Fixed: Office 2010 installation with MAK key gives Error: Can’t decode PIDKey – Invalid digits! ErrorCode: 0(0x0)

After doing an administrative installation of Office Professional Plus 2010 for a client, I was trying to test the installation of office on a desktop machine but kept getting “Error: Can’t decode PIDKey – Invalid digits! ErrorCode: 0(0x0).” as the error message. I confirmed that the key was correct by doing a manual installation of the software and using the same product key that was successful. I was unable to find any useful pages on the internet with this error message so ended up logging a call with Microsoft Product Support to troubleshoot the installation.

Our troubleshooting steps were to remove the updates folder completely and try an installation – this worked so we knew the problem was in the updates directory. Recopying back the files from the extracted service pack 1 dvd worked successfully so the problem was either service pack 2 or the setup.msp file. I copied back the sp2 files and again the software installed successfully (note that having a virtual test pc makes these tests very easy. No uninstalling of office required!)  Again the installation was successful. I then copied the setup.msp file back into the updates directory and the installation failed again. As the configurations that are made in the setup.msp can either be set in the config.xml or group policy it was ok to proceed without using the setup.msp.

Full details of the log files and more information can also be found at the Microsoft forums where I posted the initial request for help.

Fixed: Facebook update constantly downloading and google play not working afterwards.

Last week my mobile phone started to constantly download a Facebook update which was draining the battery due to the constant downloading attempts. Trying to stop the download, I somehow managed to disable the download manager – this did fix the problem but for some reason also stops the Google play store from working. Every time I opened Google Play the application would just disappear from the screen. There was no forced close error message.  This was a bit of a problem as I had removed the Facebook app from my phone trying to stop the download and then was unable to reinstall it as the store would not open.

To fix this issue, Open Settings, Application Manager, scroll to All applications and then scroll down to the bottom of the screen. It is necessary to scroll all the way down as the disabled applications are at the bottom of the alphabetical list. Click on Downloads and then enable the application.

The app store will then start working and hopefully you won’t get the facebook update pushed down to your phone (I didn’t at least)

Fixed: bootshieldsvc and offline files disabled after a reboot for Lenovo machines)

For the short answer go here.
For those of you that follow me on Facebook, you may have seen my frustration with Microsoft support. I had to log a support call with their support as every time my computer rebooted, offline files were disabled. Unfortunately the technician attempting to support me obviously had no idea of what offline files were or even how to create a new user account in Windows7 (to troubleshoot if it was my account or not that was causing the problem). At no point in time did either of the 3 techs look at the event log, despite me trying to tell them there was issues reported in the log.
To cut a very long and frustrating story short, I initially followed the diagnostic steps at Jonathan’s blog and the follow up post but the setting was still disabled after a reboot. I did find that enabling the offline files service from disabled (or manual) and then starting the service, the offline files were temporarily enabled.
As part of this troubleshooting step, the issue was obviously something resetting the services on startup so off to the eventlogs. The Offline Event Logs section had nothing in it out of the ordinary but my Application log was full of Bootshieldsvc errors. One “offline files bootshieldsvc” search later
shows this is a known problem with Lenovo’s rapid boot software. The Rapidshield patch from Lenovo was downloaded, extracted, installed and the pc rebooted and sure enough offline files was STILL not enabled. Urgh.
clicking start, and entering RapidBoot confirms the version is 1.23 and the gui has an option to disable the feature. This requires a reboot so I used the opportunity to re-enable offline files again and rebooted – STILL disabled. After another reboot, just to be sure Offline files was still disabled. Checking RapidShield Gui, the software claims it is not running, but checking the application log after a reboot still shows the various errors – for example Event 256 for BootShieldsvc – “An error has occured (—query FLAG_AUTO_SVC_CHANGED key success failed with 1,The Code is:0x24.).
Apart from the fact that there is a “success failed” – it’s really not encouraging that software is still running and making changes despite it being disabled. Next stop was an uninstall (and enabling offline files again) followed by yet another reboot. It’s a good thing this machine is fast at rebooting.
So after uninstalling – the problem still occurs – arghhhhhhhh.
Checking the status of the Offline Files service I noticed it was still set to manual. Comparing against another machine where offline files works, the service should be set to automatic. I changed the service to automatic and started. Offline files was now showing it was enabled. Another reboot and the service was back to manual again and offline files disabled – more arghhhhhhhhhhh
Next stop is to try and hack out the Fast Boot Service of Lenovo. UNfortunately I get access denied when trying to stop the service. msconfig stops the service but it still somehow manages to try and make changes as evidenced by the events in the eventlog after a reboot.
sc delete “BootShieldSvc” from an elevated command line also removes the service but it comes back after a reboot. After a reboot into safe mode I was able to disable the Fast Boot Service of Lenovo, set the Offline Files to be automatic and now offline files works.

