CISCO VPN Error 442 and Windows 8.1

After upgrading to Windows 8.1 I had issues running Cisco VPN software. When attempting to run I got an error 442. (Note this applies to Cisco VPN, not Cisco AnyConnect.) As a first step in troubleshooting I ensured that I was on the latest version, 5.0.07.0440.

As I was already on the latest version, I began to do some web searching. Likely you, as I did, found many blog posts referring to a fix for the registry. In case you haven’t seen it, the basic instructions are:

1. Open RegEdit.

2. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\CVirtA

3. If the DisplayName does not already read:

Cisco Systems VPN Adapter for 64 bit Windows

Change it so matches what you see above. Some installs have some “gibberish” on the front, this should be removed. In my case it was already set to what you see above, so it was on to the next step. After some more searching and experimentation, I finally came upon a solution that worked for me.

Open Windows Explorer, and navigate to C:\Program Files (x86)\Cisco Systems\VPN Client. Right click on the first .exe you find, in my case cisco_cert_mgr.exe and pick Properties from the menu. Switch to the Compatibility page.

Check on “Run this program in compatibility mode for:” and pick Windows 7. Then at the bottom, check on “Run this program as an administrator. Then click on OK.

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Repeat this for every exe in the folder.

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Unfortunately you can’t apply these in mass, you have to do these one at a time. There’s only a handful though so it shouldn’t take long.

After you are done, reboot. Before you run the VPN software, verify the Cisco network connector is not active by going to Control Panel, Network and Internet, Network Connections and validate the Cisco Systems VPN Adapter for 64 bit Windows is Disabled.

Note after you connect this will become Enabled, you just want to be sure it is disabled before you connect. If you see multiple connections for the Cisco adapter, you will need to delete the excess ones, I’ve also seen suggestions to uninstall the Cisco VPN, make sure all the Cisco connections are deleted, then reinstall. I didn’t have to go through this though, so your mileage may vary.

Also note that after you reboot, you may see a prompt asking if you want to run the Cisco service as Administrator, naturally you’ll say Yes. Then go run the Cisco VPN client again, confirming you want to run as an Admin, and you should be good to go!

Windows 7 and the Asus Eee PC 1000HE

I’ve had my eye on a netbook for some time, while I like my 17 inch laptop for all day developing, it’s a bit large for lugging to code camps. In addition the battery life has slowly been dwindling over the years, so I wanted something with long battery life.

image After some consideration, I picked the Asus PC 1000HE. It has a 10 inch display, it’s keyboard is 92% size and surprisingly comfortable even for my huge hands. The battery life so far has been phenomenal. Running on the mid level power setting with the back light at almost full bright and all the wireless turned on I still get over six hours. I imagine if I ran it in power saving mode, and doing the tweaks I could easily achieve the 9.5 hours of advertised battery life.

I did opt for the extra chip to expand to 2 gig, replacing the 1 gig chip with the 2 took me all of 10 minutes.

The unit came with XP Home, but I’ve been using Windows 7 since the public beta and couldn’t face going back to XP. Thus the first thing I did was install Windows 7 on the Asus.

So far, the only thing I have found that Windows 7 did not recognize was the hard wired Ethernet jack. This was easily remedied. I went to the downloads section of the Asus website and picked out my machine, with the XP Home system. I quickly found the LAN driver and downloaded it.

Since it was a Zip all I had to do was expand it, then I went into Windows 7 device manager and found the "unrecognized" Ethernet jack. I told Windows 7 to look for a new driver, pointed it to the folder where I had unzipped it to and boom it worked.

I have not had the opportunity to test the built in camera or microphones, but Windows device manager shows them as being present and fully functional.

So far I’ve installed what I call the Office "basics", Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Visio Viewer and all of them work. I installed Virtual PC 2007, and while it ran my virtual machines it was just a tad on the slow side. Not to be unusable, but a slow experience.

In addition I didn’t want to always have to lug around an external drive with my VPCs on it, so I went ahead and installed Visual Studio 2008 (with SP1) and SQL Server 2008 Developer (with the GDR extensions). So far both seem to run fine, although I haven’t put them to anything extensive as of yet.

In the short time I’ve had the machine, there are a few tips I’ve picked up that I would like to pass along.

F11
Get used to the F11 (the typical shortcut), or "Full Screen" mode for your web browser. It makes browsing a very nice experience. Without it the tabs, url bar and window title bar, plus any of the extra tool bars that get installed will easily suck up 1/3 to 1/2 of the 600 vertical pixels. Full Screen mode makes this pretty much irrelevant. I can easily see everything I need to on a website in full 1024×600 mode.

Hide the Ribbon
In Office, you can hide the ribbon toolbar by simply double clicking on one of the ribbon tabs. When you hover over the tab the ribbon will appear. This saves a lot of real estate, but makes it quite easy to still use the ribbon. In addition you can easily toggle the hidden mode by double clicking a tab again to unhide the ribbon. 

Hide the Taskbar
Right click on Windows 7’s taskbar, select properties, then check the "Auto-hide the Taskbar". While the Taskbar doesn’t seem to take up much room, you’d be surprised how nice having that little bit of extra real estate can be.

