Parameter Hunting: Part II

In my last post on the subject, I discussed the concept of using Process Explorer to discover switches you can use for unattended installs/uninstalls used in enterprise software deployment.

Like before, I have a pesky setup.exe package that wants to guide me through an installation GUI, and would not respond to the usual setup.exe /s /q etc. and so forth…

This particular installer was for a very obscure serial hub manufacturer so there was Googling my way out of this; instead I needed to figure out what was used to build the installer, then work backward from there.

Once against, I launched my trusty Process Explorer (as Administrator) and inspected the setup.exe’s process…to my delight, scrolling down the “Strings” tab I came across this:

Note the string, “This installation was built with Inno Setup.” With that in mind, I was able to look up the documentation associated with the package builder to discover the built-in parameters I needed for silent installation.

While this specific technique might not work for every situation, it never hurts to have another tool in your toolbox!

Microsoft CSAT Survey II: Someone Listened!

It’s not often something changes for the better, but I’m always pleased when they do!

Once again, I’ve found myself tasked with attaining Microsoft Gold level partnership for my employer. For those who have never had the pleasure, the process consists of attaining a combination of competencies (associated certified professionals, tested products etc.), customer references and the dreaded CSAT (Customer Satisfaction) survey.

In the past, the CSAT consisted of 30 questions, many of which applied to Microsoft product resale, which isn’t applicable to many would-be partners.While questions could be added (though I can’t imagine why anyone would want to), none could be removed.

Since then (about April of 2013 or so), the survey was reduced to only 5 questions that actually pertain to customer satisfaction – imagine that!

It’s hard enough asking for a customer’s time to fill out a survey, but if I must, I’d prefer it be short and to the point. I believe this iteration of the CSAT does just that.

So why the change? Did someone at Microsoft read my 2009 rant on the subject and act accordingly? Doubtful, but it’s a nice thought anyway :). Regardless, I’m happy it did, and hope this trend continues!

A Tale of Two Plugs

I’ve been living and working in Saudi Arabia for about 8 months now, and in this part of the world, the most common outlet types I’ve encountered are the two pronged German “Schuko” CEE 7/4 plug and the three pronged British Standard 1363 plug (see image below):


From left to right: NEMA (ungrounded and grounded), German “Schuko” CEE 7/4, British Standard 1363.

The BS plug (no pun intended) is what came with my work-issued IBM Thinkpad, which came with me back to the States. When I returned to my office this morning and powered up my laptop, I was greeted with this:

Upon further inspection, I was able to determine why:

What you’re looking at are two deep scratches where the prongs of the BS 1363 plug impacted back of the display, fracturing the screen on the other side. The AC Adapter and Laptop were placed inside my soft case, which was packed in my checked luggage bag. The laptop and AC Adapter were placed in separate compartments of the soft case, which seemed to offer sufficient protection.

This kind of damage is virtually impossible to accomplish with a NEMA plug, and with the inner partition of the case between the laptop and the adapter, it never would have occurred to me that this could happen. Some BS 1363’s plugs feature folding prongs (e.g. SlimPlug, ThinPlug), though these products were developed to cope with size – nevertheless, my laptop AC Adapter wasn’t equipped with folding prongs…

The good news is, being a relatively new laptop, it’s still under warranty, and our vendor can come out and replace the display for me!

Moral of the story? If your device uses a BS 1363 plug, be sure to wrap something around the prongs to keep them from banging up other equipment it might be stored with during transport :).


Disabling SSL v2 in Server 2008 x64 and Server 2008 R2

Disclaimer: Always back up your registry prior to making changes!

Incorrect entries can cause unexpected behavior, and may even render your operating system unusable! I disclaim any responsibility for damages, loss of data or any other issues resulting from registry changes.

While this worked for me, every environment is different, so use this at your own risk!

I recently assisted a client with getting a Windows Server 2008 R2 machine in compliance with Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards.

PCI compliance is very important for eCommerce sites and anyone handling credit card information.

We used a 3rd party testing tool that scanned for open ports, SSL version support, as well as allowed encryption/cipher combinations. The first few tests failed due to SSL 2.0 support in Server 2008 R2/IIS7.5.

I found an article on Microsoft’s support site which described how to disable IIS protocols by modifying the registry (this can’t be done through IIS Manager):

Here’s where it gets confusing. I followed the instructions and browsed to:


As the article points out, the “SSL 1.0,” “SSL 2.0,” “SSL 3.0” subkeys are typically there. Note the use of the word Typically rather than Always, meaning that sometimes they’re bloody well NOT there, as was the case with my server!

The article goes on to say, “create a new DWORD value in the server subkey of the protocol.” I have big problem with this phrasing given the ubiquity of the word, “Server.” The instructions do not explicitly tell you to create a new subkey under “SSL 2.0” called “Server” and to place the DWORD in there, so naturally, I wrongly assumed that the DWORD went in “SSL 2.0” instead, which didn’t work.

After a little digging, I came across another a post on the forums by a user named Pawel Dolny who did a much better job of explaining things:

When you follow his article, be sure to create subkeys called “Server” and “Client” in each of the SSL protocol keys, then add a DWORD in each called “Enabled” with a value of “0” to disable it (or 1 to enable it, as would be the case for SSL 3.0).

He also covers enabling/disabling ciphers. Once you’ve rebooted, you can test your site to verify the changes:

I hope this helps someone!

Slipsteaming Drivers into Windows Setup CDs/DVDs

NOTE: This post was written almost 10 years ago, and republished here for posterity. As such, no attempt has been made to update the links or information below.

I recently had to repair an installation of Windows Server 2003. Unfortunately, Windows Setup was unable to automatically detect my RAID controller, and while you can press F6 during setup to provider a 3rd party driver, this won’t work for computers without floppy drives.

One solution is to “slipstream” the drivers you need into your Windows Setup media. Slipstreaming is a technique used to insert additional drivers, updates and service packs into your installation disks. This can be done manually by manipulating installation files, or by using a 3rd party tool such as nLite (vLite is the Vista version), AutoStream and PE Builder. I personally prefer nLite because it’s free, relatively easy to use, and works with a wide range of Microsoft OS’s. Best of all, you can also use it to remove unwanted or unneeded components, tweak system options, or set preferences in advance to create an unattended setup disk. Here’s procedure I used:

  1. Download and install nLite (
  2. Copy the contents of your Windows setup CD to a folder on your hard drive (e.g. N:\Windows Setup Files)
  3. Start the nLite application, the click Next to advance to the source file screen
  4. Browse to the files you copied above, click Next again. nLite will detect the OS type, then click Next again to proceed
  5. The next screen gives you the ability choose a previous configuration if you have one, or you can click Next again to skip it and start fresh
  6. The next screen allows you pick and choose what features you want to manipulate, I chose “Integrate > Drivers” and “Create > Bootable ISO”, then Next to take you to the Driver selection screen
  7. Click Insert. If your driver directory comes with multiple .INF or .SYS files, you should select Multiple Driver Folder, otherwise, you can use Single Driver
  8. There will be a pop-up window prompting you to select a driver and a mode. The options are Textmode or PnP. Anything that you need to pre-load prior to installation should be installed as Textmode. NOTE: Be sure to use “Textmode” for any drivers windows will need to begin setup! I chose this option for my RAID controller drivers.
  9. Push Ok > Next to proceed, and when prompted, choose Yes to start the process
  10. When done, it should display the create window. At this point, you can create an ISO or burn the image directly to the CD There you have it!