notes to help me remember

Category Archives: Updates

Windows Update Service

Had the update error message:

Windows Update cannot currently check for updates, because the service is not running

Quickly found this helpful instruction from Sheldon Cooper at

Click Start
Type: cmd
Right click on cmd in start menu and select ‘Run as Administrator’
Type: net stop wuauserv
Hit Enter
Type: ren c:\windows\SoftwareDistribution softwaredistribution.old
Hit Enter
Type: net start wuauserv
Hit Enter
Type: exit
Hit Enter

Attempt to download updates

Windows 7 Updates Interrupted by Deep Freeze

We use Faronics’ Deep Freeze to prevent changes to our computers.  With Windows 7 we have had a number of incidents where the computers are updated while thawed, but are frozen at the next restart, preventing the installation process from completing.  In these cases, the computers continually restart, completing the installation configuration, then failing to start because they are now frozen and so, rebooting.  I tried starting in Safe mode, but this didn’t change the configure/reboot cycle.  I tried loading the last known good config, also to no avail.  I needed to turn off Deep Freeze, but could not get into Windows to do it.

I found Martin Tjandra’s post here, that led me to do the following:

  1. Boot with a Windows 7 Install disk
  2. Choose an appropriate language
  3. Click on “Repair your computer” link at bottom left of box
  4. Select the “Use recovery tools that can help fix problems starting Windows…” radio button
  5. Select “Command prompt”
  6. Enter “D:” to change to the D drive (or whatever drive Windows is installed on)
  7. Enter “cd windows\winsxs” to change the directory
  8. Enter “ren pending.xml pending_bkp.xml” to rename the pending.xml file
  9. Enter “exit” to close the command window
  10. Shut down, reboot into Windows, and turn off Deep Freeze

From here, I am not so sure of the best way to clean up.  On one laptop, I repeated my steps to go back in and rename the file to pending.xml.  This apparently was not a good approach as I ended up with a persistent update error (80073712), which was immune to the Microsoft Windows Update Readiness Assessment Tool, but which hopefully will respond to the running Upgrade from the installation disk.

On another computer I just left the pending file as I had renamed it and after a couple of reboots, it seems to be happily installing a large number of updates.  Hopefully, this will end up nicely.

I have one more laptop with which to perfect my technique, so I should be able to update this post soon.



Too busy this year to add much.

Off the cuff notables include:

  • Use Fn keys to redirect, connect external monitor, or remove battery and restart a Win 7 laptop that is sending its video to the external display that is either not there or turned off
  • Some Windows 7 updates will fail and roll back unless one or more updates are installed individually (two of these are KB954430 and KB 973688, and there is at least one more) (saw this on several new Lenovo computers)
  • The secret code for resetting lamp hours on SMART Projectors (Press DOWN, UP, UP, LEFT, UP  on the remote control to access the service menu)
  • To correctly clear the bad cluster list and rescan an imaged volume, be sure to run chkdsk /b (implies /r and /f)
  • Going into safe mode can sometimes get out of the cycle of a “frozen” computer that keeps restarting after failing windows 7 updates (using DeepFreeze)

Well, back at it.  I will add more when I get a chance.

What? I need a newer version of Installer?

Tried to install the impossibly large SmartTech software on a teacher computer running Windows XP (Pro, 32 bit).  I really cannot download this behemoth each time I need to install it, and the disks are useless because they are never up to date, and the updates are the entire install package (apparently).  We are running Windows XP Pro, as well as Windows 7 Pro, both 32 and 64 bit versions.  So, today when I tried to run the SmartTech install I was informed that I needed a “newer” version of Microsoft Installer.  Ugh.  More time spent trying to figure out what and where to get this, and what I already had.  Apparently, MS does not feel this is important enough to update with the MS Updates.  Apparently, SmartTech thinks everyone should have it. 

MS tells how to determine the version you currently have, check here ( for kicks.  Looked a bit more and found a little html script to list what version I have (  Here is the script again, from Michael Harris \(MVP Scripting\). Save the following code as .htm

<script language=”vbscript”>
sub document_onclick()
set installer = createobject(“windowsinstaller.installer”)
msgbox installer.version
end sub
Click me for Windows Installer version…

Finding that my fully updated version of Windows XP was running installer version 3.1, I downloaded version 4.5 from Microsoft Downloads (  After installing and rebooting, I was able to run the, oh so delightfully speedy, Smart Notebook installation.



I routinely install Adobe Reader from an installation file that I generated.  On some of the district computers it works fine, on others I get the message that the files can only be opened in protected mode.  This message comes in the form of a dialogue box, which requires a response.  No problem, unless Reader has not been opened yet, and this option has not been set correctly, and the user tries to open up a .pdf file in their browser. 

One more thing to remember when setting up a computer…

Getting Latest Offline Installer

Its really a pain to download the flash player from the Adobe site all the time, so I have found a link which looks like it should point to the current offline installer:

this is the version for the IE browser on PCs.  Not so concerned with other versions at the moment, but just take out the _ax on the end to get the version for other browsers (Firefox, e.g.).

Annual questions

Seems that some questions come up once a year, usually at the same time, and leave me scratching my head just slightly less each time.  Garage band loops are not automatically installed in Garage Band.  One must open the program, click on the “eye” icon at the bottom to display the loops, select a category, and click on one of the greyed-out loops.  At this point a box pops up with three options to install the loops.  Off the top of my head I can only remember two of the options: install by way of software updates, and install from the OS installation DVD.  The software update method was a fail – garage band and the loops are not an update, and the machine I was looking at had an inoperable DVD drive.  We ended up installing from the OS X installation DVD using an external DVD drive.  All is well.

How to use iTunes music with Windows Movie Maker?  Ugh – the ol’ burn it to a CD, then use Media Player to rip it to MP3 format.  Hate that process.  What a waste.  But, wait!  Didn’t I see an option in iTunes recently to convert to MP3? I will have to check into that one a bit more.  I know the CD thing works.

403 – Forbidden: Access is denied

It was a (very minor) surprise to see the access denied error when trying to run Microsoft updates on one of the student computers.  We keep the laptops “frozen”, so don’t usually see unit specific software errors.  Somehow, seems some MS certificates were listed in ‘untrusted publishers’.  Anyhow, deleted all certificates, good, bad, and ugly.  Seems to have solved the problem.  Off to wait for 75 updates now (134 MB).

But wait! Experienced this again, but the certificates did not have a role here.  I searched (403 forbidden windows update agent) and found this article, which instructed me to update the update agent (computers have gotten too complicated, I guess).  The article is on the Microsoft Answers site.  Here are the direct links for the 32 bit and 64 bit versions of the update agent.  Actually, Microsoft Support has a nice article  (949104)about determining whether or not you have the most recent version of update, with links to (presumably) the most recent versions.