Vista UAC is just trouble

I am sorry to say this but Vista UAC is broken! I understand the concept, and I understand where Microsoft is coming from. In fact, I felt quite comfortable the way Ubuntu has implemented basically the same idea. But it is just painful in Vista.

I tried to work with it but got fed up soon. So, I disabled it using Local Group Policy. And then, my problems started. I did not realize it until today but UAC was the reason behind a couple of mysterious issues I was having. A few recent examples...

* NTFS permissions are all screwed up. Although my user account is in Administrators/backup operators groups, I sometimes can not access my personal folders. Then, I have actually blogged this here, so I wont go into details...

* My backup process got broken. I loved rsync in unix world and the closest thing I have in Vista is of course good old Robocopy. I already had some backup scripts that would take daily back ups between my various disks and PCs. Time to time, I would get mysterious errors like "ERROR 5 (0x00000005) Changing File Attributes"...

* Windows update would never install 'any' update. It kept on downloading the files and then reported errors but never offered any explanation why.

Finally, I suspected that UAC was not fully disabled. I saw a nicely written article and used msconfig method (Run msconfig > Tools > Disable UAC).

And guess what? Suddenly all looks good now :)

Vista fails to boot

My vista ultimate crushed today for no apparent reason. As if that's not bad enough, Vista could not be loaded. Instead, I was stuck at the screen.

Windows failed to start. A recent hardware or software change might be the cause. To Fix the problem:

1. Insert your Windows installation disc and restart your computer
2. Choose your language settings, and then click "Next"
3. Click "Repair your computer"

If you do not have this disc, contact your system administrator or computer manufacturer for assistance.

File: \Windows\system32\winload.exe

Status: 0x000000e

Info: The selected entry could not be loaded because the application is missing or corrupt

Resolution: Simple, I simply unplugged the exterior Sony DVD burner. A funny fact was that simple reboot did not fix the issue but I shutdown the PC completely and then powered it on.


NYC Subway Map

Just blogging this link of a site that has overlayed NYC subway and NJ Path information on Google maps.

A good feature is that, you can view all the trains passing thru a station when you move the mouse over the nodes.

Not a new idea, but good implementation.


Outlook hangs due to Search Issue

I love to keep all my e-mails. So, I have huge outlook .pst files dedicated to some some active lists that I subscribed more than 10 years ago. Recently, I noticed that instant search in Outlook 2007 was not functioning properly. It would never find anything.

I checked the instant search index status (Tools > Instant Search > Indexing Status). It said something like
"Outlook is currently indexing your items." 1 item remaining in Inbox 150000 items remaining across all open mailboxes

It was clear that instant search was not working properly. So I checked "Windows Search" service by typing "Start > Run > services.msc"
Services was up and running...

Then I checked "Control Panel > Indexing Options". I decided to rebuild the index. So, I clicked "Indexing Options > Advanced > Rebuild" and changed Index location to a folder in a different drive that I usually use for backups.

Things went totally haywire after that :( Whenever I tried to check Indexing Options, it gave me messages like "Retrieving windows Search status" or "Windows search is performing maintenance". Restarting service did not help.

To add to my troubles, Outlook 2007 stopped working. I was able to start it in Safe Mode but it would not start in regular mode and just freeze during startup.

I started Outlook in safe mode and then ran Office diagnostics (Outlook > Help > Office Diagnostics), which found no issues. Google searches did not result in anything useful. Finally, I used Office 2007 CD to "repair" to no avail.

At this point I was not sure why Outlook was not working but because all this stuff did not happen the same day, at first I did not suspect them to be related. In fact, after an unexpected power outage, some Vista permissions were screwed up and I was thinking that issue could be related to .pst folder permissions.

Then it downed on me! I disabled/stopped Windows Search and then started Outlook. Puff! It launched without any issues. Basically, Outlook 2007 was detecting that Windows Search was not available,and disabling Instant Search.

I did a little bit more search on how to build index and found this MSDN thread:

"Set the registry value HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows Search\SetupCompletedSuccessfully to 0 and try restarting the Windows Search service."

I did and it worked. Windows Search started indexing items properly and Outlook 2007 launched without a hitch. Problem solved.

For reference, below is what I saw in the Event viewer when index was corrupted and restarting service would not help:

Log Name: Application
Source: Microsoft-Windows-Search
Date: 7/14/2007 4:28:59 PM
Event ID: 3026
Task Category: Gatherer
Level: Error
Advise Status Change failed. The system is probably low on resources. Free up resources and restart the service.

Context: Windows Application, SystemIndex Catalog

The content index server cannot update or access information because of a database error. Stop and restart the search service. If the problem persists, reset and recrawl the content index. In some cases it may be necessary to delete and recreate the content index. (0x8004117f)


Vista snipping tool error

I had an interesting issue with my Vista build today. Well, I have to disclose that this is basically a preview build that our engineering team is testing in the company. I was trying to launch Snipping Tool and received an error:

The Snipping Tool is not working on your computer right now. Restart your computer, and then try again. If the problem persists, contact your system administrator.

Sure enough, rebooting the machine did not help. I checked the event viewer and noticed that a warning gets logged everytime I try to start it:

Log Name: Application
Source: Microsoft-Windows-SoftwareRestrictionPolicies
Date: 7/12/2007 3:15:25 PM
Event ID: 866
Access to C:\Windows\SYSTEM32\WISPTIS.EXE has been restricted by your Administrator by location with policy rule {F8509577-AE57-4057-B256-2929FCC0931A} placed on path *WISPTIS.exe.

So, what's this Wisptis? "Windows Ink Services Platform Tablet Input Subsystem".
I ran rsop.msc to confirm that it was listed under

"Computer Configuration" > "Windows Settings" > "Security Settings" > "Software Restriction Policies" > "Additional Rules"

Why would snipping tool need Wisptis.exe is beyond me.

[Edit: 04/04/2008]
I've scraped the preview build long time ago and I use ultimate version for sometime. However, I get comment from people who still see the issue I mentioned above. I got two comments from people who confirmed that running "Office Diagnostics", however irrelevant it seems, fixed the issue for them.

It makes me very happy to see comments from people who reach this blog and either find or suggest solutions to problems. Thank you all!