High Resource Use by Start Screen

miqrogroove
2018-04-11T09:59:44+00:00

While diagnosing what I thought was a Windows Update failure, I discovered unrelated massive resource consumption and file scanning activity apparently tied to the Start screen in Windows 2012.

Symptoms:

10 to 20% constant CPU usage by Windows Explorer.

Rapid file scanning or Shared Folder usage in the case of folder redirection.

Triggers:

Resource consumption begins immediately after opening the Start screen and performing a keyboard search.

Closing the Start screen does not help.

Workarounds:

Sign out the current user.  This action will shut down Windows Explorer, preventing the unwanted symptoms until triggered again by a user.

11 Apr 2018

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Systems Engineering

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Virus Infected Email

miqrogroove
2017-12-19T13:09:03+00:00
Screenshot of a fake Office 365 error message.

Danger! Do Not Touch!

If you see a Word document containing the following phrase, it is fake and should be deleted immediately:

This document created in online version of Microsoft Office Word

There is no such message ever issued by legitimate software.

Instructions included with the file asking the user to “Enable content” should raise red flags and serious concerns about the file’s origin.

A quick scan using an online virus checker confirmed this file is infected.  Be careful out there.

19 Dec 2017

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Security

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Android Studio Setup Error

miqrogroove
2017-06-27T11:29:39+00:00

While installing Android Studio for the first time, I encountered the message below.

The following SDK component was not installed: Google Repository

Simply clicking the “Retry” button allowed the installation to continue successfully.

Relevant log dump quoted below.

java.nio.file.AccessDeniedException: C:\Users\{user}\AppData\Local\Android\Sdk\extras\google\m2repository.backup\com\google\android\support\wearable\1.0.0\wearable-1.0.0-javadoc.jar -> C:\Users\{user}\AppData\Local\Android\Sdk\extras\google\m2repository\com\google\android\support\wearable\1.0.0\wearable-1.0.0-javadoc.jar
Warning: Failed to move original content of C:\Users\{user}\AppData\Local\Android\Sdk\extras\google\m2repository back into place! It should be available at C:\Users\{user}\AppData\Local\Android\Sdk\extras\google\m2repository.backup
java.io.IOException: Failed to move away or delete existing target file: C:\Users\{user}\AppData\Local\Android\Sdk\extras\google\m2repository
Move it away manually and try again.
Warning: An error occurred during installation: Failed to move away or delete existing target file: C:\Users\{user}\AppData\Local\Android\Sdk\extras\google\m2repository
Move it away manually and try again..
Warning: Observed package id 'extras;google;m2repository' in inconsistent location 'C:\Users\{user}\AppData\Local\Android\Sdk\extras\google\m2repository.backup' (Expected 'C:\Users\{user}\AppData\Local\Android\Sdk\extras\google\m2repository')

Preparing "Install Google Repository (revision: 54)".
Found existing prepared package.
"Install Google Repository (revision: 54)" ready.
Finishing "Install Google Repository (revision: 54)"
Installing Google Repository in C:\Users\{user}\AppData\Local\Android\Sdk\extras\google\m2repository
"Install Google Repository (revision: 54)" complete.
"Install Google Repository (revision: 54)" finished.
27 Jun 2017

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Systems Engineering

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ownCloud Using Wrong PHP Configuration

miqrogroove
2016-12-19T21:23:34+00:00

The ownCloud community dropped support for Windows Server, so I must resort to documenting such problems here instead of contributing open source.

One major symptom that confirmed ownCloud was using more than one PHP environment on my server was the presence of session handler files in more than one directory.  Specifically, I was finding orphaned files in C:\WINDOWS\Temp even though my one and only php.ini production file specified a different path as well as garbage collection.

I traced the session file generation as far as the ownCloud calendar “app”, which lives in owncloud\apps\calendar\appinfo\remote.php and related places.

Debugging results were fascinating in that not only was the wrong configuration file loaded, after dumping all phpinfo() to disk I also found that the calendar app was running under an entirely different version of PHP.

The culprit:  After the most recent PHP upgrade, my site-specific Handler Mappings ended up with mismatched verb restrictions.  Somehow the new version ended up restricted to GET,HEAD,POST by default, while the old version remained unrestricted.  Although my handlers were in the correct order to give all *.php files to the correct module, any time a CalDAV client sent a PROPFIND or similar request, IIS essentially downgraded to the unrestricted version of PHP.

The solution:  Remove verb restrictions for the ownCloud site’s Handler Mappings, and then remove all but one of the PHP Handler Mappings to prevent any other versions from running without throwing errors.

