Chris Wolfe's blog

Using symbolic links in Vista to fix iTunes library

Today I had a user call about a problem with iTunes not finding any music after migrating to Vista.  The problem was that they'd not kept all their music in the "iTunes Music" directory and it was spread out all over the "My Documents" directory on the old machine, and the username was also different so the default link that Vista creates (from "Documents and Settings" to "Users") wouldn't work.

In praise of IPCop

Here are runPCrun we use a lot of equipment - servers, routers, switches, workstations, if it has a plug then chances are we've opened the box, took a good sniff and installed it.

Since we have a large amount of clients it is good sense for us to standardise on what we use to make our life easier. One of the most important thing to standardise is the firewall. Our choice of firewall needs to have the following features:-


Optiplex 745, TPM and Bitlocker


Installing Vista and Activating TPM with Bitlocker

The Premium version of Vista comes with a new feature called Bitlocker. This encrypts the whole disk partition and offers protection from out of operating system data compromising. For extra security this technology can be enabled with something called TPM, or Trusted Platform Module,  a chip on the motherboard that can securely store and generate encryption keys. Here is how I installed such a set up recently for a security minded client.

Since we are a Dell reseller, I purchased a new Dell OptiPlex 745 desktop which comes with a TPM chip.

TPM & OptiPlex 745

Now, the first issue - To activate BitLocker, the system needs to have it's disk partitions set up in a certain way which the Dell website simply did not offer. The disk needs to have a small unencrpyted boot partition and a large OS partition which will be encrypted.

Rather than worry about how the OS would be delivered, I ordered the PC without an OS and ordered a copy of Vista Ultimate OEM 

Once the PC was unpacked and set up, the first task is to switch the TPM chip on in the system BIOS. This is a two stage process. Once you enter the BIOS, locate the "Security" tab and turn TPM on. There is another setting called "Activation" which must be enabled as well. Save the BIOS and reboot. You should get a warning that the BIOS TPM settings have been modified - this is OK, so select "Modify" and continue. Now, I recommend going back into the BIOS and double checking the TPM chip actually is on as the first time I did, for some reason it wasn't and you will get an error later.

Now reboot with the Vista disk in the DVD drive. Since my harddisk was empty, I was able to create the partitions in the way recommended by Microsoft. A good page to visit and recommended reading for the whole process is the Microsoft technet site  article - Windows BitLocker Drive Encryption Step-by-Step Guide


Cannot Install SP2? Stuck on "Checking Product Key"

I recently had a Dell D505 laptop in the workshop that refused to install Service Pack 2. Each time, it just stopped on "Checking Product Key"

The product key was correct but it could get no further - the Update process would then use 100% of the CPU and had to be closed manually.

After searching the net, I found a few other users with the same problem and generally the solution was to reinstall Windows with SP2 slipstreamed into it already. Since this was already a fresh install after a hard disk failure, I was not keen on this plan.