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© Rakhesh Sasidharan

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TIL: XenApp and Desktops

If you want to publish desktops via XenApps, the users must be in the “Remote Desktop Users” builtin group. This only allows them RDP access via ICA.

Once VDA is installed, a new group called “Direct Access Users” is created and only its members are allowed direct RDP access.

[Aside] Group Policy Objects – VDA User Settings

An amazing post from Carl Stalhood (as a reference to myself for later):

Group Policy Objects – VDA User Settings

Find all GPOs modified yesterday

Via PowerShell, of course:

And to make a report of the settings in these same GPOs:

Yeah, I cheated in the end by using > rather than Out-File. Old habits. :)

Not sure why, but doing a search like Get-GPO -All | ?{ ($_.ModificationTime) -eq [datetime]"18 September 2017" } doesn’t yield any results. I think it’s because the timestamps don’t match. I couldn’t think of a way around that.

Registry keys for various settings

Continuing in the vein of my previous post where I want to try and apply more settings via registry key changes to the default user profile as opposed to a GPO change, I thought I should have one place where in I can put the info I find.

Setting the wallpaper

Via this forum post.

Bear in mind this works like a preference not a policy. Users will be able to change the theme and wallpaper. That’s not what I want, so I won’t be using this – but it’s good info to have handy.

Setting IE proxy settings

By default Windows has per user proxy settings. But it is possible to set a registry key so the proxy settings are per machine.

Setting the color scheme in Server 2012

Via Server Fault: two registry values at HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\DWM.

I’ve linked to this earlier, but this seems to be a good place to link to again: changing the start menu colors and background solid colors etc.

Drive Mappings

Look under HKCU\Network.

Environment Variables

Look under HKCU\Environment.

Changing the location of the default profile

Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\MICROSOFT\WINDOWS NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList and change the value of Default.

Removing the list of newly installed apps

Via this blog post:

Go to HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced and add a value called Start_NotifyNewApps of data 0 and type DWORD.

I am feeling less enthusiastic about replacing GPPs with a default use profile. I like the idea and it’s fast but the problem is that I can imagine users making changes and hence their profiles not being consistent with others. At least with GPPs I know there’s a baseline I can expect as the registry keys I expect will be present in the user profile; but with a default profile I have no such guarantee. If a user goes on and deletes one of my default registry keys, it won’t come back on next login unless I delete the profile.

Started thinking of mandatory profiles and came across this XenApp best practices post from Citrix. Probably wont go that route either but it’s good to keep in mind.

Various Citrix and Profile and Folder Redirection bits and bobs

I am a bit all over the place as I am trying to do multiple things and discovering so many new things. It’s exciting, but also a bit overwhelming. I know I should note it all down for future reference (as I may not be implementing most of these now) and rather than wait for things to settle down and then write a more organized blog post – which may not happen coz I could have forgotten by then – I think I’ll just “dump” things as they are now. :)

First off: I noticed that my freshly installed Citrix Director wasn’t showing any logon performance data. Empty. Said there’s no logons, nothing to report. Googled a bit, found some forum posts, but this blog post is what I will link to. Now if you look at that it suggests viewing the Monitoring database to see if some columns are NULL. How to do that? I had no idea, but again Googled a bit and found that if I go to the database table via SQL Management Studio I can view the table as below –

Once you have UPM installed, it takes care of the performance data. This runs via entries in the HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run key and could be blocked via some GPO. That wasn’t my case, but I went ahead and disabled the setting anyways. (Didn’t check whether logon performance data is working since then).

Next: speeding up logon times.

Since Windows 8/ Server 2012 there’s a 5-10 second delay for applications when they are launched during startup (i.e. logon). This messes up with the figures from Citrix Director (as the process for monitoring too is delayed) plus gives you a slower logon experience. To remove that delay a registry key needs to be added: StatupDelayInMSec (REG_DWORD) to 0 in HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows \CurrentVersion\Explorer\Serialize. Came across this nugget of info from another blog post too which has some more useful suggestions (especially the one about removing the CD-ROM drive – I’ve done that). In a similar vein this post from XenAppBlog (great blog!!) is also useful. It mentions what I had written above about Citrix Director stats being skewed coz of the startup delay.

