Allow non administrative users of Windows XP to adjust power settings

Power Settings

I’m not sure why Microsoft thinks that normal users shouldn’t be able to adjust their own power settings – especially laptop users – but they do.  Here is how to grant the appropriate permission to the power settings while keeping everything else locked down.

This walk through assumes that you are logged onto the machine as the non administrative user.

Step 1:  Launch the registry as the administrator
Navigate to Start > Run and issue the following command:

runas /user:localhost\administrator regedit

A command window will appear and prompt you for the administrator password.  You will not see the password on the screen as you type.

Step 2: Modify permissions on the PowerCfg registry key

  1. Browse  to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Controls Folder\PowerCfg
  2. Right-click on the “GlobalPowerPolicy” key and choose “Permissions”
  3. Click on the “Advanced” button
  4. Click “Add”
  5. Type INTERACTIVE and click “Check names”, then OK
  6. Check the “Set value” and “Create Subkey” checkboxes in the “Allow” column, and click OK to apply your changes all the way out
  7. Repeat the above steps for the “PowerPolicies” registry key

Allow non administrative users of Windows XP to change the system time and time zone settings

Time Zone Clocks

I won’t go into whether or not it is a good idea to grant rights to non-administrative users of a PC to change the system time and time zone settings, but if you need to do it without logging on locally as a computer administrator, here is how you do it.

Step 1:   Grant the SeSystemtimePrivilige to the user
You can perform this step on the command line with the NTRights application or via the GUI.  We will perform the steps using the Windows GUI.

  1. Navigate to the Control Panel > Administrative Tools
  2. Hold the shift key while right clicking the Local Security Policy applet and choose the Run As option
  3. Specify that you want to run the applet as the local administrator and provide the appropriate password.
  4. From the menu on the left hand side, navigate to Security Settings > Local Policies > User Rights Assignment
  5. Double click the “Change the system time” policy located in the right side of the screen.
  6. Click the Add User or Group button and locate the user you wish to grant permission to.  Click OK to apply your changes all the way back out.

Step 2: Launch the registry editor as the local administrator
To begin, click Start > Run and type the following:

runas /user:localhost\administrator regedit

A command prompt window will open and prompt you for the local administrator credentials.  Enter the password and hit Enter.  You will not see any characters appear in the command window while typing the password.

Step 3:  Grant permission to the user on the TimeZoneInformation registry key
It should go without saying, but messing around in the registry can cause system problems, so be careful.  Use this link to create a backup of the registry before continuing.

  1. Locate the HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\TimeZoneInformation registry key.
  2. Right click on the key and choose the Permissions option
  3. Click the Advanced button
  4. Locate the appropriate user or group you wish to delegate permissions to.  Click on the user or group and hit the Edit button
  5. Modify the permissions so that the Query Value, Set Value, Create Subkey, Enumerate Subkeys, Notify and Read Control permissions are applied.
  6. Click OK to apply your changes all the way out

Step 4:  Reboot
Once you reboot the machine the non-administrative user will be able to adjust the time and time zone settings on their machine.

3 Reasons you shouldn’t build a website in Adobe Flash

Adobe Flash

I’ve never really liked Flash.  I’ve been over the typical splash page intro for a long time. Don’t misunderstand me here – I’m guilty of creating the kind of block-text-flying-past-your-face-with-laser-noises site intros.  Sometimes the client insists on that kind of Dane Cookery. Some things never change – but at least now there is a better alternative: HTML 5. I’ll cover some interesting aspects of HTML 5 in my next article.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Here are a few reasons why building a Flash website is a really bad idea:

1. Search engines can’t index it (mostly)
OK, so this might be changing. Google has announced that it can index some parts of your Flash movie – but not all parts. Basically the Google bot uses a brute force method to click around in your Flash movie and record what happens. Sounds a little sketchy to me. Certainly sketchy enough that I wouldn’t pin one of my site’s SEO hopes and dreams on it. And what about Bing, Yahoo! and

2. Flash requires a special browser plugin
This should be pretty obvious. Would you go to a restaurant that required you to bring your own silverware or would you go to a restaurant that makes it easy for you to just show up, enjoy yourself and leave when you’re ready? Why would you put an unnecessary roadblock in front of your site visitors? What if your visitors aren’t even able to install the Flash plugin on their computers because their company IT department has locked them down? What if your Flash movie relies on special Flash 9 functionality but Sally in the marketing department of Really Big Company You Want To Do Business With only has Flash 7 installed? It sounds like we have a lot of easily avoidable barriers to entry here.