TouchCursor
The one thing I don’t like about the design of the 1000HE’s keyboard is that the Home, End, Page Up, and Page Down keys are not their own keys. Instead you have to press the blue Fn key, then the left, right, up or down arrows to access these often used keys.

Instead I use a little app called TouchCursor. With it I can setup alternate key combos for these and other keys so that I never have to move my hands off the "home" keys on the letters. By default the spacebar is the toggle key, so SpaceBar + I moves the cursor up one row, SpaceBar + K moves it back down.

(Note, if you are a fan of CodeRush, you’ll know it too wants to use the space bar. Fortunately TouchCursor is configurable, so I changed the toggle from the SpaceBar to the letter A. Now on my system A+I is up, A+K is down, etc. )

That’s all I have on the Asus for now, but I’ll soon be putting it through it’s paces. Thursday night I will be speaking at the BSDA, then Saturday I will be at the Atlanta Code Camp giving a 9 am presentation on SQL Server Full Text Searching. After that I’ll be sure to blog and let you know how having the small form factor laptop worked for doing presentations.

If you have any handy tips for using the small netbooks, please leave a comment with your tip or suggestion. I’d love to hear about them!

LifeCam VX-5000

livecamvx5000 I decided to extend my web presence by getting a web camera. This will add to what I can post, plus let me start doing more video conferencing using tools like Live Messenger and Skype. After looking I decided on the Microsoft LifeCam VX-5000. I’ve only had it a few days but I have been really impressed. It does really great at very low light. It also has a built in microphone, so for travel I don’t have to lug around a separate headset or microphone to use with it.

So far I have tested with both Windows Live Messenger and Skype, and had no issues. I’m looking forward to doing some more experiments, and seeing what else I can do with it. I might try some vidoes on 12seconds.tv (if I can get in), or try using with with Camtasia.

I selected the VX-5000 for several reasons.

  1. The size. It’s quite small, for someone who moves around it’s nice and compact, doesn’t take up a lot of space in my backpack.
  2. Low light. I read it did well in low light, that was an understatement. This thing is great even in very dim light.
  3. Built in mic. As I mentioned, it has a built in mic, so I don’t have to use an external one (although I can). That’s great in travel situations where space is at a premium in my already over stuffed backpack.
  4. Price. This was less than 40 bucks, so it was a really good deal.

Well, don’t want to come off like an advertisement, I just had a cool new geek toy and thought I’d share. Hope to have some videos up in the future as I work with the product and learn it’s ins and outs.

Productivity and Toilet Seats

Recently I bought a new toilet seat. It’s freed up my time to do more productive things. Now, before you hit the speed dial to have the old Arcane Coder hauled off in a pretty white jacket with straps and shiny buckles on the back, bear with me.

You average toilet seat takes about 4 seconds to put down, assuming you do it gently and don’t slam it. I recently spent a few extra dollars to get a spring loaded toilet seat. All I have to do is nudge it and it gently lowers itself to the lowered position. 1 second of my time to nudge, versus 4 seconds. Not to get too personal, but we’ll say I need to lower the seat 4 times a day on average. That means I’ve saved 12 seconds a day. Doesn’t sound like much, but count that up over a year, it winds up saving me 73 minutes a year. What can I do with that 73 minutes a year I’m not spending on doing something as mundane as lowering toilet seat? Play XBox with my kids, read a book, listen to a podcast, or even write blog posts.

I’m always looking for ways to save time, as time is the one thing we all have the same amount of. Do you have a laptop you regularly take between home and work? Get a second power supply and mouse, leave one at home and one at work. You save a lot of time and effort by just unhooking your laptop and dropping it in your bag versus having to fiddle with all the cords, plugging and unplugging.

My Zune is another productivity gadget. Using it I can keep up my education via podcasts while doing things like driving, cutting the grass, or even shopping. Likewise my PDA keeps a lot of information at my fingertips, which saves me from running back and forth to my PC several times a day.

Time is the one equalizer, the one thing we all have the same amount of. In my mind then, any sort of gadget which gives us back time to do other things is a worthwhile investment.

So what kind of tools do you use to gain productive time in your life?

Bug.Net, Zune TV, and My Sony MiniDV Handycam

Tonight’s Bug.Net meeting was sort of weird, when I got there I was the only one there. Not sure where everyone got to, but 3 other guys showed up while I was there, so we had an impromptu meeting. I wound up giving my “Developer Experience” presentation for the small group. I want to thank the three for hanging in there with me during the hastily put on demonstration. It was fun to do something for a small group.

When I got home I decided to give hooking my Zune up to my TV a try and see how it handled video. I don’t have my official Zune cable for hooking up the TV (yet), but I do have a cable that I got with my Sony Mini-DV Handicam. The two looked identical, at least from what I could see of the Zune cable on the web, so I decided to give it a try. Hooked up the various colors correctly, plugged the other end into the Zune and… nuthin. Butkis. Squat. Static filled the display. My first thought was “oh well I’ll need to wait”, but then some of the things I’d studied getting my ham radio license kicked in. Hmm, the cables LOOKED identical, and electrons flow the same, so perhaps the problem wasn’t with the cable exactly, maybe the Zune just used a different output than the Sony to carry the video signal.