There’s a sequel to the post from XenAppBlog. From that I came across Citrix’s own optimization guide (it’s for Windows 8 & 8.1 but I figure I can harvest it for 2012 R2 info too). And this post from JGSpiers.com is awesome (I learnt about modifying the default user profile itself where possible than using GPPs to get that extra bit of performance). The author has a Server 2016 optimization script too which I hope to pull in bits and pieces from.

I am fascinated by the idea of modifying the default profile. That makes so much more sense than applying all these GPPs. I love GPOs but I am not a huge fan of them either. For me they serve a purpose but must be used in moderation. I’d much rather set the correct defaults via MST files when installing a package or just modifying the default settings some other way. I guess it’s coz I have seen the delays that happen during login when a large number of GPOs apply (at work for instance, my laptop has some 31 GPOs applying to it!).

The only catch with modifying the default user profile is that you can’t push out subsequent changes to all profiles. What I mean is once a user logs in and has a profile, and then I go ahead and make some changes to the default profile, I can’t push these out to the profiles that were already created. All I can do is delete the already created profiles so that next time they login the changes are pulled over.

Reading about this I came across this nice blog post. And what a blog too! Some amazing posts there. 

Group Policy Preferences must be processed to determine whether they have been applied. Whilst GPPs can implement a preference rather than a policy, Windows must determine whether the preference has been applied by reading a flag. Whilst checking those flags isn’t a big problem, implementing GPPs should be considered in the context of whatever else is running at logon, how many preferences are implemented plus what happens to the environment over time (how many additional policies, applications, scripts etc. will be added to the environment over the life of that desktop).

The author has a few scripts on editing the default policy directly during Windows deployment.

From that blog I came across a nice (and funny) post on folder redirection. When I was fiddling with folder redirection, initially I too had redirected the Documents folder to the user’s home directory and was struck by what the author mentions in his blog. All my user folders started showing the name “Documents”. So irritating! I had to manually go and delete the desktop.ini file (from previous experience I knew the desktop.ini file plays a part in the folder names and icons etc). Since then I changed the Documents folder to point to %HOMESHARE%%HOMEPATH%\My Documents. This blog post also made me realize one can redirect more folders via some registry keys present at HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders.

Speaking of variables that be used in folder redirection the officially supported ones seem to be %USERNAME%, %USERPROFILE%, %HOMESHARE%, and %HOMEPATH%.

(For anyone interested in more quirks of Windows Explorer this blog post is a good read).

Btw, as a matter of terminology, there is a different between folder and directory. A folder is more of a virtual construct while a directory actually exists. In most cases folders are same as directories, but when we look at redirected folders for instance then folders are not the same as directory. There’s a folder called “My Documents” for instance (under C:\Users\Username) but there’s no corresponding directory. The folder is virtual and points to a directory at say (\\myfileserver\RedirectedFolders\Documents\Username).

Part 2 of the above post on folder redirection. Has a bunch of videos on various situations and the impact. Key takeaways:

  • Windows logon process is not solely dependent on the user PC. It depends on the load of the file servers too hosting the profiles (for roaming profiles).
  • Heavily loaded profile server means slow login time for roaming profile user.
  • If using folder redirection, then heavily loaded profile server means not so slow login time (as less data is transferred initially) but experience may not be great post login as the desktop etc. icons need to be pulled from the profile server and that is under load. This is made worse if AppData too is redirected as it impacts app launches too.
    • On a side note: I think redirecting AppData is a bad idea. I have had made experience with it at work. Best to keep AppData as part of the roaming profile and not redirected. AppData has a lot of read-writes too – is not suited for redirection.
  • If using Citrix streaming profiles and the profile server is loaded, login time is better as it is streamed as required.
  • The author doesn’t talk about Citrix streaming profiles + folder redirection and heavily loaded servers. That’s the scenario I was interested in.

