Archive for Microsoft

Enabling Remote Desktop Remotely

I inherited a 50 node school network.  The details behind that are not needed, but it was completely by accident.  One of the first things I wanted to do was setup the environment so I could remotely login in to each Windows XP machine to do maintenance.  The previous administrators had never done this, every time they wanted to do something they had to go into the school and sit behind the machine.  As I am doing this in my spare time and voluntarily, I wanted to make it as easy as possible.  Commercial options were out of the question and since I already configured VPN into the network, RDP made the most sense.

RDP can be enabled by setting the fDenyTSConnections registry key under the SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Terminal Server tree on each Windows XP machine.  Instead of remotely attaching each registry, I decided Powershell could and should be my friend.  I exported the machines from the AD computer container into a text file and the parsed those machines, first making sure they were accessible.  That is the next part of what I want to do, is clean up the 300 or so computer container, when there are only really 50 or so actual machines.  Instead of deleting accounts, they just created new accounts everytime they rebuilt something.

Without further adieu, here is the script, hopefully someone else will find this useful.

# Name: setRDP.ps1
# Author: Tom Determan
# Date: 09.10.2010
# Description: Enables Terminal Services on Windows Machines
#
# servers.txt is an output from the AD Forest of machines.
$servers = Get-Content 'c:\Users\tdeterman\Scripts\servers.txt'
ForEach ($server in $servers)
{
$line = @($server.Split("`t"))
$MachineName = $line[0]
$responses = Get-WMIObject -query "select StatusCode from Win32_PingStatus where Address = '$MachineName'"
$response = $false
# Parse through array of responses from Win32_PingStatus and check for any valid responses
ForEach ($i in $responses) {
if ($i.statuscode -eq 0) {
$response = $true
break
}
}
# If a response from ping succeeds then go ahead and set the registry key to enable remote desktop.
if ($response) {
# Attach to the remote registry
$reg = [Microsoft.Win32.RegistryKey]::OpenRemoteBaseKey('LocalMachine', $MachineName)
$regKey = $reg.OpenSubKey("SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Terminal Server",$true)
  write-host ("Enabling Terminal Services on: $MachineName")
$curval = $regKey.GetValue('fDenyTSConnections')
write-host ("Current Value: $curval")
# Set Value to 0 to Enable TS Connections
  $regKey.SetValue('fDenyTSConnections',0)
$newval = $regKey.GetValue('fDenyTSConnections')
write-host ("New Value: $newval")
} else {
Write-host ("$MachineName does not response")
}
}

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Competitors: Apple, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo?

The New York Times posted an interesting article yesterday (January 22, 2010) showing the overlapping technologies from the four tech giants.

The list goes through and identifies which company is operating in a certain space, either with a product out today or a product in development.  The categories range from Mobile Phones to Operating Systems to traditional web services (IM, Email, Photo Storage).

The chart points out interesting changes in directions for the four companies:

  • Google now competes in the Operating System and Mobile Phone space.
  • Apple is in the Email and IM space.
  • Microsoft is exploring the Social Networking space.
  • Yahoo seems to be stagnant, not really offering any new products/services.

Over the past thirty years, the tech giants continue to change and evolve.  If this was done even ten years ago, who would be on this comparison chart (IBM and Sun maybe), twenty years ago, thirty years ago?  Technology will continue to evolve and so will the players at the top of the technology curve.

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Microsoft Research

A while back I downloaded the Microsoft Photosynth application and tried it out on some pictures that we took from the Gateway Arch in St. Louis this last summer.  I was amazed at the ability of the program to accurately stitch the photos together and also to allow you a depth of view to the overall photo.

What I did not realize at the time, is that this program comes from a relatively unknown, to the general public, division of Microsoft that works on cutting edge technologies.  The Microsoft Research group touts on their About Us page the following:

“Microsoft Research is dedicated to conducting both basic and applied research in computer science and software engineering. Its goals are to enhance the user experience on computing devices, reduce the cost of writing and maintaining software, and invent novel computing technologies. Microsoft Research also collaborates openly with colleges and universities worldwide to advance the field of computer science.”

So, while you hear about Apple, IBM, Google and other companies doing more research-oriented work, Microsoft also is doing the same.

Looking through the website, here are some of the more interesting  projects that I found.

Songsmith – This looks interesting as it will create backing music for your song.  According to the website, you just record your song by singing into your microphone and Songsmith will create the backing music for your song.

Image Composite Editor – This is touted as an advanced panoramic image stitcher.  It will take multiple images and stitch them together to give a panoramic view of the environment.

World Wide Telescope – This application takes imagery from multiple sources and puts it together into a cohesive view of the stars that you can peruse.  Along with the pictures of the stars, there are also narrated tours from astronomers and educators on the more popular places in the sky.

So, take a look at the site.  Microsoft is doing a lot of interesting work that is outside of what is considered their core business of Operating Systems, Development Tools and user applications.

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