Volume Licence Key Changer

As with the grief of auditing licences et all, you may sometimes find that you need to do a site-wide change of the licence key for Windows Server or Windows XP.

Microsoft have helpfully provided two scripts that will allow you to change the product licence key programatically.

Just run the script with your new VLK, and everything should work wonderfully.

Windows Server 2003 Print Spooler Issues

I had a problem with a newly installed server that was the print server for about 12 – 15 printers.

The printers were dotted around the site and connected to Intel print servers themselves to allow them to be available on the network.

It was reported to me that the server repeatedly stopped allowing you to print and it was true, when I checked the spooler service, it had stopped.

After examining the event log, I found the following information messages appear every 6 seconds:

Printer \\server\printer was set.

This was cycling through around 6 printers – and possibly meant a lot of network and server bandwidth was being chewed up.

All of the printers connected happened to be Brother 1230 or Brother 1430 printers. Oddly, the Brother 1240 printers were unaffected (possibly because they were series 40).

Anyway, after poking around the printer settings and the registry, I found the problem to be that the printers were using the native Brother print processor.

To remedy:

  • Open Printers and Faxes
  • Right-click on the printer and click Properties
  • Click the ‘Avanced’ tab
  • Click ‘Print Processor…
  • Select WinPrint and RAW
  • Press ‘OK’ and ‘OK’

Now go back to the settings and check that the print processor is still using WinPrint. If it is not, you also need to disable ‘Advanced Print Services’ in the ‘Advanced’ tab.

Creating a new default user profile

Changing the default user profile is not a particularly daunting task. In fact, my experiences show that in Windows 2000, XP and 2003, it’s a relatively painless experience.

  • Logged in as a local administrator, create a new user account.
  • Log out and log in as that user.
  • Log back in as an administrator.
  • Enable Show hidden files and folders
  • Go to the documents and settings folder on the system drive, and into the newly created user profile.
  • Copy the ntuser.dat file to the Default User folder, overwriting the existing profile.

That’s it! Of course, you can use the Microsoft friendly method instead if your OS supports it.

In-place motherboard change for Windows 2000-based systems

A neat trick I picked up while browsing t’internet is how to carry out a quick motherboard replacement on 2000 or XP Windows systems:

Before you swap out the current motherboard go to device manager and select the IDE ATA/ATAPI Controller and select your current storage controller. Right click, select update driver and select install from a list or specific location. Click don’t search I will choose the driver to install and select the standard dual channel IDE controller.

This will prevent the inaccessible boot device blue screen.

With this method, booting the first time with the new motherboard should be done in Safe mode. XP will install the drivers it needs and you can install the new motherboard drivers. I would suggest accessing the motherboard web site to get the latest drivers and bios updates rather than use the CD media included with the MB. The CD is usually a couple of revisions behind the latest updates.

Thanks to Michael Stevens for that bad boy.

Graceful Gradient

So, here we are!

Windows XP has shocked me by developing an unexpected ‘feature’.

As I was in a bid to design a pretty backdrop – I thought I’d save a 4 pixel image and save it as a bitmap. When previewing it as a Windows backdrop – I forgot to set the bitmap to tile instead of stretch. What I expected to happen was that some nasty pixilated blocks would appear on the screen.

But no! Instead a pretty gradient graced my monitor.

Obviously there’s limits to what kinds of gradients you can have – but it’s nice that it happens nevertheless.


Having been involved in a few Windows XP/2003 suite installations now – there seems to be a reoccurring problem with people and their USB devices.

Simply put – if you’re not an admin user of any sort, then the machine will not allow you to add or remove USB devices.

As a security issue, this is fine – especially when you don’t want people faffing around with your systems on a corporate level. In a school where you’ve just installed 30 computers – half of which don’t have floppy or CD drives in – USB is quite desired.

I finally got around to carrying out a serch on the web and found someone mention KB 823732. A jolly helpful article on how to disable a users ability to remove the said privilege. I haven’t tried it yet – but I imagine that the opposite is true to allow users. I’ll put up an additional note if it works.