Nice! Part 3 of the post on folder redirection shows the impact of not redirecting AppData. :) BTW, note to self: when you redirect AppData you redirect the Start Menu too. Obvious in hindsight, as I know the Start Menu is in the AppData folder, but I had forgotten.

Part 4 is on the impact on logon duration. Part 5 is on the impact of the SMB version (basically, use the latest version where possible, for better performance). Windows 8/ Server 2012 and above use SMB3 (well 3.0 and 3.02 for 8.1/ 2012 R2). And speaking of SMB, SMB is not CIFS. :) CIFS is ancient stuff, superseded by SMB1.

Another bunch of posts by these same others on folder redirection (yay!). Three parts again. Nice quote from part 1:

Folder redirection remains a popular method of user data and profile management because it can improve the user experience by achieving two things:

1. Faster logons – redirecting AppData out of the profile reduces the amount of data required to be copied locally at user logon

2. Abstracting user data – moving user data out of the profile to a home folder ensures data is available on any desktop and allows IT to protect that data

Abstracting user data. I like that. That’s exactly what I had in mind when I discovered the joys of separating a profile from the user data (as in limit a profile to just the settings or “profile” sort of stuff; keep all data redirected elsewhere so it can be shared among multiple profiles or even multiple versions of the profile). I won’t go into much detail other than link to the first part and also this post on how they did the tests (some good tools there).

Lastly, some alternatives to folder redirection. I am not a decision maker in my firm for desktop stuff, so I will skip this for now. Some day … :)

While on the topic of folder redirection, I wanted to point to this post too on automatic conflict resolution.

I guess that’s all for now. More later …

Update:

An excellent post by Helge Klein on the impact of GPOs on logon performance. I am awed by people like Helge Klein and Aaron Parker (whose posts I link to above). It takes a certain level of effort and persistence to test the impact of various settings across multiple scenarios. It’s something I would like to know of, but am lazy or disorganized to actually get off my butt and do. Very impressed. Check out the CSE Overhead section in the post I link to. Registry settings applied via policies have way different impact to registry settings applied via preferences. The latter has nearly twice the impact (i.e. registry keys via policies is less than 20ms, registry keys via preferences is about 50ms). Damn!

Beware of using preferences to set shortcuts, ini files, and environment variables.

Also interesting to note, it is better to put all settings in a single/ less number of GPOs than to spread them across multiple GPOs. Not a huge impact, but it matters. (That said – the version of a GPO is associated to the GPO, and not to the individual settings in it. So if you have a less number of GPOs with a lot of settings in them, a change to a single setting will result in the GPO having a new version and hence be reapplied (see below)).

Note to self for the future: registry settings via policies (we can’t control these directly, they are what the policies set) is stored in a registry.pol binary file. Registry settings via preferences are XML files.

The post has more nuggets such as the processing order of GPOs (admin templates first, followed by others – check the post for the order). Also, worth remembering that gpupdate is smart enough to only apply any changes Group Policies and what the /force switch does is tell it to re-apply everything – you don’t really need that in most cases. Group Policy be default keeps track of what settings have been applied.

The Client Side Extensions (CSEs) in a GPO are controlled per machine under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon\GPExtensions. The CSEs are modules basically which do the actual applying of a GPO setting (e.g. drive mappings, registry settings, admin templates stuff). Worth noting that each CSE has a value called NoGPOListChanges. If this is 0 (the default) it means the CSE will process a group policy even if there’s no changes between the cached list and the currently downloaded list (note this contradicts what I said with gpudate above). If this setting is 1 then the CSE will process a group policy only if there are changes.

