Microsoft Bob

Just a short, simple blog for Bob to share some tips and tricks.

Be sure to check out my non-technical blog at www.bobsbasement.net.

Month List

What I Do For A Living

It seems that I have always had a difficult time explaining to people what I do at Microsoft. It's not that I'm unsure about what I do - the details of my job have always been crystal-clear to me and I love what I am doing. It's just that I can't find a way to explain things in a way that doesn't result in blank stares from anyone who isn't a geek. (This problem isn't limited to me, though; my non-technical wife simply responds "I have no idea what he does" when someone asks her what I do for a living.)

Here's a perfect example: when I was a Program Manager on the Internet Information Services (IIS) team, people would often ask me what I did for Microsoft, and I would reply with something like, "I help design and implement the web publishing protocols for Microsoft's web server."

Other Person: [Blank Stare]

I would attempt to remedy the situation by adding, "You know, I design Microsoft's implementation of Internet technologies like the File Transfer Protocol, WebDAV, and the FrontPage Server Extensions."

Other Person: [Blank Stare]

In a sometimes-futile effort to salvage the conversation from complete disaster, I would interject, "You like to use the Internet, right? Well, your computer is on one side of the Internet, and my team helps build the other side of the Internet. That's kind of what I do."

That comment would usually be met with a slight spark of recognition, which was sometimes followed by a half-muttered, "That's nice."

At one time or other during my tenure as a Program Manager on the IIS team I was responsible for a smattering of disparate technologies; things like FTP, WebDAV, FPSE, FastCGI, PHP, URL Rewrite, IIS Express, Log Parser, etc. Most of those technologies garnered little to no interest for the average person, and many of my coworkers found them pretty boring as well. Just the same, I personally found every one of those technologies completely fascinating. (Why else would I spend eight years trying to get just one new command added to FTP?)

A couple of years ago I left the IIS program management team and I joined the writing team which is responsible for documenting Microsoft's ASP.NET framework; and if you have to ask what that means, then you are probably not interested in the answer.

Still, people would ask me what I do for Microsoft, and I would try to explain my job with statements like, "I document the Application Programming Interfaces (or APIs) for Microsoft's ASP.NET."

Other Person: [Blank Stare]

I would try to nudge the conversation along by saying things like, "I help people write web code."

Other Person: [Blank Stare]

Skipping ahead in the conversation, I would usually make a last-ditch attempt by stating, "Let's say you wanted to create a website; if so, you might read something that I wrote in order to help you get started."

Sometimes this remark would illicit a hint of acknowledgment, but usually I just got another blank stare.

This leads me to a few days ago. My wife and I were at dinner, and a waiter asked me what I did for a living. In the back of my mind I started to say something like, "Well, these days I'm documenting a set of APIs that Java programmers will use with Microsoft Azure technologies [blah blah blah]..."

But what actually came out of my mouth was, "I could explain it to you, but I'm pretty sure you wouldn't want me to. Trust me."

I like that answer. I think I'll stick with it in the future. :-)

Posted: Apr 28 2014, 23:47 by Bob | Comments (0)
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Cleaning Up Your Windows System When QuickTime Has Screwed Up Your Media Settings

So here's the deal: I don't use anything from Apple. I have no iPod, no iPhone, no Mac, etc. I buy all of my MP3s through Xbox Music and Amazon. :-] Because of this, I have had no real need to install iTunes or QuickTime in years.

But unfortunately it seemed that I had to install either iTunes or QuickTime at one time or other, mainly because some of my digital cameras recorded video in QuickTime *.MOV format. But over the years I learned to detest both iTunes and QuickTime because of the undesirable ways in which they modified my system; both iTunes and QuickTime would remap all of media settings to open in their @#$% player, which I didn't really want in the first place.

Now that Windows supports the *.MOV format natively, and I can easily convert *.MOV files into something infinitely more useful and universal like *.MP4 format, I really never see the need for installing either iTunes or QuickTime.

However, just the other day I installed a new video editor (which shall remain nameless) and it quietly installed QuickTime on my system. I presume that this was to make it easier to import files in *.MOV format into the video editor, but I was pretty upset when I discovered that QuickTime had been installed. What's more, I was angry when I discovered that QuickTime had once again messed up all of my media settings.

In all of this misery is one saving grace: QuickTime has the decency to preserve your original settings. I am assuming that the backups are for when you uninstall QuickTime and attempt to reclaim your system from being hijacked by Apple, but just the same - that little nicety allowed me to fix my system with a little bit of scripting.