If you get a bogus error about spaces in “the path to the script processor” when updating verb restrictions, just add double quotes around the path, and then click “No” on the ensuing bogus error about needing to create a new FastCGI application.  (facepalm)

19 Dec 2016

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Systems Engineering

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Offline Files Access Denied over VPN

miqrogroove
2016-07-01T17:16:27+00:00

I just tried taking a Windows 10 laptop on the road for the first time.  Everything was great until I tried the VPN for the first time.  Suddenly, I was getting Access Denied errors, and “You do not have permissions” errors for all files made available offline.  I confirmed the VPN tunnel and even browsed to other shared folders on the same server.  The offline files errors persisted after dropping the VPN.

When I returned to the domain Wi Fi, file synchronization completed normally and there were no errors at all.

Am I to believe that Windows 10 is completely incompatible with VPN synchronization?  I never had a problem with this on Windows XP, and I am dreading the months of research and experimentation normally involved in fixing this kind of Microsoft failure.

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12 Jun 2016

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Systems Engineering

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Offline Files Stay Disconnected Over Wi-Fi

miqrogroove
2016-03-15T14:15:29+00:00

Configure Slow Link ModeEver since my move to a new apartment, I was frustrated by some of my network files going offline randomly and staying offline for 5 minutes or up to an hour or two.  The weirdest part was that it would only happen to the network files that were in a path with Offline Files enabled.  As a result, I would periodically lose access to files that were not marked “Always available offline”, and I would get frequent synchronization conflicts for any files that were still available offline.

Another symptom of this problem was that I could map a separate drive letter to the same or deeper path, not enable Offline Files for the networked drive, and then have no trouble with the files when I try to use the drive letter.  I could even browse shared folders using the server’s UNC path at the same time as my Offline Files cache seemed to be stuck offline.

I had several suspicions about why this was happening.  First of all, I had started using Wi-Fi networking on my desktop computer as a convenience until I could knock some holes in the apartment walls to run proper Ethernet cables.  The signal quality seemed good enough that I shouldn’t have persistent connection problems, yet the Offline Files system seemed central to the problem.  I eventually discovered that the Client Side Cache “slow link” mode was at fault for this whole mess.

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15 Mar 2016

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Shortcode Problems: WordPress 4.4

miqrogroove
2015-08-31T11:07:48+00:00

I will briefly summarize Shortcode API changes since WordPress 4.0 and then kick off some ideas for a roadmap.

The first major accomplishment was the expansion of the API documentation, including a new large section I wrote about the formal syntax for shortcode input.

I also put forward a robust parser concept for the function wptexturize() that promised to re-introduce the ability to use unrestricted HTML code inside of shortcodes and shortcode attributes.  That concept went through many, many changes before being introduced in v4.2.3.  After consulting with the WordPress security team, and after extensive testing of the shortcode parsing functions, we determined that the shortcodes-first parsing strategy was fundamentally flawed and could not be included with any version beyond v4.2.2.  This is why I added an HTML parser to the Shortcode API and ultimately curtailed the use of shortcodes inside HTML rather than expand the use of HTML inside shortcodes.

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22 Aug 2015

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Cookies Not Working in IE10

miqrogroove
2015-08-08T15:06:12+00:00

I’ve finally fixed a crippling bug in Internet Explorer 10 that was preventing me from using any website that required cookie support.

This problem seemed to plague my Windows 2012 server from day one.  I’m not yet sure what was special about this configuration.  No matter how many settings I changed, every website I visited told me that I had cookies completely disabled.

I used these steps right before the browser started working correctly:

Step 1 – Find the “Delete Browsing History” dialog box.

ie-safety-menu

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8 Aug 2015

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Systems Engineering

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How to Block the Amazon AWS EC2

miqrogroove
2015-01-02T14:53:36+00:00

Years ago, I found it necessary to start maintaining a list of Amazon’s subnets so that I could block them easily.  This list can be used in .htaccess and firewalls that can block access using CIDR subnet addresses.

Recent entries are bold.

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2 Jan 2015

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Security

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Shortcode Problems to be Resolved in WordPress 4.1

miqrogroove
2014-11-06T10:38:13+00:00
Illustration of wptexturize_parse() concept.

Achieving correct and exact results in several steps.

When WordPress first introduced its Shortcode API, it included an all-too-simple line of code that was supposed to help curly quotes not appear inside of the shortcode attributes while still adding curly quotes outside of the shortcodes.  But there were several known problems with this one line of code, such as what would happen if a URL contained square braces, and what would happen if a plugin author wanted to use HTML inside a shortcode.

In version 4.0, I made a substantial effort to fix these problems, but it resulted in some new limitations being placed on the ways shortcodes could be used.  Although I couldn’t find any documented examples or official support for the HTML features, I did hear from several members of the WordPress community who enjoy the full power of customizing their website HTML by using shortcode attributes and HTML values.

My proposed solution is to write a new parser function that will exactly identify the shortcodes and HTML elements being used, so that the function wptexturize() will finally be able to create its curly quotes without interfering with shortcode features.  Click on the diagram to see how this new code works.

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6 Nov 2014

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