From this Microsoft blog post:

A Client-Side Extension is nothing more than a file (in most cases it’s a .dll file, but not always) that has been installed on the client machine which has the ability to interpret and process certain of the settings in a GPO. Because there are many different types of settings, there are different Client-Side Extensions. In order for your client to process a portion of a GPO, the CSE associated with that portion of the GPO will need to be present on the client machine. An example of this is the security settings that are found under Policies/Windows Settings/Security Settings on both the Machine and User nodes of a GPO. To process any settings that have been configured within these containers, your client will need the scecli.dll file.

Part 2 of the same post: When a computer starts up (machine policies) or a user logs in (user policies) the group policies are processed. This can be thought of as foreground processing – you see it happening. Apart from this, every 90 mins (which can be changed) with an offset, the group policies are also processed in the background.

  • During background processing only GPOs with NoGPOListChanges set to 1 are processed (i.e. only if there are changes).
    • Fun fact: background processing runs multi-threaded. All other GPO processing is single-threaded!
  • During foreground processing there’s two modes that processing can operate in. :) Asynchronous – which is the default – means policies apply without delaying the user login. That is to say when a user logs in, the full set of policies may not have applied – they can apply in the background. This is good in the sense that logins appear fast, but not good if you want all policies to apply before a user logs in. The alternative is Synchronous wherein all policies apply and then only the user logs in. When we go and change this GPO setting – Computer Configuration > Policies > Administrative Templates > System > Logon > Always wait for the network at computer startup and logon – a common practice in an enterprise environment, you are basically switching foreground processing to be synchronous.
    • Note: you need synchronous processing to ensure folder redirection applies in a single login. 
    • During synchronous foreground processing all CSEs are processed, irrespective of there being any changes or not. :) So NoGPOListChanges is ignored.

More fun stuff: disabling the computer or user configuration in a GPO has not much effect. And if you want to enable debugging and logging it is possible too.

Part 3: Lots of cool info on the effect of WMI filters and Item Level Targeting (ILT). Skipping WMI here for now as I am not using it currently (for Citrix purposes), but good to know about ILT: avoid using it via evaluations against AD such as OU, LDAP queries, Domain, and Site. Querying against an AD group is fine.

Here’s an official Microsoft blog post on pretty much the same info as above (not the performance tests etc). The official recommendation seems to be to use asynchronous foreground processing (the default) with the caveat that it won’t work for redirected folders. Bugger. :) Also, a good Microsoft Technet article on Group Policy performance. It touches on a lot of the same topics as the blog posts above but gives a different perspective.

I need to find a way of applying per user registry keys, environment variables, and drive mappings. These are the three things for which I currently using GPPs and I want to try and avoid that. I guess I can use Active Setup, or perhaps Scheduled Tasks? I could also look at modifying the default user profile but I am not too keen on that now (coz what would I do if there are changes? I don’t want to keep deleting user profiles so they pick up a new default profile).

Speaking of Active Setup, an excellent post by Helge Klein. I wasn’t aware the Version value could be used to run the same component in case of changes. Sounds useful in my scenario.

Unable to access some performance counters remotely

Maybe it helps someone else. I had an issue today where the disk related performance counters were working locally but not remotely. Well, to start with they weren’t working locally either but I realized they had been disabled via a registry key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\PerfDisk\Performance (value Disable Performance Counters was set to 1 – I deleted it to enable).

For remote access you need the Remote Registry and RPC services running. They were, in my case, and I couldn’t find any other issues either. So I gave the Remote Registry service a restart and now I am able to access the rest of the counters remotely.

Found some Google hits that said restarting the Remote Registry temporarily got all the counters working remotely, but they stopped after a while. Am hoping that’s not my issue (as only some of my counters were not working).

Windows Server 2008 and above – low memory

While troubleshooting something I came across this blog today – Detecting Low Virtual Memory Conditions in Windows 2008 and R2.

