Friday, October 30, 2015

Showing "This PC" Icon on the Desktop on Windows Server 2012 R2

It's been years since Microsoft has shown the My Computer (now known as Computer or This PC) icon on the desktop by default, but myself and many other admins feel lost without it. Restoring this icon in Windows Server 2012 R2 isn't as straight forward as it is on modern desktop versions of Windows.

Most of the guides that I've come across advise you to install the Desktop Experience features through the Add Roles and Features wizard. While this works, it installs a lot of unnecessary crap that most servers don't need. More importantly, there is an easier way to do it.

Bring up the start screen, search for "common icons" and click on either of the results.

You'll be greeted with the familiar Desktop Icon Settings window.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Digi CM 32 & Digi CM 48 Fan Replacement

My Digi CM 32 terminal server's fan was making a grinding/rattling noise, indicating that the fan was in the beginning stages of failure and in need of a replacement. This is usually due to the use of a cheaper sleeve bearing fan rather than a ball bearing fan.

I decided to preemptively replace the fan on my CM 48 while I was at it, so this guide will cover both models. My CM 48 is the dual power supply model, so there may be some slight variances if you have the single power supply model.

What You'll Need

  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Small flat blade screwdriver
  • Small cable ties
  • Replacement fan - I'd highly recommend getting a ball bearing fan.
    • The CM32 uses a 40mm, 12 volt, 3 wire fan.
    • The CM 48 dual power supply model uses a 40mm, 5 volt, 3 wire fan. I would assume that the CM 48 single power supply model uses the same fan, but I don't have one so I can't confirm that. If you have a single power supply CM 48, I'd recommend removing the fan and double checking the voltage before ordering a replacement.

Fan Replacement Process

1. Remove the rack ears.

2. Remove the case screws indicated in the pictures below.

Left side

Right side

3. Remove the top cover by sliding it straight back.

CM 32

CM 48 Dual Power Supply

4. Use a small flat blade screwdriver to pry the locking tab slightly forward and remove the fan connector by pulling straight up.

Fan Locking Tab

5. Remove the fan screws, remove the fan, and install the new fan. Use some small cable ties to clean up the excess wiring.

Fan screws
CM 32 with the new fan installed. The replacement fan that I used is about twice the thickness of the original fan, but the case accommodates it with no problems.

On the CM 48, there is a clear plastic sleeve around the fan wires. This is probably there to protect the wires from heat because they rest on top of the power supply. Rather than hacking up the new fan wiring to transfer the sleeve, I just used cable ties to route the wiring so it doesn't touch the power supply.

CM 48 with the new fan installed and wiring cleaned up.

6. Re-assemble everything and test

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Migrating a Windows Media Center Installation

Recently, I did a small refresh of my home theater PC. I installed an SSD for the OS to live on and used the 1 TB platter drive that was already in there for recorded TV storage. I also ditched Windows 7 and did a fresh install of Windows 8.1 (no Windows 10 since Microsoft dropped WMC).

These are my notes from the process.

Export Current WMC Settigns and Content

I used Sean's WMC Backup to create a backup of my recording schedule. For whatever reason, most of the shows that I have set to record didn't show up in the list, but I used Notepad to look at backup file that was generated and everything was there there, so don't worry if you don't see everything.

I also grabbed a backup of my channel lineup. Sean warns that this feature is experimental and may or may not work. It worked for me, but your mileage may vary.

Finally, I copied all of my recorded TV, along with any other files that I wanted to keep, to an external hard drive. Recorded TV is stored in "C:\Users\Public\Recorded TV" by default.

Disconnect the Platter Drive and Install the SSD

I'm leaving the platter drive disconnected during the fresh installation so that it will be easy to roll back if everything goes horribly wrong.

Install Windows 8.1 and WMC

I installed Windows 8.1 along with all the necessary Windows updates and drivers.

Next, I installed the software for my SiliconDust HDHomerun Prime tuner.

Finally, I begrudgingly paid Microsoft $10 and installed WMC.

See this page if you need more information on installing WMC on Windows 8.1. Basically, WMC isn't included with Windows 8.1 out of the box like it was with Windows 7. You can get it, but you'll need to buy a feature pack. If you have Windows 8.1 Pro, the WMC pack is $9.99. If you have the non-Pro version of Windows 8.1, you'll have to buy the Pro pack which will upgrade you to Pro and includes WMC. This pack is $99.99. Ouch!

Import WMC Settings

Open Sean's WMC Backup and restore the backup data. After that, take a few minutes to test out WMC. Make sure that live TV works, and that your recording schedule is there.

Everything imported without any problems, but my guide was blank. To remedy this, force an update of the guide listings by going to Tasks > Settings > TV > Guide > Get Latest Guide Listings.

Re-Connect Platter Drive and Format

Now that I'm confident that the new installation is good to go, I reconnected the platter drive and formatted it.

Change WMC Recording Storage Location

Do this by going to Tasks > Settings > TV > Recorder > Recorder Storage.

Restore WMC Content

Now that WMC is using the platter drive for storage, I copied my Recorded TV from the external hard drive to the platter drive. After restarting WMC, my recorded TV from the previous installation is all there.

Run a Channel Auto Select

Your tuner will usually pick up some channels that are there, but you can't watch because they aren't included with your cable package. WMC has the ability to scan all the channels and automatically disable the ones that aren't available.

To do this, go to Settings > TV > Guide > Edit Channels, and choose the option for Auto Select. The scan can take a couple hours, and all your tuners will be tied up while it is running, so it's best to do it at a time when you don't want to watch TV and don't have anything scheduled to record.

Auto Select Channels

Your tuner will be unavailable while the scan is running