An educated customer is a bliss, one that allows remote access is heaven

One customer has asked for support: our powerful Office Timeline add-in was not showing anymore in the PowerPoint ribbon. We were extremely lucky: the lady was highly educated, so it was extremely easy to establish a dialogue, and she was well experienced with IT issues, so she send us directly an invitation to remote to her desktop to solve the problem.
I’ve run the standard troubleshooting procedure (for us, it means making sure the last VSTO runtime is installed and the add-in has been installed by an user with administrative privileges), but the add-in was still not loading.
While contemplating the nice PowerPoint dialog that says “Manage COM add-ins”, I’ve noticed the “Disabled items” entry and quickly checked it; yes, our mighty add-in has been disabled by PowerPoint.
I’ve enabled it and the add-in loaded nicely.
The lady was grateful for our support, she even tried to apologize for using the Free edition and not the payed one. And was I grateful as ever for finding out this “Disabled items” entry which we all missed before. I doubt I would have found it without remoting to the system.
So, as I’ve said in the title, an educated customer is a bliss, but when she also allows us remote access to the sytem to troubleshoot, it’s heaven.

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Windows compatibility mode issue

One of my coworkers has just asked me for help: a setup bootstrapper I’ve implemented some time ago (and now it is reused in about six different setups) wrongly reports the operating system service pack level.

She did some digging and she was able to discover that the issue occurs when setup.exe is run in compatibility mode.

After some discussion, one scenario occurred to me:

  • user downloads an installer for application A, named setup.exe, to Desktop
  • this installer cannot run on Windows 7 unless it is set in Vista compatibility mode
  • the user configures this installer to run in compatibility mode (this data is stored in registry, as a path, without storing the hash of the setup.exe file)
  • user runs setup.exe and then he deletes it; compatibility data stays in registry
  • user downloads our bootstrapper, named setup,.exe, to Desktop
  • user launches setup.exe, Windows detects there are compatibility settings saved for this file and it configures it to run accordingly
  • the bootstrapper reports Windows needs a service pack and it refuses to install

The workaround is to launch the main MSI package independently.

To fix this issue, check the registry key HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\AppCompatFlags\Layers. Delete the path to your executable if it exists.



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2013 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,100 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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add-azureVhd bad request error

When getting this error, the first item to check is the URL: it should not contain uppercase letters.

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PowerShell – Azure – loading azure cmdlets

import-module "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SDKs\Windows Azure\PowerShell\Azure\Azure.psd1"

The path may have to be updated to match your system (if it’s a 32 bit, for example).

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Powershell – get alias for cmdlet

get-alias | ?{$_.Definition -match "get-WmiObject"}

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Funny debugging

I was trying to debug a non-working scenario in our add-in. I’ve used the Visual Studio Start button in the toolbar a few times, PowerPoint was launched, but the breakpoints were not hit.

I’ve inserted more breakpoints, restarted, nothing …

I’ve then realized that Visual Studio title did not contain the (Running) text, although PowerPoint was running …

What could be the cause ?? Well, in the same solution we have a helper application that, among other things, starts PowerPoint. And the helper application project was the active project, so every time I’ve pressed Start, the helper started, launched PowerPoint and then exited. Of course the breakpoints were not hit, as they were set in a completely unrelated project.

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