3. Apple iPhones don’t support Flash
Perhaps you’ve heard of the iPhone. It is currently the world’s most popular cell phone, having ousted the venerable Motorola RAZR. More specifically, it is the world’s most popular cell phone that does not support Flash. I don’t want to start an Apple vs. Adobe holy war here, and there is probably some bad blood between Steve Jobs and Adobe below the surface, but the main reason the iPhone doesn’t support Flash is:

It can’t. At least not very well.

Think about it: the main interaction between a user and Flash animation is through the mouse – a device which supports the concept of hovering. Menus expand to reveal sub menus on a hover, tooltips appear on a hover, new content is brought into focus on a hover. How do you hover on an iPhone? You can’t. There is only clicked or unclicked.

The problem isn’t an Apple problem, it’s an interface problem. All touch screen devices suffer from this affliction. I’m sure some day a clever developer will invent an even more clever way to implement hover on a touch screen, but that day isn’t today. If you build a website that relies on Flash for navigation or key elements of your site, you are instantly losing a huge chunk of potential visitors.

So what should I do?
Well, first of all you should think about whether using Flash is bringing any value to your visitor’s experience, or if you’re just playing the design version of Keeping Up With The Joneses. Every design and implementation choice you make on a website should serve a purpose. It should make the content more readable, the navigation more intuitive, or the page load faster.

Have you ever visited a site, found the information you were looking for, and said to yourself, “You know, this website was great, but I sure wish it used more Flash.” I haven’t.  Ever.

But let’s say that you or your client insist on having that menu fly across the screen and do a flip every time a page loads. At least do it with HTML 5. More on that next time.

How to renew a GoDaddy Subject Alternative Name SSL certificate on Exchange 2007

SSL Certificates

I manage an Exchange 2007 server for one of my clients where we have deployed Outlook Anywhere, a.k.a. RPC-HTTPS, to deliver a robust Exchange experience to remote users.  We use a standard SSL certificate purchased from GoDaddy to secure communications.

That certificate expired today.  I used articles from telnetport25 and msexchangegeek as resources, but I thought it would be helpful to compile the entire procedure in one location.

Note:  Since the process to create and download an SSL certificate is different for every Certificate Authority, I will not cover it here.  You should have your new certificate ready before beginning this procedure.

Step 1:  Get the thumprint of the expired certificate
You have to know the unique thumbprint of a certificate before it can be uninstalled.  On the Exchange server, open the Exchange Management Shell and run the following command:

Get-ExchangeCertificate | fl | out-file –filePath c:\certs.txt

You will end up with a file on your C drive called certs.txt.  Open this file and locate the certificate that needs to be uninstalled.  Look for the NotAfter parameter to help you determine which certificate is expired or expiring soon if you have more than one certificate installed.  Once you locate the certificate that needs to be uninstalled, make a note of the value of the Thumbprint parameter.

Step 2:  Uninstall the expired certificate
Run the following command, substituting the value of the Thumbprint from Step 1 where it says <thumbprint>:

Remove-ExchangeCertificate –thumbprint <thumbprint>

You will be prompted to confirm that you really wish to uninstall this certificate from the system.  Press ‘a’ to confirm and continue when you’re ready.

Step 3:  Import your new certificate
You should have already generated your new certificate.  Since every certificate authority has a different process, we won’t cover that part of this operation here.  Download your new certificate to the C drive of the Exchange server and run the following command:

Import-ExchangeCertificate -path c:\mycert.cer –FriendlyName “”

The FriendlyName parameter can be anything you want, so make it something descriptive that you will recognize later.  It is common practice to use the URL of the domain you are securing as the FriendlyName.

Make a note of the new Thumbprint that is generated for your new certificate.

Step 4:  Enable the new certificate for OWA
Substitute the Thumbprint value from the previous step where it says <thumbprint> and run the following command to enable the new certificate to secure OWA:

Enable-ExchangeCertificate -Thumbprint <thumbprint> -Services IIS

That’s all there is to it.  Test your certificate installation by opening your OWA domain in a web browser.  If the SSL encryption icon is set and you do not receive any warnings about certificate errors, you are done.