Basically, since Windows 2008 there’s an inbuilt low memory detection system called RADAR (Resource Exhaustion Detection and Resolution – cool acronym!) that will log such events.

You can find them in the System logs from source Resource-Exhaustion-Detector. These logs give more details too on what’s using the most resources. Apart from that, there’s also logs under Application & Service Logs > Microsoft > Windows > Resource-Exhaustion-Detector > Operational.

An example message from the System logs looks like this:

Windows successfully diagnosed a low virtual memory condition. The following programs consumed the most virtual memory: store.exe (6292) consumed 82729553920 bytes, Microsoft.Exchange.ServiceHost.exe (4224) consumed 784441344 bytes, and w3wp.exe (4828) consumed 754692096 bytes.

Clicking on the details tab and switching to XML view gives more details:

(All this and more info can be found in the link I point to – so please check it out).

I was curious on what these figures meant though. Here’s what I understand from this great blog post by Mark Russinovich.

  • Physical memory – we know.
  • Virtual memory – is physical memory plus the page file on disk.
  • The virtual memory is effectively what the OS can commit to any process. Meaning, guarantee that it can provide. So the system commit limit about is basically the virtual memory. (Well not entirely, as the OS needs some physical memory for itself too).
  • Commit charge – the amount of committed memory across all active processes. This can’t exceed the system commit limit of course.
  • When a process commits a region of virtual memory, the operating system guarantees that it can maintain all the data the process stores in the memory either in physical memory or on disk. Not all memory allocated to a process is of the committed type. Mainly private memory and pagefile-backed are of the committed type. The former can be found via tools like Process Explorer. The latter needs some during around using the handles.exe command with the -l switch.
  • The type of memory allocated to a process depends on the sort of request it makes?

[Aside] IE11 does silently ignores file server locations for PAC file

I had encountered this the hard way some months ago, but today I was Googling on this to share the same with a colleague. Starting with IE 11 you cannot use file server locations (e.g. c:\windows\global.pac or \\mydomain\dfs\global.pac) for the PAC file. You have to use an HTTP or HTTPS location (e.g. http://myserver/global.pac).

It is possible to change a registry key to enable this behavior. This and other nuggets of info can be found in this wonderful MSDN article on web proxy configuration.

  • There’s WinINET and WinHTTP proxy settings. WinINET is the one you set via IE. WinHTTP is the one you set via netsh winhttp I think.
  • Firefox uses the WinINET settings if set to use system proxy settings.
  • Proxy settings are per user, but can be changed via a registry key to be for all users of a machine.
  • Automatically detect settings looks for the wpad.<domainname> entry or uses DHCP to get a proxy script URL.

Importing Registry keys via GPP. Also, item-level targeting.

I wanted to do two things. 1) Import a bunch of registry keys for all users. And 2) Set some key values differently for users depending on their location.

Basically these were registry keys containing the details of all our WorkSite databases and I wanted to enable Auto Login to the local WorkSite DMS of each user. So basically import all the registry keys, and if a user’s location is XYZ (preferably identified via an LDAP query to the l attribute) set the DMS of that site to be AutoLogin.

Found this helpful post on how to export a registry key and convert it into an XML file you can copy paste in Group Policy Preferences. Damn! Nice one.

Next I created a copy of the key in question, set it to a higher number in the order (that happens by default when you do a copy) (we need it to be a higher number so that it overrides the other copy of that same key), and in its properties I enabled item-level targeting based on LDAP. Used a query like this: (&(objectClass=User)(sAMAccountName=%USERNAME%)(l=Dubai))

Some screenshots:

Here are the two keys I mentioned. The second one (with a higher order, 9) is set to a different value. The one with higher order will over-ride the one with lower order.

UPDATE: I was wrong. The lower number has higher precedence, so my screenshot above is wrong. I have hence swapped the order. The order is similar to that of GPOs. Lower number wins.