So without further introduction - first the script, and then the explanation:

Const HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT = &H80000000
Const strQuickTimeBAK = "QuickTime.bak"

Set objRegistry = GetObject("winmgmts:" & _
  "{impersonationLevel=impersonate}" & _
  "!\\.\root\default:StdRegProv")
 
objRegistry.EnumKey HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT, "", arrSubKeys

For Each objSubkey in arrSubKeys
  If Len(objSubkey)>2 Then
    If Left(objSubkey,1)="." Then
      objRegistry.EnumValues HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT, _
        objSubkey, arrEntryNames, arrValueTypes
      If IsArray(arrEntryNames) Then
        For i = 0 To UBound(arrEntryNames)
          If StrComp(arrEntryNames(i), strQuickTimeBAK, vbTextCompare)=0 Then
            intReturnValue = objRegistry.GetStringValue( _
              HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT, objSubkey, strQuickTimeBAK, strEntryValue)
            If intReturnValue = 0 Then
              intReturnValue = objRegistry.SetStringValue( _
                HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT, objSubkey, "", strEntryValue)
            End If
          End If
        Next
      End If
    End If
  End If
Next

Here's what this script does: first the script enumerates all of the keys under HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT and looks for file extension mappings, then it looks for mappings which have been modified and backed up by QuickTime. When it locates file extensions which have been modified, it copies the value which was backed up into the default location where it belongs.

All-in-all, it's a pretty straight-forward script, but it sucks that I had to write it.

Posted: Apr 11 2014, 00:31 by Bob | Comments (0)
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FTP ETW Tracing and IIS 8 - Part 2

Shortly after I published my FTP ETW Tracing and IIS 8 blog post, I was using the batch file from that blog to troubleshoot an issue that I was having with a custom FTP provider. One of the columns which I display in my results is Clock-Time, which is obviously a sequential timestamp that is used to indicate the time and order in which the events occurred.

(Click the following image to view it full-size.)

At first glance the Clock-Time values might appear to be a range of useless numbers, but I use Clock-Time values quite often when I import the data from my ETW traces into something like Excel and I need to sort the data by the various columns.

That being said, apart from keeping the trace events in order, Clock-Time isn't a very user-friendly value. However, LogParser has some great built-in functions for crunching date/time values, so I decided to update the script to take advantage of some LogParser coolness and reformat the Clock-Time value into a human-readable Date/Time value.

My first order of business was to figure out how to decode the Clock-Time value; since Clock-Time increases for each event, it is obviously an offset from some constant, and after a bit of searching I found that the Clock-Time value is the offset in 100-nanosecond intervals since midnight on January 1, 1601. (Windows uses that value in a lot of places, not just ETW.) Once I had that information, it was pretty easy to come up with a LogParser formula to convert the Clock-Time value into the local time for my system, which is much easier to read.

With that in mind, here is the modified batch file:

@echo off

rem ======================================================================

rem Clean up old log files
for %%a in (ETL CSV) do if exist "%~n0.%%a" del "%~n0.%%a"

echo Starting the ETW session for full FTP tracing...
LogMan.exe start "%~n0" -p "IIS: Ftp Server" 255 5 -ets
echo.
echo Now reproduce your problem.
echo.
echo After you have reproduced your issue, hit any key to close the FTP
echo tracing session. Your trace events will be displayed automatically.
echo.
pause>nul

rem ======================================================================

echo.
echo Closing the ETW session for full FTP tracing...
LogMan.exe stop "%~n0" -ets

rem ======================================================================

echo.
echo Parsing the results - this may take a long time depending on the size of the trace...
if exist "%~n0.etl" (
   TraceRpt.exe "%~n0.etl" -o "%~n0.csv" -of CSV
   LogParser.exe "SELECT [Clock-Time], TO_LOCALTIME(ADD(TO_TIMESTAMP('1601-01-01 00:00:00', 'yyyy-MM-dd hh:mm:ss'), TO_TIMESTAMP(DIV([Clock-Time],10000000)))) AS [Date/Time], [Event Name], Type, [User Data] FROM '%~n0.csv'" -i:csv -e 2 -o:DATAGRID -rtp 20
)

When you run this new batch file, it will display an additional "Date/Time" column with a more-informative value in local time for the sever where you captured the trace.

(Click the following image to view it full-size.)