In Summary –
Uninstall the Lenovo Rapidshield software (or upgrade).
If that fails – boot into safe mode, disable Fast Boot Service of Lenovo, Set Offline Files to automatic.

Fixed: Firefox Autocomplete address bar is empty – disable the Delicious plugin

During the past week my Firefox (v16.0) Autocomplete drop down box has had missing text appear when I start typing in the address bar as seen in the screenshot below.
Firefox autocomplete address has missing text in the drop down.
Initially I thought it was Firefox using up too much memory, but the problem occurred on all of my machines even after a recent reboot so some troubleshooting was required.
After restarting Firefox in safe mode (Click the firefox button, choose Help, Restart with add-ons disabled) I confirmed it was a problem with one of my extensions. It took several minutes to disable half the addons and see if the problem continued and then repeat the process until I could work out the offending solution.
It turns out it was the Delicious addon (v3.2.1). Disabling this I have a drop down box with url’s that I can see. The proper behaviour is shown below. The A’s are greyed out as that is the character I typed to start the autocomplete sequence off.
All Autocomplete details shown with Delicious addon disabled
With only this extension enabled I get the problem so it’s not a combination of extensions having problems. I have reported this extension as incompatible.

Fixed: Installing Powershell 3 fails on Windows7 with “The update is not applicable to your computer”

Powershell 3 was released this week and is now available to download for Windows 7 (sp1) platforms. I tried to install it on my home machine this weekend and got
“The update is not applicable to your computer”. It turns out that this is actually because .net framework 4 (or higher) has not been installed.
The full .net 4 framework package is available at http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=17718 or you could install the newer 4.5 framework at http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=30653. Make sure that you close the false powershell installation before attempting the .net installation or the .net will try to install for about 5 minutes on your computer and then complain that another install is already in use and does not give you the option to retry. You can only abort and then run the whole installation again. All in all a pretty bad user experience for trying to install the software.

Thanks to the Troubleshooting guide for the beta version of Powershell 3 that tipped me off for the pre-reqs which are not mentioned on the original download page for Powershell 3 and unfortunately there is no place on that web page to provide feedback.

Fixed – Sharepoint returns “Could not access the Search administration database. A generic error occurred while trying to access the database to obtain the schema version info. “

I’ve been fighting working with SharePoint for about a week and trying to get the Search Service started on my SharePoint Server. The only thing that seemed consistent in all the troubleshooting was that the SharePoint error messages were only slightly more helpful than “An error has occurred”. I ended logging a PSS support call with Microsoft and didn’t get very far for a while. My SharePoint farm consisted of the SharePoint Server and a separate SQL server to host the data and attempting to start the service I would get ‘Could not access the Search administration database. A generic error occurred while trying to access the database to obtain the schema version info.’
There are several other posts out there on updating the version of SharePoint to the latest Service Pack, Installing the latest cumulative update(2598321) and ensuring that the protocols were enabled on the SQL instance. All things I corrected, applied and did not fix the issue. (Note that installing the latest cumulative update DOES require a reboot and may stop SharePoint working until you do reboot – so make sure you install this out of hours.)
Upgrading the database is done with ‘psconfig -cmd upgrade -inplace b2b -force -cmd applicationcontent -install -cmd installfeatures’ After running this command I noticed that the checking the status of the server with (get-spserver servername).NeedsUpdate would work fine on the SQL server, but running against the SQL server from the Sharepoint Server, it would tell me the database needed updating.
On one of my servers, Add/Remove Programs said that the hotfix was not required yet the Admin console on the website said it was. This issue was fixed with a “psconfig -cmd installcheck -noinstallcheck” (Thanks to http://tinyurl.com/7pkrbem)

After starting the service on the sql server instance, we wanted to get the SharePoint Server working as originally intended. After a long time of troubleshooting, our next step was to uninstall the SQL Native Client and reinstall it. As I went to uninstall the Native Client, Add/Remove programs told me the package was not installed. A repair or modify would not work either. Opening Regedit and searching for Native Client under HKey_Classes_Root\installer and deleting this key meant I was then able to reinstall the NativeClient.
We then tried starting the service and this time it worked. The strange thing is that some communications between the SharePoint server and the SQL server were obviously working fine – the database on SQL was created with no problems and SharePoint could see the data – it’s just weird that the initialising/upgrading of the database required the SQL native client but did not give any useful information that pointed to this fact.

