Stop the default printer changing when using Remote Desktop


This post has been moved to my new site:


When printing certain reports from our ERP system we started getting the error “no printers are installed”. A search on the software vendor’s knowledgebase showed that this doesn’t really mean there are no printers installed. It means that, for the account that runs one of the ERP-related services on the ERP server, it can’t find a default printer.

Can’t find a default printer? How is that possible?

Read more…


Fixing a hung deployment of Microsoft IIS Web Deploy

web_deployONE of my Windows Server 2008 servers runs SharePoint for our intranet. I know enough about SharePoint to keep it running but I’m no expert in Internet Information Services (IIS). A while back we added another site to IIS for other specialised company information. The site’s developed by a programmer colleague of mine who works on it on his PC then publishes it to the web server. He told me that to make the publishing far smoother he needed something called “Microsoft Web Deploy” installed on the server. Apparently without it I would have to discover and configure a dozen IIS7 settings to make this thing work.

Because it’s “my” server, and I didn’t want to break SharePoint, I felt duty-bound to do the installation myself. However, I really hadn’t a clue what I was doing and just wanted “paint-by-numbers” instructions to follow. My colleague pointed me to this page for said instructions. This introduced me to the world of Microsoft’s Web Platform Installer (WPI), which I’d also never heard of before.

Working from the Microsoft page, I selected the non-admin deployment steps then ran wpilauncher.exe from This installed WPI 4.6.

Next, I chose to install the Recommended Server Configuration for Web Hosting Providers (probably an over the top choice, since we’re not a hosting provider…), deselecting anything PHP-related (because we don’t use PHP). The installation started at 11 a.m. and was still going, showing no activity and no sign of progress, an hour later. I cancelled it.

Now, since working on versions of Windows Server later than 2003, I’ve become familiar with the “Run as Administrator” gotcha. That is, sometimes, even when you’re logged on to the server as an administrator, some software doesn’t work properly unless you explicitly right-click and choose Run as administrator. There’s no explanation; it just doesn’t work. I’ve been caught like this several times. I thought maybe I was a victim of this gotcha on this occasion, so I tried the WPI installation again, having run the installer “as admin”.

Again the installation started…and stopped.

At this point I also discovered that my SharePoint intranet site was broken. So much for protecting that. In frustration, I cancelled the installation and rebooted the server. Still no intranet. I checked that the SharePoint site was running in IIS, which it appeared to be. For good measure, I stopped and restarted the site and voila! My intranet lived again. But I still faced the problem of the failing WPI installation.

Returning to Google, I followed the recommendation in this post and deleted the contents of C:UsersusernameAppDataLocalMicrosoftWeb Platform Installer. I ran the installer (as admin) again and got the same problem.

This time I found the WPI log file and noticed that the last line was:

commandline is: 'C:Windowssysnativenet.exe stop was'. Process Id: 6300.

I wondered if the installer was failing to stop a service, so I ran the command manually and stopped the service. The output was this:

C:WindowsSystem32>net.exe stop was
The following services are dependent on the Windows Process Activation Service service.Stopping the Windows Process Activation Service service will also stop these services.
Net.Tcp Listener Adapter
Net.Pipe Listener Adapter
Net.Msmq Listener Adapter
Do you want to continue this operation? (Y/N) [N]: y
The Net.Tcp Listener Adapter service is stopping.
The Net.Tcp Listener Adapter service was stopped successfully.
The Net.Pipe Listener Adapter service is stopping.
The Net.Pipe Listener Adapter service was stopped successfully.
The Net.Msmq Listener Adapter service is stopping.
The Net.Msmq Listener Adapter service was stopped successfully.
The Windows Process Activation Service service is stopping.
The Windows Process Activation Service service was stopped successfully.

So – it seemed that the command in the installer failed to pass the “Y” command and sat there in limbo waiting for the service to stop. I cancelled the installation yet again, left those services stopped and ran the installer again. Mercifully, it completed.


After that it completed the install of 45 components (many of which we probably didn’t need, but what the heck), requested a reboot and finally my colleague could “Web Deploy” to his heart’s content.

This seems to be a bug in the WPI installer. I wondered why nobody else had found it – or, at least, I couldn’t find any posts suggesting they had. Hopefully by posting here, somebody else may be spared the pain I went through.

Automatic Wipers on the VW Golf: No better than the Focus C-Max

Some while ago I waxed lyrical (and irritated) about the inadequacies of the automatic wipers on my 2005 Ford Focus C-Max (a 2 litre petrol Ghia for those who like to know). If by some slim chance you don't recall that exciting post, click over to it here then come back.

Nice car, shame about the rain-sensitive automatic wipers

In recent weeks I've been driving a relative's 2007 VW Golf (a 1.6 litre petrol in silver – one of my least favourite colours for a car, as it happens, but rest assured that hasn't prejudiced me against it in regards to what follows). And I've made a discovery: the automatic wipers are equally inadequate. Like the Ford, you have four settings: Single Wipe, Normal Speed, High Speed – and Automatic. Like the Ford, Automatic mode includes a variable “sensitivity” control. And like the Ford, it sometimes fails to respond appropriately to the rain conditions, refusing to wipe when you need it unless you switch it up a notch and back down again. Or, of course, give up and resort to a series of manual Single Wipes.

This isn't about reliability. We all know VW are renowned for reliability; indeed, they focused on it in their famous 1980's advertising campaign. No, for the highly-reliable VW and the statistically-less-reliable-but-pretty-good-in-my-experience Ford, it seems to be much more about a limitation of the technology. It's just not quite there. The sensor, the algorithm, the colour of the paint; who knows? Whatever the reason, neither model's automatic wipers can hack it in light rain, fog or snow. So there.

And why, you may be wondering, have I bothered to tell you? Well, (he said, thinking on his feet) I'm keenly aware that the two examples of this defective tech both date from the last decade. Even the newer model is seven years old. My question, to you, therefore, is this: Do you drive a car younger than seven years? If so, does it have rain-sensitive automatic windscreen wipers? If so, how do they cope in light rain, snow or fog? Please tell me they've got better. Or, if you can't honestly do that, tell me I'm entitled to my dissatisfaction and not, as a nagging doubt keeps suggesting to me, making a motoring fuss about nothing.

I look forward to your wiper-related feedback.