Asus Splendid technology filtering in which case use the setup.exe for the driver program.
  6. On your Asus CD (Not the MyCinema one, the green one) open the root folder in Windows Explorer and go into the MCE Plug-in folder. Here you will find two executable files. One setup.exe (the 32-bit version) and another with the 64-bit version. Run the version that you require to match your operating system architecture and install it.
    Yes, you have to install it. I know Vista has its own MPEG decoders, but you have to install it. It is this MPEG encoder that provides the filter which allows you to select which of the hardware sources you will be using – Digital, Analogue/FM or Cable.Note: If you try and install this from the CD’s autorun, you will get stuck on a permanent error about Asus DVD 6 being installed. You can ignore this message as I have not seen any adverse effects of not having Asus DVD installed, however you must run the setup.exe from Windows Explorer.
  7. Restart
  8. Start Media Centre and go through setup as you would wish to normally
  9. When prompted to setup the TV Signal, chose to setup the tuner manually
  10. Select the default instance of the DVB-T tuner and go through setup
  11. Once complete, check to ensure that you have a working DVB-T configuration
  12. Exit Media Centre
  13. Open Regedit
  14. Navigate to :
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Media Center
  15. Export the entire key Media Center and everything below it to a reg file. Call it:
    Digital.reg
  16. Open Media Centre
  17. Go to the tasks area and select setting, then TV and finally to Set Up TV Signal
  18. Repeat the tuner process but this time select the Analogue tuner and go through setup normally against that
  19. Once complete, check that the FM Radio and Analogue TV do work (do not worry if you do not have a picture)
  20. Exit Media Centre
  21. Open Regedit
  22. Navigate to :
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Media Center
  23. Export the entire key Media Center and everything below it to a reg file. Call it:
    Analogue.reg
  24. Create a copy of Digital.reg and name it Hybrid.reg
  25. Open Hybrid.reg and Analogue.reg side by side. What you will do in the fairly complicated instructions that follow is copy the configured tuner settings for the analogue tuner and merge them into the same settings file with the digital tuner configuration data. This is fairly complicated, so be sure to take it slowly.
  26. Search the Hybrid.reg for:
    UserSettings\TuneRequest\Tuning Space\Default Locator
  27. Scroll back to the left and look at the first GUID in this key’s path e.g.
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Media Center\Service\Video\Tuners\{71985F48-1CA1-11D3-9CC8-00C04F7971E0}
    Note that this is tuner specific, if you are using a different model tuner this may be different
  28. If you look down to the NEXT key path, the first path GUID will be different e.g.
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Media Center\Service\Video\Tuners\{A799A800-A46D-11D0-A18C-00A02401DCD4}
  29. Search Analogue.reg for this ‘new’ GUID (the second one – A799A800… in my example)
  30. Copy all lines of data associated with the second GUID Path i.e. if the key path still contains A799A800… copy it and its data
  31. Pate the data OVER the same data in Hybrid.reg so that you have full data sets for BOTH GUID’s present in the same reg file.
  32. Save Hybrid.reg and close it and Analogue.reg
  33. Import Hybrid.reg into the Windows Registry
  34. Open Media Centre
  35. Go through the tuner setup process for the DVB-T tuner again
  36. Close Media Centre
  37. In regedit navigate to (create the key if necessary):
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Media Center\Settings\Radio
  38. If it doesn’t already exist inside this key create a new REG_SZ (String) called:
    _radioHardwareExists
    that is “underscore”radioHardwareExists
  39. Set the value of _radioHardwareExists to:
    True
  40. Open Media Centre. You will now have access to the Radio Tuner and be able to watch DVB-T (though not at the same time of course)

If anything goes terribly wrong during this process and/or you want to start again. in Regedit delete the entire key:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Media Center

Then simply import the Digital.reg file that you backed up at the beginning of the process. If you backup the .reg settings files, should you ever come to format your system again you will be able to simply re-import them into Media Centre (you may need to adjust the GUID values).

Error: “Can’t load SMART Utilities library (code 5) Access is denied” when printing to a Samsung Colour Laser Printer CLP-300N

System Requirements:

  • Windows 2000 Professional
  • Windows XP Home, Professional
  • Windows Server 2003
  • Windows Vista

The Problem:

When a user who is not a local/domain administrator prints to your print server you may receive the following error message on the local console account of the Print Server (Windows Server 2003).

SMART UI 32-bits Gateway error
Can’t load SMART Utilities library (code 5)
Access is denied.

SMART code 5 error message

Depending upon your situation, you may receive this error when:

  • Any user attempts to send any print job to the printer via the share
  • When a user attempts to print from Microsoft Internet Explorer and not from other applications

The error occurs using driver 1.63.11 on 2000/XP/2003 and 3.03 under Windows Vista when communicated with a printer server rather than the printer NIC directly.

If you are serving the share from 2000 or XP you shouldn’t see this issue.

More Information:

So you get a new laser printer, and the last thing that you expect is that every time someone tries to print you wind up with a support call to unblock the print queue! Yet this is exactly what Samsung seem to expect you to do.

