How many times has this happened to you?
It is 4:30 on a Friday afternoon and you are considering the endless possibilities that the weekend has to offer. You skipped the birthday cake in the break room during the lunch hour; instead you spent the time waiting in line at the bank. Why? Because tonight is poker night!
The clock continues its agonizing crawl to the top of the hour as you muse on David's tells. You already have the case of Heineken in your trunk. It is probably going to be too warm to drink right away, but if you put the first bottle in the freezer right when you get to Peter's...
The phone rings at your desk pulling you back into the corporate world. The clock now reads 4:34.
"Hello," you say hoping that the confusion in your tone is misconstrued as frustration at being torn away from an important project.
"This is Sally. The C.E.O. needs someone from IT to come and fix something on his computer," the voice on the phone relays.
Sally, of course. "Someone from IT" has been you, since they let Roger go 3 months ago when the accounting department decided that a Sys Admin was the same position as help desk, and that the company would be better served by cutting out the "redundancy."
"Sure Sally. What seems to be the trouble," you say in the I am just glad it was Roger tone you have learned so well.
"He says that you installed some kind of Ask thing on his computer, and now his internet doesn't work correctly," Sally says.
Oh, no. "Ask thing." Did he download the Ask Toolbar?
"Let him know that I will be right up," you say, hoping that your voice isn't trembling.
Three floors later, the chills in your spine have grown to the point of being at risk of causing a seizure. If he installed the Ask Toolbar, and wants me to get rid of it I could miss the first buy in.
Stepping out of the elevator you see Sally packing up her bag. She flashes you that smug "not my problem" smile and tells you to head on in.
When you enter Mr. Krupke's office he is seething. "How many times have I told you not to install junk on to my computer without testing it first. I need to download my tickets to Pebble Beach. I have an 8:00am tee time tomorrow!"
"Sorry sir," is all you manage to mutter while trying bring up a browser. There it is, in all of its passive aggressive glory, the Ask Toolbar.
. How could he have downloaded this? Then you see the culprit, a new weather app on his desktop, broadcasting a Sunny 82 degrees in Pebble Beach. Do you dare tell your boss how it really got installed? How many registries must you o go through while the impatient heat emanating from his breath lands stale on the back of your neck? Are you feeling faint?
Not if you have PDQ Deploy and a subscription to the package library.
Watch Lex as he easily removes the Ask Toolbar without feeling the need to cry even once.
Photo by Viri G
Admin Arsenal is excited to announce the public release 3.0 (release 2) of PDQ Deploy.
Download the latest release.
What is new in Release 2
- Improvements to database connections to prevent time outs.
- Performance improvements in console start up.
- Fixed a bug which could cause the background service to stop after a target reboot.
- Fixed a bug preventing filters from finding certain nested objects.
As always, check out our videos
for more information on how to best utilize our PDQ line of products.
If you've downloaded the new PDQ Deploy 3, you might notice that it looks a lot different than our previous versions. This past summer we thought it was high time to pull an Extreme Makeover:Software Edition. We renovated every menu, window, toolbar, icon, button and status bar we had. You may love it, you may hate it, you may really hate the all caps menu (We agree with Microsoft's design decision standard: "we determined it to be a very effective way of providing structure and emphasis to the top menu area", and in our words, the menu gets lost in the mix without it).
A floppy disk? Huh..
After redesigning about 75 icons I got to the old save.ico and noticed the object that represented it, the floppy disk. I don't know about you, but the last time I used a floppy disk was probably right before I bought my first 8 mb key chain flash drive (that's like 5 floppy disks!!). So why after most of us not using them for a better part of a decade and certain hardware companies phasing them out 15 years ago, are floppy disks the symbolic representation of one of the most prevalent verbs knowing to computing? Many explanations exist, and a few designers have made attempts to supplant the image, yet it persists, and at the same time transcends it's original meaning in an awkwardly timeless symbolic embodiment. I'd be very entertained and amused to find that in a hundred years from now, the floppy disk stands for some yet-to-be-invented nebulous method of writing data to a futuristic storage medium. Much like the phrase "riding shotgun" has replaced actually carrying a shotgun as the armed-guard front-seat passenger -- to simply describing "sitting in the front seat", the floppy may continue to follow the same course. (Although, I must admit, I'd love to careen down the canyon from Park City on an insect rampage, sitting in the front of my friend Jim's BMW convertible wielding a shotgun, if such things weren't frowned upon by the local authorities. I can't say the same about wanting to save a word document to a floppy disk for the sake of nostalgia).
Following in the tradition of using one of the worlds' most outdated storage media containers, and thinking better of changing the object to represent "Save", I decided to design a floppy logo with a subtle twist: an old, weather worn, possibly sun damaged label as if to say "I may not be around in physical form any more, but I'll always be seered in your memory".
Admin Arsenal has released PDQ Deploy 3.0. We are happy that the infighting, blaiming, and eventual crying have led to the release of a great tool for Sys Admins that need to deploy EXEs and MSIs silently.
Some of the new features include:
- An updated look with faster performance
- New OS Conditions for Windows 8.1 & 2012 R2.
- More control at the package level.