UPDATE 2: Maybe I wasn’t wrong after all. :) Even with the precedence change this didn’t work. I didn’t troubleshoot more (I suck, I know) – instead I just split these into separate GPOs. One to apply all the default settings, and one with higher precedence but scoped to the group I want to apply the different setting to. That did the trick.

I have set the higher order value to target specific users only though.

In this case, if the query searches for an User class object of matching login name and city (the l attribute) set to either Dubai or Abu Dhabi (the two offices for whom I want this key to be different).

The Citrix servers do not trust the server. This message was reported from the XML Service at address …

If you are able to login to your Citrix Storefront and get a list of application, but when launching something you get an error –

And checking the “Citrix Delivery Services” logs on your Storefront gives errors such as these –

  • The Citrix servers do not trust the server. This message was reported from the XML Service at address http://xxx/scripts/wpnbr.dll [NFuseProtocol.TRequestAddress].
  • Failed to launch the resource 'xxxx' using the Citrix XML Service at address 'http://xxx/scripts/wpnbr.dll'. The XML service returned error: 'not-trusted'.

You have come to the right place. :)

This is because you probably have “Domain pass-through” authentication enabled on your Store and/ or the Receiver for Websites (note the latter: easy to miss out). When this is enabled and users visit the Storefront page, they don’t get the usual username password prompt. Instead they get an option to login with the Windows credentials.

The problem with this is that these Windows credentials are passed on to the Storefront server. The Storefront server is happy, gives the users a list of apps and desktops assigned to them, etc. But when the user clicks on something, it is the Citrix Receiver that comes into play and needs to pass on the credentials to the concerned XenApp or XenDesktop server. Citrix Receiver needs to be explicitly installed with the ability to do Single Sign-On (i.e. pass on Windows credentials) and if that’s not the case users will not be able to launch any app or desktop. (The command line to do such an install is: CitrixReceiver.exe /includeSSON). Once this is done an additional component called ssonsvr.exe will be present on the user machine, and that facilitates SSO.

For more details on Citrix Receiver and SSO check out this link. And for an official explanation of what I wrote above, check out this blog post.

Lastly, if you don’t want to do any of this, there is a work around. :)

Citrix – Cannot connect to the Citrix XenApp server. Network issues are preventing your connection.

Been banging my head on this since yesterday.

Initially I tracked it down to the fact that I couldn’t ping my XenApp servers. Dummy error on my part – I had forgotten to set the default gateway in the DHCP scope. That didn’t help though, and even though I could ping the XenApp servers and connect to ports 1494 and 2598. Learnt how to enable Citrix Reciver logging but that didn’t give any errors either (go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Citrix\ICA Client\Engine\Configuration\Advanced\Modules\Logging for 64-bit OS, or HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Citrix\ICA Client\Engine\Configuration\Advanced\Modules\Logging for 32-bit OS, specify a value for LogFile, and set everything to true). Googled a lot, read various forum posts, finally came across this blog post that suggested turning off the IE proxy settings. And that helped. Aaargh!

I had specifically tried via the Receiver application rather than IE just to avoid any gotchas like this. But my bad, the Receiver uses IE proxy settings it seems.

Update: So why was the proxy affecting my Citrix connections? For this the log file provided an answer.

When connecting to any of my resources, I noticed that the connection was being made via IP address using an HTTP request to port 1494:

This is because I was connecting to the StoreFront server directly and it was redirecting me to a resource.

In contrast, if I were using a NetScaler gateway, the same entries would look like this:

No IP address is involved there as the NetScalers do the needful via the STAs etc.

So all I had to do was add an exception for the IP range of the XenApp servers in my wpad.dat/ global.pac files to go DIRECT rather than via proxy.

TIL: Citrix Receiver does not connect to non-HTTPS stores since version 3.1

You can of course configure it to accept HTTP stores: https://support.citrix.com/article/CTX134341

Bose SoundSport Wireless

I had got myself a pair of Beats Wireless X some weeks back. I am not a Beats fan per se, but I bought these as they come with the W1 chip and I was curious. They were decently priced too. 