So I unhooked the 3 RCA plugs, and this time plugged the red end of the Sony cable into the Yellow video In port of my TV. Eureka! I hooked up the other two to the audio and now I’m watching the Mix keynote on my small office TV, from the Zune. Sweet. My moral is if you have a spare cable from a Sony or other manufacturer, give it a try (at your own risk of course) and if it’s not working right off the bat, try swapping the ends as I suggested until you get some output.

Speaking of video, I already mentioned Doug Turnure will be speaking Thursday night (March 13) at the BSDA. We’re planning to record the session and make it available via the Silverlight Live site. Be patient with me, will likely be next week before I get the editing worked out and get it uploaded.

Arcane Hardware Hint

Not too long ago I picked up a Targus ACP50US Universal Docking Port. This nifty contraption makes it easy for me to connect all my gizmos to my laptop when I get home every day. All I have to do is plug in one USB connection and I’ve got my network, speakers, microphone, and through the USB ports my external hard disk, mouse, keyboard, external DVD drive, PDA docking station, and more. What’s really handy is the video port. Using it, as well as the video port already built into the laptop gives me the ability to have three monitors hooked up. (The internal laptop, the laptops external monitor, and the monitor hooked up to the Targus).

I’ve discovered a really interesting quirk regarding the video port in the Targus. It advertises a maximum resolution of 1024×768. Not great considering the resolution of most modern monitors, but I thought it would be useful enough for my e-mail program. I will add the refresh rate is really really jerky. I have to move my mouse slow. Still, for information that is fairly static such as a reference manual or e-mail it is OK.

Not too long ago though I found something odd. I had booted my laptop but neglected to plug in the Targus. So I plugged it in, and was amazed when the Targus’ video came up to a full 1600×1200 resolution! Maybe it’s just some odd quirk in my system, or perhaps the driver in Vista is over-riding the Targus driver. For the record, I have an HP Pavilion dv8000 (the 8195 if I recall the model correctly) laptop running Vista. The external monitor hooked to the Targus is a 20 inch ViewSonic G800. (The other monitor, the one hooked directly to the laptop is also a ViewSonic, a 21 inch G220f.)

Now when I boot my laptop, I wait until I’ve logged into Vista before plugging in the Targus docking port. The video displays flicker then I get my third monitor with 1600×1200 resolution. The refresh rate still stinks, but it’s no worse than it was at 1024×768 but I get a nice big screen. As I said it’s just fine for fairly static info such as electronic books (pdfs or chms), web pages, word documents, database diagrams or other types of data that I’m only reading, not trying to work with intensively.

If you happen to own one of these docking stations, I’m curious to see if anyone else experiences this phenomenon. Next time you power up, wait until after you’ve logged in to see if you get bigger video out of it, then leave a comment here for us all to know!

Feng Shui and the Art of Development

I’m not a big proponent of Feng Shui. For those unfamiliar with it, Feng Shui is a Chinese philosophy that essentially says that the placement of your furniture can have a big affect on your health and prosperity. Like a lot of things, something that starts off as a good idea seems to me to be carried too far. I do however firmly believe that your physical environment can have a dramatic effect on your mental environment. I saw a blog posting by Scott Hanselman describing his new home office layout. It was then that I realized something important: my own home office no longer worked for me.

I’ve been in my house eight years now. Like a lot of folks, I accumulate a lot of things related to my work / hobby. Books, computers, CDs/DVDs, and gadgets galore. It probably doesn’t help that my home office is also my ham radio “shack”, the place that contains all my radios, books and associated gear. For some time now I’ve been pretty unhappy with my basement office, having problems concentrating, etc. It had even gotten to the point where I had no place to even lay a book and reference it while working. After reading Scott’s post I immediately realized what my problem was: my environment.

Unfortunately December and early January were a bit hectic, what with my wife’s health problems and work, I haven’t had much spare time. Well, this weekend good luck finally arrived. My wife is healing very nicely and is much more self sufficient. We had snow, which made going out impractical, so it was the perfect opportunity. I pulled nearly everything out of my office, placed a lot of my “junk” into storage and relaid out the tables I use for working.

I’m typing now from my reconstructed office. A lot of the spare parts I had accumulated are gone, boxed up and placed in the storage area under the stairs. A lot of old catalogs and magazines hit the trash, many of the books I seldom reference were moved to another area of the house that had space. I now have plenty of space for my computer and can finally have all three monitors laid out side by side. I have a workspace now, somewhere to put the book I’m using for learning or reference. In addition, the moving of old books gave me space to put away my new books. I was able to do a little shuffling so the books I currently reference the most were on the lower shelf within arm’s reach, instead of piled on the floor.

Once again my office feels like a safe place to learn. When it comes to your office, whether it be your desk at your employer or your desk at home, don’t overlook your environment. Everyone has their own style. Look around your office right now. Is it comfortable? Quiet? Can you think effectively? Are the tools you need close at hand? If you answered any of these “no”, then start thinking about what you can do to make your home office a refuge, a safe place to work and learn. Then go do it.

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