Howto: Remove Roku from Amazon account (or other devices)

Amazon and Roku seem to make it hard to delete a Roku or other device from your Amazon account and most people say to go to the My Digital library and remove the device. However at time of writing (March 2012) this advice is incorrect.
Instead sign into your amazon account and then go to https://www.amazon.com/gp/video/ontv/pin
You will have your roku or other device listed, select delete and then confirm the deletion. Seconds later you will be able to register your roku with Amazon again. Of course if you don’t have access to the original Amazon account then you will need to factory reset the Roku first.

Fixed: Google Music not working in Firefox

I’ve never been able to get Google Music working in Firefox. Ironically, IE was the only browser that I could get it to work in. I could log in, see all my music but whenever I clicked on a song to play, I would get “Oops, we have a technical issue:Please refresh this page in your browser to get back to listening to your music. If issues persist, make sure you have Flash enabled and working.” Naturally I am already at the latest version of flash and clearing the cache etc didn’t work. I searched this afternoon and came across this thread which recommended adding music.google.com to the flashblock whitelist and sure enough it worked. Thanks to JackieGleason who posted the question on their linux box, fixed it themselves and then posted the solution.

Fixed:Corrupt contacts in outlook but they appear ok on phone.

Had a weird problem this morning with a user that had issues with incorrect data appearing in their outlook contacts. When you looked at the contacts in Outlook 2007, the Full Name was typically somebody else, yet the email address and name displayed in Outlook would be correct. Occasionally things like company name would appear incorrect. Looking at the phone, the data looked correct however the phone typically does not seem to use all of the fields that outlook2007 displays.
When I looked at the contacts within OWA the data looked ok. In OWA I changed the middle name on one of the corrupted contacts (although it looked correct in OWA) and then switched back to Outlook – the contact was now showing the middle name as expected, but the rest of the data was also coming across correctly. I took out the middle name within OWA and sure enough Outlook removed the middle name too and the contact was now correct.
The next stage was just to open the contact in OWA and hit save and close. This fixed the contact in Outlook too. I have no idea why this issue occured, and thankfully there are not *too* many contacts to open (only 170 in total) but just opening and then doing a Save and Close fixes the issue.
It will be interesting to see if this issue reoccurs.

Fixed: DigitalPersona fingerprint reader with roaming profiles not saving passwords

The new laptop has a fingerprint reader included and comes with DigitalPersona’s fingerprint software. At first glance, this looks like a useful piece of software but after trying to use it, I’ve found it very buggy and the support is non-existant.  DigitalPersona offer no support for the product and refer  you to the OEM partner, in my case Dell, who have nothing in their knowledge base about this product either.

My problem was to do with our roaming profile. After receiving the laptop last night I synched (or so I thought) to the domain, took the machine home and logged in. Windows7 decides that it can’t load my profile and uses the temporary saved copy – all well and good for now, my desktop background, images, shortcuts etc all exist.  However every time I go to add a new website in DigitalPersona, it seems to take the information but does not actually save it to the machine.  Suspecting roaming profiles, I created a local user, logged on as that user and registered my fingers. Note that if you do this, when you use the Windows Login Screen and your finger to login, the pc automatically logs you in without asking which user you want to use. I’m not sure how it determines which user to use, but in my case it used my local user (which was also the most recently created user).

After logging on as the local user I was then able to launch Internet Explorer (9), log into gmail, facebook and this blog and register my usernames and passwords and DigitalPersona kept the information. At this point I also used the option to download and install updates to the software – the most recent version that is now running on the pc is 5.30.252a. Note to get to the updates, click on the plus sign by central management and then the update tab appears.

I then logged off the machine and logged back as my domain account. Tried to use DigitalPersona and yet again the software refused to take my passwords.  I opened explorer up, browsed to %appdata% and sure enough – there was no DigitalPersona directory.  I then browsed to c:\users\localusername\appdata\local and checked out the DigitalPersona directory. This contains an OTS directory and then a _dp_ots_tmp and DPIconCache directory. The tmp directory was empty and the DPIconCache directory contained an icon for the sites I’d saved the password to. I copied the DigitalPersona directroy from the localusers\appdata\local directory to my own %appdata% directory and magically was able to start saving passwords in IE9.

Unfortunately I’ve yet to get the program to work with Firefox or Keepass – the program is unable to detect Firefox or Keepass having a login window.

If anyone has a better (preferably free) password manager that works with IE, Firefox, Chrome and Keepass (last is optional) then please let me know.