I loved these for the fit and sound quality. I didn’t expect much in terms of sound but it was great (I was listening to the score of Flash vs Arrow while trying these and it was amazing). I think the sound was great also due to the fit. They went deep into my ears and were snug. Nice!

I didn’t like them for their length. It was not bad but a tad shorter would have been preferred. I wouldn’t have minded if the neckband wasn’t really a neckband but just a part of the overall cable. More flexible/ foldable etc I mean. I wasn’t a fan of the carrying pouch it came with, but I got the hang of it after reading the manuals and watching some YouTube videos. What I absolutely hated was the powering on and pairing part – it was always a hit and miss pressing the power button and waiting for it to pair. Sometimes it did, sometimes it didn’t. (So much for the W1!)

Unfortunately these earphones broke after a week of use (maybe even less). I had worn them out for a walk and also for a visit to my daughter’s swimming classes. Both times the environment was humid and I had sweated a lot – I figure that’s what broke it. The next day I noticed they ran out of battery even though I had charged the previous day, and then when I tried charging again I saw that they weren’t charging at all. Apparently it’s a known issue, and the only fix is a replacement. I sent it back to the shop but they couldn’t replace it and thus refunded me. 

Boo. 

Using the Beats spoilt me though so I Googled for a good pair of Bluetooth in ear headphones and came across the Bose SoundSport Wireless via What Hi-Fi. Ordered online and got these today. Here’s some first impressions. 

Their fit isn’t as snug as the Beats but it is something. It’s solid. One wouldn’t think these will fit in so strongly (and these aren’t my first Bose headphones with their special Stay Hear tips) but they do. I tried pulling them out via a few tugs and they didn’t budge. Nice!

Since the fit isn’t snug though a lot of background noise comes in. That spoils the listening experience if you are outside and it’s noisy. They are less noise isolating than most of my cheaper in ear headphones. I wish it was better. 

The sound signature is amazing. That’s one area where again Bose is different but good. It’s very “clean”. Nothing extra/ punchy. Feels very pure. Not sure if such words make sense in this context but that’s what I feel like. I have noticed these with other Bose headphones too. I wouldn’t say I am always a fan of these as I prefer my Sennheiser’s over Bose for instance, but that’s just coz I prefer the Sennheiser sound signature and I know in my head that the Bose signature is unique and has its place. I don’t dislike the sound signature as I might of other brands. 

As is fashion the headphones come with an app too. And unlike the Beats and many other Bluetooth headphones you can pair two phones at the same time (note: same time – simultaneously). That’s convenient for a chap like me who has two phones. 

[Aside] Configuring Windows Server 2012 R2/ 2016. Start Menu via GPO

Option 1: https://xenappblog.com/2013/customize-windows-2012-start-screen-using-group-policy/ – export the layout, push it out via GPO to all users. Unfortunately, on Server 2012 R2 this means users can’t modify the Start Menu after this.

Option 2: http://microsoftplatform.blogspot.ae/2012/11/predefining-and-customizing-modern-ui.html – much better. You push out a default “template”, but users can customize it further on.

On a related note: http://virot.eu/push-a-solid-colored-background-to-a-windows-server-2012-or-later/ – for customizing the Start menu colors (these are the colors of the background you get when pressing the Windows button on Server 2012 R2. I find it better to modify the colors first so the two registry keys mentioned in this link are created).

[Aside] Using GPP Item-Level targeting to set environment variables based on AD attributes

The subject says it all. Wanted to do this, found the following. Excellent!

Unrelated, but I was Googling on this and I want to put the links somewhere –

Msiexec /fu {ProductCode} : repairs all user-specific registry settings

Msiexec /fup {ProductCode}: repairs all user-specific registry settings and reinstalls missing files