The new Date/Time column is considerably more practical, so I'll probably keep it in the batch file that I use when I am troubleshooting. You will also notice that I kept the original Clock-Time column; I chose to do so because I will undoubtedly continue to use that column for sorting when I import the data into something else, but you can safely remove that column if you would prefer to use only the new Date/Time value.

That wraps it up for today's post. :-)

Note: This blog was originally posted at http://blogs.msdn.com/robert_mcmurray/
Posted: Apr 09 2014, 03:17 by Bob | Comments (0)
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FTP ETW Tracing and IIS 8

In the past I have written a couple of blogs about using the FTP service's Event Tracing for Windows (ETW) features to troubleshoot issues; see FTP and ETW Tracing and Troubleshooting Custom FTP Providers with ETW for details. Those blog posts contain batch files which use the built-in Windows LogMan utility to capture an ETW trace, and they use downloadable LogParser utility to parse the results into human-readable form. I use the batch files from those blogs quite often, and I tend to use them a lot when I am developing custom FTP providers which add new functionality to my FTP servers.

Unfortunately, sometime around the release of Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 I discovered that the ETW format had changed, and the current version of LogParser (version 2.2) cannot read the new ETW files. When you try to use the batch files from my blog with IIS 8, you see the following errors:

Verifying that LogParser.exe is in the path...
Done.

Starting the ETW session for full FTP tracing...
The command completed successfully.

Now reproduce your problem.

After you have reproduced your issue, hit any key to close the FTP tracing session. Your trace events will be displayed automatically.

Closing the ETW session for full FTP tracing...
The command completed successfully.

Parsing the results - this may take a long time depending on the size of the trace...
Task aborted.
Cannot open <from-entity>: Trace file "C:\temp\ftp.etl" has been created on a OS version (6.3) that is not compatible with the current OS version


Statistics:
-----------
Elements processed: 0
Elements output: 0
Execution time: 0.06 seconds

I meant to research a workaround at the time, but one thing led to another and I simply forgot about doing so. But I needed to use ETW the other day when I was developing something, so that seemed like a good time to quit slacking and come up with an answer. :-)

With that in mind, I came up with a very easy workaround, which I will present here. Once again, this batch file has a requirement on LogParser being installed on your system, but for the sake of brevity I have removed the lines from this version of the batch file which check for LogParser. (You can copy those lines from my previous blog posts if you want that functionality restored.)

Here's the way that this workaround is implemented: instead of creating an ETW log and then parsing it directly with LogParser, this new batch file invokes the built-in Windows TraceRpt command to parse the ETW file and save the results as a CSV file, which is then read by LogParser to view the results in a datagrid like the batch files in my previous blogs:

@echo off

rem ======================================================================

rem Clean up old log files
for %%a in (ETL CSV) do if exist "%~n0.%%a" del "%~n0.%%a"

echo Starting the ETW session for full FTP tracing...
LogMan.exe start "%~n0" -p "IIS: Ftp Server" 255 5 -ets
echo.
echo Now reproduce your problem.
echo.
echo After you have reproduced your issue, hit any key to close the FTP
echo tracing session. Your trace events will be displayed automatically.
echo.
pause>nul

rem ======================================================================

echo.
echo Closing the ETW session for full FTP tracing...
LogMan.exe stop "%~n0" -ets

rem ======================================================================

echo.
echo Parsing the results - this may take a long time depending on the size of the trace...
if exist "%~n0.etl" (
   TraceRpt.exe "%~n0.etl" -o "%~n0.csv" -of CSV
   LogParser.exe "SELECT [Clock-Time], [Event Name], Type, [User Data] FROM '%~n0.csv'" -i:csv -e 2 -o:DATAGRID -rtp 20
)

Here's another great thing about this new batch file - it will also work down-level on Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008; so if you have been using my previous batch files with IIS 7 - you can simply replace your old batch file with this new version. You will see a few differences between the results from my old batch files and this new version, namely that I included a couple of extra columns that I like to use for troubleshooting.

(Click the following image to view it full-size.)

There is one last thing which I would like to mention in closing: I realize that it would be much easier on everyone if Microsoft simply released a new version of LogParser which works with the new ETW format, but unfortunately there are no plans at the moment to release a new version of LogParser. And trust me - I'm just as depressed about that fact as anyone else. :-(

Note: This blog was originally posted at http://blogs.msdn.com/robert_mcmurray/
Posted: Apr 08 2014, 08:35 by Bob | Comments (0)
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