Video: PDQ Deploy 3.0 What's New
Introducing the Office 2013 OCT
To customize or install Microsoft Office 2013 silently you will want to use the Office Customization Tool (OCT).
The OCT comes with the volume and MSDN versions of Office. A quick test to see if your media will support the OCT is to verify the existence of the admin folder, which should sit at the same level as your setup.exe. If there isn't an admin folder, you will not be able to launch the OCT.
NOTE: The retail versions of Office do not support the OCT.
Video: Office 2013 Step-by-step
Launching the OCT
To start the OCT simply run the setup.exe with the argument
Modifying Your Office Installation
The OCT will open. While there are a lot of options that you can tweak, we're going to focus on just a few common changes.
Install location and organization name
This section allows you brand your Office installation to your corporate identity. The name that you add in the "Organization name" will appear as the Organization in each new document that your users create. (They can change if they wish).
Licensing and user interface -- IMPORTANT
If you use KMS, no change is necessary for this first step. Otherwise enter your volume license key.
Here is the most important change that you can make. Telling the installation to proceed silently.
1. Check the "I accept the terms in the License Agreement" checkbox.
2. Change the display level from "Full - default" to "None".
3. Check the "Suppress modal" and "No cancel" checkboxes.
Remove previous installations
By default Office wants to remove previous versions of Office. This is usually not a problem. If however you wanted to keep certain versions, like Outlook 2010, for example, this is where you would make that change.
Modify Setup properities
OK - this one has bitten a few of our users. Office likes to initiate a reboot following an install. IN OUR EXPERIENCE it is best to do a reboot following an office install, however we prefer to control the reboot ourselves. Therefore we suggest putting a reboot property value in this section.
1. Click Add.
2. Enter the Name of the property: SETUP_REBOOT
3. Enter the value: Never
NOTE: Some users have stated that not doing a reboot after the installation has caused a BSOD. Not good. We strongly recommend doing a reboot.
Set feature installation states
This will be a familiar interface if you've ever performed manual office installations. Simply select which features you want (or don't want) installed.
Save your MSP. Be sure that the file you create is saved in the same directory as your setup.exe.
You are now ready to deploy.
Your install media and the MSP file can be run from a network share, or you can use the media with a deployment tool.
A commonly requested feature for PDQ Deploy was the ability to have a list of computers that would never, ever, ever (that's one never and two ever's) receive a deployment.
It's simple to do. Target Filters is a pro mode feature of Deploy. The image above shows three exclusions. Any computer named dc01. Any computer where the computer name begins with svr and any computers in the 192.168.1.0 subnet.
Exclusion Filters in PDQ Deploy
Normally when you select the targets for a deployment you would ensure that the protected computers weren't in an included OU or PDQ Inventory collection that was targeted for the deployment. This could be tedious and opened up the possibility for an unintended installation.
To ensure that certain computers are never deployed to, use Target Filters. This is a pro mode feature in deploy.
File > Preferences > Target Filters
You simply list the hostname in the Exclude tab. (There is also an Include tab, but this will rarely if ever be used).
You can list by hostname, wildcards, and subnets.
Video Example: Using Target Filters
Remember, computers that resolve in the filter list will be excluded from any deployment. If they are listed as a target computer in a deployment they will fail.
A common request that we receive for Inventory is the ability to scan for and report on product keys for applications.
Now available in Inventory 3.0 (pro mode) is the ability to see product keys for some the following applications:
In this video Shane demonstrates how the scan works and how to create a report. In this example he shows how to create a report on all the Microsoft Office Product Keys in a company.
Find services that use old passwords
Situation: Your Active Directory password needs to be changed for an account that is used to run different services across your domain.
Problem: If any of these services attempt to start up using old credentials your account will be locked out (not to mention the service wouldn't start)
Solution: Use PDQ Inventory (get it here) to find these computers and services so that you can set the new service password.
Let's create a new report. Add the columns shown in the image below.
After you select the columns you want shown go to the Filters tab and add the filter shown below.
Run the report. Make sure your Collection Source is set to the correct Collection. In this case I chose the All Computers collection. To choose your Collection Source click the
As you can see I have two computers that are running Services using the account al.swearengen. I now know where I can go to update the account password for those services.
Lex walks you through creating a report like this.
You can use Free mode of PDQ Inventory to create the report, but only pro mode will allow you to save reports. (See Free vs. Pro features)
This last week we have had a lot of questions about preferences in PDQ Inventory;
Here is a video I made to hopefully cover any inquiries.
In this video I cover:
- Active Directory Sync
- Background Service
- Scan Profiles
Wake On LAN (WOL) can be used to help turn on machines that are powered off for the purpose of allowing PDQ Inventory to do a scan.
The way to set this up in PDQ Inventory is to go to File->Preferences->Scanning and then set the Offline Policy to "Wake-on-Lan then attempt to scan"
Make sure the BIOS setting on your target machines (The machine your are attempting to scan) has Wake On LAN enable or configured.
Once you have these things setup, PDQ Inventory can Wake machines that are turned off and update the scanned data.
You can watch me show you how to configure PDQ Inventory WOL settings here: http://youtu.be/w6acOmrLoOs