I didn’t fiddle around when I heard about this, I checked the drivers were up to date and just logged a support call with Samsung who called back – be it 5 hours later than promised…

The support call in summary:

  1. Calls, registers
  2. Explanation of problem that printer needs unblocking every time someone sends a print job
  3. Gets put on call back queue
  4. Call back does happen, but 5 hours later than originally told
  5. Looks on expert system
  6. Expert system draws a blank
  7. Me: “Can I speak to a higher level 1 support agent?”
    Samsung: “No”
  8. Me: “Can I speak to a developer and fault report it?”
    Samsung: “No”
  9. Me: “Can you tell me when the next driver revision is due to be released?”
    Samsung: “No”
  10. Me: “Is there a new driver revision in the pipe-line?”
    Samsung: “I don’t know”
    Me: “Can you find out?”
    Samsung: “No”
  11. Me: “What are you going to do about it?”
    Samsung: “There is nothing that I can do?”
  12. The samsung guy now Google’s the problem and find exactly the same support material that I had already gone through to no avail from a user community web site Samsung guy starts reading it to me, and just to be annoying I interrupted him mid way through and continued to read the same paragraph to him from the same web page ending
    Me: “Yes I can Google too, this doesn’t work”
  13. Samsung guy now tells me to do one of the suggestions on the comments to the Google search result:
    Samsung: “If you format the server that will fix it”
    Me: “Are you out of your mind! I’m not formatting a domain controller to fix a printer problem, especially when the thing was only installed 2 months ago and there is no evidence that it would even fix the problem” (This article exists because it will not fix the problem)
    Samsung: “That is all I can suggest”
  14. Samsung guy now tells me that because there is something on Google he is sure that a developer must be aware of it and will be working on it
  15. Exasperated by this point
    Me: “OK, how about a past driver revision, perhaps if we go back to an older v1 it will sort itself out?”
    Samsung: “No, I can’t do that, I don’t have access to drivers, we can’t give them to you”
    Me: “Can you put me through to someone who can”
    Samsung: “No, there isn’t anyone”
    Me: “Can you escalate this request?”
    Samsung: “No”
  16. Me: “Can you escalate this request with a developer, supervisor or manager?”
    Samsung: “No”
  17. Me: “What do you expect us to do?”
    Samsung: “I don’t know”
  18. I summarised the situation to the monosyllabic individual on the other end of the phone
    Me: “So what you are saying is that as an organisation you find the fact that you’ve just sold us a brand new network laser printer that cannot accept a print job unless an administrator physically logs into the system console and clicks OK to an error message for each and every print job from a non-administrative user? The only advice you are willing to give me is to format an in-use domain controller to fix a printer driver problem and you find this an acceptable solution and are not willing to do anything about it?”
    … and this was the best bit:
    Samsung: “Yes”
  19. I have to say that at that point I pretty much put the phone down with a few monosyllabic intonations of my own, only realising as I did it that I didn’t tell them that they would be removed from the buying list for this.

 

The Moral of the Story

Don’t buy Samsung Printers and certainly don’t bother with their technical support in the UK.

I sincerely hope that someone in Samsung UK does read this page and does take on board the above, because quite frankly there are some serious issues in their support department.

… and yes, Samsung are no longer on any of my or my clients purchase lists.

The Fix

A couple of months went by between the support call and me actually getting around to looking at it properly – a couple of very, very aggravating months by all accounts.

In a nut shell and after some forensic analysis and some perplexing:

When your user sends off a print job to the print server, it trips off a user-level instance inside the spoolsv.exe, which determines ultimately the permissions that the user is going to have for their print job, sets up the print environment and negotiates with the driver to receive validated queue objects.

For some CONVLUTED reason, the Samsung driver is telling the spoolsv.exe process that it needs to make use of NTVDM.exe under the credentials of the user who transmitted the print job.

If you do not know, NTVDM is the NT Virtual Desktop Manager, it is the process wrapper service used to execute 16-bit (yes 16-bit) code under the 32-bit environment of Win32 (in this case).

One question: Why?
This is a printer designed exclusively for use against NT 5.0 and above (Windows 2000+), so why in blazes does it need access to a 16-bit host process to print something?!?!

This is where your having Windows Server 2003 comes into play, because there are security model changes between 2000, XP and 2003 that have caused this problem.

Windows 2000

Under Windows 2000 the default permissions for NTVDM.exe are…

  • Administrators (F)
  • Everyone (R & E)
  • Power Users (R & E)
  • SYSTEM (F)
  • Users (R & E)

Windows XP

Similarly under Windows XP…

  • Administrators (F)
  • Power Users (R & E) [Professional Only]
  • System (F)
  • Users (R & E)

Windows Server 2003

Lastly under Windows Server 2003…

  • Administrators (F)
  • Batch (R & E)
  • Interactive (R & E)
  • Service (R & E)
  • System (F)

The solution should now be self-explanatory, the user/domain user account has no access to NTVDM.exe under Windows Server 2003 by default, therefore you simply need to give the user groups Read & Execute access to the NTVDM.exe on the Widows 2003 Server that you are sharing the printer from and it will solve the access denied problem that plagues this particular driver.

This isn’t a particularly great solution as it means modifying default Microsoft file permissions, however, it will make the printer work without you having to live in front of a console session between 9am and 5pm.

… it just doesn’t explain why it needs access to NTVDM in the first place.